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.
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.