Barry Richard McCaffrey
Graduate, U.S. Military Academy, Class of 1964
Engagements: • Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)• Gulf War (1990 - 1991)
Barry Richard McCaffrey
Barry Richard McCaffrey was born on 17 November 1942 in Taunton, MA.
Following his graduation from West Point in 1964, McCaffrey was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry.
His combat tours included action in the Dominican Republic with the 82nd Airborne Division in 1965; advisory duty with the Army of the Republic of Vietnam from 1966-67; and company command with the 1st Cavalry Division from 1968-69. During the course of his service in the Vietnam War, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross twice; the Purple Heart three times; and the Silver Star twice.
During Operation Desert Storm, McCaffrey commanded the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized). Under his command, the Division conducted the "left hook" attack 370 km into Iraq. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. In Operation Desert Storm he was known for his speed and boldness. Joe Galloway, the co-author of We Were Soldiers Once...And Young, rode with and reported on the division, where he favorably compared McCaffrey with Hal Moore.
General McCaffrey's peacetime assignments included tours as an instructor at the U.S. Military Academy from 1972-75; Assistant Commandant at the U.S. Army Infantry School; Deputy U.S. Representative to NATO; Assistant Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS); and Director of Strategic Plans and Policy, JCS.
General McCaffrey's last command in the Army was that of the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), the unified command responsible for U.S. military activities in Central and South America. He commanded SOUTHCOM, whose headquarters were then in the Republic of Panama, from 1994-96. In 1996, in addition to managing military personnel, his duties in Panama included supporting humanitarian operations for over 10,000 Cuban refugees. It was also during his last military assignment that he created the first Human Rights Council and Human Rights Code of Conduct for U.S. Military Joint Command.
At the time of his retirement in 1996, McCaffrey was the youngest General in the Army; he was also the most highly decorated serving General.
McCaffrey attended Phillips Academy in Andover, MA. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy (Class of 1964), and earned an M.A. in Civil Government from American University in 1970. He also attended the National Security and Executive Education programs at Harvard University. McCaffrey's postgraduate military education includes the National Defense University; the U.S. Army War College; the Command and General Staff College; and the Defense Language Institute's program in Vietnamese.
Medals, Awards, Badges & Tabs
Distinguished Service Cross with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
Distinguished Service Cross Citation (1st of 2 Awards)
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918 (amended by act of July 25, 1963), takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Captain (Infantry), [then First Lieutenant] Barry R. McCaffrey (ASN: OF-101587), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with 2d Airborne Task Force, Airborne Division Advisory Detachment (Airborne). Captain McCaffrey distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 6 October 1966 while advising a Vietnamese Airborne Battalion on a search and clear operation near Dong Ha. At 0315 hours the camp received intense mortar fire which severely wounded Captain McCaffrey in the shoulder. With complete disregard for his safety, he unhesitatingly ran through the intense automatic weapons and mortar fire to estimate the severity of the attack. He soon discovered that the senior American advisor had been killed, and all but one of the company commanders were seriously wounded. After rendering aid to the casualties, Captain McCaffrey took command and dauntlessly proceeded around the perimeter to direct the defense against the insurgent human wave assaults. Again he was wounded by mortar fragments, but ignored his own condition and quickly organized a counterattack which successfully repelled another Viet Cong attack. During the remainder of the 12-hour battle, Captain McCaffrey repeatedly exposed himself to the hostile fire and directed artillery and air strikes against the insurgent forces. Through his unremitting courage and personal example, he inspired the besieged Vietnamese unit to defeat four determined Viet Cong attacks and inflict heavy casualties on a numerically superior hostile force. Only after assuring that all the wounded had been extracted, and that a replacement advisor was with the battalion, did he permit himself to be evacuated. Captain McCaffrey's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
General Orders: Headquarters, U.S. Army, Vietnam, General Orders No. 200 (January 16, 1967)
Distinguished Service Cross Citation (2nd of 2 Awards)
