• US Generals Who Lose Wars Should Be Called Losers

    August 10, 2023
    Views: 3714
    Public Domain

    Soldiers and lower ranking officers are supposed to be tactically proficient. This means they can use weapons and equipment effectively and maneuver in small units in battle. More senior officers are responsible for maneuvering larger units and for logistics and other functions to support the units in battle. Senior generals/theater commanders have 1 job – to win the war (or effect a satisfactory strategic outcome). Past American generals who actually won wars understood this well.

    “Americans play to win at all times. I wouldn't give a hoot and hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's why Americans have never lost nor ever lose a war.”

    • General George Patton (won WW2)

    “And through all this welter of change and development, your mission remains fixed, determined, inviolable – it is to win our wars. Everything else in your professional career is but corollary to this vital dedication. All other public purposes, all other public projects, all other public needs, great or small, will find others for their accomplishment; but you are the ones who are trained to fight: yours is the profession of arms – the will to win, the sure knowledge that in war there is no substitute for victory; that if you lose, the nation will be destroyed; that the very obsession of your public service must be Duty – Honor – Country.”

    • General Douglas MacArthur (won WW2)

    “In every battle there comes a time when both sides consider themselves beaten. Then he who continues the attack wins.”

    • General/President Ulysses S. Grant (won Civil War)

    “In each succeeding war there is a tendency to proclaim as something new the principles under which it is conducted. Not only those who have never studied or experienced the realities of war, but also professional soldiers frequently fall into the error. But the principles of warfare as I learned them at West Point remain unchanged.”

    • General John Pershing (won WW1)

    Contrast this with “loser” general speeches:

    "Whenever you get some phenomenon like a war that is lost -- and it has been, in the sense of we accomplished our strategic task of protecting America against Al-Qaeda, but certainly the end state is a whole lot different than what we wanted.”

                                                                               -GEN Mark Milley (Chairman JCS, lost Afghanistan)[i]

    Losing a war is not a “phenomenon.” Losing a war is a complete failure of a general officer or general officers to do their job. Soldiers do soldierly tasks. Generals win wars, it is that simple.

    In medieval Japanese times, losing Japanese generals frequently made atonement for their failure by committing ritual seppuku (impaling oneself on his/her own sword). Later, their head was often removed and impaled on a spike for all to see the losing general’s head. At other times in history, losing generals resigned following the loss. I am not suggesting physical violence in any form against failed American generals.

    However, the only “phenomenon” witnessed from 2001-2021 was US generals paradoxically being promoted and praised for losing a war. Names like McChrystal and Petraeus continue to be spoken with names like Eisenhower and other generals who actually won wars. When Kabul fell in August 2021, no US generals resigned in disgrace to “atone” for their failure. No US generals were fired for losing a war. Instead, they remained on active duty. In retirement, they were honored with book deals, awards from West Point, consultation/speech fees, and lucrative board positions on defense firms.

    Generals don’t get to pick the wars they are put in charge of. If they think a war is unwinnable due to failed political strategy or other reasons, they should resign in protest. If they continue on, they then “own” the war and the outcome. Sometimes life isn’t fair. It certainly wasn’t fair to the 2,448 servicemembers who faithfully gave everything they had, believing in their country and its military leadership. The Taliban flag was flying before the US invaded. The Taliban flag flies over Afghanistan after the US fled the country in 2021. There is no way to sugar coat the “loss” despite generals’ creativity with Word and Powerpoint.

    Many jokes are centered around the object person “having one job” that they failed to do. Unfortunately, with 2,448 US servicemembers forever buried under a marble headstone, Afghanistan is not a joke and never was. Those who presided over the debacle that ended America’s longest war need to be branded with the title of “loser.” Accordingly, they should be unworthy of continued military service, monuments, statues, or other honors to commemorate their failure as generals. Until the US military fixes what was wrong (failed general officer leadership), future military failures will undoubtedly continue to plague America.

    John Hughes, MD
    Veteran of Haiti, Iraq, Afghanistan

    Member of STARRS.US
    President of MacArthur Society of West Point Graduates

    [i] https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20210929-us-lost-the-20-year-war-in-afghanistan-top-us-general



    John Hughes

    Emergency Physician. United States Military Academy Class of 1996. #1 graduate. 3rd Generation West Pointer. 4 combat tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. STARRS member.
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    Joseph R. Shaffer

    I 100% agree with this article. I am tired of losers.


    How does one win a war that was never declared by Congress or agreed to by the People?
    These wars were never meant to be won.
    But many promotions and a lot of money was made, was it not?
    And the US and its Globalism pals got to throw a lot of weight and influence around.


    Not only are Milley and Austin losers, but they are also traitors. They should be publicly shamed every time they are in public. They are both a disgrace to the uniform of a country that no longer exists.

    Mike L'Heureux

    Totally agree. Biggest impact to poor enlistment rates. Who wants to join a team of losers.

    Austin, Miley, and Reynolds need to be replaced by winners 🏆.

    My opinion.


    What you outlined quite well in this article was "spot-on" and long overdue in a public forum. Of note, I realized years ago that the convoluted Chain-of-Command we operate under in today's ad-hoc joint task forces is another way to intentionally insulate GOs/FOs from any blame.
    I served with John in ARSOF during back-to-back long tours in AFG where he proved to be an extremely smart, articulate, and dedicated professional. A true Patriot Soldier. It was my pleasure to serve with John!

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