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Friday, December 28, 2012

Libertarians pay tribute to General Norman Schwarzkopf (1934-2012)

"He [Saddam Hussein] is neither a strategist, nor is he a tactician, nor is he a general, nor is he a soldier." -- General Norman Schwarzkopf (1934-2012)

by Clifford F. Thies

It is instructive that General Schwarzkopf said that Saddam Hussein was not a soldier. For a soldier serves his country, offering if necessary his life in that service, sometimes protecting a way of life that he personally must postpone and may never actually live himself. General Schwarzkopf, a soldier, retired soon after the Persian Gulf War, assumed a mostly private life, and now has "just faded away."

General Schwarzkopf, as theatre commander, and General Colin Powell, serving as Chief of Staff, seemed to book-end the range of skill-sets encompassing a general officer. General Schwarzkopf, the fighter, and General Powell, the diplomat. Yet, each embodied the full range of general officer skills, including most importantly the skill of leadership.

I remember the key moments of Operation Desert Storm. A brigade of my old unit, 2nd Armored Division, was attached to U.S. Marine Command, which was to push up along the shore to Kuwait City, in order to give the Marines some more tanks. Another brigade of the 2nd Armored Division was attached to the tank-heavy Army Central Command, to the west, which was to envelope and destroy the bulk of Saddam Hussein's army in Kuwait.

Except, I thought, what if Army Central Command turned west, to Baghdad, instead of east, and rely primarily on the air force to destroy any of Saddam's forces that tried to follow?

With a half million men armed with tanks and other weapon systems a generation or more ahead of the equipment in Saddam's military, and with the support of our European and Arab allies, we could have lanced the boil and accomplish the job of deposing Saddam Hussein twenty years ago. Instead, ten more years of sanctions and hardship befell the people of Iraq, and then another ten years of war and anarchy.

But, General Schwarzkopf was a soldier, and when his commander, the President of the United States, ordered him to call off the dogs of war, that's what he did.

The guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier shows no rank on his uniform. This is because there is no rank in the next life for a soldier. And, so it is that we say farewell to our friend and comrade, Norman Schwarzkopf.

Editor's note - Dr. Thies served 9 years in the US Army (Hon.), reaching the rank of Capitain, during the Vietnam era.

3 comments:

Rita said...

RIP, Norman. What a shock and disbelief.

Gary said...

A fairly good general who had the good luck to face the worst general in the history of warfare - Saddam Hussein.

mitsukurina said...

"With a half million men armed with tanks and other weapon systems a generation or more ahead of the equipment in Saddam's military, and with the support of our European and Arab allies, we could have lanced the boil and accomplish the job of deposing Saddam Hussein twenty years ago."

Technically possible; but not politically so. Recall that the Arabs (Saudis, Syrians, Egyptians) ad French were on board only for a limited operation to oust Saddam from Kuwait. Its possible that the UK would have been keen on a wider offensive; but then at the time there was also no plan for handling what might come after the ousting of Saddam.