Skip to comments.‘Good Guys’ Make Bad Generals
Posted on 05/24/2013 12:50:58 PM PDT by JerseyanExile
By all accounts, the present-day United States military is the bestthat is, the most capablein all the world. In the estimation of their countrymen, todays American warrior (the homelier term G.I. having now gone the way of doughboy) may well be the best of all time. Yet Americas Army doesnt win. Except for small-scale skirmishes, it hasnt since World War II.
The United States Army is like one of those chronically underperforming professional sports franchises: the team looks good on paper but somehow doesnt quite get the job done. Despite a huge payroll, a roster loaded with talent, and an enthusiastic fan base, performance on the pitch falls short of whats needed to win championships.
What explains this gap between apparent potential and actual achievement? When Americans send their army to fight, why doesnt it return home in triumph? In The Generals, Thomas R. Ricks ventures an answer to that question, with his books title fingering the chief culprits.
Writing in 1932, the soldier-historian J.F.C. Fuller identified the essential attributes of successful generalship as courage, creative intelligence and physical fitness. A prize-winning journalist best known for his cogent analysis of the Iraq War, Ricks does not question whether senior American military officers can do the requisite number of push-ups and sit-ups to demonstrate their physical vigor. Yet since World War II, he argues, the quality of creative intelligence found in the upper echelons of the United States Army has declined precipitously. So too has the quality of civil-military interactionthe dialogue between senior officers and senior civilian officials that is essential to effective war management. Here the problem stems at least in part from pronounced lapses in moral courage. Together, these failings at the top explain why an army that seemingly ought to win doesnt.
(Excerpt) Read more at theamericanconservative.com ...
Because we have pansies at the top. A RoE are BS.
I disagree that pansies are “good guys” and I think real men are the good guys.
Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf had all the qualities of a good leader. We all thought that Petraeus did too, but he lacked the moral courage to do the right thing.
Okay, I’ll give him another three weeks to come forth and make me a liar.
There are problems in the military leadership, that’s for sure. But this particular problem isn’t military—it’s political.
HST famously quarreled with General MacArthur and fired him because he actually wanted to win the Korean War.
JFK was famous for starting wars with no intention of winning them, although Eisenhower warned him against it, beginning with the Bay of Pigs and going on to Vietnam.
LBJ made things worse.
And with a few exceptions, it’s been that way ever since.
Yes, we have far too many Perfumed Princes for generals, willing to set Rules of Engagement that favor the enemy and decimate our troops, but they wouldn’t be there in the first place if that wasn’t what the politicians wanted.
Terrible conclusion, the Army wins the war, and then the team owners forfeit the win.
These are political surrenders, not losses on the battlefield.
Mattis is one of the exceptions.
But they have to be a “good guy” who understands that lasting peace depends on beating your opponent into capitulation, utter defeat and unconditional surrender. There is no such thing as proportionate response and negotiated peace in order to achieve real peace. It is brutal and ugly, but in the long run, complete victory by a peaceful, moral nation saves lives and is the most compassionate course in the long run.
The only ROE should be to win!
Eisenhower and MacArthur stayed for the whole war. Now the turnover is huge. Petraeus even had spare time to bring his biographer. The evils of mission creep.
I would expect good guys to know that. I would not expect bad guys to understand that.
Yeah but that takes a draft, Rosie the Riveter, War Bonds and a formal Congressional declaration of war. We opt for shop till you drop and war declaration work-arounds.
Yes, we have far too many Perfumed Princes for generals, willing to set Rules of Engagement that favor the enemy and decimate our troops, but they wouldnt be there in the first place if that wasnt what the politicians wanted.
I believe you've nailed it, Cicero.
Times I've done the hiring, I've looked for people who are smarter and more mentally agile than I so I can hand off more work to them. I've noticed lots of people look for agreeability, subservience, and the like.
Altogether too many presidents have openly or secretly despised the U.S. military, which can only make a bad situation worse. I'm sure there are plenty of potential Eisenhowers and Pattons in the officer corps, but their chances of promotion are reduced by leftist extremist political angling and scheming.
This article is utter hooey. The US military always comes through, and if the outcome isn’t what is wanted, it is because political forces, not military ones, have fouled things up.
The US military suffered NO, zero “humiliating defeat” in Vietnam. It didn’t lose a single major battle. And the US trained South Vietnamese Army (ARVN), with zero resupply from a hateful Democrat congress, still held out for TWO YEARS against an enemy with UNLIMITED resupply from the Soviet Union, AFTER the US military had left.
And in Gulf War I, the US military crushed the Iraqi army, the 4th largest army in the world, including the largest tank battle in history, demonstrating that the equipment and tactics of the Soviet Union would have lost in a conflict with the US.
That we did not continue the war to the point of conquering Iraq, was solely because politically, the US did not want to, and it was a selling point to all our allies that we didn’t want to. Perhaps a mistake, but a political one, not a military one.
So what’s this hooey about “good guys and bad generals”?
Furthermore, they were prevented from having a meaningful offensive in the north due to Robert S. McNamara, LBJ's Secretary of Defense[sic].
While he tends to draw a lot of lightning here on FR, few American generals have understood that point as well as Sherman (with the possible exception of Patton). Say what you will about Lincoln, once he had found generals that were willing to slug it out, he let them do their jobs, which, at least in terms of military/political relationships, made Lincoln an exceptional CinC.
Once Lincoln was gone, it was pretty much back to politics as usual. After successfully prosecuting the campaigns in GA and the Carolinas bringing the war to a close, there were those in DC (i.e. Stanton, et al) who wanted to try Sherman for treason for offering overly generous terms of surrender to the Johnston.
Wrong. What happened not once, but twice in Iraq will be taught for a hundred years as a classic case of a drastically outnumbered but better-trained and -coordinated and technologically superior force annihilating the enemy on his own ground. I'll go further and state that what happened after that was a story of anti-insurgent warfare that was seldom equaled before that and never since.
The entire point of "asymmetric" warfare is to avoid that sort of confrontation and if anyone wants to know why Saddam Hussein will be happy to explain, but you'd better have a Ouija board.
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