McChrystal Should Be Fired

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It will come as no surprise to readers of this blog that I hold President Obama in very low regard.  I believe he is a man completely out of his depth, has shown little leadership,  has sponsored fiscal and economic policies that are disastrous for the country, and is an enthusiastic supporter of  abortion.   It may come as a surprise to some of our readers that I believe one of Obama’s critics should be fired from his job.

General Stanley McChrystal is the head of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan.  He unwisely agreed to be interviewed for a story about him in Rolling Stones.  The article may be read here.  In the article the General is fairly uncomplimentary about Obama and most of the Obama officials he has encountered:

When Barack Obama entered the Oval Office, he immediately set out to deliver on his most important campaign promise on foreign policy: to refocus the war in Afghanistan on what led us to invade in the first place. “I want the American people to understand,” he announced in March 2009. “We have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan.” He ordered another 21,000 troops to Kabul, the largest increase since the war began in 2001. Taking the advice of both the Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he also fired Gen. David McKiernan – then the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan – and replaced him with a man he didn’t know and had met only briefly: Gen. Stanley McChrystal. It was the first time a top general had been relieved from duty during wartime in more than 50 years, since Harry Truman fired Gen. Douglas MacArthur at the height of the Korean War.

Even though he had voted for Obama, McChrystal and his new commander in chief failed from the outset to connect. The general first encountered Obama a week after he took office, when the president met with a dozen senior military officials in a room at the Pentagon known as the Tank. According to sources familiar with the meeting, McChrystal thought Obama looked “uncomfortable and intimidated” by the roomful of military brass. Their first one-on-one meeting took place in the Oval Office four months later, after McChrystal got the Afghanistan job, and it didn’t go much better. “It was a 10-minute photo op,” says an adviser to McChrystal. “Obama clearly didn’t know anything about him, who he was. Here’s the guy who’s going to run his f—–g war, but he didn’t seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed.”

As it happens I think McChrystal is largely accurate in regard to his acerbic obseravtions about the Obama administration, and if he were saying them after he resigned or retired, I would be cheering him on.  However, civilian control of the military is a key aspect of our system.  The President is the civilian commander-in-chief of the military.  Disrespect shown to him by a high ranking officer is an inexcusable act of contempt for the concept of civilian control.  It is also against regulations:

888. ART. 88. CONTEMPT TOWARD OFFICIALS
Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

If McChrystal is not fired it sends the wrong message to every member of the military.  McChrystal crossed a line that should never be crossed by the military in a democracy.  In his memoirs after retirement McChrystal could condemn Obama as much as he wishes.  On active duty he should keep his personal opinions to himself, and he should certainly have more brains than to share negative opinions about his civilian superiors with a member of the media.
 

30 Responses to McChrystal Should Be Fired

  • Obama should be fired.

    You quote others than the General. Maybe McCh should be fired because he isn’t doing the job. O’s doing his job . . .

    O fired McCh’s predecessor. This will be Number Three A$$crackistan CinC in less than two years.

    Apparently, you are unfamiliar with GI humor. When they aren’t griping or joking, you have a morale problem.

    Please provide the general’s contemptuous quotes.

    McK is not being fired for contempt. He’s being fired for blasphemy. That’s why O wants his private political army.

    Obama should be fired. Cult of persoality. FO

  • I’m quite familiar with GI humor T.Shaw, having served in the Green Machine in the Seventies for three years. McChrystal either knew precisely what he was doing in which case he was being openly contemptuous of Obama, or he is too stupid to have such an important command. One doesn’t reach four star rank without being well aware of how dangerous journalists can be. As to Obama being fired, I will do whatever I can to bring that about at the polls in 2012.

  • Donald R. McClarey says: “McChrystal either knew precisely what he was doing in which case he was being openly contemptuous of Obama, or he is too stupid to have such an important command.”

    Well he voted for Obama so I’m not so sure the latter doesn’t fit.