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918 (amended by act of July 25, 1963), takes pleasure in presenting a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Second Award of the Distinguished Service Cross to Captain (Infantry) Barry R. McCaffrey (ASN: OF-101587), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Company B, 2d Battalion, 7th Cavalry, 3d Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). Captain McCaffrey distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 9 March 1969 as company commander during a reconnaissance-in-force mission. When elements of one of his platoon came under intense fire from a well-fortified enemy bunker complex, Captain McCaffrey immediately moved forward to assault the hostile position in order to relieve pressure on the beleaguered squad. He quickly deployed his men for an attack and led the advance through the fusillade. When he had pinpointed the source of the greatest concentration of fire, he initiated a single-handed assault on the bunker. After several attempts, he finally succeeded in destroying the machine gun bunker and its occupants. Despite being wounded in the left arm, he continued to supervise the overrunning and destruction of the hostile bunker system. After organizing the evacuation of his casualties, he called in supporting fire on the enemy. Only after he was assured that all of the wounded had been cared for and after he had organized a defensive position, did he allow himself to be evacuated for medical treatment. Captain McCaffrey's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeling with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
General Orders: Headquarters, U.S. Army, Vietnam, General Orders No. 2905 (August 2, 1969)
Silver Star Medal Citation (1st of 2 Awards)
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918 (amended by act of July 25, 1963), takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Captain (Infantry) Barry Richard McCaffrey (ASN: OF-101587), United States Army, for gallantry in action while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam. Captain McCaffrey distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous action on 10 December 1968, while serving as Commanding Officer of Company B, 2d Battalion (Airmobile), 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, during a reconnaissance in force mission. When his unit became heavily engaged with a large enemy force, Captain McCaffrey exposed himself to the intense hostile fire as he maneuvered his men to the flank of the enemy. At this time two well concealed insurgents began throwing hand grenades at his unit. After locating the enemy soldiers, Captain McCaffrey charged forward and killed the two adversaries with his pistol. With complete disregard for his own safety, Captain McCaffrey then led an assault on the enemy emplacements, forcing the hostile forces to flee. His gallant action is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
General Orders: Headquarters, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), General Orders No. 1479 (February 7, 1969)
Silver Star Medal Citation (2nd of 2 Awards)
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918 (amended by act of July 25, 1963), takes pleasure in presenting a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Second Award of the Silver Star to Captain (Infantry) Barry Richard McCaffrey (ASN: OF-101587), United States Army, for gallantry in action while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam. Captain McCaffrey distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous action on 19 February 1969, while serving as Commanding Officer of Company B, 2d Battalion (Airmobile), 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, during a combat mission. Shortly after an element of his unit engaged and killed two enemy soldiers, two platoons of the unit were taken under heavy automatic weapons fire from an enemy force concealed in bunkers. While leading an assault upon the enemy positions, Captain McCaffrey observed an enemy soldier with a machine gun entering a bunker. With complete disregard for his personal safety, Captain McCaffrey assaulted the bunker and neutralized it with a hand grenade. Because of Captain McCaffrey's decisive action, the assault continued and the enemy was driven from his positions with heavy losses. Captain McCaffrey's gallant action is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
General Orders: Headquarters, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), General Orders No. 7020 (June 3, 1969)
● McCaffrey was inducted into the U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame at the U.S. Army Infantry Center at Fort Benning, GA, in 2007.
He is currently an Adjunct Professor at the U.S. Military Academy, where he was the Bradley Professor of International Security Studies from 2001 to 2005. He is also an NBC and MSNBC military analyst as well as president of his own consulting firm, BR McCaffrey Associates.
For information on General McCaffrey's service as Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, see Wikipedia.
Allegations of Misconduct During the Gulf War
Account of the Incident from The General's War
In The General's War, authors Michael R. Gordon (New York Times) and Bernard Trainor (U.S. Marine Corps, retired), note that the U.S. Army's objective in the western desert of Iraq was to degrade Saddam Hussein's military capability by destroying the Republican Guard, especially its equipment, while the Marine Corps forces liberated Kuwait. The VII Corps and XVIII Corps of the Army were about to heavily engage the Republican Guard when a ceasefire was declared at the behest of Bush administration officials.
After the cease fire was declared, McCaffrey ordered his unit, the 24th Infantry Division, to push forward to a point where it would be in between the retreating Iraqi forces, who were coming up from the south, and the northern direction they were headed. He did so without explicit orders from his superiors. This put the division in position to make contact with retreating Iraqi forces.
