TCS Daily


General Unrest

By Melana Zyla Vickers - April 20, 2006 12:00 AM

The chow line of retired generals waiting for Donald Rumsfeld's head to be served on a platter has been growing longer by the day. Growing as well, however, are the observations that to use "contemptuous words against... the Secretary of Defense" is a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

It's not clear the generals' comments represent that sort of violation, but one thing is certain: The word and spirit of that code of behavior exist for a reason. They serve to ensure that civilians, not military officers, get the last word in conducting military matters, whether they be wars, unpopular deployments, or reductions in forces. Control of the military by the public through accountable, elected civilians is what distinguishes the U.S. from, well, Saddam Hussein's Iraq, among other places.

That's not to say retired Army Maj. Gen John Batiste, who called for Rumsfeld's resignation in The Washington Post again this week, or retired Army Maj, Gen Paul Eaton, retired Maj. Gen Charles Swannick, and retired Marine Lt. Gen Gregory Newbold, among others, aren't entitled to criticize the prosecution of the Iraq campaign. We'd have a poor climate of debate on military strategy if they were never allowed to say their piece.

It's just that the generals are doing it now, in a media pile-on, with a message that sounds a whole lot like "throw the bum out now that we have our pensions" and not at all like "in hindsight, we made some mistakes, here's how to do things better."

When, in 1951, Gen. Douglas MacArthur publicly bumped bellies with President Harry Truman over the prosecution of the Korean War, it wasn't pretty, and he was rightly fired for insubordination. But at least the American public understood what the conflict was: a real-time dispute over whether to pursue the North Korean enemy across the border into China, at the risk of expanding the conflict. The message of today's U.S. generals, meanwhile, sounds petulant: If the Iraq war was prosecuted in a manner so far removed from their military advice, why didn't they put their jobs on the line when their opinion could have had an impact on the war?

The retired generals' message, timed as it is so far after the fact, focused as it is on one person, combined as it is with a lack of humility, in several cases, about their own central roles in the gummed-up Iraq war, and omitting, as it does, any substantive advice on how to do things differently, makes it seem, well, contemptuous. Worse than that, it's chicken. It's reminiscent of NSC staffer Richard Clarke's complaint that when George Bush asked him to search for links between Saddam and Al Qaeda he was "intimidated" by the President. The comment reflected badly on Clarke the man, and was transparently a ploy by him to sell books.

Perhaps the generals who have chosen to speak out can't do more than call for Rumsfeld's resignation because they don't actually have anything of substance to say. Perhaps the dirty secret is the Iraq war was conducted largely as they did recommend. But it's going badly, and Batiste et al see PR opportunities in calling for a head on a platter.

Batiste so much as says the war continues to go according to their "winning" plan in his article: "There is no question that we will succeed in Iraq...On the ground, operationally and tactically, we are winning the war," he says.

So what's the problem? Peripheral things, it seems. The most the generals have said is that Rumsfeld did harm by proposing to reduce the size of the Army (something he did not actually do) and beginning to transform the composition the military's Cold War arsenal. Neither of those moves sounds particularly bad or Iraq-related. But Batiste, leading the pack, tries to link the themes, saying that by failing to send more Army soldiers to Iraq, the administration caused the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

Say what? That had there been a larger number of active-duty troops in Iraq, there would not have been silly reservists guarding the over-filled prison and there would not have been any degrading acts of prisoner abuse?

Nonsense. There's every reason to believe Abu Ghraib would have been guarded by reservists no matter the number of active duty forces in Iraq. And surely responsibility for Abu Ghraib rests with the full-time commanding officers of the U.S. military, not with the dozen or so poor-slob reservists who got punished in the end. Indeed, it's symptomatic of this whole generals' revolt that they were rewarded throughout the prosecution of the Iraq war with the Bush administration's trademark, unquestioning job security.

The Abu Ghraib distraction is not the only weak line of argument presented by the generals. Gen. Eaton, who oversaw the training of Iraqi army troops in 2003-04, says it is scandalous how long it has taken the U.S. to train the Iraqis and hand the security of the country back to them. He claims he was powerless to step up the training efforts when he was in charge.

