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Old 04-11-2006   #21
Nat Glozer
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Default Re: Myths

There are so many contradictory points out there. In his book, Cobra II, General Trainor expresses the view that CENTCOM was micro-managed by Rumsfeld and the civilians in OSD, and that the low troop levels were pushed on Franks. So what is the truth? Don't know what your sources are, Merv, perhaps you do know the answer. But with all due respect, unless you were there, I don't see how you can say what the truth is regarding this question given that several credible sources say completely different things. The more important question is whether more troops would have limited or prevented the insurgency. I think that the vitriol and bad faith on the part of the media and anti-war politicians has prevented this important debate from taking place. The conversation should focus on that so that we can better our game for the next round.
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Old 04-11-2006   #22
Merv Benson
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Default General Franks and his Centcom staff are my source

Please read the Prolog to General Franks' American Soldier. It is not even arguable. I would also add that General Pace confirmed the issue on troops levels in a press briefing today. Trainor may be relying too much on his NY Times co author. His assertions are clearly refuted by the statements of Franks and his component commanders. If you get further into the book, Franks lays out his reasons for his requested force levels. At no time does he suggest that he got less than what he asked for.

I would add that even Sen. Kerry backed off the Shinseki myth when reporters confronted him with the facts during the 2004 campaign.

BTW, the Trainor book also seriously misstates the events surrounding the flap over Gen. Wallace's purported statements concerning whether there was adequate wargaming on dealing with the Fedayeen. They also overlook the rather clever way the Centcom staff found to deal with the Fedayeen. I base this last comment on the excerpt of the book I saw in the NY Times that dealt with that kerfufle.

Last edited by Merv Benson; 04-11-2006 at 11:53 PM.
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Old 04-12-2006   #23
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Default Top General Disputes Criticism Against Rumsfeld

12 April Los Angeles Times - Top General Disputes Criticism Against Rumsfeld.

Quote:
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, facing calls for his resignation by three retired senior officers for his handling of the Iraq war, received a full-throated endorsement Tuesday from the U.S. military's top general, who insisted that "this country is exceptionally well served" by Rumsfeld's leadership.

Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, disputed accusations from retired top officers that Rumsfeld had forced the uniformed military into an invasion plan they didn't fully support.

"We had then, and have now, every opportunity to speak our minds, and if we do not, shame on us because the opportunity is there," Pace said at a Pentagon news conference. "The plan that was executed was developed by military officers, presented by military officers, questioned by civilians as they should, revamped by military officers, and blessed by the senior military leadership."

Pace's remarks, the most pointed on the Pentagon's leadership since he assumed the chairman's post in September, were prompted by a series of highly critical articles and interviews in recent weeks by former generals who were directly involved in the war or who served in top positions...
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Old 04-12-2006   #24
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Default The Chiefs had signed off on Franks' war plan before it was presented

CNN's report on Pace's statments includes the following:

Quote:
Rumsfeld said Newbold "never raised an issue publicly or privately when he was here that I know of." Pace also said he was unaware of any objections Newbold raised.

Pace said plans for the invasion were significantly overhauled between the time Newbold retired and the day American troops crossed the Iraqi frontier in March 2003.

He said members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff signed on to the war plan presented by Gen. Tommy Franks, then-commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, before it was presented to Rumsfeld and President Bush, and top officers had "every opportunity to speak our minds."

"And if we do not, shame on us, because the opportunity is there. It is elicited from us, and we're expected to," Pace said. (Emphasis added.)
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Old 04-12-2006   #25
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Default South Korea, Not Vietnam, is the Parallel for Iraq

12 April St. Paul Pioneer Press commentary - South Korea, Not Vietnam, is the Parallel for Iraq by Robert Killebrew.

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Standing in the center of bustling Seoul in Thanksgiving, I found it hard to believe that 53 years ago the city was a pile of rubble, the ruined capital of a ruined country. The full scope of the Korean War is forgotten by many today, eclipsed by memories of Vietnam. But at this time of war and occupation in Iraq, South Korea's story is worth remembering as a case of American nation-building that worked.

To many in 1953, South Korea was an unlikely winner of the savage civil war that had ranged up and down the Korean peninsula for three years. More than a million South Koreans died, and the survivors were reduced to aimless crowds of refugees.

