Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Group Writing: The Service of GO/FOs

 

GO/FOs are General Officers/Flag Officers. Pretty much the same thing, just service specific.

Retired GO/FOs seem to be worming their way into the public eye, of late, with their political views. The below observations are from an article by VDH, and I think nicely sum up our now perky GO/FOs deciding to ‘splain to us way the current administration is “bad.” My immediate takes on the comments below are in bold and italic.

Retired four-star general Barry McCaffrey for the past three years has leveled a number of ad hominem charges against the elected president. He essentially called the president a threat to American national security on grounds that his loyalties were more to Vladimir Putin than to his own country. McCaffrey later called the president “stupid” and “cruel” for recalibrating the presence of trip-wire troops in-between Kurdish and Turkish forces. He recently equated Trump’s cancellation of the White House subscriptions of the New York Times and the Washington Post to the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

If you make ad hominem attacks, it means you have no real argument (a lesson gleaned from assimilating lessons learned from a former Commander of mine. A cat named Barry McCaffrey). Now that Turkey acquiesced to humanely conducting its affairs in Kurdish areas of Syria, POTUS’ course of action looks neither stupid nor cruel. And calling the cancellation of NYT and WaPo subscriptions the equivalent of Mussolini? Okay, Nancy, why don’t you grab some camomile tea and sit down on the (fainting) couch for a bit, until you regain your composure.

Retired General Stanley McChrystal—removed from command by the Obama Administration for inter alia allegedly referring to the vice president as “Bite Me”—called the president “immoral and dishonest.”

Okay. But how much can we credit the political acumen of a GO who got himself relieved because he gave full access to a Rolling Stone reporter, and didn’t know it was a hit job from the get-go? Too, reading that article (and adding to that everything military professionals whom I trust have told me on the subject), it looks like McChrystal was busier legend-building than solving the Gordian knot of Afghanistan.

Former CIA director Michael Hayden—a four-star Air Force general formerly smeared by the Left for defending supposed “torture” at Guantanamo—compared Trump’s policies to Nazism, when he tweeted a picture of Birkenau to illustrate the administration’s use of detention facilities at the border—a plan inaugurated by the Obama Administration—to deal with tens of thousands of illegal entrants.

Right. Trying to rehabilitate your reputation with the left, or the establishment, or the Ruling Class? Sir, your comparison is even more ridiculous than McCaffrey’s. Let me see if I’ve got this right: a policy conceived and implemented during a previous administration sets off no internal alarums. But when a new administration comes in and maintains that same policy, you start tweeting pictures of Birkenau. Well, that’s certainly some for-real moral consistency, there.

Oh, and since we’re all hot and bothered about POTUS lathering up, putting clothes pins on his nipples, and goosestepping around the Oval Office, may I ask, sir, what your remuneration is from Caliburn International, which is a defense contractor that runs the only remaining for-profit child detention center for migrants? Wow. If our current policy is Nazism, are you the guy that makes the trains run on time?

Retired Admiral William McRaven has all but declared Trump a subversive traitor. Apparently, in reference to fellow military also working in resistance to the president, McRaven remarked, “The America that they believed in was under attack, not from without, but from within.”

Yeah, because BHO was such an incredible champion for the military. Man, that President Trump just slashed the defense budget compared to the heyday of the Obama years. And he shows no deference to the sacrifice and efforts of the military. For the love of God, he doesn’t even like military working dogs! Oh. Wait…

Says McRaven, “[I]t is time for a new person in the Oval Office—Republican, Democrat or independent—the sooner, the better. The fate of our Republic depends upon it.”

Of all the remarks of retired GO/FOs I’ve seen–whether in the linked article or anywhere else, this is the most disgusting, and the saddest, and the one that is most pernicious. You may like President Trump; you may hate him. Fine. But after the proctological exam of the Mueller Report, there is no doubt that the current Commander in Chief was duly, legitimately elected.

If the average, every day American is angry at that, refuses to accept that, or protests that, fine. But for a retired 4-star admiral to even give a hint of a whisper of an intimation that the duly elected President of the United States should be replaced by any means possible–“the sooner, the better” (and all that portends) is absolutely despicable.

