The Leavenworth Way of War

History Discussion at CGSC

The Army General Staff: Where is it in the Twenty-First Century?

A couple of years ago LTC Paul Yingling wrote an article entitled “A Failure in Generalship,” very critical of the U.S. Army general officer corps and also blaming the generals for what at the time was looking like a debacle in Iraq.

Thinking about it, I wrote an article that, while not discounting the failures of many general officers in Iraq, took a different view:

A Myriad of problems plagued the U.S. army in the first few years of operations in Iraq. At the eleventh hour General Petraeus is leading a new counterinsurgency doctrine inspired “surge” campaign that may save the entire war effort. However, the question must be asked –why has the war effort of the most sophisticated army in the world come down to a final moment “Hail Mary” pass that is reliant on the genius of an individual commander for victory? The answer is that the U.S. army has experienced a crisis of command. Pundits have gradually come to the conclusion that the performance of U.S. generalship and senior leadership has been mediocre at best and at worst largely responsible for the problems associated with prosecuting the war in its initial years. Recently army Lieutenant Colonel Paul Yingling wrote: “These debacles are not attributable to individual failures, but rather to a crisis in an entire institution: America’s general officer corps.” Yingling’s analysis is echoed by military affairs analysts such as Ralph Peters and Douglas McGregor. Even Chief of Staff of the Army, General George Casey allowed that “we don’t do as good a job as we need to training our senior leaders to operate at the national level.” However, mediocre generalship alone does not account for the initial uninspired reactive prosecution of the war. Also contributing to the inconsistent, and ineffectual prosecution of the war is the absence of a professional corps of general staff officers operating in support of the senior leadership.

Thanks to Small Wars Journal for Publishing the article!
See comments by best selling author and journalist Tom Ricks on the article here.

March 13, 2009 Posted by | Current Events | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Goldwater – Nichols: Mission complete?


Arguably the U.S. military is the only truly “joint fighting force” in the world today.  Few if any other nations have the full spectrum global capability of the U.S. military, for example, name another military that has a global strategic mobility capability similar to TRANSCOM?  Given these capabilities, and the fact that Goldwater- Nichols integrates these capbilities with a joint command structure, joint doctrine, and joint education and training, some would argue that it is time to rank the U.S. military as a “Go” at joint operations and move on to the next doctrinal hurdleinteragency capabilities

Others would argue that under the stress of real world decision making, budget constraints, and history,  U.S. jointness is revealed to be just a facade.  For example, the army sees only massive ground force as a military solution to most problems; the Navy ignores the other services; and USAF priority will always be winning through airpower.  These individuals believe that the U.S. military has to continue to reform:  make joint education and assignments even more prevalent; make all the CTCs into JCTCs; and start to moved to the idea of a U.S. Armed Forces instead of services.  These people would argue that the trends are not really toward “jointness,” but rather the opposite.  As money becomes tight the services will dig in and protect their “turf.”  If the U.S. was really moving toward jointness then how come ten years ago all the services shared the “BDU” field uniform, and now each service, at considerable cost, has its own unique field uniform to do exactly the same thing?

March 5, 2009 Posted by | H300 | , , , , , | 4 Comments