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Colonel Paul Yingling is a retired United States Army officer. In 2007 Yingling published an influential article in the Armed Forces Journal criticizing senior leadership for perceived failures in the conduct of the post-invasion Iraq War occupation. Yingling served three tours in the Iraq War, first as executive officer of 2nd Battalion, 18th Field Artillery in OIF 1, later as the effects coordinator for the 3rd ACR from March 2005 to March 2006, during OIF III, and finally as J5 for TF 134 (Detainee Operations) from April 2008 to July 2009. He retired from the Army in 2012.


Yingling graduated from Duquesne University in 1989 with a degree in international relations, and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in Field Artillery through Army ROTC. His first tour was with the 1st Infantry Division, where he served as a fire direction officer during the Gulf War. He attended FA Advanced Course and was assigned to the 41st FA Brigade in Germany, where he commanded a target acquisition battery. In December 1995, he deployed to Bosnia as part of Operation Joint Endeavor.

He subsequently earned a Master's degree in International relations from the University of Chicago, and taught at West Point. He is also a graduate of the Command and General Staff College and School of Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth.

Yingling was a division planner with 2nd Infantry Division prior to his deployment to OIF I as a battalion executive officer. In OIF I, his unit was tasked with collecting enemy ammunition and training the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps. On his second deployment to Iraq, as the effects coordinator, he was responsible for information operations, public affairs, psychological operations, civil affairs, and Iraqi Security Forces development. On his third deployment to Iraq, as J5 for TF 134, he planned the transition from security detention under UN mandate to criminal detention procedures under Iraqi domestic law. Yingling became a colonel in February, 2011.

Criticism of the Army General CorpsEdit

Yingling wrote a column called "A failure in generalship" that appeared on April 27, 2007 in the Armed Forces Journal (full text of the column). In it, he argues that the US general corps needs to be overhauled because it failed to anticipate the post-invasion insurgency in Iraq, and because of its reluctance to admit the onset of such an insurgency in 2004.[1] He likens Iraq to Vietnam, stating that "for the second time in a generation, the United States faces the prospect of defeat at the hands of an insurgency". Because Vietnam was commanded by different generals than Iraq, he concludes that the US generalship as an institution has failed, not individual generals. He proposes that Congress takes more interest in military affairs, especially when confirming generals. Generals, in his opinion, need to be aware that future US wars won't involve one big enemy army—that is, they need to admit that realities have changed since the World Wars. He states that the US needs generals to be more creative, as well as better understand the history of war, international relations, and foreign cultures.


  • “As matters stand now, a private who loses a rifle suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war” - arguing that Congress needs to be more bold when holding three- and four-star generals accountable.[2]
  • "It is unreasonable to expect that an officer who spends 25 years conforming to institutional expectations will emerge as an innovator in his late forties." - arguing that the US generalship suffers from conformity, lack of vision, and lack of creativity.[2]
  • “For reasons that are not yet clear, America's general officer corps underestimated the strength of the enemy, overestimated the capabilities of Iraq's government and security forces, and failed to provide Congress with an accurate assessment of security conditions in Iraq,”[3]
  • “The intellectual and moral failures common to America's general officer corps in Vietnam and Iraq constitute a crisis in American generalship,”[3]
  • “Events over the last two decades demonstrate that insurgency and terrorism are the most likely and most dangerous threats our country will face for the foreseeable future. Our enemies have studied our strengths and weaknesses and adapted their tactics to inflict the maximum harm on our society.”[4]
  • "don’t train on finding the enemy; train on finding your friends and they will help you find your enemy."[5]

See alsoEdit

  • Lt. Col. John Nagl - co-author with Yingling in Field Artillery and Armed Forces Journal
  • General David Petraeus - co-authored Counterinsurgency Field Manual with John Nagl
  • Counterinsurgency operations in Tal Afar
  • Colonel Gian Gentile - critic of counterinsurgency advocates


External linksEdit

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