So, to the GO/FOs that would now be our moral exemplars, and hand down from on high what we should think and why, I have two questions.

  1.  When’s the last time we won a war? A war that, after we won, we could redeploy home and put the rehabilitation of our vanquished enemy into the hands of the Department of State and not have to worry about it again?
  2. If the failure was in “civilian support” or “not being allowed to do what we need to do,” when is the last time a GO/FO resigned? Resigned because he was shackled by the politicians, or wasn’t given the authorities required to do what needed to be done to accomplish the mission and actually win.

From my foxhole, we haven’t won a war lately. And, all the GO/FOs whining and moaning about the current Commander in Chief, never resigned from anything.

Anything.

So, you must’ve felt like you had all the tools you needed. We didn’t win any wars.

Ergo, you are inproficient at your profession.

Let’s talk about what it takes to become a GO/FO. From here on out, I’m going to use Army ranks and terminology; if I try to describe all the ranks and terms used by all the services, it’ll get gooey.

  • You do not have to decide that you want to be a GO the day you get commissioned. In fact, you could (possibly) go through your whole time as a 2LT and a 1LT and not be sure that that’s the path you want to follow. But, the day you wake up pursuant to your promotion to Captain, you better know you want to be a GO, and align all follow-on assignments, and all accrual of mentors, to that goal.
  • Did you know that GO/FOs that have served as a GO/FO for four years (number of stars is immaterial) retire at 100% of base pay? Whenever there is a pay-hike for the troops, the retired GO/FOs get the increase, too. Only fair, right. So, every four-star listed above is pulling down an annual income of $186,998. Speaking “truth to power” has a whole different meaning when you and yourn will not be put at financial risk. Every other rank retires at 50% base pay.
  • Merit is only a wee slice of achieving GO/FO status. No one gets to be a GO based solely on merit and accomplishment. When you hear a GO walk into a room and exclaim, in a humble country boy accent, “well, I know I’m not the smartest person in this room.” It means that he’s absolutely sure that he is the smartest person in the room. Know why? ‘Cause he figured out how to get to GO. So he’s the smartest person in the room.
  • GOs are surrounded by people that tell them how right they are. Those people aren’t necessarily lickspittles, it’s just the way the system works. There’s a green hard-cover notebook that most Army officers carry. I must have 27 or so totally full, squirreled away somewhere. But I made it a habit, early on, to start on the back page and then work my way forward with tick marks, making a tick every time I heard someone say, “Yes, sir, you’re absolutely right,” to a GO/FO. I have pages and pages of those tick marks. After a year or two of hearing “yes, sir, you’re absolutely right,” how susceptible are you going to be to thinking, “Hey, I’m absolutely right most of the time! I must truly be awesome!”
  • Rush Limbaugh is, famously, almost always right 99.8% of the time. One of the things that holds his stats back is that he splits GOs into “Political Generals” and “Warrior Generals.” He’s wrong. All GO/FOs have to have their promotion approved by the Senate. So they are, by definition, political creatures. Now, some are better at warfighting, without thinking about the implications of whether/when they’ll get their next promotion or command, and some are constitutionally incapable of going to war without that being foremost in their minds.
  • I hope I don’t sound too anti-GO/FO. I think anyone given that much power should be viewed with a gimlet eye. The personnel referenced above anger me because I believe they have an agenda other than what is best for the support and defense of the Constitution.
  • There are some GO/FOs out there that could hand me a bucket of warm spit and say, “Hey, Mongo, use this to assault the gates of hell.” And I’d do it without batting an eye.

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There are 67 comments.

  1. Clavius Thatcher

    Wonderful insight into our military establishment. Sad, but I trust your insight. I hope that there are good officers mixed into this. We have fielded good fighting forces. I’d hate to see it diluted by partisan politics.

    Of course every military has politics. Every damn corporation has politics. But I have spoken on this subject with my colleagues. I work at an entertainment company. Nobody dies if we make a mistake.

    Not so with our armed forces whom I believe are dedicated to the best for us Americans. I don’t like it that their leadership has become too involved in their own political advancement. 

    • #1
    • November 30, 2019, at 8:58 PM PST
    • 13 likes
  2. Arahant Member

    Preach it!

