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Seagull Commanders

09/28/04 | by david2 [mail] | Categories: General
An op ed piece in Military Week has an opinion on the current administration's leadership capabilities.

An absence of leadership qualities in our military leaders gives rise to terms like "Seagull" Colonels and Generals, a species known to swoop in, make a lot of noise, crap all over everything, and then fly away. But our seagulls had an advantage over Bush and Cheney. Regardless of the mistakes made and not remedied, regardless of the illogic, stupidity and sheer idiocy of our present unit's existence under a seagull commander, at least we could be 100% sure they wouldn't be around for long.

High level incompetence seems to be the natural sea-state of our militarized foreign policy, launching forth with the proud Guardsman George W. Bush at the helm and Dick "Other Priorities" Cheney as navigator.

This track record of sheer stupidity, hubris and other seagull qualities is marred only by the existence of rare officers, like retired Marine General Tony Zinni, who knew their job, led their men and women, and spoke the truth to power about the inanity of the plan to invade Iraq early on. Looking further for aberrations to the rule, we find retired Army General William Odom, conservative through and through, who speaks the truth about Bush's fantasy adventure in Iraq, politely but publicly calling it "a strategic error."

Retired officers and NCOs have had their opportunity, and we are all armchair quarterbacks now. What about active duty soldiers and Marines, who have recently seen both ugly ends of the Bush-Cheney foreign policy baby?

The words of Generals Zinni and Odom are echoed in the more earthy vernacular of thousands of military members in tanks, humvees, cockpits, trucks and mess halls and tents. These words reveal the most important tenet of leadership. With competence, an ability to learn from mistakes, and humility, there is a final critical ingredient. Leadership must demonstrate a hard-headed, stubborn and almost masochistic recognition of the truth, the harsher the better.

On the truth about Iraq, Bush and Cheney have told us it's going just fine, we are killing the appointed number of "terrorists" and "evil doers." We are winning, they say. From the key top officers, whether General Casey, General Abizaid, General Meyers or any of the lesser flag officers on active duty today, we hear only a ricochet of the President's fantasies, or else deafening silence.

But from lower ranking soldiers and marines, we hear plenty. One former marine refers to Iraq as "Bush's Magical Middle Eastern Mystery Tour." He explains why we will leave Iraq, eventually, with nothing. It is one of the rules that should have been learned early on by all leaders, even mediocre ones. Apparently Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld missed the lecture called "Nobody wins a shitstorm."

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