The following is a bit dated, but highly appropriate - timeless in a sense - because it is worth keeping as a reminder. The Wall Street Journal refused to publish this letter written by Jim Nalepa. It was forwarded by MGEN Hank Sterling, USAF (Ret), and 1948 graduate of USMA, to BGen Bob Clements, USAF (Ret.), who shared it with us:
BRAINS ARE NOT ISSUED WITH RANK
By Jim Nalepa
As a West Point graduate, I can assure that we took our military history seriously. Most graduates remember the lessons of “The History of the Military Art” others have obviously forgotten. Most Americans would not recall the significance of the date, April 9th as they watched the statue of Saddam Hussein topple in Baghdad and his Ambassador to the United Nations declare “The game is over.”
One hundred And thirty eight years ago, on April the 9th, 1865 at Appomattox Courthouse, Robert E Lee, West Point Class of 1829, surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant, West Point Class of 1843 to end the bloodiest war in our nation's history, the Civil War. There are significant historical lessons to be derived in contrasting Operation Iraqi Freedom and our own Civil War as well as a comparison of West Point generals in both
The motto of the United States Military Academy is “Duty, Honor, and Country.” Unfortunately, a few generals (all West Point graduates) have become “armchair analysts” for whom it seems their motto could be “Demagoguery, Hubris, and Contempt.” More specifically, I speak of General Eric Shinseki, the irrelevant Army Chief of Staff (West Point 1965); General (ret.) Barry McCaffrey, former Clinton Drug Czar (West Point 1964); and General (ret.) Wesley Clark (West Point 1966), former NATO Commander and aspiring Democrat Party presidential or vice presidential nominee.
All of these men, through public pontification dammed the strategy of this war. General Shinseki called for hundreds of thousands more troops to get the job done. General McCaffrey, only four days into active general combat, wrote a contemptuous article on these pages predicting doom and a protracted conflict. General Wesley Clark joined in the anti-American chorus on CNN to question, erroneously, why supply lines had stretched so thin? Why all this wailing and teeth gnashing from men who heretofore proved themselves valiant in combat as junior officers in Viet Nam and the first Gulf War? The George McClellan syndrome fits all too well.
Gen. George B. McClellan (West Point 1846), commanded the Union Army in the early days of the Civil War. A pompous man who held Abraham Lincoln in utter contempt, built an army of well over 150,000 men and embarked on a campaign to capture Richmond and bring a swift end to the southern rebellion. To historians, this is known as the Peninsular Campaign, one of the greatest failures in the annals of American military history.
Faced by a confederate force of barely 40,000 soldiers, McClellan hesitated, begged for more troops, worried about long supply lines and basically attacked piecemeal until he deluded himself into believing that the rebels held superior numbers on the field of battle. Had McClellan, with a vastly superior force, struck decisively toward Richmond, (as we did at Baghdad), the Civil War conceivably would have been brought to a swift conclusion, saving millions of lives, both soldiers and civilians. McClellan, after being relieved of command and sent on his way, eventually became the Democrat Party nominee for President in 1864 and was soundly defeated by Lincoln.
Generals Clark, McCaffrey and Shinseki are nothing more than the heirs of the McClellan legacy, political generals, who have forgotten our motto for their own self-aggrandizement. Where were these three when their patron, Bill Clinton, decimated the U.S. Army in the 1990's, almost halving our forces for the sake of the phony “peace dividend?” This unilateral disarmament gave our enemies hope and portrayed us as both militarily and politically weak. Why weren't their voices heard as brave men (Black Hawk Down) were sacrificed in Somalia because Clinton and his Secretary of Defense, Les Aspin, wouldn't authorize the use of armor forces, which the field commanders earnestly had sought? As we know now our failure in Somalia was the impetus for Bin Laden's “9-11” attack. Simple: These three were being politically correct, behaving as the military hating administration told them to, and putting on their second, third and fourth stars.
Some basic questions to each of them: General McCaffrey, how did the last “war” you fought, the war on drugs, go on your watch? General Shinseki, isn't it great to know that all you will be remembered for is giving the army black berets made in France? General Clark, will continued political correctness really get you the Democrat party nomination for President or even Vice President? If not you could succeed Chirac in France.
The conduct of these men while our troops are under fire is reprehensible and, fortunately, stands in stark contrast to General Franks, who conceived and commanded what by any measure has been a brilliant Iraqi campaign. While not a West Point graduate, General Franks is surrounded by graduates of the military academy who have loyally supported him and the Iraqi Freedom campaign from day one. Men such as LTG John Abizaid (West Point 1973) Gen. Frank's chief deputy, Col. David Perkins, Commander of the 2nd Brigade, Third Infantry Division, the first unit into Baghdad (West Point 1980); and Capt. James Adamouski (West Point 1995), killed in combat. When this great victory is finally assessed, those are the men who are the heirs of Grant, Patton and Schwarzkopf.
As to the modern McClellan's - just like the Iraqi regime, it's the dustbin of history for them.
If you need to verify this letter, Mr. Nalepa can be reached at: email@example.com. He is a 1978 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. During active service he was assigned to the 2nd Brigade, Third Infantry Division, in Germany and the 82nd Airborne Division. He is a veteran of the Grenada Rescue mission in 1983. Mr. Nalepa, who runs an exclusive Executive Search firm, is a frequent guest on military and foreign affairs in the Chicago area, with many appearances on the highly rated WTTW program “Chicago Tonight” Entitled Health Care for All Military Retirees.