    • #2
    • November 30, 2019, at 9:03 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  3. Arahant Member

    Clavius (View Comment):
    I hope that there are good officers mixed into this.

    Boss Mongo: -There are some GO/FOs out there that could hand me a bucket of warm spit and say, “Hey, Mongo, use this to assault the gates of hell.” And I’d do it without batting an eye.

    I think he did answer that.

    • #3
    • November 30, 2019, at 9:04 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  4. Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw Member

    Boss Mongo: A war that, after we won, we could redeploy home and put the rehabilitation of our vanquished enemy into the hands of the Department of State and not have to worry about it again?

    I’m not entirely convinced that doing the former would lead to the latter.

    • #4
    • November 30, 2019, at 9:09 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  5. Arahant Member

    Clavius (View Comment):
    Not so with our armed forces whom I believe are dedicated to the best for us Americans. I don’t like it that their leadership has become too involved in their own political advancement.

    If one studies history, one finds that it has been so from the beginning. One of the many things that contributed to Benedict Arnold’s path back to being a British subject was having someone else whom Congress liked better promoted above him, even though he was the better general. The generals in the early Nineteenth Century were an interesting study, and then McClellan ran against Lincoln in 1864. You know, the former leading Union general?

    The Romans tried to get around this by having the civilian politicians appointed as the generals. It eventually stopped working for them.

    • #5
    • November 30, 2019, at 9:14 PM PST
    • 14 likes
  6. Arahant Member

    Speaking of generals, how about the one who was only revealed to be working for the Spanish Empire 29 years after his death?

    • #6
    • November 30, 2019, at 9:17 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  7. Clavius Thatcher

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Clavius (View Comment):
    Not so with our armed forces whom I believe are dedicated to the best for us Americans. I don’t like it that their leadership has become too involved in their own political advancement.

    If one studies history, one finds that it has been so from the beginning. One of the many things that contributed to Benedict Arnold’s path back to being a British subject was having someone else whom Congress liked better promoted above him, even though he was the better general. The generals in the early Nineteenth Century were an interesting study, and then McClellan ran against Lincoln in 1864. You know, the former leading Union general?

    The Romans tried to get around this by having the civilian politicians appointed as the generals. It eventually stopped working for them.

    Having just finished Paul Rahe’s first (second really) on Sparta and the Ancient Greeks, it goes back for all of human history.

    • #7
    • November 30, 2019, at 9:20 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  8. Arahant Member

    Clavius (View Comment):
    Having just finished Paul Rahe’s first (second really) on Sparta and the Ancient Greeks, it goes back for all of human history.

    Exactly. Also known as human nature. That’s why we try to build in safeguards against it.

    • #8
    • November 30, 2019, at 9:26 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  9. Gary McVey Contributor

    These crucially important insights of Boss Mongo’s could only come from someone like him, who not only knows the truth, can not only explain the truth eloquently, but is “licensed” to say it out loud. All of us in civilian life are properly guarded about expressing criticism of military officers, and conservatives especially despise the casual, ignorant way that military men (and yes, women) have been criticized in the media since the Vietnam era. But this is something new, something different. 

    We see someone like Colonel Vindman on TV and wrestle with our instinct that this man is arrogant, wrong, and disrespectful, and yet most of us won’t or can’t say it out loud, because we never wore the uniform. “All men will hold their honor cheap, those who weren’t with us on St. Crispin’s Day”–Arahant and others can correct my Shakespeare, but it’s a strong and usually correct feeling: I sure as hell wasn’t with Boss on his St. Crispin’s days. I didn’t sail the coast of Vietnam like @alfrench. I didn’t live in a metal tube under the ocean like our esteemed editor. I didn’t fly supplies into Bagram AFB, and didn’t spend hellish months in Kandahar. Every fiber of my body and every neuron in my brain tells me that the Vindmans of this world are wrong. But it takes somebody like Boss Mongo to say it out loud. 

    This is a post where I wish every thinking American was on this website to read it. (And hey, I bet Rob and Peter would agree!) 

