HR McMaster


I have long considered LTG McMaster to be the best officer of his generation in every way that matters.  Therefore I am immensely pleased that President Trump has chosen him for this job.  pl

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105 Responses to HR McMaster

  1. SAC Brat says:

    One more step closer to getting Marcus a cabinet position. I’ll take the “stopped clock” moments as President Trump presents them.
    Now for a Nicolas Sarkozy type quote from President Trump like “We shall clean the Capital with a Kärcher” and to start busting up rice bowls.

  2. Master Slacker says:

    Col Lang, I concur with your assessment. And for him to accept the position we can assume that Gen McMaster will have final say as to who sits at the table.

  3. Ph says:

    As I posted in another forum-
    McMaster will provide some fresh focus and perspective. He is a man who has both led troops in battle and actually learned something when he read Clausewitz on employing those troops. I sincerely doubt he will be a thinktank yes man.

  4. Jackrabbit says:

    I can’t imagine any better endorsement for a military man than high praise from PL. Thanks.

  5. FB Ali says:

    Col Lang,
    I am glad to see your opinion of him. From what I could learn, he appeared to be an outstanding officer. Above all, he does not appear to be part of the military establishment, and is known to speak the truth as he sees it.
    A distinct plus for the Trump presidency!

  6. mike says:

    A good man for the job: a historian, an innovator, and a man not afraid to speak the truth no matter who it angers.
    Unfortunately, it looks like he will be stuck with Bannon and McFarland. So he is in for some backstabbing and bureaucratic dirty tricks. I believe he can handle it. But in any case I am looking forward to his next book: “Dereliction of Duty, Version Two”.

  7. robt willmann says:

    At the University of North Carolina, by Herbert R. McMaster, Jr.: his dissertation in 1996, and possibly a Master’s thesis in 1994, but only the location at the Davis Library–
    A biography at Fort Benning–
    And from the Hoover Institution–

  8. johnf says:

    For better or worse, John McCain is also a fan:
    “I have had the honour of knowing him for many years and he is a man of genuine intellect, character and ability. He knows how to succeed. I give President Trump great credit for this decision, as well as his national security cabinet choices. I could not imagine a better, more capable national security team that the one we have right now.”

  9. Your confidence in him is encouraging, and I hope his service in this new position is marked by success.

  10. turcopolier says:

    I don’t think McFarland is a big problem. She can be ignored. Bannon and McMaster will have an uneasy relationship. pl

  11. turcopolier says:

    FB Ali
    Somewhat like Rickover he has been consistently promoted against the wishes of the members of the “Drones Club.” pl

  12. HawkOfMay says:

    Has anyone read “Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam”? Any thoughts people would like to share on that? I finished “Embers of War” by Fredrik Logevall a few months back and am currently reading “After Tet” by Ronald Spector. I’m looking for reading suggestions on Vietnam it seems like McMaster’s book should be the top of that list.

  13. turcopolier says:

    I generally do not read books about the VN Wars. Why should L? I lived ours. In spite of that I would say that a necessary book is Martin Windrow’s book on the French defeat in Indochina. It sets the scene for our blundering efforts. McMaster singles out General Harold Johnson the CoS of the army at the time of LBJs fatal decision to intervene massively. Gen Johnson spoke to my Armed Forces Staff College class just after the war. He spoke to a class in which everyone was a combat veteran and a dozen had been PWs in NVN. At the Q&A one of my classmates asked how he could have accepted LBJS catastrophic decision to intervene without resigning in protest. He apologized to us all and said that he had made the terrible error of thinking that such moral and ethical gesture would be useless. pl

  14. bks says:

    On the first try, not the fourth.

  15. Stanley P. says:
    General dissects U.S. approach to war in speech at USF
    …”[T]he military-industrial complex may represent a greater threat to us than at any time in history”
    The reason, said McMaster, is the jockeying for defense dollars, which mean money for communities and thus gain political support from politicians in those communities.
    “And so where are these investments going in defense right now?” he asked. “They are going into areas that involve really big ticket items, that preserves the large capital transfer to defense industries and continue to bolster employment.”
    McMaster, who said he is “not criticizing any element of this,” added another element to think about.
    The military-industrial complex, he said, “involves increasingly as well think tanks, and when you see studies that are produced about the future of war or studies that are produced about certain aspects of defense strategy, you ought to look to see who is funding it.”
    Without naming names, McMaster ticked off a few case studies of why he believes the funding of think tanks matters.
    “There is a think tank now, for example, that’s about to publish a report on the future of the Army, and it’s bankrolled by a defense firm whose business model is the integration of high technology capabilities and selling them to the Department of Defense,” said McMaster. “What do you think that answer is going to be?”
    McMaster, whose service is facing large personnel cuts, talked emotionally about another study that he said sees those in uniform as a detriment.
    One think tank “dusted off the same study, adds a few robots, republishes it every few years and what it says is that personnel are a resource suck on the Department of Defense,” said McMaster, the volume of his voice increasing for emphasis. “People are a problem, man.”

