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Ex-generals call for Rumsfeld’s ouster
Posted by: McQ on Friday, April 14, 2006

I see some ex-generals are demanding Donald Rumsfeld be sacked. More precisely, some retired generals are making the demand.

Frankly I find that to be disturbing. If they were so opposed to what Rumsfeld and crew were doing, I wonder if in fact they shouldn’t have put their stars on the line when they served. Joe Galloway, a journalist who I respect very much, seems to side with them. But he too has some problems with them speaking up now. He relates a story which I think exemplifies my gripe (and his) very well:
In early July of 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) and other sizeable units to deploy to South Vietnam in a major escalation of the war. What he refused to do was follow the advice of his military commanders and declare a national emergency that would freeze discharges of all soldiers.
President Johnson wanted to fight the Vietnam War on the cheap and on the quiet. He didn’t want to disturb middle class America or Congress for fear they would want to pay for the war by cutting back on his Great Society social and welfare programs. So he would send off Army units seriously under strength, leaving behind the best-trained soldiers whose enlistments or draft tours were near an end.

Gen. Johnson was furious. He summoned his car and on the way to the White House he removed the eight silver stars from his shoulders. But the general was debating with himself the whole way, and just short of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue he ordered the driver to turn around. Gen. Johnson had convinced himself that if he resigned in protest LBJ would replace him in a matter of hours with someone much worse and more pliable. So it was best to remain and work from within to fix what he could.

Not long before he died, in the fall of 1983, Harold Johnson sat beside an old friend at a West Point Alumni Association officers meeting. He recounted that day and told his friend: “I count that as the greatest moral failure of my life. I should have resigned and fought the decision.”

So should some others.
If you saw the movie “We Were Soldiers Once”, based on a Joe Galloway book by the same name, you remember that just as LTC Moore (Mel Gibson character) got ready to take his battalion to Vietnam, he lost about 40% of his experienced soldiers because a national emergency hadn’t been declared and thus “stop-loss” (for which Rumsfeld has been roundly condemned by some circles) wasn’t available. Thus when Moore went into combat, they were under strength and had lost valuable experience. It had it’s cost in lives, even though in the end, the battalion fought well in the battle of the Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam.

Gen. Johnson (who, btw, I knew and admired) regretted not doing what his sense of duty told him to do at the time. And I agree with him. While I understand his rationalization to attempt to work from his position to ameliorate the results of the LBJ decision as much as he could, he should have indeed placed those 4 stars on the President’s desk and said “I won’t go to war like this”.

That was his duty to those who served under him.

That’s my gripe with these generals. Instead of literally putting their stars on the desk, they chose to wait until they were safely retired to take a stand. It's too late then. When they gripe from retirement, many people are going to take that criticism less seriously. How many times in the past have we seen "sour grapes" cloaked as serious critcism from the safety of retirement?

Only one of the generals now criticizing Rumsfeld seems to understand that point:
One of the generals calling for Rumsfeld’s departure, retired Marine Lt. Gen. Greg Newbold, who was the Joint Staff operations chief leading up to Iraq, wrote this week that Rumsfeld needed to be dismissed for his grotesque mismanagement of the Iraq war. But he had some self-criticism that surely applies to fellow generals and admirals still sitting in E-Ring offices of the Pentagon:

“I now regret that I did not more openly challenge those who were determined to invade a country whose actions were peripheral to the real threat - al Qaida,” Newbold wrote in Time Magazine.
That, of course is second-guessing, and, frankly, I think his reasoning is incorrect, but if he felt it was that big of a mistake, why didn’t he put his stars on the desk? Newbold was the guy who was in charge of the planning which went into the Iraqi invasion. And while I appreciate his candid comments now, where were they then?

And where were he and the generals when the Clinton era Pentagon was taking the military apart and reorganizing it in a manner which has seen us have to deploy reserve and National Guard forces in the manner we’ve had to for Iraq?

Generals have a lot of perks that come with the rank. But they also have a responsibility to those with which they serve. I once talked with a general who told me that when he became a young officer, it was 90% performance and 10% politics. But when he was promoted to general, it seemed it became 90% politics and 10% performance. Having been a general’s aide in my younger days, I can validate that ratio. And what one observes when a part of that elite group is that many, if not most, become immersed in the politics to the detriment of their larger duty.

I have my gripes with Rumsfeld’s leadership, and I certainly won’t claim that the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq have been without mistakes and problems. I even think that one could argue that Rumsfeld should step down.

But I also have a problem with generals who can’t find it in themselves to risk their stars and speak out when it might make a difference, but instead wait until they’re safely retired, and essentially risk nothing.

UPDATE: As it happens this story is one which brought back a lot of tough memories for me from when I served as an officer in the Army on active duty.

I wasn't planning on making this personal, but a commenter essentially ask why I felt it neceesary to impugn the character of these generals who waited until they were retired to speak out. My intent is not to hold myself up as some moral paragon, but to point out that these are decisions that some military officers must make during their careers even at the risk of ending it. It happens that I found myself in just such a situation once as I described it in the comments section of this post:
I left the Army because I refused a direct order that I thought unlawfully and unnecessarily risked the lives and safety of the troops in my company if it was followed. As it turns out, the investigation that followed my refusal agreed that my refusal was proper and exhonorated me. But because of the culture within the army, my career was finished (wave makers and boat shakers need not apply), and I ended up resigning (and entering the reserves). Unfortunately, that same culture survives to this day and the above is the result.

But you know what, had one of my troops been killed or injured because I didn’t take that stand at the time, I’d have had to live with my moral cowardice for the rest of my life. It was one of the hardest decisions I ever made in my life. It cost me my career in the army. But it was the right decision and one I’ve never regretted. I was an RA infantry officer who had a career in the army guaranteed had I just kept my mouth shut and gone along with the order.
It is from that perspective that I find myself judging these generals. I'd have loved to have been able to complete my career on active duty and to have had an opportunity to become a general. I think 28 years of service, both active and reserve, testifies to that. But I felt, as a captain, that I had a duty to the soldiers in my command which transcended my desires in that regard. That is why I find what these generals are doing now disturbing. And that is why I find their character wanting.

At the time in question, those above me in my chain-of-command attempted to relieve me of my command because of my refusal to obey the order given. As it turns out, they were forced to rescind the order (a highly unusual development at that level). However they were able to ruin my by writing a "middle-of-the-road" Officer Efficiency Report. By doing so, they effectively ended my career (they rate you as "average", which in the military is something you can't appeal and is also a defacto "death sentence" for a career officer).

Both the rater and reviewer, who had been forced to rescind the relief order put a single line each in the comments section of the OER: "Officer has the courage of his convictions", and "Is willing to stand up and be counted".

To this day, among all the comments in all of my OERs over the years - most of them with maximum ratings and glowing descriptions - it is those two lines of which I'm the most proud.

UPDATE II:
Interesting analysis here.
 
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Comments
McQ, you were a "Dog Robber" poor man, better to have been a lobbyist for NAMBLA, sorry couldn’t pass that up.

I would agree with you on whether Rumsfeld ought to resign, I don’t think he should, BUT he has compounded his "enemies problem" with his philosophy and attitude.

I thought he treated Shinseki shabbily in announcing his decision to NOT re-appoint him as CoS, one year prior to his retirment! I believe Rumsfeld ruffled feathres in failing to appoint a new SecArmy for the longest period and then moved to bring the SecUSAF over or was SecNav over, any way the appointee had NEVER served with the Army! And he brought the current CoS out of retirement, which said, "I have NO confidence in the Army’s current senior management/leadership positions." Finally, mostly he axed ARMY programs, Crusader, Comanche. I didn’t see very many Navy or USAF projects axed. He has gone out of his way to antagonize the Army, at least.

The Army, I believe, does not want to try its hand at nation-building...it prefers WWII and Desert Storm, clean, popular victories. I think Rumsfeld has forced the Army and the other services into nation-building and reasonable people could disagree about going to war in Iraq. I think it was a good idea, a very good idea. But, people can differ. Rumsfeld is forcing the miliarty to do things it is uncomfortable with AND, it seems, being a arse whilst doing it. So it’s no wonder he’s got a smaller fan club than many.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Generals have a lot of perks that come with the rank.
I’m utterly ignorant on the topic, so this piques my curiosity. What kind of perks do Generals get? I know about the decent salary and all the genuflecting from the lower ranks. And I’m sure they get to see cool stuff on a fairly regular basis. Do they get other stuff, too?
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
McQ, you were a "Dog Robber" poor man, better to have been a lobbyist for NAMBLA, sorry couldn’t pass that up.
Heh ... well thankfully it was for a short stint. My Gen got promoted months after I got the job and thus was reassigned and entitled to an aide of higher rank. But it damn sure was a learning experience.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Do they get other stuff, too?
Driver. Enlisted aide. Officer aide. The one I served with had his own cook. And there are a bunch more. Much like any other high-powered civilian CEO.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
McQ, what exactly would the generals have risked by speaking out while on active duty? They are all eligible for retirement by the time they make general anyway. What could be done other than to force them into retirement earlier than they had wanted to go?
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
Huh. I didn’t know that. Sweet gig, though I imagine getting there is somewhat less sweet.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
McQ, what exactly would the generals have risked by speaking out while on active duty? What could be done other than to force them into retirement earlier than they had wanted to go?
The possibility of disciplinary action, depending on how the ’speaking out’ was done in a time of war. That could result in loss of rank and retirement or worse. It takes moral courage to do that.

The whole point here is that doing so on active duty does carry some risk. In retirement it carries none.

If one has strong moral problems with how something is going and thinks that the direction is morally wrong, he or she has a duty to take a stand then when that stand may have an positive effect ... not later in the safety of retirement.

That is, if they believe what they preach and teach. And that is definitely what the military teaches its officers.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Well Wulf, by speaking the wrong truth they don’t get promoted... and in General Land no promotion means retirment. Also they don’t get to command the 82nd Airborne, or 18 Airborne Corps, they never get to be a CinC or Chief of Staff. They finish their career’s at the level they’re at...

It’s like a coach. Screw up and you don’t get to coach at UK or Duke...if those are your goals you try to not screw the pooch.

And for the record... Duke Sucks! (from Fark.com)
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
To me, it makes it all the more egregious that these are people who, in the worst case scenario (assuming they didn’t conduct themselves in a belligerent or treasonous manner) would be simply forced into retirement earlier, or miss out on the next promotion. It’s not like they would be dragged out back and shot for telling the Secretary of Defense that his plan isn’t the right one. But some people are paying the ultimate price, who might not have had to.

Good post, McQ. They are right, but they lost their chance at the moral high ground.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
Why do you attribute to cowardice that which could also be explained by respect for civilian control of the military? The military has a long tradition of trying to stay out of politics, and that’s a good thing. More than one of these generals has explicitly cited that as the reason for waiting, and mentioned that the debate about adherence to that principle vs. duty to one’s soldiers still rages among active-duty officers. They also do risk something, contrary to the statements of one whose commentary is truly risk-free, since they could have lucrative consulting and speaking careers that are hurt by these statements.

If second-guessing is bad when the generals do it, don’t do it to them. Maybe they just saw the moral dimensions of speaking out a bit differently than you do, and felt that waiting until after retirement was necessary. Let’s not impugn their character for that.
 
Written By: Platypus
URL: http://pl.atyp.us
Why do you attribute to cowardice that which could also be explained by respect for civilian control of the military?
The cowardice I’m talking about is of the moral variety, and if you read Harold K Johnson’s quote, it was he who felt that he’d chosen the the morally wrong path by his decision to stay on and not speak out.
The military has a long tradition of trying to stay out of politics, and that’s a good thing.
This isn’t about politics. It’s about the lives of the soldiers to whom you have a sworn duty. When you’re talking about prosecuting a war, you aren’t in the realm of politics anymore. The political decision has been made. Now you have to decide whether you can support that decison or not. And if you can’t, it is time for you to speak out and, if necessary, go.
More than one of these generals has explicitly cited that as the reason for waiting, and mentioned that the debate about adherence to that principle vs. duty to one’s soldiers still rages among active-duty officers.
And they sound just like H K Johnson, who, at least, had the intestinal fortitude to admit later that he had rationalized his stand just as these generals had, and that, in fact, he was wrong to have done so.
They also do risk something, contrary to the statements of one whose commentary is truly risk-free, since they could have lucrative consulting and speaking careers that are hurt by these statements.
That’s conjecture. There’s also a political element which would be more likely to reward such behavior.
If second-guessing is bad when the generals do it, don’t do it to them. Maybe they just saw the moral dimensions of speaking out a bit differently than you do, and felt that waiting until after retirement was necessary. Let’s not impugn their character for that.

Well you see, I have a basis for making such a judgement.

I left the army because I refused a direct order that I thought unnecessarily risked the lives and safety of the troops in my company if followed. As it turns out, the investigation that followed my refusal agreed that the refusal was proper and exhonorated me. But becaue of the culture within the army, my career was finished (wave makers and boat shakers need not apply), and I ended up resigning (and entering the reserves). Unfortunately, that same culture survives to this day and the above is the result.

But you know what Platypus, had one of my troops been killed or injured because I didn’t take that stand at the time, I’d have had to live with my moral cowardice for the rest of my life. It was one of the hardest decisions I ever made in my life. It cost me my career in the army. But it was the right decision and one I’ve never regretted. I was an RA infantry officer who had a career in the army guaranteed had I just kept my mouth shut and gone along with the order. At the least I’d have probably retired as a Colonel. But even if nothing had ever gone wrong, I’d have known that my lack of speaking up would have been moral cowardice on my part.

So excuse me if I use my experience at an admittedly much lower level to judge their character. And you know what? I find it wanting.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
If second-guessing is bad when the generals do it, don’t do it to them. Maybe they just saw the moral dimensions of speaking out a bit differently than you do, and felt that waiting until after retirement was necessary. Let’s not impugn their character for that.
Sorry. I was a commissioned officer in the US Army. If you are going force people to unpleasant and dangerous things, you had best be prepared to do unpleasant and dangerous things yourself. It’s called leadership.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
Bravo to your moral fortitude, McQ. That must have been a really hard decision.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
At the least I’d have probably retired as a Colonel.
Full Colonel or LTC? Just curious.
 
Written By: Jeff the Baptist
URL: http://jeffthebaptist.blogspot.com
I retired from the reserves as an LTC.

I know it’s conjecture on my part, but based on my career to that point I’m pretty sure had I just shut up and gone along I’d have at least made O6 (full colonel). I was doing all the right things, getting the right assignments and getting the outstanding Officer Efficiency Reports necessary for that to happen.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
We are discussing the same thing.
 
Written By: Crusader
URL: http://www.coalitionoftheswilling.net/
Promotions to General...

Who controls this process?

When were these generals promoted to that level?

I agree, they should have opened up their mouths and put it on the line for those they command. That is what leadership at all levels ought to do.

President Bush did it by ordering the action, and we, the American people are the ones that gave him another 4 years.

I don’t have a problem with Rumsfelds style. It may be brash, but it is not rash. The armed forces needs transformation, and with the culture that permeates the entire organization, feet were going to be stepped on, and asses kicked.

We need to be better at "nation building" because it is what the military is going to be doing for the fore-seeable future. Sure, we can kick butt with any nation on the earth, and then what. Leave chaos and anarchy in our wake (I’m sure that wont foster hatred and terrorism.)

So, it is essential that we get better at keeping the peace after we win the quick victory against whatever regime we just took down. And we must get international partners on the same page.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Full Colonel would have been quite an accomplishment. LTC isn’t too shabby either of course.

I think a large part of this anti-Rumsfeld sentiment is his management coming home to roost. Rumsfeld has been perceived as anti-Army by some, especially after what he did to Shinseki. He’s also put a lot of emphasis on new concepts in any number of areas. He favors transformation to lighter and faster systems against a lot of old guard wishes. He favors spiral system development instead of more traditional methods. He favors applying commercial practices to army logistics in ways that make people nervous. He has altered or removed programs that the Army and DoD fought hard to keep. Oh and now we’re nation building when a lot of generals learned the lesson of "don’t nation build" from Somalia and the Balkans. A lot of folks here just don’t like him, especially the older folks. I’m sure a lot of old guard generals really don’t like him either.

On the other hand I think he has also been right about a lot of things. Light, fast, and connected is the way to fight anti-insurgent warfare. I know McQ and others criticized him heavily for the scarcity of up-armored humvees, but frankly what he said about the enemy just using bigger bombs was very accurate too.
 
Written By: Jeff the Baptist
URL: http://jeffthebaptist.blogspot.com
Wretched talks about this too. The troubles of Donald Rumsfeld
 
Written By: Chris
URL: http://
You know, McQ, it’s great that you had the courage to stand up for what you believed. My respect for you has gone up a notch. However, I still think it’s wrong to portray what these generals have done as a conflict between duty and desire when they have made it quite clear that they consider it a conflict between two kinds of duty. As I’m sure you and Mark Flacy both know, the military values discipline not just as an abstract principle but as something that ultimately saves lives - even if it occasionally saves some at the expense of others. If saving the lives of men under their command is the only moral standard, no general should ever accept an order for war, but that’s clearly ridiculous. These generals obviously felt that discipline required supporting the mission - and yes, their commanders too - despite their reservations. Perhaps if things had been just a little bit worse, just a little more obviously wrong, they would indeed have risked their stars over it. There are levels of disagreement; refusing an order to execute a prisoner is not the same as refusing an order to execute a maneuver you regard as ill-considered. It’s a judgement call, and these guys made it. They made it differently than you think you would have, but that doesn’t mean they’re spineless or immoral. That just looks like partisan BS to me, no matter what authority you appeal to.
 
Written By: Platypus
URL: http://pl.atyp.us
One of the scumbag generals asking for Rumsfeld’s resignation is Anthony Zinni, who Bush sent to the Mideast to try to bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians, but was such a f*ck-up that BOTH SIDES asked for him to be replaced - something never before seen in diplomatic circles. So, Bush replaced him, which effectively ended Zinni’s career. Now he is trying to make himself look useful again.

Of course, while he is doing this, the media does not point out WHY he is doing it.
 
Written By: Alexander Alt
URL: http://
However, I still think it’s wrong to portray what these generals have done as a conflict between duty and desire when they have made it quite clear that they consider it a conflict between two kinds of duty.
Well again, I’m not so sure that’s the case, Platypus. At some point in any officer’s career the desire to advance and duty to his or her soldiers will come into conflict. It’s a true moral dilemma. It may be a minor situation which he or she can work through or it may be what we called a "you bet your bars" situation, where you literally laid your commission and career on the line (or not, if you chose to go along to get along).

What I’m contending is that the culture of the military has a tendency to weed out those who take controversial stands, even if they’re right, and to reward those who go along and don’t make waves. My experience as well as this situation provide anecdotal proof of the existence of that culture.
Perhaps if things had been just a little bit worse, just a little more obviously wrong, they would indeed have risked their stars over it ...
So you’re contending that, in fact, that this wasn’t serious enough to play "you bet your stars" over while on active duty, but is now serious enough to demand the resignation of the Secretary of Defense?

I’m sorry, I’m having difficulty following the logic there, Platypus.

At what point does your duty to those you lead become serious enough to bet your stars? What’s the metric for that?

Is it lower for captains since the have fewer to whom they have this duty? Do field grade officers have a higher point than company grade? What is the level for general officers and does it depend on the number of stars they have as to the level they can ignore before they should act?
As I’m sure you and Mark Flacy both know, the military values discipline not just as an abstract principle but as something that ultimately saves lives - even if it occasionally saves some at the expense of others. If saving the lives of men under their command is the only moral standard, no general should ever accept an order for war, but that’s clearly ridiculous.
I certainly understand the purpose of discipline. But I also understand the concept of duty. And while I can appreciate your point, there not only are but have been generals who have accepted orders that were clearly ridiculous. And that’s the point.

Discipline means obeying orders, certainly, but only orders that are both lawful and moral. That is your duty.

At the level in which general officers work, the moral and lawful lines can get a little blurred.

Obviously in desparate times you may be forced to send people in harm’s way that aren’t adequate for the job, but there is a larger situation which requires their sacrifice in order to save the larger portion of your forces. That is a horrible decision to make, but it can be justified morally.

OTOH, in a situation like Iraq, if you are a general officer and you feel strongly enough that the force being sent in to Iraq is inadquate and that is going cost lives then it is your duty to stand up and make your argument forcefully known.

At the point the commander makes his decision you have a choice: obey or refuse. If you obey, you implicitly accept as legitimate both the lawfulness and morality of the order.

If you refuse, it can be done very gracefully: "Sir, I cannot support that order [for whatever reason]. You’ll have my resignation on your desk within the hour".

What I’m contending is these generals implicitly accepted the morality and lawfulness of the orders they executed by remaining silent and/or obeying the orders while on active duty. It is only now, when they are safely retired, that they’ve found the sand to criticize Rumsfeld.
There are levels of disagreement; refusing an order to execute a prisoner is not the same as refusing an order to execute a maneuver you regard as ill-considered.
No it’s not. How is it immoral to murder a prisoner and not just as immoral to waste the lives of your own soldiers [which to me is morally tantamount to murder] when viable [and better] alternatives exist?

Certainly there may be situations when the ill-considered maneuver is the only path open (that or nothing), but we pay general officers to know the difference and to stop the former foolishness while executing violently the latter.

What I’m saying is these generals fall into the category of not standing up when they could have "stopped ... the foolishness", if, in fact, they really feel as strongly about it as they contend.
They made it differently than you think you would have, but that doesn’t mean they’re spineless or immoral. That just looks like partisan BS to me, no matter what authority you appeal to.
We’ll just have to disagree on that. I’ll just point to the fact that they had an opportunity to say then what they’re saying now, and there is nothing to indicate they did.

If that’s all right with you, so be it. It’s not all right with me.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
As a Vietnam era enlisted Marine, you have my respect. Not all our leaders were honorable men. Too often others paid the price for their malfeasance.

The former generals who said nothing when they had the ability to influence things should shut up. Because the next constructive comment from any of them (Clark, Zinni, et al) will be the first. Monday morning quarterbacks.
 
Written By: MarkD
URL: http://
Good post.

I have read somewhere that Newbold did either resign in protest or sought reassignment in protest of the Iraq warplan. Not sure though.
 
Written By: noah
URL: http://
There is no way Rummy can resign now. As I understand military law these folks are still part of the military and if Rummy wants they could be recalled and court martialed. Being the gentleman he is that won’t happen. He’s used to dealing with people with bruised ego’s. One of the desenter’s (traitors) was reduced in rank and forced to retire so there’s no doubt he has an axe to grind. The others are just scared their replacements will suceed in area’s they failed which seem to be happening on an hourly basis. Bet they try to take credit if the foreign terrorists suddenly pull out of Iraq. Ego’s work that way. Seems everyone that gets fired or replaced these days has to write a book and go on the talk show circus to slam their former employers.
 
Written By: Scrapiron
URL: http://
By the way, I was pretty up to date on military law at one time. As one of the sometimes trouble makers I read (and I do mean read throughly) the UCMJ everytime I was assigned NCOD duty as a matter of self preservation. LMAO Retired 26 years and happy..
 
Written By: Scrapiron
URL: http://
Another thing I wonder about — is six really a significant percentage? I don’t imagine flag rank(?) officers, retired or otherwise, are thick on the ground, but I can’t see six being most or even a majority. It reminds me of Cindy Sheehan being lavished with airtime, despite the fact she represented the views of a vanishingly small number of military parents, simply because she was saying what the MSM wanted to hear.
 
Written By: Achillea
URL: http://quantum-sky.net
Achillea, you might be surprised by the number of flag officers. Rumsfeld made this point himself on Arab television yesterday:
I respect their (the generals’) views but, obviously, if out of thousands and thousands of admirals and generals, if every time two or three people disagreed we changed the secretary of defense of the United States, it would be like a merry-go-round,

The "thousands" number is not hyperbole, though it shouldn’t have been said twice. That tended to hyperbole. Still, this doesn’t mean they aren’t correct.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
Joe said above,

"The Army, I believe, does not want to try its hand at nation-building...it prefers WWII and Desert Storm, clean, popular victories."

I have to ask the question, just what did we do in Germany, Japan after WWII and South Korea after that war? What was the Marshall Plan if not nation building?
 
