On Leadership: A Question of Command

In an earlier blog regarding the U.S. Army Officer Shortage, I highlighted a few problems with officer talent management that link to leadership development. In the interest of improving leadership development for our officer corps, I have been reading an great book by Dr. Mark Moyar of the U.S. Marine Corps University, A Question of CommandCounterinsurgency from the Civil War to Iraq from Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2009.

question of command cover

A Question of Command

As evidenced by the over-registered Marine Corps University’s conference on “COIN Leadership in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Beyond,” where GEN Petraeus gave the keynote address to the “COIN Nation,” there is a thirst for understanding the role of individual leadership in the COIN arena.

Readers from all ranks will be interested in Moyar’s succint identification of what it takes to succeed in the contemporary operating environment. Anyone who understands that effective leadership in a counterinsurgency setting — or the conventional battlefield — often does come down to the behavior of one individual will find that this book resonates with important themes.

Some background on why the book is a “must read:”

Moyar’s book has valuable lessons for the Army as well as other organizations and industries that operate in extremis. Operating effectively in extreme environments requires more than a “competent” leader. It requires a talented leader. Anything less than the right talent could make the difference between life and death. Lending viability to Moyar’s claims, a newly released Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) paper discusses the related implications of talent management, highlighting key definitions:  the “definition of talent is a special natural ability or capacity for achievement. Competent, on the other hand, is defined as merely proficient or having requisite or adequate ability.” Unfortunately, the U.S. Army doesn’t always acknowledge the varied distribution of skills that our officer corps brings to the table; and therefore, we don’t always do a great job placing them where their talents are effectively used, nor where the military needs them most. Moyar’s insights, based on qualitative and quantitative analyses, offer explicit criteria for the variables that we should screen for in our officer recruitment efforts and better develop in our leadership training efforts to ensure we identify an employ the right talent for the right position.

With that caveat emptor in mind, I present below a brief overview of the book, insights from field leaders who have reviewed the book, and a tacit response to a Small Wars Journal review of the book by Matthew Caris.

Book Concept

A Question of Command challenges the two main conventional COIN approaches — the population-centric and hearts-and-minds theory, and enemy-centric warfare — as means to an end. It presents instead a thesis that the most effective counterinsurgency is “leader-centric” warfare, a contest between elites in which the elite group with superiority in certain leadership attributes usually wins. Moyar basis his thesis on survey responses from field practitioners and data gathered from seven historical and two contemporary case studies (Iraq and Afghanistan) that cover 100 years of counterinsurgency operations.

Moyar’s argument states:

The better elite gains the assistance of more people and uses them to subdue or destroy the enemy elite and its supporters. Whereas the population-centric theory considers the people’s social, political, and economic grievances to be the foremost cause of popular insurgencies, the leader-centric theory maintains that a talented insurgent elite, which may or may not be motivated by such grievances, is the principal cause. The masses, however aggrieved, do not turn into insurgents on their own; they become insurgents only by following an elite that has decided to lead an insurgency, and only if that elite appears to be more virtuous and capable than the governmental elite. Consequently, insurgencies tend to be strongest where the insurgents enjoy the greatest advantage over the counterinsurgents in leadership quality, not where the people live in the most objectionable conditions.

More specifically, Moyar makes the argument that the side that recruits, retains and employs the right talent – individuals who possesses the “Ten Attributes of Effective Counterinsurgency Leaders” –  has a higher probability of achieving their objectives.  The desirable attributes (which he finds do not differ much between friendly or enemy forces) include: initiative, flexibility, creativity, judgment, empathy, charisma, sociability, dedication, integrity and organization. Moyar’s analysis shows that “The most valuable attributes did not vary from case to case despite wide variations in the nature of the insurgents and the counterinsurgents, although the relative importance of each attribute did vary according to the dynamics of the insurgency and the level of the counterinsurgency commander in the counterinsurgency hierarchy.” Whether red or blue force, the tasks of recruiting, retaining, and employing the right leaders (and getting them into key command positions) are far more complex and daunting than is generally recognized.

Still, scholars are often dubious about new theories, so I thought I would ask those who have served in counterinsurgency environments for their reflections on the book. I pinged a few and heard back from various Army SOF and conventional force officers, Marine Corps officers, and general officers, all of whom have served in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and/or the Philippines and other small wars.  In summary, many members of the active duty U.S. military think highly of its arguments. 

Feedback from the Frontline (opinions expressed are those of the author).