  16. TV says:

    Apparently he’s not a “perfumed prince” and thus not likely to be another politician in uniform who sold his honor for stars – and a lucrative retirement payday in the defense industry.

  17. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    IIRC, quite a few people predicted that version one of his 1997 book would body-check his career. How did he get past that?

  18. Valissa says:

    pl, given the articles about Bannon indicating he is an avid reader of military history and related topics they could get along well. Bannon has probably read McMaster’s book. Bannon is a brainiac and does not suffer fools gladly… much like McMaster.
    Who knows, maybe Bannon was instrumental in McMaster getting the job.

  19. McMaster’s appointment is very good news!

  20. mike says:

    Robt Willman –
    Churkin is the third Russian Ambassador to die in six weeks:
    Malanin – Greece – 9 January 2017
    Kadakin – India – 26 January 2017
    Churkin – UN – 20 February 2017
    Make that four in eight weeks if you count Karlov’s assassination by the Turk policeman.

  21. Lefty says:

    Long ago I knew an old admiral who sat on Rickover’s promotion board. He felt letting him make flag was the worst mistake he ever made. Guess some early naval aviators were “drone” pioneers too.

  22. FB Ali says:

    What are McMaster’s views on the US’s far-flung military commitments, especially in the troubled Greater Middle East? (I have not read any of his writings).
    I presume there is some concordance between them and President Trump’s oft-stated desire to reduce America’s foreign entanglements and concentrate on problems in the homeland.

  23. scott s. says:

    Since reading “Dereliction of Duty” years ago I have been following McMaster. Seems like a pretty smart guy, but he seems very land power-centric. Not sure he knows how a navy fits into the overall scheme of things.

  24. elaine says:

    LTG McMaster is a decorated combat vet. I tried to get more info on his actions that
    earned him 2 bronze medals (perhaps with oak leaf clusters) & the silver star but couldn’t find any info.
    In any event he certainly has superior credentials; as a national security adviser
    he so much more than Susan Rice or Val Jarrett, there’s no comparison.

  25. trinlae says:

    The dissertation should be available through dissertation microfilms in Ann Arbor, MI or in electronic form in the “private internet” of academia via dissertation abstracts database.

  26. trinlae says:

    Respected Colonel,
    What kinds of dedicated ethics courses are required in the armed forces academies and for what curriculum tracks? I know the graduate Naval academy at Monterey runs very short conflict resolution week-long intensives on occassion, but how about semester-length courses at Annapolis, WP, etc?

  27. turcopolier says:

    I suggest you consult the on-line catalogs for these institutions. pl

  28. turcopolier says:

    An Oak leaf cluster indicates a second award of the same decoration. pl

  29. turcopolier says:

    There was considerable discussion between noteworthy civilians and GW Bush concerning the need to promote McMaster to BG. Promotion lists that come to the CinC from the Pentagon are only recommendations. He can alter them at will. Thank God. pl

  30. Cvillereader says:

    Most of what I have read today about McMasters been glowing with praise. There was some negative commentary though. I am wondering what the SST readers think about the following the following propositions:
    1) McMasters may have difficulty in a management role because he only has three stars and a lot of the people he will be dealing with have four stars.
    2) The fact that he has no experience outside of the military may be a limitation on his potential job performance.
    3) He apparently gave a speech in which he said the Islamic State wasn’t Islamic.