Scratch below the surface and discover the following: Eaton, when he was responsible for training the troops, was preparing Iraqis not to fight the insurgency that now grips the country, but for "external defense" against Iran and other neighboring states. Talk about being focused on the wrong priorities. Talk about a mistake with real costs in Iraq.

But blame lies with Rummy and the civilians, the generals say, not with them. Ultimately, the generals sound like old union bosses in a tired, ailing industry, collecting their pensions and taking pot shots at "management" for staff reductions, cost cutting, and other pet concerns. There's no strategic vision there, no MacArthuresque, damn-the-torpedoes greatness.

If the generals were equally petty behind closed doors in planning sessions with Rumsfeld, it's no wonder the civilian and military sides didn't get along. And today, it would be no wonder if the SecDef regretted rewarding his generals, for so many years, with such loyalty and job safety.

Melana Zyla Vickers is a TCS contributing writer.

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55 Comments

Damage control from the flacks
Quite a rewrite. But insiders will recall that Rumsfeld had alienated the military back when he was workinf Bush's dad. His management style-- to tolerate no dissent from the military establishment-- was legendary. And his bullheadedness ended up landing the entire nation in trouble.

The incompetence of the Rumsfeld approach to war in Iraq was beyond question from the the first week of the invasion. Told to make all possible haste to take Baghdad, advancing troops outraced their support and supply lines. Had there been any significant resistance they would have been cut off. That was Rumsfeld's doing.

Also in reinventing our historic approach to wars he undid two centuries of military strategy. Not only did he throw out the Pentagon's Plan of Battle, substituting some ideas he had about using a tiny strike force, he completely disregarded the State Department's Continuity of Government strategy. All our subsequent problems can be traced to the fact that we went in with no clear idea of how we would control the place once resistance ceased. We disbanded every government office except the Oil Ministry and the Interior Ministry (security), which we seized for their files. The reat of government was left with the doors open, for the crowd to loot. This was purposeful, and it was stupidity of the highest order.

As a direct result, civil order was never reestablished, and thus resistance has never ceased. Today we see a flood of refugees from ethnic cleansing growing more desperate every day. Iraq has collapsed.

All this could have been predicted. No individual knows it all. That's why for the important things we like to rely on institutional memory-- an artifact of which Rumsfeld has vanquished all trace. And it was well known at the time of the invasion that our approach was at fault. I will recall for you the day we fired the Iraqi Army, and sent them all home, with their small arms, to face the prospect of unemployment in a country with no established order, no rule of law and no employment. A wave of uncontrolled crime and chaos was the direct result of this supreme folly. In fact patrolling units charged with pulling in insurgents have stated that the majority of their detainees are "former regime elements, unemployed and desperate people and criminals".

No employment? One thing we did immediately was to shut down the state owned factories, largely for reasons of ideology. Unemployment during the first year of the occupation hit seventy percent. This, far more than any purported menace from Al Qaeda, was the real impetus behind the resistance. And it was the number one complaint from the captive population-- that they had lost all security in their public lives. Try living in a lawless area if you can't understand what that means.

The point was to dismantle Iraq as a viable country. And if we learn anything from our folly, we will understand that this will always be a failed strategy. Rumsfeld for such misdeeds should be tried as a war criminal. The deaths and ongoing destruction are on him (and **** Cheney) more than any other single individual in the administration.

a pile of . . .
This post is a pile of unsubstantiated inuendo and pontification. As for MacArthur, if he had retired before criticizing Truman, maybe Truman would not have fired him.

And is the war going according to plan? Or, is stuff still happening? Is the mission accomplished?

Dependency Theory
That's an interesting site you cite. Here's another sampling:

