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MacArthur, Eisenhower, and the Lost Lessons of Building Partnership Capacity

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MacArthur, Eisenhower, and the Lost Lessons of Building Partnership Capacity

Benjamin Runkle

Arguably the clearest short-term legacy of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, one that transcends the partisan nature of most contemporary foreign policy debates, is the American public’s fatigue with large land wars and its desire to counter threats to U.S. national security without large-scale military deployments. President Obama’s 2015 National Security Strategy, for example, pledged to “focus on building the capacity of others to prevent the causes and consequences of conflict to include countering extreme and dangerous ideologies.” Despite running as the virtual antithesis of every one of his predecessor’s policies, President Trump’s 2017 National Security Strategy commits to helping “our partners develop and responsibly employ the capacity to degrade and maintain persistent pressure against terrorists,” while the Administration’s National Defense Strategy adds: “When we pool resources and share responsibility for our common defense, our security burden becomes lighter.” Indeed, support for the wide array of activities falling under the rubric of “Building Partnership Capacity” (BPC) has become a central pillar of U.S. national security and foreign policy, as evidenced by the activation and deployment of the Army’s Security Force Assistance Brigades.[1]

BPC’s increased prominence in the U.S. strategic toolkit has inspired a proliferation of academic studies on the subject. Various studies have sought to examine whether security force assistance is militarily effective[2], what factors contribute to the success or failure of such missions[3], and how the U.S. government can be more effectively organized to successfully execute BPC missions.[4] Whether relying on case study, quantitative, or mixed methodologies, these studies note that despite the dramatic increase in BPC programs since the Cold War’s end – and especially after the 9/11 terrorist attacks – America has actually been conducting such missions since the start of the Cold War. Hence, Stephen Biddle et al examine U.S. security assistance to South Korea from 1949-1953, Mara Karlin reviews U.S. support to Greece from 1947-1949, and Kathleen McInnis and Nathan Lucas investigate U.S. BPC efforts in the Philippines from 1947-1953 during the Huk Rebellion in order to glean lessons learned for modern policymakers.  

Yet many of the key lessons highlighted by such studies were already evident in cases preceding World War II. From 1927-1933, for example, U.S. Marines such as Chesty Puller trained the Nicaraguan Guardia Nacional as it fought Augusto Sandino’s insurgency. Similarly, although they are better remembered today for their theater-wide campaigns in World War II, beginning in 1935 Douglas MacArthur and Dwight Eisenhower led an effort to build an army from scratch in the Philippines. Although this mission is now mostly remembered for the interpersonal drama between these two soon-to-become legendary commanders, their experiences from 1935-1939 (and MacArthur’s case, until 1941) illustrate many lessons regarding BPC that would have to be relearned the hard way over future generations.

The United States and the Philippines

As a result of President McKinley’s opportunistic decision to seize the Philippines at the outset of a war with Spain over Cuba nearly 10,000 miles away, in 1898 America inadvertently acquired an empire in the Pacific. World War I subsequently shifted the balance of power in the Pacific and clarified the potential threats to American interests in the region. Japan had seized German territories in China, dominated Manchuria, and invaded Siberia with 120,000 troops. Besides demonstrating that Japan’s ability to project military forces into Asia surpassed that of any Western power, American officers who served alongside the Japanese in Russia – including future 8th Army commander Robert L. Eichelberger – became convinced that Japan intended to conquer East Asia and that its military eagerly anticipated a clash with the United States. Consequently, throughout the interwar period the United States garrisoned the Philippines with 12,000-16,000 troops, augmented by 7,000 Philippine Scouts, an elite corps of Filipino volunteers serving in units created during the 1899-1902 Philippine Insurrection.

