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22 September 2010


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Patrick Lang


I retired from the US Army with 26 years of commissioned service

1- Because the Army made it clear that in spite of the fact that I had a very good record and was "best qualified" the Army did not believe it had any need to promote a colonel to brigadier general who was an SF officer, Islamic World specialist, clandestine operator, etc.

2- I had no general officer sponsor. (translation - not a good ass kisser)

If either of these conditions had been "green" I would have been promoted.

The Director of DIA offered to make me an SES and I was glad to do that in order to continue my work. At that time the law prevented me from collecting my Army retired pay so long as I was a civil servant. That would no longer be the case.

As to the narcissists, I don't understand why you think that I don't understand about them. My formerly enlisted LTC father told me that I should remember that general officers should not be trusted "on principle," since almost all of them had made their rank by walking across the backs of others.

George Marshall was not like that. My VMI classmate, General (Ret.) Binford Peay is not like that. So, there are exceptions. pl

SAC Brat


Since you brought up VMI and I am trying to study leadership examples, can you point me at anything about Glover Johns? I've read "Clay Pigeons of St. Lo" and "About Face" by David Hackworth.

Seems like we have less Americans and more opportunists nowadays.

Patrick Lang

SAC Brat

I knew Johns of course. he was Commandant the first two years I was there. I had too many demerits the first year. Several upper classmen did not like me. Strange. Colonel Johns gave me a little talk which was very understanding and which helped a lot. I wrote him many years later when I was a major and he was in his final illness to thank him for what he had done for me. He was one of those people whom you knew instinctively you would follow anywhere.

David Hackworth was a captain in the Ranger Department at Ft. Benning when I was a first classman (senior). He was brought up to conduct a field training exercise in the Blue Ridge. Volunteers. He ran our asses off. Then we started doing 40 kilometer combat patrols in the mountains. He decided that the usual impedimenta, weapons, rations, radios, etc was too easy for us. He found a two foot, foot thick hardwood log that he peeled and painted red, white and yellow (VMI colors). He added that to our collective burdens. We passed it around endlessly.

In 2002 I was on a speaking program with him in Texas. The audience was surprised that neither of us was for war. They did not know what to say. A year or so later I was on Larry King live with him. In the break he said, "Hello, Pat, good to see you buddy."

BTW, the reason we were in such good condition was Colonel Glover Johns. pl


What is to stop Obama from simply saying "I want all US troops out of A-Stan with 18 months. Anyone not on board with this policy may resign now...or be fired later."??

I see two possibilities.

1) He doesn't want to. He sees being in A-stan as essential to US "credibility" or something. And,

2) He can't. Forgive me for waxing conspiratorial but, who exactly killed JFK and why? And RFK? Am I being crazy or does anyone other than me see more than just random crazy gunmen acting alone?

Patrick Lang


Nothing stops him other than politics.

Yes. You are crazed. pl

Stanley Henning

The problem is the military doesn't want to look bad based on the lives wasted over our ignorant persistence in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the Chinese stand aside, watching our waste combined with their incredible savings and ultimate access to the resources in Afghanistan. It is time we got a life and stared thinking strategically. We've been thinking narrowly and missing the bigger picture.

Stanley Henning

It is time to re-look our view of the Islamic world and, at the same time, offer them some well-intentioned views. "Jihad" does NOT mean war in the unadorned sense that we seem to view it. In fact , it is a much broader concept for "struggle in the midst of belief" as opposed to some narrow, ignorant, approach to religious war as some have categorized it. Not only do we non-Muslims need to better understand the real Islam, but Islamic believers need to rethink their approach as we move into the 21st century. In a way, Jihad represents an approach to the various views we have as humans in solving our problems. It does NOT mean religious warfare, but finding our way in the jungle of nonsense placed in our way to achieving a world ruled by human understanding and common sense. In this respect, I hope that the serious leaders of the Islamic world will ruminate upon this question and unite in an effort to reflect the true humanity that Islam represents and openly deny the low class nonsense reflected in the terrorist groups that have managed to pollute the real world of Islam.


Here's a poetic fragment for all the little children of the empire as they bed down for this evening of the equinox.
Sweet dreams, little ones:

Now it is not good for the Christian's health to hustle the Aryan
For the Christian riles, and the Aryan smiles and he weareth the
Christian down;
And the end of the fight is a tombstone white with the name of
the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear: "A Fool lies here who tried to hustle the

John Waring

If we want to retain our democratic Republic, we will have to surrender our imperial ambitions. Endless war means the end of our Republic. The generals shall be king.

In the absence of al Qaeda, 100,000 American troops in Afghanistan, cloaked in the ideology of COIN, are nothing but a 21st century colonial adventure.

The Twisted Genius

It's a sad state of affairs when the high muckety-mucks of the "defense enterprise" seek to keep us in a constant state of war in order to ensure that their precious enterprise continues to grow. This is the ultimate perversion of the the old dictum that a bureaucracy always seeks to preserve itself and expand. Those who refused to give Obama a plan to exit Afghanistan ought to have the dignity to resign in shame. Of course they lack dignity and wold never resign. OTOH, Obama should have dismissed the lot and tasked the next set of military advisors to come up with an exit plan.


