Sunday, November 21, 2004

Review of American Soldier - General Tommy Franks

I just finished reading American Soldier by General Tommy Franks this afternoon. Here's my review of the book.

Let me just say before I get too far into it, General Franks is a military genius. The man took lessons from every point in his life and helped shape our military doctrine for years to come. At the start of the Second Iraq War, General Franks wisely sent a memo to the Department of Defense that could have cost him his command and his career but he felt so strongly that his first responsibility lay to the men and women under his command. The point of this memo was to put the new generation of "whiz kids" on notice not to mess with the war plan and try to micro-manage the war like Vietnam.

Here's a quote from the book that gives us some insight to the character of General Franks. "In the closing of my memo, I had reminded Wolfowitz of the moral compass that would guide me in the days ahead: I carry an American Flag and a Bible in my pocket, and I wear a wedding band on my left hand. I understand the mission and the strategic context within which it will be accomplished. I will become tentative only when directed to do so."

This is remarkably frank (no pun) in it's telling of the events leading up to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It's amazing some of the events that happen behind the scenes and heartening to find out that our leaders in Washington D.C. left the military to do there job. Here's an example, on the first morning of the war during a briefing with DefSec Rumsfeld and Chairman of the JCS Myers this exchange took place.

"What are your plans for the 4th Infantry, Tom?" Rumsfeld asked. "I want to keep the ships in the Med a while longer, Sir," I said. "The docks in Kuwait are still crowded. It will take only six days for the 4th ID's sea convoy to get to Kuwait once they receive the movement order, and it makes no sense for them to sit at anchor in the harbor. The division is serving a better purpose as a feint force." That's your call, Tom," Don Rumsfeld said. "Everyone in Washington is behind you, Tom," Rumsfeld said at the end of the VTC (video teleconference).

I enjoyed the book and recommend it to anyone looking for an insider’s account of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. General Franks came from humble beginnings to do great things in his life. As one of our greatest generals, we owe him a debt that we will never repay for his service. His legacy to the military will be the realization of armed forces learning to truly fight jointly. One last quote, "A 3rd ID sergeant in a Bradley controlled more firepower then a Desert Storm armored battalion." That is a powerful testament to the power of our military.

If you get the book enjoy, later....................

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