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"The 'U.S. military’s marathon, 30-year, single-elimination, suck-up tournament' OR 'How America selects its generals'"

claud_alexander's picture

Mentioned this piece by a former officer and Vietnam vet to lambert, but thing might be of wider interest.

Feel a real cognitive dissonance with this John T. Reed. He writes books on real-estate advice (!), is some kind of star high school football coach (!!) and sincerely admires Jamie Dimon (?!?!--aowgh). Every healthy prejudice in my body says that nothing intelligent or honest can come out of that, yet his military pieces some of the best I've read anywhere. I guess this is what left-right alliances against the plutocratic center feel like.

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Submitted by lambert on

I never really got ahead in any large organization, ever. I wonder if other readers with more experience can look at Reed's piece and comment?

claud_alexander's picture
Submitted by claud_alexander on

As it happens, I'm just now reading Stan Goff's (Special Forces and Delta veteran) memoir of the invasion of Haiti ("Hideous Dream"), from which the below:

In July, the battalion headquarters moved planning cells into RFABs, semi-rigid tent systems that were erected inside the battalion classrooms where prying eyes could not see them. We were told our mission was on, then it was off again, as the planners teased and tortured the mission in their nylon cloisters. We heard that the only parachute infiltrations were now being reserved for command elements, a sore point when that rumor escaped, because it rang so true. In Grenada and Panama the hunt for badges, medals and glory, overwhelmed the mission focus. Senior officers not only lack immunity to these preposterous impulses, they are often the very worst about giving into them.

The combat star on a paratrooper's badge is a highly coveted award. That is why, during Operation Just Cause (the most costly and murderous drug bust in history), when Rangers had secured Tocumen and Torrijos airfields, and they called in to the 82nd Airborne Division commander who was flying in to jump onto the airfield, "The airfield is secure. Air land. Air Land," the 82nd commander called back and said, "This is the 82nd AirBORNE Division, not the 82nd airLAND Division. The Brigade of paratroopers then proceeded to leap onto the night, drop troops clear past the airfields, generate dozens of unnecessary injuries, initiate firefights in the dark with Ranger elements, and spend countless hours getting assembled and accounted for. It was not a decision to do the most tactically sound thing, but a decision to get a General and his troops a tiny bronze star on the two inch wide parachutist's badge they wear on their uniforms.

Submitted by lambert on

From your link:

Until his misdeeds came to light some two years ago, Johnson, an honor graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and the son of a retired lieutenant general, had been considered a model officer destined to become a general. He’d deployed repeatedly to Iraq and Afghanistan. He had impressed superiors with his dedication and intelligence. He’d been given command of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, among the most highly sought commands in the Army.

Instead, he retired as a convicted felon, after a number of humiliations, including being fired from command, stripped of his security clearance, handed a General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand and being court-martialed.

Then again he married an Iraqi woman (!):

But Johnson said at his trial that Al Atar, who’d been forced to divorce her husband when the affair came to light and been disowned by her father, had, along with her young daughter, become “the center of my life.”

Maybe he stepped off the escalator?