Friday, August 31, 2007

Generals and Their Candidates

Okay, this is off topic for this blog, but it involves something I know a great deal about, and I thought that my thoughts would be interesting. William Arkin of the Washington Post has printed a list of former Generals and the candidates that they are supporting or advising. Here is the list:

Lt. Gen. Daniel William Christman, USA (Ret.); foreign policy adviser to Clinton campaign
• Maj. Gen. J. (Jonathan) Scott Gration, USAF (Ret.); national security adviser to Obama campaign
• Gen. John M. ("Jack") Keane, USA (Ret.); foreign policy adviser to Clinton campaign
• Lt. Gen. Claudia J. Kennedy, USA (Ret.); member, Veterans and Military Retirees For Hillary
• Lt. Gen. Donald L. Kerrick, USA (Ret.); foreign policy adviser to Clinton campaign
• Brig. Gen. Robert Michael Kimmitt (USAR); adviser to McCain campaign
• Adm. Charles Larson, USN (Ret.); adviser to McCain campaign
• Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, USA (Ret.); adviser to McCain campaign
• Gen. Merrill A. ("Tony") McPeak, USAF (Ret); defense adviser to Obama campaign
• Gen. Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.); adviser to McCain campaign
• Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, USAF (Ret.); adviser to McCain campaign
• U.S. Rep. (and retired Vice Adm.); Joseph Sestak; has endorsed Clinton

Read the full article here.

My reaction? Both Senator Clinton and Senator McCain have garnered the most impressive list of Generals. The Clinton list is largely General officers who I knew and worked with while I was at the Pentagon. It is a great and impressive list:

Claudia Kennedy was the highest ranking female officer in the Army when I was in the Pentagon. She the Army's top intelligence officer. Smart, capable and politically savvy.

Jack Keane was the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army when I was General Counsel of the Army. The day I was sworn in, I went with him on a trip to Kosovo (this was in the early days of the Kosovo peacekeeping operation). He is a talented, gruff, tough, wicked smart, and is soldiers' soldier. He came from special forces. He was offered the Chief of Staff for the Army post during the Bush years, but declined. He is also one of the architects of a "surge" strategy (but his strategy was much different than that implemented by Bush). The fact that he is advising Clinton will cause raised eye brows among many. I think that it gives Clinton instant credibility with the military.

Donald Kerrick was the highest ranking officer at the National Security Counsel during much of the Clinton Administration. When I was at the Drug Czar's office, I sometimes represented our office at the early morning Senior Staff meeting. Kerrick always gave the overnight briefing at that meeting. Very smart and very capable.

Daniel William Christman was the West Point Superintendent. A highly respected officer who touched the lives of many young officers.

The McCain list tend to be of an older generation of officers. Most are legends. I worked as Barry McCaffrey's lawyer. He is one of the smartest people I have ever met--and one of the most talented bureaucratic operators in Washington. He was a tough boss and client, but it was exciting to work for him because you knew that he would actually accomplish something.

To put it bluntly, McCain and Clinton have both assembled great teams of military advisors.

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