In the early 1920s U.S. governor-general (and former Army chief of staff) Leonard Wood clashed with Philippine leaders – including the president of the Philippine Senate, Manuel Quezon – over the question of Philippine independence. The Great Depression, however, led U.S. policymakers to reconsider America’s relationship with its Pacific colony, and left Americans as eager to cut ties as Filipinos. Starting in 1932 a variety of independence bills were introduced in Congress until the Tydings-McDuffie Act was passed in 1934, granting the Philippines commonwealth status as a precursor to full independence in 1946.

That year Quezon travelled to Washington, D.C. to ask his friend General Douglas MacArthur – then serving as Army chief of Staff – to come to Manila to serve as his military advisor and oversee the creation of a Philippine army. MacArthur quickly said yes, and when he raised the subject with President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Secretary of War George Dern, “Both of them were not only in complete sympathy but were enthusiastic.”[5] On September 18, 1935, Secretary Dern issued Special Order Number 22 officially appointing MacArthur as military adviser to the Commonwealth of the Philippine Islands.

At first glance, the Philippine Defense Mission appeared to possess many of the prerequisites modern BPC studies identify as critical to mission success. First, U.S. and Philippine strategic interests were closely aligned. By 1934, the Japanese navy had announced plans to break the Washington Naval Treaties and resume battleship construction, and Japan’s army had completed its conquest of Manchuria. Consequently, many Philippine leaders feared they were Japan’s next target. A decade earlier, U.S. policymakers had argued that losing the islands would “seriously affect American prestige and make offensive operations in the western Pacific extremely difficult.”[6] Others such as President Herbert Hoover believed the United States “had a definite moral responsibility in regard to the Philippine people.”[7] Thus, when MacArthur left Washington in October 1935, he carried orders that emphasized the creation of the Philippine army as one of the U.S. government’s top priorities.

Second, the Philippine Defense Mission’s staff included some of the most talented officers in the interwar Army. Besides MacArthur, who had commanded both the Philippine Division and the entire Philippine Department in the 1920s prior to rising to Army chief of staff, the Mission’s two senior officers were Majors Dwight D. Eisenhower and James Ord. Eisenhower had finished first in his class at the Command and General Staff School before graduating from the Army War College and Industrial College of the Armed Forces. During World War I he oversaw 600 officers and 10,000 men as he created the U.S. Tank Corps training center at Camp Colt, Pennsylvania, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. Ike’s West Point classmate “Jimmy” Ord had been nominated for the Medal of Honor during the 1916 Punitive Expedition into Mexico. He graduated from the Ecole de Guerre in Paris before attending CGSS with Eisenhower, taught at both West Point and the Army War College, was fluent in Spanish, and in 1934 chaired a special War College committee to develop a defense plan for the Philippines. Thus, the Mission’s key leaders had experience in the region, previous experience building a military force from scratch, and had intensely studied the specific problem of the Philippines’ defense.

Finally, the Philippine’s leadership was supportive of building an army, committing 25 percent of its budget to defense spending, and, at least initially, gave MacArthur virtual carte blanche in determining “questions of mission, organizational structure, and personnel.”[8] Indeed, when MacArthur presented the Defense Mission’s plan in April 1936 as the “Report on National Defense in the Philippines,” it was accepted without amendment by now-President Quezon and the Commonwealth’s legislature.

Mission Not Accomplished

By any objective standard, however, the Philippine Defense Mission and the Philippine army proved to be a disaster. This was not due to any innate deficiencies with the Filipinos’ fighting capabilities. During the Philippine Division’s inaugural maneuvers in February 1923, the Scout regiments consistently outperformed their American counterparts, with all companies of the 57th Infantry qualifying 100 percent in rifle and machine gun marksmanship. Most American officers who served with the Scouts shared future WWII corps commander “Lightning Joe” Collins’s assessment that the Filipinos were “fine, well-disciplined, loyal troops.”[9] Nor did the Filipinos lack for patriotism. When the first registration of twenty-year-old Filipino men was conducted in April 1936, 150,000 Filipinos volunteered to serve in the nascent army. Yet despite more than five years of training under American guidance, by the summer of 1941 the newly arrived American officer commanding the Philippine army’s 61st Infantry Division commented that MacArthur “did not have any army – they were a mob.” His division had no basic training and “no officer or NCOs able to use initiative in a decentralized command.”[10] Another American officer noted his forces lacked everything from steel helmets to clothes, and wore sneakers “so deteriorated from age and use that most of the men were barefooted within a few days.”[11]

