Mark Collins – What’s Wrong With the US Army’s Generals?

One wonders if these points have some purchase with our own Army–from Tom Ricks at his The Best Defense blog:

A powerful article in ‘Parameters’ questions the direction and leadership of the Army

After years of sleepy indirection, Parameters magazine [the US Army War College Quarterly] has roared back to life. This is good news for the Army and for the nation.

Army Maj. Jason Warren argues in the new issue of magazine that the Army’s leadership for decades has been excessively tactical, led all too often by what he calls “centurions.” This has carried a cost, he continues. “In some ways, the battlefield-dominant US Army created by these men has become a more ethical version of the Wehrmacht [ouch], which the institution intentionally sought to emulate in the years after WWII. The Army has developed a force capable of winning nearly every firefight, while simultaneously blunting its development of strategic leaders.”

He doesn’t stop there. More specifically, he writes that, “the Army’s painfully obvious inability to achieve national objectives since the Korean War against the likes of the Islamic State of the Levant (ISIL), the Taliban, Iraqi and Somali insurgents, and the North Vietnamese Army, reveals an institution in need of reform.”

He offers a particularly pointed epitaph for the American war in Iraq: “Petraeus’ surge of forces was but a current of success upon an ocean of failure.”

He also makes a worrisome point about the Army’s current top leadership. “The Army’s anti-intellectual bent also suggests advanced degrees are irrelevant to warfare…

And a question: Why do I associate this song, and this video, with the Army? I don’t know…

As for the Wehrmacht:

Auftragstaktik, or, How Best to Command an Army

How a Good Army Leadership is Created and Works…

World War II: The All-Too-Good Deutsche Wehrmacht

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


2 thoughts on “Mark Collins – What’s Wrong With the US Army’s Generals?”

  1. Hard to argue with the gist of what they are saying. But I don’t think the blame can be laid at the feet of the military. This is just a trickle down effect from the completely failed political layer. The politicians want quick tactical solutions and sound like they can’t even spell strategy.

    If you have ever watched the documentary “The Gate Keepers” (highly recommended, it was on netflix last I looked) you had one of the former Shinbet heads saying flat out “Netanyahu is all tactics and no strategy”. A theme shared by all the former heads of the Shinbet. It would be great if some of the former US military heads would go off script and make the same case.

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