Commanders Responsibilities in the Operations Process During the 1864 Red River Expedition
US Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth United States
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A commander has the responsibility to understand, visualize, describe, direct, lead, and assess his forces during the operations process. Failure to abide by any one of these responsibilities may lead to a disruption in operations. Failure to abide by every single one will lead to complete mission failure. In 1864, Union Major General Nathaniel P. Banks led his Army of the Gulf and all attachments to a political and military defeat in the Red River Valley. Ordered by President Abraham Lincoln to secure cotton and votes in Louisiana, Banks led his men on a two-month, ill-planned, and poorly executed campaign between Alexandria, Louisiana and Little Rock, Arkansas. Despite operating with a numerically superior force, Bankss inability to understand, visualize, describe, direct, lead, and assess his forces led to a major Union defeat, resulting in the unnecessary loss of men and equipment while setting back the Union Armys entire campaign to defeat the South.