# The Generals: American Military Command From World War II To Today

## Prologue: Capt. William Depuy and the 90th Division in Normandy, summer 1944

• The 90th Division in June 1944 was a killing machine... of its own men
• Completely stalled out, even in the face of light German opposition
• Requested replacements totalling > 100% in six weeks of combat operations
• Average term of service of a lieutenant leading a platoon: two weeks
• Because of this, Lt. Gen. J. Lawton Collins relieved Brig. Gen. MacKelvie and replaced him with Maj. Gen. Eugene Landrum
• Also ordered the relief of two of MacKelvie's subordinates:
• Col. P. D. Ginder → relieved under armed escort after he continued to give orders after his replacement
• By midsummer Landrum himself was being fired for underperformance
• In addition, before his own relief, Landrum relieved the division's assistant commander, Brig. Gen. Sam Williams (and demoted him to Colonel)
• However for most of these men, being relieved of command was not a permanent judgement of incompetence, and they were given second chances
• Ginder distinguished himself in the Battle of the Bulge and the Battle of Hurtgen forest, as well as Korea, and eventually retired as a Maj. General
• Landrum served in Korea under Lt. Gen. Walton Walker and retired as a Maj. General
• Williams was promoted back to Brig. Gen. in Korea, and eventually became the senior US military advisor in Vietnam, before retiring as a 3-star Lieutenant General
• The swift reliefs, while not always deserved, had their intended effect
• The 90th Division went from being a failure of a unit to being one of the finest of the European theater
• Relieving senior officers of command quickly also allowed junior officers to rise through the ranks more quickly
• DePuy, the narrator of the story of the 90th Division rose from being a green Lieutenant to battalion command by the age of 25
• DePuy would go on to use his experience under incompetent command to shape his approach to commanding the 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam, and would also use it to set the shape for the post-Vietnam Army that would excel in Kuwait
• Three aspects of the experience of 90th Division stand out:
1. Generalship in combat is hard, and even seasoned officers will fail the test
2. Personalities matter: the 90th floundered under MacKelvie and Landrum, but flourished under its third commander, Brig. Gen. Raymond McLain
3. Generals in World War 2 were given a few months to prove themselves -- if they could not prove themselves in that time, they were relieved of command
• 16 Army division commanders (out of 155) were relieved for cause
• 5 corps commanders were removed for cause
• This stands in stark contrast to the relative lack of accountability of the US Army in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars
• "a private who lost his rifle was now punished more than a general who lost his part of a war"
• During World War 2, the Army expected that some portion of its generals would fail the test of combat, and was ready to relieve them and find replacements when that happened
• By looking at who is promoted from Colonel to Brigadier General, we can discern the values of the Army, as an institution
• In World War 2, George Marshall preferred aggressive officers
• However, his immediate subordinates, Eisenhower and Bradley preferred officers who could operate as part of a team
• During the '50s, the Army seemed to value conformists
• During the '90s, even though the Army kept talking about "warfighting", the officers it promoted were tacticians who could win battles, rather than strategists who could win wars
• Although today's generals share many attributes with their predecessors, the Army has shifted in one major respect: relief of command is no longer seen as a natural and necessary phenomenon
• Under Bradley, being relieved of command was not a mark of disgrace or dishonor
• Officers who had been relieved of command could be and were given second chances to prove themselves (as we see with the senior officers of the 90th Division)
• While in World War 2, relief was a sign that the system was working as intended, today it is seen as a sign that the system has failed
• This raises a number of questions, which have not been broadly considered
• How and why did we lose the practice of relieving generals for failure?
• Why has accountability declined?
• What does this have to do with the declining operational competence of America's generals?
• How did we go from men like Marshall and Eisenhower, who weren't afraid to speak truth to power, to pliable bureaucrats like Richard Meyers and Peter Pace?
• Are Richard Meyers and Peter Pace "pliable bureaucrats"?
• Although it touches upon the other services, this book focuses on the US Army, and specifically the US Army in Europe
• The US Army in Europe was the incubator for the generals who commanded the Army in Korea and Vietnam
• The Army is currently the pre-eminent military branch
• The Navy has its own "seafaring" traditions, which aren't as applicable to the Army
• The Marine Corps follows naval tradition
• The Air Force is too young to have its own long-lasting traditions
• After World War 2, when the Army stopped relieving generals, it attempted to compensate in other ways
• More oversight a.k.a "micromanagement"
• If the Army isn't firing its generals, civilians now are -- more generals are now being dismissed by civilian oversight
• The quality of the relationship between military leadership and civilian leadership is one of the few leading indicators that show how well the war is going

## Part 1: World War II

### Chapter 1: George C. Marshall: The Leader

• The American effort in World War 2 began with a set of dismissals across all branches and theaters
• This was because of the policy of George C. Marshall, the man who founded the modern American military
• Marhsall's policies and views on who does and does not make a good general officer still permeate the military today
• Biography of George Marshall
• Born in 1880, only 15 years after the end of the Civil War
• Joined the Army when it was recovering from its low ebb of the 1890s
• Received his commission when the Army expanded rapidly in the wake of the Spanish-American War
• Singled out early as an able commander -- one of his superiors said that he'd rather serve under Marshall than have Marshall serve under him
• Became Army Chief of Staff on Sept. 1 1939, the very day Germany invaded Poland
• Known as a rather colorless officer -- preferred duty and country over career advancement

#### Marshall and the Great War

• The formative experience of Marshall (as with many other officers in World War 2) was World War 1
• The US went into World War 1 with a thoroughly unprepared military
• No experience with industrial-scale warfare
• The overall contribution of the United States to the Entente cause in the Great War was mostly moral support
• While the US declared war in April 1917, it took until November 1917 to get troops into combat
• The first solely American offensive was not launched until September 1918, just 8 weeks before the Armistice
• The main effect of the US entry into the war was to give Britain and France a reason to hold on
• While the US effect on the Great War was slight, the Great War had a huge effect on US officers
• Marshall's first memorable encounter in World War 1 was with Robert Pershing, the commander of US forces in France
• Pershing was dissatisfied with Marshall's commanding officer, Gen. William Sibert
• Marshall, then a Captain, stood up to Pershing and attempted to convince him that the unit was doing the best it could under the circumstances
• Although he was unsuccessful in saving his commanding officer's career, Marshall was showing that he was willing to speak truth to power even at the risk of his own career
• Marshall witnessed Pershing's penchant for swifly relieving underperforming officers
• Pershing relieved six division commanders and 2 corps commanders in World War 1
• Used a two-step process
• Send officers to an out of the way posting in France
• Then send them home
• In swiftly relieving underperforming Generals, Pershing was acting within a tradition that was well established during the Revolutionary War and the Civil War
• Pershing's dismissals, as well as the high regard his fellow officers held for him, allowed Marshall to rise quickly during the World War 1 military
• Marshall was put in charge of the First Infantry Division ("Big Red 1"), the first combat division the US Army would field in Europe
• What influenced Marshall the most in World War 1 was his commander's attitude
• Even though the British and French militaries were near collapse, and even though the US military was inexperienced and ill-trained, Pershing "radiated cheerfulness, determination and will-to-win"
• Those three characteristics would be what Marshall would look for in junior officers when he was in charge of the US Army
• Good humor
• Determination

#### Marshall's List

• Marshall had a very clear idea of the qualities that a good general possesses:
• "Good common sense"
• "Physically strong"
• "Cheerful and optimistic"
• "Display marked energy"
• "Extreme loyalty"
• "Determined"
• Marshall disdained the World War 1 "chateau generals" who remained in their headquarters and rarely ventured out among the fighting men
• Emphasized character over intellect
• Marshall realized that the natural tendency of the US was towards military unpreparedness
• US was protected by two large oceans to the east and west, and friendly neighbors to the north and south
• Therefore, at the start of a war, the US military would almost always be underprepared
• It's more important that a general be cheerful and optimistic in this scenario than more knowledgeable but pessimistic
• Optimism + common sense + determination + resourcefulness is preferable to a great depth of military knowledge
• Marshall's list is notable for what it leaves out
• Marshall was ambivalent about aggressive officers
• Felt that aggression led to officers taking unnecessary risks
• Also distrusted outliers and eccentrics
• Marshall's criteria for promotion had their intended effect: at the end of World War 2, the defeated Germans remarked on the clear difference in quality of American leadership between World War 1 and World War 2

#### Marshall and President Roosevelt

• One of the reasons Marshall was nominated as Chief of the Army was his willingness to be blunt with the President
• Example: aircraft construction program
• In 1938, the President was considering funding the construction of 10,000 aircraft
• By contrast, at the time, the entire US Army air corps consisted of around 160 aircraft
• Marshall, to the surprise of the President, opposed such a rapid expansion
• In Marshall's opinion, such a wildly unbalanced development focused too much on the airplanes themselves and not the guns, bombs, trained aircrews and bases needed to operate them
• Marshall suspected that the airplanes were going to be built for the benefit of Britain and France
• Example 2: military mobilization in 1940
• Henry Morgenthau (Secretary of the Treasury) advocated a military expansion in 1940, in anticipation of a potential US entry into World War 2
• Roosevelt was opposed, having just promised the American public that he would do everything he could to keep the US out of the war
• Marshall stood up to the President, and said that the US Army was in a "desperate situation" and that he would have to start preparations now if the Army was to have any hope of doing its job if it were called upon
• Roosevelt was impressed with Marshall's grasp of the details of military preparedness and agreed to have Marshall draw up plans for mobilization
• Although Marshall and Roosevelt had a close working relationship, they were not close personally
• Marshall refused to socialize with Roosevelt, to the point of not even laughing at the President's jokes
• In Marshall's opinion, a modicum of professional distance allowed him to retain his objectivity when presenting plans that the President might disapprove of

