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Thread: General Petraeus: collection

  1. #61
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default There are plenty of lies and game playing on both

    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    The President's speech, IMO, was pretty much the same pile of horse hockey that has come out his mouth since 2003.
    . . .
    . . .
    . . .
    . . .

    Flat out lies here. No oil law or even agreement. No de-Baathification law. What local "reconciliation"? Reconciliation has to involve Iraqis reconciling with Iraqis, not Iraqis agreeing to stop killing Americans in exchange for duffel bags full of cash.

    Skiguy - Your post is quite reasoned compared to what was running through my head watching my CINC sit and lie to my face on national TV. Again.
    sides of the aisle; both Parties are being pretty irresponsible about Iraq in all aspects IMO. I'd also suggest that US (Bipartisan) attempts to impose things like de-Baathification and an oil law are going to be resisted by some due to sheer xenophobia.

    The 'not invented here' syndrome is not at all a US peculiarity and our overweening egos trying to tell the Iraqis what to do was always going to be, er, um, problematic...

    Politicians lie and obfuscate, it's in the job description. I've lived through 12 US Presidents -- every single one of them has "lied to the American people" on national security issues. I'm pretty sure the next few will do the same regardless of Party.

  2. #62
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    Default Policy and strategy

    The Bush administrations policy in Iraq has too often been conflated with the strategies for implementing it by many of the critics of the policy. Thus the Abizaid-Casey small foot print strategy for implementing the policy was criticized as Bush's strategy. When he became dissatisfied with the results of that strategy and adopted the Petraeus, counterinsurgency strategy as a way to implement that policy, critics immediately started attacking the new "Bush strategy."

    This is why some of the questioning of Gen. Petraeus was so off the wall. People who oppose the policy were challenging the result of the strategy as way to discredit the policy. I think the result was that opponents of the policy lost the plot in an attempt to discredit results that advances the policy. As someone who has seen a few cross examinations, I would have to say that the General was an outstanding witness and advocate for his strategy. Those who attempted to challenge his integrity were the real losers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by skiguy View Post
    Yes, 9 months is such a long, long time. (well, apparently it is for a certain U.S. political party). .
    Hell yes it is! That's 12.5% of a Senator's term!
    Example is better than precept.

  4. #64
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    GEN P told Congress duirng his confirmation that he would brief them in September, and he did that. If he had not, there would be all kinds of shenannigans going on. I think that the commander on the ground and the COM briefing Congress was great. Some of the aftermath hasn't been good, but they told like it is.

  5. #65
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Thank You Jimbo...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo View Post
    GEN P told Congress duirng his confirmation that he would brief them in September, and he did that. If he had not, there would be all kinds of shenannigans going on. I think that the commander on the ground and the COM briefing Congress was great. Some of the aftermath hasn't been good, but they told like it is.
    ... short, sweet, on the point and well said. It would have taken many 'talking heads' 2,000 words in an Op-Ed or twenty minutes on a talk show to say what you just posted...

  6. #66
    Council Member MattC86's Avatar
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    Default A Clarification, Perhaps?

    Thanks all for the responses (and reassurances I wasn't completely out of line), and especially to Jedburgh for covering my

    I want to make clear I don't take issue with any of the testimony given to Congress. That was well done by both GEN Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker, performing the necessary duty of reporting to Congress (and, by extension, the American people) even if the clowns in Congress - and frankly the population at large - has already made up their mind.

    My issues stem from what I perceived to be an abdication of normal constitutional responsibility on the part of the President. I know in the military community it is considered important that a President listen to his military commanders, but the President is the ultimate policy-maker, not the military officer, no matter how impeccably qualified as he (in the case of Petraeus) may be.

    As unfit as the comparison may seem, GEN MacArthur was fired by Truman because he was essentially taking CinC responsibilities and making policy himself. Obviously Petraeus is not in the same vein, but perhaps in reverse - Bush has made his policy entirely dependent upon what Petraeus says. As such, Petraeus has to hit Fox News and Katie Couric to, in effect, sell the war. That's what the 2004 op-ed (linked in my first post) did as well - and I think that op-ed was fairly inaccurate, with full hindsight.

