Skip to comments.US combat veteran blasts generals for Iraq failures
Posted on 04/27/2007 10:42:51 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
WASHINGTON (AFP) - US generals came under fire Friday in a stinging critique by a mid-level officer and combat veteran who charged that as a whole they repeated the mistakes of Vietnam in Iraq.
Lieutenant Colonel Paul Yingling said the generals failed to prepare the military for counter-insurgency warfare, kept silent when the country went to war with too few troops, and botched the post-invasion occupation.
"In 2007, Iraq's grave and deteriorating condition offers diminishing hope for an American victory and portends risk of an even wider and more destructive regional war," Yingling wrote in an essay published in the Armed Forces Journal.
"These debacles are not attributable to individual failures, but rather to a crisis in an entire institution: America's general officer corps," he wrote.
The deputy commander of the army's 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Yingling has served two combat tours in Iraq, and before that tours in Bosnia and the 1991 Gulf War.
It was unclear how broadly his views are shared within the US officer corps.
But he told The Washington Post, which first reported on the essay, that it received "almost universal approval" from officers of his rank and below who read it before publication.
Until now, US military leaders have largely escaped the intense criticism that last year drove defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld from office.
Without singling out specific military leaders for blame, Yingling broadly faults the army for producing generals trained to please their superiors and conform to the conventional wisdom.
"The intellectual and moral failures common to America's general officer corps in Vietnam and Iraq constitute a crisis in American generalship," he wrote. "Any explanation that fixes culpability on individuals is insufficient."
He said the most fundamental miscalculation of the Iraq war was the failure to commit sufficient troops to provide security to the population.
Military estimates of the troop levels needed for such an operation ranged from 380,000 in a 1998 war plan to as many as 470,000 in an army study that used Bosnia and Kosovo as a model for predicting troops requirements, he said.
"Given the lack of troop strength, not even the most brilliant general could have devised the ways necessary to stabilize post-Saddam Iraq," Yingling wrote. "However, inept planning for postwar Iraq took the crisis caused by a lack of troops and quickly transformed it into a debacle."
"The military never explained to the president the magnitude of the challenges inherent in stabilizing postwar Iraq," he said.
They then concentrated US forces in large bases that were isolated from the Iraqi people and gave short shrift to efforts to develop local security forces and provide essential services, he wrote.
Finding themselves in the midst of a growing insurgency, they played down its intensity.
"For reasons that are not yet clear, America's general officer corps underestimated the strength of the enemy, overestimated the capabilities of Iraq's government and security forces and failed to provide Congress with an accurate assessment of security conditions in Iraq," Yingling wrote.
"Moreover, America's generals have not explained clearly the larger strategic risks of committing so large a portion of the nation's deployable land power to a single theater of operations," he said.
Military leaders have now begun to acknowledge shortcomings in recent "tell-all" books, but not when the US went to war with less than half the strength needed to win, he said.
"Now that the public is immediately concerned with the crisis in Iraq, some of our generals are finding their voices. They may have waited too long," he wrote.
Posted by Cardhu
On News/Activism ^ 04/27/2007 1:24:55 AM PDT · 106 replies · 2,019+ views
Washington Post ^ | April 27, 2007 | Thomas E. Ricks
An active-duty Army officer is publishing a blistering attack on U.S. generals, saying they have botched the war in Iraq and misled Congress about the situation there."America's generals have repeated the mistakes of Vietnam in Iraq," charges Lt. Col. Paul Yingling, an Iraq veteran who is deputy commander of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. "The intellectual and moral failures . . . constitute a crisis in American generals."Yingling's comments are especially striking because his unit's performance in securing the northwestern Iraqi city of Tall Afar was cited by President Bush in a March 2006 speech and provided the model for...
The sunrise is seen behind a US soldier in Fallujah in 2004. US generals came under fire Friday in a stinging critique by a mid-level officer and combat veteran who charged that as a whole they repeated the mistakes of Vietnam in Iraq.(AFP/File/Mehdi Fedouach)
Though he does a very good job of pointing out a number of other areas of concern within current military structure...and changes needed regarding the officer corps. Though nothing really new here....nothing that hasn't been discussed prior by many.
