Friday, August 04, 2006

USNA Sup. - Draft Lt. Gen. Mattis --- NOW

In the nightmare that has become Annapolis, the only hope is a wholescale clearing of the staff, and a total refocus by a leader of unquestioned clarity. By this one quote alone, the clear choice to save the Unites States Naval Academy is Lt. Gen. Mattis.

The central purpose of this book is to illustrate the qualities that make the study of history so important to military leaders, and at the same time, consider what makes it so difficult and challenging for those who choose to engage in it. Not long after the seizure of Baghdad in April 2003, a Marine Corps instructor at the National War College wrote to his former boss, then Major General James Mattis, commanding the 1st Marine Division during the invasion, asking how Mattis would reply to officers who discount history as having little relevance or utility to their military careers. Mattis wrote back:

Ultimately a real understanding of history means that we face nothing new under the sun. For all the “Fourth Generation of War” intellectuals running around today saying that the nature of war has fundamentally changed, the tactics are wholly new, etc., I must respectfully say: “Not really.” Alex the Great would not be in the least perplexed by the enemy that we face right now in Iraq, and our leaders going into this fight do their troops a disservice by not studying (studying, vice just reading) the men who have gone before us. We have been fighting on this planet for 5000 years and we should take advantage of their experience. “Winging it” and filling body bags as we sort out what works reminds us of the moral dictates and the cost of competence in our profession.

Hat tip Sid.

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