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Old 01-13-2011   #1
AdamG
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Default WSJ Op-Ed: A Fifth Star for David Petraeus

Op-Eds are proto-blogs, right?
So what's the Peanut Gallery think about this?


A Fifth Star for David Petraeus
By Pete Hegseth & Wade Zirkle
The Wall Street Journal
Thursday, January 13, 2011

Quote:
On a cold December evening in 1783 at Fraunces Tavern in lower Manhattan, Gen. George Washington bade farewell to his staff and resigned his command of the Continental Army. One hundred ninety three years later, on America’s Bicentennial, Congress posthumously promoted Washington to five-star “General of the Armies of the United States.”

Washington led the Continental Army against the British for eight years, the longest tenure for a combatant (wartime) commander in our history to be awarded a fifth star. But David Petraeus, who begins his eighth year as a combatant commander (presently as theatre commander in Afghanistan), will soon eclipse Washington’s tenure. In appropriate recognition of his long and extraordinary wartime service, the new Congress should authorize a fifth star for Gen. Petraeus, thereby promoting him to “General of the Army”—just below Washington’s rank of “General of the Armies” (plural).

After George Washington, the only other five-star “General of the Armies of the United States” was John Pershing, who was promoted to the rank after commanding U.S. forces in World War I. The nine remaining five star generals in our history were branch-specific commanders during World War II: Gens. Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, George Marshall, Omar Bradley and Henry Arnold were each “General of the Army.” Navy Adms. Chester Nimitz, William Halsey, Ernest King and William Leahy served as five-star “Fleet Admirals.” Each of these officers received the honor during wartime, with the exception of Halsey, who was awarded the fifth star three months after World War II ended, and Bradley, who was awarded his fifth star in 1950.

Like these great leaders, Gen. Petraeus’s breath of experience and outstanding results deserve to be recognized and honored. His wartime tenure began as the Commanding General of the 101st Airborne Division, responsible for over 10,000 combat troops during the initial invasion of Iraq. He led the 101st in an airborne assault into northern Iraq and then quieted the city of Mosul.

Gen. Petraeus then oversaw the creation and training of the new Iraqi Army, a Herculean task that was accomplished amid a rapidly deteriorating security situation. By the time he was through, he had stood up, equipped and trained over 100,000 Iraqi soldiers. They would be crucial in winning the peace in the years to follow.

In 2005, Gen. Petraeus led the Army’s command responsible for education and doctrine at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. There he wrote the Army’s manual on counterinsurgency operations. His COIN manual was the blueprint for the upcoming troop “surge,” which saved Iraq from the brink of calamity.

Gen. Petraeus left Fort Leavenworth in 2007 to take his new playbook to Iraq, where he became commander of coalition forces. He engineered one of the most stunning turnarounds in the history of modern warfare. Within 18 months, the general and his troops defeated al Qaeda in Anbar, ended a civil war in Baghdad, sealed porous borders with Iran and Syria, and created a sense of normalcy in Iraq.

After succeeding in the face of near-unanimous doubt, Gen. Petraeus was promoted to commander of Central Command (Centcom) in 2008, where he would oversee a two-front war in Iraq and Afghanistan. His tour at Centcom was cut short, however, when President Barack Obama asked him to replace the dismissed Gen. Stanley McCrystal in Afghanistan. It was a step down on the career ladder for Gen. Petraeus—but he was the president’s last hope to turn around Afghanistan. Demonstrating classic statesmanship, Gen. Petraeus relinquished his more prestigious post at Centcom.

The U.S. war against terrorism is now the longest war in U.S. history, and Gen. Petraeus has clearly distinguished himself as a leader worthy of joining the ranks of Gens. MacArthur, Marshall and Nimitz. A promotion would properly honor his service—and it would also honor the troops he leads and has led. Today’s soldiers have fought as valiantly as any in American history, and they deserve recognition of their leaders. Congressional approval of a fifth star would demonstrate the nation’s commitment to their mission.

David Petraeus is also a soldier-statesmen who works with foreign diplomats and generals in hotspots across the globe. The prestige that would come with a fifth star would also likely help the U.S. in its negotiations with neighboring states—and show the enemies of freedom that we are fully committed to the war against terrorism.

