Military Review

Post-Classical Military Intellectuals

Post-Classical Military IntellectualsSignificant complication of weapons and military equipment and military art at the turn of the XIX – XX centuries required from the officers, and especially the generals, not only special training, but also a systematic increase in the level of knowledge and expansion of horizons. As a result, society began to perceive military professionals differently, paying tribute to them not only as winners on the battlefield, but also as relatively well-educated people. As a result, in the second half of the 19th century, only a small part of the generals had special advanced education in the US Armed Forces, then by the beginning of the First World War, for example, almost three-quarters of the 441 general of the US Army were graduates of a military academy (schools ) West Point.

In other words, the American officer corps has become truly professional. However, in the second half of the twentieth century, the relative failure of the United States in a number of wars and conflicts led to the fact that society began to realize that one of the reasons for this was the inadequacy of training command personnel. The American military scientist Douglas MacGregor directly points to the obvious exaggeration and artificiality of the successes of the US Armed Forces in military conflicts after World War II. According to him, the war in Korea ended in a dead end, in Vietnam - in defeat, the intervention in Grenada and Panama - "bustle" in the face of the virtually absent enemy.

The incompetence of the US military leadership forced the catastrophic situation objectively formed in Haiti and in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to the luck of the Americans, simply left Haiti and Bosnia and Herzegovina to retreat, but non-combat peacekeeping operations were guaranteed. Even the outcome of the so-called Gulf War in the 1991 year can only be conditionally called successful because of the unexpectedly weak resistance of the demoralized adversary.

The main reason for the inferiority of the command personnel of the US Armed Forces, most researchers believe "lack of intelligence." But this vice, "calms" one of the analysts Matthews Lloyd, is not unique only to American commanders; this is supposedly a characteristic feature of the overwhelming number of “people in uniform” in other states. So, he cites a little-known caustic utterance of the British Prime Minister during the First World War, Lloyd George: "The military's brain perceives the mental process as something like a rebellion." A bit higher than that of the British, the intelligence level of the French officers is estimated. But even in the Armed Forces of the descendants of the celebrated genius of the war of Napoleon, there were periods when the general atmosphere in them was not formed by intellectual commanders. Authoritative in the middle of the XIX century, Marshal Marie Maurice de Macmagon, who led the French army to 1870 to a catastrophe, literally on the eve of the war with Prussia, said: "I will exclude from the list any officer whose name I see on the back of the book!"

Of course, everything is not so straightforward, and we will be fair, while it is impossible to ignore the Anglo-Saxon (and not only) world of military science that is rich in theorists-intellectuals. And according to the expert in the field of military sociology, Morris Yakovitsa, many representatives of the American generals who looked like “guys-swords” and “martinetists” were in fact intellectually developed personalities, which clearly contradicts the thesis that, as a rule, “low” intelligence of the military. " A number of military leaders are usually assigned to this category of so-called classics of military affairs, whose contribution to the development of the Armed Forces and military science should be considered in more detail.


One of the first places in the hierarchy of US military leaders in terms of their contribution to the development of the Armed Forces is General George Marshall, as if throwing a bridge from the era of American military classicism to the modern era of military science, more practical and pragmatic. Possessing an extraordinary natural intelligence, he had a wealth of life and professional experience. Starting an active military career as a topographer and geodesist officer, he then trained reservists, served in various positions in the US ground forces, studied the course of military operations during the Russian-Japanese war, was assigned to Manchuria until he was appointed chief of staff of the Army , having served up to this appointment only three years in the rank of general.

During the Second World War, he was rightly considered one of the architects of the Allied victories on the Western Front. His uncommon abilities were highly appreciated by presidential politicians as different in their essence as F.D. Roosevelt and G. Truman. His ability as an organizer, business acumen and versatility allowed J. Marshall after the war to successfully cope with the duties of Secretary of State and Minister of Defense. He was not the sole author of any outstanding theoretical works in the field of military art, but each publication under his name, whether on a military topic or in the field of international relations, caused and continues to cause genuine interest.