There are, of course, many dissimilarities between the Korea of 1953 and the Iraq of 2006; history repeats itself only in outline, not in detail. But the similarities are also striking... Some in the West in 1953 doubted that Asians brought into the modern world only recently could master democracy and free-market economies. A half-century later, we hear echoes of this regarding Middle-Eastern people.

The U.S., essential ingredient: Certainly South Korea's emergence wasn't easy; it wasn't until 1992 that a truly democratic government was voted in. Meanwhile, though, the country had become a modern state in every other sense, and its progress today would have been almost unimaginable to Westerners in 1953. Iraq, with its comparatively enormous advantages — above all, its oil wealth — may well make comparable or even better progress.

The essential ingredient has been American steadfastness. The role of the United States and its allies in the liberation and development of South Korea is a story so taken for granted that it is sometimes forgotten at home...

Great Britain, France, Turkey and other allies served with us under a U.N. mandate during the war. An American military garrison remains in Seoul. After three years of combat, allied and South Korean forces fought the Chinese and North Korean armies to a standstill and then faced a long, tense standoff. Billions of dollars were spent. Behind the armies, modern South Korea emerged.

Because Americans are famously impatient, we sometimes fail to give ourselves credit for the stick-to-itiveness that it takes to do great things. But in hindsight, all our greatest accomplishments have taken more time than we realized at the start. American democracy took two centuries to reach universal suffrage. Defeating communism took decades and a number of wars — including the one in Korea...
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Old 04-12-2006   #26
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Default Transcript of Gen. Pace's remarks on planning for Iraq war

Here is the full transcript of remarks that the above news articles discuss.

This is a brief excerpt:

Quote:
...

Let me just give you Pete Pace's rendition of how the process worked building up to Iraq. First of all, once it became apparent that we may have to take military action, the Secretary of Defense asked Tom Franks, who was the commander of Central Command, to begin doing some planning, which he did. Over the next two years, 50 or 60 times, Tom Franks either came to Washington or by video teleconference, sat down with the Secretary of Defense, sat down with the Joint Chiefs and went over what he was thinking, how he was planning. And as a result of those iterative opportunities and all the questions that were asked, not once was Tom told, "No, don't do that. No, don't do this. No, you can't have this. No, you can't have that." What happened was, in a very open roundtable discussion, questions about what might go right, what might go wrong, what would you need, how would you handle it, and that happened with the Joint Chiefs and it happened with the Secretary.



And before the final orders were given, the Joint Chiefs met in private with General Franks and assured ourselves that the plan was a solid plan and that the resources that he needed were going to be allocated. We then went and told the Secretary of Defense our belief in Tom's plan and in the resources, and I know for a fact, because I was there, that when the Joint Chiefs were called over to the White House, several of the questions that the president asked specifically were about our understanding and belief in the plan, and whether or not the amount -- proper amount of resources had been allocated. He did that both with us, just the Joint Chiefs, and then again when all the combatant commanders were in from around the globe well before a final decision was made.

...
This description is consistent with Gen. Franks description of the process. As I have pointed out before in the Prolog to his book Gen. Franks has the transcript of each component commander telling the President and Secretary of Defense that they had everything they needed for the mission.

There are probably enough people invested in the myth of "Rumsfeld did not give them enough troops" that it will keep popping up. However, a more constructive debate would involve asking the commanders why they chose the makeup of the force that they did, instead of assuming something that clearly is not so.
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Old 04-12-2006   #27
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Default

While I have and will continue to trust and obey the orders of those appointed over me, and thus have no reason not to believe or doubt the integrity and moral courage of the senior leadership of our military, General Krulak once told me that "perception + truth = reality." Based off this formula, the truth may not be a clear cut as we would like. However, as all of us know that have participated in an planning session, "you dance with the girl you brought," or the girl your boss tells you to dance with; thus if all the commanders knew that asking for more troops was akin to asking where Jimmy Hoffa was buried, you develop courses of action consistent with assigned forces.
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Old 04-13-2006   #28
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Default Rumsfeld Rebuked By Retired Generals

13 April Washington Post - Rumsfeld Rebuked By Retired Generals by Tom Ricks.

Quote:
The retired commander of key forces in Iraq called yesterday for Donald H. Rumsfeld to step down, joining several other former top military commanders who have harshly criticized the defense secretary's authoritarian style for making the military's job more difficult.

