Monday, April 17, 2006

Unprecedented Criticism From Retired Flag Officers

Over two years ago when this blog started, one of the main purposes was to focus on the mistakes of past recent wars in order to prevent the same mistakes from happening in Iraq & Afghanistan. But those mistakes are happening in spades again.

As the administration fights to steer aside the mounting critcism from retired generals and admirals, one common theme is not being reported.

Any student of Vietnam, in fact anyone who served in Vietnam, should easily recognize this common theme: Mismanagement, misjudgment, micromanagement, and lack of acting on the advice of senior military staff by the SecDef, creates disasters. One could argue that firing the SecDef is beside the point. As the most recent Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Myers (a strong supporter of Mr. Rumsfeld) points out, criticizing Mr. Rumsfeld is really saying you are criticizing the president.

Yet, Mr. Rumsfeld has made several key wrong strategic decisions (or could have strongly influenced many of those made by the administration). The White House is trying to spin Mr. Rumsfeld's apparently unequalled excellence in the job by providing a bunch of bean counts of how many meetings, how many committees etc. etc. he has championed. And perhaps we can even concede the point that he listened to all the warnings.

But he didn't act on them. From the beginning of war planning (and post-war planning), the handling and use of intelligence, the lack of understanding of the Geneva Conventions resulting in (for example) Abu Ghraib, the making of excuses for not providing the troops with basic safety equipment and protection, the continuing uncontrolled unrest in Iraq etc., and for failing to act on the advice of his senior military experts, Mr. Rumsfeld bears responsibility and accountability.

Several of these generals and admirals now 'coming out of the closet' are reported to have been strongly impacted by the new book Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq -- by Michael R. Gordon, Bernard E. Trainor (a retired Army general) - and especially the stonewalling and firing of Gen. Shinseki. Gen Shinseki in 2003, you may remember, argued for the deployment of several hundreds of thousands of troops to prevent the kind of post-war civil disaster now taking place in Iraq.

After Vietnam, in military schools, in all services, new and older officers debated and discussed what might have been prevented in Vietnam had senior military officials spoken out more strongly when they knew that strategy and tactics were very wrong. Many of the retired officers now speaking out went through those discussions or were involved in the last days of Vietnam.

Some would say they waited three years too long to do so. Shinseki was perhaps the bravest of all of them, publicly voicing his strong arguments on active duty and probably knowing what the result would be.

Regardless, the debate now going on is not going to be squashed anytime soon by the administration. As noted here recently, nearly five dozen veterans are running for Congress - all but two of them Democrats.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Secretary Rice Boxes Herself in a Corner

...And This Secretary of State Wants to Run for President?

...But in response to a question about whether the administration had learned from its mistakes over the past three years, she said officials would be "brain-dead" if they did not recognize where they had erred.

"I know we've made tactical errors, thousands of them I'm sure," Rice said. "But when you look back in history, what will be judged is, did you make the right strategic decisions."

So, Ms. Rice is resorting to code words to explain away the fact the she was in on the decisions from the start. Her inference is: OK we've done a lot of little things wrong in Iraq, but the big decision to go there was right. How will she separate herself from these wrong 'brain dead' decisions that she was a party to - if she intends to be president, which she does?

But it gets worse when she says that the reason that the 'correct strategic' decision has not turned out well yet in Iraq was that there were thousands of 'tactical' mistakes in Iraq. So, who made these thousands of 'tactical' mistakes in your mind, Ms. Secretary? Surely you won't implicate Mr. Rumsfeld or Mr. Bremer - or yourself. That leaves the military. Is that what you are saying, Ms. Rice? If so, it's about the most disgusting thing said about our troops yet, who are so far saving what's left of this administration's bacon. They were right from the beginning, starting with General Shinseki.

So, who made these 'thousands' of mistakes, Ms. Rice?

UPDATE: Condi & Don: What we have here is a failure to communicate...

UPDATE #2: Well, somebody made these mistakes...

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Monday, April 03, 2006

Cong. John Murtha's Commentary on the 3-year Anniversary of the Iraq War

To say that the United States should stay in Iraq to avoid a full blown Civil War is a disservice to our troops. Our military has completed its mission in Iraq. I said over a year ago, and most including the Pentagon agree, Iraq cannot be won militarily. It's time to re-deploy our troops from Iraq.

Nearly a half a trillion dollars has been appropriated for this war. More than 30,000 Iraqis have lost their lives. Over 800 lives were lost in Iraq in January 2006. There have been nearly 20,000 U.S. casualties since the start of the war.

The Iraqis had their elections and they elected their parliament. Now let’s allow the Iraqis to govern themselves, provide for their own common defense and promote their own general welfare.

Polls inside Iraq indicate that over 80 percent of Iraqis want U.S. forces to leave Iraq and 47 percent think it is justified to kill Americans. 70 percent of Iraqis favor a timetable for withdrawal and 60 percent believe violent attacks will decrease when the U.S. leaves Iraq.

And in the only poll ever taken among American soldiers serving in Iraq, an overwhelming majority, 72%, think the U.S. should exit Iraq within the next year. 42%, said the U.S. mission in Iraq is “either somewhat or very unclear” to them.

The Administration has failed at every attempt to influence the political outcome in Iraq. The secular, western-leaning politicians the Administration propped up did not receive the popular vote of the Iraqis. Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi received less than 8 percent and Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi less than 1 percent of the vote in the last parliamentary elections. And contrary to the Administration’s hopes, religious clerics and militant sects are exerting significant levels of influence inside their own country. Indeed it emphasizes the difficulty of attempting to install a Jeffersonian style democracy at the point of a gun.

A recent poll conducted in Iraq asked the Iraqis to rate their confidence in public institutions. The Iraqi police scored a 68% confidence level, the Iraqi Army and religious leaders scored 67% and the U.S. forces scored the lowest, a mere 18% . Our military is considered occupiers and the U.S. does not have the popular support of the Iraqi people. Obviously we have lost the hearts and minds.

I am critical of the President’s war plan in Iraq because I am concerned about the future of our military and the future of this great country. Although the Administration says things in Iraq are going “very, very well,” I believe most American know this is not the case. There is only 6 hours of electricity in Baghdad, only 11 hours nation wide. Oil production is almost 1 million barrels less than pre-war levels per day and attacks have increased from about 150 a week to over 600. Unemployment is up to 90% in Al Anbar Province, a hotbed for violence, and 40-60% in other areas of Iraq.

Theodore Roosevelt said in 1918, “to announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link