    • #9
    • November 30, 2019, at 9:40 PM PST
    • 26 likes
  10. Percival Thatcher

    I figure that any GO making anti-Trump noises now knows that such sentiments will be picked up and amplified by our media. They may well be laying the groundwork for future political advancement.

    • #10
    • November 30, 2019, at 9:45 PM PST
    • 17 likes
  11. She Thatcher
    She

    Boss Mongo: There are some GO/FOs out there that could hand me a bucket of warm spit and say, “Hey, Mongo, use this to assault the gates of hell.” And I’d do it without batting an eye.

    Of course there are. Otherwise, I daresay you’d have found something else to do with your life at a relatively young age.

    An informed, informative, on-point, and alternately funny and sad post. Thanks.

    I’ve always thought the continual sniping from the sidelines, by “retireds” and “formers” was rather unseemly, and, occasionally, as you point out, beyond absurd. (That General McCaffrey seems to have been reduced, in his declining years, to filling up his own “green hard-cover notebooks” with little ticks recording the ebb and flow of things like the White House newspaper subscriptions, and then breathlessly Tweeting them out, is particularly sad. He must have a friend in logistics. Coming soon: His report on toilet paper usage in the Trump years. Double, or triple-ply? Does the President squeeze the Charmin? And so on.)

    I wonder how much the drumbeat of negativity from such (former) top-levels informs the behavior, or colors the testimony of, the LTC Vindman’s of the world.

    As for General Hayden, I blame Mr. She. His former student (undergrad). Matters rhetorical rather than military, but still . . .

    • #11
    • November 30, 2019, at 10:39 PM PST
    • 14 likes
  12. PHCheese Member

    The best officer I severed under during my brief stent in the military was a Captain who was at my battalion. He had his legs blown to hell in Vietnam and was waiting to become well enough to be discharged medically. He somehow wormed his way in my battalion as the executive officer. He couldn’t stand doing nothing. He could barely walk with special crutches. More to the point he didn’t worry about what he said to superior officers. He was not insubordinate in the least just plain speaking as hell. I often would be snickering when I would see the faces of full Colonels and even the post commander when he would report to them. First it was a ordeal for him to salute with crutches. Took about two minutes to get organized. A Colonel made some remark about it not being regulation . He went to the nearest chair and tried to hand the crutches to him saying here you try while standing on one leg. The colonel knew he was in over his head. I stayed in touch with him after his discharge for several years but lost touch somehow. I haven’t been able to find him on social media. His wounds were severe and his life was probably shortened by them.

    • #12
    • December 1, 2019, at 6:29 AM PST
    • 16 likes
  13. WillowSpring Member

    Boss Mongo: Rush Limbaugh is, famously, almost always right 99.8% of the time. One of the things that holds his stats back is that he splits GOs into “Political Generals” and “Warrior Generals.” He’s wrong. All GO/FOs have to have their promotion approved by the senate. So they are, by definition, political creatures.

    Thank you very much for this post. I think I agree with the quoted point, but it seems to my non-military mind that there was a point somewhere around the middle of the Obama administration when a large number of GO/FOs were retired for one reason or another. Sometimes some sort of what seemed to me to be overblown charges. The empty slots were then filled with more Obama friendly faces.

    Does this match what you saw or am I making the wrong interpretation of events?

    • #13
    • December 1, 2019, at 7:21 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  14. Guruforhire Member

    Isn’t this similar to the complicated legacy of MacArthur?

    • #14
    • December 1, 2019, at 7:42 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  15. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo Post author

    WillowSpring (View Comment):
    Does this match what you saw or am I making the wrong interpretation of events?

    I have no idea. There were never enough GOs in my environment for me to make and assessment. I know some, though, that were so anti-Obama, and willing to state it (in a professional manner, of course) that I couldn’t believe they hadn’t been cashiered. John Kelly comes to mind.

    • #15
    • December 1, 2019, at 7:43 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  16. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo Post author

    Guruforhire (View Comment):

    Isn’t this similar to the complicated legacy of MacArthur?

    To my mind, MacArthur was a megalomaniac with daddy issues. Not a fan, and I’m not sure that his generalship was all that great.