How did such a seemingly promising enterprise fail so abjectly?  Putting aside the question of whether the Philippines were ever defensible, the BPC mission to the Philippines failed due to several factors that would be readily recognizable to modern practitioners and analysts:

Unity of Effort

First, there is broad agreement regarding the importance that U.S. government entities be unified in their BPC efforts so that programs are organized and executed in a coherent and consistent manner.[12] Yet from the beginning, MacArthur was isolated in his efforts to build a Philippine army. MacArthur envisioned building a defense patterned after Switzerland’s citizen-soldier system of conscription in which a core of 20,000 Filipino regulars would train 400,000 native troops over ten years to be mobilized at the outbreak of war. Buttressed by a fleet of fifty patrol boats and 200 aircraft, these reservists would fight in small, mobile squads from their assorted home areas to defend the beaches against attack, further relying on the islands’ mountainous, jungle terrain to frustrate potential invaders. Yet Chief of Staff General Malin Craig and the War Plans Division were skeptical of MacArthur’s concept, and in December 1935 nearly the entire General Staff endorsed a report debunking MacArthur’s assumptions. Instead, the War Plans Division proposed gradually expanding the Philippine Constabulary rather than building a large, expensive army.

Consequently, what were vital priorities for the Mission and the Philippine army were treated with indifference and a lack of funding by the War Department. With the international situation deteriorating, General Craig was determined to improve the Army’s short-term readiness and was reluctant to commit precious men or materiel to what many deemed a secondary theater. When MacArthur returned to the United States in 1937 to lobby the War Department for munitions for the Philippine army through loans or sales, he recalled: “My request for supplies and equipment went unheeded.”[13] Eisenhower discovered a similar complacency in 1938 when he spent his entire vacation attempting to procure arms and munitions from the War Department. “They were unsympathetic,” Eisenhower noted. “As long as the Philippines insisted on being independent, the War Department’s attitude was that they could jolly well look out after their own defenses.”[14] It was not until Eisenhower convinced General Craig that a friendly Philippines capable of fighting a delaying action was a vital interest that “Doors that had been tightly closed began to open and we secured a number of concessions and much assistance.” [15] Thus, it was not until almost three years into the Mission’s BPC efforts that Eisenhower finally convinced the War Department to consider the Philippine army as part of the U.S. Army Reserve, thereby allowing obsolete, surplus equipment to be transferred to the Philippine army.

Absorptive and Institutional Capacity

Modern BPC studies note that in order to be effective, U.S. efforts should be tailored to the partner nation’s objectives and absorptive capacity. Dafna Rand and Stephen Tankel, for example, find that “U.S. officials should dispense assistance based on what partners need and can absorb.”[16] This reflects whether the partner nation has the human capital appropriate for BPC program, the institutional capacity, and perhaps most importantly, the economic capacity. As Jahara Matisek and William Reno observe, “a substantial problem with Western [security force assistance]” is that “it is too focused on building an army in the absence of a viable state that has the institutional capacity and political willpower to sustain that army.”[17] Unfortunately, all of these proved lacking in the Philippines.

