David Petraeus, Paula Broadwell And The Value Of Intelligence

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 11 months ago

There are all sorts of questions surrounding how the FBI found out about this affair, why they waited so long to inform the chain of command, and why it was made public when it was.  Those questions will eventually be answered, just like all of the questions surrounding Benghazi.

But focusing on the situation at hand, I am not opposed to making moral judgments.  We – you, I, all of us – make moral decisions and value judgments all day long, every day, on all sorts of things.  But the point of this isn’t to make judgments as to the moral challenges that General Petraeus faces.  Petraeus will have to face God and his own wife, and apparently according to reports, his own wife isn’t very happy.  She shouldn’t be.  She made a promise long ago, and so did her husband.  I do not give him a pass regardless of how difficult his career and life.

I have never been a fan of the General-worship that seems to engage America and American military history.  I didn’t and do not now agree with the doctrines of population-centric counterinsurgency, and I believe that FM 3-24 is filled mostly with fantasies and pipe dreams from neverland fabricated by people using as their basis primarily nineteenth and twentieth century secular psychology.

According to one high level staff officer who interacted with me during the surge, when Petraeus deployed to Iraq he brought a plan, and that plan survived right up until the logistics officers got hold of it, which was immediately, and then it died.  That being said, this same officer told me that to the credit of Petraeus, he adjusted very quickly to something that would work.  I have this for which to thank Generals Odierno and Petraeus.  They left the Marines alone in the Anbar Province in 2007.  They stayed out of their way, didn’t press them to change the way they were doing business, and allowed them to free reign to do what the Marines do best.  That is a lot more than can be said for Generals McChrystal and Rodriguez in Afghanistan.

Furthermore, the General’s son served in uniform.  2nd Lt. Stephen Petraeus served in Afghanistan as a member of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.  General Odierno’s son, Anthony Odierno, lost his left arm in Iraq.  The General wasn’t willing to hold back on committing his own son to the war effort.  Michael Yon is also heaps praises on General Petraeus.  Mr. Petraeus is fortunate to have advocates like Yon.  But it pays to remember why it’s simply unacceptable to have these kind of affairs going on in the chain of command.

Hidden and hurtful things like affairs are an opportunity for extortion and blackmail.  The nation cannot tolerate men in positions of power knowing secrets, intelligence, and sensitive information who also have undisclosed secrets that could be used against them.  For the same reason, heads of corporations have moral turpitude clauses in their contracts.  Information on company holdings, good and bad financial reports, and mergers and acquisitions, can affect stock prices, retirement plans and ultimately jobs.  Separate from moral judgments, certain things are required of certain people. In the words of reader and commenter Jean, if you don’t want to commit to the job, get out of the way and let someone else pick the targets.  Jean says Petraeus should have been reading intelligence reports from Kunar.  Yes, and Helmand too.

As for Paula [Edit: spelling corrected] Broadwell, she is apparently delusional on a number of levels.  She considers Petraeus to be her man, as if they’re married.  But Yon brings to us another tale of silliness as he describes what he knows about Broadwell.  “She believes that women should be Rangers, and infantry officers, and are capable of standing beside men in combat. Ironically, her role in this spectacle serves as a counter to her own argument.”

Broadwell only believes those things because she has never attempted to be an infantry Marine officer or join Special Operations herself.  Looking at her physique, she wouldn’t last a day in either the infantry Marines or Special Operations.  But recall what I said about such people.

If you have some sort of androgynous, genderless vision for the armed forces – if you believe that Navy Corpsmen should be able to treat the field diseases of both men and women and understand what mud and parasites in the various different cracks and crevasses and holes of men and women do, if you believe that men and women are on equal footing pertaining to physical abilities, if you believe that machines like the ridiculous Army future combat systems robotics and the silly machines like the big dog can ever replace mules and the backs of infantry Marines, if you believe that men and women will be able to interact socially as a cohesive fighting unit without the behavior that attends the opposite sexes – I think you’re weird and creepy.  Not that we can’t be friends, but just that you’re weird and creepy, at least to me.  Machines cannot replace strong men, and even the Russians found out in Afghanistan that women had a higher number of lower extremity injuries than men, causing severe under-manning of forces.

