Gen David Petraeus replaces McChrystal , the COIN FM3-24 strategy and lessons for business

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A great soldier Stanley McChrystal just had to go and the legendary General David Petraeus  has to now handle Afghanistan.

Somehow the middle school locker room  type of comments of Gen McChrystal have been played up in the media but the main issue is democracy. In a democracy once elected leaders decide policy- there is really no discussion on the implementation side.And both the military and civilians are supposed to implement as best as they can what is the "voice" of the people.

I wonder if  Gen McChrystal and his team actually read and really believed the COIN strategy.Here is a free digital copy of FM3-24 from the Federation of American Scientists or you can buy a paper copy from Amazon. A quick browse will tell you  how fundamental the idea of democracy is in the document. The whole idea is to win hearts and minds of the general public in countries like Afghanistan so that insurgents have no safe haven. Clearly the FM-32 is a vision of a very different world than the heavy handed state crushing extremists in  the 20th century. Fundamental and precursor  to the COIN approach is that the US field commander McChrystal also believe in democracy and not deride his own elected  leaders.

But moving on – business and marketing strategy has used  a great deal of learning from military strategy in the 1980's. It's interesting that business strategy writers have yet to pick up on the many insights of this manual from 2006. A notable one is the observation that in most parts of the world the US is considered omnipresent on miniscule   local matters about which the US Government neither really cares nor has the resources to care.

The implication for US multinationals is that  actions by even  local managers tends to get magnified quite out of proportion and have a rub off effect on other US companies and the government.

The FM (Field Manual) 3-24 is truly worth a read for anyone interested in strategy. Incidentally, Gen Petraeus is widely recognized as the author of FM3-24.

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