Skip to comments.Do We Still Have Grants and Shermans?
Posted on 05/22/2008 3:03:45 AM PDT by moderatewolverine
Who becomes a general and why tells us a lot about whether our military is on the right or wrong track. The annual spring list of Army colonels promoted to brigadier generals will be shortly released. Already, rumors suggest that this year, unlike in the recent past, a number of maverick officers who have distinguished themselves fighting and usually defeating insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq will be chosen.
For example, scholar-soldier Col. H. R. McMaster, Special Forces Col. Ken Tovo, and Col. Sean MacFarland all of whom helped turn Sunni insurgents into allies could, and should, make the cut.
These three colonels have had decorated careers in Iraq mastering the complexities of working with Iraqi forces in hunting down terrorists and insurgents. And they like David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq in the past have not always reflected the Army establishment in Washington. Their unconventional views about counterinsurgency warfare do not hinge on high-tech weaponry, tanks, artillery, and rapid massed advance.
But most wars are rarely fought as planned. During the fighting, those who adjust most quickly to the unexpected tend to be successful. And in almost all of Americas past conflicts, our top commanders on the eve of war were not those who finished it.
(Excerpt) Read more at primetimepolitics.com ...
McMaster has already been passed over once, so if he makes the cut, that will be a good sign IMHO. There’s been some grumbling about SF officers being shortchanged in favor of Big Army types at promotion time, too.
We should be so lucky. I certainly hope we do.
Any Grant or Sherman will retire at 0-5 or 0-6 after being passed over, or, if they stay in, will be put in charge of the daycare benefit for unwed mothers.
Victor Davis Hanson is a national treasure. We need to find some way to download his brain.
A good article, thanks for posting it. I do hope those who have engineered the successes in Iraq and Afghanistan are well rewarded for their efforts. They do deserve it. Thanks to VDH for bringing this to light.
No. And even if we did, the politicians would muzzle them and the media would.....well, you get my drift.
I apologize for the following long post in advance:
VDH is indeed a National treasure, but he, like most journalists and others who use HR as an example of some perceived fight within the ranks of GOs between warfighting GOs and Pentagon bureaucrats, has this one completely wrong.
Neither HR nor Sean was passed over for being a maverick by the “Pentagon-types”. I have no love of bureaucrats in the Pentagon, but HR and Sean’s challenges with making GO lay elsewhere, and in fact their work in Iraq is what will likely get both of them on this next list.
I am a close friend of both HR and Sean, and we have served many times together since our LT days. I believe HR has been passed over twice. There are some other issues involved with HR that got him on the wrong side of many GOs (all whom are also Iraqi vets) but these issues have nothing to do with his success in Iraq. He also spent five years away at West Point (with me, so I am not insulting him for it) getting an Advanced Degree and teaching. The last one, which used to be a major plus, has in recent years been a kiss of death on Boards (mistakingly in my opinion).
Sean is a case of a late bloomer. Rightly or wrongly, by the time he made LTC his “paperwork” was not as strong as many of his contemporaries. We both then went to work for GEN Tommy Franks some years back, and GEN Franks saw his outstanding potential and literally saved his career (as he should have). Sean was not going to get a battalion most likely, but GEN Franks wrote great OERs on him and then lined him up to be GEN Shinseki’s aide. Since then he has continued to shine. I am thrilled, because I believe he is tremendous strategic thinker.
Anyway, I do hope they are both on this upcoming GO list. But it will not signify a great shift in the thinking of Boards or anything else, which is what we will all read in the coming months. It will just be a case where their strong performances finally overcame a couple of their earlier ‘perceived’ weaknesses. I hate the Army promotion system, but in this case it probably will get it right.
I will also be thrilled because they are both Armor/Cavalry officers, and in the last couple of years Armor has been taking it on the chin in boards with respect to the Infantry. I have nothing against the Infantry, but we are not promoting or giving Brigade Commands to many Field Artillery or Armor officers these days (we are all waiting to see what happens with Battalion Command Boards), and we are in danger of becoming myopically focused if we are not careful. Each of these three branches brings a unique viewpoint to the fight, and we need all three to remain viable in the future.
One man’s opinion anyway.
Very interesting. Thank you for your insight.
On the other hand Lee was the direct result of the Army at the time. That said, most of the good senior officers at the beginning of the war were southerners.
After the first day of battle at Shiloh the Union forces were pushed back to the banks of the Tennessee River. One of Grant’s generals, possibly Sherman, commented to general Grant, “They sure whooped us today”. Grant replied, “We’ll get ‘em tomorrow.”
I’m not telling what happened on that “tomorrow”, you all should already know.
General Grant was different than others, he was willing to keep ordering his men into battle, even after thousands of deaths and maiming injuries, he kept pushing them forward at the enemy. He was called “The Butcher”. Cold Harbor. General Grant saved the Union of the States.
Wow. Thank you to you and your friends for saving western civilization.
“That said, most of the good senior officers at the beginning of the war were southerners.”
and most of those were made in the Mexican War, including Lee who was probably on the way out. He was just an aging Captain engineer building forts before the Mexican War. He had been passed over many times.
Well, as Sherman knew, there is nothing NEW about the media’s treachery and mendacity.
The Southern strategy was very much like Hitler's. Gamble with an insufficient population and material base, and hope you can win quickly.
He is called a butcher and yet while Grant commanded army-sized units longer than Lee did, Lee had more of his men killed and wounded under his command then Grant did. Lee has the better PR I guess.
German reviews of American leadership gave good marks to small unit leaders and to high Generals but was very critical of the quality of division level officers.
"If I had my choice I would kill every reporter in the world, but I am sure we would be getting reports from Hell before breakfast." - William T. Sherman