The Best Defense

The worst general in American history?

That was the discussion I was having yesterday with several friends. Here is my ranking of their nominees:

1. Douglas MacArthur
2. Benedict Arnold
3. Ned Almond
4. Tommy R. Franks
5. William Westmoreland
6. George McClellan
7. Ambrose Burnside
8. Horatio Gates

It was my contest, so I declared MacArthur the No. 1 loser, because of his unique record of being insubordinate to three presidents (Hoover, Roosevelt and Truman) as well as screwing up the Korean War. Plus additional negative points for his role in the gassing and suppression of the Bonus Marchers in 1932. You can't defend a country by undermining it.

It really is extraordinary how the Army has extirpated his memory. The influence of Marshall, Eisenhower and Bradley lives on, while MacArthur has been treated as a historical dead end. Kind of amazing, considering he was a general for 26 years, was the Army chief of staff, received the Medal of Honor, fought in three wars and was a senior commander in two.

The Best Defense

Cracks in the Army becoming clearer

One of the more thoughtful officers I've met over the years is Army Lt. Gen. James Dubik, now retired. So when he sends up a warning flare, I pay attention. This is what he had to say recently in Army magazine:

The fault lines within the Army have been emerging recently: increased suicide, domestic violence and divorce rates; reduced attendance at NCO developmental schools; declinations of command and too few combat arms officers in senior service colleges; imbalances in some officer year groups and branches; expansive undermanning of staffs in some major commands and insufficient trainers in the Army's Training and Doctrine Command; an overreliance on contractors-to name a few. To be sure, today's Army has yet to reach the low ebb of the 1970s, but the trajectory is not good. The fault lines are clearer now than they were just a couple of years ago.

Tom: Unfortunately, we're not going to be able to spend our way out of this problem. (See yesterday's item by General Barno.)

Does anyone know more about the "declinations of command" that General Dubik mentions? I just googled it but my internet only caught a few info-minnows.