Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

The declining competence of America’s senior military commanders

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Thomas Ricks has a new book out that exposes how our top military commanders have become less and less competent over recent decades. Jacob Heilbrunn reviews the book for The Washington Monthly:

Tom Ricks, the former Washington Post military correspondent who covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the better part of a decade, and currently edits the blog “The Best Defense” at, has become the go-to guy for understanding how the American military works. In 2006, Ricks published Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2003 to 2005, a blistering (and definitive) indictment of George W. Bush’s Pentagon and its mishandling of the war in Iraq. Next, he wrote The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008, a probing history of the surge. And now he has written a book that tries to explain what makes a great American general— that is, a general whom soldiers can follow, and not just to their deaths.

The genesis for this most recent book was atop a Sicilian ridge, where, on leave from covering Iraq, Ricks heard the story of Major General Terry de la Mesa Allen, a hugely successful World War II general who was relieved of leadership of the 1st Infantry Division (for lax discipline of his troops) soon after helping to win the Sicily campaign in July 1943. It wasn’t good enough just to be successful; the success had to come in the right way—otherwise, as the military leadership knew, disaster could loom later on. “I was stunned,” writes Ricks. “How could this be? [My] mind was still focused on [the Iraq] war, where even the most abject failure did not get a general fired.”

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 November 2012 at 9:58 am

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