One of our more gifted senior officers, BG H.R. McMaster, gave me the following quote: “We are in Mark Moyar’s debt for placing the demands on today’s military leaders in historical context. The leadership qualities he identifies serve as valuable guideposts for leader development and education.” BG McMaster is a decorated combat veteran from the first Gulf War. He was a former Commander of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Tal Afar where he illustrated the adaptive leadership qualities that Moyar highlights in his book by presciently identifying the non-kinetic missions that would help his unit achieve greater results.  

COL Todd Ebel, the Director of the School for Command Preparation at Fort Leavenworth, told me that the Army’s schoolhouse for senior command has added Moyar’s book to their suggested reading list. COL Ebel was a former Commander of Task Force Ramadi, Commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division in Baghdad 2005-2006, and Special Assistant to then MG Petraeus, CG of the 101st Airborne Division, and  BG Hamm, the Commander of Task Force Olympia in Mosul Iraq 2004. He gives high accolades for the qualitative attributes that Moyar identifies, but goes on to say that he feels “strongly that the ten attributes of effective counterinsurgency leaders apply equally as well to leaders serving in other operational environments.” 

Moyar’s focus on leadership as a key enabler in countering insurgencies is “spot on,” according to LTC Dale Alford, a Marine Corps special advisor to COMISAF with two Iraq and two Afghanistan tours under his belt.

MAJ Bill Chesher: MAJ Chesher is an Army Infantry officer and with four deployments including a tours Kuwait, two tours in Afghanistan, and a tour to Iraq. He says, “This book will benefit today’s leaders with a different perspective of counterinsurgency operations and provide a foundation for officer development that will assist the next generation of operational leaders as they aspire to next level of leadership. I can speak from experience when I tell you that leader development and mentorship is critical for our profession. It enables subordinates to understand more about their leaders and the situation that faces them. Whether it is through open dialogue or formal classroom instruction, officer development is the vehicle by which we professionally grow as an organization.”

CPT Kelly Howard, special assistant to the U.S. Army Chief of Staff, GEN Casey, offers her personal insights. CPT Howard served in Baghdad as a special assistant to two commanding officers of MNF-I, GEN Casey and GEN Petraeus.  

I think Dr. Moyar did a good job of correcting the current narrative that the Surge was a fundamental departure from the strategy that was already in place.  In this respect, and by providing a broader perspective, he gets the story more “right” than many current works by journalists.

 Military leaders should read this book, at a minimum, for its insights into current army leadership.  Little has been written thus far about Casey’s tenure in Iraq.  In particular, Moyar does a good job of bringing certain decisions to light, such as Casey’s think tank of distinguished military officers selected to do a study of successful and unsuccessful counterinsurgency practices in 2004, making ISF improvement his top priority in early 2005, securing the transfer from the MoI from the State Dept to MNF-I a few months later, confronting MoI Jabr about firing those responsible for the prison scandal in late 2005, and his willingness to supplement forces when necessary, such as the time he sent a large number of forces to Al Qaim to secure the border that same year.

Thankfully, the emphasis on developing and rewarding most of these qualities has gained traction in the Army’s new (but work-in-progress) holistic leadership development training and education programs.  The fact that the current Chief of Staff of the Army is presently so focused on hybrid-warfare centered (scaleable, of course) leadership development lends credence to the value of Moyar’s ideas and analysis  

Howard goes on to say:

Current leaders will be glad to hear that GEN Casey as CSA is using his position to reward adaptive leadership and high intellectual abilities that are necessary for leadership in a COIN environment with his instructions to promotion and command boards.  This should improve military decision making at the strategic level and finally start to move away from rewarding officers solely for time spent in a war zone or in command.

Critique of a Book Review

Recently, a Small Wars Journal review by Matthew Caris criticized Moyar’s book on several grounds – several of which I would like to address. The below quotes are from Caris’s review:

[Moyar’s] own argument (‘leader-centric warfare’) does not seem so groundbreaking an idea.  Leadership is recognized as key in all forms of warfare, and while this certainly warrants reinforcement, arguing that leadership is the determinant factor in unconventional warfare in particular is not a novel idea.

Which other scholars have argued that leadership is the determinant factor in unconventional warfare? I don’t know of any but would like suggestions for my own literature review. May I invite Mr. Caris to find other writings on counterinsurgency that make many of the same points contained in the first and last chapters of A Question of Command? As for the nine wars in the middle chapters, very few histories emphasize the role of the leadership to the extent that Moyar does (those few that do are listed on p. 304, note 10).

