9 posts tagged military
Thomas Ricks, the country’ foremost military journalist and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, argues Obama should not have accepted Petraeus’s resignation:
The sudden departure of General David Petraeus from the CIA probably tells us more about the state of our nation than it does about Petraeus. President Barack Obama should not have accepted his resignation.
We now seem to care more about the sex lives of our leaders than the real lives of our soldiers. We had years of failed generalship in Iraq, for example, yet left those commanders in place. Petraeus’s departure again demonstrates we are strict about intimate behavior, but extraordinarily lax about professional incompetence.
“A private who loses a rifle suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war,” Lieutenant Colonel Paul Yingling wrote in the Armed Forces Journal in 2007.
Americans severely judge some forms of private behavior between consenting adults, if one party is a public official. Yet we often resist weighing the professional competence of such officials ‑ even when they clearly are not doing a good job.
This is not, as some say, because we are a puritanical nation. Rather, our standards have changed in recent decades ‑ and not for the better.
The Generals by Thomas Ricks, an instant New York Times bestseller, is in stores now.
Wolf Blitzer and Thomas E. Ricks (author of New York Times bestseller The Generals) discuss the Petraeus affair on “The Situation Room.”
Breaking News: Petraeus resigns as Director of the CIA.
This is certainly big news. More details will play out in the hours to come. In the meantime we recommend Paula Broadwell’s essay for CNN on how he got the job. (Broadwell literally wrote the book on the man.)
Additionally, Thomas E. Ricks, author of instant bestseller The Generals, will appear on Wolf Blitzer’s “The Situation Room” tonight to discuss the implications of Petraeus’ resignation for the Obama administration, the intelligence community, and the military.
Should the military fire its generals more often? NPR talks to Thomas E. Ricks, Pulitzer Prize-winner and author of The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today.
TIME’s Mark Thompson talks to Thomas E. Ricks about what’s changed in the military since 9/11.
TIME: Is it true that privates are punished more today for losing a rifle than generals are for losing a war? If so, why?
Thomas E. Ricks: Yes, it is true. I say that because privates are routinely punished for infractions. But as far as I can tell, no general has been fired for incompetence in combat since Maj. Gen. James Baldwin was fired as commander of the Americal Division in 1971.
Since then, others have been relieved for moral and ethical lapses that are embarrassing to the Army, but not, to my knowledge, for combat ineffectiveness. Indeed, one ineffective general, Lt. Gen. [Ricardo] Sanchez, was outraged that he was not promoted to 4 stars after failing in Iraq in 2003-04.
TIME: Why did you write The Generals? How much were you influenced by what you saw in Iraq and wrote about in Fiasco and The Gamble?
Ricks: This book comes directly out of those two earlier ones. In 2005, while I was writing Fiasco, I went on a Johns Hopkins University staff ride study of the allied campaign in Sicily in 1943.
While we were standing on a hilltop in central Sicily, one of Professor Eliot Cohen’s students related the tale of Omar Bradley firing Terry de la Mesa Allen, commander of the 1st Infantry Division, after Allen won one of the toughest battles of the campaign.
I was stunned. Here I was coming out of Iraq, where generals were failing yet not being removed, and I was being told about the firing of one of the most successful American generals during our first year of World War II.
How could that be? Why had the Army’s approach to leadership and accountability changed so much? That was the beginning of this book.
TIME: What is your favorite part of the book?
Ricks: I have several. I really liked doing researching about George Marshall, who should be better known. I enjoyed sitting in archives and reading his notes and letters, even going through the “desk litter” collected from the drawers of his Pentagon office. Some files I read had penciled letters home from generals during World War II.
But my favorite parts of the book were narratives. Dwight Eisenhower’s train journey from Texas to Washington, D.C., in December 1941, a week after Pearl Harbor, amazed me—not only did he meet the man who would help finance his presidential campaign 11 years later, he also got off the train and was asked the same day by Marshall how to win the war in the Pacific.
Another favorite section is the chapter on how Marine Maj. Gen. O.P. Smith waged the Chosin campaign in the Korean War. He’s another guy who should be better known.
His actions likely saved 15,000 or so Marines from being killed or captured—which would have been the greatest military disaster in American history, much more devastating than Custer’s Last Stand. And he had to do that while dealing with superiors—Gen. Ned Almond and Gen. Douglas MacArthur—who didn’t understand what he was doing or why.
(Photograph of Army General Tommy Franks, via.)
From bestselling author Thomas E. Ricks’ article “General Failure,” in The Atlantic.
The piece is an extended excerpt from his new book The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today, and will make you rethink pretty much everything you know about the military and U.S. foreign policy in the 21st century.
This. Is. Awesome.
As you celebrate Veterans Day today, remember all our soldiers stationed overseas. We’ve collected seven different ways you can share books with our troops.
First up, E-Books for Troops will help you share your used Kindle with our troops overseas.
Here’s more about a recent donation (pictured): “we loved the extra effort taken by members of Alpha Battery, 4-320 Field Artillery Regiment, 4th BCT, 101st Airborne Division, to show their appreciation for the 10 Kindle 2′s that we shipped to them earlier this year in Afghanistan. Note how well the specially made camo jackets donated by M-Edge Accessoriesblend into the scene.”
2. Operation Warrior Library connects writers with military personnel.
3. Books for Soldiers mails books to troops.
4. Operation Paperback sends paperbacks overseas.
5. Books-a-Million will let you select and purchase Books for Troops in a special program.
6. Operation eBook Drop focuses on eBooks.
7. Follow this Google search to find many more options for sharing books with soldiers.