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Shek
27 Apr 07,, 12:29
A courageous act by an officer in an Army that is loathe to publically criticize general officers. Maybe this will open the floodgates to change and transformation to a culture like the German Army that is more open to junior- and mid-level officers challenging senior officers on professional issues.


Washington Post
April 27, 2007
Pg. 4

Army Officer Accuses Generals Of 'Intellectual And Moral Failures'

By Thomas E. Ricks, Washington Post Staff Writer

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:ARMED FORCES JOURNAL (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 battlefield performance, a contrast to other U.S. wars.

Top Army officials are also worried by the number of captains and majors choosing to leave the service. "We do have attrition in those grade slots above our average," acting Army Secretary Pete Geren noted in congressional testimony this week. In order to curtail the number of captains leaving, he said, the Army is planning a $20,000 bonus for those who agree to stay in, plus choices of where to be posted and other incentives.

Until now, charges of incompetent leadership have not been made as publicly by an Army officer as Yingling does in his article.

"After going into Iraq with too few troops and no coherent plan for postwar stabilization, America's general officer corps did not accurately portray the intensity of the insurgency to the American public," he writes. "For reasons that are not yet clear, America's general officer corps underestimated the strength of the enemy, overestimated the capabilities of Iraq's government and security forces and failed to provide Congress with an accurate assessment of security conditions in Iraq."

Yingling said he decided to write the article after attending Purple Heart and deployment ceremonies for Army soldiers. "I find it hard to look them in the eye," he said in an interview. "Our generals are not worthy of their soldiers."

He said he had made his superiors aware of the article but had not sought permission to publish it. He intends to stay in the Army, he said, noting that he is scheduled in two months to take command of a battalion at Fort Hood, Tex.

The article has been read by about 30 of his peers, Yingling added. "At the level of lieutenant colonel and below, it received almost universal approval," he said.

Retired Marine Col. Jerry Durrant, now working in Iraq as a civilian contractor, agrees that discontent is widespread. "Talk to the junior leaders in the services and ask what they think of their senior leadership, and many will tell you how unhappy they are," he said.

Yingling advocates overhauling the way generals are picked and calls for more involvement by Congress. To replace today's "mild-mannered team players," he writes, Congress should create incentives in the promotion system to "reward adaptation and intellectual achievement."

He does not criticize officers by name; instead, the article refers repeatedly to "America's generals." Yingling said he did this intentionally, in order to focus not on the failings of a few people but rather on systemic problems.

He also recommends that Congress review the performance of senior generals as they retire and exercise its power to retire them at a lower rank if it deems their performance inferior. The threat of such high-profile demotions would restore accountability among top officers, he contends. "As matters stand now, a private who loses a rifle suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war," he states.

Shek
27 Apr 07,, 12:31
ARMED FORCES JOURNAL - A failure in generalship - May 2007 (http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/2007/05/2635198)


A failure in generalship
By Lt. Col. Paul Yingling

For the second time in a generation, the United States faces the prospect of defeat at the hands of an insurgency. In April 1975, the U.S. fled the Republic of Vietnam, abandoning our allies to their fate at the hands of North Vietnamese communists. In 2007, Iraq's grave and deteriorating condition offers diminishing hope for an American victory and portends risk of an even wider and more destructive regional war.

These debacles are not attributable to individual failures, but rather to a crisis in an entire institution: America's general officer corps. America's generals have failed to prepare our armed forces for war and advise civilian authorities on the application of force to achieve the aims of policy. The argument that follows consists of three elements. First, generals have a responsibility to society to provide policymakers with a correct estimate of strategic probabilities. Second, America's generals in Vietnam and Iraq failed to perform this responsibility. Third, remedying the crisis in American generalship requires the intervention of Congress.

The Responsibilities of Generalship

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.

The correct estimation of strategic possibilities can be further subdivided into the preparation for war and the conduct of war. Preparation for war consists in the raising, arming, equipping and training of forces. The conduct of war consists of both planning for the use of those forces and directing those forces in operations.

To prepare forces for war, the general must visualize the conditions of future combat. To raise military forces properly, the general must visualize the quality and quantity of forces needed in the next war. To arm and equip military forces properly, the general must visualize the materiel requirements of future engagements. To train military forces properly, the general must visualize the human demands on future battlefields, and replicate those conditions in peacetime exercises. Of course, not even the most skilled general can visualize precisely how future wars will be fought. According to British military historian and soldier Sir Michael Howard, "In structuring and preparing an army for war, you can be clear that you will not get it precisely right, but the important thing is not to be too far wrong, so that you can put it right quickly."

The most tragic error a general can make is to assume without much reflection that wars of the future will look much like wars of the past. Following World War I, French generals committed this error, assuming that the next war would involve static battles dominated by firepower and fixed fortifications. Throughout the interwar years, French generals raised, equipped, armed and trained the French military to fight the last war. In stark contrast, German generals spent the interwar years attempting to break the stalemate created by firepower and fortifications. They developed a new form of war — the blitzkrieg — that integrated mobility, firepower and decentralized tactics. The German Army did not get this new form of warfare precisely right. After the 1939 conquest of Poland, the German Army undertook a critical self-examination of its operations. However, German generals did not get it too far wrong either, and in less than a year had adapted their tactics for the invasion of France.

After visualizing the conditions of future combat, the general is responsible for explaining to civilian policymakers the demands of future combat and the risks entailed in failing to meet those demands. Civilian policymakers have neither the expertise nor the inclination to think deeply about strategic probabilities in the distant future. Policymakers, especially elected representatives, face powerful incentives to focus on near-term challenges that are of immediate concern to the public. Generating military capability is the labor of decades. If the general waits until the public and its elected representatives are immediately concerned with national security threats before finding his voice, he has waited too long. The general who speaks too loudly of preparing for war while the nation is at peace places at risk his position and status. However, the general who speaks too softly places at risk the security of his country.

Failing to visualize future battlefields represents a lapse in professional competence, but seeing those fields clearly and saying nothing is an even more serious lapse in professional character. Moral courage is often inversely proportional to popularity and this observation in nowhere more true than in the profession of arms. The history of military innovation is littered with the truncated careers of reformers who saw gathering threats clearly and advocated change boldly. A military professional must possess both the physical courage to face the hazards of battle and the moral courage to withstand the barbs of public scorn. On and off the battlefield, courage is the first characteristic of generalship.

Failures of Generalship in Vietnam

America's defeat in Vietnam is the most egregious failure in the history of American arms. America's general officer corps refused to prepare the Army to fight unconventional wars, despite ample indications that such preparations were in order. Having failed to prepare for such wars, America's generals sent our forces into battle without a coherent plan for victory. Unprepared for war and lacking a coherent strategy, America lost the war and the lives of more than 58,000 service members.

Following World War II, there were ample indicators that America's enemies would turn to insurgency to negate our advantages in firepower and mobility. The French experiences in Indochina and Algeria offered object lessons to Western armies facing unconventional foes. These lessons were not lost on the more astute members of America's political class. In 1961, President Kennedy warned of "another type of war, new in its intensity, ancient in its origin — war by guerrillas, subversives, insurgents, assassins, war by ambush instead of by combat, by infiltration instead of aggression, seeking victory by evading and exhausting the enemy instead of engaging him." In response to these threats, Kennedy undertook a comprehensive program to prepare America's armed forces for counterinsurgency.

Despite the experience of their allies and the urging of their president, America's generals failed to prepare their forces for counterinsurgency. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Decker assured his young president, "Any good soldier can handle guerrillas." Despite Kennedy's guidance to the contrary, the Army viewed the conflict in Vietnam in conventional terms. As late as 1964, Gen. Earle Wheeler, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated flatly that "the essence of the problem in Vietnam is military." While the Army made minor organizational adjustments at the urging of the president, the generals clung to what Andrew Krepinevich has called "the Army concept," a vision of warfare focused on the destruction of the enemy's forces.

Having failed to visualize accurately the conditions of combat in Vietnam, America's generals prosecuted the war in conventional terms. The U.S. military embarked on a graduated attrition strategy intended to compel North Vietnam to accept a negotiated peace. The U.S. undertook modest efforts at innovation in Vietnam. Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS), spearheaded by the State Department's "Blowtorch" Bob Kromer, was a serious effort to address the political and economic causes of the insurgency. The Marine Corps' Combined Action Program (CAP) was an innovative approach to population security. However, these efforts are best described as too little, too late. Innovations such as CORDS and CAP never received the resources necessary to make a large-scale difference. The U.S. military grudgingly accepted these innovations late in the war, after the American public's commitment to the conflict began to wane.

America's generals not only failed to develop a strategy for victory in Vietnam, but also remained largely silent while the strategy developed by civilian politicians led to defeat. As H.R. McMaster noted in "Dereliction of Duty," the Joint Chiefs of Staff were divided by service parochialism and failed to develop a unified and coherent recommendation to the president for prosecuting the war to a successful conclusion. Army Chief of Staff Harold K. Johnson estimated in 1965 that victory would require as many as 700,000 troops for up to five years. Commandant of the Marine Corps Wallace Greene made a similar estimate on troop levels. As President Johnson incrementally escalated the war, neither man made his views known to the president or Congress. President Johnson made a concerted effort to conceal the costs and consequences of Vietnam from the public, but such duplicity required the passive consent of America's generals.

