Friday, January 05, 2007

The Next Grant/Ridgeway/Abrams?

VDH asks that question in a recent column. He also makes good points about the supposed "brokenness" of our military. (Spoiler: It's not broken! However, it might very well be in 15 years. But that's a story for another post.) VDH closes the column by asking the question in the title of this post:

"At some point it would be stunning for a US military official to step forward, and assure victory. No more acrimony over what should have, could have or might have been. No more retired generals talking to reporters at midnight “off the record”, or appearing as “unnamed senior military official” in the footnotes of the latest journalistic expose about Iraq. No more complaints about had Paul Bremmer not, had Donald Rumsfeld not, had Tommy Franks not, but rather something instead like: “Here is how we are going to defeat the jihadists”.

Most Americans do not want to hear any more suggestions from the Iraqi Study Group, anymore meae culpae from John Kerry or Hillary Clinton about how they were brainwashed by faulty intelligence, or any more assessments of the war from moralists and geniuses like Donald Trump and Bill Maher.

Instead, we need to hear from the very top echelon of the American military, that despite all the roadblocks put in their way, and the difficulty of the present task (it isn’t easy to secure a democracy in the heart of the ancient caliphate surrounded by Khomeinist Iran, Wahhabist Saudi Arabia, and Baathist Syria), that they will defeat these insurgents—and here’s how they plan to do it.

Somewhere in the US military right now is a Grant, Sherman, Patton, Ridgeway, or Abrams, who has been shouting and we haven’t been listening. Now is the time to let them come forward—as they have always arisen from obscurity in past American wars when their nation’s hour of need has come."

I'd like to nominate someone for that position: Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, President Bush's choice for the next commander of MNF-Iraq to replace Gen. George Casey. Lt. Gen. Petraeus GETS it. He commanded the 101st in Mosul from the invasion until mid-2004, he was responsible for getting Iraqi security forces up and running, and he was the leader behind the Army-Marine Corps new COIN manual. He's one of the best COIN oriented flag officers. To put it bluntly, he knows his shit. This is definitely a good choice by the President, who has been rather hit and miss when it comes to choosing senior leadership in the military. (A naval aviator in charge of CENTCOM? We'll see, I guess.) But Lt. Gen. Petraeus is a great choice for Iraq and I look forward to seeing what he's got for modifications to the strategy.

Some background on Lt. Gen. Petraeus here, here, here, and here.