I spent part of the fall of 2003 with General Petraeus and the 101st Airborne Division in and around Mosul, Iraq. One of the first questions I asked him was what his orders had been. Was he ordered to “take Mosul,” I asked. No answer. How about “Find Mosul and report back”? No answer. Finally I asked him if his orders were something along the lines of “Go to Mosul!” He gave me an almost imperceptible nod. It must have been the first time an American combat infantry division had been ordered into battle so casually.IIRC Petraeus himself noted he had no orders whatsoever. But that is modern generalship, of which Petraeus is but a small part.
One does get the distinct impression from Tell Me How This Ends that Petraeus was overwhelmed and unequal to the tasks he set himself in Iraq.
More interesting is two seniormost officers going to a Tampa socialite for help suppressing free speech on a shock jock's radio show. Time weighs heavily on the hands of any four star, for sure.
Those colonels McClellan purged from the Army with special boards? They're running the show nowadays. In fact, they're running riot with stars on their shoulders.