The Decline of US Army Leadership -- at the General Level

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posted on Nov, 18 2012 @ 12:30 PM
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First off, I'm not aware of a more appropriate thread for this topic, and it does have to do, in some degree, with politics within the US, hence I placed it here in US Political Madness; if there's a more appropriate place for it, by all means move it thither.

Just read a very interesting article in Atlantic Magazine on what the author, Thomas E. Ricks contends is a degradation of the quality of upper-echelon leadership, i.e. Generals, in the US Army (in particular). The article is adapted from his upcoming book, The Generals. The article goes into detail on some of the Iraq War generals as well as giving some historical context on the assigning and replacing of generals in command positions. I think it is worth reading in order to understand the last decade of military failures the US military has had in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I'm guessing some people may think of the Atlantic Magazine as having a liberal bias, but I have found its articles to be often of very high caliber, and this one falls in that category.

His thesis is that military culture has changed since WWII, with generals being replaced less often on account of poor performance, as well as with shorter command terms of six months, generals can just hunker down and wait out their commands before a new assignment. Also a more corporate culture has developed, which doesn't reward success or punish failure, and that discourages mavericks. Additionally the current civilian/media culture of venerating the military tends to be hypocritical of generals and their policies.

I found it to be a very illuminating article and recommend it to those interested in understanding the US's military failures over the past decade. I buy the author's arguments, but have no well-founded opinions on the subject myself. As ATS tends to have a lot of military types, I am curious to see what others with military experience will opine on this matter.

Summary:


Looking back on the troubled wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, many observers are content to lay blame on the Bush administration. But inept leadership by American generals was also responsible for the failure of those wars. A culture of mediocrity has taken hold within the Army’s leadership rank—if it is not uprooted, the country’s next war is unlikely to unfold any better than the last two.


the author:


Thomas E. Ricks writes the Best Defense blog for Foreign Policy magazine and is a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. This essay is adapted from his new book, The Generals, out this month.


'General Failure' -- Atlantic Magazine
edit on 18-11-2012 by MrInquisitive because: (no reason given)




posted on Nov, 18 2012 @ 12:55 PM
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Getting ready to shoot some trap and pistol drills with my daughter but will come back later this evening with some commentary.

I am no General certainly but was enlisted for 10 years and made SFC and retired as a Major. I was first and Infantryman in 3rd BN 75th Ranger Regiment, then a Counterintelligence agent with JSOC, then a Special Forces Engineer Sergeant. I was commissioned in Military Intelligence and went back to Special Forces as soon as I was eligible 1LT (P) and stayed till I retired.

I certainly worked with and for a lot of Generals, somewhere good some were not so much. However, I can say for sure that in military officer leadership "characters" need no longer apply.

If you don't closely mirror the actions and thoughts of your superiors in both your on and off duty thoughts and activities you will never make it past LTC.

Also, your spouse's performance will come into play for anything above LTC. If your spouse is not a cookie cutter, happy homemaker who volunteers for charity and stays at home you are screwed.

It is often said that while the officer may make himself a Colonel through hard work and dedication; only his spouse can make him a General.

Anyone who makes Colonel or above is entirely a homogenized cookie cutter cooperate manager type. Characters and mavericks are no longer sought after or appreciated.



posted on Nov, 18 2012 @ 01:03 PM
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I believe it to be true and it would be hard to find another reason besides a political one for the recent firings of Generals Petraeus, Allen, Ham plus one more and a rear admiral in charge of the Naval unit closest to Benghazi on 9/11. Those who tried to help our people on the ground were canned, plain and simple. What possible reason could the administration have for denying any help to Stevens and the others.

Whatever happened to "Leave no man behind"? Remember BlackHawk Down? We lost 18 men with 80-some wounded just to retrieve 2 helicopter crews when Benghazi was a bloody Ambassador for cri'sakes.

Allowing openly gay soldiers was the first step in eliminating career soldiers as many left or retired due to that ruling. The other was using PMCs (private military contractors) where people were getting paid 4 and 5x the amount for the very same work the soldiers were doing. This was dreamed up by Rumsfeld and Cheney long ago in a supposed cost saving scheme but the reality of it was to weaken the military and make billions of $ for corporate interests. It also gave the shadow gov't forces that could not be held accountable by the public as evidenced by the shootings in Nissour square, Baghdad, Iraq. Now we have mercenary forces of some of the very best fighters in the world whose only allegiance is to a paycheck. Neat, huh?

The 2 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have worn down our forces and demoralized our troops. The recent firings have destroyed the top leadership and if you recall the former head of the CIA Leon Panetta was installed as the secretary of defense.

The last straw coming soon is the supposed "fiscal cliff" which will take away half of their funding automatically. This is why I'm betting that there will be no budget deal before the deadline.
This is all by design and if you don't know why anyone would want to ruin the military and leave our troops stranded on the other side of the globe think about it a little while. There is only one logical conclusion to be drawn from this. Just add the NDAA, CIA heading the military and 30,000 drones over American skies. America is soon going to be one big prison.



posted on Nov, 18 2012 @ 01:58 PM
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reply to post by Asktheanimals
 


Yup, retirement sounded pretty good in 2011 when I finally did for various reasons but the current POTUS and his policies are a huge motivation to get out.