  31. Valissa says:

    Coincidence? I think not.
    Actually 5 dead on foreign soil since Nov 2015…
    4 dead Russian Diplomats in 3 months
    –LESIN First there was Russia’s RT founder and special adviser to President Putin, Mikhail Lesin. He died in November of 2015 in his hotel room. Reports said that he appeared discombobulated during his last sighting before he died. Later it emerged that he died of a blunt head trauma. Drinking was blamed, but many questions were left unanswered.
    –MALANIN Earlier last month, Andrei Malanin, a Senior Russian Diplomat to Greece was found dead in his bathroom. The causes of death remain unknown.
    –KADAKIN Just last month, Russia’s Ambassador to India, Alexander Kadakin, an always prestigious role, died of a heart attack, although no one was aware of any previous health issues.
    –KARLOV In December of last year Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey was assassinated by a lone jihadi gunmen in an art gallery.  There was no effective security as the killer simply walked up to Ambassador Andrei Karlov and shot him multiple times in the back.
    –CHURKIN Vitaly Chirkin is the highest profile member of Russia’s diplomatic corps to die in recent years.
    BREAKING: Ukraine blocks commemorative resolution for Vitaly Churkin at the UN

  32. turcopolier says:

    Almighty God does not promote people in the US military. It is a simple matter for the president to give him another star if that is indicated. Some civilians think that military officers live in an isolated world in which they go to rifle ranges, play golf and bridge and wait to be promoted. In fact most officers spend most of their lives dealing with the interagency and Congress. Officers above the rank of major typically have at least one advanced degree and are better educated than the typical Foreign Service officer in the State Department who generally have a bachelor’s degree. pl

  33. Jack says:

    And what will McCain say if this “dream team” pull the deal of this century with a rapprochement with Russia?

  34. Jack says:

    Churkin was a trusted and capable “aide”. He is known to have heart problems. I think Putin will miss him. He represented Russia very well at the UN.

  35. Valissa says:

    Some good news on the Russian front… didn’t see anything about this meeting in Baku in the MSM.
    First sign of a thaw? US and Russian top military chiefs meet in Baku
    The meeting that has attracted the most attention is inevitably the meeting in Bonn, Germany between US Secretary of State Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov.  However possibly the more important meeting is the one in Baku, Azerbaijan between General Joe Dunford, the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, and General Valery Gerasimov, the Chief of the Russian military’s General Staff. There is inevitably very little information about the Dunford-Gerasimov meeting.
    … Dunford’s meeting with Gerasimov however represents the first direct meeting between the two senior officers of the world’s two greatest military powers for some time.  In an interview for Politico back in October Dunford disclosed that the initiative for the meeting had come from him, and that he had been pressing for a meeting with Gerasimov for months.
    … Following the change in administration and the appointment as Defense Secretary of James Mattis – like Dunford a Marine General – Dunford has finally been given the green light, making it possible for the meeting with Gerasimov at last to take place.  Judging by what Dunford said to Politico in October, and the Defense Department’s statement about the meeting, the purpose of the meeting will be to establish a ‘hot line’ between the US Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington and the Russian General Staff in Moscow.
    That will allow the uniformed military in both countries to start talking to each other.
    ‘No US boots on the ground’ in Syria, US military assures Russia
    It seems that the meeting – the first between the US and Russian militaries held at this level since January 2014 (ie. since before the Ukrainian crisis became international) – took place in a cordial atmosphere.  Kommersant says that Gerasimov was unfazed by the rhetoric coming from US Defense Secretary Mattis.  Clearly Gerasimov read it – correctly – as public posturing of no significance.
    However one topic the Russians did bring up, which it turns out has caused them serious worry, is the question of reported US plans to send ground troops to Syria.Press reports have been circulating over the last few days that the US is considering sending ground troops to Syria.  It seems Gerasimov warned Dunford that this would be profoundly destabilising, and that he also warned Dunford against doing it.
    Kommersant says that in response Dunford reassured Gerasimov that there are in fact no plans to deploy US ground troops to Syria.

  36. Jack says:

    I think the problem is well understood by those in the know. We get very poor value for the money spent. Russia probably spends a tenth of what we do and seem to have good weapon systems that compare well to ours.

  37. plantman says:

    Colonel, Do you think the McMaster choice will impact policy towards Russia or Syria?

  38. Cvillereader,
    For your third point, I’m thrilled he thinks that. He recognizes the Islamic State for the vile, murdering thugs they are rather than Flynn’s idea that all Muslims are the spawn of Satan.