Caris goes on to comment that FM 3-24, not A Question of Command, does the ground breaking in presenting leadership as a key element in COIN. While FM 3-24 is an excellent manual, I am afraid that Caris overlooked some sections of Moyar’s book when he makes this claim. Here is what Moyar actually wrote about FM 3-24: “With respect to leadership, the manual attached the greatest weight to adaptation, calling upon leaders to be flexible and to use judgment and creativity to identify solutions…. The counterinsurgency field manual advocated decentralized command…. The counterinsurgency manual also called for greater risk tolerance in the interest of promoting initiative.” (See page 242.)

That said, Moyar does fault the manual for devoting too little attention to important leadership issues. (See 244) In fact, a comparison of FM 3-24 with the first and last chapters of his book will show that the manual does not cover many of the issues addressed in the book. (Maybe the progenitors of FM 3-24 knew of the complimentary focus on adaptive leadership described in the new FM 6-22, Army Leadership; this is an excellent field manual that interleaves the new “adaptive leader” attributes that the Chief of Staff of the Army is promoted with the COIN and hybrid threat environment.)  

In my opinion, as a territorial and proud former Army officer, he is also slightly judgmental towards the Army while accepting many the myths about Marine COIN performance. However, I don’t think the book should serve as a divisive force between the services or between protagonists and antagonists of the COIN nation’s doctrine. All camps must surely agree that the right leader in the right place at the right time is essential to achieving our objectives. As I have written on this blog in the past, leadership development and talent management are key.

Caris also states:

Moyar describes how in 1983 El Salvadoran leaders and their American advisers plotted a textbook oil-spot operational plan, yet were foiled by pre-emptive insurgent activity in other regions. Many factors contributed to this defeat, including relative slowness in implementation, over-deliberation, and superior intelligence on the part of insurgents who sniffed out the plan and struck first. It is an excellent example of the many problems counterinsurgents have to overcome to be successful, yet Moyar chalks it all up to inferior leadership. While in the most general sense this is accurate enough, it fails to convince the reader that the specific virtues Moyar advocates are the root cause of COIN success or failure.

Slowness in implementation and over-deliberation are clearly signs of leaders who are short on some of Moyar’s ten key attributes—initiative, judgment, and organization. The fact that the insurgents had better intelligence suggests that the insurgents had better leadership, for, as Moyar argue repeatedly in A Question of Command and his earlier Phoenix and the Birds of Prey, leadership is critical to intelligence collection, both because intelligence collection itself requires formidable leadership skills, and also because good leaders increase the willingness of the populace to provide information by virtue of their successes in security and governance.

As a side note, anyone who has worked in the intelligence field will agree that social network analysis provides additional support for Moyar’s claims. Network analysis quickly illustrates that the “key leaders” may not always be the individual at the top of the food chain. On the contrary, an organization’s most influential member may be an intermediate leader. This is true whether focusing on friendly forces, indigenous partnerships (as illustrated through MNF-I key leader engagement strategies), or enemy forces. The right individual (with the right attributes) placed to fill structural holes (e.g., to serve as a link between friendly, indigenous, or enemy organizations or teams) can be the greatest network enabler – regardless of the organization. 

Concluding Thoughts

Finally, as GEN Creighton Abrams once said, “In war, it is extraordinary how it all comes down to the character of one man.” If GEN Creighton meant to say “one man or woman,” (in light of my New York Times article about women’s roles in COIN) then nothing could be truer than his statement and the implicit importance he places on individual values and character attributes. Indeed, the aforementioned SSI report supports Moyar’s theory when it succinctly states, “effective organizations should hire not merely for technical and cognitive skills, but also for values, attitudes, and attributes that fit their culture.”  

Moyar’s theory does not preclude the still salient value of conventional COIN theories focusing on hearts and minds or enemy-centric warfare; in fact, I think it compliments them. He insists that many of these critical attributes can be enhanced through self-improvement, experience and guidance from superiors. Understanding, developing, and employing leaders who illustrate the key attributes that we need to accomplish certain missions, therefore, is in the interest of the collective good. Moyar’s book illustrates how important talent management is in this regard.

Interested in how you can best develop yourself and subordinates for the next counterinsurgency? Pick up Moyar’s book today.

 

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12 thoughts on “On Leadership: A Question of Command

  1. Cincinnatus Jr. says:

    To paraphrase your acknowledgment, as a territorial and proud retired (we have no “former” category) Marine officer, I would be interested in more details about the Marine COIN “myths” to which you refer.

