Skip to comments.Shinseki To Be Veterans' Affairs Secretary
Posted on 12/06/2008 3:44:15 PM PST by jamese777
Democratic officials say President-elect Barack Obama has selected retired Gen. Eric K. Shinseki to be the next Veterans Affairs secretary.
The officials said Obama will announce his selection Sunday. They spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid pre-empting the official announcement. Shinseki is the former Army chief of staff who upset his civilian bosses in 2003 when he testified to Congress that it might take several hundred thousand U.S. troops to control Iraq after the U.S. invasion. He was forced out of his job within months for being "wildly off the mark." But his words proved prophetic after President George W. Bush in early 2007 announced a "surge" of additional troops to Iraq after miscalculating.
(Excerpt) Read more at nbcwashington.com ...
Thank you for clarifying that...
I am not an expert on the military but I have always felt that promotions are earned and not based on political correctness or politics.
not really (RE Rumsfeld). This general said it would take 400,000+ troops. We are winning with less than half of that.
So we are contemporaries. As a side note I love to see the AF represented on FR. Can you honestly state that you didn't serve under honorable generals appointed by Clinton? I mean I served under a wing commander who got his first star under Clinton because he deserved it. He received his fourth under Bush. You know that's the way promotions work. You and I wore the same uniform and it said US on our chests. There are no Clinton generals or Bush generals only American generals.
He war only partly right by dumb luck.
The surge called for an additional 30,000 troops for a total of about 140,000 ....
Gen Shineski claimed we would need 300,000 troops or more ...
It was intelligence that enabled us to eventually win, not strength in numbers.
Tribal leaders at first were more scared of the crazy jihadists than US troops.
Once we turned the tribal leaders, and it took several years (which is where Rummy was wrong).. we essentially won the war fairly quickly.
You're correct, Petreaus didn't request 500,000 to ensure the success of the surge Rumsfeld was against. Gen Petreaus requested and President Bush authorized a troop surge that achieved the success we now enjoy in Iraq. A surge that never would have happened if Rumsfeld had remained SecDef. Gen Petreaus' surge saved American lives. We can only guess how many lives would've been saved if Rumsfeld had approved the surge.
The father of the Stryker is GEN John Abrams, the Commanding General of TRADOC from 1998 to 2002.
The M-8 was canceled at the direction of the Secretary of Defense, William Perry in 1996. Shinseki became the Army Chief of Staff in 1999, three years after the M-8 was canceled.
Drift diver is right. I was there during the surge, the combination of additional troops and Petraeus’ tactics relating to insurgency were the keys to success. No one can tell me different as i was out of the wire damn near every day working with Iraqi military in conjunction with our coalition forces.
Hopefully, he will do a good job for the wounded soldiers. They are certainly pouring in.
I have to agree with your observation; when i looked at the picture i had the same exact thought. He went to the ranger course, but his lack of EIB at the very least indicates he may have had a non-combat arms branch assignment or as you say, a lack of commitment to the Ranger spirit.
I agree. I never said the additional troops didn't make a difference. I know, as you have testified, that the additional troops made a difference. I mean that is where the term "surge" originated from. Thanks for your service, great job! It's guys like you that make us old vets proud.
You’re welcome. I was one of the many retired retreads that went back in and went over. Pretty near everyone on this thread is right about the additional numbers helping stabilize some areas which gave units like mine the opportunity to get Iraqi troops into the fray and whacking the bad guys. Petraeus is a genius in my book and the BS he got from the likes of the Dems just infuriated me and the troops with me. They can not be trusted with our liberty or security.
He wasn't an infantry officer so he couldn't be awarded either one. His combat tours were as an artillery FO and with the 5th Cavalry.
You know when all of that was going down I sat back and watched how Petreaus handled it. The guy never lost his military bearing. He stayed on point and professional at all times. He didn't take the attacks personal, he saluted answered all their questions and kept his focus on the mission. He is the epitome of an American general. That's why this guy is successful. He doesn't play politics, all he does is lead men and accomplish his mission. I'm proud to be a citizen of a country that produces men like Gen Petreaus, regardless of whether he was promoted by a democrat or a republican.
You sure know how to hurt a former Army guy.