"I think we need a fresh start" at the top of the Pentagon, retired Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste, who commanded the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq in 2004-2005, said in an interview. "We need leadership up there that respects the military as they expect the military to respect them. And that leadership needs to understand teamwork."

Batiste's comments resonate especially within the Army: It is widely known there that he was offered a promotion to three-star rank to return to Iraq and be the No. 2 U.S. military officer there but he declined because he no longer wished to serve under Rumsfeld...

Batiste said he believes that the administration's handling of the Iraq war has violated fundamental military principles, such as unity of command and unity of effort. In other interviews, Batiste has said he thinks the violation of another military principle -- ensuring there are enough forces -- helped create the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal by putting too much responsibility on incompetent officers and undertrained troops...
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Old 04-14-2006   #29
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Default White House Defends Rumsfeld's Tenure

14 April Washington Post - White House Defends Rumsfeld's Tenure.

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The White House came to the aid of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld yesterday, rebuffing calls from several retired generals for his resignation and crediting him with leading the Pentagon through two wars and a transformation of the military.

"The president believes Secretary Rumsfeld is doing a very fine job during a challenging period in our nation's history," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said at a briefing. He went on to read long quotations from the nation's top military officer, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, praising Rumsfeld's dedication and patriotism.

The defense of Rumsfeld is a perennial exercise for the White House whenever a fresh round of Rumsfeld-must-go demands arise on Capitol Hill or elsewhere in Washington. The difference this time is that those insisting that the secretary should step down are recently retired flag officers who appear to reflect widespread sentiment among people still in uniform...
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Old 04-14-2006   #30
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Default Retired General's Call Puzzles Rumsfeld Aides

14 April Washington Times - Retired General's Call Puzzles Rumsfeld Aides.

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Of the smattering of retired generals who have called on Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to resign, none has surprised the Pentagon's inner circle more than retired Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste.

Gen. Batiste commanded the 1st Infantry Division, responsible in Iraq for the hot spots of Tikrit and Samarra, north of Baghdad. On a chilly December night in 2004, he introduced Mr. Rumsfeld to his soldiers thus: "This is a man with the courage and the conviction to win the war on terrorism."

A Rumsfeld aide said that when the two talked privately, the general voiced no complaints on how Washington, or Mr. Rumsfeld, was waging war...

Five retired generals hardly constitute a groundswell among what the Pentagon estimates are 9,000 active and retired generals and admirals. But Pentagon officials fear there will be more such calls against Mr. Rumsfeld.

The list now reads: Gen. Batiste; Gen. Riggs; retired Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni, who opposed the Iraq invasion from the start; Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold and Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton.

"I was particularly taken aback by Batiste," said Larry Di Rita, a senior Rumsfeld adviser. "It seemed very contrary to the interaction I saw in Iraq."
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Old 04-14-2006   #31
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Default Dead-end Debates

13 April National Review commentary - Dead-end Debates: Critics Need to Move On by Victor Davis Hanson.

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Currently there are many retired generals appearing in frenetic fashion on television. Sometimes they hype their recent books, or, as during the three-week war, offer sharp interviews about our supposed strategic and operational blunders in Iraq — imperial hubris, too few troops, wrong war, wrong place, and other assorted lapses...

Imagine that, as we crossed the Rhine, retired World War II officers were still harping, in March, 1945, about who was responsible months during Operation Cobra for the accidental B-17 bombing, killing, and wounding of hundreds of American soldiers and the death of Lt. Gen. Leslie McNair; or, in the midst of Matthew Ridgeway's Korean counteroffensives, we were still bickering over MacArthur's disastrous intelligence lapses about Chinese intervention that caused thousands of casualties. Did the opponents of daylight bombing over Europe in 1943 still damn the theories of old Billy Mitchell, or press on to find a way to hit Nazi Germany hard by late 1944?