    I’m retired military (USAF 24 yrs) and I have to agree with the article poster. If he had problems with Obama he had one of two choices; take it up the chain or resign.

    McChrystal’s background is special forces (black ops) who operated largely in the shadows his whole career. He was hired for his war fighting skills, and wasn’t “groomed” to play the game politics. He didn’t have the political acumen of a General Petreus who is a master at handling the press. Like Patton, McChrystal has a history of frankly speaking his mind. As we used to say “he allowed his alligator mouth overload his hummingbird ass”. It’s ruined many a career, including this one.

  • Wait a second. What did McChrystal himself say?

    ““It was a 10-minute photo op,” says an adviser to McChrystal. “Obama clearly didn’t know anything about him, who he was. Here’s the guy who’s going to run his f—–g war, but he didn’t seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed.”

    The adviser said this, it seems, and perhaps not even with McChrystal’s awareness or in his presence. Can you provide quotes from McChrystal that run afoul of 888 Art. 88?

  • Since McChrystal’s comments and actions did not rise to the level of McCarthy’s actions or comments I think the proper compromise is for Obama to accept McCrystal’s resignation. McChrystal did not disobey any orders from his Commander-in-Chief. I agree with much of General McChrystal’s observations, also.

  • I guess Stalin would have had him shot.

    In spite of the imbecility of an incompetent administration and frenetical Obama worshippers the great and free American people will win this

    War? . . . War?? What war???

    Thank you for your service.

    My son (airborne ranger qualified infantryman) just came home from a year in Afghan.

    I served in SAC and USAFE in the seventies. I only had contact with Army troops in West Germany around the time USAF (from Thailand) had to shoot up the Khmer Rouge gomers that hijacked the Mayaguez. The USAF, unlike the Army, somehow had managed to maintain a modicum of morale.

    What would Curtis LeMay do? I did not say I “like” McCh. For one, my kid couldn’t get air on target when he needed b/c it may have disturbed some nearby taliban-sympathizers.

    And, I have little use for snake-eating, throat cutting, sniping periphery peckers. How could any one of them ever get about major? Warfare is max firepower all the time. Or, else don’t bother.

    You’re a lawyer. Isn’t the TRUTH the ultimate defense? I’ll paraphrase Yogi Berra, “If it’s true, it ain’t contemptuous.”

    Behead all those who insult Obama!

    Some excerpts from the Rolling Stone article

    “I Never Know What’s Going to Pop Out . . .

    “Gen. McChrystal on a dinner he must attend with a French minister to try to keep French support in the war in Afghanistan:

    ‘I’d rather have my a– kicked by a roomful of people than go out to this dinner,’ McChrystal says.

    “He pauses a beat.

    “‘Unfortunately,’ he adds, ‘no one in this room could do it.’

    “‘Who’s he going to dinner with?” I ask one of his aides.

    “‘Some French minister,’” the aide tells me. “It’s f—— gay.’

    “Gen. McChrystal and an aide ridicule Vice President Joe Biden (Gen. McChrystal previously has gotten into trouble with the president for calling the counterterrorism strategy advocated by Vice President Biden “shortsighted”):

    “‘Now, . . . McChrystal wonders aloud what Biden question he might get today, and how he should respond. ‘I never know what’s going to pop out until I’m up there, that’s the problem,’ he says. Then, unable to help themselves, he and his staff imagine the general dismissing the vice president with a good one-liner.

    “‘Are you asking about Vice President Biden?’ McChrystal says with a laugh. ‘Who’s that?’

    “‘Biden?’ suggests a top adviser. ‘Did you say: Bite Me?’

    “Gen. McChrystal on working with Washington to re-evaluate the strategy in Afghanistan:

    “‘Last fall, with his top general calling for more troops, Obama launched a three-month review to re-evaluate the strategy in Afghanistan.’ I found that time painful,’ McChrystal tells me in one of several lengthy interviews. ‘I was selling an unsellable position.’ For the general, it was a crash course in Beltway politics — a battle that pitted him against experienced Washington insiders like Vice President Biden. . .

