The theme is war. Over the next week or so I’m going to post some things I’ve written on the subject over the past couple of years. Here’s today’s post, prompted by an article in the Atlantic.
From the Nov. 2012 Atlantic, in an article by Thomas Ricks titled General Failure, about the sad decline in military leadership: “’The troops were good at what they were told to do, from day one,’ observed retired Army Colonel Robert Killebrew, a longtime student of strategy and leadership, in a correspondence we had about Iraq. ‘Had counter-insurgency been invoked on day two, [the soldiers] would have adapted.’ …. The problem…was not the troops but the senior leaders, who were unable to tell their soldiers how to counter an insurgency. ‘As is often the case in war, the question is not whether the troops can adapt, but whether the leaders can. The troops, as always, paid the price of educating their leaders.’ In Iraq, it took more than three years for Army leaders simply to begin listening to units on the subject of what wasn’t working – (emphasis mine) that is, about as much time as the U.S. military spent fighting World War II.”
How many lives were wasted for reasons of stupidity in Vietnam, in Iraq, in Afghanistan? You never hear about it, because that kind of stupidity is not held accountable the way it should be.
And this is exactly why I personally never wanted any part of war. My recurring nightmare about being drafted into the Vietnam War was not dying – it was dying because of the stupidity or stubbornness of someone above me in rank who sent me to my death and wasted my life.
I had a recurring dream from the time I was maybe 9 or 10 years old that I was lying on a road with a huge military truck bearing down on me (I can still hear the roar of the engine). Of course, I could make none of my muscles work. I would wake up terrified just as the front grill of the truck was above me. As I got older and the Vietnam War mushroomed around my life, I was almost philosophical in my belief that I would somehow end up there and be killed (although not necessarily by being run over by a truck).
The luckiest day of my life was December 1, 1969, draft lottery day, when I drew #315, ensuring I would never be called into the Vietnam War against my will.