From our nation’s earliest days, the request to answer the colors for “a few good men” has been assured. But all too infrequently the response has brought forth a cadre of officer material that did not perform to the level desired.
Fortunately, we had George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, John J. Pershing and George C. Marshall who saved our way of life. That’s not too many generals among a host of others over a period of 144 years, 1780-1945. I purposely left out the Korean War and Vietnam War because “generalship” suffered among a host of problems, primarily political, i.e. Douglas MacArthur and William Westmoreland. This brings us to our present dilemma.
“The Generals” is an interesting new book by Thomas E. Ricks, who reported on military activities for The Washington Post from 2000-2008 and was a member of two winning teams for a Pulitzer Prize. He has put faces on leaders who led our forces in Afghanistan the past 10 years, the nation’s longest war. Ricks reports, “Since 2003, the overseers of the Afghan War have been generals: Tommy Franks, Paul Mikolasek, Dan McNeil, John Vines, David Barno, Krl Eikenberry, McNeil for a 2nd tour, David McKiernan, Stanley McCrystal, David Petraeus, John Allen and Joseph F. Dunford Jr.” If a person in the business world held such a responsible job for only one year, they would probably be fired. Ricks says that a general cannot do their job successfully within such a short time frame.
The past three to four years have seen bizarre situations regarding our generals. While on active duty, Stanley McCrystal offered some caustic and candid comments to Rolling Stone magazine. He in turn was replaced by David Petraeus, who after a relatively short tour of duty was appointed to be CIA director in 2012. From that point on it became ugly when Paula Broadwell, his biographer/mistress, had her book on Petraeus hacked by FBI agents who discovered incriminating information from anonymous emails, according to Joe Nocera’s OPED column in The New York Times, Nov. 17, 2012. At that point, he resigned from the CIA to enter civilian life.