Interesting Article on the Quality of US Generals

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#2
I'm just starting reading a book about the British (Indian Army) Mesopotamian campaign 1914-19. The level of balls-up caused by bad generalship (and confused political leadership) makes sad reading, including initial failure to turn the local Arabs into the enemies of their Turkish masters. The consequences of the eventual post-WW1 settlement, some of it apparently arrived at by accident, are with us today.

One could also look at the way slim turned the Burma campaign around and what was in play when he arrived that he had to sort out. Brigadier Simpson's book on the Singapore campaign is also illuminating.

Oh and also the performance of the French generals 1939-40.
 
#3
Quite an eye opening article, a bit Ledwidge-esque but punching higher.

I thought normally where the US led, we followed?
 
#5
I'm just starting reading a book about the British (Indian Army) Mesopotamian campaign 1914-19. The level of balls-up caused by bad generalship (and confused political leadership) makes sad reading, including initial failure to turn the local Arabs into the enemies of their Turkish masters. The consequences of the eventual post-WW1 settlement, some of it apparently arrived at by accident, are with us today.
I'm intrigued. What's the title?
 
#7
You think we haven't?
Should have been clearer - Ledwidge's navel gazing came out last year. This is the first main stream US focused bit that has surfaced here.

Obviously we beat our cousins across the water to saying we're shit first - post-imperial hubris ? who knows?
 
#8
Should have been clearer - Ledwidge's navel gazing came out last year. This is the first main stream US focused bit that has surfaced here.

Obviously we beat our cousins across the water to saying we're shit first - post-imperial hubris ? who knows?
Tom Ricks' previous books haven't really pulled their punches on the level of leadership shown by the Generals, this is just a more thorough look at the 'problem'.
 
#9
Lots of food for thought.

I was particularly drawn to this piece...

Bizarrely, the tactical excellence of enlisted soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan may have enabled and amplified the strategic incompetence of the generals in those wars, allowing long-running problems in the military’s leadership culture to reach their full expression. The Army’s combat effectiveness let its generals dither for much longer than they could have if the Army had been suffering clear tactical setbacks. “One of the reasons we were able to hold on despite a failing strategy, and then turn the situation around, was that our soldiers continued to be led by highly competent, professional junior officers and noncommissioned officers whom they respected,” Sean MacFarland, who as a brigade commander in Ramadi in 2006 was responsible for a major counterinsurgency success, said at a 2010 Army symposium on leadership. “And they gave us senior officers the breathing space that we needed, but probably didn’t deserve, to properly understand the fight we were in.”
MacFarland’s point is rarely made, and worth pausing over, because its implications are far-reaching. Consider a U.S. military at the other extreme—tactically mediocre and manned with unmotivated troops. In such a circumstance, it is hard to imagine the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan being allowed to meander for years without serious strategic review and redirection. Yet meander they did, at the cost of many thousands of lives—both American and Iraqi. Unless something changes at the top, it is not hard to see our future wars devolving into similarly rudderless messes, held together by the rank-and-file troops, who bear the heaviest costs.
Putting the obvious and hackneyed lion and donkey analogies aside, this point resonates more than a little with a sentiment that is becoming better understood the further we go down our own austerity path. Some years ago, at an inf CO's conference I believe, the audience was indulging itself in a round of collective dripping about the latest cutbacks when one officer (still serving, so I won't name him) stood up, threw his notebook to the floor and bellowed "...and they'll keep on cutting because no matter what they do, they know that you f*ckers will keep making it work!"
 
#10
'An assesment system that tended to reward abusive leadership'. Oooh, that's not good at all. No wonder potentially very able Generals are racking their careers in early.
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#11
Mespot book is 'When God Made Hell' by Charles Townshend (no kin of the general who got his force shut up in Kut), Faber 2010, ppbk 2011. 525 pp plus notes & index etc. I took it out of my local library to read up some background on how my grandfather, in the relief force, ended up being shot in the thigh and having a bayonet through his hand the day before Kut surrendered. Recommended for anyone with an interest in Iraq too!
 
#12
Change management (the real thing, not the Management Consultant version). It's key; commercially successful organisations have made sure that everyone up to/down from the CEO understand that everything is fluid, and that learning new skills and arts is a constant feature of all training. "Get with the Program", as that little **********, who fired me many years ago for failing to do so, said.
 
#13
Mespot book is 'When God Made Hell' by Charles Townshend (no kin of the general who got his force shut up in Kut), Faber 2010, ppbk 2011. 525 pp plus notes & index etc. I took it out of my local library to read up some background on how my grandfather, in the relief force, ended up being shot in the thigh and having a bayonet through his hand the day before Kut surrendered. Recommended for anyone with an interest in Iraq too!
Cheers, seaweed. One for the wishlist.
 

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