Military Wiki
H. R. McMaster
H. R. McMaster in 2012 as commander of the Maneuver Center of Excellence in Fort Benning, GA.
Born July 24, 1962(1962-07-24) (age 60)
Place of birth Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army seal United States Army
Years of service 1984-Present
Rank US-O8 insignia.svg Major General
Commands held 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment
3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment
Maneuver Center of Excellence

Persian Gulf War

War on Terror

Awards Silver Star
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit (2)
Bronze Star Medal (2)
Purple Heart Medal
War on Terrorism Service Medal
Humanitarian Service Medal
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia)
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)
National Defense Service Medal
Southwest Asia Service Medal
Iraq Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Meritorious Service Medal
Army Achievement Medal
Army Commendation Medal
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Ranger Tab
Parachutist Badge
Combat Action Badge
Valorous Unit Award

Major General Herbert Raymond McMaster (born July 24, 1962, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an American soldier, and a career officer in the U.S. Army. His current assignment is commander of the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Ft. Benning, Georgia. McMaster previously served as Director of Combined Joint Interagency Task Force-Shafafiyat (CJIATF-Shafafiyat) (Transparency) at ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) Headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan. In addition, he was a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. He is known for his roles in the Gulf War, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and his reputation for questioning U.S. policy and military leaders regarding the Vietnam War.


McMaster graduated from Valley Forge Military Academy in 1980, where he served as a Company Commander with the rank of Cadet Captain. He is a 1984 graduate of West Point, where he played rugby.

He holds Master of Arts and Ph.D. degrees in American History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and authored a thesis criticizing American strategy in the Vietnam War, which is detailed in his 1997 book Dereliction of Duty.[1] It harshly criticizes high-ranking officers of that era, charging they inadequately challenged Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and President Lyndon Johnson on their Vietnam strategy. The book is widely read in Pentagon circles and is on the official reading list of the Marine Corps.[2]

Early career

His first assignment after commissioning was to the 2nd Armored Division at Fort Hood, where he served in a variety of platoon and company level leadership assignments with 1st Battalion 66th Armor Regiment. In 1989, McMaster was assigned to the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Warner Barracks in Bamberg, Germany, where he served until 1992, including deployment to Operation Desert Storm.

During the Gulf War in 1991 he was a Captain commanding Eagle Troop of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment at the Battle of 73 Easting. ( ) During that battle, though significantly outnumbered and encountering the enemy by surprise as McMaster's lead tank crested a dip in the terrain, the nine tanks of Eagle Troop destroyed over eighty Iraqi Republican Guard tanks and other vehicles without loss.[3]

McMaster was awarded the Silver Star. The battle features in several books about Desert Storm and is widely referred to in US Army training exercises. It also receives coverage in Tom Clancy's 1994 popular non-fiction book Armored Cav.[3] McMaster served as a military history professor at West Point from 1994 to 1996, teaching among other things the battles in which he fought.

Later career

From 1999 to 2002, McMaster commanded 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, and then took a series of staff positions at U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM), including planning and operations roles in Iraq.

In his next job, as Lieutenant Colonel and later Colonel, McMaster worked on the staff of USCENTCOM as executive officer to Deputy Commander Lieutenant General John Abizaid. When Abizaid received four-star rank and became Central Command's head, McMaster served as Director, Commander's Advisory Group (CAG), described as the command's brain trust.

In 2004, he was assigned to command the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment (3rd ACR). Shortly after McMaster took command the regiment deployed for its second tour in Iraq and was assigned the mission of securing the city of Tal Afar. That mission culminated in September with Operation Restoring Rights and the defeat of the city's insurgent strongholds. President Bush praised this success, and the PBS show Frontline broadcast a documentary in February, 2006 featuring interviews with McMaster. CBS' 60 Minutes produced a similar segment in July,[4] and the operation was the subject of an article in the April 10, 2006 issue of The New Yorker.

Author Tim Harford has written that the pioneering tactics employed by 3rd ACR led to the first success in overcoming the Iraqi insurgency. Prior to 2005, tactics included staying out of dangerous urban areas except on patrols, with US forces returning to their bases each night. These patrols had little success in turning back the insurgency because local Iraqis who feared retaliation would very rarely assist in identifying them to US forces. McMaster deployed his soldiers into Tal Afar on a permanent basis, and once the local population grew confident that they weren't going to withdraw nightly, the citizens began providing information on the insurgents, enabling US forces to target and defeat them.[3][5]

McMaster passed command of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment on June 29, 2006, and joined the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, as a Senior Research Associate with a mandate described as "conduct[ing] research to identify opportunities for improved multi-national cooperation and political-military integration in the areas of counterinsurgency, counter-terrorism, and state building", and to devise "better tactics to battle terrorism."[6]

From August, 2007 to August, 2008 McMaster was part of an "elite team of officers advising US commander" General David Petraeus on counterinsurgency operations in Iraq.[7] Petraeus and most of his team were stationed in Fort Leavenworth at the time but McMaster collaborated remotely, according to senior team member John Nagl.[3][5]

Promotion controversy and career as a general officer

McMaster was passed over for promotion to Brigadier General in 2006 and 2007. As one of "the most celebrated soldiers of the Iraq War", this decision was controversial among the public.[8] "The reasoning was possibly his tendency to speak out against the status quo, although it is always for the benefit of the mission and his soldiers."[9][10][11]