#### Marshall Prepares for War

• Marshall's main concern with war preparation was not men or materiel, but leadership
• In 1939, even before he had been formally confirmed as Chief of the Army, Marshall was thinking about how he would remove underperforming general officers
• In 1941, Marshall removed 31 colonels, 141 lieutenant colonels, 31 majors and 16 captains
• The press accused him of "removing the brains of the Army", but Marshall's personal opinion was that he was ridding the army of officers who couldn't stand up to the rigors of modern combat
• After the war, Eisenhower said that Marshall's removal of the deadwood in the senior ranks of the US Army had been a key factor in the Allied victory
• During World War 2, the US Army grew from to 8.3 million
• Marshall, by promoting young officers to high leadership positions, found men who could handle that growth
• I guess George C. Marshall was the Paul Graham of his era -- finding young talent and pushing them into leadership roles, only in the Army rather than private industry
• In addition to being swift to fire, Marshall was swift to promote
• Promoted a man directly from major to brigadier general, skipping the ranks of lieutenant colonel and colonel in the process
• That is more surprising than the swiftness with which he could fire
• In today's military skipping a rank is unthinkable, much less skipping two ranks
• While Marshall was swift to relieve officers, he was also willing to give them second chances
• Many of the officers he relieved or demoted regained commands after proving themselves in "backwater" assignments, like running training camps
• Another reason that Marshall fired officers was insufficient teamwork
• Marshall was intolerant of idiosyncratic hotheads, and refusing to cooperate with other generals or other branches of the military over what he perceived to be petty reasons was cause for dismissal
• One of the reasons the US got away with only mobilizing 89 divisions was because its greater level of mechanization meant that those divisions could be shifted around much more rapidly to meet changing battlefield conditions
• Marshall knew that he needed officers who could make full use of that speed
• Marshall's system created a military that had officers who could think as fast as the Army could move

### Chapter 2: Dwight Eisenhower: How The Marshall System Worked

• Marshall's most significant decision in World War 2 was made on December 12, 1941, when he decided to make Dwight Eisenhower the supreme allied commander
• Marshall knew that when the US went to war, it would do so overseas
• This means having to deal with allies
• Marshall picked Eisenhower because of his ability to work well in a coalition, and lead it if necessary
• Eisenhower, at least initially, did not want to be picked for command
• Had sat out much of World War 1 at home, at the War Department
• Wrote George Patton (who was actually senior to Eisenhower) asking for a regiment to command in the field
• Eisenhower wasn't a perfect fit for Marshall's criteria
• Lack of combat experience
• No reputation for being aggressive
• However, Marshall knew that Eisenhower was well-read, conscientious, and innovative
• Read On War three times
• Deliberately studied the Low Countries because he knew that would be where the next big war would be fought
• Worked with Patton to explore how tanks could be used as more than rolling pillboxes for the infantry, even at the cost of risking a court-martial
• Marshall picked Eisenhower not for his strategic brilliance, but for his skill at turning strategy into operations and tactics
• Like Zhukov, Eisenhower was best at the "operational" part of warfare -- at the point where broad strategic goals have to turn into specific orders for units
• When Eisenhower arrived in Washington, Marshall set him straight to work on the most important problem of the war:
• "We have got to do our best in the Pacific, and we have got to win the whole war. Now, how are we going to do it?"
• In other words
• When and where does the US begin to fight
• Should the US abandon the Philippines
• In a few hours, Eisenhower had a three page memo that would form the outline for the entire US war
• US would abandon the Philippines
• US would not reinforce its own West Coast cities
• Instead the focus would be on setting up Australia as a base for a counteroffensive
• Hold Australia
• Keep open the sea lanes to Australia
• In drafting this strategy, Eisenhower was elaborating on US strategic thinking from the '20s and '30s, which saw the US position in the Philippines as increasingly untenable in the face of another major global conflict
• Initially the US strategy called for defending Manila at all costs
• However, as the '30s wore on, there was an increasing sense that the entire Philippine archipelago was indefensible
• One of the things that we don't understand today is that in the '30s and '40s, the US was not a superpower. While it was certainly one of the stronger "great powers", US military leaders understood that the US could and would be locally overmatched
• This is an especially salient point today, as the US is having to grapple with some of the same considerations with e.g. Taiwan
• The problem was more of a test of Eisenhower's character, personality and intellect
• Marshall was testing Eisenhower to see if he would stick to the established plan, even knowing that it would involve abandoning thousands of US soldiers in the Philippines
• Marshall also wanted to see if Eisenhower was willing to buck Gen. MacArthur, who was the head of Pacific command and who Eisenhower had served as an aide for
• The real genius of Eisenhower was his ability to prioritize
• Example: March 1942 memo to Marshall
• Eisenhower lays out three primary priorities for the US:
• Keep Russia in the war
• Keep the Middle East open, both to relieve pressure on Russia and to prevent German and Japanese forces from linking up
• Keep England secure
• Note that the priorities make no mention of the Pacific
• Once again, this was not new strategic thinking, but it does once again demonstrate Eisenhower's ability to seperate the absolutely essential from the highly desirable
• One of the things that distinguished Eisenhower (and the American military in general) was its disregard for its generals backgrounds
• Unlike the British, who still took the notion of "an officer and a gentleman" seriously, the American army in World War 2 promoted officers from relatively humble backgrounds

#### Marshall and Ike Mature

• Of course both Marshall and Eisenhower made mistakes, especially during the opening phases of the war, in 1942
• Marshall advocated an invasion into France in 1943, which would have been disastrously early
• Marshall also opposed Operation Torch, the Allied landing in North Africa, as a distraction
• In retrospect, Operation Torch allowed the Allies to develop and refine the armored combat doctrines that would serve them well later on in Europe, as well as allowing commanders to gain much needed experience in a relatively permissive theater
• However, the largest mistake that Eisenhower and Marshall made was appointing Lloyd Fredendall as the front line American commander instead of Patton
• Fredendall was far too cautious and slow
• When Eisenhower visited Fredendall, he found his headquarters some 70 miles behind the front, in an underground bunker that Fredendall had used precious engineering resources to construct
• The troops that Fredendall commanded were not prepared for the speed of the German attack in the Battle of Kasserine Pass, which turned into a humiliating defeat for the Allies
• The deciding factor in Fredendall's removal was Eisenhower learning that the British were also dissatisfied with his performance
• Eisenhower realized that in a coalition effort, if any one of the coalition partners lost confidence in a commander, the commander had to go, regardless of what his own military might think of him
• When Eisenhower put Patton in charge, he gave him two standing orders
• Don't be personally reckless
• Don't hesitate to weed out underperforming officers
• Eisenhower repeated this advice to other commanders in the Army → if you have any doubts about the suitability of an officer in combat, weed him out
• However, true to the Marshall system, many of the officers dismissed by Eisenhower and Patton received second chances
• Most notable among them was Orlando Ward, who was dismissed by Patton from North Africa
• By the end of the World War 2, Ward was back in command of a combat unit, this time the 20th Armored Division
• He was also briefly in command of V Corps
• After the firings of Fredendall and Ward, Marshall released another report in which he outlined what he looked for in a general officer
• High standard of military skill
• Comprehensive understanding of modern warfare
• Physical stamina
• Moral courage
• Strength of character
• Flexibility of mind
• This list is largely aligned with the previous list, with the notable addition of "flexibility of mind"
• Marshall wanted generals who could adapt rapidly to changing circumstances
• If they could not adapt, they would be fired
• As Eisenhower put it, if the results obtained by a commander are unsatisfactory, the solution is not admonishment, supervision or harassment, but rather relief and replacement

### Chapter 3: George Patton: The Specialist

• Patton was the exception to the Marshall system
• Unlike Eisenhower, Patton was idiosyncratic, moody, and prone to temper tantrums
• This culminated in 1943, when, during visits to field hospitals, Patton struck two privates who had been hospitalized for psychological reasons, calling them cowards
• Although Patton's lapse in judgement would have been enough to get any other general fired, Eisenhower kept Patton for two reasons
• First, Patton had helped out and looked out for Eisenhower, when Eisenhower was younger
• Second, and more importantly, he knew that he needed an aggressive general like Patton
• However, Eisenhower's admiration of Patton only went so far
• Unlike the Germans, who characterized Patton as the best American general, Eisenhower said Patton was the best at "aggressively pursuing a retreating enemy" -- far more measured praise
• Fortunately for Patton, this is exactly the situation the US Army found itself in all through 1944 and 1945

### Chapter 4: Mark Clark: The Man In The Middle

• Patton was not the only general whose personal closeness to Eisenhower allowed him to remain in place
• Another such general was Mark Clark, commander of US forces in Italy
• At the start of the Italian campaign, Clark panicked even in the face of a relatively tame German counterattack, almost organizing an evacuation until he was overridden by his British superior, Harold Alexander
• The more talented of Clark's subordinates always harbored doubts about his ability to lead in combat
• He didn't seem to have the "battle sense" that more talented generals did
• Did not facilitate communications between his subordinates, a failing that the enemy noted and exploited
• His choice for the general to lead the landing at Anzio, Maj. Gen. John Lucas, was a disastrous one
• Very pessimistic attitude towards the amphibious operation
• Didn't push forward and secure the hills surrounding the beachhead on the first day, even though he could have done so
• Instead he chose to dig in and wait for further supplies and reinforcements
• This allowed the Germans to secure the hills, containing and trapping the soldiers at Anzio, making the eventual breakout significantly more difficult
• Much of the blame on the disaster at Anzio also falls on Clark himself
• Clark advised Lucas at first to be cautious, and then blamed him for not pushing forward to take the surrounding hills
• Clark seemed to be more interested in shifting blame than accomplishing objectives
• Lucas' peers, even though they faulted him for not pushing forwards to take the hills around Anzio, did not think his dismissal was justified in light of the overall poor leadership from Clark
• Modern scholars think that Lucas' firing was both unjustified and the right thing to do
• Firing Lucas for following the advice that Clark gave was an unfair thing to do
• Yet it's also clear that Lucas was the wrong person to handle the landings at Anzio
• Lucas needed to be fired for the Army to have any chance of getting through months of hard fighting needed to break out from the beachhead at Anzio
• The only general who seemed to like Clark was his foe, Albert Kesselring, who quickly understood that Clark was overcautious and proceeded to take full advantage
• So given all this why wasn't Clark fired
• Personal relationship with Eisenhower
• Lack of a viable replacement
• Clark and Patton were both glaring exceptions to the "Marshall system" for choosing generals, in opposite ways

### Chapter 5: "Terrible Terry" Allen: Conflict Between Marshall and His Protégés

• Maj. Gen. Terry Allen de la Mesa was another challenge to the Marshall system
• Terry Allen was, in many ways, emblematic of the pre-World War American Army
• Hard drinking, hard charging cavalry officer
• Effective combat leader, but not much of a team player
• Allen was very effective at training his men, and was especially fond of night operations, which he used on several occasions to surprise German forces
• Allen proved his worth in the battle to recapture Sicily, taking the First Infantry Division (the "Big Red 1" that Marshall had led previously) into the mountainous heart of the island, capturing the German redoubt at Troina
• Yet, at the moment of his triumph, Allen was relieved of command by Omar Bradley and replaced with Maj. Gen. Clarence Huebner
• Eisenhower and Bradley's explanations for why they fired Allen are inconsistent and confusing
• Tired
• Undisciplined troops
• Too aggressive against the Germans
• The real reason that Allen was fired seems to be simply that he was too individualistic to be the sort of "team player" that Eisenhower, Bradley, and others wanted as generals
• Marshall, on the other hand, was impressed with Allen's combat performance, and gave him the 104th infantry division
• Allen led the 104th from Normandy, across France into Germany
• His peers considered him a "problem child" personally, but noted his division's tenacity and the smoothness of the coordination between infantry and artillery
• Simply put, Allen was fired for being a go-it-alone maverick who didn't fit with Eisenhower and Bradley's leadership style

