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Why America's generals are out for revenge
The Times UK ^ | April 18, 2006 | Dean Godson

Posted on 04/19/2006 1:20:33 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach

The US top brass are ducking their responsibilities - and beleaguered Donald Rumsfeld is just doing his job

WHO WILL be the Admiral Byng of the Iraq conflict — the symbolic victim executed for the alleged failures of the war? That is what the current “revolt of the generals” against Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, is about. It is the ruthless Washingtonian version of “pass the parcel”.

Much of the military brass feels that it carried the can for the civilian leadership’s errors in Vietnam and is determined never to do so again. General Anthony Zinni — the former US commander in the Middle East and perhaps the most voluble of Mr Rumsfeld’s critics — was particularly taken with a study written by a youngish Army officer, H.R. McMaster, criticising the US Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Robert McNamara era for not speaking up more loudly against a war they knew could not be won.

The generals’ criticisms will certainly strike a chord among critics of the war in Iraq, who contend that neoconservative ideologues at the Pentagon rode roughshod over professional military advice. They particularly alight on the supposed insufficiency of troop numbers sent to Iraq for post-conflict operations and the failure to plan for the insurgency.

What of these charges? Mr Rumsfeld was right in believing that the war itself could be won with a much smaller force than was used in the first Gulf War of 1991, not least because the Iraqi army had halved in size. He was right effectively to send Tommy Franks away with a flea in his ear when the then US commander presented the original war plans, as General Franks has conceded. Pace George Galloway, there was no Stalingrad by the Tigris.

This was no McNamara-style micromanagement of targeting when Pentagon “whiz-kids” constantly encroached upon professional military prerogatives. Rather, Mr Rumsfeld’s big picture approach is exactly what civilian control of the military is supposed to be all about: in other words, asking what would be the price in blood and treasure of a particular plan? Dick Cheney, the Vice-President, did much the same as Defence Secretary in 1990 when he asked Norman Schwarzkopf to revise his plans for a costly frontal assault on the Iraqi forces in Kuwait.

What about the postwar period? General Jack Keane, the Army Vice-Chief of Staff during this critical period, told me that it was just as much the military’s responsibility to anticipate the insurgency, if not more so. “We had no plans for that”, he said. “It was our fault, not Donald Rumsfeld’s.”

The point was inadvertently underscored in Franks’s autobiography when he told Pentagon civilians that he would not involve himself in the detailed work on Phase 4 or “stability” operations — that is, after major combat was over. “I’ll do the day of and you’ll do the day after,” he snorted. He also refused to work alongside “Free Iraqis” ready to take up postwar security tasks. All of this cost the US dearly when the looting began in Baghdad. Yet Rumsfeld et al acquiesced.

The real issue in postwar Iraq was less that of numbers than of the mix of forces. The Americans did not need many more GIs who cannot speak Arabic patrolling the streets in heavy body armour; rather, they could have done it with the existing size of force, but with more military policemen, intelligence officers and civil affairs specialists.

Curiously, Mr Rumsfeld’s position does indeed resemble that of his predecessors in the Vietnam era — but the analogy is with the hopeful period of the early 1960s rather than the tragic finale. John F. Kennedy fought a tremendous bureaucratic battle with the US Army brass to reconfigure the forces for more British-style counter-insurgency operations in the Third World: the Green Berets were the best known expression of that aspiration.

But JFK’s more ambitious plans were seen off by the US Army Chief of Staff, George Decker — who was concerned about the diversion of resources from US conventional forces facing the Soviet divisions on the Central European plain. The incomplete nature of those reforms cost the American forces dearly later on.

Mr Rumsfeld, by contrast, has had far more success than Kennedy in shaking up the US Army. Until September 11 it was still too much of a garrison force, geared up for Cold War contingencies. Or, in the quip of one of Rumsfeld’s intimates, it was full of “Fulda Gap warriors”, rather than the kind of expeditionary forces required for the War on Terror.

The Defence Secretary has trod on toes in this process. He has insisted on interviewing every appointment to four and three-star rank — something that was more of a pro forma process under his predecessors. He appointed a retired Special Forces general, Peter Schoomaker, as US Army Chief of Staff, thus passing over stacks of serving officers. And with his greater emphasis on high-tech “jointery”, he has forced both the Army and the Marines to depend more on Air Force and Navy supporting fire.

