In my mind, only one General counts, at least in this debate, and that is the five star guy, General of the Army, George C. Marshall. About two years ago on a blog I asked Wesley Clark if they still taught Marshall's doctrine at West Point -- and I meant that as a tough question, and he said they did.
I keep trying to push history into this dialogue -- and perhaps this is an opportunity. When November 11, 1918 happened, George C. Marshall was a very junior Lt. Colonel, temp appointment, serving on General Pershing's staff, and responsible for pushing an occupation division or two into the Moselie Valley -- with no planning, and no military doctrine for any sort of occupation. Marshall spent a little more than six months reading the reports from a botched occupation, and breifing Pershing and then passing orders back down the chain of command.
What Marshall was witnessing of course was the rise of the Freikorps in Germany, parts of which morphed into the National Socialist Workers Party (otherwise known as NAZI at a later date) -- and along with historians such as Walter Laqueur (See Young Germany -- late 1950's) he identified the core of the problem. In 1920 and 21 what Marshall was witnessing was the loss of the victory of combat arms because the victors did not know how to restore normal politics.
What's important to comprehend is that George Marshall comprehended this in the early 1920's -- and from his "Major" position he worked to deal with what he understood as problems. He pressured Pershing to do what became the "Hunt Report" -- the history of American Military Occupation 1775 -1922. When he taught at the War College -- he used Hunt as textbook and problems to resolve -- how do you do an occupation and accomplish political objectives? By 1934 he was more influential, and got the Army to commission a drafting commission to take up Hunt, and write a military doctrine and then an Army Manual for how to do it. Between 1934 and 41 it went through five editions and revisions. What happened in Germany post 1945 was according to this 5th revised edition of Marshall's plan and one must understand that is not referenced to post 1948 Marshall Plan matters.
Doctrine: Marshall believed that no officer or soldier who had been blooded in combat should be used in occupation. For Germany in 1945 he trained 6000 officers, about 3500 NCO's and about 120 thousand troops specifically for the "Military Government of Germany" and none of them were combat soldiers. If you look at the charts, the two top folk are Ike and Bradley, but below that, there are no cross-overs. Yep, some transport companies got transferred and so did some engineers, but virtually none of them were "blooded" -- and I would suggest that this insight that Marshall gained watching the occupation of the Rhineland in 1919 by an unprepared. untrained, doctrine lacking but fully blooded American Outfit, is perhaps somewhat equal to what currently serving Generals have encountered in Iraq -- and that they have been encountering it now for three years with no relief in sight.
Marshall's genius was to understand that occupation is a stage that leads to restoration of "normal politics" -- but that occupation had to be a base line -- the error of 1919 was the failure to destroy Freikorps. The error was to partially occupy, and not really comprehend how to restore local and normal politics. Essentially the error was not to clarify the objective of military engagement and required outcome, in political terms. If there is a "Marshall Doctrine" it is you don't engage troops unless you are clear on the demanded political outcome
One has to read the biographies and the documents to understand how this came out of ferment of 20 or so years in a very downsized military of the 20's and 30's and very slow upgrades in the ranks. In the early 30's Major Marshall was still pushing for War College courses in the relevant subject matter.
What really concerns me is the lack of understanding of Marshall's thesis -- that no matter what the consequences of combat, if you have not clarified victory -- and the political aspects of that -- you chance the loss of anything gained in combat. -- Put another way the value of the blood expended in combat depends on the competence of the politicians to arrange the workable future.
Understand here -- this is about Marshall between 1919 and 1945 -- not about the China mission nor about his stints as Sec of State or Defense. This is about analysis and creation of architecture.
My sense is that if more about Marshall were known in the specifics, Rumsfeld would have been long gone. And that's the problem -- bad examples lead to worse examples.
No, you just know the Giant Stature of a George Marshall, and you don't dare nominate a midget. Remember in Marshall's time Stimson was the Rumsfield equal (do you remember Stimson???) Probably not, but that does not comprehend the next years.
And yet so much is to be learned from George C. Marshall.