Von Rumsfelds job on the line?

#1
Will Dr Strangelove need to find a new job soon? These are no "hippie peaceniks" or "pinko Democrats" attacking Rummy!

What would be the effect on morale and public opinion if any possible military action against Iran heightened the tension?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,1753854,00.html

General joins attack on Rumsfeld over Iraq war

· Fourth retired officer calls on defence chief to resign
· Rift between military and civilian leaders deepens

Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
Friday April 14, 2006
The Guardian

The Pentagon yesterday faced a deepening rift between its civilian and military leadership over the war on Iraq after a fourth retired general called for the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, to stand down.
In the latest in a torrent of criticism centred on the Pentagon chief, Major General John Batiste, who led a division in Iraq, said Mr Rumsfeld's authoritarian leadership style had made it more difficult for professional soldiers. "We need leadership up there that respects the military as they expect the military to respect them. And that leadership needs to understand teamwork," he told CNN on Wednesday.

Gen Batiste's comments were especially startling because he is so closely associated with the civilian leadership, having served as an aide to one of the architects of the war, the former deputy Pentagon chief Paul Wolfowitz.

The ferocity of the attacks and calls for serving officers to go public with their dissent was starting to cause concern among military analysts yesterday. "If this opens up so we have more and more officers speaking up and blaming Rumsfeld and blaming senior civilians, then it is possibly heading towards a fairly dangerous civilian-military crisis," said Andrew Bacevich, a military historian at Boston University.

Earlier this week Lieutenant General Gregory Newbold, the former director of operations for the joint chiefs of staff, published a scathing critique of the planning for the war in an essay for Time magazine. Gen Newbold said he regretted not objecting more forcefully to the invasion of Iraq while he was still in uniform.

He went on to call on those still in service to speak up. "I offer a challenge to those still in uniform: a leader's responsibility is to give voice to those who can't -or don't have the opportunity to - speak."

Last month Major General Paul Eaton, who oversaw the training of Iraqi troops until 2004, also went public with his criticism of the civilian leadership, writing in the New York Times that: "Rumsfeld has put the Pentagon at the mercy of his ego, his Cold Warrior's view of the world and his unrealistic confidence in technology to replace manpower."

Retired Marine general Anthony Zinni, the former head of US Central Command and a long-standing critic of the war, has also been criticising Mr Rumsfeld while on tour to promote his new book.

The attacks on Mr Rumsfeld come at a time of increasing debate within the military on the obligation of professional soldiers to voice their criticism of policy, and a revival of an influential military history, Dereliction of Duty, which criticised the joint chiefs of staff during the Vietnam war. But the professional military's resentment of Mr Rumsfeld dates to the run-up to the Iraq war when the army chief of staff, General Eric Shinseki, was sidelined.

"It's a bursting of the dam in some ways of the frustration and anger, not only with the policies but with the way that Mr Rumsfeld has interacted with people, the disrespect he has shown to the military," said Richard Kohn, a military historian at the University of North Carolina.

Although most analysts believe that only a small number of retired military officers would go public with their misgivings, growing public doubts about Iraq are encouraging others to speak out.

"You have a group now that is looking back and saying: 'Wow. I should have said something earlier.' I think as time goes on it is natural that more and more generals after agonising over what they have seen over the last three years might voice their concerns," said Robert Work, a retired Marine colonel and an analyst at the Centre for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

But some in the military are anxious to avoid blame for the Iraq war. "The senior civilian leadership is going to do everything it possibly can to avoid having responsibility for the war fixed on them, and the senior military leadership is equally determined to have them left holding the bag," Mr Bacevich said.
 
#2
Funny, these brave generals only tend to criticize after they've left the army and have their pensions/ medals/ book deals.

I'll take it more seriously when the serving brass start putting their papers in.
 
#3
Very true! Perhaps much of the anger is due to the fact that the Generals did their job in Iraq (the military campaign was a success, after all) and others messed it up.

