Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Generation Kill - HBO Mini Series

Evan Wright was a Rolling Stone report that was embedded in the Marines 1st Recon Division in the early days of the Iraq Invasion II. He wrote several stories that were published in Rolling Stone Magazine and then wrote a book that was was a super set of the detail contained in the original articles.

HBO recently completed the showing of a mini-series based on the book. I was actually thinking of cancelling my HBO subscription but I was interested in watching this series. I have watched every episode but I may have to go back and watch them again because it is heard to tell who is who. All the characters look the same dressed in their battle gear and took me almost till episode 7 to determine who was who. The scenes in the Humvee are easy to watch since each character is always in the same seat. The characters that come in and out of the story can be confusing.

As is often the case I have been inspired to read the book. Since I am currently unemployed I also have some free time for reading as well. While I have not finished the book I have been impressed with how close the mini series is to the book. This is not usually the case. One of most notable examples is Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff.

Not every moment of the invasion is captured in the series. Scenes move forward faster than real-time and the highlights are capture with some character development sequences. Generation Kill is definitely not Band of Brothers. In the beginning the soldiers seem more like a heavily armed gang rather than a highly trained group of elite marines. With a few notable exceptions the Officers seem to be incompetent and even the ones that aren't have their moments.

As the show progresses things seem to change. The Marines start to show there training but the realities of fighting a war in a heavily populated area where the enemy has blended in with civilian population well illustrated.

Episode 7 ties everything together. The strategies and some of the thinking that went into the units actions are explained. I was left wanting to know more about the various characters and decided to buy the book.

The Marine concept of going with what you have rather than everything you need is a concept I have probably used for most of my career. This has been especially true in my role as a consultant project manager. Most projects are under scoped for several reasons. The right resources are often not available and the project budget dictates that the time available to complete the project is much shorter than necessary. While a hiring manager might wait until the perfect person materializes before making a final hiring decision a project manager seldom has that ability. The PM needs to get as close as possible and do what needs to be done in order to create the resource that is needed to successfully deliver a completed. My new mantra is "I am going with what I have."

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