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29 December 2010


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Charles I

Colonel, what of the justification that letters in the jacket could have an existential - god I'm sick of that word, sorry - deadly "chilling" effect in the field?

Chill trumps accountability, the way national security/disclosure refusals sometimes trumps a prosecution? No letter for an active duty officer, ever, the new bar?

'Tarnish on the blade" certainly contextualizes first-glance bureaucratic shamelessness, which you've railed at many a time, in a for me. Never mind the actual opportunity costs of a chill-free zone.



I cannot give a rational comment. All war is FUBAR. But, to blame the troopers for failure of intelligence, inadequate manpower, and the lack of water and fire support is criminal.

The demands of the Forever War along with Revolving Door Corruption outweigh the truth. Leadership that creates its own reality has fallen off the deep end.

Patrick Lang


Brigadier FB Ali, VV, johnst, billwade et al among the soldiers here were raised to believe that commanders are to be held responsible for all that happens in their command, good or bad with no excuses accepted. To let these officers off the hook is to corrupt the institution. pl

Adam L Silverman

Sir: MG Schloesser, the former commander of the 101st Airbourne Division retired voluntarily. According to information reported by Tom Ricks (link below) this was because he faced no consequence for what happened at Wanat as he was the regional commander for that part of the Afgan mission at the time:

Unfortunately this is the type of general you want to retain.

Patrick Lang


Good for Schloesser. pl

frank durkee

As a short term member of the post-Korea and pre-Nam brown shoe armyCol. Langs point was very forcefully made to everyone I knew or served with. It has served me welll in my working life both
within and without the Episcopal church. Sometimes "absolutes" act to focus the reality of borh responsibility and contingency around ones capacity to resopnd to it. If they are gone, something has gone missing from our military that I long held as perhaps impossible and yet a lodestone. If you can't CYA you might as well seek to make it work and accept the consequences. The change subtly and profoundly alters the reality of "being in charge".

Richard Armstrong

Command is the authority that a commander in the military service lawfully exercises over subordinates by virtue of rank or assignment. Command includes the leadership, authority, responsibility, and accountability for effectively using available resources and planning the employment of, organizing, directing, coordinating, and controlling military forces to accomplish assigned missions. (FMI 5-0)

Sounds to me like Gen. Charles C. Campbell needs to read FMI 5-0 again.

Here is a quote from Sen. James Webb (of Virginia), "Centcom conducted an intensive, three month independent investigation, which concluded that the company, battalion and brigade commanders were 'derelict in the performance of their duties through neglect or culpable inefficiency,' " he said. "I find it deeply troubling that the Army has exonerated these officers and in the process rejected the findings of the independent review."

"(D)erelict in the performance of their duties". Yup. I can see how that might have a "chilling effect" on one's career if it were to be filed in one's 201 file.

Sidney O. Smith III

At least in the civilian world, when a “brother” stabs another in the back, it takes about 15 years to recover. The problem is particularly acute when the “brothers” who are older and in positions of greater authority are the ones who stab the younger ones in the back.

If the corruption is institution wide, then it takes the institution about 15 years to recover…if ever at all.

It’s a Cain-Abel kind of wound -- one that unleashes what the Greeks called the Furies. It will fragment the “brotherhood”. Sure enough guaranteed.


I was hoping this would be on your radar today. I knew as soon as I heard it earlier today, you would probably have a comment. I'm not happy with the results.


A 4000 page report. Overtuned by a RE General.
Perfumed Princery at its finest. Blame the dead leut, he is conveniently not here to respond.
Yet it is so understandable, it is the Colin Powell -- My Lai mindset at work, it is bureaucracy as always.
If the OP was so poorly sited, why did the Captain or the Major or the Colonel suggest to the leut that he has made an error? Did they not visit the FB?

The Twisted Genius

This is shameful. The reason given for removing blame from these officers is especially shameful. The company and battalion commanders were found to be derelict in their duties in the initial investigations. However, General Charles Campbell said that "the letters of reprimand would have a chilling effect on other battlefield commanders." Bullshit! It's supposed to have a chilling effect. It's supposed to remind officers that they better do their duty or face swift and serious consequences. This is a sad day for the Army that I love.

At least MG Schloesser still felt the responsibility of command. He could have skated free to continue his career. He was apparently up for his third star. Okay, he didn't commit seppuku, but that's not our way. His retirement shows me that there are still officers that hold the responsibilities of command sacred. I fear he may be in the minority.


Blame the dead, cover your ass, call in chits at the officers’ club.

Those are the lessons learned.

Death by dereliction for the enlisted men there.

No territory gained, no good affirmed, no justice for our dead.

Honor stolen by no account mother fuckers.

Patrick Lang


You are out of touch. They are too puritanical now to go to the officers' club. In many places there is none. Also, you are making the mistake of thinking or wanting to think that officers are all the same. pl


the disasters in the Crimean war were also officially investigated and cause was attributed to non arrival of a shipment of hay, due to stress of weather.


there are more than enough historic accounts of afghan stealth in overrunning outposts.

there will be more wanats.