Another prominent figure in the postclassical era of American military science is President Dwight Eisenhower, a professional military, five-star general, honored hero of World War II.

Ike, as friends called the future president in his youth, and then in wide circles of American society, graduated from West Point with distinction, standing out among his fellow students with a genuine interest in the works of military classics, above all Clausewitz. Like many outstanding officers, already in the first years of his service he was confronted with a lack of understanding of his zeal in understanding the subtleties of military affairs on the part of his superiors. So, in his memoirs, he described such a case. After his article was published in the November issue of the Infantry Journal in 1920, Hayk’s direct boss, Major General Charles Farnsworth, made claims to him in the sense that his “ideas are not only wrong, but also dangerous, and that you should continue to hold them with you. " “In particular,” Ike writes, “I was denied the right to publish anything contrary to the existing infantry doctrine.”

Nevertheless, the young officer was not discouraged and, continuing to show interest in the theory, he embodied what he had learned in life, moving quickly in his career. Already during World War II, taking the post of commander-in-chief of the allied forces in Europe, Eisenhower led to considerable dismay of the British, who initially favorably accepted the appointment of an American general to the highest position in the military coalition in the hope that he would devote himself to resolving political problems and quickly The strategic plan will leave to the decision of the British. But they made a big mistake. In a soft but persistent way, Ike managed to push more than once, as it turned out, the right decisions, despite the often sophisticated intrigues of the allies. In the end, the British, including Prime Minister Winston Churchill, fully trusted the military talent of the American general.


American analysts reasonably include such generals as George Patton, Omar Bradley, Creighton Abrams, John Shirley Wood, Admiral Arthur W. Redford, and some others to the pleiad of intellectual commanders who positively manifested themselves during the Second World War.

A very curious personality of J. Patton. At its mention, it usually presents the image of a very eccentric commander, from his early years, while still a cadet, who proved to be a person inclined to extraordinary actions. Dashing cavalryman, a member of the expedition 1916 of the year in Mexico, the hero of World War I, turned into a tanker.

During the Second World War, he was entrusted with the most difficult tasks, including the rapid re-creation of the fighting capacity of the 2 Army Corps defeated in North Africa. He was an outstanding athlete, a participant from the USA, 12-s of the Olympic Games, finished fifth in pentatlon. At the same time, he was known as a poetry lover, an insatiable book reader, an admirer of the art of war, a collector of rare books. He expounded his outstanding thoughts on the art of war in numerous articles, lectures and, finally, in the classic work “War, as I understand it.”

With J. Patton hand in hand, both in service and in life, there was another distinguished general of the Second World War, Omar N. Bradley. Despite a completely different temperament, characters (Bradley, unlike his colleague, was known as a very restrained person who knew how to get along with both superiors and subordinates), curiosities of the service, when there was alternate submission to one another, both generals respected each other to a friend, on the whole, sharing views on the fundamental principles of military science and its implementation.

Omar Bradley was not a member of the First World War, guarding the mines in Montana during this period, but was persistent in his knowledge of military affairs and was able to reach high posts by successively going through the steps of the military hierarchy up to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CLS). The importance of his opinion on current and future military-political problems is indicated by the fact that during the four years of his presidency in this post, O. Bradley 272 met again with the President and participated in the 68 meetings of the National Security Council, which is still considered unprecedented. His contribution to the development of the theory of leadership in the armed forces is quite noticeable. So, he belongs to the thesis on leadership that has now become well-known: “Leadership is always and unprecedentedly important; no existing or invented in the future weapon cannot replace him ... The rank carries only formal power and emphasizes only the formal position of the commander. To become the undisputed authority of subordinates, the commander needs more than a high rank and exemplary bearing. He must instill trust in those he leads. The same commanders who rely only on the external side of the leadership are doomed to failure, they are not able to be true leaders. ”

Segregating from the generals of the postclassical era of American military science of individual representatives claiming the title of intellectuals, one cannot but mention such an extraordinary person in their own way as was the four-star General Creighton Abrams. By the way, the first and so far the only one history US Army, who died in his office at his desk on an autumn day 1974 of the year.