Thanks Farmer Don for the link on the Stuxnet worm which infects industrial controllers. I've been reading about it for the last hour b/ for the life of me couldn't figure out where i found out about it until i saw your link again.

The best article on it is

It also has a wikipedia entry.

in 2009 the Kapersky antivirus crowd in Belarus first came across a rudimentry version of it. Subsequently it was weaponized, & vastly improved by a state (read b/n the lines Israel) & sicced on Iran. It is mostly found in Siemens controllers in Iran. The speculation is that its intended target is the Busheshr plant. That it has already or was intended to foul up some programmed logic controller PLC into letting a motor or turbine exceed its rpm, or fail to get lubricated & blow up the works.

The worm is said to be huge as these things go (half a meg or so) & exploits several vulnerabilities and has stolen certificates of legitimate hardware vendors. Originally it infects by a USB drive by the autoplay rootkit vulnerability (so called Social Engineering pioneered by hacker Metnick), after that it can hop the net.

The whole affair has raised concern about the integrity of power grids world wide.

Come to think of it, there was talk during the cold war about the CIA causing a Soviet mass gas pipeline explosion using cyber warfare, so maybe this is nothing new.


The President gets grief for where he was born.

You imagine what he will get for "losing" the Afghanistan war?

Neil Richardson

"A month after LBJ took office, he told the Joint Chiefs, "just let me get elected, and then you can have your war."

Posted by: JohnH | 22 September 2010 at 11:33 PM "

You might want to expand your horizon beyond what Oliver Stone fantasized in his movie. The source is from Stanley Karnow:

Johnson subscribed to the adage that "wars are too serious to be entrusted to generals." He knew, as he once put it, that armed forces "need battles and bombs and bullets in order to be heroic," and that they would drag him into a military conflict if they could. But he also knew that Pentagon lobbyists, among the best in the business, could persuade conservatives in Congress to sabotage his social legislation unless he satisifed their demands. As he girded himself for the 1964 presidential campaign, he was especially sensitive to the jingoists who might brand him "soft on Communism" were he to back away from the challenge in Vietnam. So, politician that he was, he assuaged the brass and the braid with promises he may never have intended to keep. At a White House reception on Christmas Eve 1963, for example, he told the joint chiefs of staff: "Just let me get elected, and then you can have your war." (_Vietnam: A History, p.326)

Here's what Karnow actually said regarding Stone's usage of his work.


Lifting a Quote Out of Context

In one of JFK's most pivotal scenes, a secret agent tells Garrison about a late 1963 White House reception at which Johnson told the joint chiefs of staff, "Just let me get elected, and then you can have your war." Stone, by his own admission, borrowed the anecdote from my book, and I am convinced of its accuracy, having heard it from Gen. Harold K. Johnson, then the army chief of staff and a guest at the party. I used the story to illustrate Lyndon Johnson's practice of making different promises to different factions. In this instance, he estimated that by placating the brass he could rally their conservative allies on Capitol Hill behind his liberal social agenda. At the same time, as I wrote, he confided to members of Congress who had qualms about Vietnam that he had no intention of getting immersed in that "damn pissant little country." However, Stone, to depict Johnson as a warmonger, lifted the story out of context.

As for Harold Johnson and the JCS I suggest you read McMaster's _Dereliction of Duty_.


CWZ beat me to the quote from the WP. Petraeus seems to have no concept of American national interest with respect to either Iraq or Afghanistan. The safety and security of the peoples of these two countries is thier own, the obligation thier government, however they finally structure them; it is not the obligation of people who live on the other side of planet earth.

SAC-Brat, which actions of Marshall and MacAurther are you refering too? Firing incompetent and insubordinate generals? I believe they both did so in that period of the war. I would also note that the Taliban is not the Empire of Japan. We shouldn't bother telling that to the generals, just the press and the rest of our fellow citizens.

Will, thanks for the details. Perhaps we should all 'thank' Israel for this too? Or just hire thier software firms to 'keep us - or our electric grid - safe'?

different clue

Cold War Zoomie,

At the level of high-level analysis it may be true that we have been scoring an own-goal in Afghanistan. I think that process began when the Bush Administration interfered with the desire of many Afghans to see the old king Zahir Shah come back to head a temporary caretaker government while Afghans at rising levels conducted elaborate councils to see what and who they wanted to govern them and through what forms. It was Bush Administration players who obstructed this and manipulated and pressured the pre-arranging meeting in Bonn(?) to accept the installation of Karzai as Head Governator in Chief. I believe I remember reading that Zalmay Khalilzad in particular wanted this outcome though I can't remember where I may have read that.

But I was commenting at cruder more vulgarly political levels. If we can't "win" something in Afghanistan and we have to leave, that would be called a "defeat" by those who wish to call it such. We may be so worn out and impoverished that we will not even be able to do the kinds of things which Colonel Lang suggested from the start.

