Today, 20 February 2017, President Trump nominated Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster to fill General Michael Flynn’s role as his National Security Advisor.
I don’t know much about General McMaster’s current policies and how he stands on Iran and Russia and stuff, but I can say that McMaster is one of the most highly-respected field commanders in the United States Army, having served as an Army Captain in the magnificent ass-kicking that was Operation Desert Storm. Others probably know him as a prolific writer who has been more than willing to challenge old ideas and general status quo stuff. General McMaster also has a pretty clear idea of what the military is and how it should be used: According to McMaster, military deployments require clear and achievable plans of action, and that civilian leaders need to be challenged and prompted for details if no such plan is provided. That means vague concepts like “stopping communism by propping up a weak South Vietnam indefinitely” and “nation-building” fall by the wayside because of their subjective nature. His most famous book (which criticized Vietnam), Dereliction of Duty, is on the USMC reading list because it’s just that good.
But enough about important policy specifics that have the potential to shape the way that Trump will use the military, I just want to talk about McMaster’s exploits in Desert Storm, namely at the Battle of 73 Easting (yes, that’s the name of the place – its longitude was at 73 degrees east).
Back in 1991, Captain McMaster and his troop of tanks deployed to Iraq as a component of Desert Storm. His troop of M1 Abrams tanks was going about their day, rolling across the Iraqi desert with the intention of blowing up any hostile Iraqi Republican Guard forces and securing the area for continued ground operations. On 26 February, McMaster’s Eagle Troop found themselves a bunch of Republican Guard tanks, personnel carriers, and assorted trucks and stuff. In terms of sheer numbers, the Republican Guard’s twenty-eight tanks vastly outnumbered McMaster’s nine. Worse yet, the Republican Guard commander was a graduate of a US Army training program based in Fort Benning, so he knew his stuff.
Unfortunately for the Iraqis, McMaster knew his stuff too, and his nine leading tanks blasted the hell out of their opponents, riding through battle while launching wire-guided missiles and explosive rounds. To avoid enemy fire, McMaster’s forces did what tacticians called the “kick ass” approach. Instead of dodging shells and undergoing complex maneuvers, McMaster’s forces took a shortcut and just blew up every hostile vehicle in sight. In all, Eagle Troop took down twenty-eight Iraqi tanks and around fifty other vehicles in a little over twenty minutes, leaving the battlefield with zero casualties and a bunch of prisoners in tow.
For his actions at 73 Easting and in other Desert Storm engagements, Captain McMaster won the Silver Star. Six days short of the twenty-sixth anniversary of the 73 Easting engagement, now-General McMaster is the President’s National Security Advisor. While I have no illusions about Trump’s immense leadership/character flaws, I’m happy that General McMaster is in his inner circle to keep him relatively level.
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