Having a solid combat experience of the Second World War and the Korean War, highly revered by his fellow generals and subordinate officers, who gave him the warm nickname Abe, this serious and intelligent officer could not bear to "hang out" and "teach." He calmly, without irritating anyone, led the staff of the US Army ground forces. At the same time, the performance of the general was simply phenomenal. Major Denis Reimer, after a couple of decades himself became the chief of staff of the SV, recalled that Abrams, already "being sick and being in headquarters no more than two hours a day, nevertheless, during this time did a much larger amount of work than other young 10 generals for the whole day! ” Quite infrequently, but with great resonance, General Abrams spoke to wide audiences, both military and civilian, wrote articles and pamphlets in which he analyzed not only “the affairs of bygone days”, but also offered constructive solutions to urgent problems.


In addition to high-ranking intellectual commanders, revered in the US Armed Forces, the generals of the operational-tactical level of leadership, who manifested themselves not only on the battlefield, are often cited as role models. American intellectuals include, for example, such commanders of the Second World War, John Shirley Wood and Maxwell Taylor, the commander of the formation of the Vietnam War, William DePithey.

John Wood, like most American officers traditionally, during his officer's youth was known as an excellent athlete, a desperately brave soldier, awarded the "Cross of Distinguished Service". As the commander of the 4th Armored Division in the first echelon of the 3rd Army, led by J. Patton, he participated in the liberation of France. The famous British military historian Basil Liddell Garth bestowed upon him the nickname Rommel of the American tank troops and described as "one of the most decisive tank commanders in World War II." According to the memoirs of contemporaries, Wood was a very erudite, interesting interlocutor, knew several foreign languages, read in the originals the theoretical works of Charles de Gaulle and Heinz Guderian on the use of tanks.

General U.E. Depyuy, participating in the Second World War, became famous for having received the informal title of "Best Combat Army of the United States." After the war, he was going to resign from the Armed Forces, but the service, as they say, sucked him with giblets. Among the best I graduated from several educational institutions, but at the same time I always repeated that the main way of learning was self-education. Working in headquarters at all levels in leadership positions, he tried to break the routine analytical work of officer-operators, who, he said, “digged too much into details” without first grasping, without understanding the essence of the whole concept. As a divisional commander in Vietnam, Depyuy has accumulated a huge amount of impressions and experience, which he actively tried to summarize, summarize, analyze and give to the leadership of the Armed Forces as one of the conceptual foundations of the military reform that took place after the end of the Vietnam War. Most of his theoretical studies are published in a separate book, The Selected Works of General Depyuy in Leavenworth. It was he who was entrusted in 1973 to lead the famous school of military thought, the Command Training and Scientific Research on the construction of the United States Army (TRADOC).

Pilots and sailors

In the United States, the country that gave the world the military ancestors aviation - the Wright brothers, naturally, could not fail to appear and the successors of their work in the field of organizing the national aviation industry and in developing the theory of its combat use. Moreover, despite the fact that, only after the Second World War, the US Air Force was officially issued as an independent form of the Armed Forces, American specialists in the field of military affairs, both civilian and military, moreover approximately equally representing the Navy and the Navy, and then together with “ pilots ”, gave birth and continue to give rise to interesting ideas for the combat use of the Air Force as such.

It is impossible not to recall a whole galaxy of American aviation generals led by Karl Spaatz, who proposed and put into practice during the Second World War the concept of long-range bombing under the guise of specially designed escort fighters, which minimized the loss of bombers. It is noteworthy that this experience turned out to be unacceptable for waging the war in Vietnam, which, incidentally, was warned by one of the theorists of the use of aviation, W. Boyne, but which was not noticed in Washington.

