Petraeus' 'ribbon creep'

This is a discussion on Petraeus' 'ribbon creep' within the Law Enforcement, Military & Homeland Security Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I'm sorry, but this loser obviously never wore the uniform of any US Military service and thus doesn't even qualify to shine the shoes of ...

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Thread: Petraeus' 'ribbon creep'

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    Senior Member Array EW3's Avatar
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    Petraeus' 'ribbon creep'

    I'm sorry, but this loser obviously never wore the uniform of any US Military service and thus doesn't even qualify to shine the shoes of General Petraeus!

    Petraeus' 'ribbon creep'
    A uniform full of medals and decorations clashes with his message.
    By Matthew DeBord

    April 9, 2008

    Gen. David H. Petraeus may be as impressive a military professional as the United States has developed in recent years, but he could use some strategic advice on how to manage his sartorial PR. Witness his congressional testimony on the state of the war in Iraq. There he sits in elaborate Army regalia, four stars glistening on each shoulder, nine rows of colorful ribbons on his left breast, and various other medallions, brooches and patches scattered across the rest of the available real estate on his uniform. He even wears his name tag, a lone and incongruous hunk of cheap plastic in a region of pristine gilt, just in case the politicians aren't sure who he is.

    That's a lot of martial bling, especially for an officer who hadn't seen combat until five years ago. Unfortunately, brazen preening and "ribbon creep" among the Army's modern-day upper crust have trumped the time-honored military virtues of humility, duty and personal reserve.

    Think about any of the generals you've seen in recent years -- Norman Schwarzkopf, Barry McCaffrey, Wesley Clark (all now retired) and others -- and the image you'll conjure no doubt includes a chest full of shimmering decorations. In Petraeus' case, most of them don't represent actual military action as much as they do the general's devotion to the institution of the U.S. Army and vice versa. According to an annotated photograph produced by the Times of London last year, the majority of ribbons on Petraeus' impressive "rack" were earned for various flavors of distinguished service. As brave as he may be and as meritorious in general, is all that ostentation the best way to present the situation in Iraq to an increasingly war-skeptical public?

    Of course, Petraeus' goal is not just to make simple, soldierly arguments before Congress -- it is to dazzle, at least initially, with the blazing imagery of rank. What, after all, are mere Brooks Brothers suits on the members of Congress in the face of a fighting man's laurels? Some of the showiness can be attributed to regulations: The official uniform of the Army is to be worn in a very specific manner, and the brass have an obligation to live up to their billing by showing plenty of ... well, brass. On the other hand, if you're wearing four stars, you surely have some say when it comes to matters of peacockery.

    Medals and decorations have a long history with a slightly cynical tinge. This goes back to their inception, during the Napoleonic era, when the strategic genius from Corsica discovered that baubles handed out to the combatants helped ensure loyalty and ferociousness. "With a handful of ribbons, I can conquer all of Europe," he said. In more contemporary times, decorations have suffered a fraught reputation among the rank and file: nice to get but awkward to display if the memories associated with them are of violence, loss and the ineptness of commanders. There have been isolated incidents of Iraq war veterans returning their medals, and, of course, Vietnam War vets were better acquainted with this kind of protest.

    The greatest military leaders, in the age of organized national armies, have often conspicuously modified the official requirements of the uniform, even in the most public of settings. Ulysses S. Grant accepted Robert E. Lee's sword while outfitted in disheveled Union blue and muddy boots. Douglas MacArthur presided over the signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on the deck of the battleship Missouri without donning so much as a necktie with his khakis. George Patton wasflamboyant, in his jodhpurs and riding boots, but he backed it up in battle after battle. His legend derived equally from brilliant tactics and an outrageous wardrobe.

    Perhaps the best example, however -- and one that Petraeus and his cadre should look to for inspiration -- was set by two of the most politically savvy generals America has produced: Dwight Eisenhower and George Marshall. In photographs following World War II, with Ike fresh from rescuing Western civilization while Marshall was working to rebuild it, both men appear victorious, yet somber, cognizant of the challenges met and the challenges ahead. Eisenhower wears a single row of ribbons, Marshall three.

    When you've saved the world and managed the lives and deaths of millions, it obviously compels a certain level of modesty about showcasing your accomplishments, however monumental. Apparently when you're trying to explain why your war-fighting achievements are "fragile" and why the conflict you're running in a hot, dusty faraway place might never be won, it does not.

    Memo to Petraeus: When you're making the case for more patriotic gore, go easy on the glitter.

    Matthew DeBord is a writer in Los Angeles.
    "Naked and Starving as They are We Cannot Enough Admire the Incomparable Patience and Fidelity of the Soldiery" George Washington, Valley Forge, 1777.

