May 30, 2010

The Keller precedent

Looking back into history for a precedent for the dismissal of the Task Force Kandahar commander, the guy who until yesterday was in charge of executing the lynchpin of the COMISAF/Obama strategy in Afghanistan this year, brings up slim pickings in the Canadian experience.

The one exception would be the sad end of MGen R.F.L. Keller, commander of the Canadian division at D-Day. As Jack Granatstein wrote in The Generals, "Rod" Keller was considered by his colleagues before Normandy to be spending too much time with a married mistress while they were planning the invasion.

It wasn't the only problem with Keller, either, even if he remained popular with his troops. As his 3rd Infantry Division began to falter after the initial success of the landings, Montgomery and other generals increasingly advocated for his firing, but Canadian corps commander Guy Simonds kept him on until he was accidentally wounded by a wayward U.S. bomb at the start of Operation Totalize. However, once removed from theatre due to that injury, he would never hold a command position again. See also Granatstein's fellow historian and U of T alum David Bercuson's Maple Leaf Against the Axis.

Not very comparable, obviously. But clearly this is going to be one for the history books, too. I guess the larger lesson is that no one in an operation this big is ever indispensable.

Posted by BruceR at 06:21 PM