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An Officer Corps Isn’t Built in a Day -- Part II


Sustaining whithering cyber-fire for my last post… Readers have objected to my reader email lauding West Point.  I am sympathetic to this Academy in particular because my father went there (USMA ‘67) and I was born at Fort Carson Army Hospital just before he went off to Vietnam.  I am not going to get into the middle of inter-academy combat–the Army is entirely responsible for the fact that I exist, and I (for one) appreciate it very much. 

The more important objection readers have made is captured in this email:

In 1939, the US Army had four divisions.  None of them armored and none of them airborne.  By 1945, we had 89 divisions, including 20 armored and 6 airborne.  That’s a whole lot of officers and ncos.  Almost none of them went to West Point.  That’s also a whole lot of new, even revolutionary, technical, mechanical and tactical skills in the armored and airborne corps developed and executed in war, against a first class opponent, by a bunch of citizen soldiers.  We can and should be doing better in Iraq.

Perhaps.  I’m not sure it hasn’t been a brilliant achievement to raise, equip, and train 300,000 Iraqi soldiers in less than two years.  I agree with the general point that this force should be disciplined and experienced enough to be on its own in less than a year from now.  If it isn’t, the Iraqis will have only themselves to blame.  I agree that you don’t need four years to train on officer corps–but expecting crack performance out of this force when it is only just coming on line ignores the necessarily incremental nature of their progress.  This force took 300 casualties in fighting last month.  They are fighting and getting better. 

Don’t give in to the pessimist fashion-trend now sweeping the conservative movement.  We have spent the past several years annihilating Al Qaeda in Iraq — and now the Iraqis are starting to do it themselves.


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