Having participated in the deception of the American people during the war, the Army chose after the war to deceive itself. In "Learning to Eat Soup With a Knife," John Nagl argued that instead of learning from defeat, the Army after Vietnam focused its energies on the kind of wars it knew how to win — high-technology conventional wars. An essential contribution to this strategy of denial was the publication of "On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War," by Col. Harry Summers. Summers, a faculty member of the U.S. Army War College, argued that the Army had erred by not focusing enough on conventional warfare in Vietnam, a lesson the Army was happy to hear. Despite having been recently defeated by an insurgency, the Army slashed training and resources devoted to counterinsurgency.

By the early 1990s, the Army's focus on conventional war-fighting appeared to have been vindicated. During the 1980s, the U.S. military benefited from the largest peacetime military buildup in the nation's history. High-technology equipment dramatically increased the mobility and lethality of our ground forces. The Army's National Training Center honed the Army's conventional war-fighting skills to a razor's edge. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 signaled the demise of the Soviet Union and the futility of direct confrontation with the U.S. Despite the fact the U.S. supported insurgencies in Afghanistan, Nicaragua and Angola to hasten the Soviet Union's demise, the U.S. military gave little thought to counterinsurgency throughout the 1990s. America's generals assumed without much reflection that the wars of the future would look much like the wars of the past — state-on-state conflicts against conventional forces. America's swift defeat of the Iraqi Army, the world's fourth-largest, in 1991 seemed to confirm the wisdom of the U.S. military's post-Vietnam reforms. But the military learned the wrong lessons from Operation Desert Storm. It continued to prepare for the last war, while its future enemies prepared for a new kind of war.

Failures of Generalship in Iraq

America's generals have repeated the mistakes of Vietnam in Iraq. First, throughout the 1990s our generals failed to envision the conditions of future combat and prepare their forces accordingly. Second, America's generals failed to estimate correctly both the means and the ways necessary to achieve the aims of policy prior to beginning the war in Iraq. Finally, America's generals did not provide Congress and the public with an accurate assessment of the conflict in Iraq.

Despite paying lip service to "transformation" throughout the 1990s, America's armed forces failed to change in significant ways after the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. In "The Sling and the Stone," T.X. Hammes argues that the Defense Department's transformation strategy focuses almost exclusively on high-technology conventional wars. The doctrine, organizations, equipment and training of the U.S. military confirm this observation. The armed forces fought the global war on terrorism for the first five years with a counterinsurgency doctrine last revised in the Reagan administration. Despite engaging in numerous stability operations throughout the 1990s, the armed forces did little to bolster their capabilities for civic reconstruction and security force development. Procurement priorities during the 1990s followed the Cold War model, with significant funding devoted to new fighter aircraft and artillery systems. The most commonly used tactical scenarios in both schools and training centers replicated high-intensity interstate conflict. At the dawn of the 21st century, the U.S. is fighting brutal, adaptive insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq, while our armed forces have spent the preceding decade having done little to prepare for such conflicts.

Having spent a decade preparing to fight the wrong war, America's generals then miscalculated both the means and ways necessary to succeed in Iraq. The most fundamental military miscalculation in Iraq has been the failure to commit sufficient forces to provide security to Iraq's population. U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) estimated in its 1998 war plan that 380,000 troops would be necessary for an invasion of Iraq. Using operations in Bosnia and Kosovo as a model for predicting troop requirements, one Army study estimated a need for 470,000 troops. Alone among America's generals, Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki publicly stated that "several hundred thousand soldiers" would be necessary to stabilize post-Saddam Iraq. Prior to the war, President Bush promised to give field commanders everything necessary for victory. Privately, many senior general officers both active and retired expressed serious misgivings about the insufficiency of forces for Iraq. These leaders would later express their concerns in tell-all books such as "Fiasco" and "Cobra II." However, when the U.S. went to war in Iraq with less than half the strength required to win, these leaders did not make their objections public.

Given the lack of troop strength, not even the most brilliant general could have devised the ways necessary to stabilize post-Saddam Iraq. However, inept planning for postwar Iraq took the crisis caused by a lack of troops and quickly transformed it into a debacle. In 1997, the U.S. Central Command exercise "Desert Crossing" demonstrated that many postwar stabilization tasks would fall to the military. The other branches of the U.S. government lacked sufficient capability to do such work on the scale required in Iraq. Despite these results, CENTCOM accepted the assumption that the State Department would administer postwar Iraq. The military never explained to the president the magnitude of the challenges inherent in stabilizing postwar Iraq.

After failing to visualize the conditions of combat in Iraq, America's generals failed to adapt to the demands of counterinsurgency. Counterinsurgency theory prescribes providing continuous security to the population. However, for most of the war American forces in Iraq have been concentrated on large forward-operating bases, isolated from the Iraqi people and focused on capturing or killing insurgents. Counterinsurgency theory requires strengthening the capability of host-nation institutions to provide security and other essential services to the population. America's generals treated efforts to create transition teams to develop local security forces and provincial reconstruction teams to improve essential services as afterthoughts, never providing the quantity or quality of personnel necessary for success.

After going into Iraq with too few troops and no coherent plan for postwar stabilization, America's general officer corps did not accurately portray the intensity of the insurgency to the American public. The Iraq Study Group concluded that "there is significant underreporting of the violence in Iraq." The ISG noted that "on one day in July 2006 there were 93 attacks or significant acts of violence reported. Yet a careful review of the reports for that single day brought to light 1,100 acts of violence. Good policy is difficult to make when information is systematically collected in a way that minimizes its discrepancy with policy goals." Population security is the most important measure of effectiveness in counterinsurgency. For more than three years, America's generals continued to insist that the U.S. was making progress in Iraq. However, for Iraqi civilians, each year from 2003 onward was more deadly than the one preceding it. For reasons that are not yet clear, America's general officer corps underestimated the strength of the enemy, overestimated the capabilities of Iraq's government and security forces and failed to provide Congress with an accurate assessment of security conditions in Iraq. Moreover, America's generals have not explained clearly the larger strategic risks of committing so large a portion of the nation's deployable land power to a single theater of operations.

The intellectual and moral failures common to America's general officer corps in Vietnam and Iraq constitute a crisis in American generalship. Any explanation that fixes culpability on individuals is insufficient. No one leader, civilian or military, caused failure in Vietnam or Iraq. Different military and civilian leaders in the two conflicts produced similar results. In both conflicts, the general officer corps designed to advise policymakers, prepare forces and conduct operations failed to perform its intended functions. To understand how the U.S. could face defeat at the hands of a weaker insurgent enemy for the second time in a generation, we must look at the structural influences that produce our general officer corps.

The Generals We Need

The most insightful examination of failed generalship comes from J.F.C. Fuller's "Generalship: Its Diseases and Their Cure." Fuller was a British major general who saw action in the first attempts at armored warfare in World War I. He found three common characteristics in great generals — courage, creative intelligence and physical fitness.

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.

If America desires creative intelligence and moral courage in its general officer corps, it must create a system that rewards these qualities. Congress can create such incentives by exercising its proper oversight function in three areas. 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.

To improve the creative intelligence of our generals, Congress must change the officer promotion system in ways that reward adaptation and intellectual achievement. Congress should require the armed services to implement 360-degree evaluations for field-grade and flag officers. Junior officers and noncommissioned officers are often the first to adapt because they bear the brunt of failed tactics most directly. They are also less wed to organizational norms and less influenced by organizational taboos. Junior leaders have valuable insights regarding the effectiveness of their leaders, but the current promotion system excludes these judgments. Incorporating subordinate and peer reviews into promotion decisions for senior leaders would produce officers more willing to adapt to changing circumstances, and less likely to conform to outmoded practices.

Congress should also modify the officer promotion system in ways that reward intellectual achievement. The Senate should examine the education and professional writing of nominees for three- and four-star billets as part of the confirmation process. The Senate would never confirm to the Supreme Court a nominee who had neither been to law school nor written legal opinions. However, it routinely confirms four-star generals who possess neither graduate education in the social sciences or humanities nor the capability to speak a foreign language. Senior general officers must have a vision of what future conflicts will look like and what capabilities the U.S. requires to prevail in those conflicts. They must possess the capability to understand and interact with foreign cultures. A solid record of intellectual achievement and fluency in foreign languages are effective indicators of an officer's potential for senior leadership.

To reward moral courage in our general officers, Congress must ask hard questions about the means and ways for war as part of its oversight responsibility. Some of the answers will be shocking, which is perhaps why Congress has not asked and the generals have not told. Congress must ask for a candid assessment of the money and manpower required over the next generation to prevail in the Long War. The money required to prevail may place fiscal constraints on popular domestic priorities. The quantity and quality of manpower required may call into question the viability of the all-volunteer military. Congress must re-examine the allocation of existing resources, and demand that procurement priorities reflect the most likely threats we will face. Congress must be equally rigorous in ensuring that the ways of war contribute to conflict termination consistent with the aims of national policy. If our operations produce more enemies than they defeat, no amount of force is sufficient to prevail. Current oversight efforts have proved inadequate, allowing the executive branch, the services and lobbyists to present information that is sometimes incomplete, inaccurate or self-serving. Exercising adequate oversight will require members of Congress to develop the expertise necessary to ask the right questions and display the courage to follow the truth wherever it leads them.

Finally, Congress must enhance accountability by exercising its little-used authority to confirm the retired rank of general officers. By law, Congress must confirm an officer who retires at three- or four-star rank. In the past this requirement has been pro forma in all but a few cases. A general who presides over a massive human rights scandal or a substantial deterioration in security ought to be retired at a lower rank than one who serves with distinction. A general who fails to provide Congress with an accurate and candid assessment of strategic probabilities ought to suffer the same penalty. As matters stand now, a private who loses a rifle suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war. By exercising its powers to confirm the retired ranks of general officers, Congress can restore accountability among senior military leaders.