He makes several valid (and again not particularly new) ideas that make sense...Like the notion of the need for more "creative thinking" in the general officer corps...Acknowledging the very real fact that in order to advance one's career thinking "outside the box" is not encouraged. Which leads to a system where taking risks is discouraged over and over. Not necessarily the best way to funnel the cutting edge types to the top.
However his utterly foolish suggestions that the U.S. Congress needs to have more oversight in determining our would be Generals of the future is foolishness beyond description at this late hour......We are already losing some very needed men (to forced retirement if you will) because of the DEM takeover of Congress.
Lastly, the timing of this article speaks poorly of the man to me. He didn't keep this internal, he released to the larger press for his own reasons......That speaks volumes to me......
CYA as usual? Is that what you suggest? Give me a break: most of these guys get a comfortable job and a comfortable paycheck. It’s about f’in time someone stuck their neck out and said what needed to be said. It is a war, after all, not a bureaucratic cluster....
Hardly. And if anyone is CYA'ing it is Lieutenant Colonel Paul Yingling (trying to come off as the smartest man in the room....to the press that is). His assertions regarding Iraq (currently) and the lead up to it....are based on half-truths and incomplete true overviews....
Furthermore, fully understanding that war today is fought within a PR reality like at no time in our history's past.....Giving PR victories (and encouragement) to your enemy via the certainty of how the MSM will use your writings (words) is flat out wrong.
What we have accomplished in the last 5 1/2 years of this WOT is utterly amazing. That is one of the dirty little secrets nobody wants to focus on or talk about.....
Furthermore, what Lieutenant Colonel Paul Yingling is saying here...isn't nothing bold...it is the same monday morning quarterbacking PC BS we've been hearing from the MSM (and their six retired Gen's) for the past 3 years.
No, it is men like LTG Boykin who have actually really spoken the truth and said what needed to be said....Only to be "forced" into retirement by exactly the process of which Lt. Col Yingling is encouraging more of!! Congressional involvement in the selection of Generals.
His solutions to some of the current difficulties / problems are foolishness.
—Hardly. And if anyone is CYA’ing it is Lieutenant Colonel Paul Yingling (trying to come off as the smartest man in the room....to the press that is). His assertions regarding Iraq (currently) and the lead up to it....are based on half-truths and incomplete true overviews....—
Yingling? Must be related to the Pandas in the Beijing Zoo.
Well, here’s the problem,
You are running up the war for Iraq, the president looks around the room at his generals, and his field generals by VTC, and asks everyone if they had everything they needed to succeed. Everyone says yes.
Now, was this exercise conducted by a follow-up question by the President: “Okay, then, now AFTER Saddam is booted, do we have all we need to handle the post-Saddam era?”
Shinseki: “Uh...mr. President..I”
Wolfowitz: “Gen. Shinseki, nice to see you, could you get me a cup of coffee please?”
Shinseki: “Uh...I’d rather..”
Wolfowitz: “Make it a double/double.
Wolfowitz: “Continue Mr. President.” (ponders silently on how galpal is going to get a pay raise in all this when he moves over to the World Bank....hmmmmm.)
In any event, his idea of having subordinates and peers being surveyed over a commanders ability is not new because I pushed it back within my close clan when I was a young naval officer, due to the fact i had worked for some wack-jobs.
You know, I’ve now seen this article in several different rehash versions posted here, but oddly enough none of them addresses his harsh criticizm of congress in any of them. Either these reporters have too short of attention spans for such a long article or they have an agenda.
I think that the man is reflecting on Rumsfeld’s failures as much as anything. We must admit that not securing ammo dumps as we passed by them was a major mistake, as well as not securing the borders.
Rummy wanted to run the war like Robert Strange McNamara ran the war in Vietnam. Both of them knew it all and wouldn’t listen to anyone. They used their business models to fight a war. Both men were failures in their efforts.
Same here. I suspect he's already dropped his retirement papers for not being selected for battalion command and has cast all caution to the wind. His article belies an attitude that he could somehow fix all this if only he wore stars. Just a guess on my part, but I've seen this before. Type A personalities hitting the ego wall at high speed is not a pretty sight.
Gezz. Not this BS again regarding Rummy. Some simply have no clue what they are talking about...Either in terms of SecDef Rumsfeld or regarding this WOT....