Patrick Lang


You not our usual "B." He is a German and does not want to be confused with someone else. Use another name. pl


Lon Chaney Jr. to Gary Cooper in "High Noon":

"You risk your skin catching killers and the juries turn them loose so they can come back and shoot at you again. If you're honest you're poor your whole life and in the end you wind up dying all alone on some dirty street. For what? For nothing. For a tin star."

But Cooper stayed and did what he thought was right.

John Wayne said he thought the movie was "the most un-American thing I’ve ever seen in my whole life". But "Eisenhower loved the film and frequently screened it in the White House".

Two Americas. The question is which one is winning. I wonder if Eisenhower was the last good President we've had.

William R. Cumming

This ARMY is long since out of touch with the world's oldest and richest democracy (Republic)!

But when you consider that since 1992 the Commanders-In-Chief have been deeply corrupt in their pretensions to that leadership position could it be any other result?
But ultimately assuming that we are still a ddemocracy we do get the leaders we want and deserve, just may not be those we need. And we certainly don't need leadership that is in uniform and mounted on white horses. Perhaps if honesty were to prevail and now some clouded vision of a "city on a hill" it should go back to the history of second WW and understanding how really really close Germany came to winning in 1940-41! A really honest appraisal of the US in combat and its successes and failure is badly needed.
Looks like Wanat is a Kasserine Pass to me!


Me thinks "tarnish" might be too kind (gentle?) a word to describe what has happened to 'the blade', and what is happening to 'the blade'.

The 'blade' is causing the tarnish. Albeit helped by others. And only the 'blade' can stop the rot.

My two cents. But personally, I also think it is too late. Something is gone. And I don't think it will come back. But then again, old men are always underestimating what 'comes back'. Still....



This is just the type of thing FB Ali was alluding to in his recent post "Whistling past the graveyard". Here's one of the articles he linked to:
Neil Richardson also had a link to a quite telling article.

I think we are heading for deep trouble if this is the standard of leadership. It was bad enough in the civilian world with the likes of 'Kennyboy' Lay at Enron. He was once W's biggest political backer. Their standard of ethics seems to be taking over the institutional integrity of the Army that developed Marshal and Eisenhower.

William R. Cumming

The leadership of WWII for the US was forged in the trenches of WWI and the almost miraculous effort to ship over 2 million men to France in 1917 and 1918. John Eisenhower's book on the efforts of Pershing and the US military is the real story of US success in WWII. The US learned. France did not nor did some others. We won because we learned the discipline of 20th Century warfare the fastest. Now however those that would make the US military a learning organization are not encouraged. That is why this blog is important and PL hoping you will focus more on the 21st century military needs of the US. You are one of the few able to look backwards and forwards. Perhaps a new military MOS for the anthropologists? The Linguists need to be honored in their own time and those that understand the cultures of the world's. Personally I view the 21st Century as the struggle for dominance in Eurasia of the German and Chinese condominiums. The Russians ain't got a clue that their kleptocracy is destroying their future. Likely Russia's future will be west of URALS. And Siberia will go to the HAN Chinese. If you look at critical Chinese water resources you can understand why China invaded Tibet in 1959 and will never let go.
And for the first time in over a Century the US will not provide a counterweight to either the Germans or Chinese. We will be a supplier and that is all. Neither of these nation-states is tied up in religion as is the US and the Islamic World. Watch how these two nation states treat minorities and religions that threaten violence. Again the bottom line is the US did a nice job of shooting itself in foot post-9/11/01! Crippled itself perhaps for all time.



"We won because we learned the discipline of 20th Century warfare the fastest."

With the greatest respect, the Germans taught you, and you were good students. The Germans didn't have your resoucres and what resources Germany did have were extremely poorly managed.

For example, the ME262 would have destroyed the American Air Force were it not for vacillation of the German Government and armed forces that postponed its entry until it was irrelevant..


I am just about ready to throw up after reading the concluding sentence of the report:

"The choice to withdraw was difficult and serves as an excellent example of the tough decisions that US commanders had to make on a regular basis in Afghanistan in 2007-2008.

Words fail me. It's really all about the poor overworked commanders isn't it?


I'm reminded of the story behind the phrase, "Pour encourager les autres."

In the battle of Minorca, a British flotilla drove off a French flotilla, so the British might claim victory. However:
- British casualties were higher than expected
- the garrison at Minorca was not relieved, so no strategic or even tactical objective was achieved
- Byng, the admiral in charge, followed standard orders, with no initiative at all

Byng was later put on trial and executed for his failure to relieve the garrison or prevent casualties.

In one of Voltaire's plays, he had a character say that the British like to hang an admiral from time to time, to motivate the others/"pour encourager les autres"

Now, that was a power which was rising in part because of real accountability.

William R. Cumming

Walrus! I would argue development and production of the ME262 rather than V1 and V2 would have been a better choice. But hey we (US) still build new carriers!


It's an honor that a 1st LT, a few years out of college, takes the wrap as it was HE and his fellow MEN who gave their lives for our country so many of their superiors could write papers on end to whitewash their errors.

It is not an honor for our country to initially go into Afghanistan after AQ and still be there ten years later fighting the Pashtun people. We have lost sight of what we went there for in the beginning.

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