MARINE = Muscles Are Required Intelligence Not Essential!
1.I made no mention of the surge.
2.I’ve made up nothing....
3.I wouldn’t quote McCain, unless you’re willing to include ALL of McCain’s assine quotes, positions and foolishness.
Nothing - note - NOTHING in McCain’s career points to any military genius. In fact - he graduated near the bottom of his Annapolis class, and nearly qualified as an ACE for the number of AMERICAN planes destroyed while he was the pilot.
Had he not been from a family of Admirals - he would have been bounced before earning his wings....
For Rumsfeld’s documented position on the “surge”, its timing and the parallel efforts required for success - read him in his own words, here:
There are some interesting facts and revelations in the article.
On another tact, Rumsfeld attempted to get the services into a leaner, meaner, faster more responsive and aggressive force... Rumsfeld clearly favored units like the SEALS, Special Forces, Rangers, RECON, Marines, fast charging Army mechanized Infantry, etc, etc..... Several Perfumed Generals had different goals.
Were mistakes made in Iraq — damned right! And BIG ONES.
Through it all - we had a CIC, called President Bush who could have ordered Rumsfeld and the Military to do the “right thing”....... He didn’t. The buck stops at Bush’s desk.... Not Rumsfeld...
And owners fire coaches, when the players suck.
President Bush is not a military tactician, he is an executive who hires them. Bottom line is Rumsfeld was derelict in his duties and rightfully fired when he failed to employ a successful strategy for winning the war in Iraq. Rumsfeld failed the president and McCain was right to call for a surge and Rumsfeld's dismissal. You can hate the messenger but you can't dispute the fact that the Petreaus surge has succeeded and saved American lives in the process.
GEN. SHINSEKI: I would say that what's been mobilized to this point -- something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers are probably, you know, a figure that would be required. We're talking about post-hostilities control over a piece of geography that's fairly significant, with the kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems. And so it takes a significant ground-force presence.
If you add up all the coalition troops, Iraqi MOD troops, and Iraqi policemen (who's jobs would have been done immediately following the invasion by coalition MP's or other soldiers) available at the height of the surge, you're in the several hundred thousand range. Granted, the indigenous forces aren't as effective as our soldiers, but when they're providing law and order through their presence, rather than having to overcome heavily armed resistance, they don't have to be.
I find it simpy amazing that people are still debating this - read the end of David Gregory's interview with Sec. Rumsfeld & Gen Pace from 5 Nov 07:
DAVID GREGORY: Hey, also your favorite subject: looking back. What's become conventional wisdom,simply Shinseki was right? If we simply had 400,000 troops or 200 and 300? What's your thought as you looked at it?
GEN. PACE: I'm sorry, sir. I didn't take the (unintelligible). I apologize.
SEC. RUMSFELD: First of all, I don't think Shinseki ever said that. I think he was pressed in a congressional hearing hard and hard and hard and over again, well, how many? And his answer was roughly the same as it would take to do the job - to defeat the regime. It wouldbe about the right amount for post-major combat operation stabilization. And they said, "Well,how much is that?" And I think he may have said then, "Well, maybe 200,000 or 300,000."
GEN. PACE: I think he said several.
DAVID GREGORY: Several, yes, several hundred thousand. (Cross talk.)
SEC RUMSFELD: Now, it turned out he was right. The commanders - you guys ended up wanting roughly the same as you had for the major combat operation, and that's what we've have. There is no damned guidebook that says what the number ought to be. We were queued up to go up to what, 400-plus thousand.
GEN. PACE: Yes, they were already in queue.
SEC. RUMSFELD: They were in the queue. We would have gone right on if they'd wanted them, but they didn't, so life goes on.
In short, not even Rumsfeld thinks Rumsfeld was right anymore - he's just looking for someone else to blame for being wrong.
Most of the comments that I read whenever a Shinseki thread pops up seems to be dominated by those who remember the beret debacle, but who don’t know the whole story. I provide it herewith for whatever you wish to make of it.
