General Disorders

Why some senior military officers are going off the rails

When Marine General Anthony Zinni became chief of U.S. Central Command in 1997, he was surprised to find a Navy commander working under him whose sole job was to keep track of Zinni's schedule. "You've got to be kidding me," Zinni recalls thinking before he eliminated the slot.

These days, a number of senior U.S. military officers wish they'd had Zinni's modesty and discretion. The most celebrated example is David Petraeus, who retired as a four-star Army general to run the CIA only to resign last month after his affair with his biographer surfaced. But Petraeus is no outlier. Admiral James...

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