For Iraq success, listen to generals, fire Rumsfeld

Tue, 09/05/2006 - 4:22pm
By: Letters to the ...

Terry Garlock’s article: “We are not earning our soldiers’ sacrifices.”

I‘m an ex-NSA intelligence analyst that had a TS/SCI clearance. I can cite several reasons why there is not a unified front to our mortal enemy as Terry noted.

Twenty-one former generals and high-ranking national security officials have called on United States President George W. Bush to reverse course and embrace a new area of negotiation with Iran, Iraq, and North Korea.

In a letter released Thursday, the group told reporters Bush’s “hard line” policies have undermined national security and made America less safe.

General Joseph Hoar, the commander in chief of U.S. Military Central Command under presidents Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush, said the George W. Bush administration would be advised to remember the French occupation of Algeria, which lasted 134 years.

Last week, Gen. John Abizaid, the commander of the U.S. Central Command, raised the prospect that Iraq could be sliding toward civil war. Abizaid said, “I believe that the sectarian violence is probably is as bad as I’ve seen it in Baghdad in particular, and that if not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move toward civil war.”

Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, “I believe we do have the possibility of that devolving to a civil war.”

At a press conference, President Bush dismissed these concerns out of hand. Bush said, “You know, I hear people say, ‘Well, civil war this, civil war that.’ The Iraqi people decided against civil war when they went to the ballot box.”

In just two weeks, six retired U.S. Marine and Army generals have denounced the Pentagon planning for the war in Iraq and called for the resignation or firing of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

The generals have sent an unmistakable message to Commander in Chief George W. Bush: Get rid of Rumsfeld, or you will lose the war.

I believe that you must have support from your generals and the populace in order to accomplish your objectives. Bush does not have that support. Bush can not see his own foolish mistakes, which will haunt the U.S. for years unless he takes a different approach to resolving the Iraq conflict.

Robert Zsidisin
Fairburn, Ga.

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Submitted by bladderq on Wed, 09/06/2006 - 4:33pm.

Fire both of them. This adventure was mis-guided from the beginning. My gut feeling has always been it was motivated by finishing Daddy's business w/ a large amount of Texas gunslinger thrown in. Anyone w/ even the slightest look at the map would know that no way in God or Allah's world is success going to be achieved in this "Balkanized" "country". Support the troups...Bring 'em Home Alive.

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Submitted by ArmyMAJretired on Wed, 09/06/2006 - 10:13am.

"Twenty-one former generals and high-ranking national security officials" Wow, I would liike to know what percentage that amounts to? I would guess that it is maybe 1%, what a mandate!

Gen. John Abizaid and Gen. Peter Pace have not called for removal of their boss, as a matter of fact it shows that they can speak their mind and even give potential bad news without fear of retaliation.

Six more RETIRED generals, now with that logic, if say 200 retred generals wrote supporting the president would that make you feel better?

You know what they call retied general/ Mister. I wonder if they are wanting political careers like Wesley Clark.

Submitted by SSG Rock on Wed, 09/06/2006 - 2:07pm.

Hello Major,

I too am retired Army, I too spent my year in the middle east in combat, I too had a TS/SCI. In addition to my experience in the Army as a cavalry scout and later on the staff at ODSCINT USAREUR, CGSC and the School of Advanced Military Studies I work as a defense contractor and am currently working as an historian. Last year I worked on a team for the Army to write the official history of Operation Iraqi Freedom, called "On Point." It was an effort to capture lessons learned in the combat phase working with the Center for Army Lessons Learned.

Initially, I defended Rumsfeld because the combat phase was such a success, but upon reflection was it such a success? The warning signs were there. The Saddam Fedeyeen, suicide attacks etc. This was an enemy we did not predict and their appearance should have served as a warning that an insurgency was likely. Now, I derive no pleasure in making these comments. But OIF is now an unmitigated mess. Not due to any short-coming of our troops (for the most part) but more due to the civilian leadership and the OSD.

