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 »

  1. Although current military officers at CGSC may not be receiving the same level of education that former graduates may have been able to achieve, the experience gained from our operations in the GWOT should not be overlooked. We as field grade officers under many cases are more experienced in a diversity of skills which can be applied to many more applications than our superiors officers of the past. I do not disagree that our ability within the US Army as a whole to perform conventional warfare has been degraded. I also do not disagree that the future of many upcoming field grade officers are slighted in their ability to perform as specialists in our trades whether they be as engineers, field artillery, or other branches which require specific training. However, the US Army is an enduring organization which contiues to flourish under times of adversity. Our adaptability to perform under the most auspicious of circumstances will continue to allow us to achieve success. “We” as officers in the US Army must be will to better encompass the aspects of joint operations in order to maximize our experience and defeat our enemies

    Comment by MAJ Christopher Thompson | March 22, 2009

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