November 14, 2006
The Generals' Fantasy WarsBy Douglas Hanson
When consummate Rumsfeld critic Ralph Peters finally comes to the conclusion that maybe the senior level military commanders running the war just might have had something to do with the mess in Iraq, you know an earth—shattering revelation has just occurred. Unfortunately, Peters' public unburdening has come two years too late to save one of the most effective defense secretaries in history.
AT and a few others have dared to suggest the same point about senior military leadership a long time ago. So, now that the supposed source of all that is wrong in our defense establishment has been ushered out the door, I will now follow in the footsteps of my fellow commentator and internet radio host Rick Moran and declare that the time for circumspection concerning our military hierarchy has passed.
One of the major criticisms of the SecDef was his unyielding desire to modernize the military over all else. It may be a shock to some people, but the Army's deep thinkers have been playing around with alternative warfighting concepts and associated hardware long before Rumsfeld assumed office. Slamming Rummy over his near—religious devotion to all things transformational is the height of hypocrisy.
This whole transformation initiative actually came about in the 1990s, in an effort to cope with drastically reduced end—strength and defense budgets. Digitization, light forces, and post—modern theories on battle were rationalized as the wave of the future. Operations in Bosnia and Kosovo and the air war against Serbia only reinforced false notions of painless conflicts.
Criteria for success consisted of demonstrating proficiency at proving the 'no—cost' theory of battle instead of doing what it takes to win wars. Academic credentials replaced tours with troop units, and frankly, a few leaders had no objective grasp of reality about the nature of war, especially if we ever ran into hard—core fanatics who were not interested in sitting at the bargaining table.
Years later, after one of the most successful offensives in military history, our huge advantage in Iraq was frittered away by quickly returning to the 1990s comfort zone. Presence patrols were reported euphemistically as 'offensive operations,' humanitarian aid supplies had priority for shipment over spare parts for combat systems, and bartering with the enemy became standard operating procedure.
Yuval Steinitz in Haaretz sums it up nicely. His scathing critique of the IDF in last summer's war against Hezbollah could just as easily apply to our own senior leaders in Iraq:
In Iraq, the response to increasing attacks on both Iraqi security services and US forces was to officially deny the presence of die—hards of Saddam's Army, while pinning the blame on some mysterious 'insurgency' run by Al—Qaeda's second—in—command, Abu Musab al—Zarqawi. The problem is, once he was killed, the finest troops in the world went back to their base camps and allowed the cadre of the Special Republican Guard and the Iraqi Intelligence Service to continue their campaign of terror and attrition. They weren't quitting no matter how many schools or hospitals we built.
The military theorists and think tanks need to gaze into their navels some more. If I understand them correctly, they are convinced President Bush's remarkable and forward thinking democratization strategy in the region has failed because they didn't hunt down and kill the enemy with purpose and passion. And that respnsibility falls on ... Rumsfeld? Cheney? The President? Maybe they all need to go back to school, or better yet, just go home.
A press briefing with Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, Commander of Multinational Corps, Iraq, says volumes about the this sad situation. Say what you want about the press, but this is an excellent question from Bob Burns of the AP.
This is the highly credentialed answer.
Huh? Patton, Ike, MacArthur, and Lee are turning over in their graves.
The supreme irony of the campaign against Rummy and the President is that by all indications, both listened intently to their generals in the field and gave them free reign to pursue their post—modern warfighting theories into oblivion. But if the President or the SecDef would have taken drastic action and fired the lot of them, they would have been accused of being LBJ and McNamara reincarnated. A couple of buttinskis unnecessarily restrained our troops in the field, and got rid of those who opposed their devious war plans.
The American people have spoken, and soon the Democrat—controlled Congress won't have Rummy around to serve as their whipping boy. Iraq needs a real victory over Saddam's forces and the terrorists. Iran and Syria are waiting in the wings. Come January, the left and the generals will be on the clock to prove to us how Rumsfeld was wrong.
It's time they delivered.
Douglas Hanson is the national security correspondent of American Thinker.