The Texas Military Department has activated at least 6500 members of the Texas National Guard, and perhaps as many as 10,000. Remarkably, they called some soldiers to active duty with only two or three days notice. In numerous news reports, Guardsmen have reported they are vastly under-employed. One Guardsman was quoted as saying all he has seen are fishermen. They call the mission Operation Lone Star. Since these soldiers were not activated through an Army post, they lack essential equipment. As recently as the freeze in early February, many soldiers lacked cold weather gear.

Operation Lone Star violates several principles of leadership, as taught by the U.S. Army. These principles were first developed in 1948 by World War II veterans. These principles ate battle tested. They are time tested.

“Know your soldiers and look out for their well-being”

The Texas Military Department (TMD) flunks this principle in a big way. Pulling Guardsmen from their lives for an under-employed mission with no foreseeable end date is the opposite of looking out for the well-being of part-time soldiers. Add to that, a miserable provision of Class II (personal equipment and clothing) and VIII (medical) items simply sets the soldiers up for failure, and encourages illness and injuries – again, the opposite of “looking out for their well-being.”

“Keep your subordinates informed”

Nothing is more fundamental than explaining to troops why a particular mission is important. If you cannot do that, you are not a leader, and the “mission” is not a mission. The bigger the mission and the more urgent the call-up, the greater the need for explanation. The TMD wholly flunks this critical principle of leadership. The TMD leadership has not explained to the Guardsmen and women why the mission is important. That omission may be due to the political window-dressing aspect of the mission.

“Ensure the task is understood, supervised, and accomplished”

One of the major issues with the Viet Nam War was the failure of field grade officers checking on their troops in the bush. Operation Lone Star was created by Gov. Abbott and MG Norris. It is their baby. They should be visiting troops and observing first-hand the quality of its execution. Those two non-leaders have compounded the leadership vacuum seen in the Viet Nam War ten fold. MG Norris and Gov. Abbott have only visited the border once since the activation became mandatory.

When the leader sends a soldier down range, s/he must be with them as much as possible. A good leader is always seen somewhere. The more complicated and controversial the mission, the more leaders need to be involved. Not less.