### Chapter 6: Eisenhower Manages Montgomery

• The key test of Eisenhower's leadership was his ability to manage the British commander, Bernard Law Montgomery
• Montgomery did not agree with the American style of giving subordinates objectives, but leaving the means by which those objectives were achieved to their discretion ("commander's intent")
• In turn, American commanders saw Montgomery as a master of set-piece battles with extensive preparation, but completely inept at improvisization and pursuit
• Montgomery, in many ways, is exactly the opposite of Patton
• Complicating the relationship between Eisenhower and Montgomery was the overall politics between the United States and Great Britain
• The US didn't well and truly join the war until 1942
• Was not present for all the British defeats and reversals in 1940-41
• In 1944, at the Normandy landings, the US was entering France, but the British were returning to France
• However, by the end of 1944, it was clear that the US was quickly becoming the dominant western Allied power, and the British were being pushed from center stage
• Moreover, Eisenhower didn't think that Montgomery was the right man for the job
• Eisenhower would have preferred that the British had appointed Gen. Harold Alexander, whom he thought was a better strategic thinker than Montgomery
• Likewise, Montgomery thought that Eisenhower was an inexperienced lightweight who didn't really know how to run a war
• Montgomery would repeatedly forget that Eisenhower was technically his boss
• However, despite all this, Eisenhower was determined to accomodate Montgomery to the greatest extent possible, because both Marshall and Roosevelt had made it absolutely clear that preserving the coalition with the British was of paramount importance
• The lengths to which Eisenhower went to accomplish this led some soliders Patton's army to dub him, "The best general the British have"
• Montgomery was convinced that the best way to invade Germany itself was to concentrate force along a single relatively narrow front
• Eisenhower had his doubts but was willing to let Montgomery try his approach with Operation Market Garden
• Market Garden was a disaster, and highlighted Montgomery's shortcomings
• Inability to conduct an attack without significant preparation
• Inability to rapidly adapt to changing battlefield circumstances
• For his part, Montgomery didn't seem to appreciate that the Americans and the British militaries, while superficially similar, were growing apart in terms of tactics and doctrine
• The American military had become far more mobile than the British one
• Better American electronics manufacturing ensured that almost every American platoon had radios, while even in 1944 radios were at the company or batallion level in Britain
• American logistics ensured that even rapid movements could be supported by adequate supplies of fuel, food and equipment
• When Montgomery tells one of his American subordinates that a corps can't be supplied over a single road, the subordinate responds, "Well, maybe you British can't, but we can"
• The American military was much faster at learning than the British
• Both British and German commanders noted that their American counterparts made a lot of mistakes, but never the same one twice
• The US military, having been at war for a significantly shorter period of time, with significantly greater manpower and industrial production, was willing and able to take more risks in order to learn faster
• Montgomery's greatest strength was on the defense, and it was during the Battle of the Bulge that Montgomery would have his finest moment, coordinating the defense against the Ardennes salient
• However, even there, Montgomery would offend his allies by implying that the British were primarily responsible for throwing the Germans back, at a press conference after the battle was over
• For all the friction between Eisenhower and Montgomery, however, their relationship was a productive one, which can be studied as a model of how very disparate management styles can accomodate each other

### Chapter 7: Douglas MacArthur: The General As Presidential Aspirant

• The greatest anomaly of World War 2 was not Patton, or Clark, but rather MacArthur
• MacArthur was truly the last of the old pre-War Army
• Managed as much by Roosevelt himself as by Marshall
• MacArthur bio
• Son of a Civil War general
• Chief of staff of the 42nd Division in World War 1
• Served as Army Chief of Staff from 1930 - 1935
• By 1940 he was commander of US forces in the Southwest Pacific theater
• MacArthur's leadership style was exactly the opposite of Marshall's
• Marshall kept himself to the background, and made sure his subordinates got the credit
• MacArthur's leadership style was brash and personal, and he tended to take credit himself even for ideas that his subordinates came up with
• One of the reasons Eisenhower had command of the D-Day landings, rather than Marshall, was because FDR felt that he needed Marshall in Washington to help rein in MacArthur
• Marshall repeatedly writes to MacArthur to get him to follow the US strategy (focus on winning in Europe first, then focus on the Pacific) and cooperate with the Navy
• So if MacArthur was such a problem, why wasn't he fired?
• President Roosevelt felt that MacArthur was less of a danger in uniform than out of it
• The isolationist forces that opposed US entry into the war still existed, even though they had been stunned by the momentary consensus that emerged in the immediate aftermath of Pearl Harbor
• MacArthur, isolationist and conservative, would have made a perfect figure for those forces to rally around
• This is why Roosevelt and Marshall kept MacArthur in the Pacific, where he was both too far away to be a danger, yet still in a position prestigious enough that it wouldn't be perceived as a snub
• This is also why MacArthur was awarded the Medal of Honor after being ordered to retreat from the Philippines, despite having done nothing to earn it
• It's notable that we know the names of Eisenhower's subordinates (e.g. Patton, Bradley, etc), but we don't know the names of MacArthur's subordinates, even though one of them, Gen. Jonathan Wainwright, would be highest ranking US POW of the war after the surrender of the Philippines

#### MacArthur The Presidential Candidate

• While generals like Patton and Clark were not completely in line with Marshall's leadership style, they still operated within his system
• MacArthur, on the other hand, drew no clear cut line between the military and the political
• Fortunately, however, MacArthur was badly out of touch with American politics, having been out of the country from World War 2 to the moment he was fired as commander of US forces in Korea
• MacArthur had started exploring the possibility of a Presidential bid as early as 1943
• He'd sent a subordinate back to the United States to sound out Republican congressmen to see what his chances were of securing the Republican nomination
• Exchanged letters with Rep. Albert Miller, who was trying to get him to run
• MacArthur's continued dabbling in politics would lead to his relief in the Korean War, and would have a lasting impact on civil-military relationships
• MacArthur's antics in Korea contributed to Johnson's later mistrust of his generals in the Vietnam War
• MacArthur's legacy in the Army would mostly be a negative one -- the Army's continued distrust of brash, outsize figures is a result of MacArthur (and, to a lesser extent, Patton)

### Chapter 8: William Simpson: The Marshall System and the New Model American General

• The general who best fit Marshall's criteria was William Simpson
• Simpson was smart, adaptive and aggressive
• But unlike Patton, Simpson was not brash and didn't make the news for the wrong reasons
• Subordinates enjoyed working for him
• The bland efficiency of Simpson's command is the reason that he's largely forgotten to history -- there simply isn't really any drama for historians to write about
• Simpson personified the ideal of generalship that the Army would embrace in the post-war years
• Eisenhower praised Simpson, saying, "If he ever made a mistake, it never came to my attention"
• Bradley called him "uncommonly normal"

#### The Effectiveness of the Marshall System

• After the war, many were critical of the wave of reliefs carried out in 1944-45 in the US Army
• Felt that Eisenhower was "running out of candidates"
• Thought it was unfair that leaders of inexperienced units were relieved without really being given a chance to get better
• Martin Blemson, the Army's official historian, argued that most reliefs in World War 2 were unwarranted
• Argues that the Army handled relief in a "more professional" manner in Korea and Vietnam
• However, it remains that Korea and Vietnam were a stalemate and a loss, respectively, while World War 2 was a decisive victory
• C'mon Ricks, that's basic post-hoc ergo propter hoc reasoning
• What the critics of Marshall and Eisenhower don't understand is the opportunity cost of leaving failing officers in place
• Relieving incompetent commanders improved morale farther down the line
• For a good example of this: see Band of Brothers where the morale of Easy Company improved dramatically once Capt. Sobel was relieved
• In many cases where the relief was unjustified, the combat effectiveness of the unit was uncompromised -- after Terry Allen was relieved, the First Infantry Division continued to be a highly effective unit
• The removals allowed a new generation of officers to gain experience faster than it would have otherwise
• And of course, it could have been much worse: Stalin had his non-performing officers shot
• A better critique of the Marshall system was that it was unnecessarily harsh towards nonconformists
• It's important to note that Marshall, Eisenhower, Bradley and most of the senior generals of the US Army in World War 2 came out of the infantry
• This caused frustration with cavalry officers, especially, who argued that the army moved unnecessarily slowly
• This was also noticed by the Germans, who noted that the US and British armies were moving slowly despite massive materiél advantages
• The manner in which the war was ended was emblematic of the leadership style that Marshall and Eisenhower embodied
• After accepting the German surrender, Eisenhower simply stated: "The mission of this Allied force was fulfilled at 0241 local time on May 7, 1945."
• So simple as to be eloquent

#### The Politics of the Marshall System

• Relieving commanders was not just about combat effectiveness, it also sent a political message
• Being willing to remove officers signalled to the American public and Congress that Marshall cared just as much about enlisted men as he did about the officer corps
• FDR and Marshall wanted a "New Deal Army", which cared as much about its lower ranks as it did about its colonels and generals
• Not only justified the relief of officers, but also was the reasoning behind choosing men from the enlisted ranks to replace them, rather than looking outside the Army
• This concern for democratic legitimacy permeated Marshall's decision-making around all aspects of the Army
• Insisted that draft policy be made in a way that was both fair and understandable to the average member of the public
• Dissatisfied with the pamphlets that explained the US role in the war, Marshall commissioned Hollywood director Frank Capra to make a series of short films, Why We Fight
• Marshall was not just acting out of high-minded principle
• Felt that one of the reasons that the US turned so isolationist in the inter-war years was because of the harsh and high-handed treatment that enlisted men had received from their officers in World War 1
• This meant that when those recruits came home they spread anti-military messages throughout society, making the public leery of mobilization
• Another effect of the Marshall system is that it put an end to the general-as-politician in American life
• The last officer to hold general's rank to be elected to the Presidency was Eisenhower himself
• Prior to him (especially in the 19th century) there were a number of Presidents who'd been generals in the Army
• Washington
• Jackson
• Grant
• Harrison
• Hayes
• etc.
• After Eisenhower, no general would even make it through the primaries, for either party

