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George Wilson

George C. Wilson has been a print reporter for more than a half century, starting out as a general assignment reporter on the Newark (NJ) Evening News in 1950. He did reporting tours at Congressional Quarterly, The Washington Star and Aviation Week and Space Technology Magazine before joining The Washington Post as its military correspondent in 1966. 

Wilson did combat reporting tours for The Post in Vietnam, Latin America and the Middle East in addition to covering the Pentagon. The author of six books on the human side of the military, including the best seller Supercarrier, he left The Post in 1990 to write books full time. 

Wilson went back to reporting and writing a column for National Journal and CongressDaily in 1998. He was embedded with a mobile Marine artillery unit during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, filing dispatches for National Journal. A native of New Jersey, Wilson is a Navy veteran and graduate of Bucknell University. 



52 years later, Gary Powers gets a medal
COMMENTARY | July 02, 2012
The posthumous Silver Star ceremony evokes memories of the cold war for military affairs reporter George Wilson. U-2 pilot Powers was shot down high over Russia on a mission that a CIA chieftain later said never should have been undertaken in the first place.

Restore the draft to provide a real referendum on wars
COMMENTARY | December 06, 2010
The all-volunteer military has developed into an American version of the French Foreign Legion, writes George Wilson. A national draft, with a cross-section of all Americans serving, would force leaders to think harder about fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan or elsewhere.

Not spending $1 trillion on Afghanistan?
COMMENTARY | September 28, 2010
President Obama reportedly said he’s not about to spend a trillion dollars on Afghanistan. George Wilson recommends that he take a look at a new Congressional Research Service report, or at the writings of Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes.

Targeted assassinations abroad could lead to a police state at home
COMMENTARY | September 10, 2010
Retaliation is a chilling but real possibility, writes George Wilson, and it might bring about drastic losses of freedoms we now take for granted. Are we sowing the seeds for our own destruction as a democracy?

No surveys needed to repeal ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’
COMMENTARY | July 26, 2010
Harry Truman needed guts, not just opinion polls, to integrate the armed forces. That’s what’s needed now, writes George Wilson.

Is Petraeus figuring on perpetual war?
COMMENTARY | July 13, 2010
In his confirmation testimony, General David Petraeus said the U.S. would allow no sanctuaries for al Qaida or other extremist elements, anywhere. Just what does that mean? Does it mean U.S. troops in Yemen, for example?

The ‘white feather' problem in Afghanistan
COMMENTARY | June 22, 2010
Getting in was easy. Getting out is another question. And in the U.S. Senate, there is a great divide between those who want a lesser American role and those, who like McCain, want “the president to state unequivocally that we will stay in Afghanistan until we succeed.”

Suppose a terrorist succeeds in setting off a nuclear attack. What then?
ASK THIS | June 09, 2010
President Obama has put the unthinkable into words, saying there is “no greater or more urgent danger than a terrorist attack with a nuclear weapon.” Now isn’t it up to Congress to follow up and try to ensure that there would be a thought-out response to such a disaster?

Bob Gates is shouting for weapons spending cuts; won't someone listen?
COMMENTARY | May 23, 2010
It’s not clear that Gates can get the government to reduce out-of-control weapons spending, given a supine Congress, but the Defense Secretary is fed up with the military-industrial-political complex, and he's letting everyone know it.

A plea to deal with soldiers’ invisible wounds
COMMENTARY | May 03, 2010
House veterans affairs chairman Filner, citing suicides, says he will push for more psychological aid for veterans but that the VA and Pentagon bureaucracies are stuck in an old ‘never’ mindset.

A trillion dollars a year on two little wars?
COMMENTARY | April 20, 2010
Asks George Wilson: How is it possible to spend so much when we are fighting “two little wars against enemies with no ships, warplanes or tanks.”

If we’re stuck with the F-35, let’s at least do it right
COMMENTARY | March 24, 2010
One highly regarded expert, Thomas Christie, would cancel the costly, highly troubled warplane but says that’s “not going to happen” because of politics, not military effectiveness. So with resignation, Christie urges making it less complicated, with not so much gadgetry and a lower price tag.

QDR, the Pentagon’s kabuki dance with Congress
COMMENTARY | March 11, 2010
QDR stands for Quadrennial Defense Review. It could also stand for Quite Disappointing Report. ‘Rebalance’ is said to be a goal but military analyst George Wilson has heard that kind of euphemism before.

Tell us again, please: What’s the reason we’re in Afghanistan?
COMMENTARY | February 26, 2010
During the Vietnam war an American army lieutenant colonel told George Wilson, ““Maybe if we can’t explain this war, we shouldn’t be here.” Wilson says that President Obama should substitute Afghanistan for Vietnam and take that message very seriously.

Obama gave a pass to out-of-control military spending
COMMENTARY | February 02, 2010
The GAO showed that contractors’ estimates have nothing to do with reality, and economic hard times may eventually force the President and Congress to rein in outrageously costly warships, planes and missile systems that don’t work. But that time isn’t here yet.

Why rush the F-35 into production?
ASK THIS | January 23, 2010
Ask Defense Secretary Gates: What is the threat that justifies spending $298.8 billion on 2,456 F-35s, or $122 million each, counting research and development costs?

We’ve said what we’re going to do in Afghanistan. Now, how will the Taliban and al Qaida respond?
ASK THIS | December 07, 2009
President Obama is going to start hearing this question every day for a long time: ‘Why are we still fighting in Afghanistan when we have so many other problems at home?’