Will the generals - serving and retired - be happy to let Rummy ruin another operation, after his handling of Iraq? There were plenty of voices in the Pentagon rubbishing the "Iraq lite" plan and they have been proven correct.

I disagree with the use of force against Iran (on another thread) but it is clear that, if force is used:

a. The US armed forces (etc) will plan it and execute it to the best of their abilities;

b. Rummy and his chums will do their level best to screw it up by ignoring their concerns.
 
#4
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4908948.stm

More voices are raised. If our retired commanders were calling for the head of our Secretary of State (as they should have over TCH) then a lot of eyebrows would be raised amongst those in uniform.

Removal of Rummy may be a credibility test required for the morale of the US Armed Forces to demonstrate that lessons from Iraq have in fact been learned by the shaved chimp prior to any Iran venture.

Rumsfeld resignation calls grow

Pressure is growing on US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, with more retired generals calling for him to resign over the Iraq war.
The White House has said it is happy with the way Mr Rumsfeld is handling his job and the situation in Iraq.

But the backing comes as the number of retired generals calling for him to be replaced has risen to six.

It is being described as a rebellion led by those who know Mr Rumsfeld's handling of the war from the inside.

The two most recent generals to voice their unease about Mr Rumsfeld's handling of the war are retired army Maj Gen John Riggs and retired Maj Gen Charles H Swannack Jr.

In a radio interview Maj Gen Riggs, a former division commander, said it was time for Mr Rumsfeld to go because he fostered an atmosphere of "arrogance" among the Pentagon's top civilian leadership.

"They only need the military advice when it satisfies their agenda. I think that's a mistake, and that's why I think he should resign," he told National Public Radio (NPR).

Maj Gen Swannack Jr, who led the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq, went even further.

He questioned whether Mr Rumsfeld was the right person to lead the fight against terrorism.

CRITICAL RETIRED GENERALS
Maj Gen Charles H Swannack Jr
Maj Gen John Riggs
Maj Gen John Batiste
Marine Gen Anthony Zinni
Marine Lt Gen Gregory Newbold
Maj Gen Paul Eaton

"I really believe that we need a new secretary of defence because Secretary Rumsfeld carried way too much baggage with him," he told CNN.

"Specifically, I feel he has micromanaged the generals who are leading our forces."

Maj Gen Riggs, who has been critically outspoken on problems facing the US military before, served in the army for 39 years and became a three-star general.

He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions as a helicopter pilot during Vietnam, but retired with the loss of one of his stars after the army said he had misused contractors, according to the NPR website.

Maj Gen Swannack Jr commanded the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq from 2003-4.

The White House insists Mr Rumsfeld has its firm backing
The fresh resignation calls add to those already made by four other retired generals directly involved in the Iraq war and its planning.

Retired Marine Gen Anthony Zinni told CNN Mr Rumsfeld should be held responsible for a series of mistakes, beginning with "throwing away 10 years worth of planning, plans that had taken into account what we would face in an occupation of Iraq".

But others have come out in support of the embattled defence secretary, who twice offered to resign over the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal - offers which US President George W Bush rejected.

Retired Marine Lt Gen Mike DeLong, who was deputy command of the Central Command as the US military prepared to invade Iraq in March 2003, said Mr Rumsfeld was good at his job.

"When you walk in to him, you've got to be prepared," he told CNN.

"You've got to know what you're talking about. If you don't, you're summarily dismissed. But that's the way it is, and he's effective."

And the White House has made clear once again that Mr Rumsfeld retains its full support.

Spokesman Scott McClellan said President George W Bush believed Mr Rumsfeld was doing a "fine job" at a very difficult time - when the nation was at war and the military undergoing major restructuring.

Mr Rumsfeld, when asked if the calls for his resignation were affecting his ability to do the job, answered only "no".

And Gen Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said criticism was to be expected at a time of war in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

But he said people "should never question the dedication, the patriotism and the work ethic" of Mr Rumsfeld.
 
#5
Vegetius said:
Funny, these brave generals only tend to criticize after they've left the army and have their pensions/ medals/ book deals.