More troops might have brought a larger footprint that made peacekeeping easier — but also raised a provocative Western profile in an Islamic country. More troops may have facilitated Iraqization — or, in the style of Vietnam, created perpetual dependency. More troops might have shortened the war and occupation — or made monthly dollar costs even higher, raised casualties, and ensured that eventual troop draw-downs would be more difficult. More troops might have bolstered U.S. prestige through a bold show of power — or simply attenuated our forces elsewhere, in Japan, Okinawa, Korea, and Europe, and invited adventurism by our enemies. Too few troops were the fault of the present Administration — or the chickens that came home to roost after the drastic cutbacks in the post-Cold war euphoria of the 1990s.

"Troop transformation" has become equally calcified. We know the script. Pensioned Army and Marine generals appear ever more ubiquitously to assure the public that we have near criminally shorted ground troops. They alone are now speaking for the silenced brave majors and dutiful colonels stuck on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq with too few soldiers — as their four-star Pentagon brass sold out to Mr. Rumsfeld's pie-in-the-skies theorists in Washington.

Maybe — but then again, maybe not. The counterarguments are never offered. If hundreds of billions of dollars were invested in sophisticated smart shells and bombs, drones, and computers, to ensure far greater lethality per combatant, then must traditional troop levels always stay the same? How many artillery pieces is a bomber worth, with ordinance that for the first time in military history doesn't often miss? Has the world become more receptive to large American foreign bases? Or depots to housing tens of thousands of conventional troops and supplies? And did lessons of the Balkans and Afghanistan prove the need for far more ground troops and traditional armor and artillery units?

The point is simple: Somewhere between the impractical ideas that the U.S. military was to become mostly Special Forces on donkeys guiding bombs with laptops, or, instead, a collection of huge divisions with tanks and Crusader artillery platforms, there is a balance that the recent experience of war, from Panama to the Sunni Triangle, alone distills. And it isn't easy finding that center when we had enemies as diverse as Slobodan Milosevic, Mullah Omar, Osama bin Laden, and Saddam Hussein.
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Old 04-15-2006   #32
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Default Generals Defend Rumsfeld

15 April Washington Times - Generals Defend Rumsfeld.

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Several retired generals who worked with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, including a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, yesterday decried calls for the secretary's resignation from other retired officers.

President Bush repeated his support for his point man in the war against terrorists.

"I think what we see happening with retired general officers is bad for the military, bad for civil-military relations and bad for the country," retired Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs under Mr. Bush, said in an interview with The Washington Times. He said he would elaborate his views in an op-ed essay.

"I'm hurt," said retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Michael P. DeLong, who was deputy commander of U.S. Central Command during the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and briefed Mr. Rumsfeld at the Pentagon.

"When we have an administration that is currently at war, with a secretary of defense that has the confidence of the president and basically has done well -- no matter what grade you put on there, he has done well -- to call for his resignation right now is not good for the country," he said.
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Old 04-15-2006   #33
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Default Generals Break With Tradition Over Rumsfeld

16 April New York Times - Generals Break With Tradition Over Rumsfeld .

Quote:
This week, as the chorus of retired generals demanding Donald H. Rumsfeld's resignation grew larger and louder, Gen. Peter Pace stood beside the embattled defense secretary and did what some experts say is his military duty.

"As far as Pete Pace is concerned, this country is exceptionally well-served by the man standing on my left," General Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at the Pentagon. "Nobody, nobody works harder than he does to take care of the P.F.C.'s and lance corporals and lieutenants and the captains. He does his homework. He works weekends, he works nights...

Critics of Mr. Rumsfeld, who agree with the former generals who have derided him as wrongheaded and arrogant, may see General Pace's endorsement as fulsome flattery...

But the comments by General Pace of the Marines were more than a public plug for a boss under fire. Scholars who study the armed forces say they were a public restatement of a bedrock principle of American governance: civilian control of the military.

"This is what the chairman of the joint chiefs is expected to do by tradition and law," said Dennis E. Showalter, a military historian at Colorado College who has taught at the Air Force Academy and West Point. Short of submitting his own resignation, General Pace had little choice but to offer a public show of support, Mr. Showalter said.

"If he had not spoken out, he would have been making a very strong statement," he said.

The idea that civilian leaders, as representatives of the people, should have the ultimate say in how the country's military power is wielded dates to colonial resentment of British rule and is embedded in the Constitution.

