The current Armed Forces Journal features a devastating critique of America's generals by Lieutenant Colonel Paul Yingling, deputy commander of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. Thomas Ricks runs down the highlights:
An active-duty Army officer is publishing a blistering attack on U.S. generals, saying they have botched the war in Iraq and misled Congress about the situation there. "America's generals have repeated the mistakes of Vietnam in Iraq," charges Lt. Col. Paul Yingling, an Iraq veteran who is deputy commander of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. "The intellectual and moral failures . . . constitute a crisis in American generals."
Yingling's comments are especially striking because his unit's performance in securing the northwestern Iraqi city of Tall Afar was cited by President Bush in a March 2006 speech and provided the model for the new security plan underway in Baghdad. He also holds a high profile for a lieutenant colonel: He attended the Army's elite School for Advanced Military Studies and has written for one of the Army's top professional journals, Military Review.
The article, "General Failure," is to be published today in Armed Forces Journal and is posted at http://www.armedforcesjournal.com . ...
"After going into Iraq with too few troops and no coherent plan for postwar stabilization, America's general officer corps did not accurately portray the intensity of the insurgency to the American public," he writes. "For reasons that are not yet clear, America's general officer corps underestimated the strength of the enemy, overestimated the capabilities of Iraq's government and security forces and failed to provide Congress with an accurate assessment of security conditions in Iraq."
I gather Col Yingling respected the principle of civilian control of the military so much that he failed to point out that it was Bush and Rumsfeld who bear ultimate responsibility for "going into Iraq with too few troops and no coherent plan for postwar stabilization," as well as the other failures he identifies. In any case, you'll remember that when a group of retired generals criticized the administration over Iraq, the warbloggers viciously attacked the generals. It'll be interesting to see how the warbloggers respond to Yingling.
Update: Former Army officer and UCLA law grad Phil Carter comments:
This is an incisive and brilliant article â” it is precisely the kind of ruthless self-examination which is so necessary for an army at war. Unfortunately, Lt. Col. Yingling is one of the few officers with the moral courage to make this point so far. Although I've heard this argument made (in somewhat less sophisticated fashion) by a number of military friends and colleagues, I have not seen it made publicly and on-the-record by many. That speaks to a moral decline within the American military, and perhaps to the triumph of careerism over integrity. Perhaps I'm exaggerating here, but given the scope of these failures, I'm disappointed to see so few officers speaking out like this.
James Joyner, however, is critical of Yingling's proposed changes in how military officers are evaluated and promoted: "Yingling’s proposed solutions are naive."