"First Rumsfeld bungled with imposing his fantastical transformationalist nostrums on the Iraq war theater. Instead of Overwhelming Force, we got Troop Lite. Troop Lite led to Stuff Happens. Now Rumsfeld is all caught up on "dependency" theory. The Iraqis will become dependent, you see, if we actually were to have a more proactive force posture and attempted to create conditions of order in Iraq. Hogwash, at least at this juncture. Rather than artificially inflate the numbers of trained and equipped Iraqi Forces, and be concerned about fostering too much "dependency", we should be re-doubling efforts to control the battle-space, not least in Baghdad, but of course in key areas like Anbar too. It's far too early to be fretting about dependency, as this war could still be lost, especially if we retrench too much into big bases and leave the battle-space to ineffective Iraq forces that may not prove a real match to the insurgents or, equally important, the militias. Rumsfeld's (and so Bush's) legacy in Iraq may well be chaotic civil war or large-scale inter-communal friction or whatever euphemism we want to use to describe the bloody emergence of three para-states, but there is still hope to stave off this horrific outcome. Fresh leadership, of course, would help--that isn't beholden to dependency theory nostrums, and the like, but rather sees clearly how immensely turbulent the current situation remains, and therefore the attendant continuing need for major American involvement."

http://www.belgraviadispatch.com/2006/04/the_fallacy_of_dependency_theo.html

Total BS
If you create a system that rewards loyalty and punishes difference of opinion then it isn't any suprise that the advice of subordinates is phoney. So these generals got to the level of being generals by saying "Yes boss, what ever you say boss." The ones that said "I think you're mistaken boss" or "You're ignoring the advice of experienced people boss" never made it to the level of general. So now that they're out, they feel that they can speak freely, doing this is the least they can do since they knuckeled under for the pittance of a military pension.

The sad thing about this whole deal is that the military is sincere and are really good at what they were designed to do, its just that the politicos controlling them aren't nearly as good at what they do, or sincere. The amount of treasure and lives wasted to settle petty scores is the real tragedy here.

The people of the middle east aren't ready for democracy, they're still in the "controlled by religion" phase of their development. Supporting totalitarian secular goverments isn't helping our cause. Remember Sadam was OUR GUY, our secular goverment, against the religious controlled countries like Iran.

Agreed, at least MacArthur had brass
These guys are wimps and in many case they were part of creating the problems in Iraq, if there really are problems. They need to quit Monday morning quarterbacking.

Good post, right up to the end
Saddam was never "Our Guy". We didn't help bring him to power or keep him in power. We back him during his war with Iran (i suppose out of sense of frustration, revenge and a "lesser of two evils" think). Was it a bad idea? That depends on how you look at it.

Huh!?
Obviously you have never been in the military. Yes, they not only reward, but demand loyalty; but not at all costs. In fact, obeying an unlawful order can get you court marshalled.

This is total BS - "The ones that said "I think you're mistaken boss" or "You're ignoring the advice of experienced people boss" never made it to the level of general."

In fact, any officer who didn't act like this at some time probably never got past the rank of Major (if they ever managed to get that far). Understanding when it is appropriate to speak up and how to do it is import in any job; the military included.

funny
The vast majority of generals have no trouble working with Rumsfeld. But 7 out 7000 retired generals complain, and suddenly the case is settled, everyone agrees.

Kind of reminds me of the way the left supports AGW.

funny
I didn't see much in the way of innuendo. I did see a lot of argumentation using fact and logic. A skill that still evades LGs grasp.

Of course the complaints of the 7 out of 7000 ex-generals is also nothing but innuendo. But of course LG, like the good liberal he is, accepts innuendo, when he agrees with it.

if you believe this
Then you have never been in the military.

7 out of 7000 retired generals protest
and you would think the entire military was getting ready to mutiny, from the way this story is being covered.

So true…
Good comparison and so on the point it is almost scary.

10 Reasons for General Unrest
Gen. Anthony Zinni, USMC, (Ret.)
Remarks at CDI Board of Directors Dinner, May 12, 2004

I thought about how much has been misconstrued about what has happened so far, especially at a time when I commanded CENTCOM and we were in the process of containing Iraq as part of the policy... And what I thought I would do tonight is go through the ten crucial mistakes to this point that we've made.

1. I think the first mistake that was made was misjudging the success of containment.

2. The second mistake I think history will record is that the strategy was flawed.

3. The third mistake, I think was one we repeated from Vietnam, we had to create a false rationale for going in to get public support.

4. We failed in number four, to internationalize the effort.

5. I think the fifth mistake was that we underestimated the task. I think those of us that knew that region, former commanders in chief ... former combatant commanders of U.S. Central Command, beginning with Gen. Schwarzkopf, have said you don't understand what you're getting into.