I take no delight in the General’s demise.  But I do take particular delight when a person creates the definitive defeater argument for their own views.  That’s what Broadwell has done, and Michael is right to point it out.  She has demonstrated to us yet again that men and women in the field of battle behave like men and women do.  If it can happen to Generals, it can happen to infantry Marines and special operators.  Even with the unfortunate affair that has taken down a General, Paula Broadwell has done us a service in spite of herself.

  • http://www.khonkaen.ws Khon Kaen

    That would be Paula Broadwell, not Paul.

    [Edit: Yes, thank you for pointing that out. My readers are my editor.]

  • Rudy

    Eventually this stupid b***h will be long-forgotten and we can adjudicate this administration for conspiracy-murderer. Stay tuned for moe clumsy dancing by these low-lifes. Justice for the SEALs and the Ambassador.

  • Rudy

    Eventually this stupid b***h will be long-forgotten and we can adjudicate this administration for conspiracy-murderer. Stay tuned for moe clumsy dancing by these low-lifes. Justice for the SEALs and the Ambassador.

  • Heywood Jablomi

    I find your confidence that all questions surrounding Benghazi will ultimately be answered credulous. I wish that I could share your optimism.

    Indeed, I see the feeding frenzy around the good general’s dalliance as the perfect distraction. Nothing entices us like sex, and this case has successfully supplanted the Benghazi debacle in the popular imagination.

    It should escape none of us that we are no closer to answers or explanations or accountability for that tragedy.

  • Casca

    You forgot to mention that she can suck a golf ball through a garden hose. This is just the natural progression of insisting that girls can play too. There are always double standards. Too bad the media refuse to recognize the MO of the Chicago crowd… talk about the politics of personal destruction.

  • Chris Higgins

    Thank you for a well reasoned article on the affair and your opinons on the broader implications.

    You raise a very good point about matching skills of different people to their jobs in the military. I’m not sure I agree with your blanket conclusion about women in combat. I think as far as hanky panky in ranks goes, That is going to happen. It does not mean we need to condone it. That is why we have leaders in all organizations and why we standards of behavior for those leaders. Petraeus failed on an incredibly basic leadership tenet. Think about the example that sets foor all those spouses on the home front. 10 years of war. soldiers down range for extended periods of time. How do we expect to retain the best and brightest if this behavior is tolerated. Petraeus did the right thing by resigning. He has a lot of work to do on the home front, as does his paramour. My heart goes out to the families involved. I cringe at the thought of having this play out in public. Perhaps there will be some in leadership positions who see this and begin to engage the brain between their ears a bit more.

  • Jean

    Two comments and a question
    -We are a mature fighting force across all branches. We know how to fight and win but have been constrained by a flawed doctrine and corrupt leadership. The author of that some of that doctrine just resigned. There is merit to the doctrine of counter insurgency, but not at the expense of full spectrum operations, we weren’t there yet.
    -Last week Gen P, spent several days in Libya conducting an investigation of Benghazi incident. He had numerous interviews, collected data etc. His stated purpose was to understand what happened….However; his real purpose was gather material for his story board. For those of you readers that are not aware, a “story board” is a pallor trick that has been perfected by our senior leadership. They can take any type of f##K up and turn it into 3 bronze stars and 2 CIBs. The story board is followed by a very convincing briefing by a “decorated soldier”. It is smoke and mirrors /CYA and it has become an art form. It would have been refreshing to see our leadership display some honesty, we can not re write the story of Benghazi, but we can influence the outcome of the next Benghazi. Generals are not the only ones with sons in uniform.
    -Question-Does the CIA have a warning light that comes on when someone is reading your email or cracks your firewall???

  • FeFe

    Thank you.


You are currently reading "David Petraeus, Paula Broadwell And The Value Of Intelligence", entry #9400 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Petraeus and was published November 12th, 2012 by Herschel Smith.

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