I'll take it more seriously when the serving brass start putting their papers in.
I think it boils down to the basic ethos that when you're in uniform you make your criticisms privately and drive on like a good soldier regardless. It's what we expect of privates and NCOs, should be expected of general ranks as well. When you're a civvy you can say whatever the hell you want.

Regarding your point on 'putting papers in' it makes me wonder what the backstory is on their leaving the services is. As an aside, a detachment from my company (Army) with worked with Zinni--a Marine--in Somalia and came away with a very high opinion of the man.
 
#6
Bush Says Rumsfeld Has "My Full Support":

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060414/pl_nm/bush_rumsfeld_dc_2

Gentlemen, please have your stopwatches at the ready... ;)

What's being reported now is consistent with everything I've been hearing from friends and associates in Washington for almost 4 years. Almost everyone with stars on their shoulder thought Iraq was going to be a Cake and Arrse Party from the word go. (Somalia x 1000 was the preferred expression in 2002).

There was an excellent article in The New Yorker by George Packer (The Assassin's Gate) earlier this month, that deals with Rumsfeld's flat refusal to call the insurgency an insurgency. People like HR McMaster, have argued that this leads to a doctrinal failure to regognise the nature of what they're facing. To borrow McMaster's thesis from his book Dereliction of Duty (which dealt with Vietnam), the tendency towards attritional warfare reflects an absence of strategy. Any progress in the hearts and mind area, has been a result of the initiative of individual unit commanders and thus any progress they have made (such as the 3rd ACR calming things down in Tal Afar) has been piecemeal and fleeting once units that do have a feel for what's going on are rotated out.

It was interesting to note that copies of Brigadier Nigel Alwyn-Foster's article in Military Review, which caused so much controversy last year because it was so scathing of the US's "cultural ineptitude in fighting the insurgency", were sent- on the instructions of the Army Chief of Staff- to every general in the US Army. There's a great line in the Packer article, a quote from Aylwin-Foster, that basically sums it up nicely for anyone that has had to deal with the spams in almost any capacity:

It seemed to be an enigma, the US military as an entity. They're polite, courteous, generous, humble, in a sense. But you see some of the things going on- if I could sum it up. I never saw such a good bunch of people inadvertently p1ss off so many people."
I suppose a good example that Packer gives in this regard is the Civil Affairs Officer (a Major) who, when asked by Packer, had to look in a handbook to find out what the names of the local tribes were.
 
#7
Sadly its all about politics and payback. Some of those making comments are:

MG[ret] Paul Eaton - after screwing up the infantry center was sent to Iraq to train the new Army. After Iraqi units melted down at Falluja he was sent home and we had to start over.

MG[ret] Charles Swannock, CG 82d Abn - got in trouble with misappropriation of MWR funds and sexual conduct with an enlisted female.

MG[ret] John Riggs, was demoted from LTG and retired as a MG after contracting irregularities were found by the IG and to make matters worse he made a speech against orders supporting the commanche after the decision was made to cancel the program.
 
#8
tomahawk6 said:
Sadly its all about politics and payback. Some of those making comments are:

MG[ret] Paul Eaton - after screwing up the infantry center was sent to Iraq to train the new Army. After Iraqi units melted down at Falluja he was sent home and we had to start over.

MG[ret] Charles Swannock, CG 82d Abn - got in trouble with misappropriation of MWR funds and sexual conduct with an enlisted female.

MG[ret] John Riggs, was demoted from LTG and retired as a MG after contracting irregularities were found by the IG and to make matters worse he made a speech against orders supporting the commanche after the decision was made to cancel the program.
So it's all about payback, T6? What about John Batiste?

Might there not be an element of "payback" for Ms Rice's recent remarks conceding "tactical errors" in Iraq, interpreted in some circles as "blame the military not the Administration"?
 
#9
What surprised me was Batiste was getting into politics where officer's should fear to tread, not to mention making comments that are punishable under the UCMJ, retired or not.
 