Although MacArthur’s Filipino recruits were patriotic and willing to fight, they also reflected the Philippines’ diversity, but not necessarily in a good way, as they spoke eight languages and 87 different dialects, and much of the brief time for training was spent simply devising ways to communicate amongst themselves. Over 20 percent were illiterate, and more time was consumed teaching rudimentary principles of hygiene, barracks living, and the military structure necessary for a modern army. Consequently, the actual military training imparted during the five-and-a-half month program was pathetically shallow, and almost none of the graduates could perform even the basic tasks the program was supposed to impart. Although MacArthur envisioned a Philippine air force of 250 planes, pilot training posed significant challenges in a country where few people owned or drove automobiles. One Army Air Corps trainer recalled that MacArthur was expecting to “get them off a carabao and into an airplane [but] they had very poor appreciation of speed, distance, or anything mechanical.”[18] The program floundered, and Ord would tragically be killed when his Filipino pilot misjudged his speed and crash landed near Baguio in January 1938.

This human capital problem was compounded by a lack of Philippine institutional capacity. Whereas Eisenhower initially had high expectations for the Philippine army and found there were some capable men in the Constabulary, “they seem, with few exceptions, unaccustomed to the requirements of administrative and executive procedure.” He lamented “the almost total lack of administrative ability in the higher officials of the government and the army.” Consequently, both he and Ord had “learned to expect from the Filipinos with whom we deal, a minimum of performance from a maximum of promise.”[19]

This problem was exacerbated when MacArthur sought to capitalize on the large initial registration by rashly altering the training plan for 1937. He ordered an increase in the number of recruits to be trained that year, from Eisenhower and Ord’s projection of 6,000 to 40,000 – the target number not envisioned until 1941. Eisenhower was incredulous, as it was impossible to select and build the 125 training camps needed for the new recruits by January 1937. “We cannot select each site carefully and provide proper technical supervision for each construction project,” he wrote. Even the camps that had already been selected were not ready, as most lacked adequate water, roads, and light. Even if the infrastructure could be established in time, there were few officers transferring from the Constabulary with previous military experience. This meant there were not enough competent officers to train the reservists or to properly maintain the small stock of available equipment. “We have no officer corps to supervise organization on such a scale,” Eisenhower noted, “and officers cannot be produced out of thin air.”[20] After an inspection trip to southern Luzon in July 1937, Eisenhower found that “with regard to the cadres the early inspections have been disappointing. . . . [the] conditions were found . . . to be very unsatisfactory.” He continued, “The constant rains are, of course, partially responsible for this but many other defects were traceable to neglect on the part of cadre officers.”[21]

Political Willpower and Economic Capacity

Finally, the Philippines lacked the political willpower necessary for a successful BPC mission, primarily because it lacked the economic capacity to support MacArthur’s grandiose scheme. Eisenhower and Ord’s initial plan for the defense program, based strictly on strategic considerations, suggested that an annual budget of fifty million pesos ($25 million) was the bare minimum acceptable to ensure the Commonwealth’s security. MacArthur, however, declared that it was too expensive and ordered them to reduce the cost by half. The two majors reluctantly went back to the drawing board. They made various revisions, such as equipping the Philippine army with obsolete American rifles and paying conscripts “little more than cigarette money.” Eisenhower thought that “such a makeshift force would be rejected out of hand as worthless for defense.”[22] Instead, MacArthur revealed that the Philippine defense budget could not exceed $8 million and demanded even more cuts. Eisenhower and Ord were forced to reduce the proposed training schedule for each recruit from twelve to six months, abandoned plans for artillery and engineering corps, delayed the procurement of munitions and trucks, and cut the projected professional force of 1,500 officers and 19,000 enlisted reserves to 930 officers and 7,000 enlisted men in a single division that would act as a training cadre for ten reserve divisions. Eisenhower felt the contingent of officers was cut “to the point where this would be dangerously close to an army of recruits only.” Later, he recalled, “All Jimmy Ord and I could do was to assemble our proposals for a skeleton force that someday might have flesh put on its bones.”[23]

