Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Dwight Eisenhower never served in combat?

Filed under "Things I did not know":
No, Eisenhower had a bad knee from a sports injury.  It initially relegated him to various staff jobs. At which he proved so remarkably competent that the military decided he could not be spared.  There were already plenty of brash young officers willing to charge into the barbed wire. (Three members of the 1915 class died "over there" all as Majors, but one seems to have succumbed to influenza).

I suppose my general theme regarding Presidents is that prior executive success predicts later competence.  And in this respect Eisenhower is a prime exhibit.  Our history is the better for him not stepping in front of a bit of shrapnel in 1918.  He continued to demonstrate the ability to both organize the things under his direct purview and to interact well with those whose independent interests could either help or hinder his tasks.  D-Day in 1944, one of history's biggest organizational challenges was his Supreme accomplishment.

Some people are just better executives than others.  And it is not just a matter of pure intellect.  If you want an example of just how far academic achievement "won't" take you, consider the man who graduated 1st in "The Class the Stars Fell On" [Eisenhower's class at West Point].  It was a certain William E. R. Covell.
Gen. Covell's accomplishments (such as they are) are detailed in this very interesting post.  RTWT.

7 comments:

ASM826 said...

He did, however, as a Major, participate in routing the Bonus Army from Washington D.C. with tanks, cavalry with fixed bayonets,and a arsenic based gas that caused vomiting called adamsite.

So, it was kinda like combat against U.S. citizens.

Old NFO said...

Yep, that is one of those little OBTW things... And one of the reasons MacArthur hated Eisenhower so...

burt said...

From "Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life
By Carlo D'Este", Google Books online (first heard this in the movie "MacArthur"):

"Although its provenance has never been proved, when Eisenhower was elected president in 1952, MacArthur is said to have declared tartly, "He was the best clerk who ever served under me."

Sherm said...

Those OBTW things can really help fully understand things. For example, Eisenhower and Patton worked closely together to develop the tank as a US weapon. That relationship should never be forgotten when viewing the actions/reactions of the two of them during WWII. The back story is often more interesting than the story itself.

Goober said...

I categorically reject the idea that a man is incapable of directing people in an action or task that he's never done, himself.

The idea that to be a good general, you need to have been in combat is ludicrous on its face, and I'd challenge anyone who disagrees with me to explain why getting shot at and shelled will help a man make better tactical decisions in planning overall troop movements in a major theater of operations, or planning the logistics of a major amphibious landing.

Borepatch said...

Goober, Ike clearly was an able leader. I was just surprised to see that he'd never commanded in combat. Despite that, he got his 5 stars, which is a bit unexpected given military culture.

Ken said...

The fact that Dugout Doug talked smack about Eisenhower raises my estimation of Eisenhower.