#11
tomahawk6 said:
Sadly its all about politics and payback. Some of those making comments are:

MG[ret] Paul Eaton - after screwing up the infantry center was sent to Iraq to train the new Army. After Iraqi units melted down at Falluja he was sent home and we had to start over.

MG[ret] Charles Swannock, CG 82d Abn - got in trouble with misappropriation of MWR funds and sexual conduct with an enlisted female.

MG[ret] John Riggs, was demoted from LTG and retired as a MG after contracting irregularities were found by the IG and to make matters worse he made a speech against orders supporting the commanche after the decision was made to cancel the program.
I'm going to resist focusing on another attempt at a smear campaign by the right and just ask the following question:

Were any of them a co-instigator of a conspiracy to decieve the American and World public to justify a botched course of action that has thus far led to the deaths of 50,000-odd people, a $300bn dollar (and counting) bill for the US taxpayer and a burgeoning civil war?

A sense of perspective may be in order, T6. Just because they are not whiter than the Virgin Mary, it doesn't mean they don't have a point.
 
#12
As military officer's it is our job to follow policy set by the civilian leadership. We don't make policy. From my standpoint the policy has been successful, a tyrant was overthrown and the middle east is in transformation, something that cannot be said before 2003. I am familiar with many of these general's. I retired earlier this year. One of the lesson's any general officer should have learned is to stay in one's lane - politics and policy is not what we know. We do know how to wage war and we do that well. Criticizing the policy makers in the long run provides aid and comfort to the enemy who cannot beat us on the battlefield.

I do not like some of the organizational changes that have taken place since 2003. The Army organization that won OIF in 2003 is gone.
In a way we have gone back to the 50's era Pentomic organization which was abandoned because it lacked combat power, trigger pullers ect. In time I think this organization will be modified or abandoned too. The military strucutre that has stood us in good stead since WW2 has had staying power for a reason - it could be easily modified to fit the mission or war.

Getting back to Batiste. From the Washington Post:

"[Retired Army MG John] Batiste said he believes that the administration's handling of the Iraq war has violated fundamental military principles, such as unity of command and unity of effort. In other interviews, Batiste has said he thinks the violation of another military principle -- ensuring there are enough forces -- helped create the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal by putting too much responsibility on incompetent officers and undertrained troops."

From FM 100-5

Unity of command obtains that unity of effort which is essential to the decisive application of full combat power of the available forces. Unity of effort is furthered by full cooperation between elements of the command.

This concept has been a major principle since Julius Caesar. Rumsfeld has modified this tenet allowing for commanders to operate independently and on their own initiative, rather than have the theater commander micro manage their subordinates as happened in Vietnam. Rumsfeld thinks that the Sgt, Lt , Captain or Battalion CO on the ground has a better grasp of the situation than a general 100 miles away. This allows for a unit to respond rapidly to the tactics of the enemy. No more waiting for higher to approve an operation.

Batiste talked about "not enough forces" which was a reference to the so called Powell Doctrine. Rumsfeld/Bush believe this doctrine is out dated. In Desert Storm it took 500,000 troops to drive the Iraqi's out of Kuwait, OIF was done with less than 200,000 - would have been 220,000 if the Turks had let us deploy the 4ID.

Rumsfeld believes that in modern war the smaller the footprint the better. Batiste disagree's and retired, as it should be. Today's technology allows for tremendous force multipliers that few enemies can match. The speed with which we can transmit information on the battlefield is just amazing. This gives us an agility that the enemy cannot match. In effect the whining we see in the media are from "yesterday's" generals. The brigade commanders in OIF are BG's. The Assistant Division Commanders are now MG's. The two LTG's that led OIF are General's one commands US Army Europe and the other TRADOC - training/doctrine command. The officer's and NCO's that have OIF/OEF experience will make the US Army a better army with combat experience that will stand us in good stead for the forseeable future, much as the Vietnam era officers/NCO's did before them. The one big difference is that this combat experience now permeates our reserve forces where entire units went into theater. Combat experience saves lives both now and in the future.
 