    • #16
    • December 1, 2019, at 7:44 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  17. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Thank you, Boss. I wrote a post a couple of months ago questioning the propriety of the retireds attacking the president and others in the administration (and mentioned most of those you quoted). I wish I could have made your excellent arguments. I had a number of people say retireds can do whatever they want once they’re retired. Of course they can. But is it appropriate? You gave the arguments I wasn’t able to give. Thank you so much.

    • #17
    • December 1, 2019, at 8:07 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  18. MACHO GRANDE' (aka - Chri… Coolidge

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    These crucially important insights of Boss Mongo’s could only come from someone like him, who not only knows the truth, can not only explain the truth eloquently, but is “licensed” to say it out loud. All of us in civilian life are properly guarded about expressing criticism of military officers, and conservatives especially despise the casual, ignorant way that military men (and yes, women) have been criticized in the media since the Vietnam era. But this is something new, something different.

    We see someone like Colonel Vindman on TV and wrestle with our instinct that this man is arrogant, wrong, and disrespectful, and yet most of us won’t or can’t say it out loud, because we never wore the uniform. “All men will hold their honor cheap, those who weren’t with us on St. Crispin’s Day”–Arahant and others can correct my Shakespeare, but it’s a strong and usually correct feeling: I sure as hell wasn’t with Boss on his St. Crispin’s days. I didn’t sail the coast of Vietnam like @alfrench. I didn’t live in a metal tube under the ocean like our esteemed editor. I didn’t fly supplies into Bagram AFB, and didn’t spend hellish months in Kandahar. Every fiber of my body and every neuron in my brain tells me that the Vindmans of this world are wrong. But it takes somebody like Boss Mongo to say it out loud.

    This is a post where I wish every thinking American was on this website to read it. (And hey, I bet Rob and Peter would agree!)

    I’ll buy almost all of this, but I don’t think there’s any special safeguard from me (or any other civilian) criticizing a GO/FO who is clearly making hay by criticizing the president, or criticizing the actions of the current president that were hunky-dory under the last president and nary a peep was heard.

    I’m not a cop, but if I see a video where a cop shoots an unarmed man lying face down on the ground, begging for mercy, then yeah, you can be sure I’ll criticize it.

    That said, I have no military experience, so the how/what/why things are at those rank levels is only something that I can read about, through the experience of a Mongo, and considering what little I know about him, I will take every word he writes as a mile-deep rock-solid truth.

    If we’re going to talk about “cheap” and “honor”, there’s plenty of one being discarded by some of the GO/FOs that Mongo describes. And they’re the ones who are supposed to know, and act, better.

    • #18
    • December 1, 2019, at 8:31 AM PST
    • 11 likes
  19. She Thatcher
    She

    WillowSpring (View Comment):

    Boss Mongo: Rush Limbaugh is, famously, almost always right 99.8% of the time. One of the things that holds his stats back is that he splits GOs into “Political Generals” and “Warrior Generals.” He’s wrong. All GO/FOs have to have their promotion approved by the senate. So they are, by definition, political creatures.

    Thank you very much for this post. I think I agree with the quoted point, but it seems to my non-military mind that there was a point somewhere around the middle of the Obama administration when a large number of GO/FOs were retired for one reason or another. Sometimes some sort of what seemed to me to be overblown charges. The empty slots were then filled with more Obama friendly faces.

    Does this match what you saw or am I making the wrong interpretation of events?

    That’s a perception I have too. I can’t interpret the events, but probably the best known, and the one you’re thinking of, was General Carter Ham, Commander of AFRICOM who was relieved of his duties not long after the Benghazi debacle. Accounts surrounding what happened, and which side the General was on, and whether or not he “manded,” or countermanded, Presidential orders are murky (surprise!) but it certainly happened very quickly, and from what I can gather, unexpectedly. Army General (of one sort or another) Paul Vallely was another. Here’s what comes back when I ask Google about generals relieved of duty by Obama. https://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/197-military-officers-purged-by-obama/

    I do agree with Boss that, once you get past a certain point in the military, you’d better be politically aware and play the game, or else. One of the reasons Dad bailed at the rank of Major, I think, preferring to go into a field where he was actually in charge and could write his own rules.

