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Cushman vs. Hoffman: America’s General Officer Corps – Honest and Obedient or Spineless “Yes” Men (

Lieutenant General John H. Cushman, U.S. Army, Retired

The reviewer has missed the essential point of my paper, “Planning and Early Execution of the War in Iraq: An Assessment of Military Participation.”

He writes only that “(Cushman) reminds his readers that the military, under civilian authority, has few realistic options to obeying a lawful directive (and he) concludes that most officers will offer their best advice, take its rejection in stride, and then do the best they can with what they have.”

Although not precisely among what I said, this is quite true. But Colonel Handley does not at all address the main thrust of my paper, spelled out in its text and summarized in these words:

“The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff failed in that he did not comprehend the nature of the war that the United States was about to enter and the grave deficiencies in the Secretary of Defense’s guidance for its post-hostilities phase, or, if he understood all that, in that he did not forcefully make known his objections to the Secretary of Defense and if necessary to the President.

“General Franks [Commander, U.S. Central Command] failed in the same way, and in that he did not offer an alternate plan that met the situation within resources reasonably available.

“The other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff failed in that they either did not comprehend the nature of the war and the deficiencies in guidance, or understanding them did not forcefully make known their objections.”

My essential point: The “best advice” of these responsible four-star officers was seriously deficient.

My full paper can be found at:


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