    Also, at the risk of triggering the wrath I have already seen that will likely relegate me again to the ranks of rednecks and neanderthals, I think your gratuitous “slap” at General “Creighton” (sic) for not having been politically correct at the time he made that statement diminishes your obvious position regarding gender issues in the military. Having actually known him and his kind heart, I do not think he deserves to be judged in light of today’s sometimes hypersensitivity to gender descriptors, especially when his choice of word had nothing to do with the profound point he was making.

    • Paula Broadwell says:

      Cincinnatus,

      Dare I ask… have you read the book?

      (Seriously… relax, please…) I am guessing you have not read my previous posts, and published articles, or heard my talks on NPR, about women’s critical role and leadership in COIN. Even with the most effective male leader out there on the COIN battlfield, he’s probably not going to be able to search the women’s section of the mosque, have tea with women in a key Helmand province village, hand out women’s medical supplies, or embrace 50% of the Afghan population the same way a woman could.

      A gratuitous “slap,” Cincinnatus, was not my intent; GEN Abrams was unquestionably a great leader. If there was a “slap,” it might be aimed at the officials and policy makers who refuse — since 1994; that is 15 years for the neanderthals out there… :-) — to update the ground combat exclusion policy. This policy prevents more women from serving in leadership roles on the frontlines.

      It is unfortunate that you feel hypersensitive to gender descriptors. Many gents on the battlefield nowdays have gotten over that sentiment (see comments from John Nagl, Pete Mansoor, and other vets who have spoken on NPR, BBC, or in the NYT, WP, BG and beyond). We’ll keep working on you, Cincinnatus…

    • Cincinnatus Jr. says:

      I can assure you I am not hypersensitivity and the term was directed more generally. Having been around the block a few more times than you have as yet (I am sure you will surpass my number of laps given your evident zeal), and given your stated (and apparent) feelings about women in COIN (and I suspect in other contexts as well), you may want to consider whether your valid (in fact I agree with some of your premises) points might be more positively received by those who can effect the change you desire if the tone and tactics were a bit different. In this connection, I can commend Sun Tzu on strategy.

      For example, your dismissive pejorative descriptions of those of us who have reasoned cultural, societal, and experiential reasons for our skepticism about women in ground combat units of the US military may give you visceral satisfaction and be applauded by many in academia and some in the military, you miscalculate if you believe such an approach will necessarily further your cause substantively.

    • Pericles says:

      The ‘indirect approach’ unfortunately has a very poor track record in effecting real change within existing bureaucracies. Regardless of where one sits on whether it is in general a good idea, or would actually work or not, there is an unsatisfactory cyclical aspect to the argument that women can’t trusted in front-line command because women have never held front-line command etc. A comparison might be the introduction of women only shortlists in the current UK electoral system. However we might cringe from the worst examples of individuals brought forward by such interventionist ‘affirmative action’, (and merit MUST remain a criterion in the selection process) it was in the end the only way to break the stranglehold of over-conservative local selection committees, to the point where David Cameron has now had to replicate the Labour party policy, because the terms of public discussion were moved on by that initial example..

    • Cincinattus Jr. says:

      Pericles:

      Is that an analogy or a comparison to the UK experience? ;-) While your post warrants further discussion, I believe we should continue it elsewhere (perhaps under the previous thread regarding this subject) lest we distract further from the discussion of Mowar’s book and the important COIN issues raised by Ms. Broadwell.

      I am also more than willing to continue it directly–my email is jimjarhead@live.com. Cheers.

  2. Toby Bonthrone says:

    There’s a good chance that people who read or hear of Moyar’s book won’t be able to get over their initial intuitive response: arguing that leadership is important to victory is like arguing that sex is important to procreation.

    Similarly, the ten traits he identifies could come from any management book, because it is quite hard to argue that initiative, flexibility, etc. are less than vital in any human endeavour ranging from managing a multinational firm to getting laid (and who doesn’t believe they have most of those traits?).

    Yet for that reason, one also can’t disagree with Moyar’s argument. It rings true down to the lowest levels. To more or less reiterate some of Moyar’s points and ultimately tie it in with the more standard COIN debate:

    Success or failure in any battalion AO in Afghanistan is still almost entirely dependent on four individuals: the battalion commander, and the three company commanders. If they display the necessary leadership traits, they will develop the mindset necessary for success in COIN. Equipped with this mindset, they will influence their command in such a way that it becomes increasingly good at COIN operations

    If successful execution – often, in fact, any attempt at any sort of COIN-like operations – still hinges on the mentality of a tiny minority within a battalion, then we clearly haven’t institutionalised COIN in any shape or form.