When MacArthur expanded the training program in 1937 to 40,000 recruits, Eisenhower and Ord warned him there was no funding to support the expanded mobilization. MacArthur ordered them to proceed anyways by borrowing against future years’ budgets. Delivering remarks written by Eisenhower that emphasized how defense funds were being spent on sanitation, education, literacy, and vocational training, Quezon managed to convince the legislature to temporarily increase the defense budget. Yet Eisenhower realized that relying on accounting tricks and temporary funding to obscure the ongoing financial problems would inevitably come to a head. “We’re like a bunch of skaters on thin ice, going faster and faster to keep from falling through, and always desperately looking for some lucky break that will carry us to firm footing. . . . Sooner or later there must be a day of reckoning.”[24] Indeed, Quezon was “astounded and furious” at the rising costs associated with MacArthur’s plans, and from that point on whenever the general tried to talk about defense, Quezon would talk about Philippine poverty.[25] By 1939 Quezon created a Department of National Defense to provide greater oversight of MacArthur’s expenditures, and he encouraged the Assembly to cut defense spending from 25 percent to 14 percent of the Commonwealth budget.

Leadership

As Karlin notes, a key to the successful American program to build Greece’s military after World War II was that “the architect of the U.S. effort, General James Van Fleet, was . . . a capable and charismatic leader committed to keeping Athens and Washington on the same page.”[26]  Although on paper MacArthur seemed to be the ideal choice to lead the Philippine Defense Mission, his leadership style undermined BPC efforts. Although Eisenhower urged the general to meet weekly with Quezon to secure agreement on the numerous details the Mission faced, MacArthur refused. The former chief of staff saw himself as an elder statesman and, Eisenhower observed, “He apparently thinks it would not be keeping with his rank and position for him to do so.”[27] As time passed, MacArthur became increasingly detached from U.S. decision-making as well. He officially retired from the U.S. Army in late 1937, and when Theodore White of Time magazine visited Manila in December 1940, he was told MacArthur “cut no more ice in this U.S. Army than a corporal.”[28]

MacArthur was also disconnected from the Mission’s day-to-day operations. He had little interaction with the Filipinos who led the Philippine forces and left the details of creating the army to Eisenhower and Ord. Ord wrote his wife saying MacArthur’s plans “might have been done by Jules Verne in his more imaginative moods.”[29] MacArthur’s daily schedule was “more befitting a gentleman of leisure than a military adviser,” and by 1938, future general Lucius Clay recalled, “General MacArthur never came to the office but about an hour a day. He would come down about one o’clock and stay until about two.”[30] His leadership within the Mission grew increasingly toxic, as he repeatedly cast blame on his subordinates whenever Quezon questioned decisions that were actually MacArthur’s. This finally led Eisenhower to quit the Mission and seek reassignment stateside in 1939, with his son John, a future general himself, recalling: “MacArthur was in very bad shape in those days. . . . He was living in a dream world.”[31]

Conclusion

On July 26, 1941, following Japanese troop movements into Southeast Asia, President Roosevelt placed the Philippine army under American control and reactivated MacArthur as Commanding General, United States Army Forces in the Far East. MacArthur informed the War Department that his strength totaled more than 100,000 American and Filipino troops, although Vincente Lim, a West Point-trained Philippine Brigadier General reported that while the Philippine army had 100,000 enlisted men, they were led by 1,000 “half-baked trained officers.” MacArthur’s deceptively optimistic declarations touting the untrained Filipinos’ capabilities unfortunately convinced the War Department to send reinforcements: four bomber groups of 70 planes each, 260 fighters, 14 infantry companies, a tank battalion,  and the 4th Marine Regiment. Amongst the reinforcements provided by the War Department in the fall of 1941 were 450 officers to train the Filipino regiments. But by then, it was too late. When the Japanese attacked the Philippines immediately after Pearl Harbor, MacArthur’s air force was inexplicably caught on the tarmac. And after the Japanese invasion later that month, all these men were lost or imprisoned in terrible conditions following the fall of Bataan and Corregidor.

