Today’s Pentagon: War-Winning versus War-Losing Madness

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In late June 1940, following the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) at Dunkirk and the French surrender to Hitler, British Major General Bernard Montgomery committed himself to what his biographer saw as Monty’s sole purpose for the remainder of the war: “to help the to reform the British army – to avenge Dunkirk” to prove that “democracies could fight back.”

Weeks earlier, Montgomery had been appalled that many Britons viewed Dunkirk as anything but “a crushing defeat,” and likewise with the BEF’s incompetent leadership – while awaiting the return of his own division to France to continue the fight – Montgomery contributed a reputation for intensity that led some to dub him “the ‘mad general'”. Monty, The Making of a General 1887-1942wrote Nigel Hamilton,

It is impossible to say that Bernard’s character changed throughout the early summer of 1940, since such features of his personality [including his “‘mad’ laugh” and personal “iron discipline”] was detectable long before. Moreover, madness is often undefinable except as abnormality – and abnormality, the unwillingness of the English from Churchill to the Home Guard to accept defeat, was undoubtedly what saved Britain in 1940 and 1941.

From 1940 to 1942, as corps commander, Montgomery’s “almost despotic vision” built a night-fighting army – and the first truly modern British army “since Napoleon’s time”, successfully fighting the Germans in North Africa and later in Europe. His personally designed training sessions included the following:

It’s no use fighting a first class enemy if the soldiers aren’t absolutely on their toes.

They must have the light of battle in their eyes.

You must look forward to a good fight.

They must be full of “binge”.

Can’t binge if you’re not fit; must have that cheerfulness that comes from physical well-being; [optimistic] outlook on life; There’s no point in being pessimistic with a face like a piece of cheese.

Physical fitness and endurance are basic requirements for victory.

Can’t be full of “binge” when you always have “stomach ache”.

Too much of it in the army. Stop it.

The nature of Bernard Montgomery’s “madness” proved war-winning – in which he joined forces with other renowned military leaders of the 20th century, including US Army Generals Pershing and Marshall. They, too, emphasized individual discipline, the foundation of an army through physical fitness and endurance, and the relief of subordinate commanders who were no longer up to the demands of leading troops in combat.

But what about the Pentagon? Instead of focusing on legitimate combat readiness for an increasingly likely confrontation with Communist China, the US Army is wasting its scarce resources and cultural capital renaming facilities with the names of those who fail the current “cleanliness test.” .

While the Army has “stomach ache” over its dismal recruiting (and unsuitable recruits) — also reflected in the decreased enrollment numbers of service academies and Virginia Military Institute applicants in 2022 — Pentagon leaders fail to take into account that their policy disregards the majority of citizens in the former federal states – whose young adults have been sustained since 2001 one of three US military deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq – can actually hurt recruitment.

This isn’t rocket science. As the eminent British military historian Sir Michael Howard wrote decades ago, there are only two ways to learn military history: one is by living it; the other to read and study it. Is there any military historian, based on studies of previous warfare, who believes that renaming military installations, providing military administrative support for changing gender assignments required of soldiers, or requiring personnel to use certain pronouns has something to do with the improvement related to combat readiness?

Air Force leaders in the Pacific Rim or elsewhere who claim that proper use of pronouns increases “lethality” are speaking irresponsibly. They should be warned or discarded. Meanwhile, US Navy and Coast Guard ships were denied port calls in the Solomon Islands, where for six months from August 1942 the Battle of Guadalcanal raged in American blood at great cost – perhaps a poignant reminder of Realpolitik. Additionally, his government recently struck “a secret security deal with China,” another indication of China’s strategic ambitions around the world.

As one prominent air force historian mused, the “Chinese-bought” Solomon Islands government may be unfazed by our diversity programs and proprietary pronouns. Another insightful observer concluded: “This selfishness is not lost on our allies, friends, competitors, adversaries, and foes. It is now sewn into their battle plans.”

In his 1953 dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451, says Professor Faber of author Ray Bradbury of the regime authorities: “They are so confident that they will go on forever. But they don’t keep going. They don’t know that this is all a giant, big, blazing meteor making a pretty fire in space, but it has to be someday blow.” Such is the case with the diversity-obsessed, anti-meritocratic, self-destructive irrationalities of our defense establishment. They will become reality – maybe soon.

In contrast to Bernard Montgomery’s war-winning madness during WWII, today’s Pentagon is promoting what might prove to be war-losing madness.

Heed Monty’s admonition: “Stop it.”

– Forrest L. Marion, PhD

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