What happens if you don’t have an endgame? Look at Iraq.
When Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus and his 101st Airborne Division arrived in Baghdad in April 2003, he had lost only two soldiers in combat, plus 46 wounded. By the time Petraeus left for home—after 10 months of trying to maintain stability as anarchy reined once Baghdad fell—he’d lost 60, with about 500 wounded.
Petraeus certainly knew he had a problem even as his division first pushed toward Baghdad. Over and over, while they weathered sandstorms, street fighting and the crumpling of the capital, he kept asking the same question: “Tell me how this ends?”
Business lesson: Never let it be said of your people or your mission that they failed because you didn’t have a plan.
— Adapted from In the Company of Soldiers: A Chronicle of Combat, Rick Atkinson, Henry Holt & Co., and “The Story of O,” Christopher Dickey, The New York Times Book Review.