It’s getting dangerously close to election day, and the Clinton campaign has just started showing its latest fun-filled advertisement starring retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. John Allen, who wholeheartedly endorses the former Secretary of State (see video above). After viewing it, I couldn’t resist the urge to set the record straight on a few things, so here it goes.
People that have never been in the military, which is the vast majority, seem to have the mistaken belief that only the best and brightest soldiers are promoted to the ranks of general. The real go-getter and warfighters. The baddest of the bad. Strategic geniuses, the finest military minds our great nation has to offer. After all, the military is the only place left that promotes purely on merit, right? No politically correct quota systems for the serious business of combat, surely? Our last true meritocracy.
I have bad news for you folks. Most of the Generals are fucking morons, and they wouldn’t last 10 minutes in the private sector if they didn’t have those retired stars on their shoulders to aid them in the lobbying and procurement of government contracts for the corporate elites they now serve.
The worst thing I ever did for my military career was read the account of our invasion of Iraq from the perspective of the top brass in charge of it. I am talking, of course, about “Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq” by Michael R. Gordon and Gen. Bernard E. Trainor. It is considered to be the definitive narrative on that phase of the war.
Now, I already knew the tactical story of the invasion, I fought in it. And I am well aware of how fluid a combat situation can get, both from my own experiences and my studies of history. This was my first time at the proverbial rodeo, so many things I attributed at the time to what Clausewitz disciples might call “the fog of war.” Nothing goes according to plan, and you can’t know everything — maxims as old as warfare itself.
On a tactical level, we skull dragged the Iraqi army across the pavement, before curb stomping them into oblivion. But what I didn’t know at the time was we were being led by incompetent retards at the highest levels (No offense to Gen. Trainor. He had to be as horrified as I was since he actually saw action as a platoon commander in Korea. More on that later).
Michael Gordon was embedded with Gen. Tommy Franks, the allied land commander during the invasion, and Franks has never disputed a word of what Gordon wrote in his book. In fact, he seemed to relish it as gospel, at least after the invasion was a huge success, and before it turned into an insurgent nightmare of tribal religious jihad insanity. You may forget, there was a 3-4 month time period after said invasion that it looked like everything was going to be cool. So, let’s take a moment and look at Gen. Franks decisions leading up to that epic win we call Operation Iraqi Freedom or OIF I.
Within the first few pages of Cobra II, Gordon references Gen. Franks fascination with the movie “Gladiator” multiple times. Franks watched it incessantly, used clips from the movie as inspirational introductions to his senior officer briefings, and even made his troops loudly repeat “Strength and Honor!” at the closing of every interaction with him.
As a professional soldier, I am deeply disturbed that the clown shoe in charge was relying on a Russel Crowe fictional character to inspire him to victory. With all the depth of military history to draw from — not just our own American heritage of valor and glory, but the entire human race since one killer ape picked up the first club to defend his way of life — our Supreme Allied Commander chose Russel Crowe in an Armani tunic as his muse.
Now I was just a lowly NCO. A buck sergeant in fact, while this was happening. Franks was a graduate of the goddamn Armed Forces Staff College. I am obviously a lowbrow heathen, and it is common knowledge that NCOs are as illiterate as they are treacherous. But even I would have picked, perhaps, the Battle of Camaron (Bataille de Camerone, if you prefer French), a last stand of the Foreign Legion in Mexico that is still celebrated to this day.
Or, maybe I would have channeled Gen. George S. Patton and Operation Torch if I wanted a story with a happier ending (and to rub France’s nose in shit for good measure). “Iwo Jima,” or even John Wayne in “The Sands of Iwo Jima,” would have been light years better.
The choice of “Gladiator” is absolutely terrifying from a military perspective. It would have been better if he chose Frodo Baggins from “Lord of the Rings.” And as I typed that, I realized that Frodo does, in fact, lead an insurgency in the often overlooked last chapters of “The Return of the King.” Holy shit! I might be on to something there.
Now I am not just calling Franks a moron because he likes cheese-dick Hollywood pulp, and decided to use it to inspire his troops. I am calling him a moron because he was apparently so busy watching Crowe oil up his loin cloth that he forgot to plan Phase IV of the real world conflict he was waging.
Phase IV is ENSURING POSTWAR STABILITY, and it is pretty fucking important! It is what we did for 20 years following WW2 in Germany and Japan, and arguably what we have been doing in Korea since 27 July, 1953!
As supported by documents, the Phase IV of the invasion of Iraq was handed off to exactly one lieutenant colonel in the Pentagon four weeks before the invasion date. I should point out that this isn’t like a colonel from the movies. An 0-5 lieutenant colonel in the Pentagon is the guy generally in charge of making coffee, and the general with only one star is the guy that hits “next” on the power point during briefings.
This shows a deep-seated failure of understanding at all levels to hand what is arguably the most critical phase of the mission off to some inexperienced lackey. And we would pay for it for the next decade, running around in the night playing lethal whack-a-mole with every two-bit jihadi that could buy a bus ticket to Iraq.
