Disclaimer: I do not own any of the recognizable characters from BtVS, JAG, or Stargate SG-1. I receive no profits from this. It is just for fun.
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Feedback: Constructive Criticism desired.
Summary: After the fall of Sunnydale actions are reviewed.
“Now as to the decision to attack, after hearing the message from Caleb that Shannon gave her, Ms. Summers decides that they need to attack to determine what, if anything or anyone, Caleb might have that belongs to her,” states Jack. “As she stated in voicing her decision she’s basically tired of sitting around waiting for the Bad Guys to attack them. Given that the nature of a Slayer is that of a predator and not prey, this is a fairly understandable position for her to have taken. The members of the upper echelons of the White Hats did express their concerns after hearing this decision. However, Ms. Summers has counters or compromises for each point brought up. Taking only the experienced Potentials. The need for the Potentials to get combat experience. Leaving Willow and Dr. Giles behind to protect the other Potentials in case they are the true target of the trap. Attacking quickly and in force to give the enemy less time to prepare for them. Doing their own recon prior to the attack to gain intel that, hopefully, is not tainted by the enemy.”
“The one point she doesn’t counter directly is that Caleb is an unknown with unknown capabilities and Dr. Giles suggests they take the time to gain that knowledge. Ms. Summers is of the opinion they don’t have the luxury of time and pushes ahead with planning the attack anyway. If it weren’t for Dr. Giles recent betrayal of her trust, he might have been able to reason with her better as it is a valid, and crucial, point as borne out by what happened during the attack. As it is, I’d be hard pressed to put much weight with his advice at this time if I’d been in that situation considering I’d already have him and Woods locked up, awaiting trial for mutiny.”
“Since the recon that Ms. Summers and Faith undertake, easily allows them to locate where Caleb is headquartered, the possibility of this being a trap is once again discussed between them. Ms. Summers acknowledges the possibility but insists on moving forward with the attack. I believe that the betrayal of her authority by Dr. Giles and Mr. Woods was making her try to re-assert that authority by proceeding rather than backing down.”
“Now we get to the question before us,” says Jack. “Given the circumstances and information available at the time, was Ms. Summers’ decision to attack the Vineyard reasonable? Could we see ourselves making that decision?”
Rabb speaks up first, “They haven’t had a real victory since Buffy took out that Turok-Han. The latest Potential to try and make it to Sunnydale was in the hospital emphasizing that Buffy and the rest of the Scoobies can’t protect everyone. A boost to moral was needed soon and the possibility of obtaining a victory over a blatant trap is very enticing to accomplish that. Also, other than advising a wait and see stance, no one was offering up any alternatives or contingency actions to the attack plan. Granted better intel on Caleb would have been nice but as shown by the cigar wrapping incident during the Civil War, even commanders with perfect intel don’t make good use of it. Plus, despite having limited forces she did split them to allow a reserve to help bail them out if it was a trap. She also had her and Spike in the main assault with Faith assigned to the reserve. Sound strategy based on what they knew at the time. I do find some fault with Buffy’s presumption that the message from Caleb was meant to trap just her which led her to believe an all-out assault by her backed up by the Potentials would help negate that. However, I didn’t see anything in the debriefs that indicated anyone pointing out that it was mostly the Potentials being target by The First and his minions and they were just harassing Buffy. The possibility that taking out any of the more effective fighters would be a possible objective of any trap should have been considered.”
“While I agree that if more time had been spent evaluating their previous encounters, Ms. Summers and the others might have considered things differently when deciding to attack the Vineyard, the fact that we have been asked to basically review their actions tells me that it was not a part of their mindset and therefore overlooked out of ignorance rather than deliberate omission,” says Hammond. “As such, I do not believe too much weight be given to her failure to think of more objectives to the trap than the obvious one since the message was specifically for her. Even seasoned commanders can’t think of everything and rely on their support to help out with that. I do not see evidence of much support along those lines since most just stated the obvious rather than anything new.”
AJ chimes in.
“I also believe that the motivational speech given by Mr. Harris to the Potentials going on the raid, and overheard by Ms. Summers, helped reinforce in her mind the rightness of her decision to attack since one of her oldest friends appeared to be supporting her and this decision. Given the earlier betrayal by Dr. Giles, this had to have a strong positive impact on her confidence and resolve.”
“I’d be inclined to follow her after that speech myself,” says Jack.
“So,” says AJ. “Have you all decided as to whether her decision was reasonable?”
Nods all around.
“For her it was reasonable,” says Rabb. “And putting myself in her place, including her level of training for small unit engagements, I feel I could have made the same decision to go ahead with the attack.”
“I agree,” says Jack. “Looking only at the decision, she was being reasonable despite going more on emotions than logic. ‘Cause even logic would dictate a chance of success based on what they knew.”
Hammond speaks next.
“There’s always risk involved when making these types of decisions. From what I read in the debriefs, she believed she had minimized them the best she could and no one told her specifically how she hadn’t. Therefore, her decision was reasonable.”
“Although I believe that relying on ‘lots and lots of yelling’ as the signal for your reinforcements to come in and help extricate you from a trap to be a bit on the ambiguous side, as decisions go, I too believe she made a reasonable decision given the situation,” adds AJ. “You work with the resources you have at hand and the only way to get combat experience is to go into combat. Delaying for training when time is not on your side can be fatal so that means you must do more hands on training that you would normally. The fact that, until Caleb showed his abilities, the assault team was faring well against the Bringers shows that her decision was not unreasonable based on what she knew at the time. I doubt that The First would have let that gem of intel be known until some sort of confrontation involving the group could be arranged should Ms. Summers not fall into the trap. This being has been around for millennia and is most probably well more versed in tactics than any of us here let alone a young woman with no real training in such things. She’s gone with her gut before and things have eventually worked out, so it’s reasonable she’d rely on that again when no compelling arguments are made to sway her differently.”
“So, our verdict is that the decision to attack the Vineyard was reasonable and that it is for minds greater than ours to decide if it was the correct thing to do or not,” states AJ. “Since even defeat can be a learning experience that ultimately points you to victory.”
AN: There are several decision points from Season 7 specifically where a lot of criticism of Buffy as a leader occurs that I may get around to evaluating in later stories of this series should I get inspired to add them. As with this story I intend to focus on the known facts that led up to a decision rather than the outcome to determine if the decision was valid and reasonable at the time it was made. Though limited, I do have military experience in the evaluation of intel and planning of operations based on that intel from full scale beach invasions, down to squad level actions. I am trying to view the decisions with an unbiased eye so I hope you look at my logic objectively and see if you draw the same conclusions. If not then I would be happy to hear your take on the matter along with your reasons.
AN: General George McClellan lucked out with the finding of General Lee’s orders for attacking Harper’s Ferry complete with troop disposition wrapped around some cigars but was too cautious in taking advantage of the intel as he thought it might be a trap because the timing was too perfect.