#### The Legacy of the Marshall System

• Marshall invented the criteria, and Eisenhower implemented them, but it was Bradley who carried the Marshall system forward into the post-war years
• Both Marshall and Eisenhower moved on soon after the end of the war, with Bradley becoming chief of staff of the Army in 1948
• Although Bradley was portrayed as "the GI's general", his record was far from sterling
• Bradley's army enjoyed massive advantages in men, tanks and aircraft (greater than 100-to-1 in the case of aircraft)
• Army was experienced, having fought from Normandy all the way to the French border
• Yet he still took months to force the Siegfried Line
• Many of the worst episodes of the Western Front took place in Bradley's command
• Battle in the hedgerows of Normandy
• Escape of German forces from the Falaise pocket
• Huertgen Forest
• Initial fumbling response to the German counteroffensive in the Ardennes
• Under a commander like Bradley, one wins by avoiding losing
• However, this can drag a campaign on far longer than necessary
• The legacy of the Marshall system would be an emphasis on cooperation and coordination over individual daring, and competence over brilliance
• The generals of World War 2 were organization men, but they were men of a successful organization
• Failures among them were weeded out, not covered up

## Part II: The Korean War

### Chapter 9: William Dean and Douglas MacArthur: Two Generals Self-Destruct

• The Korean War had a much more mixed record of military leadership than World War 2
• While the US Army was humiliated by forces with inferior materiel and logistics twice, Korea was also witness to two of the finest instances of US military leadership
• Marine Maj. Gen. O.P. Smith
• Army Lt. Gen. Matthew Ridgway
• One of the biggest shocks in Korea was seeing just how much the Army had deteriorated from its World War 2 peak
• At every level, the Army was overaged, inexperienced, incompetent, and not physically capable of operating in the harsh Korean climate
• The Korean War was the beginning of the erosion of the Marshall system
• It was much more difficult to dismiss officers in a small unpopular war than in a large popular war
• Early high-level reliefs raised fears of Congressional inquiries
• It says much about the mindset of the US Army, though, that it was more afraid of Congressional inquiries than it was of losing a war

#### The Destruction of General Dean

• Maj. Gen. William Dean was the commander of the 24th Infantry Division, based in Japan
• When North Korea invaded South Korea, his troops were the first to be dispatched
• Dean encountered a very difficult situation
• South Korean troops panicking and fleeing
• His own troops did not have the requisite air or armor support to effectively fight the North Koreans
• However, instead of stepping back and trying to bring order to the rear areas and organize a fighting retreat, Dean effectively turned himself into a 2nd Lieutenant and led individual patrols against North Korean tanks
• Ah yes, the Rommel problem, only worse
• After getting lost on one of these patrols, he wandered the hills of the Korean peninsula and was eventually captured by North Korean troops, becoming the highest ranking prisoner of the war
• Although Dean received a Medal of Honor for his efforts and his subsequent captivity, by his own admission, he didn't deserve it
• The strains of Korea broke Dean, mentally and physically, leaving him unrecognizable to people who had known him before the war

#### MacArthur's Downfall

• The mystery with the removal of MacArthur was not the fact of his removal, but that it took so long for him to be removed
• Unlike in World War 2, the US military should have been able to easily outmatch the North Korean forces
• United States had total air and naval control
• North Koreans had little in the way of mechanization and artillery support
• Yet MacArthur did his best to make the war more difficult than it needed to be
• Divided command structure
• Complex amphibious and airborne assaults that needlessly complicated operational planning
• Remained in Tokyo, visiting the actual theater of operations only rarely
• Assigned people to combat commands on the basis of their personal loyalty to MacArthur rather than competence
• In addition, MacArthur seemed to go out of his way to antagonize Truman (though, in this he was behaving the same as with FDR and Herbert Hoover)
• Visited Taiwan and issued a statement calling for the US to defend Taiwan, when that policy had not been officially decided
• Disregarded a blunt private warning from Truman that he was getting out of control and that he was on thin ice
• Repeatedly claimed to the press that the war would be soon brought to a victorious close, even as Chinese troops were moving to reinforce the North Koreans
• However, just as in World War 2, MacArthur was a political problem in addition to a poor general
• In the fall of 1950, however, MacArthur would finally cross the line
• Issued a set of increasingly hysterical-sounding statements asking for authorization to bomb targets within China, which would have greatly expanded the war, and potentially brought in the Soviet Union as well
• Undercut his support among conservatives and in the military
• The Chinese intervention was a tactical and strategic disaster, and American troops were poorly deployed to meet the new threat
• Thin reserves
• Open flanks
• However, unlike in World War 2, the Army did not publicly fire any officers for this failure

### Chapter 10: Army Generals Fail at Chosin

• The battles around the Chosin reservoir provide an apt comparison between two styles of leadership
• Marines were on the west side of the reservoir, Army was on the east
• Both sides suffered in the brutal cold
• Frostbite
• Equipment failure
• However, the cold did reduce bleeding and infection, so it did provide some limited benefit to wounded soldiers
• The performance difference between the Army and the Marines at Chosin was stark
• Both units had to retreat approximately 13 miles
• However the Army unit was wiped out, while the Marines conducted a fighting retreat and established a new defensive position in good order
• The battle of Chosin reservoir started about three months after the Inchon landings
• MacArthur was overconfident after the success of Inchon and was pressing his subordinates to press towards the Yalu River
• He was doing this despite the fact that there were numerous indications that the Chinese had already reinforced the North Koreans and were preparing to attack
• Army and Marine dispositions at the start of the battle
• Lt. Col. Don Faith's 1st Battalion of the 32nd Infantry Regiment arrives on the east side of the reservoir
• They replaced the 5th Marines, under Lt. Col. Raymond Murray, who had been ordered to move to the west side of the reservoir to reinforce and consolidate the Marine forces in the area, and reduce exposure to flanking attacks
• Despite being initially ordered not to attack, Faith presses for permission to attack North and eventually receives permission
• Faith's 1st Battalion (32nd Infantry Regiment) was joined by a batallion from the 31st Infantry Regiment
• Both the 31st and 32nd were part of the 7th Infantry Division
• Unit from 31st was commanded by Faith's superior, Col. Allan MacLean
• Neither Faith nor MacLean had significant combat experience
• MacLean had been a staff officer during World War 2, and had only been given command of this battalion after the previous commander had been dismissed for incompetence after the landings at Inchon
• Faith, even more remarkably, had zero combat experience → his entire Army career until this point had been in support, headquarters, and other noncombat postings
• I get the feeling that in Marshall's World War 2 Army someone like Faith wouldn't have even made Colonel's rank, much less gotten an actual battalion to command
• The units these men commanded were as green as their commanders
• Neither had done much fighting, having been part of the second wave at Inchon
• No experience in defensive preparations
• No experience in fighting against numerically superior foes
• The first signs that things were starting to go wrong was when 1/32nd's reconaissance platoon rode forward to establish a surveillance outpost...and disappeared
• No word from the platoon reached HQ, either by runner or by radio
• The platoon was never heard from again
• Meanwhile, at this time, the Marines were picking up increasing indications that regular Chinese Army soldiers were interspersed among the North Koreans
• Civilian chatter indicating that there were columns of Chinese soldiers moving in the North Korean rear areas
• Captured Chinese soldiers
• However, MacArthur discounted the civilian chatter as "unreliable" and insisted that the captured Chinese soldiers were "volunteers", even though they insisted that they were PLA regulars
• MacArthur's intelligence chief, Maj. Gen. Charles Willoughby, was more interested in lobbying Congress and congratulating Joe McCarthy on his anti-Communist efforts than he was in receiving accurate assessments of the Chinese threat
• In this, he was enthusiastically following his boss' lead
• The battle around Chosin reservoir begins in earnest on November 27-28, when elements of the 80th Division of the Chinese PLA attacked Faith's ill-prepared outpost
• Note the disparity in numbers here: Faith is commanding a battalion -- roughly 800 soldiers. He is being attacked by a division roughly 10,000 soliders
• Even if Faith had been competent, it would have been an extraordinary struggle to hold out long enough to be reinforced
• The next afternoon, Gen. Edward Almond, one of MacArthur's favored subordinates, arrives to assess the situation
• Exhorts Faith and MacLean to keep attack
• When Faith tells Almond that he is facing off against two Chinese divisions, Almond replies angrily, "There aren't two Chinese divisions in all of Korea!"
• Both Faith and MacLean would be dead within three days
• MacLean perishes in an ambush as he approaches troops that he thought were American but were actually Chinese
• At this point command of the combined unit devolves to Faith
• Faith was badly out of his depth, but his superiors did not seem to recognize that fact
• There were seasoned senior officers who could have relieved Faith, but Faith's superior officer, Maj. Gen. David Barr chose to keep Faith in place
• On November 30, the Chinese overrun a hill overlooking Faith's position, rendering it untenable
• Faith begins to organize a convoy to retreat, and, at this moment, his lack of competence and understanding is most visible and costly
• Convoy aims for another Army outpost, 4 miles to the south
• However, Faith had not coordinated with the unit manning that outpost, and they had already retreated
• The actual closest friendly unit was the Marine Corps outpost at the south end of the reservoir, 7 miles away, and they had even fewer troops than Faith did
• Lack of planning meant that the convoy set out with vastly insufficient supplies of ammunition, esp. ammunition for its heavy machine guns
• There was no coordination with friendly Marine aircraft that attempted to help, which resulted in some attacks by the aircraft hitting the convoy itself
• As the convoy inched its way south along the shore of the reservoir, it encountered a Chinese roadblock
• In the effort to fight its way past the roadblock, Lt. Col. Faith was killed
• After Faith's death, what little discipline remained broke down completely and Army units scattered into the woods and onto the frozen surface of the reservoir itself
• Survivors made their way across the surface of the reservoir to the Marine units on the other side, arriving shocked, injured and frostbitten
• In World War 2, a debacle like this would have resulted in officers being dismissed up and down the chain of command
• However, in Korea, only Barr was relieved