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    Senior Member Array rmarkob's Avatar
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    "Brooches". Heh. This writer is obviously projecting his own deficiencies on Petraeus.
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    Obviously, the writer is intimidated by someone who actually does something.

    Its a common trait in sheeple. It bothers them when they are reminded that the world is not a soft,comfortable place and they often bleat loudly...because they can without fear of being eaten by better men than themselves.
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    VIP Member Array goldshellback's Avatar
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    The "broached" General WAS in the proper uniform for addressing congress.The writer is a definate Loser and obviously NEVER served!

    Petraeus' 'ribbon creep' - Los Angeles Times
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    There he sits in elaborate Army regalia, four stars glistening on each shoulder, nine rows of colorful ribbons on his left breast, and various other medallions, brooches and patches scattered across the rest of the available real estate on his uniform. He even wears his name tag, a lone and incongruous hunk of cheap plastic in a region of pristine gilt, just in case the politicians aren't sure who he is
    .

    [SARCASM] OH MY GOD!! A General obeying uniform regulations. What is the world coming too?? [/SARCASM]

    The writer is a jerk.
    Rick

    EOD - Initial success or total failure

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    Distinguished Member Array morintp's Avatar
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    So, he couldn't figure anything else to ridicule the General with, so he went after his uniform?

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    Distinguished Member Array bandit383's Avatar
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    Over the top...but I understand his point and agree with a few...ribbons like candy for one.

    ...and I served.

    Rick

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    Writer from LA...........jeez.........how moronic

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    I agree with both.

    Having served for six years, three seperate campaigns in the M.E. and an "action" in east Africa, I think I can safely comment.

    The General was entirely correct to wear his "bling", as the author put it. Doing otherwise would have been the military equivalent of showing up before Congress in jeans and a T-shirt. Full dress uniform is composed of Dress Blues/Whites, medals and Warfare designations on the left side and ribbons with no corresponding medal on the right. I was Navy, Army is probably different.

    Now about "ribbon creep". Seen it happen. After 9/11 I re-enlisted in the Naval Reserve. There were a lot of Chiefs and officers running around with an aweful lot of hardware on their chest. A few I'd served with before and knew it was a recent addition. A lot of them didn't wear the new decorations unless required by regulation. They called them cheap and administrative.

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    JD
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    Damn hippies.


    Sorry, it was the first thing to come to mind.

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    Member Array taggart's Avatar
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    Dick Cavett had some opinions of his own about the uniform. (I didn't even know he was still alive). It's over on Michelle Malkin's blog. Ah, the left coast. Gotta love 'em...or not.
    Also, I've noticed that a lot of these articles online don't have a comment section anymore. Maybe it's a good thing they don't. I wouldn't get ANY work done!
    Last edited by taggart; April 15th, 2008 at 10:03 AM. Reason: Added a P.S.
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    Senior Member Array MR D's Avatar
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    yeah he was dressed for work on the hill... or anywhere else Class "A" uniform is required

    when one wears the Army Class "A" the personal awards and decorations go on the left and unit citations go on the right

    stuff on the right may change from unit to unit as well - I earned a Joint Meritorious Unit Award (goes on the right chest) if I served with the 82d ABN (or some other unit with illustrious past) while serving in that unit - I would wear the Presidential Unit Citations (etc) that that unit had earned in the past - (as well as my JMUA)

    when departing that unit I would cease to wear the PUC (etc) unless I was there when it was earned...(then it would be mine)

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    Senior Member Array gwhall57's Avatar
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    Yet another example of a left-wing nut-job inventing things to complain about. I'd be very surprised, these days, to see a 4-star with less than 8 or 9 rows of ribbons.

    Those who have never worn the uniform are so quick to find fault with those that do.
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    VIP Member Array edr9x23super's Avatar
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    Well, what do you expect coming out of California nowadays??
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    Lead Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1911 guy View Post
    Now about "ribbon creep". Seen it happen. After 9/11 I re-enlisted in the Naval Reserve. There were a lot of Chiefs and officers running around with an aweful lot of hardware on their chest. A few I'd served with before and knew it was a recent addition. A lot of them didn't wear the new decorations unless required by regulation. They called them cheap and administrative.
    It goes back further than 9/11. A couple years before I retired (1985) the Army came out with a bunch of ribbons, I think I actually "added" a whole row! I can't even remember what they all were but they were for things like finishing a service school, getting out of basic, being sent overseas........ In other words doing my job.

    Never agreed with it, but regulation says............

    (I do recall being out at Andrews AFB on a detail one day and seeing a mid-level Army NCO by the fence. He was wearing one ribbon, and you knew he just had to have more..... It was baby blue with little stars. No one called him on it!)
    Rick

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