    Maybe I'm seeing a difference that doesn't actually exist between reporting the state of the war and selling a policy, because I don't think I'm making it clear in my posts. . . in that case thanks for bearing with me. . .

    Matt
    "Give a good leader very little and he will succeed. Give a mediocrity a great deal and he will fail." - General George C. Marshall

  7. #67
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Clarification can save the Nation...

    Generals can be called by Congress to testify. So can Staff Sergeants, Privates, Admirals and any other citizen -- and they have been for years, there's nothing new in Petraeus testifying.

    I fail to see any abdication of constitutional responsibility by the President. He has no obligation to testify in front of Congress and if the Congroids want more knowledge of an executive branch program, then the appropriate person from the correct Executive agency is sent to testify -- as long as the President agrees that executive privilege is not being violated (and obviously in the case of Petraeus, he did not so believe). Petraeus testifying is Constitutionally no different than the Chief of the US Forest Service or the Deputy Commissioner of the IRS testifying. That's the way the system is supposed to work.

    The President is indeed the policy maker. He has the ultimate responsibility for all the executive agencies do or fail to do. There are several thousand programs operation every day in the executive branch of the US government. No one person can ever hope to have detailed knowledge of many, much less most -- and certainly never all -- of those programs; thus the government is a heirarchial organization and the President has to delegate authority. He has done that, the policy and the responsibility remain with the president.

    The President is a fomer figher jock, short term type; he has no knowledge of ground warfare. That's the Army's job. They recommend a course of action, the President nods and that becomes his policy. The Army is the executive agent and has been delegated the authority -- not the responibility, that cannot be delegated -- to execute the action. The system generally works and it did in this case.

    MacArthur was not fired for making policy himself -- he was fired for vocally, constantly and publicly advocating a policy that was not that of the US government. A quite different thing and well within the President's authority.

    Petraeus did not have to go on TV (and should not have, nor should Bush have made his speech last Thursday, both IMO). That he did so is an indicator that he realizes this Administration is the worst in recent history in getting their message out and he tried to help 'em out a bit. That's above and beyond -- even if he did make the tactical error of going on Fox before a more 'neutral' source. No big thing.

  8. #68
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default General Petraeus recalled...


  9. #69
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    I know the implication is tied to COIN as a type of qualifier for the decision to bring GEN Petraeus back to CONUS to guide the board’s deliberations, but I’d like to offer up that while the general media uses COIN much in the way it uses “surge”, I’d offer that this board’s importance is less about picking guys with “exact” knowledge of counter-insurgency, but is more about selecting 06s for GO rank who have proven they possess an agile mind and can recognize changes and possibilities and can adapt quickly to deny the enemy options while exploiting opportunities which will gain and retain the initiative on the tactical, operational and strategic levels of war.

    I saw where USA MG (Retired) Robert Scales had offered up why this is so important. I have turned to his writing many times because he has thought and written on leadership a great deal, and has so much experience in leadership – and I think he has the crux of it.

    Past and current performance offer a window into potential for increased responsibility and authority commensurate to promotion to a higher rank – what GEN Petraeus offers is the perspective of a leader who has proven in every assignment he’s been assigned that he has the qualities required to operate and lead across the full spectrum of operations as defined by FM 3-0 and win.

    As a relatively junior field grade what I propose we want from our GOs is agile and adaptive leadership commensurate with the responsibility and authority found in the positions held by GOs under whatever conditions and operational themes the mission commits us to – be they Peacetime Military Engagement, Limited Intervention, Peace Operations, Irregular Warfare, or Major Combat Operations.

    The General Officers selected are going to have their hands full – from leading our soldiers in combat today, to anticipating the demands of tomorrow, to educating and informing our political leadership on the best ways to develop, sustain and employ military force where it is required to achieve a political objective – and the risks of doing so. While being grounded in their tactical experiences – they must be thinking on the operational and strategic levels – able to articulate nuances to provide context, while being able to see the inter-relationships and consequences.