Mortal Danger

This article began with Frederick the Great's admonition to his officers to focus their energies on the larger aspects of war. The Prussian monarch's innovations had made his army the terror of Europe, but he knew that his adversaries were learning and adapting. Frederick feared that his generals would master his system of war without thinking deeply about the ever-changing nature of war, and in doing so would place Prussia's security at risk. These fears would prove prophetic. At the Battle of Valmy in 1792, Frederick's successors were checked by France's ragtag citizen army. In the fourteen years that followed, Prussia's generals assumed without much reflection that the wars of the future would look much like those of the past. In 1806, the Prussian Army marched lockstep into defeat and disaster at the hands of Napoleon at Jena. Frederick's prophecy had come to pass; Prussia became a French vassal.

Iraq is America's Valmy. America's generals have been checked by a form of war that they did not prepare for and do not understand. They spent the years following the 1991 Gulf War mastering a system of war without thinking deeply about the ever changing nature of war. They marched into Iraq having assumed without much reflection that the wars of the future would look much like the wars of the past. Those few who saw clearly our vulnerability to insurgent tactics said and did little to prepare for these dangers. As at Valmy, this one debacle, however humiliating, will not in itself signal national disaster. The hour is late, but not too late to prepare for the challenges of the Long War. We still have time to select as our generals those who possess the intelligence to visualize future conflicts and the moral courage to advise civilian policymakers on the preparations needed for our security. The power and the responsibility to identify such generals lie with the U.S. Congress. If Congress does not act, our Jena awaits us.

ARMY LT. COL. PAUL YINGLING is deputy commander, 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment. He has served two tours in Iraq, another in Bosnia and a fourth in Operation Desert Storm. He holds a master's degree in political science from the University of Chicago. The views expressed here are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of the Army or the Defense Department.

WECIV
27 Apr 07,, 18:30
"transformation to a culture like the German Army that is more open to junior- and mid-level officers challenging senior officers on professional issues"

I like your 3GW feelings Mr. Shek!!!

W

S2
27 Apr 07,, 19:09
Shek, I'm reminded of Bigfella's topic-WHEN GENERALS TALK. No direct parallel, but Lt. Col. Yingling's article is a clear shot across the bow of our general officers and attacks the four Cs-courage, candor, competence, and commitment.

Too many of us have seen too much of this-

"As matters stand now, a private who loses a rifle suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war."

Some real introspection at the top would serve all these would-be corporate managers who've seemingly forgotten that they, too, are soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines-just like the rest of us.

There's been a careerist stink to matters for too long. Cudos to Lt. Col. Yingling and here's hoping he isn't forced to fall on his sword, of all people.:eek:

Albany Rifles
27 Apr 07,, 20:30
Ironic that the only general officer he mentions by name is the one general officer who had the moral courage of his convictions...and got fired for them-Shinseki.

I wish the good lieutenant colonel well in command and the future. Not too sure about his chances on future selection boards, though.

Shek
27 Apr 07,, 20:50
AR,

With SecDef Gates having already fired some GO's out of the gate, my bet is that some GOs who may be upset at this uppity LTC will be gunshy in their efforts, lest the SecDef catch wind of their efforts.

Also, I am sure that having served for COL HR McMaster, who, as you well know, has been the superstar of both ODS and OIF, will provide LTC Yingling some top cover. I wouldn't be surprised if COL McMaster was one of those 30 or so colleagues who read his piece and offered input prior to publishing.

Albany Rifles
27 Apr 07,, 21:04
Good points

BTW do you know where McMasters went after command?

Bluesman
27 Apr 07,, 21:05
Shek, I'm reminded of Bigfella's topic-WHEN GENERALS TALK. No direct parallel, but Lt. Col. Yingling's article is a clear shot across the bow of our general officers and attacks the four Cs-courage, candor, competence, and commitment.

Too many of us have seen too much of this-

"As matters stand now, a private who loses a rifle suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war."

Some real introspection at the top would serve all these would-be corporate managers [empahsis mine - Bluesman]who've seemingly forgotten that they, too, are soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines-just like the rest of us.

There's been a careerist stink to matters for too long. Cudos to Lt. Col. Yingling and here's hoping he isn't forced to fall on his sword, of all people.:eek:

I wish I were home, because there's a fairly old book by Edward Luttwak (he would've been one o' them hated 'neocons' if he'd still been serving in government on Dubya's watch) called 'On the Meaning of Victory'. He looked the education and syllabus of each professional 'military' development course in the senior officers' climb to the stars, and he found dam' little in the way of actual military subject matter. Too much psychology, management, law, policy, and on and on and on.

Obviously, those things are important. But where is the military history, the military tactics, the military strategy, and the intricacies of the interaction of men and materiel on the battlefield, across the theater of operations and in global grand strategy?

S-2, you nailed it: our 'generals' are CEOs in uniform. That's not what we need. We need boxers and wrestlers and bowhunters that can manage.

Bluesman
27 Apr 07,, 21:07
Good points

BTW do you know where McMasters went after command?

He's currently an advsor to Petreus. Thank God.

Albany Rifles
27 Apr 07,, 21:09
Thanks

Shek
27 Apr 07,, 21:23
Good points

BTW do you know where McMasters went after command?

He's in London at a think tank as a fellow. He was part of a small group advising General Petraeus on a campaign plan.

Shek
27 Apr 07,, 21:26
I wish I were home, because there's a fairly old book by Edward Luttwak (he would've been one o' them hated 'neocons' if he'd still been serving in government on Dubya's watch) called 'On the Meaning of Victory'. He looked the education and syllabus of each professional 'military' development course in the senior officers' climb to the stars, and he found dam' little in the way of actual military subject matter. Too much psychology, management, law, policy, and on and on and on.

Obviously, those things are important. But where is the military history, the military tactics, the military strategy, and the intricacies of the interaction of men and materiel on the battlefield, across the theater of operations and in global grand strategy?

S-2, you nailed it: our 'generals' are CEOs in uniform. That's not what we need. We need boxers and wrestlers and bowhunters that can manage.

They need culture. They all grow up in the tribe called the US Army, and when they have to interact with tribes who aren't US Army, some are completely out of their league. Those crazy Iraqis! They understand force, and lo and behold, I've got lots of that. Let's go around and show 'em how its down with raids. They'll learn :frown:

It's a product of our personnel system and the gates we've created for promotion. Incentivize the wrong thing, and you'll get the product you designed that can't do the things you want.

WECIV
28 Apr 07,, 06:04
The article is outstanding. Though I do disagree that our conventional forces were at a razor edge in the first Gulf War. It was that same army that could not encircle the Iraqis...a requisite for any 3GW force. The force that went in the first Gulf War was a interworldwar French general's wet dream...a great 2GW force...but not a 3GW force by any means. For the true shift between 2GW and 3GW is what the basis of this article was about.

W

Officer of Engineers
28 Apr 07,, 06:19
It was that same army that could not encircle the Iraqis...a requisite for any 3GW force.That was because General Fred Franks Jr was called off before he could complete VII Corps maneuver.

Blademaster
28 Apr 07,, 09:50
He was called off because the Bush administration didn't want him to go deeper into Iraq right? I thought VII basically accomplished what it did, the left hook into the Republican Guards. I am kinda suprised that Hussein would sacrifice the Republican Guards to save the Iraqi Army especially when the Republican Guard is the backbone of his military control over the Iraqi Army and , i.e, control over Iraq.

Blademaster
28 Apr 07,, 09:57
I can contribute the failure of generalship to one source: Rummy Dumbfield. Ever since his sacking of General Shineski who spoke his mind and warned publicily, he basically silenced dissent, thus shutting down an avenue of feedback and response that is essentially to identifying potential problems and nipping them in the bud. To correct this galling cluster**** created by Dummy Rumsfield who appointed generals on one criteria: You shall not dissent or criticise me, you need to seriously revamp the way how generals are appointed and promoted set up by Rummy Dumbfield regime. That seriously has to go.

Notice that Dummy Rumsfield has not made a peep in the media? He's untouchable. No one wants to do anything with him. Democrats hate him and the Republicans are very pissed off at him for costing them the election. The media doesn't like him because of his abrasive manner with the press corps.

Shek
28 Apr 07,, 10:37
I can contribute the failure of generalship to one source: Rummy Dumbfield.

This is a complete and utter fallacy. There are absolutely too many examples of senior field grades and general officers out there who demonstrated an inability to adapt to the environment that they found themselves in in Iraq. Guess where we promote our general officers from? That same pool of senior field grade officers who have demonstrated an inability to adapt.

Rumsfeld can be blamed for not firing the incompetent generals, for stifling open debate within the professional community, and for placing some troop level constraints that have made the job in Iraq exponentially harder, but he absolutely CANNOT be blamed for the everyday behavior of those officers who were not restricted by Rumsfeld's decisions for making making decisions of their own that were not in congruence with the environment and enemy they faced in Iraq.

Blademaster
28 Apr 07,, 11:27
He destroyed the mindset, the one that questions the status quo, the current way of thinking and see what it can be improve, in other words, the mindset that encourages innovation and firm grasp of the basics and building on top of that. When he destroyed that mindset, it is no surprise that the system promoted the ones that did not have that mindset or conform to Dummy Rumsfield's way of thinking.

Yes there was a pool of senior officers but why were those who had those mindset not promoted to senior grade? It goes back to Rumsfield who wanted a cadre of officers that did not question his authority or way of thinking.