### Chapter 11: O.P. Smith Succeeds at Chosin

• In many ways, O.P. Smith was more of a product of the Marshall system than his Army superiors
• Although he was a Marine general, Smith had attended the Infantry School when Marshall was teaching there
• Smith was hardened by his experience in World War 2, especially the amphibious assault at Peleliu, where the Marines suffered almost 40% casualties storming the beaches
• The three most important decisions that Smith made at Chosin were all made before the battle started
1. Consolidated his forces, pulling the 5th Marines from the east side of the reservoir to the west, and turning over then entire east side to the Army
2. Built two field airstrips at the south end of the reservoir
3. Placed himself at the south end of the reservoir, knowing that would be the schwerpunkt
• Another of Smith's strengths was that he understood his boss
• In this case he understood that Edward Almond was an aggressive general who always wanted to attack
• So, even when following orders to advance, Smith understood that he was advancing into a precarious situation and established a line of strong points along his preferred route of retreat so that when it was time to retreat, he could hop from one fortified bastion to the next
• Smith also understood his enemy
• Realized that the Chinese lacked armor and artillery support, and therefore, as long as he could preserve his own, he would have the upper hand
• Set up his firebases to emphasize high survivability in short-range combat, even though that meant giving up apparently attractive tactical positions
• Understood that the Chinese were deliberately leaving some infrastructure intact as they "retreated" in order to draw individual American divisions forward into isolated positions
• Smith's preparation meant that the Marines at Chosin had a much different experience than the Army
• Where the Army was immediately overwhelmed and overrun, the Marines were able to hold fast until they started running out of supplies
• Smith then conducted a carefully planned fighting retreat from Chosin, to Koto-ri, and then from Koto-ri to the coastal plain
• In the process his one Marine division held its own against anywhere between 9 and 12 Chinese divisions
• If Smith's exploits had occurred in World War 2, he would have been one of the most famous generals in the Marine Corps, and perhaps even the United States military as a whole
• However, Smith's moment of glory occurred in Korea, which was a small, relatively unpopular war
• As a result, Smith is almost forgotten today, even among the Marines

#### Why The Difference in Leadership

• Years later, an analysis of the battle of Chosin reservoir showed that, at the level of enlisted men and junior officers, there was little difference between the Army and the Marine Corps
• The difference in performance is entirely due to the difference in competence of the senior leadership
• Fundamentally, the Army leadership in Korea didn't understand how to prepare for combat
• Didn't think to pre-arrange logistics
• No pre-set artillery support
• Little communication or coordination with other nearby units or air support
• Lt. Col. Faith was unfortunately emblematic of the Army in Korea
• Of the 18 colonels leading regiments in Korea, 15 had no prior combat experience
• The Army was using Korea as a way for those who had been staff officers in World War 2 to have "their turn" leading units into combat
• For the Army, Korea was a sideshow
• The main focus was preparing for a potential ground war against the Soviet Union in Europe
• As a result, the Army kept its best generals in Europe, and sent those who needed experience to Korea
• The Marine Corps, on the other hand, sent its best leaders to Korea
• Marine Corps had a policy that anyone leading a unit had to have at least led the next smallest unit in combat (i.e. in order to command a division, you had to have had combat experience leading a battalion)
• This was because the Marine Corps was a much smaller force
• Was also facing questions from Congress about whether the post-Cold War military had room for a "small war" force like the Marines
• As a result, the Marine Corps officers at Chosin were hardened (and often decorated) veterans of some of the worst fighting the US saw in the Pacific
• Saipan
• Iwo Jima
• etc.

### Chapter 12: Ridgway Turns The War Around

• On December 23rd, Gen. Walton Walker, then commander of all ground forces in Korea, was killed in a car accident
• Matthew Ridgway was appointed to take his place the same day
• One of the reasons that the replacement was carried out so quickly is that it was clear that Walker was on his way out anyway
• Ridgway was another of Marshall's proteges
• Served as an aide to Marshall before appointed to command a division shortly before the Normandy invasion
• One thing I don't understand is that Ricks castigates the Army for putting inexperienced men in charge of divisions in Korea, and yet here's Marshall doing the same thing with Ridgway and getting excellent results
• Unlike Patton and MacArthur, Ridgway was a younger general, who took care that to ensure that he was neither putting himself or being seen to put himself above the troops
• Literally so -- Ridgway refused to review troops from a platform or reviewing stand, preferring to stand by the side of the road as troops marched by
• From the moment he was appointed, Ridgway set to work turning the US effort around
• The first thing he did was visit MacArthur
• Ridgway knew that maintaining a cordial relationship with MacArthur was vital to his own effectiveness, even if he didn't agree with MacArthur's policies
• Next, he conducted a low-altitude aerial tour of Korea in a B-17 bomber, studying the terrain on which he would be ordering his troops to fight
• Then, he visited Syngman Rhee, President of South Korea, and assured him that the American forces would not be retreating from the country
• Finally, he conducted a tour of all his ground commanders, assessing the situation on the ground
• What Ridgway found on his tour was deeply concerning
• Found that his division commanders didn't know the terrain they were operating on
• Didn't know the names of prominent mountain peaks
• Didn't know the name of the rivers that ran through their sector
• Didn't know what ground was and was not suitable for armor
• The US Army was roadbound, in terrain where the roads were little more than dirt tracks running up and down hillsides
• Morale was pervasively low, from the front lines all the way to headquarters
• Lt. Col. Winton, Ridgway's aide, summarized the situation as, "Weather: terrible. Chinese: ferocious. Morale: stinko"
• Ridgway was also deeply concerned that the 8th Army's headquarters was in a warm building 180 miles from the front
• Fredendall in North Africa: the sequel
• Ridgway ordered the headquarters moved north immediately
• Ridgway's initial survey indicated that, although he had been sent to regain the offensive, the 8th Army was in no shape to conduct offensive operations at that moment
• Army was far too dependent on reliable telephone and radio communications
• Unwilling to leave roads and go cross country in pursuit of the enemy
• Lack of imagination when fighting a foe that they massively outmatched in firepower
• Ridgway realized that he would need to relieve a significant number of general officers in order to make the 8th Army into a fighting force that could effectively conduct offensive operations

#### Ridgway's Reliefs

• Ridgway embarked on a series of reliefs much like Pershing had carried out in World War 1 and Marshall had carried out in World War 2
• However, Ridgway's task was complicated by the fact that the US was not fighting a major great power war, but rather was fighting a limited "police action"
• Instead of being able to formally fire generals like his predecessors, he had disguise his firings as normal rotations
• Unlike Pershing and Marshall, Ridgway did not have the full support of the Army leadership in firing generals
• Twice, in January and February, he got messages from Army leadership in the United States warning him to be careful about the political optics of his firings
• As a result, Ridgway was not able to work as quickly as Marshall, and this actually caused the firings to be more painful
• Instead of being given second chances, generals were often pushed into retirement after their reliefs
• Interestingly, one of the generals that Ridgway did not seek to fire was Edward Almond
• Did not want to pick a fight with MacArthur, who viewed Almond very favorably
• Also realized that, if properly restrained, Almond's aggressive streak could be put to good use
• Ridgway's firings would constitute an epitaph for the Marshall system
• Although he was trying to clean house in the same way that Marshall had cleaned house in World War 2, the politics of the Korean War meant that wholesale firings could not be carried out without attracting unwanted Congressional attention
• Korea was a small unpopular war that was going badly, and firings leadership is always more difficult in such a scenario
• This is definitely foreshadowing for Vietnam
• At the end of January 1951, Ridgway's change of leadership was beginning to have its intended effect
• US Army was successfully repelling North Korean and Chinese attacks
• Caused North Korean and Chinese troops to retreat to north of the 38th parallel and set the stage for a truce
• Ridgway's success also had the effect of altering the balance of power between MacArthur and Truman
• MacArthur was arguing that the only two alternatives were abandoning the Korean peninsula or starting a broader regional war against China
• Ridgway showed that the limited conflict on the Korean peninsula could be prosecuted successfully, undercutting MacArthur's claims

### Chapter 13: MacArthur's Last Stand

• By January of 1951 MacArthur had taken the increasingly Manichean position that the only two alternatives in Korea were either complete withdrawal or expanding the war to encompass China
• Was talking about conducting air raids on China and encouraging the Nationalist government on Taiwan to invade the mainland
• Meanwhile, Ridgway was quietly turning the war around, conducting a limited advance to the Han River, digging in, and destroying Chinese and North Korean attacks as they came
• One of the often overlooked strengths of Ridgway is his handling of MacArthur
• Even though Ridgway disagreed with MacArthur's policy prescriptions, he went out of his way to avoid denigrating them
• Praised the "freedom of action" that MacArthur had "given" him to conduct the war as he saw fit
• Kept careful records of his conversations with MacArthur, writing down the date and time that MacArthur told him specific things, in order to establish a paper record supporting himself in case MacArthur decided to turn on him
• Nevertheless, MacArthur undermined Ridgway eventually, by announcing at a press conference that the war was destined for a stalemate because of the "unreasonable" restrictions placed on him by Washington
• This was frustrating to Ridgway because he had worked hard to raise troop morale and present the war as winnable to Congress and President Truman
• This outburst by MacArthur was, in many ways, the last straw
• Truman had already repeatedly warned MacArthur to avoid making independent policy statements
• On April 11, 1951 Truman released a statement relieving MacArthur of command
• MacArthur returned home to a hero's welcome, and publicly contemplated running for President
• One of the reasons Eisenhower decided to run for President was his concern that there was a chance, however remote, that MacArthur would get the nomination
• That said, Eisenhower's decision to run for office represents a stark departure from the distancing from politics that Marshall sought to inculcate in his subordinates
• MacArthur went to his grave believing that he could have won the Korean War if only he'd been allowed to use atomic weapons
• Today, MacArthur is not very well remembered for a man of his stature
• The Army remembers him as mostly a negative example -- example of a general should not behave
• The Korean War stripped MacArthur of most of his World War 2 glory
• His intransigence poisoned civil-military relations for the next war -- Lyndon Johnson, remembering MacArthur's constant betrayals of Truman, would keep his generals on a very short leash in Vietnam

### Chapter 14: The Organization Man's Army

• By the mid-1950s, prominent individualists like Ridgway were leaving and the Army was swiftly becoming a collection of "organization men"
• The term "organization man" comes from William H. Whyte's book of the same name, summarizing the corporate culture of 1950s America
• "Organization man" culture
• "The 'rough and tumble' days are over"
• "Unorthodoxy is dangerous to the organization"
• "Ideas come from the group, not the individual"
• "Creative leadership is a staff function -- if the chief wants creativity, he'll hire someone to be creative"
• The above points also describe Army culture during the '50s
• New rotation policies, which rotated officers among units on a regular basis, ensured that the officers who got ahead were bland careerists who could get along in all situations
• William Westmoreland was typical of this new breed of officer
• Another factor reinforcing the shift to corporatist thinking was the development of game theory
• During the '50s, Thomas Schelling's mathematical models analogized fighting a war to operating in a market
• "There is more than a semantic connection between a price war and a real war"
• "There is at least a touch of similarity between, say, a threat to retaliate with nuclear weapons and a threat to retaliate by calling a strike"
• Schelling proposed that his theories of deterrence and gradual escalation were not only applicable to the standoff with the Soviet Union, but were also applicable to smaller conflicts
• "Limited war is essentially a bargaining process in which violence and the threat of violence is used, in which one tries to coerce or deter an enemy and cause him not to pursue all of the actions of which he is currently militarily capable"
• The logic of limited war seemed compelling
• In fact, in the '50s, thinkers like Robert Osgood were arguing that a war of attrition is exactly the sort of war where the US would have the greatest advantage against countries like Communist China