#13
crabtastic said:
Bush Says Rumsfeld Has "My Full Support":

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060414/pl_nm/bush_rumsfeld_dc_2

Gentlemen, please have your stopwatches at the ready... ;)

What's being reported now is consistent with everything I've been hearing from friends and associates in Washington for almost 4 years. Almost everyone with stars on their shoulder thought Iraq was going to be a Cake and Arrse Party from the word go. (Somalia x 1000 was the preferred expression in 2002).
I took part in the offensive as part of a Army unit assigned to the 1st MARDIV. A minority perhaps, like Shinseki and a few Army and Marine generals in 3rd ID and 1st MARDIV didn't quite share that view if I recall.

There was an excellent article in The New Yorker by George Packer (The Assassin's Gate) earlier this month, that deals with Rumsfeld's flat refusal to call the insurgency an insurgency. People like HR McMaster, have argued that this leads to a doctrinal failure to regognise the nature of what they're facing. To borrow McMaster's thesis from his book Dereliction of Duty (which dealt with Vietnam), the tendency towards attritional warfare reflects an absence of strategy. Any progress in the hearts and mind area, has been a result of the initiative of individual unit commanders and thus any progress they have made (such as the 3rd ACR calming things down in Tal Afar) has been piecemeal and fleeting once units that do have a feel for what's going on are rotated out.
Thanks for the New Yorker lead, I'll dig it up. I served with McMaster (2nd ACR) in the first Gulf War for only three months. I may have wrote this before, but he did something I'll never forget; when a Republican Guard unit was virtually surrounded and forced to dismount he stopped his Cav Troop from firing, called on my PSYOP team to get them to surrender because he simply didn't think one more Iraqi soldier needed to die. Not many leaders have that presence of mind during the heat of combat.

It was interesting to note that copies of Brigadier Nigel Alwyn-Foster's article in Military Review, which caused so much controversy last year because it was so scathing of the US's "cultural ineptitude in fighting the insurgency", were sent- on the instructions of the Army Chief of Staff- to every general in the US Army. There's a great line in the Packer article, a quote from Aylwin-Foster, that basically sums it up nicely for anyone that has had to deal with the spams in almost any capacity
The article contained more praise for the US Army than criticism, but the criticism it held was very insightful.

I suppose a good example that Packer gives in this regard is the Civil Affairs Officer (a Major) who, when asked by Packer, had to look in a handbook to find out what the names of the local tribes were.
Well Christ, I spent months with tribal and civic leaders in Najaf, Karbala, Al Hilla, Al Kut, Ad Diwaniyah, Samiwa and Nasiriya. Working at it for months, 7 days a week, I still needed a chart and notebook to follow who was who, who hated who, what tribe was where and which tribes didn't get along. The officer may have only been there a short time or may have been moved there recently. I'm off to dig up a copy of that New Yorker article.
 
#14
tomahawk6 said:
Sadly its all about politics and payback. Some of those making comments are:

MG[ret] Paul Eaton - after screwing up the infantry center was sent to Iraq to train the new Army. After Iraqi units melted down at Falluja he was sent home and we had to start over.

MG[ret] Charles Swannock, CG 82d Abn - got in trouble with misappropriation of MWR funds and sexual conduct with an enlisted female.

MG[ret] John Riggs, was demoted from LTG and retired as a MG after contracting irregularities were found by the IG and to make matters worse he made a speech against orders supporting the commanche after the decision was made to cancel the program.
Isn't this a bit of a "swift-boating" of these guys? We seem to be good at eating our own when they don't tow the party line. It doesn't necessarily follow that their experiences and talents are negated or their opinions are wrong. Let's face it Rumsfeld made a lot of f-ups, ignored advice, cherry-picked commanders who were favorable and went against a lot of the brass. He left himself open to criticism from higher-ups and is reaping what he sowed I think.
 
#15
Rummy getting the boot? If only. Having visited one sandpit full of lunatics, I have no wich to get my office moved 200 km East just to prove a point of some egotistic wxxxer.
 