6. The sixth mistake, and maybe the biggest one, was propping up and trusting the exiles, the infamous "Gucci Guerillas" from London.

7. The seventh problem has been the lack of planning. In my time at CENTCOM, we actually looked at a plan for reconstruction, and actually developed one at CENTCOM because I though that we, the military, would get stuck with it. In my mind, we needed formidable teams at every provincial level. 18 teams...

8. The eighth problem was the insufficiency of military forces on the ground. There were a lot more troops in my military plan for operations in Iraq. I know when that plan was presented, the secretary of defense said it was "old and stale."

9. The ninth problem has been the ad hoc organization we threw in there. No one can tell me the Coalition Provisional Authority had any planning for its structure. 144 bodies scraped from embassies around the world, people that I know, for fact, walked in and were selected and picked and put in the positions.

10. And that ad hoc organization has failed, leading to the tenth mistake, and that's a series of bad decisions on the ground. We have dug this hole so deep now that you see many serious people, Jack Murtha, General Odom, and others beginning to say it's time to just pull out, cut your losses. I'm not of that camp. Not yet. But I certainly think we've come pretty close to that.

http://www.cdi.org/program/document.cfm?DocumentID=2208&from_page=../index.cfm

After Action Reviews

"Key is the spirit in which AARs are given. The environment and climate surrounding an AAR must be one in which the soldiers and leaders openly and honestly discuss what actually transpired in sufficient detail and clarity that not only will everyone understand what did and did not occur and why, but most importantly will have a strong desire to seek the opportunity to practice the task again."
http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/army/tc_25-20/guide.htm

There goes...
... someone questioning whether there are any problems in Iraq !!!

The Unrepentant 7
Am I the only one who notes a cavalier parading of not so sparkling stars. Which of these geniuses, or is it all of them looking to be the next Democratic candidate for the presidency? Vultures are pecking at an apparently dead effort to see if it's still alive. If it's dead, they figure on making it their ticket to the presidency. The worst possible news for them and the Democratic Party is success in Iraq.

Note well how General Zinni claims he didn't like the idea of invading Iraq. He wasn't singing that tune not so long agao.

7 unhappy generals is not determinative...
...but I think it is rather unusual. When was the last time 7 retired generals spoke out against the civilian authority of the armed forces?

Of course, it would have been even more impressive if they had spoken out while still on duty. But that requires courage that may go, in some ways, beyond the battlefield: the courage to accept being ostracized by your own peers (and possibly demoted before retirement).

But there have been many failures of that kind of courage in this war:
- Many Democrats in Congress were unhappy with the rationale for the war, but were afraid to vote against giving Bush authorization to prosecute a war, because of fear of being pilloried in the next election campaign.
- Many in the news media knew that they were just parroting administration lines without questioning, when the war was being justified.
- Colin Powell, even though he had higher polls than Bush, and had serious doubts about the push towards war (and particularly Cheney's and Rumsfeld's ideas), never publicly broke with the administration while on-staff.

All of these people had problems with Bush's plans and public statements, and yet declined to go public with their real opinions. Were they all cowards?

Part of me says "Yes, they should have stuck to their guns and taken the consequences." Part of me wonders if I would be able to do that, in their shoes. Most of the time, I think I would be able; but that may also go a long way to explaining why I am likely never to be in position of responsibility in any administration!

Perfect war
There has never been a perfect war or occupation afterward. Mistakes are always made in an inexact science such as war.
There is resentment regarding the change being implemented in the military by the old guard. A smaller better trained and equiped force is desirable in todays warfare with unconventional forces. We still must maintain a strong traditional force for those types of enemies.
It seems strange that these armchair generals come out in an election year walking down the runway and modeling for a future adminsration job by using those DNC talking points.

A war run by amateurs
You couldn't have failed to notice that the first of the generals to stick his head up-- Eric Shinseki-- got it shot off. That is the reason for the silence of the generals. They were career military, and unwilling to abandon a career they had spent a lifetime polishing.

It has actually been very nearly every senior officer with extensive battlefield experience who has said the war was a crock from the beginning. I know you can impugn the motives and the experience of a guy like Jack Murtha-- but he's got more serious experience in the war business than the entire administration put together.

