The Buck Stops Here

U.S. Army Soldiers of 101 Airborne Division 1st Battalion, Bush Masters (TF No Slack), assisted by Afghan National Army troops move into an over watch position during operation Strong Eagle 2, July 19. (public domain image via Flickr Creative Commons


“A Commander is responsible for everything his unit does or fails to do,” so says the military adage that likely predates General Washington at Valley Forge. Our military routinely prosecutes commanders for actions of troops under their command. After World War Two, we even tried and executed a Japanese General for war crimes committed by troops under his command, who he had never visited and with he had but intermittent contact due to Allied bombing raids.

This same philosophy applies in the private sector and in government agencies, where we also the differences between command and staff. Staff members serve to manage technical areas and and advise the General Manager/Commander on issues in their areas of expertise. However, the ultimate decision and responsibility rests with the General Manager/Commander—and that same concept works for the Federal Government

A number of strident sources appear not to understand this concept. The Star Tribune writes,

“A sobering report and congressional testimony from senior intelligence leaders suggest a dangerous disconnect with President Donald Trump. The factual evidence those leaders provided on Iran, North Korea, ISIS, Russia and other issues tells a different story than the president’s often reckless rhetoric.”


President Harry S. Truman said it very succinctly, “The Buck Stops Here.” Staff advisors can write position papers and give their best advice, but it’s the President who is absolutely and unequivocally responsible for any decision to leave Syria or to remain. The second he said, “so help me God, “ at his inauguration, he and he alone became responsible for each and every one of those fine troops in Syria and ensuring that they all come home.

My good friend streiff adds,

“There is an assumption that the guy on the top must do what staff tells him. He ultimately is accountable for the decision. And, given the track record, there is no great amount of evidence that indicates the experts know their *ss from a hot rock.”

Mike Ford is a retired Infantry Colonel who writes on Military, Foreign Affairs and occasionally dabbles in Political and Economic matters.

You can find his other Red State work here.

He is also (reluctantly) on Twitter: @MikeFor10394583


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