Skip to comments.Aussie general gets senior post at US Army
Posted on 08/20/2012 7:57:23 PM PDT by Dundee
AN Australian general will become one of two deputy commanders overseeing most American soldiers in the Asia-Pacific region.
US Army Secretary John McHugh says Major General Richard Maxwell Burr will direct training and supervise US Army Pacific's efforts to work with countries in south Asia, plus Australia and New Zealand....
Burr will report to Lieutenant General Francis Wiercinski, a three-star general and US Army Pacific's top commander.
(Excerpt) Read more at theaustralian.com.au ...
Major General Richard Maxwell Burr
Having achieved the lofty rank of SP5 during my stellar Army career I don’t fully understand such matters but it’s hard for me to understand how an Aussie general (or any foreign officer) can be given direct command authority over US forces.An advisory position,certainly.The Australian Army is a skilled and courageous force and a greatly valued Western ally and has been for many decades.But direct command authority? And BTW,Dundee,I can see where the opposite situation...a US general commanding Aussie forces...might raise eyebrows Down Under.I’m not slamming Australia...I love the country,her people and her Armed Forces.
My first active duty assignment was to the Combined Field Army (ROK/US), commanded by a US LTG and his deputy, a ROK MG. We also had two CSMs, one US and one ROK.
This, in 1987-88.
I don’t think it’s particulalry unusual for officers of allied countries to be seconded to the US Armed Forces. There’s a long history of that actually. Heck, General Lafayette himself was a major general in the Continental Army under General Washington way back when this whole ball of wax first got rolling. He’s serving under an American commanding officer.
We do the same thing with the Canadians - heck, I think that the Third Corp of the Army traditionally has a Canadian deputy commander.
The first time Australians and American fought in battle together was on the 4th July 1918, when American troops were placed under the command of Australia's Lieutenant General John Monash. At the time, the US forces that had arrived at that part of the front were limited and so the best use of them was to place them into a larger force that was already there. Monash chose the date of the battle quite deliberately to honour his new allies.
There's all sorts of examples since - in World War II, while General Douglas MacArthur was Supreme Allied Commander, South West Pacific, the Commander, Allied Land Forces, South West Pacific was Australia's General (later Field Marshal) Thomas Blamey. At that time, those Land Forces consisted of 10 Australian and 2 American Divisions - so that made a lot of sense. More recently, on a number of occasions, US ships have served in combined task forces in the Persian Gulf under Australian command. Last year, a combined task force against piracy in Somalia was under the command of a New Zealand officer. It's not at all uncommon.
It's how alliances work. More often than not, the US is the larger partner in an operation and so a US officer gets overall command - but that isn't always the case, and even sometimes when it is, if in a particular situation, there's an Australian Colonel and an American Major dealing with a crisis, do you think the Major should be in charge? There are always safeguards in place to preserve the sovereignty of a nation's forces - clear guidelines as to what orders can and can't be given, etc, but alliances have to integrate forces sometimes to make things work properly and in those cases, the command structures have to integrate as well.
I've served under US command, and in those cases, I obeyed the orders of any person authorised to give them to me and I gave orders to people who were subordinate to me - in both cases, including Americans. It worked because we understood the parameters. It's not like I could just turn up and start issuing orders - we knew we had an integrated chain of command.
As an officer in the RAN I have been under the command of USN officers a number of times (the deputy head of Navy Intelligence was a USN position). I had, in the same posting, an USN Senior Chief Petty Officer under my command.
On the Navy side of the house at least, the Anglo-sphere countries tend to be comfortable integrating each others sailors and officers in to their command chain.
The official march of the 1st Marine Division is ‘Waltzing Matilda’ and its unit insignia features the Southern Cross.
Proud to have worn this:
Not to mention the bloody good TVs... they make!