Although the result of the Japanese invasion was likely predetermined by the strategic geography that meant Japan could throw 300,000 troops into an invasion with little-to-no-warning, operational defeat or victory is not necessarily the appropriate dependent variable in judging the success or failure of a BPC mission. Military history is replete with examples of magnificently trained militaries that lost wars or poorly trained armies whose flaws were never exposed in the crucible of battle. Well before the first Japanese landings in December 1941, it was clear to most observers that the Philippine Defense Mission had failed to accomplish any of the training objectives it set out to achieve. The causes of this failure are easily recognizable to contemporary BPC practitioners:

  • The U.S. Government, particularly within the War Department, was not unified behind the BPC mission in the Philippines;
  • The Filipinos, despite their patriotism and courage, had high rates of illiteracy and cultural differences that complicated building a national army, as well as a shortage of experience with technology required of a modern military;
  • The Filipinos lacked the institutional capacity – particularly in terms of infrastructure and administrative capabilities – necessary to absorb the U.S. training;
  • The Philippines lacked the economic capacity to absorb the significant costs imposed by MacArthur’s grandiose – and possibly strategically inappropriate – plans for the Philippine army; and
  • Finally, MacArthur himself, despite being the ideal officer for the job on paper, proved to be highly and a toxic leader who undermined the effectiveness of the Mission’s BPC efforts.

Douglas MacArthur and Dwight Eisenhower justifiably have become legends for their accomplishments while commander World War II’s Pacific and Northern European campaigns. Yet even with renewed focus on great power conflicts, future commanders are more likely to face missions similar to what these officers faced in the Philippines prior to the war than the continent-wide conventional campaigns they are better known far. In the end, it is just as important to study the lost lessons of their failed BPC efforts as their brilliant victories over the Axis powers.

End Notes


[1] As Dafna Rand and Steven Tankel note, the term building partnership capacity “has become a catchall for a wide array of programs,” often conflating security assistance, security cooperation, and security sector assistance. For the purposes of this essay, I forgo the semantical issue and use “BPC” to connote the broad spectrum of programs that seek to strengthen foreign security institutions in weak and/or fragile states on the assumption that doing so benefits U.S. national security interests. On the definitional elasticity of BPC, see Dafna Rand and Stephen Tankel, “Security Cooperation & Assistance: Rethinking the Return on Investment,” Center for a New American Security, August 2015, pp. 2, 6; and Kathleen J. McInnis and Nathan J. Lucas, What is “Building Partner Capacity?” Issues For Congress (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 2015), pp. 1, 5.

[2] See Stephen Biddle, Julia Macdonald, & Ryan Baker, “Small footprint, small payoff: The military effectiveness of security force assistance,” Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 41 No. 1-2, pp. 89-142.

[3] See Christopher Paul, Colin P. Clarke, Beth Grill, Stephanie Young, Jennifer D.P. Moroney, Joe Hogler, Christine Leah, What Works Best When Building Partner Capacity and Under What Circumstances? (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2013); Mara Karlin, Building Militaries in Fragile States: Challenges for the United States (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018).

[4] See Rand and Tankel “Security Cooperation & Assistance”; and McInnis and Lucas, What is “Building Partner Capacity?”

[5] Douglas MacArthur letter to Manuel Quezon, December 27, 1934, Record Group 18, Douglas A. MacArthur Memorial Archive, Norfolk, VA.

[6] See Louis Morton, Strategy and Command: The First Two Years (Washington, DC: Office of the Chief of Military History, 1962), p. 39.

[7] Arthur Herman, Douglas MacArthur: American Warrior (New York: Random House, 2016), p. 263.

[8] Mara Karlin, “Why Military Assistance Programs Disappoint,” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 96, No. 6 (November/December 2017), p. 112.

[9] Joseph Lawton Collins, Lightning Joe: An Autobiography (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1979), p. 61.

[10] See Bradford Chynoweth, Oral Reminiscences, p. 14; RG 49, Box 2, MMA; and Bradford Grethen, Bellamy Park: Memoirs (Hicksville, NY: Exposition Press, 1975), p. 197.