    “Gen. McChrystal and an aide on an email from U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke:

    “At one point on his trip to Paris, McChrystal checks his BlackBerry. ‘Oh, not another e-mail from Holbrooke,’ he groans. ‘I don’t even want to open it.’ He clicks on the message and reads the salutation out loud, then stuffs the BlackBerry back in his pocket, not bothering to conceal his annoyance.

    “‘Make sure you don’t get any of that on your leg,’ an aide jokes, referring to the e-mail.

    “The general’s strategy that was leaked to the New York Times:

    “McChrystal and his team were blindsided by the cable. ‘I like Karl, I’ve known him for years, but they’d never said anything like that to us before,’ says McChrystal, who adds that he felt ‘betrayed’ by the leak. ‘Here’s one that covers his flank for the history books. Now if we fail, they can say, ‘I told you so.’

    “Gen. McChrystal on his first meeting with the president:

    “The general first encountered Obama a week after he took office, when the president met with a dozen senior military officials in a room at the Pentagon known as the Tank. According to sources familiar with the meeting, McChrystal thought Obama looked ‘uncomfortable and intimidated’ by the roomful of military brass.

    “Gen. McChrystal on tensions with the administration:

    “Part of the problem is structural: The Defense Department budget exceeds $600 billion a year, while the State Department receives only $50 billion. But part of the problem is personal: In private, Team McChrystal likes to talk s— about many of Obama’s top people on the diplomatic side. One aide calls Jim Jones, a retired four-star general and veteran of the Cold War, a ‘clown’ who remains ‘stuck in 1985.’

    “Gen. McChrystal on Richard Holbrooke:

    “McChrystal reserves special skepticism for Holbrooke, the official in charge of reintegrating the Taliban. ‘The Boss says he’s like a wounded animal,’ says a member of the general’s team. ‘Holbrooke keeps hearing rumors that he’s going to get fired, so that makes him dangerous. He’s a brilliant guy, but he just comes in, pulls on a lever, whatever he can grasp onto. But this is COIN, and you can’t just have someone yanking on s—.’”

  • A good discussion on Article 88 is here:

    http://tullylegal.com/article88.pdf

    Military prosecutions under 88 have been quite rare since World War II, only one being cited in the linked article. However, every member of the military is made aware of Article 88. Certainly I was made aware of it when I was in the Army, along with my colleagues at the time.

  • I think McCrystal wanted his observations to be known, felt like he had been placed in an impossible situation since Obama’s policies are making it impossible to win over in Afghanistan, and wanted an out. Since, McCrhystal is a smart guy I think he wanted to be able to resign or be relieved of his duties.

  • The McChrystal quotes are hilarious, and largely true, but I think Donald’s right: you can’t have serving generals mouthing off at civilian authority in front of reporters like that.

    On the other hand, if he’s seeking a career in Republican politics, he probably has a lot of fans at the moment…

  • Teresa, which Obama policy is making it impossible to win in Afghanistan?

    Don, I’m shocked. I think the Republican response would be “McChrystal made a mistake but he’s the best guy we have and by firing him Obama is putting politics before national security.”

  • There’s a lot of second-hand stuff in that passage. But in the military, a commander takes responsibility for the actions of all the men under his command. McChrystal has to take the hit if the article is accurate and he and the people around him were disrespectful of the President.

  • Restrainedradical,
    Obama has been either indecisive or he has simply had trouble making tough decisions.

    Diehl at the Washington Post points out:
    “For months Obama has tolerated deep divisions between his military and civilian aides over how to implement the counterinsurgency strategy he announced last December. The divide has made it practically impossible to fashion a coherent politico-military plan, led to frequent disputes over tactics and contributed to a sharp deterioration in the administration’s relations with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.”
    “The real trouble is that Obama never resolved the dispute within his administration over Afghanistan strategy. With the backing of Gates and the Pentagon’s top generals, McChrystal sought to apply to Afghanistan the counterinsurgency approach that succeeded over the last three years in Iraq, an option requiring the deployment of tens of thousands more troops. Biden opposed sending most of the reinforcements and argued for a “counterterrorism plus” strategy centered on preventing al-Qaeda from establishing another refuge.”