Tensions between civilian leaders and the military brass are routine and occasionally erupt into public view. But the principle of civilian supremacy has never been seriously challenged; the last plotters of a military coup d'ιtat in American history were disgruntled officers faced down by General George Washington at Newburgh, N.Y., in 1783.

In fact, Article 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice prescribes court martial for any commissioned officer who "uses contemptuous words against the president, the vice president, Congress, the secretary of defense" or other federal or state officials.

That prohibition, of course, does not forbid serving officers from speaking candidly in private when asked for advice on military matters. Some of Mr. Rumsfeld's critics also fault General Pace and others for not being more forceful in questioning the guidelines put forward by Pentagon civilians that have kept American forces relatively lean in Iraq, and which led to the quick disbanding of the Iraqi Army.

Neither does the prohibition on "contemptuous words" apply to retirees. And the propriety of the onslaught of attacks on Mr. Rumsfeld's leadership from recently retired senior military leaders, including some who served in Iraq, is a matter of intense debate....
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Old 04-16-2006   #34
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Default Behind the Military Revolt

16 April Washington Post commentary - Behind the Military Revolt by Richard Holbrooke.

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The calls by a growing number of recently retired generals for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have created the most serious public confrontation between the military and an administration since President Harry S. Truman fired Gen. Douglas MacArthur in 1951. In that epic drama, Truman was unquestionably correct -- MacArthur, the commanding general in Korea and a towering World War II hero, publicly challenged Truman's authority and had to be removed. Most Americans rightly revere the principle that was at stake: civilian control over the military. But this situation is quite different.

First, it is clear that the retired generals -- six so far, with more likely to come -- surely are speaking for many of their former colleagues, friends and subordinates who are still inside. In the tight world of senior active and retired generals, there is constant private dialogue. Recent retirees stay in close touch with old friends, who were often their subordinates; they help each other, they know what is going on and a conventional wisdom is formed. Retired Marine Lt. Gen. Greg Newbold, who was director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the planning period for the war in Iraq, made this clear in an extraordinary, at times emotional, article in Time magazine this past week when he said he was writing "with the encouragement of some still in positions of military leadership." He went on to "challenge those still in uniform . . . to give voice to those who can't -- or don't have the opportunity to -- speak."

These generals are not newly minted doves or covert Democrats. (In fact, one of the main reasons this public explosion did not happen earlier was probably concern by the generals that they would seem to be taking sides in domestic politics.) They are career men, each with more than 30 years in service, who swore after Vietnam that, as Colin Powell wrote in his memoirs, "when our turn came to call the shots, we would not quietly acquiesce in half-hearted warfare for half-baked reasons." Yet, as Newbold admits, it happened again. In the public comments of the retired generals one can hear a faint sense of guilt that, having been taught as young officers that the Vietnam-era generals failed to stand up to Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and President Lyndon Johnson, they did the same thing...
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Old 04-16-2006   #35
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Default Pentagon Memo Aims to Counter Rumsfeld Critics

16 April New York Times - Pentagon Memo Aims to Counter Rumsfeld Critics.

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The Defense Department has issued a memorandum to a group of former military commanders and civilian analysts that offers a direct challenge to the criticisms made by retired generals about Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

The one-page memorandum was sent by e-mail on Friday to the group, which includes several retired generals who appear regularly on television, and came as the Bush administration stepped up its own defense of Mr. Rumsfeld...

The memorandum begins by stating, "U.S. senior military leaders are involved to an unprecedented degree in every decision-making process in the Department of Defense." It says Mr. Rumsfeld has had 139 meetings with the Joint Chiefs of Staff since the start of 2005 and 208 meetings with the senior field commanders.

Seeking to put the criticism of the relatively small number of retired generals into context, the e-mail message also notes that there are more than 8,000 active-duty and retired general officers alive today...
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Old 04-16-2006   #36
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Default The Good Fight, Done Badly

16 April New York Times commentary - The Good Fight, Done Badly by David Brooks.

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...Donald Rumsfeld, who graduated from Princeton in 1954, was of this type. Athletic, heroic, he never met an organization he didn't try to upend. He made it to Congress in the early 1960's and challenged the existing order. He was hired by Richard Nixon and quickly reorganized the Office of Economic Opportunity, slashing jobs and focusing the organization. He wrote to Nixon that he would upset the education bureaucrats and destroy "their comfortable world."