#### The post-Korean War Army's Search For A Mission

• The post-Korean War era was one of "doctrinal chaos"
• How would the Army adapt to the new nuclear era
• Nuclear weapons were proving revolutionary for the Air Force
• B-52: first truly intercontinental bomber capable of delivering nuclear weapons to the Soviet Union from the United States
• Air bases and air defenses to defend against Soviet bombers
• Reconaissance satellites
• The Navy, while initially caught off guard by nuclear weapons had gotten in on the game with nuclear submarines
• Nautilus: first nuclear powered submarine capable of operating under the North Pole
• Polaris SLBM
• Compared to these, the thought of Army units maneuvering in the field seemed almost quaint
• In 1956, Gen. Maxwell Taylor unveiled the "Pentomic Army" doctrine
• Army divisions reorganized into 5 independent "battle groups"
• Designed to help units survive on an atomic battlefield
• Characteristic weapon: "Davy Crockett" -- small atomic warhead launched by a recoilless rifle
• The problem with the Davy Crockett was that the radius of lethal radioactivity of the warhead was larger than the range of the launcher, so employing it was essentially a suicide mission
• Another role for the Army was in handling "brushfire conflicts", which had traditionally been the domain of the Marine Corps
• "Small offenses do not warrant big bombs"
• Army begins studying counterinsurgency → beginning of "special forces" schools
• The Army's new personnel policies contributed to the general sense of malaise
• Officers and noncoms were often rotated into and out of units before they had a real chance to get to know their subordinates
• Contributed to a sense among officers and enlisted men that they were nameless, faceless cogs in a bureaucratic machine
• The policy of rotation contributed to the growing problem with micromanagement
• Leaders had no familiarity with their subordinates, so they tended to micromanage, as they could not be sure who was competent and who was not
• The policy of rotation also rewarded "star performers" who emphasized short term results at the expense of long-term unit health
• This is still an ongoing problem in the US military. See Col "Ned Stark" writing in War on the Rocks to see that this is an ongoing issue even as of 2018
• Although the Army leadership was aware of the problem of micromanagement, it did little to address the root causes
• Instead the Army updated its leadership field manual and put out a series of bulletins advising leaders that excess supervision could be harmful
• Another reason for the Army's inaction on the issue of micromanagement is that a proclivity for micromanagement is how many of the Army's leaders had risen to general officer rank in the first place
• There is a fine line between "attention to detail" and "micromanagement"
• By the late 1950s the Marshall system for choosing generals has completely collapsed
• Generals are no longer chosen according to Marshall's criteria
• They are no longer subject to being fired for non-performance
• Ascending to the rank of General is now more akin to getting tenure as a professor than it is to becoming a combat leader
• Generals are no longer subject to removal for professional incompetence, only moral lapses
• Unfortunately, when the military won't relieve its own officers, it falls to the civilian leadership to do the deed

## Part 3: The Vietnam War

### Chapter 15: Maxwell Taylor: Architect of Defeat

• One of the remarkable forgotten facts about the Vietnam war is that the generals who were responsible for the US defeat in Vietnam were the junior and mid-level officers responsible for US victory in World War 2
• The US went into Vietnam with a sense that victory was inevitable
• The US military also went into Vietnam with a sense that the support of the American people was guaranteed
• The initial leader of US forces in Vietnam was Maxwell Taylor
• Taylor had previously risen to prominence with a book critiquing Eisenhower's defense policies, called The Uncertain Trumpet
• The book was influential among the staff of the new President, John F. Kennedy
• Unlike Marshall, who kept a certain distance from Roosevelt, Taylor emphasized his closeness and friendship with the new President
• While Taylor, as head of the Army, was technically subordinate to the Joint Chiefs, Kennedy distrusted the Joint Chiefs after the Bay of Pigs debacle and leaned on Taylor as his personal military adviser
• Regarded as a man of "broad knowledge, quick intelligence, and sound judgement"
• In 1962, after two years, John F. Kennedy made Taylor the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, essentially making is pre-existing position as military advisor official
• After serving as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs for two years, Taylor would go on to be the US proconsul to South Vietnam, exercising leadership over both civilian and military sides of the US intervention
• Taylor was also responsible for appointing his successor, William Westmoreland, who is largely blamed for the US loss in Vietnam
• However, we should also blame Taylor for getting the US into war in the first place
• Taylor was responsible for persuading both the President and the Joint Chiefs that Vietnam was a core priority, rather than a peripheral country
• In 1954, the Joint Chiefs had considered intervening in Indochina to relieve the French (with nuclear bombs, no less), but were persuaded against because of a combination Army and Marine Corps opposition
• Also, Eisenhower was not at all interested in a formal intervention in Vietnam
• However, the US did take over the role of advising and training the South Vietnamese military
• In this the US would begin a pattern of attempting to create a copy of the US Army in miniature rather than the counter-insurgency force that needed to be built
• The initial advisor to the North Vietnamese was Gen. Sam Williams (see Prologue)
• While he acknowledged the danger that the Viet Minh posed, Lt. Gen. Williams was adamant that the South Vietnamese organized an army able to withstand a full-scale assault by the North
• Disbanded six light infantry divisions that would have been useful as a counterinsurgency force
• In 1960, when the government of South Vietnam began to train for counterinsurgency, Williams was appalled, thinking it was a waste of time and effort
• In 1960, Williams was replaced by Lt. Gen. Lionel McGarr
• McGarr was not well liked by either his subordinates or his South Vietnamese counterparts
• Rough, humorless and suspicious
• In 1961, British consultants proposed a classic counterinsurgency effort
• McGarr objected to it
• Said it would be a waste of time
• Would undercut the "offensive spirit" that the South Vietnamese army needed to develop
• The US effort in Vietnam, all throughout the '60s, was marked by a sense of incoherency
• Large difference between what was necessary and what was done
• The US military did what it knew how to do, not what was necessary to win the war
• Taylor, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs assumed that the risks of a major war in Asia were low if the US intervened in Vietnam
• Assured Kennedy that the North Vietnamese were "extremely vulnerable" to conventional bombing
• Taylor wanted to go into Vietnam in order to demonstrate the continued value of the Army to the US national security strategy in an era where it seemed that nuclear weapons had made the Army obsolete
• In his new role, Taylor was intensely political
• Actively fostered mistrust between generals in order to secure his own power
• Misled fellow members of the Joint Chiefs and the President
• Said whatever was expedient in order to get support for his priorities
• In order to consolidate his own power, Taylor had McGarr removed and replaced him with Paul Harkins
• Unfortunately, Harkins' only virtue was his loyalty
• Insensitive to political considerations
• Unimpressive in reporting and analyzing the situation
• Harkins was dismissed by Lyndon Johnson shortly after he succeeded the assassinated President Kennedy

### Chapter 16: William Westmoreland: The Organization Man In Command

• Westmoreland was chose to replace Harkins, but he had many of the same flaws
• Many in the Army at the time opposed Westmoreland's appointment, arguing that he had no idea how to fight a counterinsurgency
• Although Westmoreland had done well early in his career as a battalion commander at Kasserine Pass, he was seen by many to be an incurious careerist, more concerned with looking good than being good
• More worryingly, Westmoreland had a reputation for mendacity
• Claimed that he had been informed of a request to address a joint session of Congress at the last minute, even though he had actually prepared for weeks
• In 1967, Westmoreland said that the "crossover point" had been reached in the Vietnam War, and that North Vietnam was running out of manpower, neither of which were true
• While many dismissed Westmoreland as an intellectual lightweight who could not understand the complexities of running a war, his defenders state that he was merely a pragmatist who was uninterested in theory
• Westmoreland was proud of the fact that he had not gone through the traditional Army officer training program; rather he had attended Harvard Business School, becoming the first officer to have done so while on active duty
• Viewed the Vietnam War as an exercise of management rather than leadership
• But what is the difference between management and leadership? Doesn't good management imply leadership?
• More concerned with means than ends
• The US Army in Vietnam was lavishly provided with food, fuel, equipment and ammunition
• Yet, Army generals did not understand the war they were fighting and struggled to come up with effective responses to the enemy
• Westmoreland was as bad at understanding how he should deal with civilian oversight as he was at prosecuting the war
• Had the attitude that political leaders should state their long-term goals then get out of the way
• In conflicts like Korea and Vietnam, this attitude was disastrous, because there was no easy "military" end to the war -- the only settlement was political
• Westmoreland also didn't seem to think through the long-term strategic consequences of his decisions
• Example: how US ground troops were introduced to Vietnam
• US had three jet-capable airfields in Vietnam
• When US decided to bomb the North Vietnamese, Westmoreland asked for ground troops to help protect the airfields from ground attack
• Westmoreland brought a very "conventional" attitude to the war in Vietnam
• Believed that the only objective of an armed force was to seek out and destroy the enemy
• To be fair, this isn't even true in conventional conflict
• The goal is always to secure the objective, not kill the enemy
• Westmoreland and his subordinates tended to view the Vietnamese people as more of an obstacle rather than the thing they were fighting for
• "It became necessary to destroy the town in order to save it"
• Westmoreland didn't seem to understand that the North Vietnamese were using their (conventional) military to lure the US Army away from the areas that it was garrisoning so that the Viet Cong could establish themselves among the local population
• Normally insurgents are the support force for the conventional troops
• In this case, the conventional troops were the support force for the insurgents?

