military leadership | November 15, 2012

The Lofty Standards of Military Leadership: Andrew Bacevich [VIDEO]

Retired Col. Andrew Bacevich recently took part in a discussion on PBS about the way the American people view military professionals and the standards to which they are held. In light of the recent scandal involving former CIA Director David Petraeus, Bacevich discussed the relationship between civilians and the military and the how people react when military leaders do not live up to their lofty standard. When someone that the public holds in high regard slips up in some way, Bacevich explains that it presents an opportunity to asses not only that individual's performance, but that of the organization as a whole.

"I think it's very useful to be reminded from time to time that four-star generals are not gods, but mere mortals," Bacevich said. "And, as mortals ourselves, perhaps we can, therefore, assess their performance, [and] stand in judgment." While Bacevich says that there needs to be some concession given when mistakes are made—because soldiers are only human—these mistakes also provide the opportunity to assess what has gone wrong in the senior leadership branch of the service to allow such mistakes to occur. As one of America's top military intellectuals, Bacevich often assess and critiques the military process. In his books—The Limits of Power and Washington Rules—Bacevich explains that poor senior leadership is part of the reason why so many wars are fought and lost, despite a valiant effort by the troops involved. He is a Professor of International Relations and History at Boston University and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, as well as a popular military speaker. His talks on the military, government, and the impact that these organizations' policies have on society offer a pragamatic and insightful look at where the nation stands now—and what to expect for the future.

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