    Three of Obama’s errors are pointed out here

    Plus, I think that this is absurd: http://www.navytimes.com/news/2010/05/military_restraint_medal_051110mar/

  • The editor of Rolling Stone:

    Bates dismissed any suggestion that McChrystal was deliberately trying to torpedo his own command with the article. McChrystal has a history of speaking his mind, sometimes to his detriment, such as when he was quoted last fall criticizing a strategy being pushed by Vice President Joe Biden.

    “There are far easier ways of doing that, if that’s what you want to do, and more dignified ways,” Bates said.

  • I admit that General McChrystal may not have been deliberately torpedoing his own command but his comments or the aide’s comments may leave one open to that perception.

  • Empty suit,
    Meet salute.

    A bit over two years ago, I believe Senator Obama voted “present” on Senate resolution PROTESTING ads calling Gen. Petraeus “General BetrayUS.” That took courage.

    Some racists viewed that as a vote of “no confidence” in Gen’l P and the Iraq surge strategery. We enlightened know that was in the national interest.

    Now, Quis Ut Deus fires Gen’l. McKiernan’s personally selected loud mouth replacement.

    Pvt. Bailey had a tatoo on his forehead: “F The Army.”

    If I were Gen’l. P, I’d before he becomes person number 28(?) Obama throws under the bus in the national interest.

  • “As it happens I think McChrystal is largely accurate in regard to his acerbic obseravtions about the Obama administration, and if he were saying them after he resigned or retired, I would be cheering him on. However, civilian control of the military is a key aspect of our system. The President is the civilian commander-in-chief of the military. Disrespect shown to him by a high ranking officer is an inexcusable act of contempt for the concept of civilian control.”

    Exactly how I would expect a lawyer to approach this issue. There is an ocean of difference between having respect for the constitutionally established civilian control of the military and having contempt for the individual, or administration, exercising that control today. Your statement is childish in its simplicity and not improved by anything approaching accuracy. While McC’s words may absolutely violate Article 88 (which, by the way, cares not for the accuracy of the contemptuous statement), that is a horse of an entirely different color than the notion that the act is unforgiveable. You may recall that Truman forgave MacA far more grave and numerous slights than Obambi has suffered here. It was only when he could no longer trust Mac to follow presidential orders that Truman finally offed his command.

    If you spent three years in the uniform, and probably as a lawyer, then you might remember something about two often competing ideas; “good order and discipline,” and “mission accomplishment.” Although the first threshhold was clearly crossed; I am not sure relieving McC and demoting Petraeus serves to do anything but thicken and heighten the wall between our modern day Lincoln and the military.

    As for the absurd suggestion that the Genral should have resigned or retired first, then written a tell-all, that would have been an extreme act of cynical moral cowardice on his part- exactly the kind of thing one might expect a lawyer to recommend. As you well know, to “resign in protest” is to lose all benefits; pretty much a fiscal hari kari. To request immediate retirement is safe, but not assured. Only by speaking out while still on active duty can a general consider himself to have done his duty to his troops on those occasion where he deems himself to have been left no path to victory.

    A general’s primary legal responsibility is upward, but by far his most essential loyalty must be directed downward. If MCC believes that the administration is bent upon not winning, or even not committed to victory, he has no moral option to remain silent. If he speaks his mind at his retirement parade, no one would care and he would have protected only himself. If, and only if, McC entered this interview with his eyes open as to the risks to his career, and laid it out there anyway, then he has my admiration.

    In the very near future, generals and admirals the likes of which you seem to approve of will likely be all that is left us. That will be when the predators fly armed over Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, or for that matter, Houston and Dallas. One day the turrets of US fighting vehicles will turn to face US citizens in their homeland. And generals the likes of those you find acceptable will issue statements bemoaning the domestic terrorists who have forced the Great Leader to order them into combat on US streets.
    I scoff!

