Monday, April 17, 2006

Military criticism of civilian leaders is nothing new

There’s a lot wrong with MSM’s reporting about the retired generals speaking out in opposition to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, and implicitly, in opposition to President Bush.

But I’m not getting into MSM’s flubs and biases right now except for one: the reports claiming the current military criticism of civilian leadership is “unprecedented.”

That’s not true! Military leaders have often been critical of civilian leadership. Some were retired but others made public criticisms while on active duty: Generals MacArthur, Patton and Stilwell come immediately to mind.

During his presidency, Bill Clinton was so often publicly criticized by officers that top brass felt compelled to issue public warnings that those doing so faced disciplinary action. MSM should remind us of that.

In his biography of WW II Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall, Forrest Pogue recounts an instructive and amusing episode that relates to what we’re considering here.

In late December 1941 Britain and the U. S. agreed that the Chiefs of Staff of the two nations’ service branches would form a combined group which would set war strategy, identify and prioritize major military operations, and allocate resources.

Most WW II historians agree the group, The Combined Chiefs of Staff, preformed admirably. But the group had many sharp and sometimes angry differences regarding what to do when and how. Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke called a heated, three hour-long argument they had “the Mother and Father of all rows.”

At one meeting of that sort things got so hot the Generals and Admirals and Field Marshals and Air Marshals could agree on only one thing: it wasn’t good for the Allied cause for them to all be in the same conference room at that moment. So they decided to break and return later.

During the break Field Marshal Sir John Dill, who for much of the war served as liaison officer for the two staffs, went back and forth between the groups with the same message for both: If the chiefs couldn’t settle their differences and draw up a document they could all initial, then “they will get to decide.”

Dill’s message had a great effect because, as one of the chiefs later put it, “We all knew what a hash they could make of things.”

When the Combined Chiefs resumed their meeting, they worked more cooperatively and achieved agreement on a document they all initialed.

The document was then passed on so “they” could initial it “FDR” and “WSC.”


Anonymous said...

Of course, back then we had the advantage of a patriotic press.


Anonymous said...

Part of the generals' complaint was that Rumsfeld intimidated them.
Glad they are retired. Personally I don't have much respect for generals complaining about being intimidated.

Eddie Colletta

straightarrow said...

Hey Eddie, just think how the enemy would make them feel. Bwess em widdle harts.

Eddie Colletta said...


OBloodyHell said...

"Fire a full spread of surrender documents, Ensign!!"