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I found this book most interesting particularly the difference between Marine Corp leadership and the Army during the Korean War. Thomas Ricks compares the Army of WWII to the military of today, particularly looking at how General Marshall dealt with command officers compared to today.
General George C. Marshall was Chief of Staff during WWII and was ruthless in relieving subordinates who didn’t measure up to his standards. Between September 1939 and Dec 8, 1941 he cashiered at least 600 officers. Sixteen Army division commanders were relieved for cause out of a total of 155 officers who commanded divisions in combat during WWII. At least five Corps commanders were also relieved for cause. Marshall replaced them with officers like Eisenhower, Patton, and Bradley and so on.
The author says that today the military is not policing its self. The only time an officer is removed is when the politicians intervene. For example the Walter Reed Army Medical Center Scandal or the Veterans Affairs Scandal is some current scandals that politicians have intervened in.
I found the comments by Ricks about the current Army’s upper command full of tactical planners and none trained as strategical planners. The author observation that the General staff is good at winning battles but unable to win the war is directly related to the lack of training in strategic thinking. I found a comment by Ricks about the military could easily apply to the business world, “training tends to prepare for the known problems, education prepares leaders to prepare for the unknown, the unpredictable, and the unexpected.”
Ricks sets out in the book to show how the Army has changed so dramatically in seventy years. Ricks ends the book with some suggestions for reform. The book is well written, deeply researched and pulls no punches. The book is narrated by William Hughes and lasts about 16 hours.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful
I could have listened to this in one sitting. You watch on TV the wars the US has going on and don't know what to make of all the problems they have concluding them. Was it inevitable? Is it incompetence? This book insightfully connects all the dots since WWII and talks about individual generals and and how they can excel or screw up based on who is running the army. A major point he makes is that in WWII commanders were replaced quickly if deemed incompetent. Nowadays no one is fired. Another point is commanders are taught to think tactically but not strategically. I'll probably reread this one.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful