Trump's Task Organization

The media are apoplectic.  The latest tweets from President Trump set off continual firestorms by those outraged by his comments.  The sheer visceral response to everything this president does would be somewhat amusing if it were not so damaging to our nation.

The continual turnover in the White House and in the administration has some news media outlets claiming that this president is doomed.  The media explode with cries and exhortations that Trump will be impeached!

And yet the president is still in office.

The media often accuse Trump's administration of being a revolving door with staff.  There has been, without a doubt, tremendous turnover.  However, in reality, this is a new paradigm.  Trump's style is entirely different from any other president's – or elected government leader's, for that matter.

During his campaign, Trump went through numerous campaign managers.  This would have been fatal for most, but Trump was organized differently.  He remembered that it is the mission that is important.  The goal in the primary was a delegate majority.  Against all odds, he accomplished that.  He remembered the mission and brought the right people to bear at the right time.

In the general election, despite having almost $1 billion of negative campaigning against him, he won the Electoral College vote.  That was the mission.  He was successful.

It is no accident that he has as some of his closest advisers General Kelly, General Mattis, and Kellyanne Conway, as well as key family members.

The Marine Corps, in our training for young officers, trains us to deal with chaos and uncertainty.  We thrive on it because we are trained to stay focused on the mission.  We task-organize virtually every activity based upon the mission.

That unique concept of task organization is foreign to most.  Many managers will tell you that it is people first and mission second.  That's how organizations fail.  A great example is the Veterans Administration, where incompetent leadership cannot be removed by a dysfunctional civil service system that forgets the mission and protects the few at the expense of the many.

We are trained in the Marine Corps, and I noticed that the special forces are trained this way as well, to bring the necessary resources to bear to win or to achieve the mission.  People are secondary to the mission.

People being secondary is an anathema to most people.  We recognize, however, in the Marine Corps and in the special forces that putting people first actually jeopardizes everyone, because failure ensues, and people get killed.

Leadership is key in this paradigm of task organization because the effective leader knows how to communicate the mission and ensure that the common good is maximized while accomplishing the mission first.

In basic training, we frequently subject young Marine officers to constant change.  The purpose of this training is to get the officer acclimated to staying focused on the mission, to remain calm, to effectively lead, and to instill a sense of confidence when you bring the best officers to bear to solve the problem and achieve the mission.

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, Gen. Mattis relieved a regimental commander allegedly for not being aggressive enough in achieving the mission.  Both officers were exceptional, but Gen. Mattis felt that the mission was being compromised because it was not being prosecuted aggressively enough.  That is the style of task organization, when you bring the best people to bear at the right time to achieve the objective for the common good.  It's not about the people; it's about the mission.

This concept of task organization and this leadership style usually result in victory.  The system rewards accomplishment of the mission rather than the length of time on the job.

During the recent presidential election, Hillary Clinton remarked that she had eight years of experience as first lady, experience as a senator, and experience as secretary of state.  In the world of task organization, years of service are secondary, while accomplishment of the mission is primary.

The task organization concept enables the president to bring the right people to bear on solving the problem and removing them when they have accomplished the objective.  People may be going in and out of government service in this administration, but the objectives will in all likelihood be met.  Military personnel understand this.  Our press does not.

The government, the swamp, needs to stop measuring success by the amount of money spent and start measuring by the degree to which people are served and the mission is accomplished.

We need to task-organize our government regardless of who is president.  We need to accomplish the mission of creating a framework for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness from our government rather than creating a government of overregulation, control, and dysfunction.

Col. Frank Ryan, CPA, USMCR (ret.) represents the 101st District in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.  He is a retired Marine Reserve colonel and served in Iraq and briefly in Afghanistan.  He specializes in corporate restructuring.  He has served on numerous boards of publicly traded and non-profit organizations.  He can be reached at

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