Army generals have no monopoly on this. Used to take the Navy Times, almost every week there was a Skipper on the cover fired for fraternization or "loss of confidence to command". Very common.



posted on Dec, 3 2012 @ 02:31 AM
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reply to post by Asktheanimals
 


Don't know why gays in the military have degraded the armed forces. Seems heterosexual Patraeus has made a good case for keeping heterosexuals out of upper military leadership.

And seriously, the US and all armies have had homosexuals in them throughout history. One of history's greatest leaders of all time was bisexual or gay (more likely the latter): ever hear of Alexander the Great? Those Spartans liked pederasty too. So formally allowing gays in the military is not the source of upper-level leadership issues in the US military, the claims of homophobes in or formerly in the military not withstanding. If anything, integrating women throughout the military is far more disruptive than officially allowing gays into it. Guys don't get guys pregnant.



posted on Dec, 3 2012 @ 02:35 PM
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Originally posted by Asktheanimals
I believe it to be true and it would be hard to find another reason besides a political one for the recent firings of Generals Petraeus, Allen, Ham plus one more and a rear admiral in charge of the Naval unit closest to Benghazi on 9/11. Those who tried to help our people on the ground were canned, plain and simple. What possible reason could the administration have for denying any help to Stevens and the others.

Whatever happened to "Leave no man behind"? Remember BlackHawk Down? We lost 18 men with 80-some wounded just to retrieve 2 helicopter crews when Benghazi was a bloody Ambassador for cri'sakes.

Allowing openly gay soldiers was the first step in eliminating career soldiers as many left or retired due to that ruling. The other was using PMCs (private military contractors) where people were getting paid 4 and 5x the amount for the very same work the soldiers were doing. This was dreamed up by Rumsfeld and Cheney long ago in a supposed cost saving scheme but the reality of it was to weaken the military and make billions of $ for corporate interests. It also gave the shadow gov't forces that could not be held accountable by the public as evidenced by the shootings in Nissour square, Baghdad, Iraq. Now we have mercenary forces of some of the very best fighters in the world whose only allegiance is to a paycheck. Neat, huh?

The 2 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have worn down our forces and demoralized our troops. The recent firings have destroyed the top leadership and if you recall the former head of the CIA Leon Panetta was installed as the secretary of defense.

The last straw coming soon is the supposed "fiscal cliff" which will take away half of their funding automatically. This is why I'm betting that there will be no budget deal before the deadline.
This is all by design and if you don't know why anyone would want to ruin the military and leave our troops stranded on the other side of the globe think about it a little while. There is only one logical conclusion to be drawn from this. Just add the NDAA, CIA heading the military and 30,000 drones over American skies. America is soon going to be one big prison.


Just to clarify a few things.....

- Gen. Allen hasn't been fired. He's still the ISAF commander in Afghan. Now his nomination for SACEUR may be delayed because of the Petraeus fiasco, but he hasn't been fired.

- Gen. Ham is still in charge of AFRICOM. He hasn't been relieved as of yet. His relief Gen. David Rodriguez still needs Senate confirmation. Ham is retiring next year.

- Yes, RADM Gaouette was relieved as Commander of Stennis Strike Group. However when the Benghazi attacks happened on 9/11/12, the Stennis group was underway in the Pacific, hardly "the Naval unit closest to Benghazi on 9/11." The Stennis group made a port call in Malaysia from 30Sep-04Oct, before entering the Middle East AOR on 17 Oct. RADM Gaouette was then sent back to Bremerton Wa around 27 Oct.

- Repeal of DADT hasn't resulted in an exodus of personnel departing the military. If anything people are staying in. Recruiters have been cutting back on recruits and enacting stricter recruiting standards.



posted on Dec, 3 2012 @ 02:56 PM
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reply to post by Golf66
 


I have said for some years that the US Armed Forces are now promoting politicians rather than leaders. Leaders above E-7 and O-4 are a rareity these days, and as you said, they will not have much of a chance of further promotion since most are politically incorrect.

They lead by example and often ruffle their superiors feathers.

That will not do nowadays. The "Don't rock the boat" mentality has taken over.



posted on Dec, 5 2012 @ 12:20 PM
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Originally posted by TDawgRex
reply to post by Golf66
 


I have said for some years that the US Armed Forces are now promoting politicians rather than leaders. Leaders above E-7 and O-4 are a rareity these days, and as you said, they will not have much of a chance of further promotion since most are politically incorrect.



I totally agree with you. I'm a retired E-8, i still work around the military. I've never seen such gutless senior leadership. Their only concern is getting their ticket punched.



posted on Dec, 5 2012 @ 12:59 PM
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reply to post by bg_socalif
 


I retired as an E7 and when people ask me if I miss the Army, I respond with a vigorous "Hell NO! I missed the old Army while I was in the “New” Army.”

Many called me a dinosaur as I was pretty much a gruff SOB at times, but it had to done.

Every time I go back to the old unit, I notice that many more dinosaurs are heading off to the tar pits as well. They have had enough of the PC crap.





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