"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." - George Orwell

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Tommy Franks on "TV Generals" 

A source of frustration - and amusement - to Gen. Tommy Franks and his staff were the "TV Generals" whose commentary was usually inaccurate.

At one point in the invasion, a huge sandstorm struck southern Iraq. Coalition forces were temorarily slowed by the bad weather.

Late that night, with the sandstorm still raging, Jim came back to my office. His face was set in an angry scowl.

"General," he said,m "you're always telling us not to get treed by pissants, but what am I supposed to do about these #$*&%# TV generals?"
"Check out this dude,", he said, indicating a passage he'd highlighted.

A pundits name was listed, followed by "Lt. Colonel, retired...senior war planner." I was beginning to see where Jim's frustration was coming from.

"Not just a war planner, General," he said. "A senior war planner."

I scanned the rest of the excerpts, shook my head, chuckled, and leaned back in my chair. I knew a number of these "experts" - many were much better TV analysts than they had been military officers.
...more than a few television pundits were ready to declare the campaign lost, the plan irreparable flowed. And one particular retired four-star was driving the bandwagon, with others clambering to get on board.
"Historical perspective, Jim," I said. "Lincoln's wife, Mary, called the Civil War correspondents the 'vampire press' for their attacks on the President. Those same reporters sang Lincoln's praises after Appomattox."

I watched a lot of TV during the invasion, and one TV general got it right; Lt General Tom McInerney. The rest of his Fox News compatriots did a good job too, but McInerney in particular hit the nail squarely on the head. He and another Fox News military analyst, Maj. General Paul Vallely, later wrote a book on how to win the War on Terror, called Endgame, which is pretty good and which I recommend.
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