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Posted: 8/19/2004 2:54:58 AM EDT
I just finished Gen. (Ret.) Tommy Franks autobiography, American Soldier.  

I have mixed opinions.  On one hand, it is an interesting narrative of how an ordinary boy from Texas enlisted as a Private and rose to wear four stars on his collar, no idle feat.  As I read the book I was continually impressed with his drive to improve, innovate, and think outside the box.  Indeed, his accomplishments speak for themselves.

However, on the other hand, the book is annoyingly apolitical.  He goes out of his way to avoid significant controversy, particularly of presidents and their policies.  Somalia passes without a mention of how Clinton and Aspen denied the US commander on the scene armor because it would be "provocative."  He mentions that the Phalanx guns on the USS Cole were prepared to fend off air attacks, but glosses over the reports that the deckhands carrying M-16s had empty mags under the rules of engagement at the time, rendering them impotent to stop the boat pulling alongside their ship.

When there is an opportunity to get insight from a man with his experiences and the people he's had contact with, one would think that Franks could produce a book of much greater impact.  This by no means suggests that the significance of his life story is in question.  He is definitely one of our great soldiers.

The point is that he left me wanting more.  

What do you think about these events/policies, General Franks?

Several years ago I had the opportunity to attend a lecture by Col. Bud Day.  After telling us of his USAF career, his combat experience, and his time as a POW in Vietnam, they opened it up for questions.  Most of the questions were along the lines of, "Tell us another war story."  I decided that the opportunity to hear the views of such a man was more important than that.  I asked him about his opinions on women in frontline combat positions.  He had some, and he let us know (a topic for another thread...).

Military leaders have been apolitical, at least on the outside, since MacArthur got smoked.  Given the arrangement of our government and how the military relates to it, that's the way it should be.  Now that General Franks is retired, I wish he would cut loose and give us the real deal.
Link Posted: 8/19/2004 3:14:12 AM EDT
GOOD military officers know to be apolitical while they're wearing the uniform.  Sometimes it takes a while to break that habit after the uniform is hung up.
Link Posted: 8/19/2004 3:23:07 AM EDT
I'm reading the book right now and I'm about 1/3 way through. Franks has just met with Richard Clarke for the first time. From the description Franks provided, Clarke was an ass-hat name dropper who liked to talk in buzz-words but he didn't have a fuggin' clue as to what he was doing. More to come.
Link Posted: 8/19/2004 3:47:48 AM EDT
I did enjoy reading about how his relationship with Rumsfeld developed.  I'll bet there were some insteresting conversations there!
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