George A. Custer and the Operations Process

2213 WordsJul 11, 20189 Pages
The 7th Cavalry Regiment's destruction at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in June 1876 is the subject of over a century of debate. LTC George A. Custer failed to exercise four key responsibilities that were expected of him as the regiment’s commander. He failed to understand the problem and environment, visualize a feasible solution, clearly describe it to his subordinates, and effectively direct his forces. These four aspects of mission command are integral to the operations process and help Soldiers understand and execute their commander's intent. Custer's failure to properly fulfill his role in the operations process resulted in his death and a strategic defeat for the nation. Mission command is the commander's use of authority and…show more content…
After moving 42 miles in three days, Custer realized that “directly west, in his front, are the very Indians the columns [were] searching for.” He massed his forces and deployed scouts to confirm the enemy's position. Before dawn on June 25th, they found “6,000 to 7,000 natives . . . encamped about 15 miles away . . . in the expansive Little Bighorn Valley.” Post-battle analysis confirmed “at least 2,000 warriors” in a settlement that “cover[ed] nearly two miles.” During this reconnaissance, Custer believed the enemy had discovered his column, and hastily began his attack, “fearing the natives might escape.” Custer divided the 7th Cavalry into three battalions under himself, Major Marcus Reno, and Captain Frederick Benteen. Unsure of the surrounding terrain, Custer sent Benteen south to “scour the country and pitch into anything he might find.” Two hours later and four miles from the valley, Custer’s own scouts spied “a good-sized party of Indians in flight between the troops and the river.” Custer ordered Reno’s battalion to charge the enemy, telling Reno he “will be supported by the entire outfit.” Instead of following, however, Custer advanced onto high ground east of the village. Reno charged the southern end of the Indian village and received sporadic fire from Indian skirmishers. Reno believed he was being overwhelmed and
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