Along the way, Ricks became a cynic, relentlessly critiquing the decision to go to war in Iraq, the conduct of the conflict, particularly the generalships of Tommy Franks and Ricardo Sanchez, the utter dysfunction of the strategic decisionmaking and interagency processes required to make America's modern conflicts successful, and, most saliently, the failures of the conflict's most senior military leadership.
Ricks convincingly traces modern failures of generalship to their origins in the interwar period, through World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Operations Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom, and Enduring Freedom.
For leaders who ascend to flag rank, the Armed Forces must rewrite the "promotion contract" with an unspoken clause: if you accept this position, and things go wrong on your watch, you will be sacrificed on the altar of generalship, regardless of whether it was your "fault.
Moreover, while Ricks's book was complete and published prior to Petraeus's spectacular fall from grace, Ricks's loving treatment of Petraeus suggests that he views generalship more like being an accountant--a brilliant technical specialist--than being a priest, whose principal currency of authority is moral.
Focusing, therefore, on generalships
, command decisions, strategy, and tactics, while not ignoring the role social and political forces played in conditioning the views and attitudes (and thereby morale) of ordinary soldiers, he argues that the tactical deadlock of the first years of the war did not result solely from the inherent superiority of the power of the defensive, the rifled musket, and breastworks, as has been argued elsewhere, but also combined rampant command inexperience and failure to recognize offensive opportunities.
Reflecting the lowered political stature of the post, the 1746 code degraded the general's rank from junior second to senior third and labeled two generalships in the Five Guards "leftover" (chosa).
18) The total of 11 is puzzling in that the number of generalships should have been either 12 or 15.
21) Even during the dynasty's final decades when the state granted generalships as an honor to countless individuals, the source records the appointments alongside other military personnel actions.
When the state formally abolished Five Guards generalships is unclear.
25) The state set no limit on the number of so-called extra-quota generalships, and this begs a number of questions.
For the technical specialists who received generalships, the meaning of the post was similar to that for nonelite military men.
Accordingly, the court granted Five Guards generalships, ostensibly of senior third rank in the central officialdom, to top donors.
45) On every one of these occasions, the king awarded extra-quota generalships or nominated the elderly without any competing candidates.
50) This helps explain why rewards, such as generalships, were given to elderly Confucian students.
In considering how the position retained its prestige even after it lost its original military function, the fact that the central aristocrats continued to receive generalships, especially the two "leftover" positions, is noteworthy.