Skip to comments.Army Officer Accuses Generals of 'Intellectual and Moral Failures'
Posted on 04/27/2007 1:24:55 AM PDT by Cardhu
An active-duty Army officer is publishing a blistering attack on U.S. generals, saying they have botched the war in Iraq and misled Congress about the situation there.
"America's generals have repeated the mistakes of Vietnam in Iraq," charges Lt. Col. Paul Yingling, an Iraq veteran who is deputy commander of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. "The intellectual and moral failures . . . constitute a crisis in American generals."
Yingling's comments are especially striking because his unit's performance in securing the northwestern Iraqi city of Tall Afar was cited by President Bush in a March 2006 speech and provided the model for the new security plan underway in Baghdad.
He also holds a high profile for a lieutenant colonel: He attended the Army's elite School for Advanced Military Studies and has written for one of the Army's top professional journals, Military Review.
The article, "General Failure," is to be published today in Armed Forces Journal and is posted at http://www.armedforcesjournal.com. Its appearance signals the public emergence of a split inside the military between younger, mid-career officers and the top brass.
Many majors and lieutenant colonels have privately expressed anger and frustration with the performance of Gen. Tommy R. Franks, Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno and other top commanders in the war, calling them slow to grasp the realities of the war and overly optimistic in their assessments.
Some younger officers have stated privately that more generals should have been taken to task for their handling of the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, news of which broke in 2004. The young officers also note that the Army's elaborate "lessons learned" process does not criticize generals and that no generals in Iraq have been replaced for poor...
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...
On one hand, he’s basically right - insofar as the fact that most senior officers in the Armed Forces today came up through a system which rewards bureaucrats who play it safe over other qualities - there’d be no General Patton or Sherman in today’s Army.
What’s needed is fighting spirit. But you’re not going to find too much of that among people who, typically, hold several post-graduate degrees. People who end up with those sorts of “credentials” are, typically, uniquely unsuited to fight wars, particularly in the present environment.
You have to get out before you do anything like this. This is hard to believe. Surely he’s asking for court martial.
I agree, and there is no doubt that Lt. Col. Paul Yingling is high profile and well on the way to getting some stars for himself so would be difficult to intimidate...
I doubt it - who would be the foolish general who would try and court martial him?
For discussion, here is the article:
Btw, the WP says “General Failure”, while the actual title is ‘A failure in generalship’.
‘The need for intelligent, creative and courageous general officers is self-evident. An understanding of the larger aspects of war is essential to great generalship. However, a survey of Army three- and four-star generals shows that only 25 percent hold advanced degrees from civilian institutions in the social sciences or humanities. Counterinsurgency theory holds that proficiency in foreign languages is essential to success, yet only one in four of the Army’s senior generals speaks another language. While the physical courage of America’s generals is not in doubt, there is less certainty regarding their moral courage. In almost surreal language, professional military men blame their recent lack of candor on the intimidating management style of their civilian masters. Now that the public is immediately concerned with the crisis in Iraq, some of our generals are finding their voices. They may have waited too long.
Neither the executive branch nor the services themselves are likely to remedy the shortcomings in America’s general officer corps. Indeed, the tendency of the executive branch to seek out mild-mannered team players to serve as senior generals is part of the problem. The services themselves are equally to blame. The system that produces our generals does little to reward creativity and moral courage. Officers rise to flag rank by following remarkably similar career patterns. Senior generals, both active and retired, are the most important figures in determining an officer’s potential for flag rank. The views of subordinates and peers play no role in an officer’s advancement; to move up he must only please his superiors. In a system in which senior officers select for promotion those like themselves, there are powerful incentives for conformity. It is unreasonable to expect that an officer who spends 25 years conforming to institutional expectations will emerge as an innovator in his late forties. ‘
I do not see “General Failure” in the title.
That, in and of itself, was a disgrace. Lots more stars should have been lost over that one - a complete and utter failure of command. It's a very good thing that this LTC has the cojones to voice an opinion.