It has been more than half a century since a U.S. general was awarded a fifth star. David Petraeus’s generalship has spanned 11 years, three presidents and seven Congresses. It is time to promote him to “General of the Army” and award him a fifth star. Our military deserves it, and he has certainly earned it.

-- Messrs. Hegseth and Zirkle are directors at Vets for Freedom. Mr. Hegseth served in Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division, and will deploy to Afghanistan in 2011. Mr. Zirkle served two deployments to Iraq as a Marine infantry officer, and is a recipient of the Purple Heart.
Article link: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...514563178.html
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Old 01-13-2011   #2
Infanteer
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Although I don't agree with some of the flowery statements and would argue that others have put just as much time and effort into these wars, I can't fault the argument of recognizing the stature that Petraeus has achieved - history will likely stick him up there with the other five stars.
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Old 01-13-2011   #3
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Default Well....

Is General Petraeus going to also be simultaneously appointed as the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff? Or will the rank become official upon his retirement?

Because Petraeus will outrank him and/or the Army Chief of Staff otherwise. And all the combatant commanders. Won't that be awkward unless Petraeus is outside the normal chain of command?

Five star ranks were given during WWII partly for protocol reasons as Marshall, Eisenhower, Nimitz and MacArthur had to interact with and command foreign counterparts of higher rank than the prewar Army and American tradition had permitted, excepting General Pershing's special status as General of the Armies ( which he dispalyed as four gold stars) which gave him seniority even above the newly created five star ranks. Or six, had that rank been created, which was discussed but never came to pass.

Another reason was the magnitude of the conflict of WWII where 12 million Americans served in the armed forces. That was war on an epic scale.

Should five star ranks be handed out to dominant commanding generals or admirals in a war who have great successes? Probably, but very sparingly. If Petraeus manages a "win" (i.e. stabilizing ) in Afghanistan, I'd say that he has earned it but some thought needs to be given as to what assignment he will do next once he holds such a rare and exalted rank.
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Old 01-13-2011   #4
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Default What about Stormin' Norman?

If I recall correctly 5 stars were also discussed for General Schwarzkopf. Would the same criteria apply to him? Definitely commanded more troops, although not for the same duration... What should the criteria be?

V/R,

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Old 01-13-2011   #5
William F. Owen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Infanteer View Post
Although I don't agree with some of the flowery statements and would argue that others have put just as much time and effort into these wars, I can't fault the argument of recognizing the stature that Petraeus has achieved - history will likely stick him up there with the other five stars.
I can fault it. It's nonsense. Patraeus is in no measure even close to military achievements of men who like Abrams, or even the highly dubious George Patton who never got five-stars. To elevate him to the same rank and status as William T. Sherman, and MacArthur, would be a travesty.

If nothing else, Iraq and Afghanistan are minute conflicts compared to the Civil and Second World Wars, so what has he done to deserve even being discussed?
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Old 01-13-2011   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
To elevate him to the same rank and status as William T. Sherman, and MacArthur, would be a travesty.
Sherman was not a five star.

I also think the notion is not a good one. I can't see the purpose. Perhaps if there actually is a decisive victory at some point rather than stabilize-and-disengage.
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Old 01-13-2011   #7
John T. Fishel
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Default Zenpundit raises compelling arguments

against awarding GEN Petraeus 5 stars - practical ones. In WW II American 4 stars were clearly outranked by British Field Marshals. Imagine how Montgomery would have dealt with Ike as a 4 star after he (M) had been promoted to FM. Today, that issue does not exist. But who is the senior American officer, a 5 star field commander or the 4 star CJCS (senior officer by law)? Nice sentiment, not practical or necessary.

Cheers

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Old 01-13-2011   #8
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Ranks should not be rewards.

Give him a Schwartzkopf-like victory parade in NYC IF he wins a war.

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Old 01-13-2011   #9
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We should be discussing how to reduce several hundred collective 'stars' from our current inventory, not how to add one.
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Old 01-13-2011   #10
Infanteer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
I can fault it. It's nonsense. Patraeus is in no measure even close to military achievements of men who like Abrams, or even the highly dubious George Patton who never got five-stars. To elevate him to the same rank and status as William T. Sherman, and MacArthur, would be a travesty.