The Real History of the Beret
Whenever General Shinsekis name comes up, a large contingent of sore heads pipe up with epithets and complaints about his role in the adoption of the black beret as standard Army headgear. Most of these comments are ill informed and display profound ignorance of the history of this uniform item in the U.S. Army. Since I have been around for many of the events surrounding the use of the beret in the U.S. Army, I thought it might be useful to tell the real story.
Other armies have worn berets since at least World War I. American Army interest in them seems to date from World War II when British elite units tended to wear them: maroon for airborne, green for commando, and black for tank units. The tankers claimed to be the first to wear them in the British Army when they adopted them in WWI for wear inside greasy and dirty tanks and the black color tended to hide the grime. Black became a semi-official color for tankers in most armies around the world, but was not exclusive to that arm of service. None of this mattered much to the U.S. Army because the beret was never officially adopted and despite rumors that it was worn by Rangers, little evidence exists to substantiate this. In any event, the US ended both World War II and Korea with no berets.
In about 1960, Major General William P. Yarborough commanded the still young Special Warfare Center at Ft. Bragg. He had been an airborne pioneer and was the designer of the airborne qualification badge (jump wings). He was a fan of the beret and of many other things British and thought that the beret would be a great item of distinction for Special Forces. Berets had been worn in Special Forces unofficially and secretly prior to that time, but it was Yarborough who brought it out of the closet. Special Forces had settled on green in part because that was the color of the Commando beret, but also because Rogers Rangers, an American Unit in British Service during the French and Indian Wars had worn green Tam O Shanters, a headgear that resembled a beret. At that time, Special Forces carried the lineage and traditions of American Ranger units.
Yarborough, who was known to have a set of brass balls, chose the occasion of President Kennedys visit to Ft. Bragg to publically unveil the Green Beret. Kennedy liked them and said so, saving Yarborough a large a$$ chewing and giving Special Forces their green beret. In those days, you didnt earn your beret, except through assignment to a Special Forces unit, or a unit supporting the Special Warfare Center. Anyone so assigned wore the green beret: clerks, aviators, Psyops, etc. Those who were not SF qualified did not wear the full size unit flash, instead they wore a small bar in the colors of the unit flash. There was no beret ceremony, unless the supply sergeant took a special liking to you. The flash, not the beret was the thing.
In Vietnam, no one wore berets in the field, but around the base camp, in Nha Trang, Pleiku, and elsewhere they abounded. Special Forces wore their green berets. Advisors to Vietnamese units wore the same berets worn by their counterparts: red in the airborne division, black by the armor units and Vietnamese Rangers. Unlike the American and British practice where the beret was pulled over the head from left to right, the Vietnamese followed French practice and pulled in over from right to left. The advisors followed suit. When American LRRP and Ranger units started unofficially wearing berets, they adopted the black color of the Vietnamese Rangers, but wore them in American fashion. These were condoned but not authorized as were many other pieces of headgear that proved very popular on firebases and clubs especially when nurses or USO volunteers were about. Most units that did this claimed to be elite in one way or another.
After Vietnam, most of this stuff disappeared until the advent of the Volunteer Army when, in the interests of attracting Americas youth to a new volunteer Army, an era of any goes was born. Headgear was no exception and berets of all shape and color blossomed along with multicolor baseball caps, cowboy hats, and probably beenies with propellers on top though I dont remember seeing any of these. This was when the maroon beret came to the airborne forces and tankers at Ft. Hood and the two armored cavalry regiments went with the traditional tanker black beret. This was also the time when the Army reactivated Ranger units, forming battalion sized organizations for the first time since WWII. They wore the black beret as worn unofficially by the Ranger companies in Vietnam. When the Army finally came to its senses and banished these abominations, Special Forces, Airborne troops, and the Rangers were the only ones left with sanctioned berets. The tankers lost theirs despite some very intense lobbying and behind the scenes arguments by the tanker community led by GEN Don Starry.
When the Army stood up a permanent opposing force at Fort Irwin, the tankers were able to sneak through their black beret as the uniform of the opposing force. Starry and many in the armor community continued to lobby for the black beret for tankers, arguing its history and noting that they had no EIB, no CIB and no qualification badges and/or tabs. Shinseki was a part of the armor community, but he was a Major and Lieutenant Colonel during this time frame and was not a leader in this effort that was GEN Don Starry.
