Trainor, Bernard E. 1928-

views updated

Trainor, Bernard E. 1928-


Born September 2, 1928, in New York, NY; married, June 13, 1959; wife's name Peggy; children: Kathleen, Theresa, Eileen, Claire. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: College of the Holy Cross, B.S., 1951; University of Colorado, M.A., 1962, and further graduate study; Air War College, Distinguished Graduate; attended Marine Corps Command and Staff College. Politics: Independent. Religion: Roman Catholic.


Home—Potomac Falls, VA. Agent—Robbins Office, 866 2nd Ave., New York, NY 10017.


U.S. Marine Corps, career officer, 1951-85, including service in Korea and Vietnam, as deputy chief of staff for plans, policies, and operations, and as deputy to the joint chiefs of staff, retiring as lieutenant general; New York Times, New York, NY, military correspondent, 1985-90; Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, director of National Security Program and adjunct lecturer in public policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, 1990—. Presidential Commission for Roles and Missions, member; World Affairs Council, member of board of directors; Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, member of board of directors. Military analyst, American Broadcasting Co. and NBC News.


International Institute for Strategic Studies, Council on Foreign Relations.


Military Perspectives on Humanitarian Intervention and Military-Media Relations (Chester W. Nimitz Memorial Lectures in National Security), University of California Press, 1995.

(With Michael R. Gordon) The Generals' War: The Inside Story of the Conflict in the Gulf, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1995.

(With Michael R. Gordon) Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq, Pantheon (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor to books, including Newsmen and National Defense, 1991, After the Storm, 1992, and Perspectives on Warfighting, 1992. Weekly columnist, New York Times Syndicate. Member, editorial board, Joint Force Quarterly, advisor to Naval War College Review.


Bernard E. Trainor began his career as a U.S. Marine following World War II and retired as a much-decorated lieutenant general in 1985. He served in active duty in Korea and Vietnam as a commissioned officer and was a commander of special forces. Following his retirement, he became a military correspondent for the New York Times. Several years later, he became the head of the National Security Program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Since then, he has been a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a military analyst for NBC television.

Trainor has imparted his military wisdom in a number of writing endeavors, from his weekly column in the New York Times to articles in scholarly journals and the Boston Globe. He has coauthored two books with Michael R. Gordon: The Generals' War: The Inside Story of the Conflict in the Gulf and Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq. Each investigates a different war. The first concerns the short U.S. invasion of Iraq in 1991 in retaliation for Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait the previous year, and the second concerns the long, expensive, and divisive Iraq War that began in 2003, ostensibly to rid Iraq of Hussein and his supposed weapons of mass destruction.

In The Generals' War, the main character is General Colin Powell, who was serving as President George H.W. Bush's joint chief of staff during Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He was widely seen as an impresario—a military man who understood where the military had been and where it was going, particularly when it came to new technology. Despite the short war's success, Trainor finds breakdowns in the international coalition forces as well as within different branches of the U.S. armed services. The result, according to a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, is a "meticulous reconstruction of American leadership," which Eugene Sullivan, writing in Booklist, called "a fascinating and sustained analysis of the friction that takes place in real warfare." He also praised the authors' investigation into why Hussein and his military forces were allowed to remain in power—a decision that resulted in another invasion a decade later.

Cobra II presents a story in which "the research is meticulous and properly sourced, the narrative authoritative, the human aspects of conflict never forgotten," wrote Lawrence D. Freedman in a review for Foreign Affairs. "Cobra II" was the military name given to the invasion of Iraq, the campaign for which President George W. Bush did not appear to be an active participant. The story outlines a rush to war that was not properly planned or organized, by individuals (mainly Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld) who did not listen to the prevailing opinions of highly knowledgeable military officials (including Secretary of State Colin Powell). General Tommy Franks, ignoring the gritty details, sided with Rumsfeld who, along with Vice President Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz, helped sell the war to a skeptical military. The result was a quick toppling of Hussein's dangerous regime, followed by a nearly-as-swift fracturing of the tenuous international coalition. The initial events in the war, rather than the subsequent multiyear quagmire that followed, are the focus on the book, which Judy Gigstad, a reviewer for, predicted will "be the reference book of this war's history for many years to come." The book includes one hundred pages of notes, some of which refer to documents that are still classified. "Gordon and Trainor lucidly lay out the story of how perception and personality played decisive roles in planning for the war and the subsequent occupation from the moment the administration cast a baleful eye on Iraq," wrote Gregory Fontenot in the Military Review.

The authors "give us both the big picture and the many small dramas," wrote Bob Hoover in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "They've also visited battle sites in Iraq. The effect captures the war from Pentagon meeting rooms to the fierce combat on the ground." The book is well-researched, according to Rick Baillergeon, who wrote in Infantry magazine that "Gordon and Trainor had crafted yet another excellent history."



Air & Space Power Journal, spring, 2007, Brian D. Laslie, review of Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq, p. 114.

Air Power History, spring, 2007, John L. Cirafici, review of Cobra II, p. 54.

American Heritage, November-December 2006, Roger Spiller, review of Cobra II, p. 24.

Booklist, January 15, 1995, Eugene Sullivan, review of The Generals' War: The Inside Story of the Conflict in the Gulf, p. 893.

Book World, April 9, 2006, Andre F. Krepinevich, review of Cobra II, p. 3.

Christian Science Monitor, February 8, 1995, Leonard Bushkoff, review of The Generals' War, p. 14.

Commentary, June, 1995, Donald Kagan, review of The Generals' War, p. 41.

Foreign Affairs, May-June, 1994, Eliot A. Cohen, review of The Generals' War, p. 141; September-October, 2006, Lawrence D. Freedman, review of Cobra II.

Globe & Mail (Toronto), April 8, 2006, Wesley Wark, review of Cobra II, p. D3.

Infantry, July-August, 2007, Rick Baillergeon, review of Cobra II, p. 52.

International Affairs, November, 2006, Andrew Rathmell, review of Cobra II, p. 1177.

Library Journal, December, 1994, Joseph A. Kechichian, review of The Generals' War, p. 113.

Middle East Policy, fall, 2006, Patrick Lang, review of Cobra II, p. 158.

Military Law Review, fall, 2006, Daniel J. Sennott, review of Cobra II, p. 112.

Military Review, July-August, 2006, Gregory Fontenot, review of Cobra II, p. 114.

National Review, April 24, 2006, Richard Lowry, review of Cobra II, p. 49.

New York Times, February 15, 1995, Mark Laity, review of The Generals' War, p. B5; March 28, 2006, Sean Naylor, review of Cobra II.

New York Times Book Review, April 30, 2006, Jacob Heilbrunn, review of Cobra II, p. 9.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 2, 2006, Bob Hoover, review of Cobra II.

Political Science Quarterly, fall, 2006, Robert Jervis, review of Cobra II, p. 499.

Presidential Studies Quarterly, fall, 1995, James M. Scott, review of The Generals' War, p. 816.

Publishers Weekly, November 7, 1994, review of The Generals' War, p. 53; May 1, 2006, review of Cobra II, p. 61.

Survival, summer, 1996, Khalilzad Zalmay, review of The Generals' War, p. 179.

Washington Monthly, January-February, 1995, David Evans, review of The Generals' War, p. 41.


Blog Critics Web site, (May 3, 2006), Vikas Chowdhry, review of Cobra II., 12, 2008), Judy Gigstad, review of Cobra II.