From time to time, among the American generals representing the Air Force, ideas about the "absolute prevalence of aviation in future wars" are renewed, the author of which was in the first quarter of the twentieth century, the Italian military thinker Giulio Due, and now very authoritative in the West. From this area, the concept of an “enemy stop phase” put forward by one of the theorists, J. Boyd, is popular not only in the US Air Force, but also in other types of the Armed Forces, according to which only aviation is able to initiate the rout of the enemy action. For decades, occupying a leading position in the field of aircraft, American scientists, in particular the theorists of the use of the Air Force, have made significant progress in the development of concepts of air-ground operations, "joint" (interspecific) electronic warfare, etc.

Naval officers and admirals in the US Armed Forces, as in other countries, differ from their counterparts from the NE and Air Force by a higher level of education due to incomparable special traditions (fostered back in the British "gentlemanly" navy and widely used in the fleets of other states). Against the background of the "green-gray mass" of the officers of the ground and air forces, they always seemed like intellectuals who had put on a military uniform temporarily. This cultivation of the special internal content of naval officers and their corporate psychology was facilitated by a long separation from civilian and military centers of civilization, the inevitability of a long and forced stay in officer teams closed to external penetration, where the rules of honor and a high level of culture were undeniable requirements and the law of life. But all this could not but give rise to some alienation of the sailors from their colleagues in the military department and even some arrogance. The reaction from the army officers was similar in relation to them, though it was implicated in hidden envy. As the War Minister of World War II Henry L. Stimson once remarked, “admirals bathe in a specific psychology in which Neptune is God, Mahan is his prophet, and the Navy is the only righteous church.” Be that as it may, the percentage of admiral intellectuals in the US Armed Forces was always greater than in other types of armed forces. We recall only two of them.

Honored Combat Admiral Luis E. Defield, who held the post of Chief of Staff of the United States Navy from 1947 to 1948, left his mark on history as a passionate supporter of the integrated development of the naval forces. His "horse" as a theorist of the fleet and admiral-practice was naval aviation. His countless speeches on this topic both in the media and at official briefings, meetings, etc., on the one hand, earned him authority, not only among fellow sailors, but on the other, they caused serious discontent on the part of the civilian leadership. Ministry of Defense and the species department. Of course, this admiral didn’t work well with his career, but his reasoned ideas and proposals, in particular concerning the development of naval aviation, still made their way into life, later supported by congressmen.

Another extraordinary person of the American fleet was Arthur W. Radford. The combat admiral, the pinnacle of his career, became the pinnacle of his official career, at which he demonstrated his highest level of education and intelligence. In the most difficult discussions with opponents, mainly with colleagues from the military camp, he had to demonstrate knowledge and strategies, tactics, and economics, to prove the timeliness and logicality of the unpopular cuts in military spending in order to “today redirect these funds to business, and later , after a certain number of years, they (the means) will return to the same aircraft, but in the form of new, modern weapons and military equipment samples by that time. ”

Samuel Huntington, comparing the two first chairmen of the CLS, O. Bradley and A. Redford, stresses that “both of them were people of exceptional nature, intelligence and energy ... In six short years they managed to turn their department (CNS) into the most authoritative state authority. They were samurai in spirit, but military statesmen to a greater extent than just military advisers to the leaders of the country. ” American experts point out that their role in the formation of the CNS can only be compared with the vigorous activity of Colin Powell at the turn of 80 – 90-s of the last century, when he had to “change the vicious traditions of interspecific egoism” and restructure the work of the committee under the urgent requirements of creating united sun.


In order for the reader not to get the impression of the irretrievable loss for the US Armed Forces of a galaxy of intellectuals, we turn to the very recent history and modern arguments of the parties in the ongoing debate about the "incompetence of leading US personnel."