Take a look at Rumsfeld. He served a stint in the Navy as an outgrowth of his ROTC. Never went to war college. Bush. He likes the way that flight suit looks in the mirror. **** Cheney, of course, had other priorities. And so on down the line, with the sole exceptions of Colin Powell and his sergeant, **** Armitage.

Those two aside (and they were pointedly not consulted) none of these jerks has had any experience whatsoever in serving in a war, formulating a plan of battle or executing a war. They're all amateurs. Further, you'll notice that all the people who've had extensive war experience (mostly all Democrats, I find) have been noticeably more retucent in their rhetoric that we should wage an elective war on the world.

Not me, just quoting
There is arguement whether there are problems with the military action from beginning to this point. And it ain't just Bush's Adminstration.

Someone who finally gets why this happens.
good post. Especially your final sentence.

On "getting it"
Pauled & Berly,

That's merely your opinion on their motivation. I find it also quite possible that they're genuinely distressed.

True
There could be other reasons and this is just my opinion. Never said it wasn't.

Look , I have never met a general officer (and I have known many) who wasn't truely concerned when our troops were being maimed and killed. On the other hand, I can't remember a time when the civilian head of the military (or second in command as the President is commander in chief) was attacked in this way.

as usual
roy takes any statement that agrees with his, and declares it to be authoratative.

He's also very good at making stuff up, like saying nearly all the senior officers agree with him.
7 out of 7000 is nearly all? Only using liberal math.

it's not that uncommon
The difference was the other times, there were Democrats in the White House.

And Roy the Clintionista says
They alienated the military wow you have to have quite a pair to say that and not expect everyone reading this not to throw up.

Listen Commissar Roy speaks
Poor Roy he doesn't even know how many "top ranked" officers there are in the military. Should we be surprised about this considering Roy's experience with the military consists of reading Beetle Bailey for his latest updates?

Liberal Goody's trip to Cambodia
Yawn same old 60s drug induced fantasies like Kerry's war exploits. By the way anyone catch his 180 and his good conduct discharge?

Yeah we're still waiting Goody.

You mean like Stalin was our guy?
Your last paragraph ruins a good comment.

Oops guess he forgot to mention these when he had the chance
So lets blame others rather than accept the blame for not speaking out when you had the chance. There is a name for people like this-Clintionistas-would
ve; should've; just never did so don't blame me.

Another example of Hampton's Charlie McCarthy act.

Not uncommon?
MTG,

I personally have never heard of 7 retired generals criticizing an acting Secretary of Defense, under any other President.

If it has happened previously, please indicate the occasion and give a reference.

Otherwise, I'm afraid that it sounds like you're just tossing out a line...

On "true"
Pauled,

But this is exactly the point: This is extremely unusual.

My last personal contact with the military was with a friend who is a major in the Reserves. He told me that soldiers were not even encouraged to vote (although of course they were allowed to do so), much less express a political opinion. This was, I guess, to minimize any potential appearance of affecting the civilian government.

This action, even by retired generals, is a long way from that attitude. In fact, I would guess that an active general who said anything like this could really be in hot water, not just facing disapproval.

(NB: This conversation with my friend was around 4 or 5 years ago. So maybe attitudes have changed since then.)

On speaking out
Certainly, it would be best if these guys would have said something directly to their commanding officers while they were in position.

However, I think for any of them to have spoken out IN PUBLIC, while on active duty, would be taken as insubordination.

(To forstall critcism, I'll state that I'm not using that term technically. I'm just saying that the military authorities would be able to find severe punishment for any active general to make a public statement in criticism of the civilian authorities over the military.)

Possibly not
Each time and command is different. In the 80s we went from permissive to hard core in less than two years as the change from Carter to Reagan trickled down. But individual issues were largely a matter of the command. My squadron rounded up people and all but forced them to register to vote. One of my friends in another squadron wasn't even given information on how to register.

Yes, these incidents are unusual; but is it a bit chickensh it if the reason you give is the reason did this after retirement. MacArthur, Patton, Ike, Bradley, Marshall and on back through history. These guys spoke (out of turn?) about the overall problems encountered and even let their disapproval of superiors be known, on rare occaisions. They did it as acting generals. Patton was called on the carpet for other reasons; MacArthur didn't know when to back down; the rest played it right.

