THE DEATH OF THE ARMY: A Pre-Mortem by Col. Edward L. King


Email this review


A retired colonel makes a stirring indictment of the internal state of the Army, whose best traditions, he says, have given way to the most squalid careerism and favoritism, to racism and moral laxity. For those who imagine that bootlicking and petty harassment are the only possible norm for military organizations, King counterposes ""the concepts of justice, equality and constitutionally guaranteed freedoms."" His second emphasis falls on the ""misuse of manpower,"" both logistically and educationally. His complaints and recommendations for organizational and training reforms are dense with examples, many, of course, culled from Vietnam. His contempt for ""false leadership"" and ""parochial self-interest"" reflects an old-fashioned sense of vocational responsibility as opposed to unprincipled pragmatism. But King too is a pragmatist; he observes that ""to reform an institution effectively it must be understood."" To understand the Army, however, one must go beyond the barracks and command strata, past the military machine itself, and into examination of the interests and policies it serves, and King does not do this. His reforms would probably improve morale and strengthen discipline -- ultimately in the service of higher kill ratios. If not mistaken for an antimilitarist tract, the book can be profitably read as a study of military malfunction as well as a crisp sermon against self-seeking perversions which, if unlicensed, can undermine any bureaucracy.

Pub Date: May 16th, 1972
Publisher: Saturday Review Press