Pogo: We have met the enemy and he is us."
If we can believe the congressional testimony given by JCS Chairman, General Mark A. Milley, and by CentCom Commander, General Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr., the two officers told President Biden* that President Bidenís* plan to withdraw from Afghanistan was unworkable and that the retention of at least 2,500 troops in Afghanistan was essential.
If, indeed, President Biden* was given that advice by the Chairman of the JCS who, by law, is the principal military adviser to the President and by General McKenzie, the overall commander of the troops that were in Afghanistan, why on earth would those generals carry out an order they knew was destined to fail?
Quoted below is a passage from Sound Military Decision, a textbook used at the U.S. Naval War College since 1942 and is referenced in the suggested readings. Apparently, General Milley, who is a graduate of the U.S. Naval War College, became our militaryís highest-ranking officer without understanding the wisdom to be found in Sound Military Decision which states as follows:
"...But what if the military feels that the only military strategy that the civilian leadership will approve is unworkable? What if the military strategy is sound enough but inadequate means are provided for its accomplishment or it is not allowed to be undertaken under favorable conditions? What then is the duty of the military under its contract?"
It is suggested here that even though theirs is an autocratic or feudal contract, the civilian master did not intend to contract with his military servant for a military defeat. Indeed, the purpose of the contract is to achieve the aims of policy. It is not to achieve the destruction of the master and his servant. This imputes to the servant the need to say to his master, "If I try to do your bidding without adequate means and/or under unfavorable conditions it will result in our mutual destruction. Master, I am certain that was not your intention. I cannot, as your loyal servant, execute the military strategy you have approved under these circumstances. For this reason, you must find someone else to carry out your orders, because I cannot, as your loyal servant, be the instrument of your destruction."
Given this conception of the proper civil-military relationship, why on earth did General Milley and General McKenzie not resign rather than carry out a plan they had to know was doomed to fail?
Shortly, after the Capitol protests on January 6, 2021, General Milley testified he received a call from Speaker Pelosi, asking about the mental health of President Trump and if General Milley could counterman orders from President Trump? Apparently, Speaker Pelosi did not understand that the Chairman of the JCS is not in the chain of command and is forbidden, by law, from exercising command over any member of the military. Was Speaker Pelosi testing to see if General Milley would lead a "Seven Days in May" military coup? Without a transcript of Pelosiís call, we canít know for sure.
But surely, our nation deserves better than high officials who do not understand the fundamentals of how our government is organized and how the civil-military relationship is supposed to work.
* Election is increasingly disputed.
Suggested Reading or Viewing: Sound Military Decision, U.S. Naval War College, 1942; pages 324-325 of War During Peace: A Strategy for Defeat, Pegasus Imprimis Press, (2021); "Seven Days in May,"(1962). Re-made as "The Enemy Within," (1994).
©2021. William Hamilton.