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Good news and good advice
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, July 17, 2008

First the good advice - I'm becoming a real fan of Robert Gates - SecDef. Andrea Scott Tyson reports:
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates warned yesterday against the risk of a "creeping militarization" of U.S. foreign policy, saying the State Department should lead U.S. engagement with other countries, with the military playing a supporting role.

"We cannot kill or capture our way to victory" in the long-term campaign against terrorism, Gates said, arguing that military action should be subordinate to political and economic efforts to undermine extremism.
I agree with Gates completely. The State Department,in my opinion, has essentially been missing in action, especially in Iraq. You may remember the whine-a-thon which took place when it appeared that State was going to have to levy employees to fill necessary slots in Iraq. It was embarrassing.
"America's civilian institutions of diplomacy and development have been chronically undermanned and underfunded for far too long — relative to what we traditionally spend on the military, and more importantly, relative to the responsibilities and challenges our nation has around the world," Gates said at a dinner organized by the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign, according to prepared remarks of his speech.
The military has changed its doctrine to include a dedicated force to work in trouble areas attempting short-circuit problems before they can build into a Darfur or Somalia. In fact, that was the impetus behind AFRICOM. But unless State is an integral part, in fact the lead in these sorts of efforts they are indeed a case of "creeping militarism". Without state, the job reverts to the military, and while the military has a vital role, it doesn't involve doing the job the State Department should be doing. The "doctrine" that now needs to be updated is that of State's.

The good news? Promotions:
In a related development, the Pentagon yesterday released the list of Army officers nominated by President Bush for promotion to the rank of one-star general, marking a new generation of Army leaders. The list, resulting from a selection board led by Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, includes several officers skilled in the counterinsurgency doctrine that Petraeus helped write — a doctrine that embraces a broader approach to winning conflicts centered on protecting and providing for local populations.

Army officers on the list, many of whom have served repeatedly in Iraq or Afghanistan, include Col. Sean B. MacFarland, Col. H.R. McMaster, Col. Stephen J. Townsend and Col. Jeffrey J. Snow. The list also includes several commanders of Special Operations forces with multiple combat tours, such as Col. Kenneth E. Tovo, Col. Edward M. Reeder, Col. Paul J. LaCamera and Col. Austin S. Miller.
H. R. McMaster was one of the primary officers a lot of us were interested in. McMaster has done it all in the Army and done all of it in an outstanding manner. Yet he'd been passed over at least twice for his star. He's been a very successful commander in conventional warfare and he's been in the vanguard of the new counterinsurgency doctrine (actually having successfully "field tested" it as the 3rd ACR commander at Tal Afar before it was committed to doctrine).

To most military officers, he was a shoe in. However, as I've mentioned before, promotions don't always go to the most deserving. The skill sets needed for combat commanders aren't always the most sought after during times of peace. And generals who had earned their way to flag rank during years of peace were in charge of the promotion process. Combat credentials weren't necessarily the most important credentials to those who had become generals at that time and generals have a tendency to promote officers who are like them.

That appeared to be what was going on in the case of McMaster and some of these other officers (when I was in the Army, being a career special forces officer was a "death sentence" when it came to flag rank).

So it was with interest that we watched this particular board, because Gen Petraeus was going to be in charge of it and he'd be the one setting the standards. The results, as they say, speak for themselves. And while they don't necessarily mean the promotion system is fixed, it is a good indicator that it is changing for the better.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

McMaster! Whoopee!
Written By: Dale Franks
Is it really a great idea to let State have more of a role in anything?

At least, State as currently constituted.

Clean house (and by that I mean the permanent buraeucracy that is entrenched there) and maybe.

Until then, State being MIA somewhere is a good thing
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Great a whole new generation of Nazi-Like Aggressors. We would have done better to pass these guys over two times and RIF them out... Now, they’ll have a chance wage more wars of choice on other Third World nations. I mean we’re REWARDING criminal activity.

I was glad to see that Gates is starting to "get it" about the value of diplomacy. State needs more money and more personnel, certainly it could do with a few more professors as highly skilled and PAID advisors/consultants/contractors. I think we need to have a MAJOR resource shift from DoD to State....

I think when you compare the efforts being made in Iraq and the Efforts being waged in Iran, it’s fairly obvious which approach, violence or talk, gets results.
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I am encouraged by these developments.

Gates has quietly lowered DOD’s noise profile and raised its productivity level in the results department.

This is another example.

It is too bad that his talents were not sought earlier.
Written By: vnjagvet
Ah, but you miss the big picture:
Written By: Scott Erb
"when I was in the Army, being a career special forces officer was a "death sentence" when it came to flag rank"

No kidding. I am really impressed with this list. One of the great frustrations of my uncle (Col. Al Paddock, Retired, now President of Washington Area Chapter of the Special Forces Association) was how hard it was for officers in the special forces, and the insights and options provided by such forces in general (especially his baby, psyops) to move up the chain of command.

It is hard to exaggerate how exciting this list has to be for a great many people. I expect knives to come out really soon however. Petraeus has a tough row to hoe.

Written By: Lance

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