    • #19
    • December 1, 2019, at 8:46 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  20. Barry Jones Thatcher

    Just an observation to back up Boss a bit. Back when I was in the Army (Cold war era), the Army had roughly 750,000 active duty soldiers and then a bunch more in the Reserves and National Guard, of that rather large number there were roughly 6,000 full Colonels. Every year something around 60-65 were selected for Brigadier General, which is a very small percentage. How do you choose the lucky few? Well by the time you hang around the Army for 20+ years just about all the Colonels had very similar personnel files…all had successful company commands, battalion commands, brigade commands and various successful staff assignments or they wouldn’t be full colonels. So how to choose? Generally, the best political animals were chosen (interestingly there was a saying at the time that said something like “anyone can make Colonel, but it takes a wife to make General” and not just for her support but for the behind the scenes social engineering, dinner parties, etc.). I imagine it is very similar today with some exceptions to the rule, as always. Just my 2 cents worth but may help in framing the paradigm for some…

    • #20
    • December 1, 2019, at 9:00 AM PST
    • 13 likes
  21. Old Bathos Member

    Political generals are not all bad. Dwight Eisenhower and George Preston Marshall navigated extraordinarily complex political issues to get the job done.

    I recall Anthony Herbert’s book Soldier (1973) for the sharp contrast between political careerists and combat leaders. But to be fair, it is really tough to find all the requisite but disparate forms of excellence in one guy.

    Contagious raw physical courage (George Armstrong Custer at Gettysburg) combined with instinctive tactical savvy (Nathan Bedford Forest) does not necessarily entail organizational/logistical skill (George McClellan) or strategic vision (Sun Bin). There is also the right-guy-at-the-right-time phenomenal (Patton, Sherman) in which traits unsuited to politics and/or more constrained wartime roles are permitted to flourish.

    Good news/bad news: With the War College, better tech, mandatory ongoing educational advancement and much greater operational integration, I think current GO/FOs are better prepared for strategic thinking than their Vietnam Era predecessors BUT maybe much more inclined to think they are better suited to make policy and strategy than civilians.

    For would-be policy makers in uniform, I would politely suggest they spend at least a decade in a non-military role in which subordinates do not have a duty of obedience and where overt criticism is more commonplace before they presume to think they have a handle on how the world really works.

    Once there is “consensus” in a policy shop that means a giant blind spot is taking shape and a Pearl Harbor or 9/11 is not far behind.

    • #21
    • December 1, 2019, at 9:19 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  22. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo Post author

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    You gave the arguments I wasn’t able to give.

    Susan, thanks. 30+ years in the Army left a couple of narrow topics on which I can opine intelligently.

    For all other topics, I blame the whisky.

    • #22
    • December 1, 2019, at 9:48 AM PST
    • 14 likes
  23. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo Post author

    MACHO GRANDE' (aka – Chri… (View Comment):
    and considering what little I know about him, I will take every word he writes as a mile-deep rock-solid truth.

    You, sir, are goin’ make me blush.

    • #23
    • December 1, 2019, at 9:49 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  24. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo Post author

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    Once there is “consensus” in a policy shop that means a giant blind spot is taking shape and a Pearl Harbor or 9/11 is not far behind.

    Concur. I spent a lot of time with smart military planners, with them discussing how to deal with a Black Swan event.

    To my mind, the military cannot predict a Black Swan, by definition. So, let’s rely on training our troops to a superb level of readiness, and keep the chain of command agile, hostile, and mobile enough to counterpunch in way that is awe-inducing.

    The ability to do that is a deterrent.

    • #24
    • December 1, 2019, at 9:54 AM PST
    • 11 likes
  25. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo Post author

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    Guruforhire (View Comment):

    Isn’t this similar to the complicated legacy of MacArthur?

    To my mind, MacArthur was a megalomaniac with daddy issues. Not a fan, and I’m not sure that his generalship was all that great.

    As much as I dislike Douglas MacArthur, I shouldn’t just mention “daddy issues” without spending a moment acknowledging the insane, crank-it-up-to-11 level of valor of Arthur MacArthur.

    His medal of honor citation reads:

    Seized the colors of his regiment at a critical moment and planted them on the captured works on the crest of Missionary Ridge.