Those interested in military affairs, of course, remember the commander of the Allied forces under the auspices of the United States during the war in the Persian Gulf in 1990 – 1991, General Norman Schwarzkopf (died in 2012 year). Usually, he appears as a wayward commander, who became famous as the tough leader of a multi-tribal formation of the largest coalition in history after World War II, and as a typical warrior who is less inclined to diplomacy and, hence, constantly scandalous with another leader of the coalition ) Saudi General Prince Khaled Ibn Sultan.

It is noteworthy that in his memoirs, published in 1992, Schwarzkopf speaks rather unflatteringly about his colleagues - American officers who had a penchant for writing. The irony is that this gruff cynic, while still a captain in refresher courses at Fort Benning, received the first George Marshall Prize for writing a military-theoretical study, and Schwarzkopf’s mentioned memoirs were among those recommended for special reading by US officers. important military theoretical works. Besides, Schwarzkopf was fluent in French and German. He is widely known as a music lover, and the range of his musical interests covered both folk and classical music.

Among the American commanders-intellectuals of our time, it is impossible not to name General Eric Shinseki, who very recently held the post of Chief of Staff of the SV. Coming from an immigrant family, Shinseki’s incredible work and perseverance achieved quite a lot both as a practical commander and as a theoretician who consistently upheld fundamental principles in those areas of military science in which he personally made significant progress. He holds a master’s degree from a two-year course at Duke University, a three-year experience in teaching literature and philosophy at West Point. Concerned about the imperfection of the system for advancing officers of the SV, General Shinseki initiated and actively engaged himself in extensive research work on finding a solution to this, in his opinion, urgent problem.

Approximately at the same time, the Secretary of Defense of the First Administration of George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, who was also concerned about the mass preparation and promotion of the most talented officers and generals, even despite his obvious "antipathy" to "people in uniform", we must pay tribute however, he managed to find and nominate bright personalities in the “general-admiral uniform” for the first roles. This is primarily about admirals William Ounse and Arthur Tsebrovski. An extraordinary mindset and in-depth knowledge of the latter in the field of information technology allowed him in a company with equally gifted colleagues to develop and propose to the experts a revolutionary theory of the “network-centric war”, now being studied everywhere as a new classic of military art.

It seems appropriate to mention such currently known military thinkers as C. Powell, W. Clark, H.R. McMayer, Ralph Paters, and others, as well as, of course, the brightest of the modern American military theorists Douglas McGregor. In the rank of colonel (like many of his predecessors, scientists in uniform, who did not win special sympathy from their bosses for their “writing” work), MacGregor nevertheless published a significant amount of interesting works in many areas of military affairs: strategy, operational art, sociology, stories, etc.