    Most junior officers and enlisted continue to rely almost entirely on their company and battalion leadership to imbue them with enthusiasm and intellectual investment in COIN principles. Here, individual leadership and the institution are entwined, and the continuing weakness of our institutional leadership – as defined and practiced by our senior leaders – becomes quite apparent.

    Who hasn’t heard the old chestnut that “COIN isn’t what our boys signed up for and trained for, so we have to change their mindset when they get to the field”?

    It has been eight years and it is clear that our junior enlisted men and women at the entry-level training stage are still not taught the mindset necessary to survive and succeed in our current wars. If they were, considering the mistakes still committed by too many of their one- and two-ups, these junior enlisted men and women should be practically mutinying when they have a bad leader unnecessarily risking their lives and failing their mission.

    But they don’t, and very often it’s not a matter of “I respect the chain of command”, but ignorance about the nature of the wars we’re fighting. They don’t know bad when they see it. In fact, they often think it’s good.

    Moyar’s book is a good start. But beyond the category of books one might call, “for officers, with love, by officers” – those books which place great emphasis on the importance of officers, particularly at the one-star level and above – we need to also take a serious look at how we have failed to institutionalise mindsets at the junior level. Considering that it is also the most malleable level, and that COIN really isn’t that difficult to teach from scratch, we really have no excuse not to produce junior enlisted men and women (and Second Lieutenants) who understand what is required of them in Afghanistan.

    It is both arrogant and inefficient to stick with our belief that if senior leaders buy into COIN, the lower ranks will magically follow (McKiernan’s story being a poignant example here). We know how much influence on victory the Strategic Private, Corporal and Sergeant have these days. We know that there’s a difference between doing a village assessment because you’ve been told to, and doing it well. We know that the squad leader who has led over a hundred patrols is going to have a better feel for the AO than the battalion commander who has been on two. Yet, when it comes to all that’s written about excellence in COIN, we continue to focus on the senior leadership side.

    Whether we can achieve a crucial transition in this context – from relying on charismatic leaders to making COIN an all-ranks endeavour through the institutionalisation of COIN – is, in turn, going to be perhaps the greatest test of our senior leadership.

    • Cincinnatus Jr. says:

      Lots of “red meat” in your post. Being a bit short of time at the moment I will limit my comment to your point regarding the importance of the junior officers, NCOs and enlisted personnel in COIN operations. There of course are myriad issues and crosscurrents involved in this simple acknowledgment and the observation that we (I limit my remarks to the US military) may not be doing a good enough job at preparing these individuals for the unique demands of effective COIN operations.

      To mention just a few, the operational tempo is such that it leaves precious little time for the kind of “educational” training needed to provide these junior troops the intellectual, emotional, cultural etc. framework they need to reduce the “mistakes still committed by too many of their one- and two-ups.” Of course this begs the question whether such “training plus” would be developed and provided if there was more interregnum time to accommodate it. I believe there are initiatives underway (I know there are some in the USMC with which I am more familiar) to address this deficit in terms of various “academies” and other learning environments at service, installation and organizational levels that move beyond more traditional rote-type training for specific tactical skills to teach problem-solving in the context of COIN. This necessarily involves instruction on various subjects so vital to effective COIN operations such as COIN theory and doctrine, cultural awareness, distributed operations, training of indigenous forces, human rights and law of war. Once these subjects are taught, they must be then inculcated into the “muscle memory” (by this term I do not exclude brain power) of the individuals and as importantly, the small unit as an “organism.”

      The very nature of warfare, whether COIN or something else, at the lower tactical levels is often periods of relative inactivity in terms of combat but very likely mission essential in terms of COIN (winning hearts and minds etc.), interspersed with sharp, violent kinetic action against the insurgents. This puts a premium on these troops and their immediate leaders being able to act and react “correctly” in the sense that whatever they do (or refrain from doing) is consistent with and supportive of the larger COIN objectives. To have any realistic expectation of this requires that these forces exercise the knowledge and training they receive in the schoolhouses to the point it is instinctive and rapid. Thus we come full circle back to the limiting factor I mentioned at the outset—time.

  3. Wow, great stuff. I am researching this exact thing for my next book. I recently was given a private tour of west point, and it is clear how military strategy is shifting from shock and awe to hearts and minds leadership, and the take aways for every business are clear!

