slide-rule general
n. A military leader who takes an intellectual or theoretical approach to war; a military leader who prefers high-tech weaponry and tactics over traditional military doctrines.
Also Seen As
But it's not all rosy between Franks and the Defense Secretary. Franks is said to view Rumsfeld as a "slide-rule general", a phrase coined by US Secretary of State Colin Powell to describe Paul Wolfowitz, the Bush administration's hawkish Deputy Secretary of Defense.
—Tina-Marie O'Neill, “Quiet warrior of Bush's campaign,” Sunday Business Post, March 23, 2003
2002 (earliest)
Rumsfeld publicly praises Franks as 'a wise and inspiring commander', but many testify to tension between the two: Rumsfeld is said to view Franks as flat-footed, unimaginative and too conventional, and Franks to view Rumsfeld as — in Colin Powell's phrase used of Wolfowitz — a 'slide rule general'. The Afghan war was fought using a mixture of assault from outer space, surrogate Afghan allies and elite forces, and that is how Rumsfeld, impatient with what he sees as outdated, cumbersome infantry and artillery, wants to fight for Iraq.
—Ed Vulliamy, “Tommy Franks: A modern major general,” The Observer, December 29, 2002
The sarcasm with which he describes the naive and undifferentiated anticommunism of the Kennedy years, his loathing of politicians who allowed America's elites to avoid military service, and his contempt for "slide-rule prodigies" mark this section of the book with a deep bitterness: "Elites can become so inbred that they produce hemophiliacs who bleed to death as soon as they are nicked by the real world." This theme — a dichotomy between theorists, politicians, and thinkers on the one hand and men of affairs such as himself, who deal with things in practice, on the other — pervades the book. There are few complimentary references to thinkers as opposed to doers here, and those in the former category are addressed primarily to fellow soldiers.
—Eliot A. Cohen, “Playing Powell Politics,” Foreign Affairs, November 01, 1995
Filed Under