Expressing a political opinion depends on the context. You can be court marshalled for participating in a demonstration or making a comment to the media that it was not your place to make. However, if you are a part of something, even if the connotation goes againt the government, your command or service, you are expected to speak up.

The military is a bit schizo on the issue of free speach. They must maintain discipline, but they want people who can think (the best and the brightest). It is a tightwire and you need to know your place.

How to become a general
Be ambitious, but channel your ambition.

2. Begin to prepare as early in life as possible.

3. Take college preparation courses in high school and study hard.

4. Show leadership skills in athletics, community service and other activities.

5. Seek appointment to one of the four military service academies.

6. Gain admission to a prestigious military college such as Virginia Military Institute or the Citadel.

7. Enroll in a university with a Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program.

8. Study military history, history, international relations and politics.

9. Never fail to do your best. Few general officers were C students.

10. Accept your commission into the military service of your choice.

11. Seek out an assignment to a military specialty in a combat arm or in an area where there are rapid promotions.

12. Do your best with every assignment without complaint or compromise.

13. Seek out advice from a high-ranking mentor.

14. Marry well. Marry a person who understands the marriage may sometimes take second place to military duties. Marry a person who will be a perfect partner during social events.

15. Keep your career free of controversy. Do nothing to warrant letters of reprimand. Follow equal opportunity guidelines. Never engage in sexual harassment.

16. Take graduate courses.

17. Apply for advanced schooling through the Command and General Staff College and similar military institutions.

18. Be prepared to spend 20 years or more in quest of your goal."
http://www.ehow.com/how_8691_become-general.html

Note the part about keeping your career free of controversy. If you acheived your promotion by playing the game and avoiding controversy, how could any general officer have any experience speaking up to their superiors?
And why should any supior officer, military or civilian, want to promote people who won't take stands on principle?
If you reward mediocity, you will get more.

Keeping clear of controversy
Marjon,

You highlight item 15, on avoiding controversy.

That pointer is not unique to military advancement: it also applies well to civilian organizations as well.

I would guess that, in both situations, there is a tightrope to walk between seeming like a total wimp and angering your superiors. I would bet that in both cases, it helps a lot to be lucky, so that you are never really faced with a hard decision (at least until you are already at high rank).

A general with conviction
Back when Carter was president, the commanding general resigned rather than be a part of the ill fated hostage rescue scheme. I wish that I could remember his name. I admire him and question these guys' movives.

Hard Decisions
I agree many apply in all jobs.
Hopefully the generals have made some hard decisions prior to achieving rank. (I think that is why they want those with REAL combat experience, not just those who got their ticket punched for being there.)

No Subject
I'm a semiretired remodeler/builder.

Most remodelers and nearly all buiders cannot built anything without mistakes being made, and in some cases, where someone dies. And these large remodels and bigcostructoini projects are being run by "professionals" within my industry. And in my industry we don't have people shooting at us, laying road explosives in our travels, etc.

So please allow me to be surprised at comments made by novice Secretary's of State, novice generals, or whatever here or elsewhere. It must be enjoyable to sit on the side lines "after the fact" and take pot shots.

Finally, can any one of the Sec. of States here please tell me of any war, US involvement or not, that had no mistakes? Perhaps we can creat a plaque to it's success so as to become the example of exactly how to conduct any future war.


I guess I would make a great Secretary of State. I think the last time I made a mistake as a "professional" in my industry. must of been back in 1987, and in my personal life, of which I have 100% "professional" control, was back in 1973.

By God, I'm nearly a God!

Convictions aren't parked at the door
These men could have gone on official record priuor to leaving the military and did not. Further, no one parks their convictions at the door when in the military. In the early 1950s there was the revolt of the admirals who publically attacked Trumman's plan to scrap aircraft carriers.

You are thinking of .....
Cyrus Vance, Secretary of State.

Convictions
Well, like I said, it would have been better if they had spoken out at the time they were in active service.

But that doesn't prove they don't honestly feel that the current leadership is a disaster, does it? And I think that is the point: How often has there been such a display of non-support by recently retired generals? Shouldn't that bother you a little bit? Something might be a little bit wrong.