  39. robt willmann says:

    FB Ali,
    Here is a speech by McMaster from 2014 made on Veteran’s Day, for that occasion–
    He appeared with Zbigniew Brzezinski to talk about the Iraq war in a 2013 presentation on the C-Span television network, for around an hour–

  40. robt willmann says:

    Valissa, mike,
    Also, Sergei Krivov, who worked at the Russian Consulate in New York City, was found dead on election day last year, 2016–

  41. b says:

    What concerns about McMaster is this:
    Flynn was a dove on Russia, McMaster is a feverish hawk on Russia.
    Flynn talking with Russia, following his boss’ policies, got him kicked out. The demand came from Pence.
    McMaster is a Petraeus protege. Allegedly Petraeus flew to Washington to head the promotion board to get McMaster his first star.
    Neocon Tom Cotton was the politician that had pressed for McMaster at the White House.
    Wasn’t Petraeus also sold as a wunderkind scholar-warrior?
    McMaster seems to tend to argue and act independently. He will not follow the policy (and orders?) his boss sets.
    I don’t know McMaster’s real qualification.
    But to me it looks, and as a European I am afraid, that Trump got rolled by the anti-Russian neocons in this whole charade.

  42. turcopolier says:

    Absolute bullshit. Stop staring at your navel in the mirror and wait to see how he performs. To describe him as a Petraeus protégé is a distortion of the man’s history. Petraeus actually did not want to promote him or any of the other scholar warriors who had emerge in Iraq. Most of them he did not promote. His ego got in the way of that. pl

  43. Sam Peralta says:

    IMO, the fact that neither Petraeus nor Bolton got the job says something.

  44. mike says:

    One of the many reasons that I like McMaster is that he went to see the president wearing just his personal decorations. Just those six and not the full 22 (or 24?) ribbons that he rates. I agree and applaud him for that. Why should flag officers with wear an entire chestful of fruit salad, seven or eight rows high, that they accumulated over 30-plus years of service? To impress the troops and the civilians? By not following that custom it shows to me that McMaster is not trying to be a grandstander. He will impress with his work and his intellect and not with showmanship.

  45. mike says:

    robt willmann & Valissa –
    I personally do not believe there is any connection between those deaths other than advanced age and perhaps a love of vodka.
    But I bet Lavrov is constantly looking over his shoulder for Turks and/or Ukrainians.

  46. b says:

    General David Petraeus is adding H.R. McMaster (at left) to his Afghanistan team where he will be in charge of planning.

    Despite his success, McMaster was passed over for Brigadier General the first time he became eligible for promotion, and according to Army lore, the only reason he made it on the second try was that Petraeus sat on the promotion board. Petraeus, who at the time was commander in Iraq, came all the way back to Washington to sit on the board.
    Earlier Petraeus had hand-selected McMaster for his staff in Iraq. I find nothing about even the slightest enmity between them.

  47. Willybilly says:

    Plus the Russian representative to Nato. ..Was killed in Belgium.

  48. Pat,
    Although I’m usually cautious when I hear praise like “best officer in his generation” (we have all heard this sales pitch before), I truly believe McMaster is the real deal when it comes to a military professional who is also a real thinker AND a man of true integrity.
    There are a number of topics McMaster was quite vocal about, like “warrior ethos” and “fallacies in the understanding of war”, that have also been touched on here on SST. This is a good thing I suppose, both for SST and McMaster !
    Hopefully, he will get enough breathing space to do the job the way he intends to.

  49. turcopolier says:

    The US Army is my village. I have deep ties throughout its establishment. You have the crap that shows up in the popular press. You actually think you know you know about the relationships involved than I do? There is a certain Teutonic stereotype involved here. You remind me of a now deceased German born lady neighbor who was a Ph.D art historian with a very limited experience of life. She had traveled to exactly one country in Europe outside Bavarai. That was Italy on a school trip, but she used to lecture me endlessly on the “fine print” involved in various cultures within which I had lived as a part time member. She also had never had a dog but used to tell me how I should care for mine. I have had dogs all my life and they tell me they are happy with their lot in life. What else? Oh, yes when watching a movie at my house, “The Tailor of Panama” she explained to me that a clandestine operation of this kind would never be run that way. I told her I had been in charge of this function in DoD and thought it a model representation of what would be done, but that went right past her. But, to return to the McMaster/Petraeus relationship you have accepted the publicly projected view. This view is incorrect. Petraeus accepted McMaster in Afghanistan because he was known to be someone who would make Petraeus look good. McMaster was TWICE passed over for BG because Petraeus would not lift a finger to help him with those promotion boards. They finally put Petraeus in charge of a special board in which he could not avoid recommending McMaster for promotion. But … you know better. pl

  50. turcopolier says:

    I agree on the medals. He spoke at VMI in November and you can see from the video that he followed the same modest practice there. pl

  51. turcopolier says:

    Patrick Bahzad
    I seldom praise people, but he deserves the praise. I am glad that he is not retiring from the Army. This will enable his promotion to something like CJCS from this job. pl