Starry, and others, tried a number of times to get the Army to adopt the beret as the standard headgear. The efforts failed time and time again for various reasons, but never because they were the exclusive right of SF, Abn, and Rangers. Once, GEN Gordon Sullivan, a tanker and Army Chief of Staff was prepared to authorize the beret for the entire army until he looked at himself in the mirror wearing one. That initiative ended then and there.
Shinseki gets the blame because he was the guy who finally made a decision years in the making and because of his hamfisted approach to choosing the color and finessing his decision with the Ranger Regiment. Black was chosen simply because it was the standard color for uniform accessories: raincoats, sweaters, shoes, ties, etc. Had he gotten the Ranger Regimental Commander to request a change of color to Ranger OD, or Commando tan before he made the announcement, there would have been less fuss, except that the beret is just not a very good choice of headgear. This is especially true today since GEN George Casey, the current Army Chief of Staff has decided to combine jump boots with dress blue trousers, security guard white shirts, and a beret into something called an Army uniform, but looks more like the drill team of the Gay Caballeros Marching Band.
So Shinseki gets a bad rap on this one in my opinion. Likewise the Stryker issue, at least in the opinion of most Stryker veterans of Iraq. Hes fair game on his political inclinations, but he played that pretty close to the chest until he was out of uniform, as he should have done.
Disclaimer: I know and served with Rick Shinseki and found him to be a professional and competent soldier. I didnt know his politics then and certainly dont agree with whom hes decided to encamp. Of course, in Hawaii, where hes from there is no Republican party much like my native Arkansas when I was young and a Democrat. He is an Armor officer, hence no CIB or EIB. All Regular Army officers in his era were required to go to Ranger School. He saw considerable combat service in Vietnam and lost part of a foot in addition to other wounds. I much prefer the Ranger Tan beret to the black one much more distinctive and no danger of being mistaken for a tanker and have long thought that the Ranger s are too good to be still sniveling over this one.
Well, you give a good account of the history of the beret, but I all I ever saw was a ‘pot’ and baseball cap. In addition, just a ‘pisscutter’.
I guess that you missed all of the craziness. Either that, or you weren’t trying to pick up nurses at China Beach.
Well, it has been over 40 years ago. Just a year in ‘sunny S.E. Asia.
Yes that’s him.As a vet,I hope he’ll do a good job,but.......I am aprehensive given his tarck record.
I work with several NCO's who say they will retire before they wear the "new" Class A uniform. They get funeral detail at least once a month and are waiting for the directive to wear it - that is when the retirements go in.
Of course - the goodness of military men and women does not evaporate over night if there is a terrible person occupying the White House. However, when I served in the Pentagon during the Clinton Administration, I witnessed a politicalization of the military that was influenced by that same White House.
For one thing, the political appointees who were high ranking GS or SES had tremendous influence over the military, who was promoted, what policy came about, how meetings ended, and who was "favored."
Moreover, I saw first hand Generals kowtow and waffle in their decisions because they knew it would rub their political superiors the "wrong" way. I would say 90% of Generals and Admirals should be Generals and Admirals, and the system works pretty well - but even those 90% have a political streak (or they would not be Generals and Admirals).
Lastly, there are flag officers who have serious "issues" who feel the gates are unlocked when a liberal Commander in Chief is in power, and go hog wild. When they feel they can get away with it, they feel no one can stop them (and they are correct).
I was in the Pentagon when this person was running wild in the corridors.
You want to talk about a train wreck. Plus, everyone knew she was a Hillary favorite. Another woman SES knew it too - and saw what she got away with - so it sort of multiplied.
I am afraid we will see this problem again with an Obama Administration. The military is made up of human beings. Some senior leaders (both officer and enlisted) are fantastic and their character will shine through no matter what. Then again, we have some really bad apples who will cause mayhem and wreckage. They are human beings and sinners. When the top guy in charge is someone like BJ Clinton or Obama, watch out.
General Eric Shineski
I am sorry, but that is BS. It was a crummy decision on his part. I am no "sore head" as you put it. I believe elite units should not have their identity dumbed down and normalized so that everyone feels they are elite.