McMaster was nominated for Brigadier General on the 2008 promotion list.[12] Secretary of the Army Pete Geren had requested Petraeus to return briefly from Iraq to take charge of the promotion board as a way to ensure that the best performers in combat received every consideration for advancement, and it is generally acknowledged that Petraeus's presence ensured that McMaster was among those selected.[3][13]

In August, 2008 McMaster assumed duties as Director, Concept Development and Experimentation (later renamed Concept Development and Learning), in the Army Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC) at Fort Monroe, Virginia, part of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. In this position McMaster was involved in preparing doctrine to guide the Army over the next ten to twenty years. He was promoted on June 29, 2009.[14][15]

In July, 2010 Brigadier General McMaster was selected to be the J-5, Deputy to the Commander for Planning, at ISAF (International Security Assistance Forces) Headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan. Additionally, General McMaster directed a joint anti-corruption task force (CJIATF-Shafafiyat) at ISAF Headquarters.

The promotion issue re-surfaced in 2011, when he was not selected for Major General with his peers[16] despite being called "probably our best Brigadier General" by Army Chief of Staff General Martin Dempsey.[17]

McMaster was nominated for promotion on January 23, 2012. In April, 2012 he was announced as the next commander of the Army's Maneuver Center of Excellence (MCoE) at Ft. Benning.[18]

On June 13, 2012, McMaster assumed command of the MCoE and was promoted to Major General at a ceremony at Ft. Benning.[19]

Dereliction of Duty

Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, The Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam is a book written by then Major, now Major General H.R. McMaster that explores the military's role in the policies of the Vietnam War. The book was written as part of McMaster's Ph.D. thesis at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The book examines Robert McNamara and U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson's staff, alongside the military and particularly the Joint Chiefs of Staff, failure to provide a successful plan of action to pacify either a Viet Cong insurgency or decisively defeat the North Vietnamese Army. McMaster details why military actions intended to indicate "resolve" or to "communicate" ultimately failed when trying to accomplish sparsely detailed, confusing, and conflicting military objectives. In his opinion, the military is not a political or diplomatic tool, and is instead a force to be used appropriately to inflict massive casualties and cause maximized damage to enemy forces in order to meet objective military targets and goals.[20]

Decorations and badges

U.S. military decorations
Silver Star ribbon.svg
Silver Star
US Defense Superior Service Medal ribbon.svg
Defense Superior Service Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Legion of Merit with Oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze Star with Oak leaf cluster
Purple Heart BAR.svg
Purple Heart
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Defense Meritorious Service Medal with Oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Meritorious Service Medal with four Oak leaf clusters
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Commendation Medal with three Oak leaf clusters
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Achievement Medal with three Oak leaf clusters
U.S. service (campaign) medals and service and training ribbons
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal with one service star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Southwest Asia Service Medal with three service stars
Afghanistan Campaign ribbon.svg
Afghanistan Campaign Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Iraq Campaign Medal with two service stars
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary ribbon.svg
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service ribbon.svg
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Army Service Ribbon.svg
Army Service Ribbon
Army Overseas Service Ribbon
Foreign decorations
File:NATO Medal Active Endeavour ribbon bar.svg
NATO Medal
Us sa-kwlib rib.png
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia)
Us kw-kwlib rib.png
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)
U.S. badges, patches and tabs
Combat Action Badge.svg Combat Action Badge
US Army Airborne basic parachutist badge.gif Parachutist Badge
Ranger Tab.png Ranger Tab
US 2nd Cavalry Regiment SSI.jpg 2nd Cavalry Regiment combat service identification badge
Former War Time Service (SSI-FWTS)
3dACRSSI.PNG 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment combat service identification badge
Former War Time Service (SSI-FWTS)
Multi-National Force-Iraq ShoulderSIeeveInsignia.jpg Multi-National Force – Iraq combat service identification badge
Former War Time Service (SSI-FWTS)
USFOR-A Shoulder Insignia.jpg United States Forces - Afghanistan combat service identification badge
Former War Time Service (SSI-FWTS)
MCoE shoulder patch.jpg Maneuver Center of Excellence shoulder sleeve insignia - Current unit
U.S. orders
StetsonHatFortHoodArmy.jpg Order of the Spur Cavalry Hat and Spurs (Gold)

Notes and citations

  1. Dereliction of Duty
  2. Marine Corps Reading List
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Tim Harford (2011). Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure. Little, Brown. pp. 46–56 , 61 ,72–74 , 77–78. ISBN 1-4087-0152-9. 
  4. "Tal Afar: Al Qaeda's Town". CBS News. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Tim Harford (2011-05-23). "Lessons from war's factory floor". The Financial Times. Retrieved 2011-08-02. 
  6. International Institute for Strategic Studies - H.R. McMaster. Retrieved 2007-09-02.
  7. Tisdall, Simon. Military chiefs give US six months to win Iraq War. The Guardian. 2007-02-28. Retrieved 2007-09-02.
  8. Kaplan, Fred. Challenging the Generals. The New York Times. 2007-08-26. Retrieved 2007-09-02.
  9. "Col. McMaster". CBS News. 
  12. [1]
  13. Ann Scott Tyson, Army's Next Crop of Generals Forged in Counterinsurgency, Washington Post Staff Writer, Thursday, May 15, 2008
  16. Retrieved 2011-07-28
  17. Retrieved 2011=07-28.
  18. U.S. Army News release, McMaster Tapped for Promotion, Command of Benning, April 4, 2012
  19. Army Times, McMaster to Take Reins at Maneuver Center, June 11, 2012

Further reading

External links

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