### Chapter 17: William DePuy: World War II Style Generalship in Vietnam

• William DePuy, whom we know from the prologue, took charge of the 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam
• Applied the lessons he'd learned from World War 2
• Use massive amounts of firepower on enemy positions
• Fire anyone incompetent
• Neither of these tactics were effective in Vietnam
• Massive amounts of firepower not appropriate for a war fought among the people
• Firing incompetents is no longer approved of by the Army
• DePuy was reprimanded by Army Chief of Staff Harold K. Johnson for firing people as rapidly as he did
• Told that he should invest more in training his subordinates
• Striking departure from the US Army's attitude in World War 2, where Bradley had said that one of the keys to success as a divisional commander was being willing to relieve failing sub-commanders
• In DePuy's opinion, a war zone was no place for on-the-job training
• Leaders had to be properly trained before they got to Vietnam and put soldiers' lives at risk
• While many of DePuy's subordinates found him to be a thorough and tactically gifted commander, they also thought that his approach to relief might be a bit excessive
• In a previous era, DePuy's confrontational style and unwillingness to go along with the system would have resulted in his own relief
• However, ironically, DePuy was saved by the new worldview he disliked -- instead of being relieved, he was sent out on "joint assignments"
• After Vietnam, DePuy's career would be revived and he would go on to help establish the doctrine that would serve the US Army well in Desert Storm
• However, for all his admirable willingness to fire non-performing officers, it's far from clear that DePuy had the right approach in Vietnam
• DePuy was an advocate of more firepower -- "stomp the enemy to death"
• Didn't know what to do in a situation where "more dakka" was simply ineffective, or even counterproductive
• With DePuy's departure from Vietnam, the Army finally ended the Marshall approach of relieving underperforming officers

### Chapter 18: The Collapse of Generalship in the 1960s

#### A. At The Top

• Lyndon Johnson and his advisers did not trust the generals they had in charge in Vietnam
• The problem was not that civilians participated too much in dictating the conduct of the war, but that senior military leaders participated too little
• Yeah, but on the other hand, the military is subordinate to the civilians
• If the civilians tell the military leadership to stay out of the way, what can the military leaders do?
• The US strategy was one of "graduated pressure" -- incrementally stronger attacks that, in theory, would force Hanoi to the bargaining table
• The Army thought it was fighting a war of attrition, but didn't realize that the North Vietnamese were willing to sustain severe casualties
• Not all voices in the military agreed with the gradualist approach promulgated by Taylor, Westmoreland and MacNamara
• In 1964, the Joint Chiefs made two attempts to send memos to the President and the Defense Secretary about their misgivings about the graduated pressure strategy
• However, in both instances, Taylor, who was then the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, managed to suppress the memo
• Taylor systematically suppressed dissent and made it seem to the civilian leadership that the military was unanimous in supporting the graduated pressure approach, even when many in the military had deep misgivings
• Finally, in November 1965, the Joint Chiefs (now chaired by Earle Wheeler) went to Lyndon Johnson and presented a united front advocating for a major escalation of the war
• Air raids against the North Vietnamese heartland
• Mining Haiphong harbor
• Increase US military commitment to an overwhelming level quickly in an effort to win the war
• Johnson's reaction was fury
• Cursed out his commanders
• Accused them of trying to get him to start World War 3
• Told them to leave immediately and never speak of this again
• At this point, the Joint Chiefs should have all resigned, knowing that they no longer had the confidence of their commander in chief, but they did not
• Moreover, unlike FDR, Johnson never made any effort to explain to the American public exactly what we were doing in Vietnam
• Another unlearned lesson
• Did anyone explain to the US public what the military was doing in Iraq or Afghanistan?

#### B. In The Field

• The Vietnam War was an unwanted war for which the Army had not prepared
• Unwanted? But didn't Maxwell Taylor get the Army into Vietnam in order to demonstrate to President Kennedy that there was a role for the Army in a nuclear-dominated battlefield?
• The officer corps had been trained to fight the Red Army
• Wanted a "force vs. force" battle
• However the situation in Vietnam demanded a different approach
• Long-term patrolling of a single area
• Efficient use of intelligence to discover and eliminate infiltrating Viet Cong
• The Army's response to these demands was willful ignorance
• Did not send officers to the British jungle warfare school in Malaysia
• Did not consult with French liaison officers on what lessons the French might have to share about Indochina
• Did not put CIA/Special Forces trained Vietnamese fighters to use securing villages -- instead used those fighters in a fruitless attempt to secure a porous border with Cambodia
• The Army pursued a strategy of operations in the hills in order to try to keep the "enemy" from the villages even though it was already clear that the Viet Cong had infiltrated the villages and were able to threaten local officials and steal South Vietnamese arms
• The Army also ignored its own junior officers' findings
• A major US Army internal report (the PROVN report) stated that the "decision point" of the conflict was in the villages
• However, this report also stated that US Army forces should continue to confront North Vietnamese communist units and attack their supply lines
• Moreover, even after the war, there was little sense in the Army that it had been responsible in any way for the failure in Vietnam
• Many continued to state that the Army had "fought magnificently"
• Blamed others (esp. civilian oversight) for limiting the Army and forcing it to retreat
• Did not understand that the Army had squandered the first 3-4 years of the war (1963-1967) and that by the time the Army did figure out how to effectively conduct counterinsurgency, the broader government and public had lost patience
• The result of this was that firing generals became unthinkable for the Army
• Firing generals would have meant admitting responsibility
• Moreover, in a war where neither success nor failure was clearly defined, it was much more difficult to fire an officer for failing simply because it was much more difficult to determine if he was failing
• Finally, firing a general, at that point, was seen as tantamount to questioning the multi-decade process that had resulted in him getting promoted to General, and as such was seen as an institutional critique of the Army itself

#### The Marine Road Not Taken

• Because the Army and Marine Corps occupied distinct geographical sectors of Vietnam, the Marines were able to pilot counterinsurgency strategies that the Army was not willing to try
• The Marine strategy was to move small units out to live among the villages, to deprive the Viet Cong of the recruits and materiel that they would need in order to carry on their insurgency
• Almost a police, rather than military approach
• 3-phase approach
• Battalion and larger forces of marines would go after large North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces, denying them the ability to move freely
• Smaller counter-guerilla patrols would try to constrain the Viet Cong's ability to move freely in population centers
• Put combined platoons of Marines and ARVN forces in villages, to train and equip the locals to resist Viet Cong coercion
• The key to the Marine approach was sustained engagement in a single area over a long period of time
• Allowed Marine units to develop a sense of what was "normal" and detect deviations from regular patterns
• This approach, while more effective, was not easier than the Army's big-battles-and-firepower strategy -- while the Marines in the combined platoons were only 1.5% of all American forces in Vietnam, they represented 3.2% of all casualties, i.e. they were taking casualties at more than twice the rate of other units
• The Army looked at this approach and thought it was passive and static
• Marines weren't willing to "come out and fight"
• Westmoreland and DePuy dismissed the Marines' strategy as too labor intensive to implement across all Vietnam
• However, this ignores the fact that the Marines did not intend to occupy the entire country
• Rather the Marines strategy was to clear a space to allow indigenous forces to come in behind them without the threat of constant Viet Cong attack
• This is rather similar to the "clear, hold, build" strategy that the Army pursued in Iraq, and it suffers from the same shortcoming -- namely, it presumes that the indigenous state has enough capacity to consolidate and secure the gains that the US makes
• As we saw in Iraq, and as I suspect of South Vietnam, the indigenous state did not have the state capacity to consolidate the areas that the US cleared
• See further discussion below
• The Marine approach, however, was more cost-effective than the Army's strtategy
• Marine counterinsurgency approach averaged a cost of $350 per enemy combatant persuaded to surrender under an amnesty program • The Army strategy averaged$60,000 per enemy combatant killed
• Of course, those who surrender today can easily go back to fighting tomorrow
• And in Iraq, we saw exactly this, with many "Sons of Iraq" militia forces turning their alleigance to Iran or ISIS after the US left (and stopped paying)
• DePuy's firepower-oriented approach was a constant of US strategy
• In Korea, Vietnam and Operation Iraqi Freedom, the US Army maintained that victory would have been possible if only the US had been allowed to unleash its full firepower
• However, advocates of firepower have a hard time answering why extensive use of firepower in Laos and Cambodia (where the war was not subject to political constraints) did not work
• First of all, Ricks is dead wrong here -- the war in Laos and Cambodia was subject to severe political constraints
• Neither Johnson nor Nixon wanted to be seen to be expanding the war beyond Vietnam
• Firepower could be used, but only insofar as it could be used in a way that wasn't seen to be expanding the war
• Moreover, all the firepower in the world does you no good if you have no targets
• The Ho Chi Minh trail was not an appropriate target for American firepower
• The US should have been attacking the North Vietnamese industrial base and ports, instead of trying to intercept shipments of arms once they were already on their way
• What's easier? Trying to stop a package at the warehouse, or trying to stop it once it's already on the delivery truck?
• Of course, the big counterexample to that is Afghanistan, where the Soviet Union used even more firepower than the Americans, to even more ineffectual results
• Another argument against the counterinsurgency strategy in Vietnam holds that even if the Marines had been able to implement their strategy without interference and with the full backing of the United States, the price would have still been too high
• North Vietnamese government was too patient and resilient
• South Vietnamese government had too many problems
• However, this ignores the opinions of the South Vietnamese themselves
• South Vietnamese generals greatly liked the Marines combined platoon approach
• Said it tied well with Vietnamese traditions of local autonomy and self-government
• Combined platoon strategy beat the Communists at their own game, making the official South Vietnamese government more responsive to the people's security needs than the Viet Cong
• Denied the Viet Cong the ability to assassinate and intimidate local officials
• It's important to note that Ricks is quoting relatively senior Vietnamese officials, Generals, military chief of staff, etc
• As we've seen with the Iraqi military, it's entirely possible for senior commanders to greatly overestimate the effectiveness of their forces, deploying what ought to be a vastly superior force only to see it turn tail and run away in front of an enemy with inferior numbers and arms
• Counterfactuals aside, the Army was vehmently opposed to the Marines' strategy because it didn't realize the kind of war it was fighting
• Army wanted to fight a "war of attrition" against the North Vietnamese
• However, the terrain in Vietnam made it very easy for North Vietnamese/Viet Cong forces to slip away from the Army's search and destroy raids
• Meant that North Vietnamese chose the times and places of engagement, allowing them to choose how many casualties they would risk
• Wars of attrition, especially those fought in far-away, strategically unimportant countries, are also very difficult to maintain popular support for
• The only way the US could have won with its firepower intensive approach is if it had sent several divisions into North Vietnam
• However, that would have risked a Chinese intervention (as happened in Korea), so that option was never considered

