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"Modern Generals & Greatness" Topic


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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian04 Dec 2017 6:52 a.m. PST

In Great Battles of the Ancient World, author Richard A. Gabriel asserts that modern generals lack the opportunity for greatness as real military power lies with governments today.

Do you agree?

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP04 Dec 2017 7:42 a.m. PST

More to do with Technology,

You aren't going to show yourself as a great general, when you simply bomb your enemy to the stone age(an enemy already far below you in military power)

Maybe in a new world war were both/all sides are more or less equal in technology you might be able to separate the great from the meh.

But when war is mostly, lase the target, drop a bomb, send in some soldiers, rinse and repeat, you aren't going to stand out.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP04 Dec 2017 7:49 a.m. PST

Not sure what he means by "greatness", but by any standard I can come up with, no.

In the modern era, many former generals have gone on to more influential positions which required the consensus of the governed, heavily influenced by their military reputations.

Also, this may just be an effect of "government" and "military" being less distinct the further into the past you go (in general (tee-hee), not absolutely).

USAFpilot04 Dec 2017 8:56 a.m. PST

Modern generals lack the opportunity for greatness because there hasn't been a major war since WWII. Greatness emerges in times of crisis were failure means the nation is destroyed. Even though there are small conflicts currently all over the world; none of these compare in scope to the massiveness of WWII and earlier wars. I would certainly consider many of the generals during WWII and earlier wars as great. But today we essentially have a peace time military with no opportunity to show greatness. If our nation was seriously at war we wouldn't be having discussions about recruitment standards, and aircraft maintenance shortfalls, and transgender issues, etc. Instead everyone who could fight would fight and the entire nation would be put on a wartime economy. The entire focus of the nation would be on survival by winning the war. I realize that most of us cannot even relate to this concept of war because we have never experienced it in our short lifetime.

Technology is always changing as we move into the future. Just as gunpowder revolutionized warfare and aviation and space technologies; there will always be something new which takes warfare in a new direction, but we will always need exceptional leaders. These leaders will rise to the top during times of great struggle.

28mm Fanatik04 Dec 2017 9:24 a.m. PST

Generals (Alexander, Julius Caesar, Frederick, Napoleon etc.) were also statesmen in the past when empires were built, even if they rather conquer than rule but now the military, and by extension generals, answer to civilian authorities. It's the bedrock of modern, democratic civilized societies.

That isn't to say generals can't be popular and revered. If a general does not tarnish his reputation with political or personal scandals, he will still be fondly remembered. It's ironic perhaps that the last such general is humble and had no personal ambitions for greatness, Norman Schwartzkopf.

Oberlindes Sol LIC04 Dec 2017 10:14 a.m. PST

Instead everyone who could fight would fight and the entire nation would be put on a wartime economy. The entire focus of the nation would be on survival by winning the war.
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Agreed.

That is a sign of the success -- political, diplomatic, technological, economic, military -- of all of the major powers and developed countries, which haven't had to do that since 1945.

Generals (Alexander, Julius Caesar, Frederick, Napoleon etc.) were also statesmen in the past when empires were built, even if they rather conquer than rule but now the military, and by extension generals, answer to civilian authorities.
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A general can still be great even if he has to answer to civilian authorities. The Allied generals of WW2 included some great men who remained subordinate to civilian authorities, and, indeed, built their greatness on the legitimacy of their actions in the war.

Dynaman878904 Dec 2017 3:27 p.m. PST

"Wars not make one great"

Legion 405 Dec 2017 5:38 a.m. PST

More to do with Technology,
You aren't going to show yourself as a great general, when you simply bomb your enemy to the stone age(an enemy already far below you in military power)
Maybe in a new world war were both/all sides are more or less equal in technology you might be able to separate the great from the meh.
But when war is mostly, lase the target, drop a bomb, send in some soldiers, rinse and repeat, you aren't going to stand out.
I don't have a problem with that … Killing bad guys and not losing your own troops works for me …

A general can still be great even if he has to answer to civilian authorities. The Allied generals of WW2 included some great men who remained subordinate to civilian authorities, and, indeed, built their greatness on the legitimacy of their actions in the war.
That has generally has worked very well for the USA for quite sometime now. thumbs up IMO, Save for a couple recent examples …

"Wars not make one great"
In many cases it makes one dead … Which IMO there is nothing wrong with that if the "right" ones die. E.g. ISIS, AQ, Taliban, BH, AS, IRGC, NoKo military/leadership, off the top of my head …

And as far as I'm concerned, Schwarzkopf, McCrystal and Petraus based on the current "states" of wars we have found ourselves in … were "great" … IMO …

28mm Fanatik05 Dec 2017 6:56 a.m. PST

Current or more recent generals lack the legendary status/reputation of past ones though, like Pershing, Ike, Patton, Bradley and MacArthur. Fighting insurgency wars are just not as glamorous.

Schwarzkopf came pretty close because GW1 was a quick and decisive conventional victory which played to American strengths. Franks, McChrystal and Petraeus led in wars that bogged down into quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan so won't be held in the same regard in the history books. They're probably closer to Westmoreland by comparison, unfortunately.

Legion 405 Dec 2017 12:20 p.m. PST

Fighting insurgency wars are just not as glamorous.
Yes, it has a tendency to not be very quick and very "dirty" generally …
Franks, McChrystal and Petraeus led in wars that bogged down into quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan so won't be held in the same regard in the history books. They're probably closer to Westmoreland by comparison, unfortunately.
When they were in command they made many correct decisions, and "right moves", etc. But yes, they may be held in comparison to Westmoreland by some. But I think if one digs a little deeper that comparison won't be as close. But as the old saying goes, "Success has many Father's, but failure is an orphan." Sometimes I think Westmoreland is "vilified" a bit more than he should be. He had a lot of "help". From that place along a river where cherry blossoms bloom in the Spring.

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP06 Dec 2017 10:17 a.m. PST

USMC junior enlisted think General Mattis is a great general. He led from the front when he could, motivated by example and not words and was known to get s--- faced drunk doing shots with Lance Corporals.

Mattis Quotes: link

Wolfhag

Legion 406 Dec 2017 2:51 p.m. PST

He certainly has some "colorful" not too PC quotes ! thumbs up

Apache 608 Dec 2017 8:44 a.m. PST

I'd suggest that General Mattis, General Dunford, and General Kelley are all well respected inside the Corps (junior Marines, SNCOs and Officers), inside the DOD, and by Americans in general.

It's actually fairly troubling that the Nation has to turn so dramatically to the military for trusted leadership. I'm afraid that identity politics and 'exaggeration of attacks' against politicians has undermined the publics trust in politicians.

28mm Fanatik08 Dec 2017 11:27 a.m. PST

Maybe that's because Generals are typically less partisan and political than career politicians from what we've seen so far in American history (Washington, Jackson, Grant and Eisenhower).

Legion 408 Dec 2017 2:27 p.m. PST


It's actually fairly troubling that the Nation has to turn so dramatically to the military for trusted leadership. I'm afraid that identity politics and 'exaggeration of attacks' against politicians has undermined the publics trust in politicians.

Maybe that's because Generals are typically less partisan and political than career politicians

Very much agree … However some in the media and the general population still harbor some anti-military, anti-higher ranks, etc., beliefs, etc. … Albeit that percentage is few, but occasionally very vocal.

Recently we have seen a few former military leaders disappoint not only those of us that have served. But many civilians, in many walks of life … sadly …

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