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.
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