When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

28 April 2007

A failure of generalship

You will read, in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and elsewhere today, of an article in the Armed Forces Journal, written by Lt. Col Paul Yingling, which criticizes the senior leadership of the United States military in very blunt, harsh terms.

If you are interested in the Long War at all, let me urge you strongly not to get your synopsis of this article from the newspaper. The entire article is posted, for free, on the Web for all to see, and read, and it's worth twenty minutes of your time to read it for yourself and think hard about it.

This is too vital a topic for you to let someone else, even an accredited professional journalist as fine as the Post's Thomas Ricks, chew your food for you and tell you what it tastes like.

The journalists I've read today are quoting the flashy and angry bits of the article, and they can't be blamed for that; it's a long complex piece, it's hard to summarize, and they're out to sell newspapers.

Yingling isn't a naysayer, in my view... he's someone who has taken a hard look at what's at stake and is very worried:
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.

Here's the link. Go read it:

Armed Forces Journal: A Failure In Generalship

Update, 4/28/07: Chapomatic has a thoughtful, personal reaction, as well as a useful roundup of commentary from the milblogosphere and beyond.

No comments: