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Wednesday, November 15. 2006
I have supported Mr. Rumsfeld a long time, and never saw a clear summary of the other side of the story. General Zais' story below resonates with me from my Vietnam experience as a minor player under a really incapable SECDEF, Rob't "Yo-Yo" MacNamara. Zais says its the Pentagon civilians who want the expensive techno-toys, but I'd say "No way!" It's the Air Force and Navy brass who have nothing better to do than push civilian appointees around - remember Jack Nicholson's line in "A Few Good Men"?
This gets said to every civilian greenie in the Pentagon. I remember when Dave Packard became Assistant SecDef, and a General said he felt reluctant to bully a guy with (at that time) $400 million, as though not bullying was something remarkable.
After reading this, I think a lot of things are clearer, even if it is an advocacy piece; at worst, it deserves a cogent rebuttal, but I don't somehow expect I'll see one...........
From the very beginning, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who thankfully announced his departure yesterday, has striven to minimize the number of soldiers and Marines in
Before hostilities began, the Army Chief of Staff, Eric Shinseki, testified before Congress that an occupation of
Shinseki also had available the results of a wargame conducted in 1999 that involved 70 military, diplomatic, and intelligence officials. This recently declassified study concluded that 400,000 troops on the ground were needed to keep order, seal borders, and take care of other security needs. And even then stability would not be guaranteed.
Because of his testimony before Congress, Rumsfeld moved Shinseki aside. In a nearly unprecedented move, to replace Shinseki, Rumsfeld recalled from active duty a retired general who was more likely to accept his theory that we could win a war in
The Defense Department has fought the war on the cheap because, despite overwhelming evidence that the Army and Marine Corps need a significant increase in their size in order to accomplished their assigned missions, the civilian officials who run the Pentagon have refused to request authorization from Congress to do so. Two Democratic representatives, Mark Udall from
When I was commissioned in 1969 the Army was one and a half million. Despite the fact that we're engaged in combat in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in the Philippines, and committed to peacekeeping missions in Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Sinai, and on operational deployments in over 70 countries, our Army is now less than one third that size. We had more soldiers in
As late as 1990, Army end-strength was approximately 770,000. With fewer than a half-million today, defense analysts have argued that we need to add nearly 200,000 soldiers to the active ranks.
Today, the Army is so bogged down in
Let me add a parenthetical note here explaining a difference between our services. Army tours of duty in
Because the active force is too small, the mission of our National Guard and reserve forces has been changed. Their original purpose was to save the nation in time of peril. Today they serve as fillers for an inadequately sized active force. This change in mission has occurred with no national debate and no input from Congress.
We have fought the war on the cheap because we have never adequately funded the rebuilding of the Iraqi military or the training and equipping of the Iraqi police forces. The e-mails I receive from soldiers and Marines assigned to train Iraqi forces all complain of their inadequate resources because they are at the very bottom of the supply chain and the lowest priority.
We have fought the war on the cheap because we have failed to purchase necessary equipment for our troops or repair that which has been broken or a worn out in combat. You've all read the stories about soldiers having to purchase their own bulletproof vests and other equipment. And the Army Chief of Staff has testified that he needs an extra $17 billion to fix equipment. For example, nearly 1500 war-fighting vehicles await repair in
Finally, we are fighting this war on the cheap because our defense budget of 3.8% of gross domestic product is too small. In the Kennedy administration it averaged 9% of GDP. The average defense budget in the post
A second part of our strategy is to ask the military to perform missions that are more appropriate for other branches of government.
Our Army and Marine Corps are taking the lead in such projects as building roads and sewage treatment plants, establishing schools, training a neutral judiciary, and developing a modern banking system. The press refers to these activities as nation-building. Our soldiers and Marines are neither equipped nor trained to do these things. They attempt them, and in general they succeed, because they are so committed and so obedient. But it is not what they do well and what only they alone can do.
But I would ask, where are our Department of Energy and Department of Transportation in restoring Iraqi infrastructure? What's the role of our Department of Education in rebuilding an Iraqi educational system? What does our Department of Justice do to help stand up an impartial judicial system? Where is the US Information Agency in establishing a modern equivalent of Radio Free Europe? And why did it take a year after the end of the active fighting for the State Department to assume responsibility from the Department of Defense in setting up an Iraqi government? These other
Actually, it would be inaccurate to say that the American government is at war. The U.S. Army is at war. The Marine Corps is at war. And other small elements of our armed forces are at war. But our government is not.
A third part of our strategy is to inconvenience the American people as little as possible.
Ask yourself, are you at war? What tangible effect is this war having on your daily life? What sacrifices have you been asked to make for the sake of this war other than being inconvenienced at airports? No,
A fourth aspect of our strategy is to fund Navy and Air Force budgets at prewar levels while shortchanging the Marine Corps and the Army that are doing the fighting.
This strategy, of spending billions on technology for a Navy and Air Force that face no threat, contributes mightily to our failures in
Secretary Rumsfeld is a former Navy pilot. His view of the battlefield is from 10,000 feet, antiseptic and surgical. Since coming into office he has funded the Air Force and the Navy at the expense of the Army and Marines because he believes technological leaps we'll render ground forces obsolete. He assumed that the rapid victory over the Taliban in
For example, the Defense Department is pouring billions into buying the newest fighter aircraft, at $360 million each, to take on a non-existent enemy Air Force.
But, for pilots like Rumsfeld, war is all about technology. It's computers, it's radar, and it's high tech weapons. Technologists have a hard time comprehending the motivations of a suicide bomber or a mother who celebrates the death of her son in such a way. It's difficult for them to understand that to overcome centuries of ethnic hatred and murder it will take more than one generation. It's hard for them to accept that for young men with little education, no wives or children, and few job prospects, war against the West is the only thing that gives meaning to their lives.
But war on the ground is not conducted with technology. It is fought by 25-year-old sergeants leading 19-year-old soldiers carrying rifles, in a dangerous and alien environment, where you can't tell combatants from noncombatants, Shiites from Sunnis, or suicide bombers from freedom seeking Iraqis. This means war on the street is neither antiseptic nor surgical. It's dirty, complicated, and fraught with confusion and error.
In essence, our strategy has been produced by men whose view of war is based on their understanding of technology and machinery, not their knowledge of men from an alien culture and the forces which motivate them. They fail to appreciate that if you want to hold and pacify a hostile land and a hostile people you need soldiers and Marines on the ground and in the mud, and lots of them.
In summary, our flawed strategy in
But, if we continue to fight the war on the cheap, if we continue to avoid involving the American people by asking them to make any sacrifice at all, if we continue to spend our dollars on technology while neglecting the soldiers and Marines on the ground, and if we fail to involve the full scope of the American government in rebuilding
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Makes sense to me.
Of course, it's always easy to critique something after the fact.
I suspect many of the Pentagon decisions about the war were political.
Not sure why you used a picture of British troops.
I agree wholeheartedly with Gen. Zais on every point. There needs to be a general acceptance that the Army was cut too much during the 1990’s. Our 18 active duty divisions in 1990 turned into 10 in less than a decade.
Some of those remaining divisions have been hollowed out in ways that go unreported. For instance, the 82nd Airborne had a tank battalion in the Gulf War. They don’t now because the Defense Department decided not to pay to replace the Sheridan light tanks when they were retired. Instead, the money was spent on Air Force and Navy toys that have never seen battle. Meanwhile the 173rd Airborne Brigade was dropped into Northern Iraq during Iraqi Freedom with no armor support. They had to seize an airfield so Bradley’s could be flown in from Europe.
The combat power of the National Guard is also being hollowed out. The armor battalion I served in is transitioning to Infantry / Military Police. When we find ourselves in a real war, we will dearly miss the lost firepower.
I let my enlistment expire last month because I may be moving to another state. I can’t take the chance that I will have to transfer into a unit that is about to deploy – leaving my family and new employer high and dry. The Reserves has lost many NCO’s after multiple deployments. Soldiers and Marines who are police officers or government employees don’t suffer financially. Those of us in the private sector, however - especially farmers and small businessmen, simply cannot afford long multiple deployments.
I hope our new SecDef will bring some sanity to the structure of the ground forces.
When you made your rational decision, the USA lost again. We're sorry; we understand.
As to SECDEF, Mr. Gates is a CIA REMF. The Joint Chiefs probably won't bully him, but we're betting he will be a caretaker, not a leader. We won't get more troops, and the troops won't get more money.
My error with the photo, not Gwynnie's. I still like it, though.
I'm not sure this isn't a hoax... have tried to provide a somewhat cogent rebuttal at foreignobjectdamage.blogspot.com