But there are some very funny cases. So, for example, the fundamental work “Breaking through phalanxes: a new structure for ground forces in the 21st century” published in 1997 by McGregor had quite a great success in the widest sections of American society and abroad. In it, the author, in particular, offered ground troops to break the deadlock, to restructure, reorganize cumbersome divisions into small, more flexible, quickly deployed so-called combat groups. However, the command of the US Army immediately immediately with indignation rejected this "fantastic idea." Less than five years later, land generals with civilian officials and the Ministry of Defense, who supported them, rushed to bring the disgraced colonel to life.
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  1. parusnik
    parusnik 21 January 2018 07: 21
    Thanks, interesting ..
  2. Curious
    Curious 21 January 2018 09: 53
    The majority of researchers consider the “lack of intelligence” to be the root cause of the inferiority of the command personnel of the US Armed Forces. But this flaw, one of Matthews Lloyd’s analysts “reassures”, is not unique to American commanders; this is supposedly a characteristic feature of the overwhelming number of “people in uniform” in other states.
    I would like to refute these words, but when recalling my army service, I’m not refuted. Here, however, the military branch also plays a role. Nevertheless, service in the Strategic Missile Forces or on SSBNs imposes its requirements on an intellectual level.
    1. 73bor
      73bor 22 January 2018 20: 17
      Intelligence and leadership talent, I don’t see cause-effect relationships! In West Point, in my opinion, they still study the works of Clausewitz, only in my opinion to trust the works of the commander who was late everywhere in my opinion wrong. Suvorov A.V. I didn’t try to be an intellectual, but I knew everything in my industry, but in 1905 the Russian Army had a sea of ​​generals intellectually perfectly educated but somehow shamefully retreating under the onslaught of no superior enemy, I do not want to say that the intelligence of the commander is evil, but too much intelligence in a military leader is also a hindrance!
      1. Cartalon
        Cartalon 24 January 2018 17: 49
        Where was Clausewitz late? And Suvorov did not try to be an intellectual, because he was so.
  3. voyaka uh
    voyaka uh 21 January 2018 16: 50
    Strategic directions for the development of weapons, they guessed correctly:
    Strategic bombers, aircraft carriers, Manhattan project.
    1. Mikhail3
      Mikhail3 22 January 2018 15: 34
      They didn’t guess. They shaped this very future! In which, and this, of course, is a bitter irony, they could not become winners. Smart, skillful, accurate, versatile ... sucks.
      What is, in fact, the US Army? A huge mountain of muscle, unsuitable for battle. Who is fighting? Specura and PMCs, with PMCs tens of times larger. And PMC tactics are more gangster ...
      Yes, war needs a mind, talent is needed, science is needed. Just that is not enough. Calling yourself "American Rommel" is one thing. That's just Rommel German, and there will be no other Rommel. You can think as much as you like. But in order to win, you need to do it right, and this business should not begin with you, but with the fighters. And not from their military training, but much, much earlier ...
      "Give me a company of Soviet paratroopers, I will tear the whole world!" Maybe so. Only never, never have you, intelligent and smart guys, will be subordinate to anyone like the guys from Uncle Vasya’s army. And with all their intelligence, American generals will never understand why this is so.
      1. voyaka uh
        voyaka uh 23 January 2018 00: 19
        They are fighting, mainly the Marine Corps and 2-3 personnel infantry divisions and 3-4 armored cavalry brigades.
        Special forces are rarely used (relative to the British), and PMCs after the end of hostilities to protect objects.
        1. Mikhail3
          Mikhail3 23 January 2018 12: 20
          PMCs ... for the protection of objects. Uhhh ... Ahhh ... I don't know what to say. Okay. I didn’t have a conversation.
    2. iouris
      iouris 22 January 2018 15: 38
      Quote: voyaka uh
      Strategic bombers, aircraft carriers, Manhattan project.
      This is secondary. The first thing is to put together coalitions from competitors for world domination, arm them and force them to fight each other until exhaustion, after which they will receive dividends from the outcome of the world war.
  4. Glory1974
    Glory1974 21 January 2018 22: 21
    In general, the United States Department of Defense is quite the quality of its officers. I read the memoirs of an American general, during the war in Iraq, only one brigade commander was removed from office, as he could not cope with his duties.
  5. Albatroz
    Albatroz 22 January 2018 09: 27
    Yeah interesting
    The generals can do anything with them - in military affairs, in presidency
    And so far we are not attracted to the second. Even Zhukov did not succeed (although there was an example of Eisenhower), but the more so for modern
  6. Weyland
    Weyland 22 January 2018 20: 01
    Even the outcome of the so-called Gulf War in 1991 can only be conditionally called successful due to the unexpectedly weak resistance of the demoralized enemy.
    Yeah, right now ... It was Saddam's secret order - to preserve manpower and resources for guerrilla warfare! Bottom line - Saddam died, but his work lives on!
    1. voyaka uh
      voyaka uh 23 January 2018 00: 11
      Secret order: "Shiites - come to power!" , "Kurds - do autonomy", "ISIS - cut the heads of everyone!". Really, come up with something else.
      They defeated his great army quickly and to smithereens - the difference in military technology rules.