‘The article, “General Failure,” is to be published today in Armed Forces Journal’
Maybe I read it wrong, but that sentence to me implies that is the title of the article, which it is not.
You are right, I now see the reference made in the body of the article not in the title itself.
Regarding accountability, he says is all in the last sentence, “As matters stand now, a private who loses a rifle suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war,”
The way that the generals have prosecuted this was is a crime.
By leaving our troops in the cities with the general population, being traffic cops and building construction workers, easy prey for a car bomb or sniper is appalling.
They could have at least told the general population to leave their cars outside of the city. But they want to be so PC. Its so easy for a suicide bomber in a car to swerve into a convoy and take out a number of our troops, eliminate that possibility by removing the cars to outside the cities.
When traveling between cities, have the Iraq army clear the road before our troops go down it. A little more common sense and a lot less PC would go a long way.
Where’s “Patton” when you need him? Do we need wartime consiglieri? </humor>
Perhaps he has just become more high profile and guaranteed his rapid promotion.
Imagine if he left the army, wrote a book and named names.
He could also enter politics, he seems to be qualified for almost any post and may one day be Secretary of Defense and really kick ass.
I think that proposal would bring the struggling Iraqi economy to a total collapse, and you really do not want the Iraqi soldiers to babysit the Americans do you?
Hmmm, I’d think that he has just precluded any promotion to flag rank, thereby immunizing himself from any criticism directed at the generals of the past, present and the future.
He’s got some good points, but he comes off as naive and more than a little self serving.
Armies do not fight wars; nations fight wars. War is not a military activity conducted by soldiers, but rather a social activity that involves entire nations. Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz noted that passion, probability and policy each play their role in war. Any understanding of war that ignores one of these elements is fundamentally flawed.
The passion of the people is necessary to endure the sacrifices inherent in war. Regardless of the system of government, the people supply the blood and treasure required to prosecute war. The statesman must stir these passions to a level commensurate with the popular sacrifices required. When the ends of policy are small, the statesman can prosecute a conflict without asking the public for great sacrifice. Global conflicts such as World War II require the full mobilization of entire societies to provide the men and materiel necessary for the successful prosecution of war. The greatest error the statesman can make is to commit his nation to a great conflict without mobilizing popular passions to a level commensurate with the stakes of the conflict.
Popular passions are necessary for the successful prosecution of war, but cannot be sufficient. To prevail, generals must provide policymakers and the public with a correct estimation of strategic probabilities. The general is responsible for estimating the likelihood of success in applying force to achieve the aims of policy. The general describes both the means necessary for the successful prosecution of war and the ways in which the nation will employ those means. If the policymaker desires ends for which the means he provides are insufficient, the general is responsible for advising the statesman of this incongruence. The statesman must then scale back the ends of policy or mobilize popular passions to provide greater means. If the general remains silent while the statesman commits a nation to war with insufficient means, he shares culpability for the results.
However much it is influenced by passion and probability, war is ultimately an instrument of policy and its conduct is the responsibility of policymakers. War is a social activity undertaken on behalf of the nation; Augustine counsels us that the only purpose of war is to achieve a better peace. The choice of making war to achieve a better peace is inherently a value judgment in which the statesman must decide those interests and beliefs worth killing and dying for. The military man is no better qualified than the common citizen to make such judgments. He must therefore confine his input to his area of expertise the estimation of strategic probabilities.
I understood what you meant but I don´t think it will do him any harm. Which one of the ‘Intellectual and Moral Failures’ will cast the first stone?
As if any stone needs to be cast. One needs to cast stones [undertake active action] to promote, not to deny a promotion. Denial of promotion is absolutely passive activity.
Mobilization of the people and industry was not done after 9/11, and because of that our economy recovered quickly and al Qaeda failed to disrupt our way of life. What made sense then makes less sense now. The passion of the people must be aroused.
