Get Out of the Way
During the Civil War, General Robert E. Lee won battle after battle for all but the last bit of the war. He won those battles even though he was usually outnumbered and out gunned. Two main factors made him one of the most successful generals in American history: 1) He was beloved by his troops. He would do anything for them and likewise they would do anything for him and 2) His soldiers were defending their home land and sometimes even their own houses. Both are great motivators which are not easily overcome by an enemy.
In World War II, General George Patton’s Army Corps killed more enemy soldiers and captured more territory than any commander on either side even though he was relieved of command for several months. His troops would follow him to hell and back because they knew that they were fighting for arguably the greatest field commander ever to set foot on a battlefield and with him, there was no stopping and regrouping to have to fight for the same territory twice. He did not believe in retreat.
There are other great commanders that served in our military: General(s) Pershing, MacArthur, Grant, Jackson, Sherman, Bradley and Admiral(s) Nimitz and Spruance. These men knew how to lead.
Only two great Field Commanders have emerged since the end of World War II, General(s) Norman Swartzkoff and Tommy Franks. I could add General Petraus but am holding out on this one for a while longer. While most spend their time trying to figure out how to gain recognition and favor from the Commander – in – Chief as well as prestige and good press, Swartzkoff and Franks really didn’t care about either, they followed their orders and got the job done.
What did all these men have in common? They had presidents that did not get in their way or micromanage them on how they achieved their objectives. They also didn’t have their own inflated egos to get in the way though in Patton’s case, he did have a huge ego to feed but that was his own motivational factor.
Truman (Korean War Era), Johnson, Carter, Clinton and now Obama have all stood in the way of our commanders. They tie their hands by denying them troops and equipment essential to meeting the objectives they demand be achieved. They dictate who they can fight, when they can fight and how they will fight. They care more about their own legacies and how the world will view them than they do accomplishing the mission.
Brave men die in battle. That is an unavoidable part of war. Brave men needlessly die in battle when they lack the proper support and equipment to get the job done. General McCrystal, a man with a rather impressive military record and success and hand picked by this President to lead the effort in Afghanistan asked for additional troops back in August to do the job Obama gave him to do. Here we are nearing the end of October and Obama has yet to address this issue with any sense of urgency or necessity. In the 9 months since Obama took office, more soldiers have died in Iraq and Afghanistan than did in the preceding two years under George Bush. The mainstream media made it a point to highlight every death while Bush was in office but not a peep from them now when our soldiers are dying at an even faster rate. Lack of leadership and desire for victory is more damaging to a military unit than an enemy of greater or equal strength.
Advice to Obama: Lead, Follow or better yet, just get the hell out of the way and let our soldiers do their job. Success comes from the top down and Mr. President, so does failure.