    I think we must give the board the benefit of understanding that while COIN may be the theme we’ve picked up on, the requirements of ensuring we have the best GOs (and leaders) are deeper and more subjective. The 06s we’ve identified in the original blog and related articles are more then just good COIN officers, they are leaders who have demonstrated that they can identify a problem and think creatively about it, and will resource the means to overcome it. They are full spectrum officers with agile and adaptive minds, and they have sparked creativity in organizations they have been a part of, and inspired the larger community by their ideas and communication skills.

    Best Regards, Rob

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    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    I know the implication is tied to COIN as a type of qualifier for the decision to bring GEN Petraeus back to CONUS to guide the board’s deliberations, but I’d like to offer up that while the general media uses COIN much in the way it uses “surge”, I’d offer that this board’s importance is less about picking guys with “exact” knowledge of counter-insurgency, but is more about selecting 06s for GO rank who have proven they possess an agile mind and can recognize changes and possibilities and can adapt quickly to deny the enemy options while exploiting opportunities which will gain and retain the initiative on the tactical, operational and strategic levels of war.

    I saw where USA MG (Retired) Robert Scales had offered up why this is so important. I have turned to his writing many times because he has thought and written on leadership a great deal, and has so much experience in leadership – and I think he has the crux of it.

    Past and current performance offer a window into potential for increased responsibility and authority commensurate to promotion to a higher rank – what GEN Petraeus offers is the perspective of a leader who has proven in every assignment he’s been assigned that he has the qualities required to operate and lead across the full spectrum of operations as defined by FM 3-0 and win.

    As a relatively junior field grade what I propose we want from our GOs is agile and adaptive leadership commensurate with the responsibility and authority found in the positions held by GOs under whatever conditions and operational themes the mission commits us to – be they Peacetime Military Engagement, Limited Intervention, Peace Operations, Irregular Warfare, or Major Combat Operations.

    The General Officers selected are going to have their hands full – from leading our soldiers in combat today, to anticipating the demands of tomorrow, to educating and informing our political leadership on the best ways to develop, sustain and employ military force where it is required to achieve a political objective – and the risks of doing so. While being grounded in their tactical experiences – they must be thinking on the operational and strategic levels – able to articulate nuances to provide context, while being able to see the inter-relationships and consequences.

    I think we must give the board the benefit of understanding that while COIN may be the theme we’ve picked up on, the requirements of ensuring we have the best GOs (and leaders) are deeper and more subjective. The 06s we’ve identified in the original blog and related articles are more then just good COIN officers, they are leaders who have demonstrated that they can identify a problem and think creatively about it, and will resource the means to overcome it. They are full spectrum officers with agile and adaptive minds, and they have sparked creativity in organizations they have been a part of, and inspired the larger community by their ideas and communication skills.

    Best Regards, Rob
    LOL--we need to have a long talk about General Scales some time.

    No question, though, that a war rages between the "big" Army and the "irregular" Army. The use of Petraeus on a promotion board shows that Gates is as interested in shaping this as was his predecessor (what was his name?), but is doing it in a more subtle, less in-your-face, fashion.

  11. #71
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    You know – I’ve never met the retired general – but I have read much of what he’s written over the last few years. I was introduced to his writings by two officers who have influenced me greatly, and who I hold in high esteem. Scales’ writings strike me as being from somebody who has reflected on what they have done, and what they might have done – and also as to how we might do them better. When others were focused on defining “transformation” as being hardware related – the pieces I see from him always seem to put leadership and people first – even when as an advocate for FCS as the Army’s major acquisition, he wrote from the point of enabling agile and adaptive leaders.

    This is one reason I think we must select leaders for their potential to visualize and anticipate the problems and possibilities that seem to elude others; and to promote those who have the courage and genius to address and take advantage of things that others less inclined, or less capable might overlook or ignore in favor of something which espouses low personal risk.

