Macgregor Showed Himself a Thinker as Military Leader
Nov. 15, 2020 (EIRNS)—Mark Perry posted a background piece “The Revenge of Col. Douglas Macgregor,” on the colonel, now the Senior Advisor to President Trump’s newly appointed Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller, with more evidence of his courage over decades against the war party.
Posted in “Responsible Statecraft” on Nov. 12, Perry writes that Macgregor was the smartest man in the Army but rubbed his fellow officers the wrong way because of his outspoken views that went against the grain. The consensus is that Macgregor hurt his own chances of promotion—he retired as a colonel after being sidelined at the National Defense University—while his one-time subordinate and later rival, H.R. McMaster, went on to gain three stars.
Not everybody rejected his ideas, however, notably Army Chief of Staff Gen. Dennis Reimer, who required every general officer to read Macgregor’s book Breaking the Phalanx: A New Design for Landpower in the 21st Century, and his successor Eric Shinseki, who had plans to implement Macgregor’s reform proposals.
Like more than a few accounts about Macgregor, Perry describes the “deep effect” that the battle with the Iraq Army in 1991 had on him. Macgregor remembers talking with one of the Iraqi prisoners after the battle: “Why do you not go to Baghdad now?” the prisoner asked him, Perry reports. “You have the power. Your army rules the heavens and the earth. Do you think we love Saddam?” In the years that followed, the Iraqi prisoner’s words haunted Macgregor. The road to Baghdad was open—but America didn’t take it.
In the 2003 war with Iraq, Macgregor wanted to turn the country over to Iraqis immediately after Saddam was defeated, and jettison the plans for what was then known as Phase IV for the post-invasion stabilization of the country, under which the entire Iraqi army and all Ba’ath Party members were dismissed. Phase IV was not jettisoned; the chaos that followed is well known.
From there, Macgregor made a career out of being a critic while McMaster added to his laurels, medals and promotions by being a team player, that is, until he ran into the buzzsaw in the Trump White House (and also revealed how steeped he is in geopolitics).