McCaffery Agonistes

070118_mccaffrey_story At the risk of being accused of complaining about a system that did not promote me past colonel, I will say the following: the system of promotion in the military trains these men to be self serving.  Why are people surprised when they are self serving? pl

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18 Responses to McCaffery Agonistes

  1. Cato says:

    A man who is flatly self-serving and makes no pretensions otherwise is one thing. A man who is self-serving and trades on his reputation for independence and integrity is quite another. I know the current system seems to have strayed far away from the old “officer and a gentleman” model, but Gen. McCaffrey’s example seems quite extreme.

  2. Matthew says:

    Am I the only one who cringed when McCaff bellowed about his integrity. Of course, his money-making ruins his “objectivity” as an analyst. That’s why these guys don’t want us to know who’s paying them.

  3. Buce says:

    Not to worry, Sic. When we see a smart guy who washed out at colonel, we tend to assume that the reaosn is that he was not self-serving. IOW, wear it as a badge of honor; others tend to treat it that way.

  4. Will says:

    There are Col’s and there are Col’s. From Wiki
    “Walter Patrick “Pat” Lang, Jr., is; a commentator on the Middle East, a retired US Army officer, and an author. After leaving uniformed military service as a colonel, he held high-level posts in military intelligence as a civilian, heading intelligence analysis of the Middle East and South Asia for the Defense Department and world wide HUMINT activities in a high level capacity equivalent to the rank of a lieutenant general.”

  5. Green Zone Cafe says:

    McCaffrey is hardly the worst. For one thing, he was justly and emphatically critical of Rumsfeld – while Rumsfeld was still in office.
    Second, I’ve read his After Action Reports for years, often while I was in Iraq. Generally (a pun?) I found his conclusions to be accurate and based on fact. He neither drank the Kool-Aid nor was mindlessly critical.
    McCaffrey was more outspokenly critical of Rumsfeld than any of the retired generals but Baptiste and Eaton. He is not alone among retired generals in joining the military industrial complex. Why he is being singled out is a mystery to me.

  6. Just remember the “Brains” of the Army are never promoted above Colonel. Promotions above that based on luck, looks, and CONNECTIONS! Officer Operations in the ARMY in my time were at Ft. Monroe. Too much beach time for those operations.

  7. HyperIon says:

    I’m not surprised at anyone being self-serving. What gets me is the fans these self-servers attract. Again, WE enable these jerks.

  8. JfM says:

    Days after reporting in to the Armor career at Fort Knox in 197, I well recall the then- CPT McCaffrey being early identified as the class ‘comer’. He was a couple years older than most of us and not long out of Walter Reed after recuperating from a grievous Vietnam battle wound. All of us young officers, ourselves just back from the Southeast Asia war games, knew he was soon to be a rocket and that many of us would, in time, be his supporting staff officers rather than current contemporaries. In my limited contact I found him to be terribly intense and intolerant of light conversation or discussion not directly related to what he was interested in at the time. Almost overly focused.
    At that time his father was a serving active Army general officer and he had been around stars his entire commissioned life. Many of us had never talked to a general officer and may have only fleetingly seen a star whiz by at 200 feet in a meddlesome Charlie-charlie. Grappling with our future, many of us were weighing whether to stay in uniform or leave, Barry was carefully tending his assured career ascendancy. This is not a criticism but only an observation. We hundred or so young captains in the 71 ‘armor car courses’ were, despite all of our bravado, a shaken bunch in a turbulent and even hostile nation with more than a degree of uncertainty about our future. The then-CPT McCaffrey didn’t suffer those doubts. He was good, he knew it and the Army was his home. I certainly salute his valor. His valuable effort after the career course in diagnosing the shattered Army thru his Chief of Staff mandated study remains one of the key successes in rebuilding the force that twenty or so years later smashed the Iraqis in Desert Storm.
    No, I don’t fault him for his efforts in leading the charge for commercial ventures in Iraq. Who better to do what needed to be done one the outside than one who had thrived in his former life on the inside? My measure is not the tawdry business of business in a war environment or the appearance of conflict of interests involving money or influence. My almost sole yardstick is what his actions meant to the troops deployed; did his efforts help or hinder them? Were some US-types kept alive or die because of what he did or didn’t do? The rest is jetsam and makes for passing talk among folks in air-conditioned rooms.
    Yeah, he’s self-serving and truly an inflated ego to be sure. I ain’t about to invite him over for dinner, personally he’d kill any chance of a fun evening. Further, he probably did us a disservice by standing too long in support of the moronic Decider but…but, thru his commercial sponsorship of certain patronage ventures, he also apparently compressed the time when the Iraqis could begin to attend effectively to their own security. This, by my count, hastened our possible move to the rear and saved US soldier’s lives. For me that’s what counts.

  9. Fred says:

    JfM wrote:
    “I don’t fault him for his efforts in leading the charge for commercial ventures in Iraq. Who better to do what needed to be done one the outside than one who had thrived in his former life on the inside?”
    You presume that outsourcing to the likes of Blackwater, Halliburton etc ‘needed to be done’. That was Cheney’s transformation as Secretary of Defense. The US won more than one war without needing vital logistics and other resources being done by politically connected contractors. (War profiteering has also been part and parcel of all of our wars, starting with the war for independence).
    “My almost sole yardstick is what his actions meant to the troops deployed;”
    “Further, he probably did us a disservice by standing too long in support of the moronic Decider but, thru his commercial sponsorship of certain patronage ventures, he also apparently compressed the time when the Iraqis could begin to attend effectively to their own security. ”
    The defeated units of the Iraqi army was capable of providing security just as the troops of Imperial Japan did after the Emperor’s surrender.
    As the prior posting of the story on W and the intelligence proves, the troops did not need to be deployed.