Blademaster
28 Apr 07,, 11:48
As I am going over his article, I disagree with some of his points:


To prepare forces for war, the general must visualize the conditions of future combat. To raise military forces properly, the general must visualize the quality and quantity of forces needed in the next war. To arm and equip military forces properly, the general must visualize the materiel requirements of future engagements. To train military forces properly, the general must visualize the human demands on future battlefields, and replicate those conditions in peacetime exercises. Of course, not even the most skilled general can visualize precisely how future wars will be fought. According to British military historian and soldier Sir Michael Howard, "In structuring and preparing an army for war, you can be clear that you will not get it precisely right, but the important thing is not to be too far wrong, so that you can put it right quickly."



Well Shineski was right about the post-combat operations requirements. Guess what? He got dismissed. Tommy Franks was right about the necessary level to defeat Saddam Hussein's forces. Granted, he failed to bring up the levels required to win the peace but he was counting on the Iraqi Army to take up the slack, hence the lowered level of U.S. forces but guess what? Dummy Rumsfield and his minion, Paul Bremer, overruled that and disbanded the Iraqi Army and the Ba'ath Party.



Following World War II, there were ample indicators that America's enemies would turn to insurgency to negate our advantages in firepower and mobility. The French experiences in Indochina and Algeria offered object lessons to Western armies facing unconventional foes. These lessons were not lost on the more astute members of America's political class. In 1961, President Kennedy warned of "another type of war, new in its intensity, ancient in its origin — war by guerrillas, subversives, insurgents, assassins, war by ambush instead of by combat, by infiltration instead of aggression, seeking victory by evading and exhausting the enemy instead of engaging him." In response to these threats, Kennedy undertook a comprehensive program to prepare America's armed forces for counterinsurgency.

Despite the experience of their allies and the urging of their president, America's generals failed to prepare their forces for counterinsurgency. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Decker assured his young president, "Any good soldier can handle guerrillas." Despite Kennedy's guidance to the contrary, the Army viewed the conflict in Vietnam in conventional terms. As late as 1964, Gen. Earle Wheeler, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated flatly that "the essence of the problem in Vietnam is military." While the Army made minor organizational adjustments at the urging of the president, the generals clung to what Andrew Krepinevich has called "the Army concept," a vision of warfare focused on the destruction of the enemy's forces.

Having failed to visualize accurately the conditions of combat in Vietnam, America's generals prosecuted the war in conventional terms. The U.S. military embarked on a graduated attrition strategy intended to compel North Vietnam to accept a negotiated peace. The U.S. undertook modest efforts at innovation in Vietnam. Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS), spearheaded by the State Department's "Blowtorch" Bob Kromer, was a serious effort to address the political and economic causes of the insurgency. The Marine Corps' Combined Action Program (CAP) was an innovative approach to population security. However, these efforts are best described as too little, too late. Innovations such as CORDS and CAP never received the resources necessary to make a large-scale difference. The U.S. military grudgingly accepted these innovations late in the war, after the American public's commitment to the conflict began to wane.



Uhh... the VietCong was destroyed, the NVA was basically destroyed 3 times. Where is the failure? It was at home as US leaders lost political support from the populace. They were wondering why the hell we didn't cross into North Vietnam territory. So what stopped the US forces from crossing into NVA territory: geopolitics and US politicians's unwillingness to upset China as US leaders saw China as a potential counterweight to USSR in the larger picture, the Cold War. So one would argue that US politicians in the greater scheme of things, sacrificed Vietnam as a pawn in order to win the bigger war, the Cold War.

As for the failures in Iraq II, I agree with him on many points but I contribute the source of the problem to Dummy Rumsfield as he destroyed the atmosphere necessary for CI innovation and thinking.

Shek
28 Apr 07,, 11:54
He destroyed the mindset, the one that questions the status quo, the current way of thinking and see what it can be improve, in other words, the mindset that encourages innovation and firm grasp of the basics and building on top of that. When he destroyed that mindset, it is no surprise that the system promoted the ones that did not have that mindset or conform to Dummy Rumsfield's way of thinking.

Yes there was a pool of senior officers but why were those who had those mindset not promoted to senior grade? It goes back to Rumsfield who wanted a cadre of officers that did not question his authority or way of thinking.

Rumsfeld didn't destroy the mindset. Rumsfeld didn't personally promote the battalion commanders, brigade commanders, 1 stars, or 2 stars. He affected the behavior of some 3 and 4 stars. A SecDef that serves for 6 years cannot destroy 15, 20, 25 years of training. This is shaped by the institution, and Rumsfeld didn't even make a dent on the institution other than some current serving 3 and 4 stars and equipment spending. He didn't touch the personnel system. Heck, he couldn't get his civilian personnel system changes pushed through.

You are WAY overestimating the impact of Rumsfeld on the institution. When your corps commander (Chiarelli last year) in Iraq says that only 1/3 of his battalion and brigade commanders understand COIN, they "get it," 1/3 don't "get it" but execute because they understand they need to do that to have a chance of promotion, and 1/3 just flat out don't "get it," that is 100% an institutional problem that goes back to generalship in the 1990s and building an army to fight the war they want and not the one that should be preparing for. The behavior of battalion and brigade commanders has 0% to do with Rumsfeld, as he doesn't touch their promotions one bit.

There's no argument from me whatsoever that Rumsfeld was a force in the negative direction, but you cannot explain away the fact there are those within the institution whose career advancement didn't depend whatsoever on Rumsfeld, and yet the failed to adapt. Sorry, but even if Rumsfeld was never SecDef, you'd still have GOs stepping all over themselves in an Iraq scenario.

I find it amazing that there hasn't been a single GO fired in theater (heck, LTC(Ret) Sanchez was offered up for promotion - talk about someone who just didn't get it), and there hasn't been a single "battlefield" promotion. Why is COL McMaster still a COL? Why didn't we pin a star on him and say "you're what we need right now and so here's your star"? It's because we're still stuck in the rules of a bureaucratic system created back at the turn of the last century under Elihu Root.

S2
28 Apr 07,, 12:40
"It's because we're still stuck in the rules of a bureaucratic system created back at the turn of the last century under Elihu Root."

Those rules have, on occasion, been suspended in acknowledgement of the nation's needs during times of war. Real war. Not this phooey. Did I say that? Sure, because it's so.

If this military, administration, government, congress, and public REALLY felt and UNDERSTOOD the threat, we'd see the suspension of bueraucratic impediments to the promotion of good men, ideas, and equipment. It comes naturally when the survival instinct kicks in. To date it hasn't- for any of us. Thems the facts.

We possess NO institutional agility. The notion itself is an oxymoron. For a military that's prided itself on dominating the opponent's decision cycle, our sloth-like response to emerging assymetric threats places us consistently behind the power curve. By the time our analysis catches up with solutions, the problem has mutated. Thus a need for yet another "business plan".

In the world of bureaucracies and consultancies, THAT is a near-optimal condition of "business as usual". And "business" remains very good, indeed. Heaven forbid that anybody should get so excited about winning and losing.:mad:

Shek
28 Apr 07,, 12:49
As I am going over his article, I disagree with some of his points:

Well Shineski was right about the post-combat operations requirements. Guess what? He got dismissed. Tommy Franks was right about the necessary level to defeat Saddam Hussein's forces. Granted, he failed to bring up the levels required to win the peace but he was counting on the Iraqi Army to take up the slack, hence the lowered level of U.S. forces but guess what? Dummy Rumsfield and his minion, Paul Bremer, overruled that and disbanded the Iraqi Army and the Ba'ath Party.

Tommy Franks was wrong about the levels required to win. The mission wasn't just to destroy the regime. Strategy 101. He failed. Heck, he didn't even ensure that the number of troops required in his own plan were deployed.


Uhh... the VietCong was destroyed, the NVA was basically destroyed 3 times. Where is the failure? It was at home as US leaders lost political support from the populace. They were wondering why the hell we didn't cross into North Vietnam territory. So what stopped the US forces from crossing into NVA territory: geopolitics and US politicians's unwillingness to upset China as US leaders saw China as a potential counterweight to USSR in the larger picture, the Cold War. So one would argue that US politicians in the greater scheme of things, sacrificed Vietnam as a pawn in order to win the bigger war, the Cold War.

The NLF was destroyed and rebuilt, although certainly nowhere near as robust as it had been. Next, where's the legitimate SVN government that had buy-in? Remember, COIN is about the population, and they didn't buy into the SVN government, which is what CORDS and CAP were geared towards. CAP was killed by Westmoreland, and CORDS only received support under Abrams. Vietnam is certainly a case of a failure in generalship. They fought the war they wanted to, not the war they had.

Next, you're correct that folks were worried about China, and not just the politicians. However, it wasn't because we wanted them to be friends. That didn't happen until 1969 when Nixon-Kissinger came into the White House and saw containment through a geopolitical lens rather than an ideological lens. No, they saw what happened in 1951 in Korea and didn't want a land war in Asia against the Chinese.

So, you still had a failure in generalship in Vietnam, and I'd highly encourage to read the following books if you haven't already:

Amazon.com: Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam: Books: H. R. McMaster (http://www.amazon.com/Dereliction-Duty-Johnson-McNamara-Vietnam/dp/0060929081/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/102-0438121-3920159?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1177760678&sr=8-1)
Amazon.com: Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam: Books: H. R. McMaster (http://www.amazon.com/Dereliction-Duty-Johnson-McNamara-Vietnam/dp/0060929081/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/102-0438121-3920159?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1177760678&sr=8-1)
Amazon.com: Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam: Books: John A. Nagl,Peter J. Schoomaker (http://www.amazon.com/Learning-Eat-Soup-Knife-Counterinsurgency/dp/0226567702/ref=pd_bbs_1/102-0438121-3920159?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1177760722&sr=1-1)


As for the failures in Iraq II, I agree with him on many points but I contribute the source of the problem to Dummy Rumsfield as he destroyed the atmosphere necessary for CI innovation and thinking.