The real criticism of Mr Rumsfeld is not that he “kicked to much butt”, but that he kicked too little. At George Bush’s behest, he sent the US armed forces into a war that they weren’t yet fully ready to fight: they are much more prepared now, but the insurgency genie is out of the bottle. He was part of the Republican consensus that was contemptuous of Clinton-era peacekeeping operations, believing that real soldiers don’t do social workerish stuff. Like so many reformers, his problem is that his changes discomfit existing interest groups before the benefits become fully visible.

Dean Godson is research director of Policy Exchange

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: generals; rumsfeld
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To: hinckley buzzard
But they also loaded up deuce-and-a-halfs with frauleins at gunpoint on Friday nights and dumped them back home on Sundays. The difference is, there was no media coverage so most people back home never heard about it.

Your source?

41 posted on 04/19/2006 6:03:33 PM PDT by Pelham ("Borders? We don' need no stinking borders!")
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To: demlosers

I'm sure it was a tactical decision. But there's no reason to dissociate Rumsfeld from the operation, other than it demonstrates a known problem with his intention of replacing artillery with air power.

Rumsfeld is not the first SecDef to emphasize a cost/benefit ratio. That was precisely what McNamara was known for, along with a goal for "modernization", and it's why some critics see Rumsfeld as McNamara redux.

Modernization isn't always what it's cracked up to be. There was once a decision to eliminate guns from fighter aircraft. After all there would be no more aerial dogfights. Until there were, and we needed guns and Top Gun training. Some generals are certain that in a future fight we will wish we had effective artillery, despite the fact that they won't ever be needed again, just like guns on fighters.

42 posted on 04/19/2006 6:22:35 PM PDT by Pelham
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To: kabar

It's an excellent book.

43 posted on 04/19/2006 6:25:33 PM PDT by Pelham
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To: Pelham

The problems with the Crusader weapons system were that it was way over budget ,too large/heavy for the majority of the roads/tunnels/bridges in over 85% of Europe were it was supposed to be first deployed & that it is slower than the weapon that it was to replace . On the modern battle field that combination gets you killed.

44 posted on 04/19/2006 6:33:27 PM PDT by Nebr FAL owner (.308 reach out & thump someone .50 cal.Browning Machine gun reach out & crush someone)
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To: Nebr FAL owner

A redesign reduced the weight of the Crusader from 60t to around 40t, and gave it a road speed of over 60 km/h. Recall that much of the same sort of criticism was aimed at the Main Battle Tank- too heavy, too expensive, unneccessary. But who would want to be without the Abrams today?

The Palladin is an older system. Crusader was designed with a new gun tube and advanced fire control to put a lot of metal on target in a big hurry. It can be reloaded and refueled faster. Something like it will eventually replace older pieces if we intend to retain our technological advantage on the battlefield.

FN-FAL .308s rule, btw.

45 posted on 04/19/2006 6:48:20 PM PDT by Pelham
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To: Pelham
The M109 Paladin is not going away. I have not read anywhere that that it will be retired. The US Army is not going to lose it's ability to put steel down range on targets.

Rumsfeld just didn't buy its replacement.

46 posted on 04/19/2006 6:54:24 PM PDT by demlosers
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To: Grampa Dave

Do I recall correctly that it was Rumsfeld who scotched an entire Navy destroyer major phase saying that it would delay the important progress needed to get to the further ahead phase? I'm sure that step by the Sec'y enraged a number of Admirals and at least one major shipbuilder. Yet, it was a JUMP ahead 15 years instead of a STEP ahead 7 years.

47 posted on 04/19/2006 7:03:21 PM PDT by Rembrandt (We would have won Viet Nam w/o Dim interference.)
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To: <1/1,000,000th%

"Our military won the war in Viet Nam. The civilians lost the media war here in the US to the communists."


48 posted on 04/19/2006 7:05:08 PM PDT by Rembrandt (We would have won Viet Nam w/o Dim interference.)
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To: AmericanRepublican
"with some understanding that we're all Americans"

From where I sit, I think you're dreamin if you're including Liberal Socialist Demonicrats in that description now-a-days!!! Nothing is sacred to these mindless extremist activists!!!

