Monday, May 10, 2004

Comments You Would Not Have Heard in Public in the Past

'Dissension Grows In Senior Ranks On War Strategy'

For those of you not familiar with how the military operates, it is extremely unusual for active duty senior officers to speak out in public, dissenting with wartime operations. In fact it virtually never happened in the past except for a very few well publicized cases like the Gen MacArthur/Harry Truman clash over the Korean War (50 years ago). But for those who experienced the terribly wrong decisions and use of the military during the Vietnam War, it's all too clear and familiar. These officers are taking a chance that they will be disciplined or forced to retire themselves, but their courageous words are welcome and show the gravity of the damage being done by our policies in Iraq and some insight into senior military leadership morale:

U.S. May Be Winning Battles in Iraq But Losing the War, Some Officers Say

Deep divisions are emerging at the top of the U.S. military over the course of the occupation of Iraq, with some senior officers beginning to say that the United States faces the prospect of casualties for years without achieving its goal of establishing a free and democratic Iraq.

Their major worry is that the United States is prevailing militarily but failing to win the support of the Iraqi people. That view is far from universal, but it is spreading and being voiced publicly for the first time.

Army Maj. Gen. Charles H. Swannack Jr., the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, who spent much of the year in western Iraq, said he believes that at the tactical level at which fighting occurs, the U.S. military is still winning. But when asked whether he believes the United States is losing, he said, "I think strategically, we are."

Army Col. Paul Hughes, who last year was the first director of strategic planning for the U.S. occupation authority in Baghdad, said he agrees with that view and noted that a pattern of winning battles while losing a war characterized the U.S. failure in Vietnam. "Unless we ensure that we have coherency in our policy, we will lose strategically," he said in an interview Friday.

"I lost my brother in Vietnam," added Hughes, a veteran Army strategist who is involved in formulating Iraq policy. "I promised myself, when I came on active duty, that I would do everything in my power to prevent that [sort of strategic loss] from happening again. Here I am, 30 years later, thinking we will win every fight and lose the war, because we don't understand the war we're in."

Thanks to Preemptive Karma for the link.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link