Your use of language such as sniveling to describe people who don't share your view is your prerogative - but it isn't accurate or objective.
What Eric Shineski did was was implement a cheap tactic. That wasn't, and isn't, leadership.
Exactly - like this guy.
In our earlier story, (see below), we quoted British Gen. Michael Jackson as rightly refusing Clarks order to attack Russian troops moving on the Pristina airport in Kosovo. At the time, Clark was Supreme NATO Commander and Jackson leader of all ground forces in the region. I wont start World War III for you, sir, snorted the tough British commander. When word of Clarks instability reached Washington, even Secretary of Defense Bill Cohen, managed to have the moxie to call Clark home early and retire him from the Army. No less than Secretary of State Colin Powell, former Army Chief of Staff, confirmed Clark had been fired.
This is the danger of having the Democrats in charge.
Here is an Air Force General that was the worst Chief of Staff in history, and who was a top Obama advisor.
I wonder where he will end up in the Obama Administration.
Mr. McCain, a fighter pilot just like Gen. McPeak, was seeking to restart a military career after nearly six years of harsh treatment in North Vietnam. "He was fresh out of jail, you know," Gen. McPeak said. "Skinny kid. All beat up of course, physically. But quite thin. They weren't feeding him very well in Hanoi. He's done very well at the dinner table in Washington." Gen. McPeak also said Mr. McCain received special favors when he returned to the U.S. "McCain was always kind of an exception," Gen. McPeak said. When told about Gen. McPeak's comments, Mr. McCain's roommate in the Hanoi Hilton was not amused. "Surely a four-star general can come up with something better than that," said Orson Swindle, a former Marine Corps pilot who, like Mr. McCain, was shot down over enemy territory. "It reeks of pettiness and sarcasm, and I can't imagine why he can make that kind of comment to imply that John McCain feasts at the Washington establishment."
Now that was funny. I almost spit coffee.
If I remember right, most of those berets ended up (or almost ended up) being made in RED CHINA!
As a Monday morning quarterback, I look at the initial estimates from two standpoints.
One, US commanders initially figured how many US troops it would take to topple and defeat Saddam's military .... and then maintain security until an indiginous power structure could take over. They were basically correct in their force numbers.
I think Shiniski (and perhaps others) were (pre-liberation) referring to the worst case scenario ... which never occurred militarily ... even though it might have seemed that way due to the tremendous havoc caused by insurgents with crude IED's and ambush explosives.
But the decision was made in April 2003 (a huge blunder in retrospect)... to disband the mainstream Iraq army and send them home, which allowed many soldier-aged Iraqi men to simply continue doing what they were trained to do only months before... which was fight Americans.
Secondly, Rumsfeld and others were wrong in that they expected the many tribal factions in Iraq to quickly recognize they were outgunned, and fall into place behind an Iraqi-led leaders.
In March, April, and May of 2003 .. if the US commanders would have taken the territories and then "held the territory" so to speak... the war would have gone much better, I believe.
We wrongly assumed that ALL Iraqi's would be happy to be free of Saddam, and eventually cooperate. (it didn't help that Saddam Hussein was not killed or captured until 10 months later, which gave these insurgent terrorists hope)
That was perhaps the biggest blunder of the early war.... NOT that we had too few troops.
The Iraqi army could have and perhaps should have been kept conscripted under super tight control.... until an Iraqi command structure could have been put in place friendly toward the US.
By giving up all that territory in the summer of 2003, and allowing terror insurgents to formulate in outlying areas... we gave them a second life.
It was not so much a 'numbers' mistake as it was a strategic blunders which yes, can and should be placed on Rumsfeld's head.
It was a tough situation. Asymetrical warfare is something the US military has had little if any experience in dealing with.... especially a country so large and diverse as Iraq.
And to make matters worse, all the new berets were made in China.
The man is an idiot.
DOD Says No to Berets "Made in China"
Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz announced on 1 May that a decision had been made by the US Army "that US troops shall not wear berets made in China or berets made with Chinese content". Wolfowitz's statement added, "Therefore, I direct the Army and the Defence Logistics Agency to take appropriate action to recall previously distributed berets and dispose of the stock." Following a waiver of the Berry Amendment, which requires the Pentagon to award clothing contacts for the Armed Services to domestic suppliers, a contract had been awarded to a firm in the United Kingdom with a production plant in Mainland China. Most such waivers have been issued for domestically unavailable component parts used in the manufacture other items, not for finished goods such as berets.