How much does an active duty soldier cost per year, and can we afford it?
ASK THIS | November 09, 2009
The all-volunteer armed forces are said to be so expensive that they either will get smaller or go broke. Columnist George Wilson says leaders need to be asked how they plan to deal with rapidly rising, unaffordable costs.

What's the exit strategy? Is this a war without end?
ASK THIS | October 29, 2009
Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican, regrets playing go-along politics in voting to authorize the Iraq war in 2002. ’I profess to be a man of faith,’ he told George C. Wilson, ‘but I didn’t vote my conscience.’ Jones says there will be no ‘go-along’ vote for him on sending additional troops to Afghanistan.

The world, through Iran’s telescope
COMMENTARY | October 21, 2009
The ugly truths that Iranians see go a long way toward explaining why they are so determined to get the Bomb, writes George C. Wilson.

For Obama, the clock is ticking on Afghanistan
COMMENTARY | September 30, 2009
It would be ticking faster if, as during the Vietnam war, the U.S. had a military draft and millions of protesters, writes George C. Wilson. But it's ticking nevertheless.

Questions that need to be asked about Afghanistan
ASK THIS | September 17, 2009
Congress and the press didn’t ask presidents, military leaders or secretaries of state hard questions that might have led them to avoid the quagmires in Vietnam and Iraq, writes George C. Wilson, and he poses some hard questions that need to be asked – and answered – about Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is Obama’s war. What’s he going to do with it?
COMMENTARY | July 27, 2009
General McChrystal wants far more Afghan security forces than planned so that they can fight their own war. Is that just setting the stage, a la Vietnam, for putting pressure on President Obama to escalate the American troop involvement?

Push is coming to shove over the Pentagon budget
COMMENTARY | July 16, 2009
George C. Wilson writes that President Obama and Secretary Gates are at risk of being steamrolled by Congress, which is treating military spending as a jobs program for hard times.

Does Congress have anything to say about a war that goes on, and on, and on?
COMMENTARY | June 18, 2009
Obama is doing some high-stakes international gambling with either war or alarming aituations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea. It’s time Congress, with its Constitutional authority and obligations, got into the action, writes George C. Wilson.

Obama's non-exit strategy
COMMENTARY | June 02, 2009
George Wilson sees echoes of Vietnam in Obama’s decision to send more American troops to Afghanistan. Will that be followed by our commanders requesting more and more military power for an impossible mission? Will Afghanistan ruin Obama's presidency the way Vietnam ruined Lyndon Johnson's?

‘One Marine’s desperate scream for medical help’
COMMENTARY | May 12, 2009
A mother takes her anguish to Capitol Hill seeking to get intervention—help—for a decorated combat veteran who is suffering after three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A defensive crouch is nothing new for the CIA
COMMENTARY | April 28, 2009
George Wilson goes back some to recall the U-2 plane shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960 on a mission whose director, Richard Bissell of the CIA, later said should never have been undertaken. It resulted in worsened relations between the U.S. and the USSR, and there never was an examination to find out what went wrong. Instead not long afterward Bissell was put in charge of the Bay of Pigs invasion.

Cuts may be coming in the U.S. missile defense program
COMMENTARY | March 31, 2009
President Obama is expected to ask for curtailed spending on the program, writes George C. Wilson, and there’s a good chance that Congress will approve. A new GAO report on U.S. missile defense efforts to date is devastating.

Iran and the nuclear bomb
COMMENTARY | March 17, 2009
You can’t just drop a bomb and make it look like there was an accident in the nuclear lab facilities below. Or can you? Nah, we thought about that once, over China, and gave up on the idea.

Lobbyist William Lynn, at the Defense Department
COMMENTARY | March 10, 2009
So much for Obama’s vow to break up the old boy network and not bring lobbyists into his administration.

'Ain't no education in the second kick of a mule'
COMMENTARY | February 11, 2009
Military affairs writer George Wilson sees Defense Sec. Gates as being on a mission to keep Congress, the White House and the Pentagon from repeating mistakes of the past in Afghanistan.

Dear Mr. President, about your defense budget…
COMMENTARY | January 29, 2009
Military spending is taking us to the poor house, writes George Wilson in an open letter to President Obama. 'No politician wants to look weak on national defense. But cutting fat and insisting on accountability for cost overruns on weapons aren't signs of weakness.'

The perils of Pakistan
COMMENTARY | November 19, 2008
President-elect Obama has committed himself to stepping up the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan. But George C. Wilson warns that he will risk his whole presidency, and perhaps even put nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists, if he leaps too far into neighboring Pakistan in pursuit of elusive victory.

Bush's military spending binge
COMMENTARY | February 11, 2008
The President’s fiscal 2009 defense budget, just sent to Congress, doesn’t include some emergency appropriations he will request for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. With that figured in, one analyst sees spending of $1.2 million a minute all day, every day, all year.

Is the military on the verge of crashing?
COMMENTARY | December 03, 2007
Longtime military reporter George Wilson says everything is in place for a breakdown of the armed forces, and Congress had better deal with the problem quickly. Wilson poses questions Congress needs to ask.

Hey, hey LBJ, got any secrets to give away?
SHOWCASE | July 29, 2006
Personal history: Veteran military affairs reporter George Wilson tells how Lyndon Johnson used classified information for PR purposes, and how, in a secret court session, Wilson thwarted attorneys for Nixon who were trying to block release of the Pentagon Papers.

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