Sunday, February 11, 2007

"The Best General Around"

Gen. David Petraeus took charge of U.S. forces in Iraq on Saturday, becoming the third commander in the war and declaring the American task now was to help Iraqis "gain the time they need to save their country."

The media-savvy, Princeton-educated Petraeus, 54, spoke bluntly of the task before him that coincides with President Bush’s decision to send an additional 21,500 U.S. troops to clamp off violence in Baghdad and nearby regions.

Petraeus, whose appointment was announced in early January, takes command of the roughly 135,000-strong U.S. force in Iraq after two previous tours: what was seen as a highly successful stint as head of the 101st Airborne Division in Mosul, and a second tour in charge of training Iraqi forces.

An adviser to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said the Iraqi government hoped Petraeus’ command would help a new joint U.S.-Iraqi security plan.

"It reflects the change in U.S. policy in Iraq. We have so much hope that the security plan will succeed and that he (Petraeus) will be part of that success," said the adviser, Bassam al-Husseini.

In addition, when Harkins was finally brought home, the attitude in Washington was again simplistic: a bad general was going to be replaced by a good general; it was not the whole system, the bad war, which had produced such fraud, it was simply the wrong general. Thus one replaced him with the best general around. Individuals could make a difference.

In June 1964 General William C. Westmoreland became the commander of American forces.

David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest, p. 405.


Blogger mrs panstreppon said...

Crediting General Petraeus with effectively fighting the insurgency in Mosul between March 2003 and June 2004 is not exactly a ringing endorsement of his competency since northern Iraq was not a hotbed of insurgency in the first place.

Petraeus then moved on to training and equipping the Iraqi army from June 2004 until September 2005. I notice no one has claimed that Petraeus did a good job training and equipping the Iraqi army.

My guess is that Petraeus did such a lousy job training and equipping the Iraqi army that the Pentagon became alarmed at the prospect of one of its "stars" going down in flames. Hence, Petraeus was hauled back to the US to write a rehash of every other counterinsurgency manual ever written.

In August 2005, Petraeus told Newsday that corruption in the Iraq Defense Ministry was none of our business after a billion dollars was stolen by the defense minister.

Remember the McClatchey story by Tom Lasseter last week?

"Iraqi soldiers, for example, often were pushed into the field by Iraqi commanders who didn't give them adequate food, clothing or shelter, said Etienne, a 1st Infantry Division platoon leader.

Etienne was on patrol one day when he saw Iraqi soldiers eating fresh vegetables and meat. The afternoon before, the same soldiers had complained that they had only scraps of food left. Who'd brought them their meal? It had come courtesy of Muqtada al-Sadr..."

I wonder if General Petraeus still thinks Iraqi corruption is none of our business?


2/11/2007 9:27 PM  
Blogger Grodge said...

The Indispensable Man Theory of warfare is usually the last resort of a desperate command structure.

It seemed to work in Ender's Game against the Buggers, but as TCR has pointed, fails in the real world.

2/12/2007 7:18 AM  

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