'Set the azimuth' on al-Qaeda
Q: This week's nuclear summit presents one of those difficult leadership challenge: focusing attention and resources on a low-probability problem that would be disastrous if it occurred. Global warming, 100-year floods, financial meltdowns are other examples. How can a leader fight the natural tendency among followers to put off dealing with what seem like such abstract and complicated threats?
The fundamental responsibility of a leader is to "set the azimuth " with clear direction and a rigid focus on priorities. In my view, this week's nuclear summit is a necessary first step in the work to determine how we will protect our country from a nuclear weapon in the hands of al-Qaeda.
Al-Qaeda is a pervasive threat which is bent on destroying our way of life. Sadly, however, America lacks focus and is fumbling along in Iraq and Afghanistan without a comprehensive strategy to deal with the many threats of al-Qaeda around the globe. We are committing our national treasure in blood and dollars without a deliberate and focused strategy. How does it all tie together? Where does it all end? What is the definition of success?
What bothers me most is the failure to develop a comprehensive strategy to synchronize the work to deal with organizations like al-Qaeda. A real strategy would lay out the global threat, develop a mission statement, identify the desired end state(s), assign specified tasks to departments and agencies of our government, and hold all accountable with expectations and a time line. A leader would be in charge. We would all be singing off the same sheet of music. Resources would flow to the main effort and our collective focus would be on making the strategy happen. Without a strategy, we are wasting our resources and exposing our seams which our enemy is surely exploiting.
The president's latest nuclear priority is but one component of the al-Qaeda threat. Why can't the United States bring it all together with a deliberate strategy to deal with the many facets of al-Qaeda? Why aren't all elements of our national power applied to the problem? When will we appreciate that the solution involves much more than our great military?
Since 9-11, what our country needs more than anything is a comprehensive strategy to deal with al-Qaeda. Our response to date, however, continues to be haphazard and reactive. We really need strong leadership to focus attention and resources.
Gen. John Batiste (Ret.)
April 12, 2010; 3:37 PM ET
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