We're not lost, Sergeant, We're in … France

Lessons NOT Learned
15 August 2010, 13:32
Filed under: Operation Dragoon | Tags: , ,

I attended the second annual Operation Dragoon conference over the last few days. It was, again, an amazing learning experience and a great opportunity to meet some of our World War II veterans. One evening, while I sat in the hotel bar, I got to pontificating a little bit, based on articles and books I’d read recently.

In the February issue of Naval Proceedings, there was an article by Dr Jim Lacey, entitled “Old Ideas Needed for a New War“. In the article, Lacey points out that “The Department of Homeland Security and even U.S. Special Operations Command are actually consulting science-fiction writers on a regular basis.” While this kind of ‘thinking outside the box’ can be commended, Lacey notes that it seems no one is asking military historians to look at the current situation to find examples in the past that might help today. This struck me as especially pertinent to our conference on Operation Dragoon, since it is so frequently forgotten when studying World War II.

So, as I sat there, trying not to sound to self-important, I mentioned that our planners really ought to be at the conference, soaking up “Lessons Learned”. A couple of chairs over, a senior officer was listening and asked, “Have you ever heard of a Lesson Not Learned?”

Sometimes, my junior-high, smart-aleck nature comes out, so I said that my life was full of them. If I’d learned the lessons the first time I made the mistake, I wouldn’t have made it twice.

While I did amuse myself with that, it got me wondering if anyone does look around for “Lessons Not Learned”. I wonder if that shows in any AAR’s? Because I assume that one of the points always covered is “Lessons Learned”, both as a way of showing what was learned and showing that you’re doing good analysis work (or at least engaging in appropriate Pentagon-speak).

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