H. R. McMaster

When we came to Iraq, we didn't understand the complexity - what it meant for a society to live under a brutal dictatorship with ethnic and sectarian divisions. When we first got here, we made a lot of mistakes. We were like a blind man, trying to do the right thing but breaking a lot of things.H. R. McMaster

0 likes view quote Mistakes, Society, Man

What is certain about the future is that even the best efforts to predict the conditions of future war will prove erroneous. What is important, however, is to not be so far off the mark that visions of the future run counter to the very nature of war and render American forces unable to adapt to unforeseen challenges.H. R. McMaster

0 likes view quote Nature, Best, Future

You have to keep listening and thinking and being critical and self-critical. Remember General Nivelle, in the First World War, at Verdun? He said he had the solution and then destroyed the French Army until it mutinied.H. R. McMaster

0 likes view quote War, Listening, Thinking

Because war is a competition involving life and death, and in which national security and vital interests are at stake, establishing an objective other than winning is not only counterproductive, but also irresponsible and wasteful. In some circumstances, it is also unethical.H. R. McMaster

0 likes view quote Life, Death, War

The war in Vietnam was not lost in the field, nor was it lost on the front pages of the 'New York Times' or the college campuses. It was lost in Washington, D.C.H. R. McMaster

0 likes view quote War, College, Lost

It is clear that while our Army was engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq, Russia studied U.S. capabilities and vulnerabilities and embarked on an ambitious and largely successful modernization effort.H. R. McMaster

0 likes view quote Effort, Successful, Army

In the years leading up to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, thinking about defense was driven by ideas that regarded successful military operations as ends in themselves rather than just one instrument of power that must be coordinated with others to achieve - and sustain - political goals.H. R. McMaster

0 likes view quote Power, Goals, Thinking

Be skeptical of concepts that divorce war from its political nature, particularly those that promise fast, cheap victory through technology.H. R. McMaster

0 likes view quote Nature, Technology, War

People fight today for the same fundamental reasons the Greek historian Thucydides identified nearly 2,500 years ago: fear, honor, and interest.H. R. McMaster

0 likes view quote Today, Fear, Honor

What we can afford least is to define the problem of future war as we would like it to be and, by doing so, introduce into our defense vulnerabilities based on self-delusion.H. R. McMaster

0 likes view quote Future, War, Problem

War is, in fact, an extension of politics, and in any war, military operations have to be conducted in such a way that they contribute to sustainable political outcomes consistent with vital interests that are at stake in that war.H. R. McMaster

0 likes view quote War, Politics, Political

Consequences of linear thinking in Afghanistan and Iraq included overestimating indigenous forces' capabilities, underestimating the enemy, and the associated expectation that the coalition could soon reduce force levels and shift to an exclusively advisory effort.H. R. McMaster

0 likes view quote Thinking, Effort, Enemy

It is in their inherent moral components that recent Western strategies may be deficient. What percentage of the populations in countries engaged in the 14-year effort in Afghanistan could even name the three main Taliban groups with whom their soldiers have been engaged?H. R. McMaster

0 likes view quote Effort, May, Moral

The professed war-weariness among populations who have sent only a small percentage of their sons and daughters to fight in recent wars may derive from a failure to communicate effectively what is at stake in those wars and explain why the efforts are worthy of the risks, resources, and sacrifices necessary to sustain the strategy.H. R. McMaster

0 likes view quote Failure, Small, Strategy

Every time you treat an Iraqi disrespectfully, you are working for the enemy.H. R. McMaster

0 likes view quote Time, Enemy, Treat

Offensive operations and hunting down the enemy is an integral part of any counterinsurgency approach.H. R. McMaster

0 likes view quote Enemy, Down, Hunting

It's astounding the degree to which these communities are intermarried. Iraq is a crazy quilt of ethnicities and religious sects.H. R. McMaster

0 likes view quote Crazy, Degree, Quilt

The key thing about force protection is... if you focus too much on force protection, and you disengage yourself from the community, you're putting yourself at greater risk because you need to interact with the community in a positive way to gain the intelligence you need.H. R. McMaster

0 likes view quote Positive, Community, Focus

I think any of us who have been involved in the mission of Iraq have developed a great deal of affection for the Iraqi people and are emotionally invested in what we think is a vital mission... So I think any of my contemporaries would welcome the opportunity to go back and make a contribution to this extraordinarily important mission.H. R. McMaster

0 likes view quote Great, Opportunity, Welcome

It is important to understand how leaders have adapted and thought about war and warfare across their careers. 'The Autobiography of General Ulysses S. Grant: Memoirs of the Civil War' is perhaps the best war memoir ever written.H. R. McMaster

0 likes view quote Best, War, Thought

It's important to study and understand your responsibilities within any profession, but it's particularly important for military officers to read, think, discuss, and write about the problem of war and warfare so they can understand not just the changes in the character of warfare but also the continuities.H. R. McMaster

0 likes view quote War, Character, Changes

We're so enamored of technological advancements that we fail to think about how to best apply those technologies to what we're trying to achieve. This can mask some very important continuities in the nature of war and their implications for our responsibilities as officers.H. R. McMaster

0 likes view quote Nature, Best, War

We often operate effectively on the physical battleground but not on the psychological battleground. We fail to communicate our resolve.H. R. McMaster

0 likes view quote Fail, Resolve, Communicate

We confuse activity with progress, and that's always dangerous, especially in war.H. R. McMaster

0 likes view quote War, Progress, Dangerous

Some people have a misunderstanding about the Army. Some people think, 'Hey, you're in the military, and everything is super-hierarchical, and you're in an environment that is intolerable of criticism, and people don't want frank assessments.' I think the opposite is the case.H. R. McMaster

0 likes view quote People, Environment, Army

In the Army, because the stakes are so high - right? - you can't just be a yes-man and say, 'Great idea, boss!' if you don't believe it - right? - because lives are at stake. And the commanders that I've worked for, they want frank assessments; they want criticism and feedback.H. R. McMaster

0 likes view quote Great, Believe, Boss
26 H. R. McMaster quotes

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