    This is my opinion is what is significant about bringing GEN Petraeus back – it is not so much what the board will look at, but how they will look at it – how the board will weigh “potential” based on who the candidates are, and how their actions have defined them. This is at least a chance at recasting ourselves to look forward instead of over our shoulder.

    Best, Rob

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    Sorry for digging out this thread, but I have a question regarding how Gen. Petraeus can influence this promotion board's decisions and, ultimately, GO selection process. I've been until now unable to find accurate and up-to-date information about this process and still don't know if, as a Chairman, Gen Petraeus has a real opportunity to change things by promoting great COIN practitioners, or if he can only put names on a list which has to be confirmed by other board members/service/office, willing or not to promote the same kind of officers.

    Please, any information would be extremely welcome. Thanks a lot in advance for any help you could provide.

    Best,

    CB
    Last edited by CB; 12-11-2007 at 12:09 PM. Reason: misspelling

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    Quote Originally Posted by CB View Post
    ...Gen Petraeus has a real opportunity to change things by promoting great COIN practicians...CB
    Is this what we really want? Is this good for the Army?

    A Coin Cabal? There certainly are some indicators that that is what our Army has become. Consider the elevation of relatively lower ranking officers who are members of this Cabal to rock-star status.

    We think with these latest moves that Yingling's recommendations are being adopted. However, I see these moves as reinforcing what Yingling railed against in his important piece: a crony dominated system of officer promotions. That may be an extreme view but we should at least look at these latest developments with trepadation and caution before we start falling all over ourselves with high-fives and self-congratulations.

    gentile

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gian P Gentile View Post
    Is this what we really want? Is this good for the Army?

    A Coin Cabal? There certainly are some indicators that that is what our Army has become. Consider the elevation of relatively lower ranking officers who are members of this Cabal to rock-star status.
    What alternative would you propose? A renewed emphasis on conventional maneuver warfare?

    And, I'm just asking--this is not a leading question. I'm not an advocate of "all COIN, all the time." I think we're preparing to fight the last war. I'm not sure what the appropriate future course is.

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    Well, it wasn't really my point but yes, I believe creating career paths for successful COIN experts is a good thing for the Army. That doesn't mean promoting only COIN experts, of course, but creating a diversified officer corps able to handle both stabilization & COIN ops and waging conventional war. Just look at the kind of conflicts in which the US Army has been involved in the past; couldn't such a change in officer promotion policy have helped the US Army to be better prepared to the kind of missions it would have to face, either in Lebanon, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gian P Gentile View Post
    Is this what we really want? Is this good for the Army?

    A Coin Cabal? There certainly are some indicators that that is what our Army has become. Consider the elevation of relatively lower ranking officers who are members of this Cabal to rock-star status.

    We think with these latest moves that Yingling's recommendations are being adopted. However, I see these moves as reinforcing what Yingling railed against in his important piece: a crony dominated system of officer promotions. That may be an extreme view but we should at least look at these latest developments with trepadation and caution before we start falling all over ourselves with high-fives and self-congratulations.

    gentile
    And this is different from the airborne mafia, armor community, etc., in what real way? It's always cronyism when it's a group that someone happens to disagree with, but forward thinking if it's a group that happens to meet someone's agenda objectives. Just an observation that we've seen this before and seem stunningly incapable of learning from previous bureaucratic mistakes.

