Tracing Military Failures, Holding 'The Generals' Accountable

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Tracing Military Failures, Holding 'The Generals' Accountable

Post by Bryant on Wed Dec 12, 2012 3:07 am

Tracing Military Failures, Holding 'The Generals' Accountable
Talk of the Nation
NPR


In The Generals, Thomas Ricks argues that the failures in America's recent wars can be directly traced to failures of those in command.

Ricks examines U.S. military leadership from World War Two to the present day, and concludes that the mistakes in Iraq and Afghanistan can be traced to the Army's inability to come to terms with all the lessons of Vietnam.

Over the course of decades, he says, the U.S. Army became an institution that operated to the benefit of its officers, encouraged caution and corporate careerism, and confused tactical success with the strategy needed to win. Most important: the Army forgot the necessity to fire generals who failed.

As part of our series on books we missed in 2012, Ricks talks with NPR's Neal Conan about how a lack of accountability has shaped the military.


Above is just an abstract of the discussion with Ricks on the history of accountability of Americas political leadership from World War I through today. The full discussion can be heard here. What do the veterans on this group think of Ricks argument? How does his, or any of the callers, arguments compare with you're experience. I found the discussion interesting, however as I've never served in the military I have minimal frame of reference to assess any of the claims.
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Re: Tracing Military Failures, Holding 'The Generals' Accountable

Post by Dennis324 on Wed Dec 12, 2012 12:06 pm

He may be right that mistakes have occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan. I mean...it wouldnt be the first time leadership has bungled a campaign.

But I would counter with the fact that this president, at least, has killed an awful lot of bad guys. I really marvel at his use of drones in this current phase of the war. I gotta give our Obama credit here. I called for the use of covert means (rather than massive armies to wage war way back when we were in the myspace group. I just didnt know much about drones back then. And he's doing it.

As for the lessons of Vietnam...I blame much of our failure in Vietnam to politics here in Washington rather than our commanders in the field. (Also, I think our use of the draft probably led us to press people into service who's heart wasnt in the war effort....which is why I am solidly agaisnt the draft). But we won just about every battle in Vietnam...just didnt win the war for a variety of reasons. Cant blame our military leaders for that though.

I would also like to point out the brilliant campaign of Gen Norman Swartzkof (sp?) in the 1st Gulf war. Does Ricks think Stormin' Norman failed?

The US military has had some black eyes in the past. BlackHawk down was heart-breaking. Tailhook was embarrassing. And the WikiLeaks / Bradley Manning scandal whereby Manning turned over classified info to a website was a huge blow. I cant believe they havent already shot that kid.

But our military rarely...and I mean extremely rarely gets whipped on the field due to poor command and officers.

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Re: Tracing Military Failures, Holding 'The Generals' Accountable

Post by Marconius on Wed Dec 12, 2012 3:25 pm

As I see it, goverment itself dropped the ball and put our military into a position it should have never been in.

Both countries had a large and willing native workforce. Instead of using that workforce to rebuild, we hired US contractors. This not only gave the impression of occupation, but also kept money out of the hands of the locals. I firmly believe we coulda nipped the insurgencies in the bud by allowing the locals to support themselves financially as well as having the ability to rebuild and improve their own countries.

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"If guns are supposed to kill people, then all of mine are defective..."
-The Honorable Ted Nugent

"We have four boxes used to guarantee our liberty: The soap box, the ballot box, the jury box and the cartridge box". -- Ambrose Bierce (1887)

"All right, they're on our left, they're on our right, they're in front of us, and they're behind us. They can't get away this time!" -Gen. L. "Chesty" Puller, CO, 1 MARDIV, in Korea surrounded by 22 enemy divisions

Had the Japanese got as far as India, Gandhi's theories of "passive resistance" would have floated down the Ganges River with his bayoneted, beheaded carcass. -- Mike Vanderboegh.
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Re: Tracing Military Failures, Holding 'The Generals' Accountable

Post by Bryant on Wed Dec 12, 2012 11:39 pm

Dennis324 wrote:He may be right that mistakes have occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan. I mean...it wouldnt be the first time leadership has bungled a campaign.

