Those griping ex-generals

Dafydd ab Hugh has an excellent post about the retired generals who have lambasted Defense Secretary Rumsfeld recently. Dafydd notes that the generals in question are (1) mostly, in effect, Clinton appointees and (2) “old school” generals who object to Rumsfeld’s pet theories of pushing towards smaller units, more unit independence, much greater reliance on Special Forces, and a reorganization of units to be self-sufficient rather than specialized. As to the second point, Dafydd compares the griping generals to “vice presidents at General Motors or IBM who furiously denounce splitting those companies into self-reliant business units instead of the normal corporate divisions they’ve had for twenty years.” He also notes that “the fact that an old general dislikes the new style of warfare is not a refutation of that style. It just [the general] is ‘Old School.’ But Old School is not necessary the best school.” You should definitely read the whole thing.

Griping ex-generals are always with us. President Clinton certainly had his detractors among the military brass, and not just retired brass. If I recall correctly, the MSM tended to attirbute this phenomenon to the neanderthalism within the military. In any case, the existence of griping generals, without more, means little. The “more” is a close analysis of the substance of the griping. This seems largely lacking in the MSM accounts.

SCOTT adds: See also Victor Davis Hanson’s NRO column “Dead-end debates.”

JOHN adds: Before September 11, Rumsfeld thought that his tenure would be defined by his determination to shake up the Pentagon, of all organizations in the world one of the most resistant to change. He knew that many generals would bitterly resist his innovations. It is hardly a surprise that there are many officers–still serving and, especially, those who are now retired, in some cases because they didn’t fit with the new program–who bitterly resent the changes that Rumsfeld brought to the armed forces. One of the ironies is that September 11 and the ensuing war on terror have verified the correctness of Rumsfeld’s approach. The kind of army that was appropriate for defending Europe against land attack would be close to useless in the current conflict. It is, therefore, one more in a long series of sins on the part of the mainstream media that this context is almost completely absent from the media’s gleeful coverage of these disgruntled generals.


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