  52. Pundita says:

    Andrew L. Peek’s interview last night with John Batchelor about Gen. McMaster is ringing support for Col. Lang’s opinion of him. And from notes at the JBS podcast page, it looks as if Peek had at least some influence on Trump’s choice.
    Peek, currently with the American Foreign Policy Council, “was a foreign affairs advisor to the Trump campaign and transition. He is also a former US Army intelligence officer and served with General McMaster in Afghanistan.”
    Peek worked with him for a year so he got to see McMaster in action close-up — and also in a role that was a departure for McMaster’s warfighting leadership. McMaster was tasked with trying to tamp down the staggering corruption in Kabul-US financial dealings (contracts, donations). In this McMaster demonstrated qualities that would make him ideal for a NSC Advisor.
    See the podcast page for detailed notes on the interview. Here’s the podcast:
    Regarding McMaster’s views on Russia, here is what Reuters is reporting as of yesterday:
    “Trump’s new security advisor differs from him on Russia, other key issues.”
    Today Sputnik has two articles, surely there will be several more.
    However, no matter who became the new NSC chief, the ship had already sailed as far as the Kremlin was concerned. This was underscored last night during the second half of Steve Cohen’s weekly talk with J. Batchelor about Russian matters.
    My summary of the conversation (2nd part; I haven’t listened to the 1st part yet):
    While Putin very much wants detente with Washington, there is a powerful faction in Moscow that doesn’t, and the Kremlin has to be mindful of this faction. The anti-detente faction was willing to practice a little patience after Trump installed Flynn as NSC Advisor but after seeing the putsch mounted against him and that Trump capitulated to it very quickly, the faction is digging in its heels.
    They now see Trump as damaged goods — he gave in and now he will have to fend off severe political attacks unless he scales back his ambitions for detente. And this will only make it harder for Putin because the political attacks on Trump will continue to extend to him.
    From my reading of Steve’s analysis this could also mean that even if Trump prods generals Mattis and McMaster to make nicer with Moscow, they might insist on concessions from the Kremlin that would be rejected out of hand by the anti-detente faction in Moscow as well as the Get Russia crowds in Washington and Brussels.
    In sum I’d say Washington has been so busy looking at what they want from Russia that they didn’t stop to think of the view from the Russian side. The view among many in Moscow’s military/political spheres is that they’re not only against detente with the USA, they are also against Russia moving nearer the ‘West.’ They want Moscow to turn completely toward Asia — a point Steve Cohen has stressed in some earlier appearances on JBS. Trump’s fast dumping of Flynn strengthens their arguments in support of this view.
    In light of the above it would be a tragic irony if Trump’s dismissal of Flynn actually had little to do with what Flynn told Pence. But whatever the real story of Flynn’s speedy exit, it’s too late to undo the perception in Moscow about what happened, and the perception is that he caved.
    Steve Cohen hopes that some way can still be found to keep hope of detente alive. At this moment it looks like a faint hope.

  53. Eric Newhill says:

    Another reason you might like McMaster is that Spicer is now saying that Trump’s deal with him is that he has 100% over the NSC and its composition. Furthermore, if McMaster wishes to remove Bannon, then Trump would give that serious consideration.

  54. Wondering if P.L. and others agree with thesis of “Dereliction of Duty”?

  55. gemini33 says:

    What I’m reading here makes me feel better about the McMaster appointment because the initial reaction from the foreign policy establishment and some well known neocons was extremely positive, and that always alarms me. Plus the things I’ve read about his project to redesign the Army to win a ground war against Russia in Eastern Europe. Though I guess that’s just what strategists do.
    Anyway, I’m really glad to hear that the opinions of people here are hopeful and positive.
    I just read an article where John Nagl was interviewed about McMaster. Nagl’s social media has comments about how he spent last Friday with McMaster, and then he “dishes” on him. But the comments he made to Reuters were (I thought) pretty strange. First the inference the McMaster must immediately override the admin’s war/foreign policy, and second the statement saying that running the sole superpower will be easier than the moral challenge of dealing with an admin that doesn’t represent “American values.” If he was talking about overriding their apparent desire to attack Iran, I think that would be good. But if he’s talking about killing any chance of detente with Russia, which seems to be the sole focus of the Borg, that worries me a lot.

    “The real challenges he’s going to confront, I think, are not the challenges of strategy and the global responsibilities of the world’s only superpower […] He knows how to deal with those things.” Nagl continued. “The challenges he’s going to confront are moral, dealing with an administration that has not always been clear in its support for American values. […] Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it,” he once said. “Those who ignore them are doomed to watch.”