When one becomes that high profile and obviously groomed for advancement, then what would normally be passivity, would be interpreted as retaliation.
And any Secretary of Defense would not want to become involved in appearing to be a party to such a politically indefensible action, he has nothing to gain.
But that is just my opinion.
“The passion of the people must be aroused.
As for “how?” - one Goebbels left detailed descriptions how such things are done. Prior to him there was one Hearst, who managed to do much the same thing, but more amateurishly. “How” is the easy part. The will to do that “how” is the weak point.
“Whats needed is fighting spirit. But youre not going to find too much of that among people who, typically, hold several post-graduate degrees. People who end up with those sorts of credentials are, typically, uniquely unsuited to fight wars, particularly in the present environment.”
We need more officers with these credentials to be able to think through and anticipate the secondary, tertiary and quarternary effects of actions taken in this environment.
We also need officers who understand the true nature of the Enemy’s IO capability and ways which we can counter that that and in fact prosecute an aggressive offensive IO campaign against them.
This is NOT how most our current crop fo SR. GO/FOs think. It is a completely NEW paradigm for them and they are very uncomfortable here. We are also hobbled by the laws under which we operate in this arena as well.
WE officers in the O4/O5/O6 realm know waht to do, and how to do it - we are just not ENABLED to do it because of our leadership’s old way of thinking.
His career will be shortened I do believe.
RHIP...always has been, always will be
The 500 pound gorilla never mentioned in the article is Donald Rumsfeld.
“I think that proposal would bring the struggling Iraqi economy to a total collapse, and you really do not want the Iraqi soldiers to babysit the Americans do you?”
Is it our war, or their war? If it is just our war and they are just watching, I have no problem with their economy collapsing.
But why would it have to collapse? By having goods delivered outside the city to warehouses, and having trucks from the city that have been secured, to pick up said deliveries and bring them into the city is a minor inconvenience.
Buses could pick up citizens from parking places outside the city also a minor inconvenience, or do you prefer the daily car bombing?
As for the Iraqi soldiers babysitting our troops, why not? Is it our war or theirs? Whats wrong with Iraqi troops that we have trained and equipped and paid, pulling cars off the road before our troops pass, do you prefer the suicide bomber swerving into our troops?
Patton (who because he had a good movie made about him and people don't actually read a lot of military history, is a TAD overrated on FR) was a widely-read intellectual who spoke multiple languages.
Quality education doesn't remove any "fighting spirit."
Actually the Post´s article is just a summary of the actual article written by Lt. Col. Paul Yingling.
For the real article and his arguments on the conduct of this and other wars go here:
Interesting that his prescription for congressional oversight does not include timelines - that's the cheap way our for our CYA politicians. Rather, he is asking congress to seriously take up its oversight and judgmental duties, a task today's very political group might not be prepared to assume:
First, Congress must change the system for selecting general officers. Second, oversight committees must apply increased scrutiny over generating the necessary means and pursuing appropriate ways for applying America's military power. Third, the Senate must hold accountable through its confirmation powers those officers who fail to achieve the aims of policy at an acceptable cost in blood and treasure.
Strategic IO is on its ass. One of the ways IO-aware officers could facilitate IO in denied target audiences would be to enlist the support and assistance of people to whom that target audience is not denied.
The author seems to be saying that no matter what the adminstration says, that military generals must be forthright and honest in their appraisals and planning for war. So while Rumsfeld was completely wrong in his assessment, this should not have been met by public silence by the Generals. The Generals had plenty of opportunity to brief congressional committees, and hence you and I, on the realities. They failed.
Thank you for your reply.
I read the article and smell a RAT.
Too bad the message boards on that article are currently down. Would be interesting to read posts by our military people.
I smell a FOW (Friend of Webb). Charles Lee, Horatio Gates and Thomas Conway were ferocious in their disregard for Washington as well. They also wanted to reach out to Congress for oversight on the army.
“Patton (who who because he had a good movie made about him and people don’t actually read a lot of military history, is a TAD overrated on FR)...”