    Rick Smith

  4. Paula Broadwell says:

    Rick,
    It is wonderful to see how West Point has updated its training to meet the new demands and threats on the battlefield. In fact, did you know that they have even added a “social development” pillar (one of six pillars including academic/intellectual, military leadership, physical/athletic, spirtual fitness (ability to deal with life and death situations on the battlefield), morality, and ethics? Moyar’s academic book is the first I have seen to advocate for socialibility; good to see that USMA is already on the bandwagon.
    Best,
    PDB

  5. Matthew Caris says:

    I apologize for the tardiness of my response, and realize this shall probably go unseen. Regardless. . .

    I feel that Ms. Broadwell has – quite possibly through my own lack of clarity – somewhat misinterpreted my review. I also, and perhaps more importantly, still get an overwhelming sort of “Where’s the beef?” feeling after reading Moyar’s book, coming as it has so highly praised to the heavens by serving officers and others like Ms. Broadwell.

    In no way do I consider FM 3-24 “groundbreaking” in its depictions of leadership for counterinsurgency. Ms. Broadwell, whether in good faith or facetiousness, invites me to point to other works “that leadership is the determinant factor in unconventional warfare.” I am quite surprised, to say the least, that someone with Ms. Broadwell’s background would need book to explicitly make that case. Although I am not (currently) in the military, it would seem from historical case studies and memoirs alike that most associated with the military view leadership quality as the determinant factor in all forms of warfare, and rightly so. Indeed, why do service academies, officer candidates schools, and NCO courses all strive so mightily to distill a rather intangible quality into easily-teachable principles? This leadership alchemy of sorts is the foundation of virtually all Western military education; I simply cannot believe that yet another book was needed to explicitly tell officers and men (and women) within the services of the impact of leadership.

    The other real theme of my review was the inaccuracy of the attack Moyar makes on FM 3-24 and the population-centric COIN “crowd.” Reading all the knee-jerk, near-punditry of recent writings by COL Gian Gentile, Bing West, Ralph Peters, and others, I felt that the original intent of the manual and creating a COIN doctrine was getting lost in the all the noise. Moyar’s occasional potshots at the doctrine and manual (even going so far as to bring up Mattis’ quote about “doctrine being the last realm of the unimaginative”) without any context were, I believe, misguided. Again, the manual does not offer a leadership seminar for COIN. It has a certain amount of emphasis on necessary leadership principles and qualities that Moyar claims aren’t there. None of it is groundbreaking, either in Moyar’s book or the field manual. The manual was designed, according to all who were involved in its creation, to give context to the problems troops were facing in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. It’s not some dogmatic how-to guide. It filled a hole in our operational and tactical thinking, and has done a decent job of that. Praising it as something more or trashing it as ineffectual, too soft, or whatever else, is, I believe, misguided. I tried to convey that in my review.

    There are other flaws in “A Question of Command” that I did not address because they weren’t related to my main theme. Most glaringly, the occasional political jabs Moyar takes at a particular political party or figure are, right or wrong, entirely unnecessary to the task at hand. Jimmy Carter wasn’t a bad leader because he opposed expanded US resourcing of the El Salvadoran government; he may have been a bad leader for other reasons, and the policy may have been right or wrong depending on one’s view, but the continued shots Moyar takes at him are unnecessary and add a slight air of partisanship wholly unsuited to the book. His Vietnam chapter rehashes his own controversial revisionist argument (right or wrong is, again, not my concern), and, annoyingly, cites primarily his own book for the early part of the war.

    Finally, I would contend the point of a book review is to convey and critique the theme of the work, and then to assess its worthiness as something people should spend their money and time on. To me, “A Question of Command” is not worth it. The case studies are provocative and interesting, but the overall theme of the book is something that should have been taught long ago to anyone currently serving in the military. For readers without military experience, perhaps the book is more valuable, but in that case some of the other flaws I alluded to above become a bit more important.

    Matthew Caris

  6. Pingback: Book review: Mark Moyar’s A Question of Command » David H. Ucko

  7. Because most women who are really good lokiong and hot don’t have to go to work to make money. They can use their good looks to get married to wealthy men who pay their way. That’s how it works today here in America.The fugly women are successful because they actually have to work to make money. So they’re successful to make up for their ugliness.This may sound really mean and crude, but it’s the way things are in America. Sad, but true.Women try to get with the weathiest men and men try to get with the most attractive women.

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