As his career went on, he took his streamlining zeal to the Pentagon, and then to G. D. Searle & Company, where he dismissed hundreds of executives, spun off losing businesses and streamlined the bureaucracy.

Rumsfeld's style appealed to political leaders who were allied with the corporate world, but hostile to self-satisfied corporate fat cats. Nixon loved Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush, the rebel in chief, quickly hired him.

On Sept. 10, 2001, Rumsfeld held a town meeting in the Pentagon that almost perfectly summarizes his career. There is an organization that threatens the security of the United States, he warned. "With brutal consistency, it stifles free thought and crushes new ideas." The adversary is close to home, he concluded: "It's the Pentagon bureaucracy."

Anti-Organization Men like Rumsfeld value the traits needed to mount frontal assaults on vast bureaucracies: first, unshakable self-confidence; second, a willingness to stir up opposition and to be unmoved in the face of it (on the contrary, to see it as the inevitable byproduct of success).

Anti-Organization Men tend to love fast-moving technology for the way it renders old structures obsolete. They tend to see themselves as event-making characters who exist above their organizations, or in a tightly organized renegade band. Rumsfeld wrote his own rules, and many of them sing the glories of disruption: "You can't cut a swath through the henhouse without ruffling some feathers."...
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Old 04-16-2006   #37
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Default Judge Rumsfeld by His Successes And Failures

15 April Gateway Pundit blog - Judge Rumsfeld by His Successes And Failures.

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Before Abu Ghraib was known as a prison of barking dogs, nadedness and pyramiding but was a slaughterhouse where thousands of innocent Iraqis were executed under the Saddam Regime...
Before there were democratic elections in Afghanistan and Iraq...
Before documents were released showing links between Saddam and Al Qaeda...
Before feminists were so Anti-Jew...
Before the Butcher of Baghdad was given a smackdown as he was dragged from his spider hole...
And, after all of this was accomplished with record low military casualties, civilian casualties and military fatalities...

The mainstream media has been after Donald Rumsfeld...
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Old 04-17-2006   #38
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Default Gen. Myers Says Critics of Rumsfeld Out of Line

17 April Washington Times - Gen. Myers Says Critics of Rumsfeld Out of Line.

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Retired generals who are criticizing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's prewar planning are out of line and need to remember who their boss is, top military and civilian officials -- including a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- said on yesterday's political talk shows.

Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers said yesterday that the behavior and comments from six generals is "inappropriate" for military officers...

"It's inappropriate because it's not the military that judges our civilian bosses. We'd be in a horrible state in this country, in my opinion, if the military was left to judge the civilian bosses, because when you judge Secretary Rumsfeld, you're also judging the commander in chief, because that's the chain of command, and that's just not appropriate," Gen. Myers told ABC's "This Week" program.

The generals -- four from the Army and two from the Marine Corps -- now say the defense secretary intimidated senior officers and "meddled" in war plans that, they say, resulted in "poor war planning" after Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein was deposed. The retired generals said Mr. Rumsfeld lacked ground troops and failed to foresee the insurgency in Iraq by al Qaeda terrorists.

Gen. Myers said the generals did not question the prewar plans, and went a step further by saying that any military officer would be derelict in his duty if he did not voice his concerns...
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Old 04-19-2006   #39
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Default A General Disgrace

19 April Los Angeles Times commentary - A General Disgrace by Max Boot.

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The American officer corps tried to blame the fall of Saigon on their civilian masters. If not for political restrictions — in particular, no invasion of North Vietnam — the U.S. would have won the war. So argued the late Col. Harry Summers in his celebrated 1981 book, "On Strategy: The Vietnam War in Context." That was, at best, a gross oversimplification.

As then-Maj. Andrew Krepinevich showed in "The Army and Vietnam" (1986), the U.S. defeat could be attributed in large part to the inappropriate, firepower-intensive strategy adopted by the Army. In the absence of a better counterinsurgency doctrine, not even occupying all of Vietnam, as the French had once done, would have won the war. If the generals wanted to know who was to blame for their defeat, Krepinevich suggested, they should have looked in the mirror.