    Those old school medal givers were masters of understatement.

    The 24th Wisconsin Infantry’s chain of command was decimated during the assault on Missionary Ridge (in TN). As the assault closed on the crest of the ridge, the standard bearer went down and the colors fell. Young lieutenant MacArthur, the Regimental Adjutant fought to the top of the ridge, recovered the colors, and stood there waving the Stars and Stripes to rally the Union forces to continue the assault and secure the ridge.

    He didn’t do this in the most likely Mongo kind of way, putting the colors up, but hunkering down as close to Mother Earth as he could get. No. He stood there, silhouetted and highlighted atop the ridge, waving the flag while all the Confederate forces within range poured fire at him. Talk about “stormed at with shot and shell.” That is valor. I had to take a break just typing this to have a wee cry and then blow my nose.

    Little Dougie’s citation, on the other hand, reads:

    For conspicuous leadership in preparing the Philippine Islands to resist conquest, for gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against invading Japanese forces, and for the heroic conduct of defensive and offensive operations on the Bataan Peninsula. He mobilized, trained, and led an army which has received world acclaim for its gallant defense against a tremendous superiority of enemy forces in men and arms. His utter disregard of personal danger under heavy fire and aerial bombardment, his calm judgment in each crisis, inspired his troops, galvanized the spirit of resistance of the Filipino people, and confirmed the faith of the American people in their Armed Forces.

    So I guess we’re going to forget the whole bugging out, “I shall return,” and the troops he abandoned to suffer the Bataan Death March. Oookay. He could have stayed and written a chapter in the book of Glory that resounded in people’s hearts for as long as does the chapter of the Spartans at Thermopylae. 

    But nah. I gotta go guys. Enjoy the Death March and imprisonment. Don’t worry, though.

    “I shall return.”

    • #25
    • December 1, 2019, at 10:25 AM PST
    • 12 likes
  26. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    Once there is “consensus” in a policy shop that means a giant blind spot is taking shape and a Pearl Harbor or 9/11 is not far behind.

    Concur. I spent a lot of time with smart military planners, with them discussing how to deal with a Black Swan event.

    To my mind, the military cannot predict a Black Swan, by definition. So, let’s rely on training our troops to a superb level of readiness, and keep the chain of command agile, hostile, and mobile enough to counterpunch in way that is awe-inducing.

    The ability to do that is a deterrent.

    I am fond of speculation, and have somewhat of an engineering background. I look at it in terms of redundancy – no single points of failure. When analyzing a chemical process, you look areas where a single failure will cause a problem, and which means we would be prepared for anything causes that failure. For example, train troops for low-tech warfare so they can still fight without night vision, GPS, and drone intelligence. Train troops in fighting against superior opponents – if the Chinese roll out the Bionic Supersoldier, we should be able to adapt.

    • #26
    • December 1, 2019, at 10:46 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  27. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo Post author

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):
    When analyzing a chemical process, you look areas where a single failure will cause a problem, and which means we would be prepared for anything causes that failure.

    A typical saying in my field–especially when talking about helicopters–“two makes one and one makes none.”

    • #27
    • December 1, 2019, at 10:49 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  28. JimGoneWild Coolidge

    Did you know that GO/FOs that have served as a GO/FO for four years (number of stars is immaterial) retire at 100% of base pay? 

    I had no idea! It seems like a conflict of interest. Congress certainly knows how to get ‘loyal’ generals. 

    My complaint with these generals, politicians, bureaucrats and technology wizards that bash Trump, never ever give concrete, specific details of their charges against him.

    Good post!

    • #28
    • December 1, 2019, at 10:53 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  29. JimGoneWild Coolidge

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    Guruforhire (View Comment):

    Isn’t this similar to the complicated legacy of MacArthur?

    To my mind, MacArthur was a megalomaniac with daddy issues. Not a fan, and I’m not sure that his generalship was all that great.

    As much as I dislike Douglas MacArthur, I shouldn’t just mention “daddy issues” without spending a moment acknowledging the insane, crank-it-up-to-11 level of valor of Arthur MacArthur.