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz
    And, I'm just asking--this is not a leading question. I'm not an advocate of "all COIN, all the time." I think we're preparing to fight the last war. I'm not sure what the appropriate future course is.
    Steve, I agree that the Army's looking to fight the last war again, but it seems that they're always either doing that or fixating on the war that they WANT to fight (here I refer to doctrinal development after the Civil War and, to a degree, the post-Vietnam period). I'm honestly not sure that the institution is capable of preparing for a variety of threats or even meaningfully thinking about those multiple threats. It's all "either/or."
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Council Member TROUFION's Avatar
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    Default not necessarily a one trick pony

    You can be more than one thing. You can be an expert in conventional and unconventional war. Officers and senior enlisted of high caliber and flexible mindset are what is needed. In the Marine Corps we have legendary leaders who started out in irregular conflicts and rose to great success in conventional wars. Smedley Butler, Chesty Puller, Dan Daily, to name but a few. Warfighting can be complicated but it is not so difficult that it cannot be understood on its many levels. My opinion on the choice of Petraus is that he is intelligent, talented and he has an eye for spotting talent. He is the flexible officer capable of adapting to his environment. If the Iranians stormed across the Iraqi border in waves of armor and infantry I expect he would deal well with that just as he is dealing well with COIN. Placing a top notch GO in charge of a board is the right thing to do.

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TROUFION View Post
    You can be more than one thing. You can be an expert in conventional and unconventional war. Officers and senior enlisted of high caliber and flexible mindset are what is needed. In the Marine Corps we have legendary leaders who started out in irregular conflicts and rose to great success in conventional wars. Smedley Butler, Chesty Puller, Dan Daily, to name but a few. Warfighting can be complicated but it is not so difficult that it cannot be understood on its many levels.
    Yes, and one of the interesting thing about the Marines is that they have been able to strike that balance. I'm not sure what it is about the Army as an institution that has made them unable (or unwilling) to do so with any great regularity. It's not so much a question of size (as this is something I've seen going back to when the Army's main business was more or less constabulary in nature) as it may be the culture and learned behaviors within the organization.

    This isn't a dig at the Army as much as it is me musing out loud (or at the keyboard) about something that has come to interest and puzzle me more and more of late. I'll stop now before I ramble out of control...
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    What alternative would you propose? A renewed emphasis on conventional maneuver warfare?

    And, I'm just asking--this is not a leading question. I'm not an advocate of "all COIN, all the time." I think we're preparing to fight the last war. I'm not sure what the appropriate future course is.
    The officers selected for O-7 from this board will have grown up and been promoted to O-6 by the "conventional" Army based on their proven competence at conventional operations, with some Bosnia and/or Kosovo rotations spriknled in there. Their performance at the O-6 level will by and large be judged by their performance in OIF/OEF, operations that for most part will have a strong COIN component in there.

    If the officers that are selected were the best commanders in the COIN environment, does this make them part of a "COIN cabal" or the most adaptable officers who are able to perform well in new operating environments?

    On the flip side, if an officer was the best NTC/JRTC/CMTC warfighter but couldn't adapt to a different environment and therefore was only marginal at COIN, should they be promoted to O-7?

    I'm afraid that in the conversation over where the future of the Army needs to go, we'll find ourselves trying to put people into one of two boxes, labeled COIN or conventional, instead of looking at those who show the mentile agility to be able to have one foot in both boxes and have the proven potential to adapt to the future challenges that may not be in either box.

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    Default Making Generals

    Quote Originally Posted by TROUFION View Post
    Warfighting can be complicated but it is not so difficult that it cannot be understood on its many levels.
    TROUFION is spot on here. I have heard others rightfully rail against the all-COIN-all-the-time mind set and I see logic in their arguments. I will readily admit that for a short while I was an adherent to the "unconventional warfare is the graduate level of combat" school of thought. I have come to recognize that it might be the graduate level of tactics but too often COIN zealots see the forest but not the trees. For example they see the undeniable value of both civil and military actions working in concert but rarely discuss the logistics required for such an effort. Maneuver, still a critical element in any tactical situation seems to be brushed aside by thoughtless cheers such as "boots on the ground," "hearts and minds," and "constant presence."

    We need to remember that the junior officers of the so-called Indian Wars became the staff officers of the Spanish American War and eventually the G.O.'s of WWI - all very different conflicts but all feeding experience to the next.

    My hope is that GEN Petraeus will select future generals based on their ability to lead, think, manage, and plan to win in a variety of conflicts. Everything after that is just shooting.
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