If nothing else, Iraq and Afghanistan are minute conflicts compared to the Civil and Second World Wars, so what has he done to deserve even being discussed?
Oh, I don't disagree with you - Iraq and Afghanistan are minute when compared to other things and they aren't and never were wars of survival. Historically, I'd put him on the level of a Westmoreland or an Abrams - commanded large numbers of U.S. forces in dirty side wars. He just has a better press agent then the others (especially Westmoreland, who gets more bad press then he deserves).

However, he was the central figure of American conflicts in the 2000s. What I'm saying is I can't fault the perception that he was the military figure of the first, conflict-ridden decade of the 21st century. I don't really agree with the common perception that everything he touched turned to gold (it's Lawrence of Arabia-esque) and, like others have said, "stars aren't rewards".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
We should be discussing how to reduce several hundred collective 'stars' from our current inventory, not how to add one.
Start with LCol/Col to get rid of inflationary pressure from the bottom. For some reason, Americans more then others have loved to over-promote. When we send guys internationally, we generally have to promote them 1 rank higher to do the same job in a NATO (American) setting.
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Old 01-13-2011   #11
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Dumb idea. GEN Petraeus is serving the country superbly but the scale of forces involved does not compare to those under the command of Ike, Brad, and Mac. We don't make good company commanders colonels just because they are doing a good job commanding a company.

Or a compromise, if dumb idea gives a hint of being too judgemental and not inclusive of other points of view . If Afghanistan turns out well, make GEN Petraeus a 5 star after a 193 year interval like we did with G. Washington.
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Old 01-15-2011   #12
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The fifth star hasn't always had a stellar pedigree. William Manchester's American Caesar doesn't exactly paint a flowery portrait of MacArthur. Fleet Admiral's Leahy and King were political creatures whose fifth star was largely a reward for proximity to power. Halsey made some fairly large mistakes, the largest of which was sailing his fleet into a typhoon and killing a lot of his men. I'm hard pressed to find an exemplary reason for Hap Arnold's fifth star.

A decent argument could be made that a fifth star is more political reward than merit based. As Zen points out, the only functional way Petraeus could wear a fifth star would be as CJCS, the most political position in the military. While I can respect the purist's views that these wars have not been wars of national survival, they've been wars nonetheless.
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Old 01-19-2011   #13
91bravojoe
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If the criteria is a 'win' in Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan, then Petraeus should be giving back some tarnished metal.

On the other hand, if you like sycophantic knob polishing, he's your guy:

http://www.pierretristam.com/Bobst/07/wf100507.htm
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Old 01-19-2011   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamG View Post
Op-Eds are proto-blogs, right?
So what's the Peanut Gallery think about this?


A Fifth Star for David Petraeus
By Pete Hegseth & Wade Zirkle
The Wall Street Journal
Thursday, January 13, 2011



Article link: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...514563178.html
Just to note, it is incorrect to refer to any person holding the grade of ''General of the Armies of the United States'' as a ''five star general''. No official insignia for the grade was ever established. The only persons who can be reasonably referred to as ''five star generals'' are the five officers who actually held the grade of ''general of the army''.

Also, to note, it is incorrect to refer to Pershing and Washington as the only persons to ever hold the grade of ''General of the Armies of the United States''. Ulysses S. Grant. William Sherman and Philip Sheridan also held the grade. The legislative act of 1866 which established the grade of ''General of the Army of the United States'' referred to it as a revival of the office previously established for Washington. The grade held by Grant, Sherman and Sheridan is entirely distinct from, and senior to, the ''four star'' rank of modern full generals, and being equivalent to the grade held by Washington and Pershing, is senior to the ''five star'' grade of ''general of the army''.

As for the merits of the proposed promotion, I see no grounds for that. Petraeus has performed well in two relatively small-scale COIN-centric wars but no decisive victory yet has been obtained in either conflict. Promotion to a rank held by senior leaders in a global-scale war hardly seems merited. And frankly, the implied comparison between Washington, a man leading a newly forming nation in a desperate struggle for independence, and Petraeus, a theater commander fighting terrorists and insurgents in far-off lands is entirely absurd.
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Old 03-20-2011   #15
RJ
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Looks like the majority agrees - No 5th Star for David Petraeus!

I agree. the stage is too small to support the weight that honor would grant.
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