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Dexter Filkins: How Good a General was David Petraeus? : The New Yorker

Stashed in: Awesome, New Yorker, /k/, DEFENSE, Politics, Petraeus

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“The rucksack of responsibility is very heavy,” Petraeus told troops. In Iraq and Afghanistan, how well he carried it is open to debate.

 Ricks argues, convincingly, that what changed in the military was the practice of firing commanders who failed to deliver results. His starting point is General George Marshall, the Army chief of staff during the Second World War, who culled underperforming generals and promoted the better ones, constructing a ruthlessly efficient fighting force. The practice withered during the Vietnam War, replaced with micromanagement by civilian leaders. (Recall photographs of Lyndon Johnson choosing bombing targets.) With even the most mediocre generals moving upward, the Army ossified at the top. Sanchez was not the exception; he was the rule. “Like the worst generals of the Vietnam era, he tended to descend into the weeds, where he was comfortable, ignoring the larger situation—which, after all, was his job,’’ Ricks writes. Yet Sanchez paid no price for his failures, Ricks notes: “The vocabulary of accountability had been lost.”

What will it take to return the vocabulary of accountability?

 start firing more people...and the Army is doing that

I now see this as a long, patient arc back to doing the right thing.

By 2016 the military will be we'll on its way.

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