His analysis is now widely accepted, yet we are in the early stages of another stab-in-the-back myth in which officers line up to blame their civilian bosses for the setbacks we've suffered in Iraq. In the last few weeks, six retired generals and counting have called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

As it happens, I agree with their advice. As I first said on this page two years ago, I too think that Rumsfeld should go. But I am nevertheless troubled by the Revolt of the Generals, which calls into question civilian control of the armed forces. In our system, defense secretaries are supposed to fire generals, not vice versa.

The retired generals, who claim to speak for their active-duty brethren, premise their uprising on two complaints. First, many (though not all) say we should not have gone into Iraq in the first place. Former Lt. Gen. Greg Newbold calls it "the unnecessary war," and former Gen. Anthony Zinni claims that "containment worked remarkably well."

That is a highly questionable judgment, and one that is not for generals to make. They are experts in how to wage war, not when to wage it. If we had listened to their advice, we would not have gone into Kuwait or Bosnia or Kosovo.

Their second complaint — about how the war has been fought — is more valid. There is no doubt that the president and his top aides blundered by not sending enough troops and not doing enough occupation planning. But what about the blunders of the generals?

To listen to the retired brass, the only mistake they and their peers made was not being more outspoken in challenging Rumsfeld. But that's not the picture that emerges from the best account of the invasion so far: "Cobra II" by veteran correspondent Michael Gordon and retired Marine Lt. Gen. Bernard Trainor. They present copious evidence of Rumsfeld's misguided micromanagement. But they also show that Gen. Tommy Franks, the top military commander, was guilty of major misjudgments of his own...
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Old 04-19-2006   #40
Merv Benson
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Default The general mess

There is no evidence that civilian leadership turned down any troop request for Iraq. There is abundant evidence that civilian leadership asked the military if they had what they needed for the war in Iraq and if they were satisfied with the plan that Centcom had put together. It wasn't just Gen. Franks who developed this plan. His component commanders were assigned by the Joint Chiefs and they all signed off on the plan. Events have demonstrated that no additional troops were needed through Phase III of the plan which ended with the liberation of Iraq. It is the Phase IV part of the plan that should be the focus of the debate. The person primarily responsible for that part of the plan has been Gen. Abizaid, yet his name never comes up in this debate nor his rationale for his "small footprint" strategy.

It should also be pointed out that the "not enough troops" chorus has not suggested that the US should have waited till it could get more troops into Afghanistan where even fewer troops were used to liberate that country. And, where fewer troops have been needed for Phase IV operations. Logic, history and terrain all suggest that Afghanistan should be the location of the strongest insurgency, but that has not been the case. The insurgency there is even weaker than the weak insurgency in Iraq.

It is time to move this debate from the civilians who approved the plan the military came up with and have an honest debate about the virtues or lack thereof of the "small footprint" strategy during Phase IV.

It is my view that the best way to defeat an insurgency is by having a force to space ratio that prevents enemy movement and denies sanctuaries. Clearly we did not have a force sufficient to do that initially. We attempted to make up for this by focusing on getting actionable intelligece on the enemy. In the meantime we force our troops to buy the same real estate more than once, becuase we did not have enough troops to take and hold areas. The creation of the Iraqi army has had a positive effect in both getting actionable intelligence and in having enough force to take and hold an area and deny enemy movement.

While H.R. McMaster is credited with writing the bible on generals speaking out, his most important work in the Iraq war was his innovative liberation of Tal Afar with the help of Iraqi forces. That is the model the military should be looking at, instead of his book on the history of the joint chiefs of the 1960's. It also shows that civilian leadership did not get in the way of his using his best military judgement in taking effective action in Iraq. Did any of the complaining generals suggest such a plan while they were in Iraq? If so, was it rejected by civilian leadership? I think the evidence is pretty clear.

BTW, Boot is still clinging to the assertion that the insurgency in Vietnam was successful. History shows that after the failure of Tet, the insurgency never had a chance to topple South Vietnam. Conventional warfare was needed to conquer South Vietnam after the Democrats cut off funding for the South Vietnamese and refused to let the US use its air power to stop the communist conventional attack.

Last edited by Merv Benson; 04-19-2006 at 05:25 PM.
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