DECENTRALIZATION AND JUNIOR LEADER EMPOWERMENT IS VITAL The stage was set.The 450-man strong 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry commanded by LTC Harold G. Moore hit the ground at landing zone x-ray in the early morning hours of November 14, 1964.Before even half of the battalion could be dropped in, the landing zone was declared hot.
Unbeknown to LTC Moore, his battalion had just dropped right in on top of two full regiments of the People's Army of Vietnam.The PAVN, commanded by Gen Chu Huy Man, was a full 2000-man strong and dug in on their home turf.Both LTC Moore and Gen Man had the same orders to "find and kill the enemy."LTC Moore was surrounded and greatly outnumbered, but Moore had several key advantages.
Moore knew that decentralized operations and junior leader empowerment was essential to winning a battle and the events of LZ X-Ray and the "Lost Platoon" would prove Moore's doctrine correct. LTC Moore believed adamantly that every trooper in his outfit should know the duty of the soldier above him and Moore instilled this idea in his men from the very beginning of his command at the change of command ceremony.At the ceremony Moore told his company commanders and battalion staff, "No fat troops or officers.Decision-making will be decentralized:Push the power down.It pays off in wartime.Loyalty flows down as well"(20).
LTC Moore's goal for his battalion was to be the "best air assault infantry battalion in the world"(25).LTC Moore achieved this by spending most of the fourteen months before his battalion sailed to Vietnam in the field training.Moore insisted that decentralization and junior leader empowerment be introduced "at every level in this training"(26).Moore employed this concept by declaring a platoon leader dead and having his sergeant take over the platoon.Moore continued down the chain of command by sometimes declaring.