[11] Stanley Karnow, In Our Image: America’s Empire in the Philippines (New York: Random House, 1989), p. 284.

[12] See for example, Karlin, Building Militaries in Fragile States, p. 201.

[13] Douglas MacArthur, Reminiscences (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964), p. 106.

[14] William Manchester, American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur, 1880-1964 (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1983), p. 183.

[15] Dwight D. Eisenhower, At Ease: Stories I Tell to Friends (McGraw Hill, 1967), pp. 224-225.

[16] Rand and Tankel, pp. 26-27. See also Paul et. al, What Works Best When Building Partner Capacity, p. xvii.

[17] Jahara Matisek and William Reno, “Getting American Security Force Assistance Right: Political Context Matters,” Joint Forces Quarterly 92, 1st Quarter 2019, p. 66.

[18] Geoffrey Perret, Old Soldiers Never Die: The Life of Douglas MacArthur (New York: Random House, 1996), p. 219.

[19] Eisenhower Diary, December 27, 1935; and February 6, 1936, in The Eisenhower Diaries, Robert H. Ferrell, ed, (New York: Norton, 1981), pp. 11-12, 15.

[20] Eisenhower Diary, May 29, 1936 (Second Entry), in Ferrell, p. 20.

[21] Dwight D. Eisenhower Letter to James Ord, July 29, 1937, RG 1, Box 1, Folder 6A, MacArthur Memorial Archive.

[22] Stephen E. Ambrose, Eisenhower, Vol. I, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1983), p. 105.

[23] Eisenhower, At Ease, p. 220.

[24] Eisenhower diary entry, December 21, 1937, in Eisenhower: The Prewar Diaries and Selected Papers, 1905-1941, Daniel D. Holt and James W. Leyerzapf, eds., (Baltimore, MD: The JHU Press, 1988), p 371.

[25] Kerry Irish, “Dwight Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur in the Philippines: There Must Be a Day of Reckoning,” The Journal of Military History 74 (April 2010), pp, 457-458.

[26] Karlin, Building Militaries in Fragile States, p. 36.

[27] Eisenhower diary, May 29, 1936 (Second Entry), in Ferrell, 20.

[28] Theodore H. White, In Search of History (New York: HarperCollins, 1978), p. 108.

[29] James Ord to Emily Ord, October 28, 1937, DDE Pre-presidential Papers 1916-52, Misc. File, Box 24, 1936.

[30] Jean Edward Smith, Lucius D. Clay: An American Life (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1990), p. 78.

[31] Merle Miller, Ike The Soldier: As They Knew Him (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1987), p. 290.

About the Author(s)

Benjamin Runkle is a Senior Policy Fellow with Artis International and an Adjunct Lecturer in the Johns Hopkins University’s Global Security Program. He is the author of Generals in the Making: How Marshall, Eisenhower, Patton, and Their Peers Became the Commanders Who Won World War II (Stackpole Books, 2019).

Comments

Bottom Line Up Front: 

Given that "nation-building" -- specifically, transforming outlying states and societies more along modern western political, economic, social and values lines -- given that this would seem to be the basis for our BPC actions of late -- and for the formation and deployment of our Security Force Assistance Brigades -- should we not, accordingly, consider our "lessons learned" more from that point of view? 

First, the first paragraph of our article above:

BEGIN QUOTE

Arguably the clearest short-term legacy of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, one that transcends the partisan nature of most contemporary foreign policy debates, is the American public’s fatigue with large land wars and its desire to counter threats to U.S. national security without large-scale military deployments. President Obama’s 2015 National Security Strategy, for example, pledged to “focus on building the capacity of others to prevent the causes and consequences of conflict to include countering extreme and dangerous ideologies.” Despite running as the virtual antithesis of every one of his predecessor’s policies, President Trump’s 2017 National Security Strategy commits to helping “our partners develop and responsibly employ the capacity to degrade and maintain persistent pressure against terrorists,” while the Administration’s National Defense Strategy adds: “When we pool resources and share responsibility for our common defense, our security burden becomes lighter.” Indeed, support for the wide array of activities falling under the rubric of “Building Partnership Capacity” (BPC) has become a central pillar of U.S. national security and foreign policy, as evidenced by the activation and deployment of the Army’s Security Force Assistance Brigades.