While I am dog piling on Franks, I should point out one of the misguided invasion plans was also sanctioned by the White House. See, rather than a robust offensive presence, the invasion would be started by one MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit) and one Armored Calvary Regiment. After they secured a toehold, the rest of the invasion force ( i.e. all the heavy armor divisions, mechanized infantry divisions, artillery, cooks, and the band) would steam over from the U.S. and finish the job.
In case you aren’t familiar with a MEUs, it packs almost exactly enough combat power to really get itself into trouble. It has an infantry battalion, four tanks, six artillery pieces, and a tiny little Recon platoon. Total combat strength is about 2,500 Marines, 1000 of which, at most, are actual war fighters. An ACR (Armored Cavalry Regiment) has 3 infantry battalions in light armored vehicles.
In relative terms, this much force thrown against Iraq is the equivalent of me and my neighbor deciding to take over Boise, Idaho. I am commando ninja of the highest order, but it DOES NOT MATTER in the face of sufficient numbers.
Iraq didn’t have much for top-notch equipment, their main battle tank, the T-72, went out of style in the 70’s. But they absolutely would have pushed a force that small back into the sea, without question. I don’t care how badass it was. It would have had no chance against the entire Iraqi army no matter how woeful they were trained and equipped. Numbers matter. Had this plan been executed, it would have been the most humiliating defeat in this nation’s history, and the chuckleheads in charge — including the Secretary of Defense — blessed this as an acceptable plan.
Now this isn’t a column about Gen. Franks. That just happens to be a story I know well that illustrates the thinking of our flag officers. Despite what you hear, don’t go thinking these are the smartest guys in the room. They’re not. And don’t for a second think they got the job on merit. They didn’t. Anyone who is wearing stars on their shoulder in this country got the job by being a politician.
The thing that matters most to an officer in the modern era is not a huge success. It is not having a huge mistake happen on your watch. As long as your troops don’t lose a humvee or accidentally shoot a civilian, you are going to be okay. Senior officers treat command time like a game of hot potato. They don’t want to be there, but they need the “time in leadership/command,” so they try to survive that part and run safely back to a staff.
For the part of Gen. Allen, or any other senior officer that survived the Bill Clinton purge back in 1994, they did it only one way. By being the best “yes man” they could possibly be. It is a well-known fact that the best and brightest did not last through the drawdown initiated by Clinton, and most of the cowboys and hard nose fighters got the boot. Much like the current Obama administration is trying to force the real GWOT warfighters out the door as fast as it can. The corporate military doesn’t want hardened veterans, it wants people it can control, and that look good on a parade ground.
So what about our loud mouth Hillary supporter, Gen. John Allen? One thing I can at least say about Franks, he served in Vietnam as a Lieutenant, and he was a forward observer, not a secretary in Saigon. Gen. John Allen is sure vocal that he fought the Taliban, and brought the pain to ISIS. But is that true?
Well, he might have been in charge of Afghanistan, but “fight” is not something he would know anything about. Generals and other senior officers like to play the “I did 7 tours” card often. But for anyone above the rank of major, they might as well have been commanding from Tampa, FL. Senior officers do not go on operations, except an occasional photo op, which is 99.9 percent of the time a hand-picked, very low threat target, in a mostly pacified area.
When we had reporters or generals assigned to our task force, we invariably shifted targeting from Al Queda Prime to local purse snatchers for the night (even though I don’t like him for different reasons, I must point out Gen. Stan McCrystal as an exception to that rule. He made some of my counterparts take him and the sergeant major of the Army to Sadr City, back when that guaranteed a firefight.) The Generals in Iraq lived in no shit palaces, and they were certainly not out humping the desert like all the grunts and SOF guys.
Looking at John Allen’s career, I can tell you this with a certainty. He has NEVER FIRED A SHOT IN ANGER. This is a staff pussy that spent most of his career in ceremonial units like 8th&I in Washington. He did command a rifle company, but not one that ever went to war. And I take personal insult with those gold Navy/ Marine jump wings he is wearing. He got them for serving as the Jump Officer of the Naval Academy, which is the weakest shit I have ever heard. He is out purporting to be Hannibal crossed with King Leonidas, and telling us how Clinton is the only person he trusts with national security from his vast military experience.
But a 19-year-old grunt with half of one tour under his belt knows more about combat than this General ever will. It has also been pointed out by many, Gen. Allen found the time to send 30,000 emails to Paula Broadwell while he was in command of Afghanistan. Maybe he should have been paying attention to the Taliban instead of his dick.
Are all Generals morons? No. But I can count on one hand the number I served under that were not. For every military genius I have ever seen, like Mattis, Peter Pace, and Shelton, we get 10 politicians. It’s a cheap shot for general officers to be endorsing any political candidate in my opinion. iIn a perfect system, they’d be too busy leading to jump into the political fray.
But if Allen wants to play war hero, it is the duty of veterans to step up and shut this chucklehead down. I am calling on veterans everywhere, that served in this war, to swift boat this spineless sack of shit right in the mouth. You don’t get to step up and pretend you are the authority on national security when you spent your entire career covering your own ass. Benghazi, the ransom to Iran, the red line in Syria, the rise of ISIS, Muslim Brotherhood’s siege of Egypt; all that matters in national security. You want to step up and defend the former Secretary of State that set all this in motion, fine. But be prepared to reap what you sow.