Please explain Petraues, Chiarelli, McMaster. If Rumsfeld stifled innovation (which I disagree with - discovering COIN isn't much innovation at all, but rather just digging out lessons from the past 50 years), then why do you have these outliers within the senior ranks? He didn't stifle them. What made them successful?

As I stated earlier, it all goes back to the institution and what it incentivizes and rewards. The track to general officer requires that you keep your boots "muddy" all the time. It's no surprise that we produce GOs that know tactics, but then receive a crash course in strategy at the 22-25 year mark in their careers and find it hard to contextualize an experience that is alien to how they've had to approach things for their first two decades in the Army. No wonder they struggle with strategy.

WECIV
28 Apr 07,, 17:06
The Vietcong never was destroyed. We did kill a lot of civilians...the Vietcong was smart enough to hug our forces or dig in and wait out. That is why we found so few bodies and so few weapons. But in a system like ours those kind of answers are not wanted so the officers lied like they do now. If you are not seeing results...just lie about it and make your next grade. Then it becomes institutional and only successful liars are promoted. Because if you tell the truth then the question is...why were you not successful like colonel so and so who lied? That is why there is a lack of backbone in today's general or field grade officers. It is an institutional...not rocking the boat...I am happy if you are happy. There is a lack of mavericks who are willing to tactically and strategically adaptive and experimental...because these ppl challenge the status quo and do different things than the way it has always been done.

W

Shek
28 Apr 07,, 17:49
The Vietcong never was destroyed. We did kill a lot of civilians...the Vietcong was smart enough to hug our forces or dig in and wait out. That is why we found so few bodies and so few weapons. But in a system like ours those kind of answers are not wanted so the officers lied like they do now. If you are not seeing results...just lie about it and make your next grade. Then it becomes institutional and only successful liars are promoted. Because if you tell the truth then the question is...why were you not successful like colonel so and so who lied? That is why there is a lack of backbone in today's general or field grade officers. It is an institutional...not rocking the boat...I am happy if you are happy. There is a lack of mavericks who are willing to tactically and strategically adaptive and experimental...because these ppl challenge the status quo and do different things than the way it has always been done.

W

W,

Your generalization that liars get promoted is off the mark and fundamentally misinterprets what is going on today. Most posers get busted and booted before they even make captain. It is rare for someone to make it to battalion command on a sham record. I'd cool it on this line of reasoning because it is highly inflammatory and not correct.

What you see is not lying to get ahead, but working towards those things that will get them ahead. The problem is that it's a self-sustaining system, and so the wrong metrics are used to measure who is successful. Those that advance have no problem with the metrics, as it allowed them to succeed, and so they often have a hard time seeing reasong to change. Thus, you have your self-perpetuating problem.

To fix the problem, you need to change the incentives. Instead of rewarding only those who remain in tactical units up through colonel, make civilian graduate school a requirement for getting a battalion command. I guarantee that you'll get folks who are better attuned to culture and strategy if you do this. Make a mid-level foreign language proficiency a requirement for battalion command. I guarantee that you'll get folks who are better able to understand culture. You can see where I'm going with this. It's not folks lying to get ahead, it's folks doing the things the system tells them to do to get ahead. Change the incentives, and you'll get the product you want.

WECIV
28 Apr 07,, 20:56
I did not say everyone...or maybe I did. If so that was a mistake.

W

Shek
29 Apr 07,, 00:34
I did not say everyone...or maybe I did. If so that was a mistake.

W

Name the generals who have lied, i.e., made up facts, in Iraq. Rose tinted glasses, accentuate the positive, etc. there are a few, but not lies.

Bigfella
29 Apr 07,, 03:05
Uhh... the VietCong was destroyed, the NVA was basically destroyed 3 times. Where is the failure? It was at home as US leaders lost political support from the populace. They were wondering why the hell we didn't cross into North Vietnam territory. So what stopped the US forces from crossing into NVA territory: geopolitics and US politicians's unwillingness to upset China as US leaders saw China as a potential counterweight to USSR in the larger picture, the Cold War. So one would argue that US politicians in the greater scheme of things, sacrificed Vietnam as a pawn in order to win the bigger war, the Cold War.

As for the failures in Iraq II, I agree with him on many points but I contribute the source of the problem to Dummy Rumsfield as he destroyed the atmosphere necessary for CI innovation and thinking.

Blademaster,

A few points. I'm happy to take shots at Rumsfeld. he certainly bears a heavy burden for the problems that have emerged in Iraq. He is not, however, to blame for institutional flaws in the upper levels of the officer corps of the US Army.

I have a book at home called 'The Perfect War: Technowar In Vietnam' by James William Gibson. While the book is flawed, what it does better than any account I have ever read is point out how the adoption of management structures based on corporate models adversley affected the US military (he looks at land & air) in Vietnam. He identifies the root of the problem as being post-WW2 changes in structure, but the problems may well predate that. Whatever failures Rumsfeld is responsible for (and they are legion), he inhereted a military culture that predated him by decades. I would contend that his behaviour ensured that culture would produce negative results, but he didn't create the culture.

I have to respectfully disagree with your analysis of Vietnam. The 4 years of Westmoreland's leadership of MACV were crucial to US involvement in Vietnam. Johnson knew that after Korea, getting America into a big, drawn out war in Asia would be unpopular, so he picked a General with a plan to 'win' quickly. That plan amounted to a fancified version of attrition - we kill so many of them that they cry 'uncle' & stop fighting in the South.

The plan succeeded brilliantly as far as killing people (mostly the enemy) went. Unfortunately the enemy didn't give up. In fact, they fought hard enough to kill well over 30,000 Americans by the time Westmoreland had fiished his tour. This is why Tet was such a disaster for America, it showed that after 3 years of intense combat & a lot of dead Americans, the Vietnamese could still mount a massive offensive. Indeed, that capability remained even after Tet, as several more large offensives were launched later in 1968. Johnson was one of the most skilled politicians in US history. he knew that he had limited time to win in Vietnam & he knew, after Tet, that time was up.

After Tet, under Gen Abrams, Us forces actually adopted a successful CION strategy. He dramatically changed metrics of success & tactics. These tactics were valuable in crippling offensives later in 1968. It was these offensives, rather than Tet, which actually crippled VC infrastructure in the Sth (it was slowly rebuilt, but was never as effective). Unfortunately it was too little too late, America was leaving, and the RVN was never going to be able to defeat the DRV without a powerful US ground presence.

Invading the North was never going to happen. No way, no how. It had zero to do with playing nice for China. There were a number of interrelated factors ensuring this would never happen. Whenever you look at Vietnam, remeber the context - the war in Korea had been costly, mismanaged & every bit as unpopular as Vietnam would become. This cast a huge shadow over the policies of every US administration from Eisenhower to Johnson. Invading the North threatened a very direct repeat of the great disaster in Korea - Chinese intervention.

There is considerable evidence, by way of military infrastructure & depolyments, that China was prepared to intervene conventionally in Vietnam. This was as good a reason as required not to invade the DRV, but it wasn't the only one. Selling an invasion of a nation that could not concievably threaten the US would not have been easy, even in the early 1960s. It was, however, doable. What would have killed the operation, however, is losses. In both Korea & Vietnam opinion began to shift against the war as death passed 20,000, and had passed 50% against by 30,000.

It is my belief that America could easily have lost that many within 12 months invading the Nth, perhaps even more quickly. And all that would have achieved was the occupaton of a populace prepared to fight & die for as long as it took to remove America. There was not going to be any great uprising of people greeting the US as liberators. It is worth remembering that a Vietnamese force made up entirely of low grade border units & local militia held up the PLA for weeks in places & inflicted major casualties in the 1979 invasion. While the PAVN would have been wiped by the US military, it would have come at a cost, and it would just have constituted the first layer of defence. Had America invaded the DRV in 1965 the US people would have been ready to leave all of Vietnam by 1966. America loses almost a decade early.

Officer of Engineers
29 Apr 07,, 03:23
It is worth remembering that a Vietnamese force made up entirely of low grade border units & local militia held up the PLA for weeks in places & inflicted major casualties in the 1979 invasion.Sorry but I challenge that assertion. The Vietnamese had months to prepare their defences and prepared they did. Those local militias were made up of battle hardened troops that saw action in the South and they were were armed enough and fortified enough to channel Chinese tanks into killing zones. By all accounts, those Vietnamese militias were 1st rate troops while the Chinese were indeed 2nd rate forces.

Given the relative performances of all three forces, US, Chinese, and Vietnamese, I don't share your pessimism that the US would suffer 10s of 1000s of casualties within months. Given the military performances of Tet, I dare say that whatever obstacles the Vietnamese could have put up would have been fixed, bypassed, and reduced at leisure.

Bigfella
29 Apr 07,, 07:26
Sorry but I challenge that assertion. The Vietnamese had months to prepare their defences and prepared they did. Those local militias were made up of battle hardened troops that saw action in the South and they were were armed enough and fortified enough to channel Chinese tanks into killing zones. By all accounts, those Vietnamese militias were 1st rate troops while the Chinese were indeed 2nd rate forces.