    Am I misinterpreting Nagl? Plus his history?

  56. turcopolier says:

    Welcome back! I do. IMO the top military leadership let us down in VN by refusing to tell Johnson the truth about the level and intensity of resistance to the RVN government. pl

  57. turcopolier says:

    Eric Newhill
    IMO you are conflating two different things. !. Bannon is a counselor to the president. That has nothing to do with the NSC or McMaster. 2. Bannon has wheedled himself into a seat on senior NSC run committees. This has everything to do with McMmaster and we will see if he accepts that. pl

  58. Cee says:

    I just read that McCain was asking for presidenital
    campaign money from the late Churkin.

  59. MRW says:

    Officers above the rank of major typically have at least one advanced degree and are better educated
    And they are more disciplined, in action but more importantly thinking. [I’m leaving out the Perfumed Princes, as Hack used to call them.] Few in this country understand how well educated US military officers are required to be. The average joe thinks those stars represent the number of people they shot in wars, tours in combat, or years of service.

  60. robt willmann says:

    It is great to see you again. Your first-hand experience with federal law and federal agencies and the Department of Justice is most useful!

  61. turcopolier says:

    How about a citation on the McCain/Churkin thing? pl

  62. MRW says:

    Missed you. You’re the only one here who backs me up about how the Treasury really works. But, of course, you worked there.

  63. MRW says:

    Re: your #1. That’s Bannon’s official title, isn’t it?

  64. Eric Newhill says:

    Got it. Thank you!

  65. robt willmann says:

    This popped up today, on the MSNBC Morning Joe television program, in which the two, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, the week after Valentine’s Day, are talking about Trump. Mika says, “… he [Trump] is trying to undermine the media, trying to make up his own facts. And it could be that while unemployment and the economy worsens, he could have undermined the messaging so much that he can actually control exactly what people think. And that is, that is our job.” [!!] —
    Although the ideas of Freud were largely make-believe that sounded kind of logical, the end of the 44 second video clip sure looks as if there is such a thing as a Freudian slip.

  66. turcopolier says:

    robt willman
    I wish I was down your way so that we could go out for some good Tex/Mex food. SWMBO is severely lactose intolerant so … I heard Mika say that. Joe tried to shut her up without success. To quote my equivalent to TTG’s old SOG sergeant major, she is an example of the power of the the …” She must be a great disappointment to Zbig. Yes, she thinks it is the media’s job to control mass hysteria in “la foule.” pl

  67. Valissa says:

    Nice to see you here again, William 🙂

  68. turcopolier says:

    Active duty military officers have exactly the same responsibility and duty as civilians to tell the boss the truth in private. The “perfumed princes” do not do that because they are the same kind of slippery courtiers who destroyed the Byzantine Empire before Manzikert. pl

  69. walden5 says:

    It is at least ten years since I read the McMaster book about Viet Nam.
    I think it got popular again around 2006 when the U.S. invasion of Iraq was going badly.
    As I recall, Gen. McMaster’s thesis was that the failings of the U.S. military in Viet Nam were deplorable because they led to the failure of the U.S. mission itself. I thought he was part of the school of the school of thought that the U.S. could have won in Viet Nam if only…etc? Whereas others said the mission itself was a bad idea from the outset- end of story.
    If my memory is correct, then I am with b in having doubts about where he will take you. Of course, I am neither a military person nor an American so what do I know.

  70. turcopolier says:

    His thesis is that the generals screwed up badly both in Washington and VN. He has no criticism for the troops that I remember and none was deserved. I fought there and would remember. The principal failing of the generals was that they continued to tell people up the line of command that this was easy and that we would inevitably win. In spite of that we and the RVN had defeated the enemy’s conventional forces and pacified most of the country by the time the communists accepted a cease fire. That is why they did so, and that defeat was culminated for them in Linebacker 2. pl

  71. Croesus says:

    If I may, and on the other hand — A major reason some of us — I’ll speak for myself — frequent this forum is precisely because we have NOT had the life and professional experiences and responsibilities that you have had. We formed households, raised kids, and moved the kit & caboodle when HWCPtB (he whose career paid the bills) got a promotion, new job, transfer; we scouted out houses, schools, communities and friends; our opportunities for foreign travel were limited by HWCPtB (a concept my daughters-in-law do not comprehend). Only lately have we come to appreciate the necessity of information on our nation’s military and foreign affairs. We — I — am grateful to SST for providing a sanitized path thru MSM bullpucky on those matters. We read the information you post, the links linked by numerous commentors and more books than our local library shelves. Thanks for the tutorials on Real Life in These United States.