Even if the messenger has feet of clay, that doesn't mean that his message isn't worth thinking about.

Conflicting Visions
Judgmental Roy Bean does not like the way the current war is being run, and prefers the old ways:

“Also in reinventing our historic approach to wars he undid two centuries of military strategy. Not only did he (Rumsfeld) throw out the Pentagon's Plan of Battle, substituting some ideas he had about using a tiny strike force, he completely disregarded the State Department's Continuity of Government strategy.”

And:

“….. none of these jerks (Rumsfeld, Bush, Cheney) has had any experience whatsoever in serving in a war, formulating a plan of battle or executing a war.”

So, let’s take a look at recent US military history to validate JRB’s take on the proper way to run a war.


Korea, 1950-1953, three years.

President, at start of war – Truman, Democrat.

American fatalities – 37,000.

Financial cost – 15% GDP, 1953.

Results – prevented takeover of South Korea by communists, stalemate, armistice roughly at the same dividing line as at the start of the war.

President, at end of war – Eisenhower, Republican.


Vietnam, 1964-1972, eight years.

President, at start of war – Kennedy, Democrat.

American fatalities – 52,000.

Financial cost – 12% GDP, 1972.

Results – South Vietnam was surrendered to communist enslavement, after the war effort was hopelessly bogged down by Kennedy/Johnson/McNamara.

President, at end of war – Eisenhower, Republican.


Gulf I, 1991, four days.

President, at start, end of war – Bush 41, Republican.

American fatalities – 269. Least casualties in any American war in history.

Financial cost –
Results – total accomplishment of UN objectives in removing Iraqi troops from Kuwait, hostilities ended in armistice after Saddam agreed to eliminate WMD, stop aggressive warfare, stop repression of Iraqi people. Saddam immediately began violating all terms of the armistice after most UN forces were withdrawn.


Afghanistan - Iraq, 2001-2006, five years.

President, at start of war – Bush 43.

American fatalities – 2,300. Second fewest casualties in any American war in history.

Financial cost –
Results – Freed 25 million Afghanis from terrorist regime, established democracy. Freed 25 million Iraqis from terrorist regime, established democracy. Minor ongoing criminal and terrorist actions being eliminated, mostly by Iraqi forces.


If, as JRB believes, the old ways of making war are superior, why did the old ways produce so many American casualties, and cost so much, and achieve so few favorable results? JRB is so hopelessly bogged down in his leftist ideology that he has lost the faculty for critical thinking.

JRB takes a particular dislike of Cheney and Rumsfeld, and criticizes their military backgrounds. Which has nothing at all to do with the fact that they are prominent members of the elected administration. But there is a very interesting story here.

John Boyd was a fighter pilot and a fighter flight instructor at Nellis AFB just after Korea, and had a very good reputation for being the best in the business at his chosen profession. Then he set out to expand his professional horizons. Boyd developed computerized mathematical models of the performance envelopes of American and foreign aircraft, and discovered that, in many ways, American aircraft were inferior; consequently, many American aircraft were lost over North Vietnam. Boyd made himself unpopular pushing his theories of air warfare, and finally designed his own aircraft, the F-16 (one of the all-time great fighter aircraft) after he could not get the AF bureaucracy to agree with his thinking.

Then Boyd got off on the history of war, and analyzed exceptional war theorists and battles, particularly situations where smaller forces prevailed over larger forces: Alexander the Great, Hannibal, Belisarius, Genghis Khan, Napoleon, etc. Boyd developed a non-doctrinal approach to warfare, emphasizing speed, deception, rapidity, and concentration of force against weakness. In the 1980s, Boyd drew a lot of attention for his theories, not all of it favorable. Some people (general officers) got it, and some did not.

At the time of Gulf I, General Schwarzkopf prepared a battle plan that featured a beach assault into the prepared Iraqi defenses. Cheney was Secretary of Defense at the time, and John Boyd was a confidential advisor to SecDef Cheney. Cheney and Boyd worked with the military to develop a flanking movement through the desert and around the Iraqi positions, avoiding the Iraqi defenses and disrupting the Iraqi communications and logistics elements behind the lines, and encircling Iraqi forces.