Any politician who says such a thing in public will be accused of "defeat with dishonor" and "cutting and running". The only way to pull the sting out of that accusation is to accept it ahead of time and boldly run
on "cut and run". Honor may be saved by allowing to emigrate to our country those Afghans who believed us and helped us and who face persecution or murder after we leave. If a presidential candidate were to be nominated on "cut and run" and then elected on "cut and run"; then the whole electorate will have voted for "cut and run". That would make it difficult for political hucksters to hurt such a president by accusing him of
"cutting and running" because he could say "cutting and running was precisely what I was elected to do". And in such a scenario, political hucksters would have to condemn the American voting majority for "losing Afghanistan". That's why I offered the thought that the only way we can leave Afghanistan is if we are offered a candidate who runs
on leaving Afghanistan under whatever terminology may apply. If the next President has not been elected to "cut and run" from Afghanistan, then fear of being accused of "cutting and running" will keep him keeping us in Afghanistan till 2016. After which, then what?

William R. Cumming

Interesting that Woodward has pledged his notes and records of interviews in his book to the long term of historical analysis with I believe a 50 year limit after his death.

Mark FELT where are you when you are needed?

Neil Richardson


"The phrase "generals who thought they knew better" brings to mind names like McClellan, Patton, McArthur and LeMay.

But my knowledge of military history is not that strong, so perhaps there are less depressing examepls that I do not know about.

I think all of those generals had some pretty disastrous notions at critical junctures, and needed to be checked, even though I think that they were all outstanding leaders at varoious points in their careers, at certain tasks.

Posted by: anonymous | 22 September 2010 at 02:00 PM"

I'm not sure why you'd include Patton on this list. While I agree that Patton was an egomaniac who was mentally unbalanced, his command level wasn't high enough to matter in terms of civil military relations. The bottom line is that Patton was a gifted operational commander with delusions of grandeur who'd have serious lapses leading to self-doubt (To say that the man was a walking contradiction is a gross understatement). Patton thought he "knew better" than Ike and certainly Montgomery. That's not a challenge to the civilian authority and there are plenty of historians and former high ranking British generals like Lord Carver (who became the youngest brigade commander when he took over the 4th Armoured under Montgomery), David William Fraser, Edwin Bramall who now believe that Patton was right. All had fought with the 21st Army Group in 1944. (cf. Max Hastings, _Armaggedon, p.73)

As for his idiotic comments about the Nazi Party being just another political party, he freely admitted that he knew nothing about politics. At the same time he had absolutely no desire to dabble in it either. He loved soldiering and even Ike had admitted that it was a great mistake to place Patton as the military governor of Bavaria. They should've transferred Patton to the Pacific (his first choice of assignment which was never going to happen as MacArthur didn't want him) or made him the commandant of the Army CGSC (his second choice) and let him retire after the reorganization of the postwar Army. As for his reluctance to denazify, he said it simply that the postwar chaos had prevented him doing it at the rate satisfactory to Lucius Clay or Ike. Besides this was never an issue with either of them until Patton had opened his big fat mouth and shoved in both feet.

As for his comments regarding the Soviets, well that was the emerging sentiment as more American and British soldiers interacted with the Red Army. Anthony Beevor recounts some of that as more details became known on the conduct of the Soviet soldiers in their zone. To this day there's not been a satisfactory answer to why Patton was placed in a situation where he was most unsuited to carry out his tasks. Maybe Ike wanted to "deter" the Red Army as Stalin had the highest regard for Patton's generalship. The Austrian question had not been resolved at the time.

SAC Brat

MacArthur sent many radiograms to Washington describing his actions defending the Philippines during the Japanese invasion that diverged from reports from other sources.

Norbert N, Salamon


A very interesting analysis of the topic at ahnd. Read and enjopy,and perhaps criticize:



Somehow, it seems to me that things are out of whack with the generals. On a different line, but on point on the issue of civillian control, here is an interesting post on a legal blog about the "Fourth Branch"


One other thought is that Gen P can get away it. What's Obama gonna do? Fire 2 generals in the span of a year? What's this, a banana army or professional corps? As everyone mentioned, this is Obama's war now and he will not back down till he hands over the POTUS job as a 1 term or 2 term guy to someone else to deal with.

Just think of the false narrative that will build up.
Of course, he wants to "lose" the war. That's the way the Republicans will say it.

Your long national nightmare is still going strong till the next election at least. And if he wins, possibly another 4 more.


Patrick Lang


He can fire any number of generals if he has the balls to do so. pl


Blame frank herbert for everyone misunderstanding what jihad means.


Lincoln fired many generals until he settled on U.S. Grant. Whatever it takes to get the job done right.


"I knew Johns of course. he was Commandant the first two years I was there. I had too many demerits the first year. Several upper classmen did not like me. Strange."

"He can fire any number of generals if he has the balls to do so. pl"

Sir, ever since the Yingling piece about the promotion of generals, I've viewed colonels very differently.

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