49 posted on 04/19/2006 7:09:32 PM PDT by SierraWasp (Without knowing the force of words, it is impossible to know man!!! (or especially Waspman!!!))
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To: Gorjus
With no Crusader artillery (as one example), we're going to have a hard time delivering ordnance.

For that matter, I can't imagine the administration allowing a weapons system named "Crusader" to be deployed in Middle East. I'm not saying that's why it was killed. I just find the name ironic.

50 posted on 04/19/2006 7:13:10 PM PDT by JCEccles
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To: Rembrandt; Grampa Dave

Crew served mobile weapons system.


Crew served mobile weapons system.

51 posted on 04/19/2006 7:56:54 PM PDT by BIGLOOK (Order of Battle: Sink or capture as Prize, MS Media)
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To: Pelham
It would seem to me that recent advancements in precise delivery of explosives via air (bombs, C-130 gunships, etc.), in all weather conditions, as well as the ability to base air delivery systems far from the action had to figure into the Crusader equation (assuming a committment to always attaining air superiority). And, that probably led to the Army having concerns about Air Force and Navy support.

As someone who once depended on ASAP artillery fire to keep the enemy from getting through the wire, I can understand those concerns. I want the artillery available. BUT, that kind of fire can come from existing artillery. It might also be noted that, with a minimum of training, 105mm & 155m artillery crews can be assigned to either towed or self-propelled artillery with a minimum of training. I can understand how the Crusader would be considered high maintenance, limited in flexibility, and more suited for a mission better handled from the air.

52 posted on 04/19/2006 8:01:16 PM PDT by LZ_Bayonet
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To: Grampa Dave

It would be interesting to discover whether the writer has ever engaged in command of troops, employment of resources, logistics, planning or execution of operational plans or occupying a distant defeated hostile society of a different indigenous language and culture.

53 posted on 04/19/2006 9:04:16 PM PDT by middie
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To: SierraWasp

AMEN to that statement!

54 posted on 04/19/2006 9:27:42 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (History is soon Forgotten,)
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To: Grampa Dave; george76

These clowns seem to have forgotten some sage advice: " Duty, HONOR, Country."

55 posted on 04/20/2006 5:19:26 AM PDT by verity (The MSM is comprised of useless eaters)
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To: Pelham
Helicopters were sent against an entrenched Iraqi line, but got shot up without dislodging them. Field pieces were eventually brought up to greater effect. Sandstorms are also not a helicopter's friend, artillery is a good deal less impressed by bad weather.

Helos are sexy, but 6000 moving parts makes them vulnerable to low tech attacks.

Nowadays a Stinger is low tech.

56 posted on 04/20/2006 5:22:18 AM PDT by patriciaruth (
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To: AmericanRepublican
I hope this can be resolved with minimum casualties and with some understanding that we're all Americans and not have the media fall into the hands of liberal mudslinging.

You're a riot.

57 posted on 04/20/2006 5:33:31 AM PDT by johnny7 (ďNah, I ainít Jewish, I just donít dig on swine, thatís all.Ē)
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To: verity; george76; ASA Vet; BIGLOOK

Many of these leftwing clowns with stars on their shoulders, started this bs before we invaded Iraq and were hollering quagmire before the first week of battle was over.

One minute they are screaming that we didn't have enough soldiers on the ground and the next week we shouldn't have been there in the first place.

They have been wrong from the git go to the present.

God Help them if we ever find out they were funded by $oreA$$ of some Islamofascist deep pocket groups to whine and moan about Rummy and GW.

58 posted on 04/20/2006 6:24:38 AM PDT by Grampa Dave (There's a dwindling market for Marxist homosexual lunatic wet dreams posing as journalism)
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To: Grampa Dave; verity

59 posted on 04/20/2006 8:01:32 AM PDT by george76 (Ward Churchill : Fake Indian, Fake Scholarship, and Fake Art)
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To: ASA Vet; george76
This sums up the whining generals/admiral very well"

60 posted on 04/20/2006 9:07:16 AM PDT by Grampa Dave (There's a dwindling market for Marxist homosexual lunatic wet dreams posing as journalism)
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