  10. JfM says:

    Fred, I concur with you on both points. Again, understand my position. Virtually anything that preserves soldiers and strengthens the possibility of their coming home is a plus by my accounting. The decisions to deploy were an abject deception and a disaster for years to come regardless if all the troops are withdrawn. We truly allowed this disastrous administration to hoodwink us and set us back years as a nation. Bush, Cheney et al will pay, if we are the people I believe we are, with the enduring condemnation of future American generation persistent repugnance. We get the kind of government we allow. Shame on us.
    But once the decision is taken and the troops deployed, the aim is how to maximize the completion of the mission. Win the war-yes; truly win the war- the Army was given with minimum casualties. You may not agree or understand and I may be rabid in my approach to troop protection, but I am of the generation of troops who were duped and horribly used and I will fight hard to preclude that happening to another generation of young uniformed Americas finest.
    As you note, out sourcing is as old as we have been a nation…and before. Not my issue here. I do have some fixed opinions on this, but this isn’t about that. It’s about General McCaffrey. Sure, as I noted, he’s a self-serving egotistical tower in both the commercial/civilian and governmental/military world. He did what he did and I submit did much of it-despite his gain-to protect the troops and better our chances for victory.

  11. J says:

    with the ‘pittances’ that he receives on his 4 star retired pay, he has to feed his family somehow, right?

  12. wisedup says:

    for Green Zone Cafe:
    the reason for this focus on McCaffery is quite simple – he is touted on NBC as a “retired military officer” and provides “slant-free opinion”. NBC never alerts the listener to McCaffery’s many conflicts of interest. The mystery is why NBC (parents are GE, a major provider of weapons systems) does not provide a short disclaimer ahead of each interview and be done with it? Ah, Bush’s “we make the reality” meme has infected NBC!

  13. Fred says:

    ‘Victory’ has never been defined in relation to this war as anything other than a slogan. I have no idea what you define it as; as for slogans I had my fill while I was on active duty long ago. As to my post, I do not believe you understood.
    Profiteering is old, outsourcing not so; nor is it necessary to support troops in the field.
    I have no personal animosity to McCaffery, he’s a product of the current system. I don’t think he would have made it past brigadier under Marshall. Once forced into the choice of winning or losing an unjust war in Iraq we have done neither. As for Bush and Cheney, they will not pay any price, other than one of personal conscience, which is doubtful as they show neither remorse nor contrition. I sincerely doubt that they will be brought to account by an Obama administration nor the one that will follow.

  14. S.D. says:

    Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967). Counter-Attack and Other Poems. 1918.
    12. The General
    ‘GOOD-MORNING; good-morning!’ the General said
    When we met him last week on our way to the line.
    Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of ’em dead,
    And we’re cursing his staff for incompetent swine.
    ‘He’s a cheery old card,’ grunted Harry to Jack 5
    As they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack.
    . . . .
    But he did for them both by his plan of attack.

  15. Thomas Jackson says:

    Promotion within the government rarely depends on performance, effectiveness or ability as much as connections, rabis, and being the flavor of the moment.
    Besides all promotions to a flag grade require the approval of Congress, indicating that someone who displays independence of judgement and candor is unlikely to be acceptable to the wiuse men who sit in the halls of government.

  16. Cujo359 says:

    Here’s the permalink to the Greenwald article.
    I’m not surprised at McCaffrey’s behavior. In fact, from what little I know of him I don’t find it at all surprising. What I find so surprising is that so many people here think it’s OK. He didn’t choose great companies to represent to the Pentagon or Congress. He seems to have sold himself to the highest bidder. Why would anyone who had the Army’s interests at heart represent someone like Defense Solutions?
    What McCaffrey and NBC represent to me is microcosms of what’s wrong with the defense industry and mainstream journalism.

  17. J says:

    No former DOD personnel wheither active duty or civilian employee should be allowed to ‘pitch’ contracts at DOD. Firms wanting to garner a DOD contract should all have to go through the application vetting process, and if their ‘proposal’ meets DOD criteria, then it moves on up the food chain towards a lucrative $$$ for the firm in question.
    I still have heartburn today from the way that a certain former intel director open contracted to outside sources instead of using their own already vetted permanent in house personnel for the assignment at hand. As a result, today our national security is now subject to companies who are close to foreign intelligence agencies, hostile foreign intelligence agencies.

  18. 777guy says:

    McCaffrey was, as I recall, a class behind me at the Armor Off. Adv. Cs. We shared the same faculty advisor, and, in my (limited) encounters with him, found him to be an amiable guy and don’t recall him being overly focussed. An aside, his father was commandant of cadets at a certain southern military college I attended and was a very sharp officer.
    Addressing the larger question of the military procurement industry and the roles in it played by retired officers, I fear that there’s an inevitable
    quality about it. These folks are a valuable commodity because they know the right people and they know their way around the bureaucracy and the money at stake in the awarding of contracts is huge. I have a hunch that trying to regulate the process is rather like the repeated reforms of campaign financing. This takes me back to Ike’s warning, in his farewell address, about the military-industrial complex. It may be that the only solution is to “slay the beast” by depriving it of funding.
    A quibble. I’ve always understood “Flag Officers” to be those wearing blue suits and sailing around in large boats, as in flagship. High ranking officers of the army, air force, and even those amphibious creatures known as marines have always been called “General Officers”

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