CSA says Soldiers are wise to learn from MacArthur

| June 21, 2017 | 0 Comments
Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley speaks at the 30th annual General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award Ceremony at the Pentagon, June 15, 2017. (Photo by David Vergun)

Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley speaks at the 30th annual General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award Ceremony at the Pentagon, June 15, 2017. (Photo by David Vergun)

Story and photo by
David Vergun
Army News Service

WASHINGTON — Gen. Douglas MacArthur “was a brilliant general, make no mistake about it,” said Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, adding that MacArthur’s performance as a younger officer in World War I was “nothing short of amazing.”

Milley spoke about MacArthur and the lessons that can be learned from him at the 30th annual General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award Ceremony at the Pentagon, June 15.

He spoke to 28 captains and warrant officers who were there to be honored for their leadership, epitomized by MacArthur’s own creed: “duty, honor, country.”

Milley said MacArthur was “one of the most highly decorated officers for personal bravery in the history of the United States Army. … This is a guy who walked across no-man’s land in World War I, multiple times, as a member of the great 42nd Division, the ‘Rainbow Division.’”

In World War II, MacArthur was brilliant in the South Pacific. He saved countless lives by executing a very innovative island-hopping campaign, through New Guinea and on into the Philippines, the chief said.

Probably his most brilliant military operation ever was the invasion of Inchon during the Korean War, when things were pretty grim for the American and South Korean armies, Milley said.

“Task Force Smith was lost, the 24th Division was decimated, the 1st Cavalry Division was hurt bad and we were holding on to the Pusan Perimeter by our fingernails.”

Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, congratulates a captain from the U.S. Army Reserve Command for receiving a MacArthur award at the 30th annual General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award Ceremony at the Pentagon, June 15, 2017. (Photo by David Vergun)

Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, congratulates a captain from the U.S. Army Reserve Command for receiving a MacArthur award at the 30th annual General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award Ceremony at the Pentagon, June 15, 2017. (Photo by David Vergun)

At that point when all seemed lost, MacArthur set about a high-risk operation, Milley said. He put together an amphibious invasion force and directed it at Inchon during bad weather. In so doing, he took the harbor and cut off enemy supply routes going south and seized Seoul with relatively few casualties.

“That caused North Koreans to run.”

Almost everyone in the U.S. government, in the U.S. military and even in his own staff advised him not to do that operation, Milley pointed out. They all said the risk was way too high.

“But he took the risk. That single operation turned the tide of the battle.”

Humility, not hubris

MacArthur was a hero and a great public figure at the time, the chief said.

“But like all of us, he had a few flaws.”

One of the things Milley said he’s told his captains and warrant officers is “learn the great lessons of MacArthur, and there are many, many great lessons. Also, learn from his faults. Learn from his mistakes.”

MacArthur’s greatest flaw was hubris, Milley said.

While hubris is not a crime today, it was in ancient Greece, he said, explaining that hubris occurred “when the high and mighty thought they were better than the common person. The high and the mighty don’t think the rules apply to them. … They look in the mirror a little too much and start falling in love with themselves.”

Hubris affects many people today, he continued, and “it led to MacArthur’s downfall when he decided to be insubordinate to President Harry Truman, and of course, he was relieved. So there’s good and bad to learn from Douglas MacArthur.”

The anecdote to hubris, Milley said, is humility.

“Good leaders are humble leaders. They are servant leaders. It is not about themselves. It’s never about you. It’s about the cause. It’s about the people you serve. Practice that throughout your life, and you will rise well above and beyond anything MacArthur ever dreamed of.”

Total Army Concept

Milley congratulated the 28 Soldiers for being selected by their commands for achieving great leadership, as embodied by their character, competence and commitment.

The chief noted that of the 28, seven Soldiers were from the National Guard and seven from the Army Reserve.

“Today, we’re the total Army.”

The concept of the total Army, he said, originated with Chief of Staff Gen. Creighton Abrams during the early 1970s. As the Army’s chief of staff towards the end of the Vietnam War, he concluded that the war was lost because the will of the American people was broken and the war effort didn’t have the support of Congress, Milley said.

Abrams resolved that the Army would never again fight a war without that support, he said. So Abrams went about changing the structure of the Army, dividing it so that 53 percent of the force was Guard and Reserve and the smaller portion active, he said.

The reasoning behind this, Milley explained, was to ensure Americans “had skin in the game.”

In order to fight another prolonged war, the Army would not be able to fight without the Guard and Reserve, he said. They held a huge chunk of the necessary fighting power and technical expertise.

In order to commit the Guard and Reserve to a war effort, they would need to be called to active duty and that would take commitment from mayors, governors, lawmakers and the American people.

In short, Abrams hoped that in any future war, Americans would be committed “in a deep way like the entire nation was during World War II.”

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Category: Army News Service, Leadership, News

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