Given the relative performances of all three forces, US, Chinese, and Vietnamese, I don't share your pessimism that the US would suffer 10s of 1000s of casualties within months. Given the military performances of Tet, I dare say that whatever obstacles the Vietnamese could have put up would have been fixed, bypassed, and reduced at leisure.


OOE,

Fair enough, but you would have to admit that the best equipped, trained & supported divisions were in Cambodia. I would suggest that for Vietnam to put up the defence it did while simultaneously fighting an even larger war in Cambodia was a pretty impressive achievement. It says something for the morale of those people. I would have expected them to be just as determined against an American force. I would also assume that many of those in local militias during the mid-60s would also have been combat veterans of the French War.

On any potential invasion of the DRV, I don't doubt that PAVN forces would have been crushed whenever they met properly constituted US conventional forces. I believe, however, they would have extracted a price for that victory, especially outside the Red River Delta & coastal lowlands. Pesonally I wouldn't expect the DRV to waste too many of its best troops trying to hold those areas, but to revert to the strategy of 1946/7 when they retreated to mountainous areas where they could reduce the relative advantage of a modern European-style army.

After the initial invasion America would then have to find some way of securing a nation full of very pissed off people who had 7 years to practice guerilla warfare against the French & a few more fighting in the South. Given that America had managed to rack up 30,000 dead by the start of 1968 (almost all since mid-1965), I don't see why a prediction of losses of that magnitude in a situation of much higher intensity combat against an enemy on home turf with much greater civilian support is out of the question.

I certainly don't think that 20,000 dead within 12 months would be an overly high figure, and then what? You are still trying to justify invading a country that poses you no threat & very definately does not want you there. Given that America was unable to pacify the RVN during that period, despite having a freindly government & support from significant sections of the populace, what possible future could an operation have in dramatically less favourable circumstances in the Nth? Even without the possibility of Chinese intervention it is a scenario guaranteed to scare any politician.

Officer of Engineers
29 Apr 07,, 11:41
Fair enough, but you would have to admit that the best equipped, trained & supported divisions were in Cambodia. I would suggest that for Vietnam to put up the defence it did while simultaneously fighting an even larger war in Cambodia was a pretty impressive achievement. It says something for the morale of those people.

I do not agree at all. The Vietnamese not only had the 4th largest army in the world at the time but were also Soviet equipped and signed a defence pact with Moscow. Both Soviet and Vietnamese intel had identified the Chinese forces committed to the Southern action and no one was impressed. The best Chinese divisions went north to counter a possible Soviet counter-strike.

I do know that Hanoi was not expecting the scale of the attack of 200,000+ troops. They were expecting a heavy border clash, not a full penetration against 3 Provincial capitals.

Hanoi had thought her preparations were more than adequate. They were wrong and thus were forced to withdraw divisions from Cambodia.

As bad as the Chinese had performed, all their OPOBJs were achieved and northern Vietnam was devastated through scorched earth. Their northern militias, including their combat veteran troops, were wiped out.

And there was a heavy cost to Vietnam, so much so that they were the ones who lost the 1984 2nd Sino-Vietnam War.


I would have expected them to be just as determined against an American force. I would also assume that many of those in local militias during the mid-60s would also have been combat veterans of the French War.

Determined? Yes. Effective? No.


On any potential invasion of the DRV, I don't doubt that PAVN forces would have been crushed whenever they met properly constituted US conventional forces. I believe, however, they would have extracted a price for that victory, especially outside the Red River Delta & coastal lowlands. Pesonally I wouldn't expect the DRV to waste too many of its best troops trying to hold those areas, but to revert to the strategy of 1946/7 when they retreated to mountainous areas where they could reduce the relative advantage of a modern European-style army.

I do expect Hanoi to waste her best troops. That is their style. They lost way more than the French, especially at Diem Bien Phu. And when you consider that they had to REBUILD their armies 3 times against Southern Vietnam. I highly doubt that they can mount the kind of attacks they did against the French. I don't doubt that they would be able to mount company and maybe even brigade strength attacks but I do strongly doubt that they could mount anything close to division, let alone corps as they did against the French.


After the initial invasion America would then have to find some way of securing a nation full of very pissed off people who had 7 years to practice guerilla warfare against the French & a few more fighting in the South. Given that America had managed to rack up 30,000 dead by the start of 1968 (almost all since mid-1965), I don't see why a prediction of losses of that magnitude in a situation of much higher intensity combat against an enemy on home turf with much greater civilian support is out of the question.

For the very reason that such a war before in the South was organized. If the Americans had smashed all the way to the Chinese border, the 1st thing the Vietnamese will have to do is to re-organize themselves and 1 year is way too optimistic for me. More than likely, they will have to set up their organization based in Chinese territory and that alone takes time and effort. Especially when it comes to establishing territorial commands and LOCs from China.

Blademaster
29 Apr 07,, 13:38
OOE,

Fair enough, but you would have to admit that the best equipped, trained & supported divisions were in Cambodia. I would suggest that for Vietnam to put up the defence it did while simultaneously fighting an even larger war in Cambodia was a pretty impressive achievement. It says something for the morale of those people. I would have expected them to be just as determined against an American force. I would also assume that many of those in local militias during the mid-60s would also have been combat veterans of the French War.

On any potential invasion of the DRV, I don't doubt that PAVN forces would have been crushed whenever they met properly constituted US conventional forces. I believe, however, they would have extracted a price for that victory, especially outside the Red River Delta & coastal lowlands. Pesonally I wouldn't expect the DRV to waste too many of its best troops trying to hold those areas, but to revert to the strategy of 1946/7 when they retreated to mountainous areas where they could reduce the relative advantage of a modern European-style army.

After the initial invasion America would then have to find some way of securing a nation full of very pissed off people who had 7 years to practice guerilla warfare against the French & a few more fighting in the South. Given that America had managed to rack up 30,000 dead by the start of 1968 (almost all since mid-1965), I don't see why a prediction of losses of that magnitude in a situation of much higher intensity combat against an enemy on home turf with much greater civilian support is out of the question.

I certainly don't think that 20,000 dead within 12 months would be an overly high figure, and then what? You are still trying to justify invading a country that poses you no threat & very definately does not want you there. Given that America was unable to pacify the RVN during that period, despite having a freindly government & support from significant sections of the populace, what possible future could an operation have in dramatically less favourable circumstances in the Nth? Even without the possibility of Chinese intervention it is a scenario guaranteed to scare any politician.

What about Operation LinebackerI and II, the US brought the NV to the bargaining table. As for patrolling NV, you have SVA to do the task. Besides taking NVA territory means that the NVA would be without resources to build another army. CHinese resources were not up to the task.

Moreover, Mao was scared to fight against the US and was willing to cede Vietnam to US to avoid fighting US as CHina was in the midst of the GL and CR throes. Mao was clinging to power and another war with the US with the associated mounting casualties would be enough to remove Mao from power. Chinese intervention was not really an option. Besides, Nixon was making overtures to China during the middle of Vietnam War for an alliance against USSR. Throughout the whole war, US still felt USSR was the biggest threat and continued to send its best troops, weapons, and materials to the Europe theater.

Crossing into the NVA and taking the capital would be enough to tip the war to US. It would reduce the NVA to a guerrilla force, which is something that the SVA was competent to do. SVA wasn't competent to go against a conventional force.

Shek
29 Apr 07,, 13:52
What about Operation LinebackerI and II, the US brought the NV to the bargaining table.

The North Vietnamese came to bargaining table because we offered them complete withdrawal of US forces and maintaining the status quo, in other words, North Vietnamese forces could remain on South Vietnamese territory. So, they agreed to terms that they themselves had set as preconditions for an agreement. Funny how that worked.

Wiseman
30 Apr 07,, 06:38
Looking at my commissioning class, only 1st generation immigrants like me know another language. Whereas, the individuals who were born in the US do not and they don't even bother. Talk about hearts and minds...not much.Sir, as far as further education goes, this is what I hear "Don't worry about grad school, focus on your troop time". To an extent the Army is trying to encourage language with free access to Rosetta Stone. However there are great faults with that program. Frist, it will never help you learn how to write in a Non-Romance language. Just for kicks I looked at what they had for Russian and based on what they teach there, nobody will learn how to write in Cyrillic or even in Serbian which uses both Latin and Cyrillic alphabets. The only way to do it properly is to have them all sent to DLI and have an instructor there work them day and night.

Should we start to have language requirements at the junior officer level instead of waiting until field grade?

Albany Rifles
30 Apr 07,, 15:16
"It's because we're still stuck in the rules of a bureaucratic system created back at the turn of the last century under Elihu Root."

Those rules have, on occasion, been suspended in acknowledgement of the nation's needs during times of war. Real war. Not this phooey. Did I say that? Sure, because it's so.

If this military, administration, government, congress, and public REALLY felt and UNDERSTOOD the threat, we'd see the suspension of bueraucratic impediments to the promotion of good men, ideas, and equipment. It comes naturally when the survival instinct kicks in. To date it hasn't- for any of us. Thems the facts.


I have a bit of a dispute over you equipment statement.

As some of you may remember from other boards, I work in the belly of the beast, at an Army program management office. The sepcific project I work on is the Army's property accoutnability system. Because of that I have visibility over the Army acquisition community. It is stunning to see the amount of new equipment which is being put into the hands of troops. Other than World War II I can see no other period in our history where we have rapidly developed and integrated new equipment directly into ground combat units. I would agree that there is some equipment which is taking too long to get to the troops, but for the most part, when the funding is put in place we are getting the gear inot the hands of troops quickly. Look at a mechanized infantry battalion today as compared to March 2003...lots of changes in equipment and structure. It is even more dramatic at the brigade combat team level.