Overrated? Patton’s 3rd Army out performed every other European Theater army in WWII. His approach to combat is sorely needed today - “Audacity, audacity, always audacity.”
I believe the officer in question in this thread is saying that unlike Patton, today’s flag rank generals are not willing to take calculated risks necessary to adapt to the skills, tactics, and strategies of the enemy. After this much time in Iraq we know that our soldiers have the heart and the desire to do what is necessary, the senior leadersip needs to catch up and help them get the job done.
And an astonishingly low 0.002% hold advanced degrees in Ballet and Interpretative dance. I think we can live with that.
No. He’ll be protected. This has been long in coming. Too much conventional thinking went into the Iraq Occupation, not enough McMaster and Petraueus.
Perhaps Rumsfeld did not remove enough Colonel Blimps, but rather, enabled them.
Be Seeing You,
Propaganda per se is neither good nor bad - no more than breathing or crapping. And to an extent it is a science [applied mass psychology] or a skill, the successful practitioners become not the role models but instructors.
Every attempt at Patriotism is met with labels of "Nationalism" and equations of this to 'National Socialism - read Nazism.'
This is sad excuse of 'moral relevancy' is engrained in the media reports and at every level of discussion. The academics have worked overtime to instill this deviation from reality.
The article, “General Failure,” is to be published today in Armed Forces Journal and is posted at http://www.armedforcesjournal.com. Its appearance signals the public emergence of a split inside the military between younger, mid-career officers and the top brass.
Surge strategist Frederick Kagan on how events are unfolding in Iraq.
Hugh Hewitt show ^ | 4/25/07 | Frederick Kagan / Hugh Hewitt
HH: Can you give us a little circumstances on how you got there? Did you guys ask General Petraeus? Or did he invite a bunch of you to come as one of the architects of the surge? I was fascinated that you would go over.
FK: No, we I asked to come visit and see whats going on, try to get an understanding of the situation on the ground, and help me to form my evaluation of how things are going, and where we need to head.
HH: And where did it take you? What did you see?
FK: We went, I went into Baghdad, went into joint security, two joint security stations in the Hurriya area of the Khadimiya neighborhood, went up to Baqubah, to the FOB out there, and then rode in strikers to the joint commander center, listened to the Iraqi division commander out there brief, got up to see our bases at Taji and Balad, and had the opportunity to meet with some former cadets that Id taught who were also over there, and get their impressions from the lower levels.
HH: Now if you can give us the summary before I get to the specifics, has there in the 100 days since President Bush announced the plan, which is not yet even fully staffed, or even half staffed with the five brigades, et cetera, is there a change in the wind?
FK: There sure is. There are a lot of changes underway. One of the most remarkable things is that sectarian violence in Baghdad dropped almost immediately after the President announced the surge, and has stayed down. And in fact, the command in Iraq has recently announced that the daily murder rate in Baghdad is the lowest its been in six months, and its down 65% since November. And thats a really dramatic accomplishment this early into the surge. Probably even more important than that, and this is something that goes back even before the surge, is that the Sunni population in Iraq is really beginning to turn on al Qaeda, and Anbar, which had been their base and stronghold, its becoming inhospitable to them, and the Sunnis are joining the police forces and the army, and are starting to attack and kill the terrorists. And thats an incredibly important development.
There is no fact I am aware of that says Abu Ghraib was more than abuse by a very small section of enlisted folks at the prison. Like it or not, that actually does happen.
Present facts that show the complicity of generals in that foolishness in which no one was injured, and someone might be inclined to pursue any generals.
We don’t just convict people on the basis of emotion.
It's impossible to claim someone is overratedm without people misinterpreting that into you saying they're terrible.
There's an element on FR that seem to blindly worship Patton as an infallible military genius who was the greatest general of all time, seemingly, because their only knowledge of either Patton, or military history in general, is the film.
I’m hoping to one day see his neck in a noose.