  72. LeaNder says:

    Great catch. Very, very funny

  73. LeaNder says:

    b claims to have military expertise. I don’t. You don’t. Maybe that’s why this caught my attention:
    McMaster seems to tend to argue and act independently. He will not follow the policy (and orders?) his boss sets.
    The last sentence is a curious assumption.
    Among one of the earliest things that drew my attention in Pat’s writing here, was that there are limits to following order. Seems that was related to VN. A rule originating there? But obviously that is the main task of a soldier. Is speaking one’s mind, within whatever limits equal acting independently?

  74. DH says:

    WRC! I’ve missed you.

  75. Trinlae says:

    Good idea; thanks very much!

  76. turcopolier says:

    “b” told me here long ago that he had been an oberleutnant in the Bundeswehr. mike is a retired USMC senior NCO I believe. My observation about their experience is that however great they are as auto-didacts in the military field a lack of actual experience in senior headquarters leaves a lacuna difficult to fill. This lacuna can often lead to making judgments that are based on a lack of information but that seem appealing on the surface. As to your question about “orders,” this has always been a tradition in the US Army. Example in the WBS/CW was a major of cavalry in a New York Regiment who was ordered by Phil Sheridan to burn a small town in the Shenandoah Valley from which shots had been fired at patrols. Major Stevens went to look at the place, talked to the locals and returned to tell Sheridan that he would not burn the town. The town is now named Stevens City. whether or not the ethos is the same in the USMC is unknown to me. I have had marines say some strange things to me about “orders.” pl

  77. LeaNder says:

    thanks, Pat.
    I wish I had time to go back to your article and check what it feels like now.
    More generally, I found the c-span juxtaposition of Zbig and McMaster interesting. I guess I would have seen things differently two decades ago. Wouldn’t even have watched it, probably.

  78. Thanks and would have voted for Jeff Sessions! I personally met him when he was U.S. Attorney for the S. District of Alabama. Perhaps we should reflect on another past Alabama U.S. Senator, Hugo Black, who revealed only after confirmation to SCOTUS that he once was a member of the KKK. The real father of a strict construction of the Constitution on SCOTUS, Black will long be regarded as one of four justices fathering major SCOTUS theory. Plse see recent Book SCORPIONS IN A BOTTLE (2014?!

  79. The position of the Deputy Secretary in the Treasury is very powerful and often the real COO in the Department. And the next most important job in the Department is the Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy!
    And thanks for the welcome back!

  80. Thanks for the welcome back! Gone in part on a 4000 mile road trip to the Dakotas.

  81. MRW says:

    Did you read Frank N Newman’s book? He was Deputy Secretary of the US Treasury under Clinton. Brilliant book. Only 87 Pages. It’s called Freedom From National Debt. Dispels all the bullshit arguments I read here about how our money works. Clear-headed. Logical. Might be arcane for some, but you would love it. I actually went to your website, chasing you because I feared lightning might have striked and you were gone. Really, really glad to see you’re here.
    My best regards.

  82. MRW says:

    Gone in part on a 4000 mile road trip to the Dakotas.
    What did you do? Go back and forth? lol
    Just ribbing you.

  83. MRW says:

    it’s Nine Scorpions in a Bottle I think, isn’t it?

  84. Thanks and thanks for the NEWMAN book reference. Had no knowledge of it!

  85. Thanks P.L. IMO intelligence corrupted in Washington. Could be wrong of course!

  86. Valissa says:

    That’s the best kind of road trip! Did you drive thru the Badlands? Did you see the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD?
    Corny as the architecture is (and it really is!) I really liked it. Classic Americana Kitsch writ large. My favorite thing was the exterior murals, all made out of grains and crops.

  87. An historical footnote, perhaps of interest and perhaps not. The Attorney General does not sit by statute (the NSA of 1947, as amended) does not sit on the NSC. Two Ag’s (RFK and Ed Meese) were Ex Officio members. All other AG’s have only sat from time to time. Former Senator Hollings of S.C. came within one-vote in the U.S. Senate from adding the AG by statute to the NSC.
    By internal delegation, DoJ/OLC reviews all Executive Orders of the President for form and legality under E.O 11030. Not known if this correct under President Trump!
    Not all NSC’s have had a General Counsel.
    Under the NSA of 1947 the primary purpose of the NSC is the integration of foreign, military, and domestic policy to protect the NATIONAL SECURITY of the UNITED STATES.
    The term NATIONAL SECURITY is nowhere defined in the U.S. Code IMO!

