Sunday, December 30, 2012
If there is a person alive in the Western Hemisphere who does not know of General Norman Schwartzkopf, that must be a special kind of cultural ignorance. Stormin' Norman captured the public's imagination in the manner of the great Generals of the past; Westmoreland, MacArthur, Montgomery, yes General Patton even, and HIS mentor General Black Jack Pershing.
This part of being a General falls under General Patton's Maxim "The Leader is an Actor."
General Officers are a unique kind of soldier. I am not normally a big fan of Generals, on account that a General is basically a soldier that has forgotten how to be a soldier, and needs an aide-de-camp to help him put his pants on. Schwartzkopf was an exception. He was the real deal.
Due to timing of his career, Norman Schwartzkopf had the good fortune to command an American Army in the field at the height of US forces's power. The Cold War was essentially over, and Schwartzkopf had at his disposal forces of combined strength and state of readiness never seen since World War II, at least. Considering he led an all-volunteer force of professionals, it could be argued this was the finest military force fielded in modern times.
The First Gulf War was also pivotal in that it allowed US military commanders to put to the test the AirLand Battle Doctrine developed in the late 1970s to counter the Soviet threat on the plains of Europe. Suddenly, Iraq's Soviet-client-state army - one of the largest in the world - was arrayed against them across a vast battlefield as flat as a billiard table. It was a strategist's dream, and once in position, the US and Coalition allies enjoyed almost limitless resources. I'm quite sure that more than a a few eyebrows were raised in the Kremlin after we turned their hardware into scrap metal, in very short order.
The press loved Stormin' Norman because he was a character, and could always be counted on for some classic quotes. During the lead up to Gulf War I, at one of the daily press briefings, a reporter asked, "If you could meet Saddam Hussein, what would you ask him or say?"
"I'd say to Saddam Hussein: 'Get Outta Town!"
I was recently asked, "Do you think Stormin' Norman changed his attitude about Special Operations troops after all the good Scud hunting work done by SF, Delta operators, and SAS?"
No, I don't believe this is so - General Schwartzkopf was a Regular Army officer of the generation when for an officer to go Special Forces was career suicide. Like his peers, Schwartzkopf looked at "those weirdos in their green beanies" with suspicion and disdain.
The Scuds themselves were never a serious threat, despite the damage they wrought. These kind of weapons - when armed with only conventional warheads - represent merely terror weapons; much like the Nazi V-2s after which they were modeled. Even if Saddam had strapped on chemical warheads, the actual bodycounts would have been insignificant from a purely tactical point of view.
Gulf War I was a full-on conventional war of manoever - the epilogue of the long, drawn-out Cold War; the validation of every theory of Clauswitzian military science. Gulf War I was a tanker's wet dream, and the long drawn-out interregnum allowed the tankers to dwell in their perimeters in Kuwait, grease-gun their treaded chariots, break track & tighten bolts, train continually on the future battlefield of the inevitable Gulf War II.
The proof of the pudding was when, on the heels of Special Operations remarkable takedown of the entire country of Afghanistan, it was at last time for Gulf War Redux, there was no way in God's Green Earth the Powers-That-Be at the Pentagon were going to let a pack of beardo weirdos in green beanies do it again. Not in their sandbox. No way, no how.
General Norman Schwarzkopf will go down in history as a clear-thinking commander of historic greatness. He led the winning side in what might possibly be the world's last manoever campaign; the largest tank battle in history. Nothing can take this away from Stormin' Norman, the man who demonstrated George S. Patton's famous maxim: "With perseverance, study, and eternal desire, any man can become great."
Right on, Stormin' Norman - you did well. Catch you later, in that big Drop Zone in the Sky!
Posted by STORMBRINGER at 03:36