All of that said, the Nation is not at war....DOD is at war.

S2
30 Apr 07,, 19:36
"...I have visibility over the Army acquisition community. It is stunning to see the amount of new equipment which is being put into the hands of troops."

Thanks alot. Nothing tougher than having to defend a rant. I retract "equipment".;)

cato
30 Apr 07,, 20:11
When reading through this excellent article and thread, I am reminded of just how much dead growth was cleared out by GEN Marshall, and replaced with names from his famous little black book. There hasn't been one general officer relieved, the highest officer relieved (I believe) was a Marine RCT commander during the Nasyria fighting in 2003. Not good.
Cato

Albany Rifles
30 Apr 07,, 20:20
When reading through this excellent article and thread, I am reminded of just how much dead growth was cleared out by GEN Marshall, and replaced with names from his famous little black book. There hasn't been one general officer relieved, the highest officer relieved (I believe) was a Marine RCT commander during the Nasyria fighting in 2003. Not good.
Cato

I don't think a single National Guard division commander kept his job after mobilization...but i could be wrong. I know they went throught the regimental comamnders with a scythe. Troy Middleton was the only really succesful National Guard officer I am aware of who kept his job and excelled....excelled to the point when he tried to retire in 1944 because of arthritic knes IKE disapproved and said he needed him as a corps commander.

Another point I recalled reading this was the division commanders in WW II all pretty much held the rank of Major General, Army of the United States but in fact almost all were lieutenant colonel or colonel in the Regular Army.

Bigfella
30 Apr 07,, 22:11
When reading through this excellent article and thread, I am reminded of just how much dead growth was cleared out by GEN Marshall, and replaced with names from his famous little black book. There hasn't been one general officer relieved, the highest officer relieved (I believe) was a Marine RCT commander during the Nasyria fighting in 2003. Not good.
Cato


What would we all give for a person with the ability & powers of Marshall during WW2?

I would humbly suggest that the presence of such a person in the current environment would have led to a VERY different set of outcomes in Iraq.

WECIV
01 May 07,, 05:52
"Most posers get busted and booted before they even make captain."

Now, Shek, that is just not true. If our leadership was so good we would not be in the cluster**** that we are in now.

W

Shek
01 May 07,, 08:33
"Most posers get busted and booted before they even make captain."

Now, Shek, that is just not true. If our leadership was so good we would not be in the cluster**** that we are in now.

W

No, it absolutely is true, as I've seen it and had many colleagues who've told me stories as well.

You said that folks have lied, and yet, you haven't produced a single name. I've got no problem with criticism, but I won't let unsubstantiated claims go untouched. Name names. Who's lied, and what were the lies.

Shek
01 May 07,, 09:24
NPR : Article Cites 'General Failure' of War Leaders (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9884070)

Albany Rifles
01 May 07,, 13:29
NPR : Article Cites 'General Failure' of War Leaders (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9884070)


I admire several things about him but he has the guts to also include himself as part of the problem.

Those of you who are familiar with the US Army are aware of the after action review process. For those who are not, let me fill you in. The AAR process is used during all operations to determine how good your plan was, how well you executed it and how you could do it better in the future. Trust me, the communist commissars could learn a thing or two from the Army about how to stand up in front of your peers and subordiantes and lay out all of your shortcomings and failures. While the AAR process is supposed to highlight the positive as well as a the negative (you always have to come up with 3 good things, and 3 bad things) it is an excellent tool for self examination.

This process is used at every echelon from a vehicle crew training in a simulator to the Theater Army staff after Operation COBRA II.

What Yingling has done is conduct a AAR on the command climate of the US Army. I hope my Army wises up and corrects the errors.

Oh, and BTW, the process above is pretty brutal at the tactical level, i.e., platoon leader, battalion staff, company commander level. Posers are found rapidly during this process and either are "mentored" into mending their ways or shown the door. Do a few make it through? Of course, it is not a perfect institution. But it does a pretty good job of weeding out those unfit to command; and, ultimately, that is what being an officer is about.

WECIV
01 May 07,, 17:50
"Rose tinted glasses, accentuate the positive, etc. there are a few, but not lies."

Where I come from those are lies. You can only have a 3GW force if you have thorough/total honesty. Honesty leads to true transformation...not technology and "rose colored glasses. Said glasses lead to casualties and loss.

W

Shek
01 May 07,, 18:10
"Rose tinted glasses, accentuate the positive, etc. there are a few, but not lies."

Where I come from those are lies. You can only have a 3GW force if you have thorough/total honesty. Honesty leads to true transformation...not technology and "rose colored glasses. Said glasses lead to casualties and loss.

W

To lie requires that one either knows or believes that the information they present is false, and then presents it with the intent of deceiving. This is a moral issue.

That is different from someone who doesn't understand the counterinsurgency fight and so concentrates on the wrong metrics, and then presents correct stats on the wrong metrics and thereby presents an incorrect picture.

What we've seen in Iraq is the latter and not the former - the rose colored glasses are a factor of competence and not dishonesty. So, either you've got the goods or you don't. Lay it out for examination - name the "liars" and their "lies." I will not let you impugn folks without evidence.

WECIV
03 May 07,, 02:58
I need not give you examples, you just admitted they do lie. Take a logic class sometime. Situational ethics are not ethical, no matter what tint you paint it.

W

Officer of Engineers
03 May 07,, 03:56
W,

STAND FREAKING DOWN! Unless you show me an EXACT example of where these Officers LIE instead of speaking out if ignorance, I will NOT have you insulting Staff Officers who were doing their BEST.

S2
03 May 07,, 04:00
You should provide the proof. The major has admitted nothing. Your claims are both serious and unsubstantiated. You need to step up or stand down. now.

This condition can be corrected by you, 1.) providing the information (i.e. names might be a nice start) which corroborates your position or, 2.) apologizing for allowing matters to degenerate to this low with such an otherwise baseless claim.:mad:

Your opinion of what constitutes a liar should become VERY interesting when we see the names of those who make your case for an endemic condition of dishonesty among our senior commissioned leadership.

I look forward to your disclosures or apology. One or the other.

Ray
03 May 07,, 08:46
W,

Poseurs can succeed.

The incompetent can also succeed.

But then, it depends on what you think is success.

Even God has failed and yet he is God!

So, easy does it!

Everyone including God has feet of clay!

Nothing to go ballistics for!

I have apologised on this board many a time for misunderstanding. I have lost nothing. In fact,I have gained. I gained stature - even if it were in my own eyes! That is more important than what other think of me!

One must be a Man!

Go in Peace!

ChdNorm
03 May 07,, 13:28
Does the US Military offer officers any type of incentive pay for things like lanquage skills, graduate degrees, or advanced skills?

Shek
03 May 07,, 14:08
Does the US Military offer officers any type of incentive pay for things like lanquage skills, graduate degrees, or advanced skills?

Chad,

Foreign Language Proficiency Pay is offered to any service member (upwards of $1000/month if you have 3 fluencies in "strategic" languages - this is the rare exception). There is no additional pay for graduate degrees, although if the Army paid for it, then that is an incentive there (along with the 1-2 years of good family time and stability that it affords). Additionally, if you make a graduate degree a wicket for promotion to future commands, then you incentivize the right people to pursue advanced education.

Albany Rifles
03 May 07,, 14:17
Chad,

Foreign Language Proficiency Pay is offered to any service member (upwards of $1000/month if you have 3 fluencies in "strategic" languages - this is the rare exception). There is no additional pay for graduate degrees, although if the Army paid for it, then that is an incentive there (along with the 1-2 years of good family time and stability that it affords). Additionally, if you make a graduate degree a wicket for promotion to future commands, then you incentivize the right people to pursue advanced education.

Unless you are an idiot like me who gets is MA while on active duty, paying out of my own pocket, in a discipline the Army found no use for!!!! :rolleyes:

WECIV
05 May 07,, 05:07
I am not apologizing for anything. If our staff officers were so good then we would be winning this thing. Shek has stated that they state things through rose colored glasses...they do and that is lying. Shek and I seem to agree on this subject then. I have nothing to apologize for and will not. Next.

Any force that can keep telling the American ppl that the war is going well and have nothing concrete to show for it is lying. If you do not know the answer or how the war is just state so. If you want evidence of this sort of thing watch CSPAN.

W

Officer of Engineers
05 May 07,, 05:59
I am not apologizing for anything. If our staff officers were so good then we would be winning this thing. Shek has stated that they state things through rose colored glasses...they do and that is lying. Shek and I seem to agree on this subject then. I have nothing to apologize for and will not. Next.As much as I want to, I cannot ban you for not understanding English. There is a big difference between lying and incompetence. Looking through rose colour glasses is NOT lying. It is not understanding reality.

S2
05 May 07,, 06:02
You should consider your fitness for further participation at this board. I know that I sure have and concluded that you won't be missed one bit.

Shek
05 May 07,, 11:13
I am not apologizing for anything. If our staff officers were so good then we would be winning this thing. Shek has stated that they state things through rose colored glasses...they do and that is lying. Shek and I seem to agree on this subject then. I have nothing to apologize for and will not. Next.

Any force that can keep telling the American ppl that the war is going well and have nothing concrete to show for it is lying. If you do not know the answer or how the war is just state so. If you want evidence of this sort of thing watch CSPAN.

W

No, we are not in agreeance. You question character while I question competence. One drives at professional expertise (competence), while the other drives straight at the profession (character) itself, and there is a huge difference, a difference that requires evidence to sustain.