As an officer you know full well the consequences of speaking out against your superior while you are still on active duty. It is no wonder that these generals held their opinions close to the vest after witnessing the public rebukes of General Shinsecki and former SA White. It is safer to stay on board, even if you are in disgreement with the campaign plan, that way you can at least attempt to minimize the negative impact it will have on your troops. You know that the Army does not train it's leaders to quit, that includes resigning in protest to leave your Soldiers flapping in the wind. True leaders suffer with their troops, they don't quit.

The percentage of generals speaking in opposition to Rumsfeld may be low as a percentage of the Army/Marine general officer corps, sure. But most of these retired generals were combat commanders and CinCs, they held key leadership positions in relation to OIF. Zinni, Batiste, etc, all were leaders who fought General Franks' campaign plan, which was afterall, Rumsfeld's plan.

As stated previously, initially I defended Rumsfeld. But after five years, it's past time to call for some accountability. We can succeed in OIF. Insurgencies have been put down before and this one can be put down too. But Rumsfeld is not the man who can lead us to success in Iraq. Rumsfeld has had his shot, he's had more than enough time to convince me that he knows what he's doing. But I've lost faith in him, we need drastic change to our TTP in Iraq, and Rumsfeld is not willing to make the necessary adjustments that will lead to success. He has already said too much, he has painted himself into a corner and has no way out that does not include an admission that he was wrong in most of his strategic decisions, and he will not do that. So, there is nothing else he can do but resign honorably.

We need a new Sec Def, one who understands counter insurgency operations, not just the basics, or theory. But someone who is well versed in the nuances of COIN, someone who understands that military might alone will not win the support of the Iraqi people. I must say, in closing that nearly every decision that Rumsfeld has made, has turned out to be wrong, and near disaster has ensued. The only reason we are even hanging in there in Iraq is due to the courage, the flexibility and intelligence of our captains and sergeants in Iraq, they guys on the ground trying to carry out impossible orders.

There is too much at stake to blindly defend Rumsfeld any longer. We need to get serious about winning in Iraq, or we need to withdraw completely.

ArmyMAJretired's picture
Submitted by ArmyMAJretired on Wed, 09/06/2006 - 2:36pm.

Since you mentioned General Franks, does anyone know his opinion? I read his autobigraphy and he seems to be a real straight shooting combat soldier, a man of integrity and ethics. I would like to know his opinion of our SECDEF.

I agree with you that our intelligence was faulty, that "This was an enemy we did not predict and their appearance should have served as a warning that an insurgency was likely". I think that the CIA and every other intelligence agency let us down. No excuse but you know that the enemy doesn't read our OPLANs and act as we assume they will.

Did CENTCOM OPLANS ever have an insurgency contingency? Is that a SECDEF function or a CINC function?

Would the enemy be any easier to beat, less fanatical or less determined with another SECDEF?

If I thought that changing one man would save one life on the battlefield, I would support the change, but from what I have seen of Rumsfeld, he is driven, determined and focused on getting the Iraqis to stand up and assume their own defense.

Unfortunately building an army and police force with the remnants that Saddam left (leadershp based on Baathist loyalty, no professional NCO corps, No Professional officers corps hinders progress. Throw on attacks against recruiting stations sectarian violance and I don't think anyone could have done better. Of course the media sways public opinion and they really dislike Rumsfeld.

Submitted by SSG Rock on Thu, 09/07/2006 - 4:27pm.