Written By: TIm P
URL: http://myakphotoblog.blogspot.com

This post
is interesting. I think I will run out and get a NYT so I can read more about it. [Hah!]
”A Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army sent the following email in response to David Ignatius’ assertion in the Washington Post yesterday that 75%+ of senior military officers want to see Rumsfeld gone:
I would beg to differ with that assessment by Mr. Ignatius. I am a combat arms officer, a combat veteran of the Global War on Terror, currently serving on the faculty of one of the Staff Colleges.
My assessment from extensive and continuous contact with young field grade officers, most of which are combat arms branch, combat veterans, is that Secretary Rumsfeld is considered the finest Secretary of Defense of the last forty years. Maybe Mr. Ignatius has limited his conversations to Officers assigned in the Beltway. Yes, "beltway types" unfortunatly also exist in the military...However, I can tell you that beyond the Beltway in dusty and dirty places like Ft. Benning, Ft. Stewart, Ft. Hood, Ft. Campbell and Ft. Bragg, where officers wear BDUs instead of Class Bs that there are tens of thousands of Officers, Commissioned/Warrant/Non-Commissioned, that would go to hell and back for this Secretary.”
 
Written By: Notherbob2
URL: http://
The original article is on "realclearpolitics.com". Don’t know why the link doesn’t work.
 
Written By: Notherbob2
URL: http://
Just when I thought that I couldn’t be surprised or upset by the perfidy of what we used to call "lifers", something like this happens and proves that my opinion of officers in general(except for such as McQ, evidently, and my late father) is still too high. I have seen a little of what incompetent and/or careerist officers can do.
The American people spend millions of dollars each year sending these bozos to the various war colleges and other educational institutions at least partially so that they can learn from the mistakes of their predecessors. I would bet that they have all heard anecdotes about Gen. Johnson and others who kept their mouths shut during the Vietnam mess, and they probably all shook their heads sadly at this cowardice and said they had learned this lesson of Vietnam and it would never happen on their watch. At least one of them has made public statements which contradict what they are now saying. I call this lying, but I am a rude and crude fellow.
Some of these "leaders" are no doubt ones who have expressed their concern about the effect of anti-war demonstrations on the morale of their troops. Very touching, but what the hell do they think this will do to morale? What are they to think when the generals who made such inspirational speeches to them about the necessity and rightness of this war and the correctness of decisions made by their chain of command, decisions which have cost the lives of their friends, are correct?
If I recall correctly, the priorities of military leaders are the mission, the troops, and then onesself. These people obviously don’t believe in the mission, the welfare and safety of their troops is of no concern to them, but they do seem to care about the welfare of their carreers.
One thing that does amuse me, however, is the effect their words have on their successors. This puts them in a bit of a bind, for which I am sure they are suitably grateful. The current leaders are now forced to make the decisions which their predecessors have successfully dodged. Pass the buck while claiming the moral high ground. Nice. Who ever said that rising to the top in the military was a matter of competence, not politics? These folks have proved that they are at least competent in politics.
If I had my druthers, I would recall these people to active duty, and let them exercise their new-found consciences at an article 32 hearing for charges of dereliction of duty, conduct unbecoming, or whatever else I could find.

Almost forgot, caught up as I was in my rant. Kudos, McQ. I had one company commander who did something similar. He’s the one I remember. I am sure you are remembered too.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
The main problem, as I saw it, was that to change the system you had to survive and prosper in it long enough to reach the position where you could make changes. By then, of course, you tend to believe that the system ain’t that bad; after all, they chose you for that high rank.

Happily, that isn’t true all the time; you do get people who make it to the top and are still able to push for change. But it’s true often enough.

 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
To prosper you had to have a certain amount of luck as well. But that’s true in just about any profession.

I remember good leaders who didn’t get promoted and good politicians who did. I remember a guy in my Infantry Advanced Class who got riffed as a captain who had been awarded the DSC as a company commander in Vietnam. His problem? OCS grad.

Unfortunately fewer and fewer of the better leaders make it to the higher ranks unless they have some political connections (and instincts). It is because they usually are wave-makers.

That’s not to say good leaders don’t make it through the system, but they’re less likely than what I consider to be the more political officers. Most of the good leaders end their careers with a brigade command or possible 1 star (which is nice but not very influential in the big scheme of things). Most of the good politicians (with obvious exceptions) end up in the higher echelons of general officers.

And while it is true those that make it to the top can push for change, and some have, meaningful change is very hard to institute in that sort of an organization.

That brings me to Rumsfeld. The change he is trying to bring is a sea-change and much of the top-brass don’t agree with his direction. That’s where, I think, much of this nonsense is coming from.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/

 
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