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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: Pelham
In WWII we had a Civil Affairs Division that took control and established order as the front line moved past.... It's apparent this lesson was forgotten or ignored by the Pentagon. But it's also a job that cannot be done if you don't take a force large enough to provide for occupation duty.

It's hard to believe that people as smart as Rumsfeld and Cheney would have overlooked such an obvious consideration. Also, relying on locals for intelligence, leads to mistakes that end up alienating the very populace we need to win over.

Saddam is out of power, that should be our victory - because the government, security and infrastructure rebuild should now be the responsibility of the Iraqis. As long as we're there, the training wheels never come off. Our troops would be in a much less frustrating postition if they were stationed at the borders preventing terrorists and weapons coming in to the country (particularly, the border with Iran), rather than getting in between Iraqis shooting at each other.

Otherwise, our brave troops are going to continuing taking the heat and the blame for the continued situation, no matter how brilliantly they perform.

61 posted on 04/20/2006 12:40:24 PM PDT by ziggygrey
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To: kabar

One thing about Vietnam I will never forget is Johnson picking out the bombing targets.
If I ever thought President Bush or Sec. Rumsfeld were doing this, I'd abandon ship.

62 posted on 04/20/2006 12:57:25 PM PDT by griswold3 (Ken Blackwell, Ohio Governor in 2006- No!! You cannot have my governor in 2008.)
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To: Wristpin
The Officers oath contains a phrase not contained in the Enlisted oath:

I know. I've taken both. That's why I said what I did. Thanks for the confirmation.

63 posted on 04/20/2006 12:57:43 PM PDT by PsyOp (The commonwealth is theirs who hold the arms.... - Aristotle.)
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To: Grampa Dave

Do not forget the nice music...

64 posted on 04/20/2006 1:32:51 PM PDT by george76 (Ward Churchill : Fake Indian, Fake Scholarship, and Fake Art)
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To: Gorjus

Put in jail!!! What? Someone has lost all perspective and, hopefully, only temporary loss of their common sense. It sounds more like the Stalinesque purge that cost the Soviet Union more than 3 million dead during Hitler's Operation Barbarossa than any statement of rationality.

65 posted on 04/20/2006 3:38:05 PM PDT by middie
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To: patriciaruth

Yep. It's a lot harder to take out a howitzer than a helo.

66 posted on 04/20/2006 5:32:10 PM PDT by Pelham
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To: LZ_Bayonet

I don't know about the Crusader's maintenance requirments, but it has some interesting features. It employs MRSI to drop 8 rounds on the same spot at the same moment- like having a couple of batteries coordinate time on target. Needs a specially cooled gun tube as well as a computer. Operates with a small crew and swaps parts with the main battle tank.

67 posted on 04/20/2006 5:42:31 PM PDT by Pelham
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To: demlosers

I'm sure you're right, the Paladin is an important weapon. But add a cooled howitzer, some composite armor, a gas turbine, full auto loading and advanced command and control...

68 posted on 04/20/2006 5:47:29 PM PDT by Pelham
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To: griswold3
"One thing about Vietnam I will never forget is Johnson picking out the bombing targets."

The History Channel has aired (and probably keeps repeating)a program titled something like "Air Power in Vietnam". It includes what appears to be circa 1968-69 Air Force footage and commentary about Air Force efforts in Vietnam. The commentary BRAGS about the ability to carry out strikes on targets in Vietnam with the mission planning and targeting taking place in Washington D.C.

Satellites were still new technology, so the AF was probably bragging about it's ability to transmit the data. If so, it's a lesson that just because a new technology is available, doesn't mean it should be utilized. (It seems I've just made a comment on Crusader and I didn't even mean to go there.)

69 posted on 04/21/2006 4:53:19 AM PDT by LZ_Bayonet
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To: Grampa Dave
an insult to our Navy Personnel and Air Force Personnel

Why? My comments were on Rumsfeld's decisions on what tools those personnel would be provided with, not on the people using those tools. I'd absolutely expect that our troops have the 'into the valley of death rode the 600' sort of courage, and man-for-man our forces are the best in the world - and I absolutely include the Israelis in that.

But sending F-18s up against integrated SAM defenses, when we could (or, with the right tools we could) use artillery instead is going to get a lot of brave men killed needlessly. It's about having the right weapons for the situation, not about who is behind that weapon.
70 posted on 04/21/2006 6:46:12 AM PDT by Gorjus
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To: JCEccles
I can't imagine the administration allowing a weapons system named "Crusader" to be deployed in Middle East.

What's ironic to me is that we're the only ones bending over backward to deny our heritage. The Crusades changed history in a major way. Reminding ourselves of that - on both sides - can serve was a warning of what to watch out for in the future. However, in today's PC world, we're a lot better at ignoring history than learning from it.
71 posted on 04/21/2006 7:03:09 AM PDT by Gorjus
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To: middie
Put in jail!!! What?

I limited my little dream of justice to general-officer levels because it is at their level that policies are set. And the military policies of the Clinton administration were so despicable that anyone who would willingly associate with them has betrayed his oath to the Constitution and the nation. "Just following orders" is no defense.

Obviously, someone who was already a general officer when Clinton's abomination was coming into power, and who then retired in the normal course of events (rather than as a visible sign of protest) may have been acting responsibly. But anyone who remained in service once it was clear what was going on, and certainly anyone who advanced during that period, is not one whose opinion I would respect.

Is that 'Stalinesque?' Frankly, I don't care about the label. But it's way over the top to say that holding policy-making general officers responsible for their policies (or for those they support) sets the stage for another Hitler. That "perspective" is just silly.
72 posted on 04/21/2006 7:11:50 AM PDT by Gorjus
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To: Gorjus


73 posted on 04/21/2006 1:51:21 PM PDT by middie
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
I thought this was pretty weird

The kung fu movie star Bruce Lee would have turned 65 in November, and a two-ring media circus descended on Mostar, Bosnia, for his birthday. It was then, in this mortar- and bullet-pocked city once famous for its Ottoman bridge, that the world’s first public monument to Lee was unveiled. Building civil society never seemed so weird: Here was a life-sized bronze statue of a topless American immigrant paid for by the German government and christened by a Chinese diplomat, erected at the behest of a dysfunctional community of Croats, Serbs, and Muslims.

But there are always unintended consequences.

Just hours after the monument was unveiled, a group of rowdy teenagers defaced the statue and stole the nunchucks, leaving the site littered with wine bottles. According to Sky News, one citizen responded with the cry, “Once again we’ve shown what Balkan savageness is!”

74 posted on 04/21/2006 2:05:14 PM PDT by Tribune7
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