I read "American Soldier". Also have done alot of other reading on OIF. Franks doesn't critisize Rumsfeld but does mention the OSD staff harassed his campaign planners during the operational planning. After all the reading I've done, and if the authors are accurate. Rumsfeld was never satisfied with Frank's plan and sent him back to change it many times. Frank's initial campaign plan called for a lengthy air campaign, it also called for the deployment of up to 350,000 troops. Through his meetings with Rumsfeld, the plan was incrimentally whittled down to what we saw in the combat phase. And to me, it isn't a matter of saving lives, it's a matter of winning the war before it's too late to do so. In my opinion this means a major shift in our strategy and our TTP. Fact is, we bypassed major towns and villages during the combat phase, what would happen after the troops bypassed them was totall predictable, the insurgents moved in. We never even made the effort to control the towns, we never denied their freedom of movement, we never established a secure environment for the Iraqi citizens. And I won't even get into SASO, phase IV, it has been an unmitigated disaster, one after another. I recommend reading "Plan of Attack" by Bob Woodward, "In the Company of Soldiers" by Rick Atkinson and "Fiasco" by Thomas Ricks. I've heard "Cobra II" is well written and accurate as well. I believe Bing West wrote a good book on the topic as well. Every one of these books, paints a picture of a rudderless civilian leadership, located not only at the Pentagon, but the CPA, located in Iraq seemed to do more to hamper our effort than help it. I derive no pleasure in offering this criticism to Mr. Rumsfeld and OSD. But if we are serious about accomplishing the mission in Iraq, thats what we need to do. I don't dislike Mr. Rumsfeld, I admire him very much. But, he's had his chance, he's had five years. We were told this would be over in short order. Our troops are performing magnificently as usual but they cannot sustain this OPTEMPO indefinately, we are in danger of hallowing the force by the time this is over. I'm in contact with many troops who are deployed to Iraq, and believe me when I tell you discontent with the leadership is contained just beneath the surface, they deserve leadership that understand counterinsurgency warfare.

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Submitted by AF A-10 on Fri, 09/08/2006 - 3:15am.

Every post you make is like a lesson on the dynamics of modern warfare with an ideologically-driven, stateless enemy. I honestly feel like I've learned something. Thanks for taking the time to read, do research, and share with us.

Kevin "Hack" King

Submitted by SSG Rock on Fri, 09/08/2006 - 10:17am.

I could actually write a book about OIF, in fact, I did! I was part of a team of retired military who wrote the official Army history of the combat phase of OIF. It is called "On Point, The United States Army in Operation Iraqi Freedom." You can find it online. It is written in military jargon so it can be difficult to understand, but it has a comprehensive glossary of terms. The book also contains vignettes of individual and smaller unit actions that are quite entertaining that will tug every human emotion. Oh, and I do not receive any income from the purchase of the book.

I want the American people to understand that we can accomplish the mission in Iraq. I'm more than a little bit disappointed that the war is being politicized by both sides. We are a nation fighting for it's survival and I think we as a nation need to act like it. Our troops are the only Americans making a sacrifice, the American people, have not been asked to sacrifice anything. Perhaps you might claim higher fuel prices, or longer lines at the airport, but those are really just minor inconveniences. This nation should be supporting our troops 100% in accomplishing this mission. The only way we can lose this war is if we allow ourselves to continue to drift apart. A united America, with the American people standing shoulder to shoulder through the hard times cannot be defeated. Our military is more than capable of dealing with this insurgency, it is only a question of whether or not the American people have the backbone to see it through! We are made of tougher stuff than what we've been seeing and hearing on TV. The average American's life has not been terribly affected in a negative way by the global war on terror (GWOT), this is a fight of the mind more than anything else. A test of will, and unfortunately, a large portion of the American population is playing right into the hand of our enemy. Have no doubt about it, if Osama bin Laden or any other terrorist had the ability to flip a switch that would kill every man, woman and child in America, he would do it. And he would celebrate it, he would call it God's work and a good thing. These terrorists, (they should be called mufisden) are monsters, animals with no regard for anything but their own agenda, a new caliphite on earth, with Islam the most dominant religion on earth. That is their goal, that is their cause. That is what they are working toward because they claim God has commanded it and if you read the Quran, you might be forced to see the truth, it contains alot of passages about fighting non muslims and converting them to Islam by force. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of the Quran and read it for yourself and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Keep a stiff upper lip America. We are fighting for alot more than a democratic Iraq. Wake up and take a good hard look around the world today and see what is happening with muslim immigration into Europe, research just how far back muslims have been attacking non muslims. Go back a take a look at exactly why the Christian Crusades took place, they were a defensive effort to stop Islam from it's continual invasion of Europe (Islam was in control of large parts of Europe for centuries) Wake up America, wake up indeed. The world is an increasingly dangerous place. I don't know about you, but I won't go down without a fight.

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