    His medal of honor citation reads:

    Seized the colors of his regiment at a critical moment and planted them on the captured works on the crest of Missionary Ridge.

    Those old school medal givers were masters of understatement.

    The 24th Wisconsin Infantry’s chain of command was decimated during the assault on Missionary Ridge (in TN). As the assault closed on the crest of the ridge, the standard bearer went down and the colors fell. Young lieutenant MacArthur, the Regimental Adjutant fought to the top of the ridge, recovered the colors, and stood there waving the Stars and Stripes to rally the Union forces to continue the assault and secure the ridge.

    He didn’t do this in the most likely Mongo kind of way, putting the colors up, but hunkering down as close to Mother Earth as he could get. No. He stood there, silhouetted and highlighted atop the ridge, waving the flag while all the Confederate forces within range poured fire at him. Talk about “stormed at with shot and shell.” That is valor. I had to take a break just typing this to have a wee cry and then blow my nose.

    Little Dougie’s citation, on the other hand, reads:

    For conspicuous leadership in preparing the Philippine Islands to resist conquest, for gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against invading Japanese forces, and for the heroic conduct of defensive and offensive operations on the Bataan Peninsula. He mobilized, trained, and led an army which has received world acclaim for its gallant defense against a tremendous superiority of enemy forces in men and arms. His utter disregard of personal danger under heavy fire and aerial bombardment, his calm judgment in each crisis, inspired his troops, galvanized the spirit of resistance of the Filipino people, and confirmed the faith of the American people in their Armed Forces.

    So I guess we’re going to forget the whole bugging out, “I shall return,” and the troops he abandoned to suffer the Bataan Death March. Oookay. He could have stayed and written a chapter in the book of Glory that resounded in people’s hearts for as long as does the chapter of the Spartans at Thermopylae.

    But nah. I gotta go guys. Enjoy the Death March and imprisonment. Don’t worry, though.

    “I shall return.”

    A couple of books I read said Roosevelt ordered MacArthur not use resources on a rescue or resupply of the Bataan survivors. 

    • #29
    • December 1, 2019, at 11:19 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  30. She Thatcher
    She

    Huh. I know nothing about Brigadier General Anthony J. Tata (Retd), but he is swimming what passes for upstream these days. Either that, or his political ambitions run in a different direction to most of the rest: https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/gen-anthony-tata-trump-was-right-to-fire-navy-secretary-and-intervene-on-behalf-of-seal-eddie-gallagher.

    I was skeptical (gobsmacked, actually) of his claim that:

    Navy prosecutor Cmdr. Christopher Czaplak secretly embedded a tracking virus in an image of the scales of justice and the American flag on emails he exchanged with Gallagher’s defense attorneys, affording him an illegal window into the defense strategy.

    having somehow missed the press coverage (and the concomitant outrage) over the matter.

    But, as the linked article from the Navy Times makes clear, not only was the prosecutor guilty, but he confessed to doing just that and was removed from the case by the judge.

    Another of Tata’s claims, that:

    Czaplak’s prosecution team, which included Naval Criminal Investigative Service officials, tampered with witnesses in efforts to prevent testimony, tainted the jury pool by leaking reports to the media favorable to the prosecution, and then conspired to shield those crimes as the defense brought them to light.

    Also seems to have some chops, or at least should be taken seriously. Therefore, I’m putting some faith in the good General, at least on this matter. Can’t speak to anything else.

    Good. Lord.

    BTW, has anyone else noticed the irony of Trump’s critics whinging about how he was performing some extra-constitutional maneuver to wrest “control of the military” out of civilian hands by appointing all those generals to start out; yet now that most of the generals are out of the picture, and now that Trump is exercising himself as civilian Commander-In-Chief, many of the same people are grousing that he has no right to do that because he doesn’t understand the military mindset? Not making a judgment on the rightness or wrongness of a course of action. Just wondering.

    In Mr. She’s defense (relative to comment #11) I like to think, as Mr. She’s former student myself (a very long time ago), that his strenuous efforts to inculcate some sort of logic and consistency of thought in yours truly bore a little more fruit than they did with poor Michael Hayden.

    • #30
    • December 1, 2019, at 12:46 PM PST
    • 6 likes