  • 1.”There is an ocean of difference between having respect for the constitutionally established civilian control of the military and having contempt for the individual, or administration, exercising that control today.”

    Not really. If a general doesn’t understand that he needs to resign and enter the political arena.

    2. “that is a horse of an entirely different color than the notion that the act is unforgiveable.”

    That is a subject of opinion. My opinion is that generals not wise enough to prevent themselves and their staff from shooting their mouths off about their civilian superiors really need to be in another line of work.

    3. “If you spent three years in the uniform, and probably as a lawyer”

    I served before I went over to the dark side and went to law school.

    4.”I am not sure relieving McC and demoting Petraeus serves to do anything but thicken and heighten the wall between our modern day Lincoln and the military.”

    Other than the inapt reference to Lincoln you may be right about that. Obama was placed in a darned if you do and darned if you don’t situation. It will probably depend on how Petraeus does and if he is able to loosen the inane rules of engagement that our troops currently operate under in Afghanistan.

    5. “As for the absurd suggestion that the General should have resigned or retired first, then written a tell-all, that would have been an extreme act of cynical moral cowardice on his part- exactly the kind of thing one might expect a lawyer to recommend.”

    Your statement is complete and total rubbish. Not criticizing your civilian superiors comes with being a soldier in the US Army. If General McChrystal did not understand that before he understands that now. As for risking his benefits, if he truly believes that the country is endangered by a politician’s decision that is a small risk for someone whose job description entails risking his life for his country.

    6. “If MCC believes that the administration is bent upon not winning, or even not committed to victory, he has no moral option to remain silent.” Agreed, after he is no longer in uniform. The elected leaders get to make policy and active duty officers do not get to publicly disagree with those decisions.

    7. “In the very near future, generals and admirals the likes of which you seem to approve of will likely be all that is left us.” If they are of the calibre of Grant, Lee, Marshal, Farragut, Nimitiz and a host of other generals and admirals who did not engage in public disputes with the civilian authorities, then the country will have nothing to fear.

    8. “One day the turrets of US fighting vehicles will turn to face US citizens in their homeland. And generals the likes of those you find acceptable will issue statements bemoaning the domestic terrorists who have forced the Great Leader to order them into combat on US streets.” Paranoia and argument ad absurdum make a poor combination.

  • One reason that Rolling Stone’s Magazine had that much access to McChrystal’s aides is that they were stuck in Europe because of the volcano. I do wonder whether if McChrystal’s aides were thinking that at least some of their conversation(s) were off the record.

  • Over at BlackFive: Crash:

    This could be a media event.

    “The scandal surrounding the release of the Rolling Stone profile on McChrystal may have been designed to shift the media’s attention away from the real story – the release of the Congressional report on tens of millions of American taxpayer dollars going to the Taliban and Afghan warlords in a mafia-style protection racket.

    “The Host Nation Trucking contract for moving NATO supplies into Afghanistan is worth $2.16 billion. And much of that money, has ended up in the hands of corrupt Afghan warlords as well as the Taliban. But thanks to the media circus surrounding McChrystal, a major story that incriminates not only the DoD, but also the Obama administration has gone virtually unnoticed. This major story isn’t on the front page of any newspaper or website . . . ”

    Obama’s paying US taxpayers’ money to terrorists murdering Americans.

  • Even in civilian life people get fired every day for badmouthing their bosses. It’s not uncommon these days for people to get canned just for making negative remarks about their company or their boss on their private blogs, Facebook or Twitter, let alone in nationally published media. Why would Gen. McChrystal be any different?

    My gut feeling is that he was fed up with his job and really didn’t care whether he got fired or not, so he sounded off figuring he had nothing to lose. There is also the possibility (as other posters have pointed out) that he intended some of his comments to be off the record; but again, when dealing with any reporter (and I should know because I used to be one), you must NEVER simply assume your comments are off the record.