Here are some realities regarding SecDef Rumsfeld. It was Rumsfeld who shoved, pushed and dragged the Big Green (Army) into modernization and I'm not talking simply Stryker's and new hats...
It was SecDef Rumsfeld who demanded an alternative Op plan for Stan (after Sept 11th) instead of the ridiculous Op plan demanded by Gen. Shinzeki and the Big Green. As they declared as the only way to be successful...Which called for 5 Divisions and a 6-8 month build up before we would be able to deal with removing the Taliban and al-Qeade from Stan...(and don't forget the 82nd's demand for bowling alley's before they wanted to play)...
What we were able to accomplish in that first 4-8 months against AQ and their leadership secured this Countries national security like most have no clue about! Had we waited on gone along with the old Big Green's concept this nation would have faced grave dangers that need not have been. Thankfully we went with Rummy's (and a few others that need not be named) bold, aggressive leadership.
It was SecDef Rumsfeld who demanded for all services to integrate and push the priority of CAS (which has saved thousands of U.S. lives to date...and killed thousands more of the enemy)..
It was also SecDef Rumsfeld who has turned our Shooters from SOCOM loose like never before.....and allowed them to rid themselves of risk-adverse OGAs for their own Intel gathering.....It was SecDef Rumsfeld who got SOCOM authorized as its own war-fighting command.....(which of course hurt many feelings in the Big Green...as now they are often tasked as "support" for SOCOM...and not the other way around).
SecDef Rumsfeld supported a light footprint doctrine when it made sense. Both in Stan and for the original phase of OIF it made sense to go with the numbers we went with (and many conveniently leave out the fact that the 4th ID sat off shore because State couldn't pull its d*ck out of its own pants once again and make Turkey cooperate).
The reality of what was accomplished throughout this WOT over the last 6 years is historically amazing....and the unbelievable success in Stan is often easily overlooked by those who like to trash SecDef Rumsfeld....
The world is safer today (without question) because of the leadership and changes demanded by SecDef Rumsfeld.
Additionally it was again State (and Bremer) who pushed for quick / full elections so early. Not SecDef Rumsfeld. This has since turned out to not have been so wise.
Lastly, nobody could fully understand the level of obscene violence that the insurgents / terrorists were capable of....Nor to what effect 30 years of Saddam rule had done to the vast majority of Iraqis (with regard to standing up for themselves).....
We are going to discuss the things regarding Rummy since he is the dud who fell for the technology over men mentality that cripples our military.
Both advanced technology and a surplus of military personnal are needed. Ultimately war are fought and won by men. Technology helps a great deal but it’s always the boots who get the job done.
Remember, it was under Rummy that these outlandish court martials of our soldiers, sailors and Marines took root.
It was Rummy who was the arrogant SECDEF who refused to heed most of the advice of his senior officers or to learn the names of the people who dealt with him on a daily basis,(gleaned from a senior guy who worked with him on a regular basis.)
It was under Rummy that the Iraqi border wasn’t secured. It was under Rummy that the one handed rules of engagement were implemented.
Rummy was a politician, not a war fighter.
I supported Rummy until near the end of his time as SECDEF. Finally it became apparent that Rummy’s had a failure of imigination and a persistence of error.
As for ROEs, no SECDEF in recent history was more about putting guns on targets and allowing shooters to do what needed to be done. You don't have a clue if you are suggesting otherwise.
Again, hell, who made SOCOM its own Command!?! SecDef Rumsfled (over the objections to most of the Big Green).
As for putting technology over boots on the ground? Huh? It was Rumsfeld that believed in the need for our shooters to do whatever was necessary to gather HUMINT level Intel....and not rely so heavily on SIGINT, IMINT and the like.
Rummy was a politician?? Ha. Not in the least. And your own contacts whom worked with Rummy prove you wrong. In your suggestion that he didn't "make nice enough" to remember his "name". AH, that would be the work of a politician.
No, Rummy didn't suffers fools easily....and that sounds like where you contact fell short. Or he was part of the Old Big Green who didn't like Rummy's attitude of "get the job done"....and the inter-military-politics be damned!
You are flat out wrong on about every assessment you have made regarding SecDef Rumsfeld.
That he was about "technology over putting shooters on targets". Now, that makes me laugh. Thanks.