Thursday, November 15, 2012

if this is the very best the military has to offer, that splains some things...,

National Journal | They were said to be generals cut from the same cloth, David Petraeus and John Allen: whip-smart, adaptable, erudite and above reproach. Indeed Allen was Petraeus’s hand-picked successor in Afghanistan, having served as deputy commander at Centcom in Tampa, Fla., first under Petraeus, then under Marine Gen. James Mattis. Petraeus and Allen, the soldier and the Marine, represented, in other words, the very best that the U.S. military has to offer.

And yet, in less than a week, the careers of two very different men may be ruined as a result of alleged inappropriate behavior with women.

It was scandalous enough when Petraeus stepped down as CIA director after an FBI investigation uncovered his extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. The latest hairpin plot twist came early Tuesday when the Defense Department abruptly announced that the nomination of Allen, the outgoing commander in Afghanistan, to be commander of NATO forces was “on hold” pending an investigation by the FBI and the Pentagon inspector general related to his relationship with Jill Kelley – the woman who kicked off the FBI probe by reporting threatening emails she had received from Broadwell, and who has denied having any relationship with Petraeus beyond family friend.

A senior U.S. defense official told National Journal on Tuesday that investigators are now looking into “potentially inappropriate communications” between Allen and Kelley, 37, a doctor’s wife who worked at Centcom in Florida. According to The Washington Post, in the course of the Petraeus-Broadwell probe, the FBI uncovered between 20,000 and 30,000 documents — most of them e-mails —shared between Kelley and Allen.

In the end, Petraeus’ downfall marks the formal finish to a career that had in some ways passed its peak. The influence of his signature contribution to U.S. military doctrine—expensive counterinsurgency programs that take years to implement, with little to show in the way of results, as in Afghanistan —has been fading.

As for Allen, his tenure in Afghanistan is proving at least as troubled as Petraeus’, beset by “green-on-blue” attacks by Afghan soldiers and officials on allied troops, and a stubborn Taliban supported by Pakistani elements across the border.

During a visit to Afghanistan I made last May, he came across as sober and largely humorless in manner as he described in intellectual terms his strategic plans in Afghanistan. “There is this sense, and it’s a very Western sense I think, that there is a Napoleonic decisive battle that tends to end wars. In counterinsurgency, it’s much less about that than about creating an enduring capacity that grows and compounds on itself over time," Allen said. "And that’s what’s happened.”

He was far less of a glamorous or show-boating figure than Petraeus. Nevertheless, he’s now one of the leading men in a national soap opera.

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