Shek
31 May 07,, 15:06
Here's the first oped from "within" the military to hit the MSM on LTC Yingling's piece. I should be posting a rejoinder to the oped later.


A skewed perspective*-*Editorials/Op-Ed*-*The Washington Times, America's Newspaper (http://washingtontimes.com/op-ed/20070529-085333-2199r.htm)

A skewed perspective
TODAY'S COLUMNIST
By Gian P. Gentile
May 30, 2007

A recent article by active Army Lt. Col. Paul Yingling published in a reputable military magazine argues that general officers in today's American military have failed miserably at their job. If the job of the general is to see accurately the nature of current and future wars, determine and construct military resources to deal with the nature of war and make truthful -- if often unpleasant -- recommendations to civilian authorities to conduct those wars, then America's generals receive an "F" grade from Col. Yingling.

In concluding his article, the most egregious criticism that Col. Yingling makes toward today's American generals is that they have lacked the moral courage to stand up to their higher leaders and tell them the truth about the reality of war and what is needed to fight it.

Making such a sweeping generalization of the failure of American generals (Col. Yingling does not mention the names of any specific generals whom he has in mind) demands a perspective -- or a view to the subject matter. Unfortunately, Col. Yingling does not, and never did, have that perspective yet he uses his position as an active army officer to suggest to his readers that he does.

Other current serving active Army officers with a perspective have offered fair and balanced criticisms of American generals and their performance. The best example is that of Col. H.R. McMaster's book, "Dereliction of Duty," in which he cites a failure in American generals during the Vietnam War to state truthfully what they saw as the war's actual needs and how to fight it. Because they were unwilling to do so, Col. McMaster, the historian with a perspective through historical research, faults them for lacking moral courage. The American Vietnam generals were therefore derelict at their duties; this is a reasonable interpretation to make from the perspective of the historian Col. McMaster sifting through the multitude of the past.

Since the publication of Col. Yingling's article, the American press and punditry have made him out to appear as an insider who knows the inner workings and activities of America's highest ranking generals. Col. Yingling has served two tours in Iraq. The first go-around was actually in a non-counterinsurgency unit responsible for the movement and disposition of captured Iraqi Army munitions. His second tour in Iraq was as a counterinsurgency operator with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment under Col. McMaster in the city of Tal Afar. In the latter, Col. Yingling certainly had a perspective of the tactical side of a very successful, if not discrete, counterinsurgency operation. But he was not privy to the conversations, the thinking, the decisions of high American generals like George Casey and John Abizaid concerning Iraq.

For Col. Yingling to condemn American generals for lacking the moral courage to stand up against their civilian leaders for what they knew was right but were afraid to tell would require him to have a perspective about those generals. To make such an argument one would first have to determine through proof that senior American generals believed that they were on the wrong tack in Iraq but were afraid to state such things to their civilian leadership, therefore lacking moral courage. Col. Yingling never had that perspective, and his claim of a failure of American generalship for lacking moral courage is specious.

I commanded an armored reconnaissance squadron in West Baghdad in 2006. I saw firsthand the Iraq civil war. I also had the opportunity from August to November 2006 to take a number of very high-ranking general officers out on patrol with me and show them my areas of operations. I took out at the time the CENTCOM commander, Gen. John Abizaid, the commander of coalition forces in Iraq; Gen. George Casey, the commander of daily operations of coalition forces; and Gen. Pete Chiarelli, to name a few of the most senior generals. They rode in the front seat of my armored humvee while I road in the back seat; we talked each time for about two to three hours. So in a limited sense I gained a perspective on these senior American generals.

In taking these generals out on patrol and getting to know them, I never sensed that they new something that I and the rest of the world didn't and were afraid to tell us and their superiors. Instead, what I saw was deeply committed leaders to their duty, and to accomplishing the mission given to them by their country. In my eyes they were not derelict.

I think I know what moral courage is. I lost soldiers in my squadron. I spoke to their families shortly after they were killed and gave them an honest rendering of the death of their loved ones. In this sense, I have a perspective on moral courage. That perspective on moral courage combined with my perspective of senior American generals in Iraq in 2006 causes me to conclude that Col. Yingling is hugely off the mark in his condemnation of American generalship.

Others probably don't think so. Many in the American press and punditry laud him along with his condemnations as speaking truth to power. They assume that Col. Yingling must be right in his proclamations of failure by American generals because he as a serving, active army officer had a perspective on their actions and could reasonably draw conclusions on their performance.

Yet Col. Yingling had no informed perspective on these Generals and so those who quickly and happily embraced his conclusions should now reconsider. At least in the American Army today it is my impression that the majority of soldiers, noncommissioned officers, and officers do not view their generals in the same sweeping and condemning light as does Col. Yingling.

Lt. Col. Gian P. Gentile is commander of the 8-10 Cavalry 4ID in Fort Hood.

Shek
31 May 07,, 16:38
Max Boot chimes in.


Sign Up (http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-boot31may31,1,377151.column?coll=la-news-columns&ctrack=1&cset=true)

Fire the incompetents, find the Pattons
Our armed forces need to do a better job of punishing failure while rewarding those who succeed on the battlefield.
May 31, 2007

THE NAVY IS ON a tear. Last week, for the sixth time in six weeks, a skipper was relieved of command. The latest to get the sack was Cmdr. E.J. McClure of the guided missile destroyer Arleigh Burke, which had a "soft grounding" while heading back to port in the well-charted waters off Norfolk, Va.

These firings have sparked debate in military circles, with some critics from the other services charging that the Navy is guilty of a "zero defect" mentality that would have robbed it of such distinguished leaders as Adm. Chester Nimitz, the World War II hero who grounded his first command in 1908. But even if the Navy is going, so to speak, overboard, there is a good case to be made that the ground-combat arms go too far in the other direction by not holding their commanders responsible for a lack of results.

This was the essence of a complaint made recently by Army Lt. Col. Paul Yingling, who wrote in the Armed Forces Journal that "a private who loses a rifle suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war."

Yingling was complaining about, as the title of his article had it, "A Failure in Generalship," and he was right to do so. But the same complaint could be lodged with equal justice about some of the lieutenant colonels and colonels who have commanded battalions and brigades in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those are positions roughly equivalent to a ship commander in the Navy, and in a decentralized war like the one in Iraq, they are the key combat leaders.

There are precious few examples of an Army or Marine tactical commander being fired for ineffectiveness. One of the few exceptions occurred during the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003 when Marine Maj. Gen. James Mattis replaced a regimental commander he felt was not advancing fast enough. More commonly, it takes extreme misconduct, often of a sexual nature, to get a ground-forces commander fired.

For instance, there is Army Lt. Col. William H. Steele, a reservist who used to command Camp Cropper, the main U.S. detention facility in Baghdad. He faces possible prosecution for offenses including fraternizing "with the daughter of a detainee" and "possessing pornographic videos."

Another Steele (no relation to William H.) — Col. Michael Steele of the 101st Airborne Division — had his career ended in 2006 when he was reprimanded for not doing more to investigate and expose an incident in which four of his soldiers were accused of murdering three Iraqi detainees. Then there is the case of Janis Karpinski, who was busted from brigadier general to colonel because of dereliction of duty in the command of Abu Ghraib prison, as well as for a prior charge of shoplifting.

All these disciplinary actions seem justified. But many military observers wonder about holding to account those who aren't caught in public scandals but simply aren't effective leaders or who consistently fail to achieve results. No one should get cashiered for honest mistakes, especially if the errors are the result of calculated risk-taking in the volatile caldron of conflict. But if officers show themselves unable to perform effectively, they need to be sent packing.

Conversely, promising young leaders who prove their worth in the line of fire need to be promoted more rapidly than they are today under a ponderous peacetime personnel system. James Gavin, the celebrated commander of the 82nd Airborne Division in World War II, became a brigadier general at 36. Curtis LeMay, one of the most successful airmen in history, was a major general at 37. Why is it that today such senior ranks are only held by graybeards with more than 30 years of service?

War imposes far different demands on soldiers than does the routine life of the garrison. Some who are perfectly adequate peacetime soldiers fail the audit of conflict and have to be shunted aside (as happened to hundreds of generals in the Civil War and World War II), while others who were malcontents in peacetime (think of Ulysses S. Grant or George S. Patton) excel on the battlefield and rocket to the top.

That winnowing-out process, which has been a hallmark of all of our previous major conflicts (at least the ones we won), has not occurred since 9/11. A good deal of the blame rests with President Bush, who has refused to punish incompetence until it's far too late, and sometimes not even then. Senior generals who have failed to get results in Iraq have received medals and promotions, not pink slips. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld was kept around long after his miscalculations had become plain. But accountability can't stop at the top. It has to extend down the chain of command. Otherwise our soldiers will pay a terrible price for a failure of leadership.

There is no better guidance in these matters than the words of British Field Marshal William Slim, the commander of Allied forces in Burma in World War II. He wrote: "The only test of generalship is success…. The soldier may comfort himself with the thought that, whatever the result, he has done his duty faithfully and steadfastly, but the commander has failed in his duty if he has not won victory — for that is his duty."

wabpilot
01 Jun 07,, 01:04
Amen brother, Amen!

My career survived the Viet Nam war, and well into the Cold War. But, I never saw a time when we needed warriors in command more than today. I look back on too many good sticks moved on to the airlines rather than take a PCO course. Today, the same thing is happening. And the threat is worse. We had a proven strategy to deal with the USSR. Right now we don't have a strategy to deal with violent Islam.