  88. NO and no! But I did see the monument to Norwegian-Americans on the Iowa side of the Iowa/Minnesota border.

  89. IMO somewhat surprised that none of the BOOMER PRESIDENTS tried to comprehensively revise the NSA of 1947, as amended. Still time for President Trump of course.
    Also am I correct that of 800 staff over 50% military detailees still on Active Duty?

  90. Eric Newhill says:

    Pursuant to the convo on the newer thread (Trump’s Tuesday) about McMaster being a contradiction to Bannon re; Islam as a whole a threat/culture clash (Bannon) versus only allegedly “un-Islamic/Islam-perverting” radicals being the problem (McMaster), do you think it possible that McMaster is a product of – or at least influenced by – the COIN school of thought in this? Is he wired by his culture to reflexively seek the winning of hearts and mind approach?
    Is he playing the politically correct card on this topic so as not to alarm potential allies? Would the Arabs (KSA/Gulfies) – who are supporting IS – see him as a tool for doing so?
    Is he just being reasonable in his public utterances since, obviously, we can’t fight a war against 1.2 billion Muslims?
    I am puzzled by McMaster’s statements. The Army 8th Air Force did not make a distinction between moderate Germans and radical Nazis. Curtis Lemay was merciless to all Japanese. Vlad Dracula was one of the most effective counter forces to expansionist Jihadi hordes. I have not seen COIN work in the MENA in any substantial lasting way. Does McMaster really believe that a COIN approach to IS and AL Qaeda can eventually work, especially given all of their backing by gulfie allies and by a substantial proportion of the Muslim population? Or is the idea to try to just keep the whole situation at a dull roar?

  91. turcopolier says:

    Eric Newhill
    I think he is trying to manage the PR threat. pl

  92. Eric Newhill says:

    Thank you. Understood. I think you are right about that.

  93. The Beaver says:

    have you seen the latest:
    “And just last Friday, McMaster tried to remove Ezra Cohen-Watnick, a 30-year-old Flynn acolyte, from the post of NSC intelligence director—and was overruled by Bannon and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law.”
    In addition, Dina Habib Powell will be named deputy national security advisor for strategy-working with K McFarland and under McMaster. Another Goldman Sachs Alum who worked on Women and Philantropic Initiatives , now on Security ???. BTW She was the only woman attending the lunch meeting with the pretender from KSA – she was sitting at the head table

  94. confusedponderer says:

    Ah Spicer. I have a little story that describes him as the guy he is.
    Last year, Spicer greeted friends who followed him to DC on his first job day with ‘it is 1932, we have won’! This inspired his fans to answer to him with ‘Sieg heil Hitler’ or something like that and raised arms. Reportedly, Spicer was delighted and greeted back.
    What is pretty clear after this notable Spicer greeting incident is that the man is a young US nazi who happens to prefer wearing suits instead of these old black or brown uniforms.
    I am short with my sympathy for Spicer since his sort of greeting joke would get you get to jail in Germany (and that for good reason). Something is seriously ill with Spicer an his friends.
    Naive folks like me wonder about things like Spicer getting the job anyway, despite of his babblings and despite him being so apparently unsuitable.
    It may have to do with Trump sympatising with Spicer’s views – a disturbing possibility. Well, perhaps the president was just too busy twittering to notice … ?
    Anyway, whenever I see Spicer or read the current BS he has told on this or that I feel tempted to puke.
    Sadly my mother has foolishly chosen to move away my reliable BS insurance ‘Wild Turkey’. That is sad. WT works splendidly on Erdogan, whose demented, absurd and creative delusions are so idiotic that one needs to help oneself over having to read them.
    Erdogan’s latest strike into dementia was to claim that the dutch did commit the massacre of Srebrenicka. Ah yes, of course, and no, they didn’t.

  95. turcopolier says:

    I withdraw my praise of LTG McMaster. He is a great mind but unfortunately that mind is now filled with a lot of neocon rubbish. pl

  96. FB Ali says:

    I agree with you. McMaster has been a big disappointment.
    I suppose he was always like this; that was why he was being promoted instead of retired. Your earlier analysis of how the US military promotion system works is an explanation for the low quality of military leadership. ‘Careerist’ officers easily fall into line with the Borg’s policies (such as they are).

  97. Ex-PFC Chuck says:

    Yes. I suspect many people had expected a lot more of him.

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