McCaffrey claims his division received fire from an Iraqi. According to the book, units of the 24th Infantry Division, under McCaffrey's direction, returned fire under the doctrine of self-defense. The Iraqi forces engaged were destroyed.
New Yorker Article
According to an article written by Seymour Hersh published in 2000 in The New Yorker, General McCaffrey committed war crimes during the Gulf War by having troops under his command kill retreating Iraqis after a ceasefire had been declared. Hersh's article "quotes senior officers decrying the lack of discipline and proportionality in the McCaffrey-ordered attack." One colonel told Hersh that it "made no sense for a defeated army to invite their own death. ... It came across as shooting fish in a barrel. Everyone was incredulous."
These charges had been made by Army personnel after the war and an Army investigation had cleared McCaffrey of any wrongdoing. Hersh dismissed the findings of the investigation, writing that "few soldiers report crimes, because they don't want to jeopardize their Army careers."
Hersh describes his interview with Private First Class Charles Sheehan-Miles, who later published a novel about his experience in the Gulf:
When I asked Sheehan-Miles why he fired, he replied, "At that point, we were shooting everything. Guys in the company told me later that some were civilians. It wasn't like they came at us with a gun. It was that they were there -- 'in the wrong place at the wrong time.'" Although Sheehan-Miles is unsure whether he and his fellow-tankers were ever actually fired upon during the war, he is sure that there was no significant enemy fire. "We took some incoming once, but it was friendly fire," he said. "The folks we fought never had a chance." He came away from Iraq convinced that he and his fellow-soldiers were, as another tanker put it, part of "the biggest firing squad in history."
McCaffrey's and Powell's Rebuttals to Allegations of Misconduct
McCaffrey denied the charges that on three occasions, General McCaffrey or his men of the 24th Infantry Division either fired on enemy soldiers who had surrendered in an "unprovoked attack," or "went too far" in responding to a non-existent threat. He attacked what he called Hersh's "revisionist history" of the Gulf War. BBC reported that "General McCaffrey said an Army investigation had previously cleared him of any blame and he accused the New Yorker of maligning young soldiers.... White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said President Bill Clinton felt the charges were unsubstantiated."
According to Georgie Anne Geyer of the Chicago Tribune from May 2000, Hersh's accusations were disputed by a number of military personnel, who later claimed to have been misquoted by the journalist. She argues that this may have been Hersh's misguided attempt to break another My Lai story, and that he "could not possibly like a man such as McCaffrey, who is so temperamentally and philosophically different from him…" Finally, she suggests that Hersh may also have been motivated to attack the general for McCaffrey's role as the drug czar.
Lieutenant General Steven Arnold, interviewed by Hersh for the controversial article, was one of the officers who later claimed to have been misquoted. He wrote the editor of The New Yorker saying "I know that my brief comments in the article were not depicted in an entirely accurate manner and were taken out of context…. When the Iraqi forces fired on elements of the 24th Infantry Division, they were clearly committing a hostile act. I regret having granted an interview with Mr. Hersh. The tone and thrust of the article places me in a position of not trusting or respecting General Barry McCaffrey, and nothing could be further from the truth."
Similar criticism came from General Colin Powell, former Secretary of State and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Iraq War, who described the Hersh article as "attempted character assassination on General McCaffrey," in an interview with Sam Donaldson for the TV show This Week, in May 2000.
ABC Investigation of Misconduct Allegations
ABC News followed up on Hersh's report in June 2000, interviewing six soldiers from the platoon of scouts under the command of General McCaffrey. All six confirmed Hersh's report, telling ABC News that they witnessed the attack. Two of the scouts, Edward Walker and David Collatt, claim to have witnessed the attack from 200 yards away.
ABC interviewed Major General John LeMoyne, who oversaw the Army investigation into the charges against McCaffrey. LeMoyne denies the incident occurred: "Nobody was killed. None, zero. Soldiers--the Iraqi soldiers were never shot at, ever, at that point. None of us, hundreds and hundreds of us ever saw a body. None of us."
