23 October 2018

Doomed to Repeat It

In 2013, General Ray Odierno ordered that the military would conduct an extensive and far ranging analysis of its occupation of Iraq, so that future leaders could learn the lessons from their mistakes.

The military promptly buried the report:
Army chief of staff Gen. Ray Odierno issued the marching orders in the fall of 2013. Some of the Army’s brightest officers would draft an unvarnished history of its performance in the Iraq War.

A towering officer who served 55 months in Iraq, Gen. Odierno told the team the Army hadn’t produced a proper study of its role in the Vietnam War and had to spend the first years in Iraq relearning lessons. This time, he said, the team would research before memories faded and publish a history while the lessons were most relevant.

It would be unclassified, he said, to stimulate discussion about the intervention—one that deepened the U.S.’s Mideast role and cost more than 4,400 American lives. He arranged for 30,000 pages of documents to be declassified. For nearly three years, the team studied those papers and conducted more than 100 interviews.

By June 2016, it had drafted a two-volume history of more than 1,300 pages. H.R. McMaster, the former national security adviser to President Trump, reviewed the tomes while a three-star general. He said in an interview last month it was “by far the best and most comprehensive operational study of the U.S. experience in Iraq between 2003 and 2011.”

The study’s title: “The United States Army in the Iraq War.”

It has yet to be published.

Gen. Odierno retired before the team could finish the history, which then became stuck in internal reviews and procedural byways. Under new Pentagon leadership, Army priorities changed from counterinsurgency to countering powers such as Russia and China. Senior brass fretted over the impact the study’s criticisms might have on prominent officers’ reputations and on congressional support for the service.
Concern over, "Prominent officers' reputations?"

Oh you poor delicate snowflakes.

The lesson to be learned is that of George C. Marshall who purged the ranks of incompetents.

We don't do that any more, because we need to protect, "Prominent officers' reputations."


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