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I was recently asked my opinion on our current crop of senior military leaders. Where do you begin? The military always starts reports with the Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF).

I’m not impressed. They seem uninvolved, uncaring for their troops, and worst, they seem accountable to no one. As a child, I was raised by the WW2 generation. Leaders like Eisenhower, MacArthur, Halsey, Mitchell, Patton, and LeMay were still considered inspirational leaders.

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Today we have General Milley, Admiral  Gidlay, General Brown, and Secretary of Defense Austin. Perhaps when these leaders were junior officers they held a desire to lead, win, and take care of their troops. Today I see men more interested in undermining good order and discipline. For example, what adverse action was taken against the leadership for the afghan evacuation? Any resignations or prosecutions? Only one. A Marine Lieutenant for speaking out demanding accountability. Granted, he did it wrong, but he was the sole voice in the wilderness.

Has Milley answered his call to China promising advance warning of US attack? Nope. In my world, that would have resulted in a charge of sedition. Additionally, Milley has been accused of being “woke.” Here are the reasons for that allegation: supports teaching at West Point “Understanding Whiteness and White Rage” and my favorite quote in defense of this course “I want to understand the white rage, and I’m white.” How about teaching teamwork or how to fight and win?

Admiral Gidlay is actively shrinking the number of ships in the Navy. In the 1980s we were trying to build up to a 600-ship Navy. Today we have less than 300. Congress has demanded we get to 350 ships. How does Gidlay proceed? By attempting to retire the entire littoral combat fleet which is less than 10 years old, scraping ships in the latter stages of overhaul, and parking LA class attack submarines. Let’s also ignore the massive increase in suicides amongst our junior sailors.

On the USAF side, General Brown has been in charge for only 2 years. But what we are seeing is the parts starvation of the A10. That aircraft has been the only close air support airplane in the USAF inventory. The F22 and F35 are designed for air superiority, not as tank killers like the A10. Both China and Russia have extensive stocks of armored vehicles. Glad I’m not in the infantry. Also, they’ve been pretty quiet on the grounding of f35s due to ejection seat problems.

Why has Secretary of Defense Austin pushed Ukrainian support to be limited to defensive weapons only? How do you win a war in a defense? And he knows better. Why isn’t he advocating for a decent pay increase for our troops? 4.9% increase in the face of 10% inflation is not cutting it.

So when I mentioned taking care of your troops, you start with pay. Junior troops are on food stamps and WIC programs. How about the mold-contaminated barracks at Fort Bliss, water sources at Pearl Harbor, mold in family housing units, and so much more? The Department of Defense is also trying to cut the number of medical personnel on active duty. We deploy with these people to combat zones, not the nurses at your local acute care.

My biggest issue is that none of this current crop of leaders knows how to win. They are report card generals. Do your troops have their shots? is their pt score reported, and have they conducted their inventories? They are risk averse. Do not let your troops screw up and make me look bad. This mindset leads to micromanagement and frustrated troops. Trust me, I’ve seen it.

As a junior officer, I learned that to win a war, you must destroy your enemy’s will to fight. And the age-old rule “you bring a knife, I bring a gun” has been forgotten. All of which results in dead Americans. And when we see these dead Americans at the Kabul Airport, no one is held to account.

Author: A retired Army Colonel with 38 years of experience who earned a bronze star for his service in Afghanistan.

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