ABC reviewed LeMoyne's investigation and found it "flawed and incomplete. The Army failed to interview the aide Le Moyne told investigators he immediately sent to the area. It failed to interview many of the Scouts, and it failed to interview all the Bradley crews. While the Army did conclude there was firing, it failed to establish which Bradleys were firing. The Bradley crew members who did submit statements denied any knowledge of the incident and denied shooting at anything. Further, the Army failed to establish why there was firing at all in an area known to hold the prisoners. To this day, Battalion Commander Charles Ware does not have a clear explanation."
McCaffrey's Comments on Various Subjects
Comments on Detainee Abuse
McCaffrey has harshly criticized American treatment of detainees during the War on Terror. According to McCaffrey: "We should never, as a policy, maltreat people under our control, detainees. We tortured people unmercifully. We probably murdered dozens of them during the course of that, both the armed forces and the C.I.A." He "supports an investigation of the government lawyers who knowingly advocated illegal torture, and he specifically cited Bush's White House counsel and attorney general in the same discussion, emphasizing that 'we better find out how we went so wrong.'"
Comments on Iraq War
In June 2005, he surveyed Iraq on behalf of U.S. Central Command and wrote an optimistic report afterwards. In it, he says the U.S. senior military leadership team is superb and predicts the insurgency will reach its peak from January-to-September 2006, allowing for U.S. force withdrawals in the late summer of 2006. A year later, however, after visiting Iraq again, his assessment was grim: "Iraq is abject misery... I think it's a terribly dangerous place for diplomats and journalists and contractors and Iraqi mothers. Trying to go about daily life in that city is a real nightmare for these poor people." He called Abu Ghraib "the biggest mistake that happened so far." In an official memorandum, McCaffrey nevertheless expressed optimism about the operation's longer term future:
"The situation is perilous, uncertain, and extreme - but far from hopeless. The U.S. Armed Forces are a rock. This is the most competent and brilliantly led military in a tactical and operational sense that we have ever fielded... There is no reason why the U.S. cannot achieve our objectives in Iraq. Our aim must be to create a viable federal state under the rule of law which does not: enslave its own people, threaten its neighbors, or produce weapons of mass destruction. This is a ten year task. We should be able to draw down most of our combat forces in 3-5 years. We have few alternatives to the current US strategy which is painfully but gradually succeeding. This is now a race against time. Do we have the political will, do we have the military power, will we spend the resources required to achieve our aims?"
His assessment noted several negative areas as well as very positive areas in the struggle for democracy in the country.
McCaffrey returned a third time in March 2007 and followed the visit with a third memorandum. The grimness of the 2006 assessment was repeated, additionally asserting a concern about the effect of the continuing war on the readiness of the small-sized U.S. military. He tempered his optimism about the future saying: "There are encouraging signs that the peace and participation message does resonate with many of the more moderate Sunni and Shia warring factions."
Controversial Military Analysis
In April 2008, the New York Times published a front page report by David Barstow confirming that military analysts hired by ABC, CBS and NBC to present observations about the conduct of the war in Iraq had undisclosed ties to the Pentagon and/or military contractors. Former Army Major General John Batiste told National Public Radio that there was "a very deliberate attempt on the part of the administration to shape public opinion" about the war. One of the participants, Robert S. Bevelacqua, a retired Special Forces soldier and former Fox News analyst, said of the program, "It was them saying, 'We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you'." And Kenneth Allard, a former NBC military analyst, called the campaign "a coherent, active policy," and lamented, "I felt we'd been hosed."
McCaffrey was "at the heart of the scandal" detailed by Barstow. In late November 2008, the New York Times published another front page article by Barstow, this time specifically profiling General McCaffrey. It detailed his free movement between roles as a paid advocate for defense companies, media analyst and a retired officer. An earlier report with some of the same information had appeared in The Nation in April 2003 but was not widely picked up. McCaffrey and his consulting firm, BR McCaffrey Associates, LLC, responded to the Times piece, stating that he is "absolutely committed to objective, non-partisan public commentary." The response highlighted his military record, as well as his history of criticizing the execution of the Iraq War and specifically Rumsfeld. It was later revealed that there had been "extensive collaboration between NBC and McCaffrey to formulate a coordinated response to David Barstow's story."
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