END QUOTE 

Next, from the President Obama 2015 National Security Strategy -- noted and quoted by our author above -- the full paragraph, wherein, our author's above-quoted item from the Obama NSS is to be found:

BEGIN QUOTE

Build Capacity to Prevent Conflict

... Within states, the nexus of weak governance and widespread grievance allows extremism to take root, violent non-state actors to rise up, and conflict to overtake state structures. To meet these challenges, we will continue to work with partners and through multilateral organizations to address the root causes of conflict before they erupt and to contain and resolve them when they do. We prefer to partner with those fragile states that have a genuine political commitment to establishing legitimate governance and providing for their people. The focus of our efforts will be on proven areas of need and impact, such as inclusive politics, enabling effective and equitable service delivery, reforming security and rule of law sectors, combating corruption and organized crime, and promoting economic opportunity, particularly among youth and women. We will continue to lead the effort to ensure women serve as mediators of conflict and in peacebuilding efforts, and they are protected from gender-based violence.

END QUOTE 

https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/docs/2015_national_security_strategy_2.pdf (See Pages 10 and 11.)

Thus to note that the quoted item, from the Obama 2015 NSS provided by our author above, this seems to relate:

a.  Only to conflicts "within states" (conflicts between states are discussed in an earlier paragraph.) And, of these such internal conflicts,

b.  Only those of the "weak, failed, failing, fragile" variety.  Wherein:

1.  The "root cause" of such conflicts was and still is thought to be (admittedly in words other than those in the Obama NSS) 

2.  A lack of sufficient modern western political, economic, social and value institutions and norms.  

Based on this such observation, might we move to make our "lessons" criteria more clear and understandable by (a) re-writing our author's first sentence, of his first and introductory paragraph above, this, so as to (b) make the basis for our interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan (et. al) more evident?  For example, as follows:

"Arguably the clearest short-term legacy of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, one that transcends the partisan nature of most contemporary foreign policy debates(???), is the American public’s fatigue, in general:

a.  With efforts being made by the U.S./the West to transform the outlying states and societies of the world more along modern western political, economic, social and value lines.  And, specifically, with their objection to:   

b.  The use of large numbers of U.S./Western military personnel in these such 'transformative' endeavors/in these such 'development' projects."

Bottom Line Thought -- Based on the Above:

Note that -- based on these such alterations/this such change  -- we can now better understand, among other things, that:

a.  The role being played by our Security Force Assistance Brigades; this, in truth,

b.  Has everything to do with "nation-building."

(And, thus, it is "nation-building" that, in truth, America does not want to see its military forces, in large numbers, being employed to do/to accomplish?)

(Note:  Should you believe that the U.S., under President Trump, is no longer involved in "nation-building," then you may wish to review -- for example in his NSS approach to Africa -- [a] his suggested basis for "nation-building, to wit: U.S. national interests and [b] how he describes these such interests:    

"Africa remains a continent of promise and enduring challenges. Africa contains many of the world’s fastest growing economies, which represent potential new markets for U.S. goods and services. Aspiring partners across the continent are eager to build market-based economies and enhance stability.  The demand for quality American exports is high and will likely grow as Africa’s population and prosperity increase. People across the continent are demanding government accountability and less corruption, and are opposing autocratic trends. The number of stable African nations has grown since the independence era as numerous countries have emerged from devastating conflicts and undergone democratic transitions. ... "

https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905.pdf [See beginning on Page 52.])