#16
Virgil,
The article is in the 10Apr06 issue.

McMaster certainly seems to have his sh1t together. Spent plenty of time getting the 3rd ACR fully abreast of the complexity of the political and cultural history of the place. Apparently there was quite the reading list prior to deployment.

Although the central thrust of his book (Dereliction of Duty) is a fierce criticism of the Vietnam-era generals' willingness to go along with Johnson & McNamara for careerist reasons and their collective failure to speak out when it was quite apparent that things were going wrong. When Packer asked him if he saw it as being analogous with the current situation, he replied diplomatically "There's no way I'm touching that one." ;)

On another note, rumour control has it that it was indeed the Joint Chiefs (or at least some of their staff) who leaked the Iran stuff to Seymour Hersh. There's supposedly an increasing feeling among the people in uniform at the 5-sided wind tunnel on the Potomac that they are not going to be blamed by the civilians for the failure in Iraq (and there is an increasing general feeling is that failure is inevitable). Remember Condi's "I'm sure there were thousands of tactical errors" comment the other week? Clearly implying that the overall strategy was sound, but was poorly executed.

I'd heard about these mutterings earlier in the week, and a couple of commenators on The News Hour this evening seem to have picked up on it too. Suggest a visit to the PBS website ( http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/political_wrap/jan-june06/sb_4-14.html ) for any spams that missed it and any interested Brits.
 
#17
T6, how can somebody with your antecedents not see the fundamental confluence between politics and military operations in COIN campaigns?

Parroting the "we don't do politics" line and telling us how doctrinally wonderful the US army is at fighting wars is all very well, but it doesn't really address the key issues:

The administration is in denial about the insurgency for reasons of political face-saving and the withdrawal strategy has clearly been written on the back of an envelope. Colin Powell was right.

I speak as somebody who fully supported Op. Iraqi Freedom. That Mr. Rumsfeld has finally grasped the "Strategic Corporal" concept is great, but even the ablest strategic corporal needs a grand strategy to support.

Which seems to be missing at the moment.
 
#18
tomahawk6 said:
As military officer's it is our job to follow policy set by the civilian leadership. We don't make policy. From my standpoint the policy has been successful, a tyrant was overthrown and the middle east is in transformation, something that cannot be said before 2003. I am familiar with many of these general's. I retired earlier this year as a general officer
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

What's that I smell? That's odd. There aren't any cattle farms around here. Hmm... curious.

Rumsfeld has modified this tenet allowing for commanders to operate independently and on their own initiative, rather than have the theater commander micro manage their subordinates as happened in Vietnam.
Translation: The abject failure to provide strategic leadership that McMaster talks about. It also conveniently provides a degree of plausible deniability so that when it all goes t1ts, (Abu Ghraib anyone?) he escapes the blame.

Rumsfeld thinks that the Sgt, Lt , Captain or Battalion CO on the ground has a better grasp of the situation than a general 100 miles away.
So what does that say about the grasp of the situation that the civilians architects have, who never spent a day in uniform (Perle, Feith, Wolfowitz), have no regional experience or expertise and who are 10,000km away?
 
#19
What next? A bomb in a suitcase under a table in the Chimp's Lair? :wink:

When the generals start turning, the war is lost.

The significance of these comments cannot be downplayed. Whatever the legal and moral arguments over Iraq, these officers have taken a direct part in the most significant military operation of modern times and their views cannot be ignored.
 
#20
Vegetius said:
The administration is in denial about the insurgency for reasons of political face-saving and the withdrawal strategy has clearly been written on the back of an envelope. Colin Powell was right.

I speak as somebody who fully supported Op. Iraqi Freedom. That Mr. Rumsfeld has finally grasped the "Strategic Corporal" concept is great, but even the ablest strategic corporal needs a grand strategy to support.

Which seems to be missing at the moment.
Dead on mate. Well said.

Anyone that thinks Rummy is really going to leave his office is dreaming. Bush won't fire him, he is loyal to his people almost to a fault and Rummy will never quit, it's not in his nature.
 
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