Worked like a charm, up to a point. Two Marine divisions raided behind Iraqi lines before the official start of hostilities, and captured fifteen Iraqi divisions. Then the main force made their sweep, and did well until some of the Army Division Commanders came up short. The plan was for all forces to continue forward to surprise and knock out the Iraqi units, but some of the Army units, concerned with getting too far out in front, held up – and let major portions of the Iraqi Army escape.

So when JRB says:

“Told to make all possible haste to take Baghdad, advancing troops outraced their support and supply lines. Had there been any significant resistance they would have been cut off. That was Rumsfeld's doing.”

Exactly! The secret is to disrupt the enemy, and rely on our superb support units to their jobs in bringing up food, ammunition, and toilet paper, the only three essentials in making war. That is why Republican Presidents have such spectacular results in war making, and the complaining generals and the complaining leftists (You, JRB!) don’t know diddley squat about war, or politics, or defending the nation.

But for comic relief, Judgmental Roy Bean and the leftists are superb.

S'BT.
Nixon was President at the end of Vietnam War.

And that is politics…
Not doing anything to get the problems fixed. Speaking out like this is only done to inflame public sentiment against an embattled adminstration; not an attempt to actually do anything about the problems they say exist. Plus, when pressed on the issue, it seems these guys are all over the board on what the problems are and how to fix them.

This proves they are "Monday morning quarterbacking" and, perhaps upset they weren't listened to earlier. That makes them disgruntled ex-employees and, of course, they don't like the current leadership in that case.

So they go out and find someone who will not only listen, but who can get it seen or read by millions. That isn't how you work to fix a problem; that is a political move. Why? Well, if they are anticipating a democratic administration in 2008, that is a good way to be in position for an appointment isn't it?

Ah by non support you mean the revolt of the.....
military under Clinton for example. To demonstrate this complete lack of support for the Clintionista policies over 50% of naval aviators resigned; the officer corps was gutted; and the shortage of NCOs was crippling. Strange today we do not see any of this.

If an officer will not officially disagree what he says afterwards smells of politics. MacArthur and Patton and Mitchell all spoke out. The seven who have disagreed have every right to do so and have the same right to be ignored.

Always good to see a Boyd fan
Very nice comment Crotalus but most of your sources will be unknown to the leftist trolls who pretend to be military experts. Don't expect an intelligent response that attempts to counter the points you have made.


I would point out that Rumsfeld has cancelled far too many conventional systems such as the Crusader favoring an approach that would depend on air power and smart weapons, something that McNamara tried. Too fast a change will not yield revolutionary advances, never have. The military would have been better off developing specialized units that could serve as cadre for specific types of warfare. Unfortunately all successful counter insurgency operations have been prolonged, denied the enemy sanctuary and been waged without restrictions. These conditions will never exist in the USA now or in the future.

Who Runs The War?
It really doesn't matter what the generals, retired or active, say. Nor what Rumsfelt or Bush says of do. This is a Republican administration which means:

1. The MSM runs the war. Therefore:

a. No civilians are allowed to be killed
b. No infrastructure is allowed to be destroyed.
3. All prisoners must be given an attorney, treated according to the Geneva Convention, and if possible confined to the local Holiday Inn - with DSL.
d. Islam must be respected, but screw the Christians.
e. No monitoring calls from or to suspected terrorists
f. All leakers of info damaging to Bush are to be referred to as “whistle blowers”, but any leakers of info that’s good for the Bush are to be referred to as “leakers”, and to be investigated and crucified - hopefully literally.”

Now if it’s a Democratic Administration - “Never mind.”

Besides, had we employed 300,000 to 400,000 troops, the same MSM now demanding that’s what we should have done, they would then be joyfully daily hawking on TV the fact that there are now 7000 killed in the war and 37,000 injured, publicizing even more mistakes becasue it’s supposed to be the 1st perfectly executed war in history, and the price tag is now in the gazillions!

There’s an old saying: “If Mama ain’t happy, no one is happy.” That applies to the MSM as well. If the MSM ain’t happy, they’ll make damn sure no one’s happy - except for the Democrats - and I’m a registered Democrat.

MSM running war
Nice comment. They'd certainly like to. The MSM is never as happy as when causing a US defeat and advancing the goals of communists and their allies like Bin Laden.

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