Douglas A. Macgregor is a U.S. Army Colonel (retired), author, and consultant.
Career and education
Macgregor was educated at the Wm. Penn Charter School in Philadelphia, at the Virginia Military Institute and graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point with a BS in general engineering in 1976. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in international relations in 1987. Macgregor was the "squadron operations officer who essentially directed the Battle of 73 Easting" during the Gulf War. Facing an Iraqi Republican Guard opponent, Macgregor led two troops or 19 Tanks, 26 Bradleys and 4 Mortar Tracks through the sandstorm to the 73 Easting at roughly 16:18 hours on 26 February 1991 destroyed almost 70 Iraqi armored vehicles with no U.S. casualties in a 23-minute span of the battle. Macgregor was at the front of the formation in the center with Eagle Troop on the right and Ghost Troop on the left. Macgregor designated Eagle Troop the main attack and positioned himself to the left of Eagle Troop. Eagle Troop Scouts subsequently followed Macgregor’s Tank through a minefield during which Macgregor’s crew destroyed two enemy tanks. As Macgregor was towards the front of the battle involved in shooting, he didn't "request artillery support or report events to superiors until the battle was virtually over, according to one of his superior officers." The risks he undertook "could have been criticized had the fight turned ugly."
At a November 1993 exercise at the Army's National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin, Lt. Col. Macgregor's unit vastly outperformed its peers against the "Opposition Force." The series of five battles usually end in four losses and a draw for the visiting units; Macgregor's unit won three, lost one, and drew one. Macgregor's unit dispersed widely, took unconventional risks, and anticipated enemy movements.
Macgregor was a top Army thinker on innovation according to journalist Thomas E. Ricks. He "became prominent inside the Army" when he published Breaking the Phalanx, which argued for radical reforms. Breaking the Phalanx was rare in that an active duty military author was challenging the status quo with detailed reform proposals for the reorganization of U.S. Army ground forces. The head of the Army, United States General Dennis Reimer, wanted to reform the Army and effectively endorsed Breaking the Phalanx and passed copies out to generals; however, reforming the U.S. Army according to the book met resistance from the Army's de facto "board of directors"—the other four-star Army generals—and Reimer did not press the issue. His article called "Thoughts on Force Design in an Era of Shrinking Defense Budgets" was published in Dado Center Journal (The IDF Journal on Operational Art).
Many of Macgregor's colleagues thought his unconventional thinking may have harmed his chances for promotion. While an Army NTC official called him "the best war fighter the Army has got," colleagues of Macgregor were concerned that "the Army is showing it prefers generals who are good at bureaucratic gamesmanship to ones who can think innovatively on the battlefield." Macgregor was also seen as blunt, and to some, arrogant. Despite Magregor's top post-Gulf War NTC showing, his Army career was sidelined. The summer of 1997 marked the third time the Army refused to put him in command of a combat brigade, "a virtual death warrant for his Army career, relegating him to staff jobs as a colonel for the remainder of his service."
Macgregor was the top planner for General Wesley Clark, the military commander of NATO, for the attack on Yugoslavia.
In the fall of 2001, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who had read Breaking the Phalanx, insisted that General "Tommy" Franks and his planning staff meet with Colonel Macgregor on 16–17 January 2002 to discuss a concept for intervention in Iraq involving the use of an armored heavy force of roughly 50,000 troops in a no warning attack straight into Baghdad.
Macgregor left the Army in June 2004. He is the vice president of Burke-Macgregor, LLC, a consulting firm based in Reston, Virginia, and he appears as a guest commentator on right-wing television and radio. Macgregor has been a regular guest on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program since 2017. When John Bolton was removed from the White House in 2019, Macgregor was one of five finalists under consideration for selection as President Trump’s National Security Advisor.
In 2019, Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi. Chief of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) General Staff made Macgregor’s 2003 Book, Transformation under Fire, required reading for all officers in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and above. On February 17, 2020, Macgregor traveled to Israel as a guest of the IDF Chief of Staff to meet with the IDF General Staff, and many of his senior officers to discuss General Kohavi’s ongoing initiative to transform the IDF for future warfighting missions in the 21st century.
- Breaking the Phalanx advocated that "the Army restructure itself into modularly organized, highly mobile, self-contained, combined arms teams that look extraordinarily like the Marine Corps' Air Ground Task Forces".
- In 2004, Magregor stated that he strongly supported war against Iraq.
- During the beginning of the Iraq War, Macgregor disagreed with those who wanted to slow the advance into Baghdad in order to fight Fedayeen paramilitary forces.
- In 2006, after seven retired generals criticized then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's handling of the war, Magregor faulted the generals themselves for poor war planning and the resulting complications in Iraq.
- In 2008, Macgregor stated he would argue that American military action in Iraq and Afghanistan "has produced very serious and negative consequences for American national-security interests".
- Macgregor's 2009 book, Warrior's Rage: The Great Tank Battle of 73 Easting, argues that the failure to finish the battle with the Republican Guard in 1991 led to Iraq's second major confrontation with the United States in 2003.
- In 2010, he strongly criticized the counter-insurgency strategy and escalation of troops in Afghanistan.
- In 2012, he challenged general James Amos' stance on the United States Marine Corps. Macgregor argued that the military capability and pertinence of the Marines, along with Army’s XVIII Airborne Corps, made them both "as relevant as the Army's horse cavalry in the 1930s".
- In 2014, he stated that U.S. Army is designed to benefit four-star generals, not brigade readiness.
- Macgregor says that David Petraeus, Martin Dempsey, and other generals consistently exaggerated or falsified the effectiveness of the Iraqi army because "the generals were simply cultivating their Bush administration sponsors in pursuit of further promotion".
- Breaking the Phalanx: a New Design for Landpower in the 21st Century Westport, CT: Praeger, 1997. ISBN 0275957934 OCLC 35172666
- Transformation Under Fire: Revolutionizing How America Fights. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003. ISBN 0275981924 OCLC 52728785
- Warrior's Rage: The Great Tank Battle of 73 Easting. Annapolis, Md: Naval Institute Press, 2009. ISBN 9781591145059 OCLC 313658347
- Margin of Victory: Five Battles that Changed the Face of Modern War. Annapolis, Md: Naval Institute Press, 2016. ISBN 1612519962