Here is another guest post on failure from author and Financial Times columnist Tim Harford, from his new book Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure. In his first post, Harford wrote about why failure is often the mark of a healthy economy. Here, Harford writes about the process by which the U.S. military slowly learned from its early failures in the Iraq War. Hint: good ideas often come from the bottom and work their way up the chain of command.
Lessons in Adaptation: Winning the War in Iraq
By Tim Harford
In the spring of 1980, President Jimmy Carter gave the go-ahead for a daring special-operations mission called Eagle Claw. Fifty-two American hostages had been trapped for months in Tehran under a newly hostile revolutionary government, and negotiations appeared to have broken down. The operation called for helicopters and refueling aircraft to fly into the Iranian desert at night, under the radar screen, rendezvous in the middle of nowhere, refuel, and hide during the daylight hours.