The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today

Author:Reviewed by Major James G. Argentina Jr.
Pages:302-308
 
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302 MILITARY LAW REVIEW [Vol. 221
THE GENERALS: AMERICAN MILITARY COMMAND FROM
WORLD WAR II TO TODAY1
REVIEWED BY MAJOR JAMES G. ARGENTINA JR.*
War is . . . an act of violence to compel our enemy to do
our will. The political object is the goal, war is the
means of reaching it, and means can never be
considered in isolation from their purpose.2
Post-World War II U.S. Army generals lack strategic vision because
senior generals and civilian leaders were reluctant to remove ineffective
generals from command. This fostered a culture of mediocrity among
career-oriented officers in the U.S. Army. In The Generals: American
Military Command from World War II to Today, Thomas Ricks argues
that the U.S. Army’s personnel-management policy for promotion and
command selection since World War II lacks the quick hook, based on
personal accountability, that General George C. Marshall used to shape
the general officer ranks during World War II.3
Ricks begins The Generals by introducing the central figure of the
book, General Marshall, through his interaction with General John
“Black-jack” Pershing in World War I.4 General Pershing had a policy
of swift relief of command for misconduct, which was well within the
American military tradition dating back to the Revolutionary War.5
Ricks believes that producing innovative, strategic-minded, and
* U.S. Marine Corps. Presently assigned as the Senior Trial Counsel, Legal Services
Support Team – Camp Lejeune, NC
1 THOMAS E. RICKS, THE GENERALS: AMERICAN MILITARY COMMAND FROM WORLD WAR
II TO TODAY (2012). Since 1982 Ricks has covered U.S. military activities in Somalia,
Haiti, Korea, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Kuwait, Turkey, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Thomas E. Ricks, WASH. POST, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/linkset/
2006/07/06/LI2006070600612.html (last visited Oct. 28, 2014). He was a beat reporter
for the Wall Street Journal, where he was a beat reporter for seventeen years, and then
wrote for the Washington Post, where he is now a special military correspondent. Id.
While at the Washington Post, he was a part of the team that won the 2002 Pulitzer prize
for their coverage of the U.S. counteroffensive against terrorism. Id. In addition, Ricks
has authored several books about the U.S. military, including, FIASCO: The American
Military Adventure in Iraq. Id.
2 CARL VON CLAUSEWITZ, ON WAR 75, 82 (Michael Howard ed., Peter Paret trans., 2d ed.
1984).
3 See RICKS, supra note 1, at 11, 451–53.
4 Id. at 20–24.
5 Id. at 22.

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