  • Never trust an ink-stained wretch Elaine! :)

  • DRM
    In RE: your response number 4. The disdain in which Lincoln held the constitution’s limitations on his office is repeated in Obama. The actual transgressions by Lincoln during his first two years were actually more egregious than Obama’s.

    In RE: your response number 5. Not convinced. You say that “if he truly believes that the country is in danger” that he should first resign and then speak because his benefits are a small thing against the good of the country. I’d really like to see you put your entire fortune where your typing fingers go. In your scenario, before he says words no one will hear or heed, he should just forfeit his entire future. I think it better to put the benfits on the chopping block, piss off your boss, then see if he can see past his ego. You want military leaders such as the German aristocrats who personally deplored and yet uttered oaths of personal loyalty to Hitler. Careful what you ask for- far more of the swine are what you want than is healthy for the nation.

    In RE: your response number 7: Practically none of thoise people would have survived the downsizing of the 90s- they either would have left in disgust, or been railroaded by the guys you will applaud when they come sheepishly to the microphone on the WH lawn and tell us all what an honor it was just to be nominated. After this, more real fighters will say “no thanks” and true believers the likes of the idiotic and progressive NSA Jones will be stepping up to vie for the title of misster congeniality.

    Just to make the point. I never said that the POTUS is not entirely within his rights to fire any officer. All military officers serve at the pleasure of the president. That does not mean that the president is right to exercise his option. I really don’t think it will do a thing for mission accomplishment- at least not accomplishment of the admin’s stated mission in Afghanistan.

  • Obama was attracted to McChrystal because he is also a true “greenie”. He believes in Obama’s pipe dreams of an oil free economy. He also banned FOX News from his headquarters. He voted for Obama which also makes him to be not too smart.
    It is really funny to see kindred spirits turn on each other. He might be a good soldier but that is what he is.
    He should have publicly quit as soon as he was recalled and walked out with his head held high. He seems to have grovelled and even his comments about Obama’s conduct of the war are ridiculous. Obama denied his request for more troops and even waited almost six months to make a decision. That was when he should have Quit!!!

  • “In RE: your response number 4. The disdain in which Lincoln held the constitution’s limitations on his office is repeated in Obama. The actual transgressions by Lincoln during his first two years were actually more egregious than Obama’s.”

    Actually I think a more apt criticism of Obama is that he has done very little and basically is a suit of empty clothes without an emperor. I do not think that he has gone beyond the limitations of the Constitution much more than any other President since FDR. I think his domestic policies are almost uniformly dreadful, but I can’t claim that the Constituiton prevents him from doing what little he has done. As for Abraham Lincoln, he was fighting a civil war. I would note that similiar policies were utilized by the Confederate government, although their attacks on “rebels and traitors” against the Confederacy as they deemed Southern Unionists I have always found rather ironic. Lincoln’s measures were of course ratified by Congress, and ratified by the people at the polls in 1864.

    “I’d really like to see you put your entire fortune where your typing fingers go. In your scenario, before he says words no one will hear or heed, he should just forfeit his entire future”

    Yes, actually, if he deems the good of the nation really depends upon his speaking out while in uniform. The whole concept of a military is based upon making the ultimate sacrifice to save their country. That is why there are lots of statues to military heroes and precious few for attorneys. Of course this has nothing to do with the present situation since the General was not going public over some great policy disagreement, but rather paying the price for stupidly allowing his staff and himself to shoot their mouths off to a reporter from the Rolling Stones.

    “Practically none of thoise people would have survived the downsizing of the 90s- they either would have left in disgust, or been railroaded by the guys you will applaud when they come sheepishly to the microphone on the WH lawn and tell us all what an honor it was just to be nominated.”

    Hardly. Downsizing of the military in the nineties was nothing compared to the downsizing of the military during the times in which they lived. They endured because they loved the military and the country. They also understood the very simple concept that the elected leaders get to determine the size of the military and not the officers who head the military.

    “All military officers serve at the pleasure of the president. That does not mean that the president is right to exercise his option. I really don’t think it will do a thing for mission accomplishment- at least not accomplishment of the admin’s stated mission in Afghanistan.”

    For the reasons stated I think the President had no choice but to fire the General. Whether it will have an impact on Afghanistan depends very much on Petraeus. McChrystal was an enthusiastic proponent of the most restrictive rules of engagement in American military history, and I hope Petraeus will act to get ride of them.

  • DRM,
    The downsizing of the military in the 90s was not, in fact, like so many of the others in history. Bush I, firm believer in the new world order, started the ball rolling, and an enthusiastic Congress, both sides of the aisle, proceeded to reap a non-existent “peace Dividend”. That was on the outside. On the inside, we threw out career Sergeants because they did not have enough college credit, and soldiers of all ranks who failed height and weight, or physical fitness standards. We left on active duty tons of people who frequently absented themselves from field training so that they could take the “encouraged” college classes. We wanted and got a military that looked good, ran well, and had impressive educational stats. More than a few officers and senior NCOs who had performed well in combat during Desert Storm were sidelined on promotions to make the point to those who had not deployed that nothing would be held against them.

    The drawdown really took effect in the area of operationas and maintenance. Field time was slashed across the Army. It got so bad in the middle 90s, that we had to wait for geo-political stressors to get folks in the field for more than two significant field exercises in a given year. At the small unit level, even in combat support and service support arms, much gets lost when the sergeants forget what it’s like to maintain standards in the field as if lives depended on it. We all saw this play out at the end of March, 2003.

    I really can’t talk about the maneuver battalion and brigades of the 90s across the Army- I moved from Second Lieutenant to Captain in rear echelon units- but from where I sat, I saw the Army get a bit thinner physically, nominally better-educated (book learning), faster at the two mile run, and far less familiar with field operations. After I left the operating force and went into combat developments, some marginal steps were taken to regain some of the lost warrior ethos, so the effects of the drawdown began to be mitigated by decade’s end.

    There are those who often say that in between wars, the Army focuses much of its efforts on eliminating the warrior who won the last war before they can upset the neatly arranged ricebowls of the institutional Army. I believe it, I think I have seen it.

    Trust me, with all of our sensitivity training and diaper changing classes, very few of those Generals and Admirals you mentioned would have remained. As I think you know, no one is promoted past two star level. So every three and four star lives a far more political life than most people imagine. The crop of four stars around today were groomed for high office during the latter Clinton and early W. Bush years, nominated and confirmed mostly during the second W. Bush administration, and are being weeded out now.

    I note that you come to Obama’s defense on the constitutional issue. Since when was the constitutional standard “no more of a violation” than the other guys? You and Obama, your mother must be so proud!

  • “The downsizing of the military in the 90s was not, in fact, like so many of the others in history.”

    I’m familiar with the reduction in the Nineties. My brother, who was an armor Captain, was offered a buyout, saw the writing on the wall, took it, and has been happy ever after teaching political science and economics at a military academy. The reduction was nothing compared to reductions after the Civil War, World War I and World War II. As to the quality of the military after the reduction, I think it performed well in Afghanistan and Iraq, both very tough situations. Any qualms I have about either of those conflicts have been due to political decisions rather than the overall performance of the military.

    “There are those who often say that in between wars, the Army focuses much of its efforts on eliminating the warrior who won the last war before they can upset the neatly arranged ricebowls of the institutional Army. I believe it, I think I have seen it.”

    A fairly common occurrence in the history of the Army with a weeding out process of leaders taking place when the shooting starts in the next war.

    “So every three and four star lives a far more political life than most people imagine.”

    Thus it has ever been, at least since WWI.

    “Since when was the constitutional standard “no more of a violation” than the other guys?”

    You have given no citations of constitutional violations by Obama that stand the slightest chance of causing him any problems in the Court or with Congress. Unwise polices on the other hand, that is another matter, as will be shown at the polls in November of this year, and, I hope, at the polls in 2012.

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