But I would counter with the fact that this president, at least, has killed an awful lot of bad guys. I really marvel at his use of drones in this current phase of the war. I gotta give our Obama credit here. I called for the use of covert means (rather than massive armies to wage war way back when we were in the myspace group. I just didnt know much about drones back then. And he's doing it.

As for the lessons of Vietnam...I blame much of our failure in Vietnam to politics here in Washington rather than our commanders in the field. (Also, I think our use of the draft probably led us to press people into service who's heart wasnt in the war effort....which is why I am solidly agaisnt the draft). But we won just about every battle in Vietnam...just didnt win the war for a variety of reasons. Cant blame our military leaders for that though.

I would also like to point out the brilliant campaign of Gen Norman Swartzkof (sp?) in the 1st Gulf war. Does Ricks think Stormin' Norman failed?

The US military has had some black eyes in the past. BlackHawk down was heart-breaking. Tailhook was embarrassing. And the WikiLeaks / Bradley Manning scandal whereby Manning turned over classified info to a website was a huge blow. I cant believe they havent already shot that kid.

But our military rarely...and I mean extremely rarely gets whipped on the field due to poor command and officers.

If I remember correctly, there was a bit of a discussion about that. The link to the audio (it is radio, after all) was a bit hidden in my text. http://www.npr.org/2012/12/11/166963643/tracing-military-failures-holding-the-generals-accountable
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Re: Tracing Military Failures, Holding 'The Generals' Accountable

Post by Bryant on Wed Dec 12, 2012 11:39 pm

Marconius wrote:As I see it, goverment itself dropped the ball and put our military into a position it should have never been in.

Both countries had a large and willing native workforce. Instead of using that workforce to rebuild, we hired US contractors. This not only gave the impression of occupation, but also kept money out of the hands of the locals. I firmly believe we coulda nipped the insurgencies in the bud by allowing the locals to support themselves financially as well as having the ability to rebuild and improve their own countries.

That sounds like a well reasoned argument.
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Re: Tracing Military Failures, Holding 'The Generals' Accountable

Post by Marconius on Thu Dec 13, 2012 12:01 am

Bryant wrote:
Marconius wrote:As I see it, goverment itself dropped the ball and put our military into a position it should have never been in.

Both countries had a large and willing native workforce. Instead of using that workforce to rebuild, we hired US contractors. This not only gave the impression of occupation, but also kept money out of the hands of the locals. I firmly believe we coulda nipped the insurgencies in the bud by allowing the locals to support themselves financially as well as having the ability to rebuild and improve their own countries.

That sounds like a well reasoned argument.

I have several close friends who went to rebuild the oilfields. They made a killing (about 2 grand a day). Meanwhile my military friends who were there said the locals were to the point of begging and street hustling to make ends meet.

_________________
"If guns are supposed to kill people, then all of mine are defective..."
-The Honorable Ted Nugent

"We have four boxes used to guarantee our liberty: The soap box, the ballot box, the jury box and the cartridge box". -- Ambrose Bierce (1887)

"All right, they're on our left, they're on our right, they're in front of us, and they're behind us. They can't get away this time!" -Gen. L. "Chesty" Puller, CO, 1 MARDIV, in Korea surrounded by 22 enemy divisions

Had the Japanese got as far as India, Gandhi's theories of "passive resistance" would have floated down the Ganges River with his bayoneted, beheaded carcass. -- Mike Vanderboegh.
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Re: Tracing Military Failures, Holding 'The Generals' Accountable

Post by Sir Pun on Sun Feb 24, 2013 7:04 am

Yeah i would say our civilian leadership failed us much more thanour military leadership. The military never let us down in iraq or afghanistan, it was always the politics.

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