Al Lock posted in response to my question:
Nancy Lebovitz "I've asked elsewhere about whether presidents with military experience make better military decisions, and never gotten an answer."
I'll give you an answer from a historian's point of view (not everyone may agree with me, but still...).
George Washington had more military experience than the 4 Presidents who followed him combined... and yet, only he had to deploy military forces to deal with rebellion.
Ulysses S. Grant arguably made some of the worst military decisions in US history in how he dealt with the Sioux. He was very, very experienced in military matters, but I'd say that pretty much all the Presidents who followed him made better military decisions regarding the various tribes.
Dwight Eisenhower was probably the most educated and experienced General to ever reside in the White House. He is also responsible for the massive increase in the various intelligence agencies and their activities worldwide.
JFK had military experience - combat - and took us to the brink of nuclear war, as well as getting us into Vietnam.
LBJ had very limited military experience (the story about his Silver Star is enlightening) - made horrible decisions throughout Vietnam.
Jimmy Carter was a Navy Commander. Submariner. Worst CinC in my service era.
Ronald Reagan made movies while he was in the military. Important stuff, but not really combat or even overseas duty. Best CinC in my service era.
GWH Bush was a naval aviator. Shot down at the Battle of Midway. Honestly? Middle of the road.
Bill Clinton had no experience and made some absolutely horrible decisions early - but he did learn from them.
Being President is its own skill set. I don't think military service has as much to do with being good or bad (even as related to military decisions) as the right mindset to challenge assumptions and make smart, balanced decisions.
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