#### C. In Personnel Policy

• In Korea, the US Army adopted a policy of rotating individual soldiers, rather than entire units
• Men should not be left in combat indefinitely
• Allowed veteran soldiers to move to units where they would be of use in a potential conflict against the Soviet Union
• However, this policy destroyed unit cohesion, by removing the illusion that soliders arrived and left as part of their unit
• In Vietnam, the Army made this policy even worse by having separate rotation policies for enlisted men and officers
• Enlisted men would serve out a full 1-year rotation
• Officers could rotate out after 6 months
• Argument was that officers would be "burned out" by command in "constant combat" after six months
• However, very few units were in constant combat in Vietnam
• Most units were non-combat logistics units
• Even combat units were rarely in combat all the time
• A post-mortem found that the cause of officer incompetence in Vietnam was not that officers were getting "burned out", but rather that they were not in place long enough to gain familiarity with their task and role
• The rotation policy encouraged an attitude of "ticket-punching", as both officers and enlisted men knew that they were only going to be there for a fixed duration
• Led to conservatism -- primary priority was to survive for a year rather than take risks to defeat the enemy more quickly
• Undermined advisory role with Vietnamese military -- advisors rotated out after six month too, leaving little to no continuity in liaising with the Vietnamese military
• Rotation also reduced the Army's willingness to relieve unfit commanders
• By the time a commander became certain that one of his subordinates was unfit, it was often close to rotation
• Easier to micromanage the failing subordinate and wait until he rotated out of theater than it was to relieve him

#### Combat Ineffectiveness

• While the US Army fought hard in Vietnam, it's not at all clear that it fought well
• Extreme conservatism largely attributable to the rotation policy meant that US troops rarely took the offensive and rarely initiated firefights with the enemy
• When the enemy was defeated, they were rarely pursued
• This meant that North Vietnamese and Viet Cong could, in almost all cases, set the terms of the engagement
• When should the attack happen
• How long should the attack go on for
• When and how should the attack end
• This was compounded by lax security
• Army officers would routinely discuss troop movements and battle plans on unsecured radios
• Army officers would be susceptible to "honey traps", where female North Vietnamese spies would be sent to sleep with them and learn information about upcoming attacks
• The US Army was also not very good at maneuvering through the Vietnamese jungle
• Captured North Vietnamese would routinely talk about how slow American troops were when moving through the jungle
• Also talked about how US troops would reflexively call in artillery and air strikes, even on relatively minor targets
• Moreover, Vietnamese officers, even relatively junior ones, seemed to understand that the war would be won or lost politically, at the negotiating table, and that military operations were a means to that end
• This is something that even senior American officers did not seem to understand

### Chapter 19: Tet '68: The End of Westmoreland and the Turning Point of the War

• In January 1968, the Viet Cong launched the Tet Offensive
• They launched a nationwide offensive, simultaneously attacking Saigon, 39 provincial capitals and a further 71 district capitals
• Militarily, this was a disastrous strategy, because the Viet Cong were in no way able to consolidate and hold that territory (even if they were able to take it)
• However, the goal was to cause an uprising among the South Vietnamese, causing widespread unrest that would finally oust the Americans
• The North Vietnamese assessment of the restiveness of the South Vietnamese population was mistaken
• South Vietnamese people and military units did not rebel, and in fact, fought back fiercely against the Viet Cong, decisively defeating them (in a matter of hours, in most cases)
• However, the Tet Offensive did show to to the American public that no place in South Vietnam was safe from attack, putting the lie to official US Army assessments that the US was on the verge of victory
• One of the bright spots of the Tet Offensive is the performance of Lt. Gen. Fred Weyland
• While Westmoreland was focused on the fortress at Khe Sanh, which he thought would be his Dien Bien Phu, Weyland was leery of moving American forces so far away from the capital
• He kept his troops near the capital and helped repulse the Viet Cong attacks during the Tet Offensive
• Although Tet was a tactical loss for the North Vietnamese, it was a strategic victory
• After Tet, the US leadership was in a state of shock and panic
• Moreover, there was widespread mistrust of the Army, and mistrust between commanders within the Army
• Shortly after the Tet Offensive was repulsed, Johnson relieved Westmoreland
• This would set the pattern for the new type of relief: instead of Army generals relieving subordinates, failure would accumulate until the top general was relieved by his civilian oversight
• The disaster of the Tet Offensive was instrumental in persuading Johnson that he did not have a good prospect for re-election in 1968, and he announced that he would not be running for another term
• The Republican candidate in that election, Richard Nixon, was determined from the outset to get the US out of the war

#### Coda: The Hue Massacre

• One of the cities where the North Vietnamese were not immediately repulsed was Hue City
• Communist troops occupied Hue for 25 days before they were ousted by American and South Vietnamese forces
• During that time, the Communists killed 2,800 people, burying them in mass graves

### Chapter 20: My Lai: General Koster's Cover Up and General Peers's Investigation

• 1968 would also bring about the absolute low point of US Army generalship, with the failure of leadership that led to the My Lai massacre and cover-up
• The unit responsible was Charlie Company of 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 11th Light Infantry Brigade, 23rd Infantry ("Americal") Division
• This unit was not one that had suffered massive amounts of combat stress -- had only been in the field for 3 months
• However, the division was a "stray"
• It, and its commander had not been requested by Westmoreland, but rather had been sent by the Army Chief of Staff
• It was located in the far south, which was normally US Marine Corps jurisdiction, and thus its commander reported to a Marine general
• Division was understaffed, especially in its headquarters
• Given a large area of responsibility relative to its size and capabilities
• The massacre at My Lai really began the night before the mission, during the briefing given by Capt. Ernest Medina
• Although he never technically said the troops should kill civilians, he did say that they should kill all "enemies" and made it clear that everyone in the village was an enemy
• Charlie Company walked into My Lai hamlet the next day, March 16, 1968, under the leadership of Lt. Calley, and embarked on a campaign of rapes and murders that lasted the entire day
• This operation was not a unit going rogue
• They were supervised by helicopter by Lt. Col. Frank Barker, battalion commander, and Col. Oren Henderson, brigade commander
• The only witnesses to the killing who took any action to stop it were a pair of enlisted men flying a reconaissance helicopter: Hugh Thompson and Larry Colburn
• Thompson and Colburn put themselves in between the Army troops and a group of Vietnamese survivors and threatened to shoot if the Army soliders made any moves towards the civilians
• After flying back to base, Thompson promptly reported what he'd seen to Maj. Frederic Watke, his commanding officer
• Watke brought up the report with Lt. Col. Barker, who promised to look into it
• Shortly thereafter, Barker reassured Watke that only "a small number" of civilians had been killed, because of "justifiable situations"
• Barker's reassurance of Watke began the second crime at My Lai: the cover-up
• The next day, General Koster, the division commander, overheard Col. Henderson ordering a count of the bodies at My Lai
• Koster immediately countermanded the order, later justifying it by saying there was no specific requirement for the US forces to count bodies
• Two days after the massacre, Col. Henderson was officially tasked with finding out what had happened at My Lai
• His investigation, however, was primarily aimed at discrediting Hugh Thompson's testimony
• On March 28, Lt. Col. Barker submitted a routine after-action report, which stated only that an operation had taken place at My Lai, that it had been successful, and that the enemy had "suffered heavily"
• The Army also destroyed a number of documents that purported to show that a massacre had taken place
• This cover-up held for approximately a year
• In 1969, however, Ron Ridenhour, an ex-serviceman who had heard about the My Lai massacre from some of his friends, wrote a letter addressed to several Congressmen and the President alleging that something awful had happened in the Vietnamese village known to the US troops as "Pinkville"
• Ridenhour called out Lt. Calley by name as having had a central role in the affair
• Col. William Wilson was tasked with carrying out an investigation into Ridenhour's allegations
• Initially skeptical of Ridenhour's claims
• However, as he traveled around Vietnam interviewing soldiers that had taken part in the spring and summer of '69, he was increasingly convinced of the truth of the My Lai massacre
• The testimony that broke open the truth of the massacre was given by Paul Meadlo, who had since been discharged from the Army
• Meadlo gave an account of the My Lai massacre, describing how the US Army troops had slaughtered the villagers "like livestock"
• When Wilson interrupted the interview to advise Meadlo of his Miranda rights, Meadlo was surprised that the fact that he was following orders did not shield him from prosecution
• After news of the massacre came to public light, Gen Westmoreland, to his credit, insisted on a full and thorough investigation and appointed Lt. Gen. William Peers to conduct a broader inquiry
• Peers conducted a remarkably thorough investigation given that he was operating under a 4-month deadline, after which the statute of limitations for many of the lesser crimes would expire
• One of the key pieces of evidence in Peers' report was the utter lack of evidence
• Numerous mandatory documents were missing from the Americal Division's files
• There were no destruction certificates saying when and where those documents had been destroyed
• Either the documents never existed or they had been destroyed without authorization, both of which indicate a cover-up
• Peers' report listed over 30 officers who had committed offenses related to the My Lai massacre in addition to those already under criminal indictment
• However, despite the report and despite the abundance of other evidence, very little came in the way of criminal prosecution
• Only one man, Lt. Calley was convicted for his actions at My Lai
• Five others, including Oren Henderson and Ernest Medina, were acquitted
• The Army chose to drop charges against the rest, reasoning that the acquittals in the early trials meant that it would be nigh impossible to get convictions in the later ones
• Even Koster, who orchestrated the cover-up, got off lightly, with only a letter of reprimand and a demotion to Brigadier General
• It almost seems like the American who suffered the most from My Lai was Hugh Thompson
• Endured death threats for years afterwards
• Was treated as a hostile witness before Congress
• The response to the My Lai massacre represents a stunning failure of leadership of the US Army
• Instead of holding itself accountable for the failures in leadership that had led to the massacre and the coverup afterwards, the Army became defensive, and sought to protect those responsible

#### A Stunning Army Study of Army Officers

• After finishing his report on the cover-up at My Lai, Gen. Peers conducted a broader study into the quality of Army officers
• He was trying to answer a simple question: with so many officers who knew that something out-of-the-ordinary had happened, why had it fallen to an enlisted helicopter pilot to report on the atrocity?
• Peers' conclusion was that the Army's officer corps had drifted badly from its stated values
• The officer corps had become a place where lying and hypocrisy were expected
• In response to Peers' memo outlining these conclusions, Westmoreland tasked the Army War College with conducting a study of the Army's officer corps
• The study's conclusions were damning
• "Duty, honor and country" have been replaced by "Me, my ass and my career" as the officer corps' core values
• Officers are so busy producing statistical reports that they are failing to exercise leadership and make decisions
• Officers report what their superiors want to hear rather than an honest assessment of ground reality
• Pervasive suspicion between officers, leading to endless and inefficient CYA ("cover your ass") reports and exercises
• Westmoreland's reaction to the report, however, was tepid and contradictory
• Agreed with the conclusions, but insisted that the report be placed under "close hold" to ensure that it wouldn't be used by Congress as a way to further bludgeon the Army command after the My Lai investigation
• Eliminated the six-month command tour and conducted some other minor reforms
• The lack of publicity around the report meant that Westmoreland's reforms appeared panicky and uncoordinated, rather than a thoughtful response to a thorough study of Army leadership issues