I think the beret is fine enough as an item of uniform, but that’s all it is. We have plenty of badges, bobs, and dangles to take care of the needs and desires of the badge collectors. Marine supply clerks wear exactly the same uniform as Marine Force Recon - they don’t seem to have a problem with it.
Don’t blame them, make sure they send me a resume.
Got it and know the history as i wore the black one as a tanker before going to SF. Was there for most of the period inclusive of Shinseki wearing my green beanie. But i still had little use for him and some of the policies he went along with under Clinton the Corruptible. I commend him for his service in VN, but he still became too political for my tastes - but then i state the obvious since in order to make general you have to have political aspirations or clout or both.
There are a few exceptions, but they tend to prove the rule.
The military is most of the way there. Officers major and above get all kinds of medals for butt-kisser desk jobs. Fetching coffee for a colonel and doing his PowerPoint briefing slides is a real career enhancer. Forget taking an organization in trouble and shaping it up, or doing a good job on deployment. Being an office golden-boy is where the promotion opportunities are.
Your analysis is spot on. Petraeus recognized the shortfall and developed the plan to rectify it.
I was in the Pentagon when this person was running wild in the corridors.
Yes, indeed. Claudia had quite the party girl reputation when she was younger and it was well and truly earned from my observations. Completely clueless about warfighting, of course, that wasn't her strong suit.
Shinseki and HRH Wesley are entirely different kettles of fish and Shinseki is not of the perfumed crowd to be sure. Neither may be to your taste, but the Prince of Darkness is in a league all his own.
Yeah, and argued for The Surge against the Bush Administrations objections.
That was the press conference where Rumsfeld denied there was any insurgency and tried to make Gen. Pace look like a fool but was shown up himself, right?
You might enjoy...
A very good analysis, I think that you’ve got it just about right. We did have too few troops, but we got away with it through good luck and damned fine performance by the three divisions that executed the mission.
The plan called for 5 U.S. divisions. Rumsfeld cut one and then couldn’t get the 4th Division into Turkey. That left us two short and there was no reason to take that kind of risk except to prove Rumsfeld’s point that you didn’t need large ground forces anymore.
We got into trouble after the fighting was over. Disbanding the Iraqi Army was a monumental blunder, especially since we didn’t have the numbers of boots on the ground to replace them and the local police to keep order and snuff out the nascent insurgency.
Actually, not so. Most of the guys getting the nod today have spent at least 3 of the last five years away from their families in command assignments in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you are not in the box, you are not going anywhere.
Donald Rumsfeld was a more profound and negligent idiot for first ignoring the growing AQI threat, for not responding swiftly and decisively when that threat was identified, for never acting to secure Iraq's borders to Syria and Iran, and for resisting the surge, which ultimately was the thing that broke the back of AQI. Rumsfeld was WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.
Rumsfeld's idiocy cost a lot of lives, and for that, the only salute he'll ever get from me is the back of my hand.
Ahh but the thread is not about Rumsfeld. And all of this mistakes fail to reach the level of what the Dems have done let alone what they plan to do.
EXACTLY. This is why your other comment about it being "intelligence not troops" is mostly correct, except in the vital core point that we couldn't "hold the territory" without more troops.
Time and again, I'd hear such frustration from officers of having to retake areas that were previously peaceful, as the enemy would melt away and pop up elsewhere. When I asked why they didn't follow the proven examples of how to operate (e.g., British experience), they told me they just didn't have enough troops in theater to do that.
Sec. Rumsfeld was a great asset in the offensive phase of the war, but a lot of damage was done when he failed to recognize the change in mission. His denials of the insurgency* and undercutting of his general staff were bad, but I suppose the responsibility ultimately falls upon Pres. Bush, for failing to accept Sec. Rumsfeld's resignation.
Perhaps there's a better beret for him...
"There is no insurgency... God will roast their
stomachs in hell at the hands of Neocons."