Across-the-board failure at the highest level of our military
Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller is confined to the brig because, to put it in Marine speak, because he would not "STFU" about holding leaders accountable. I will leave it to a military judge to review his being silenced with brig confinement. Such an order appears to be petty, disgusting, and an overreach made out of fear since he offered to resign.
It is not often that a point like Lt. Col. Scheller's — that some of the most senior military leaders in charge are found wanting — is so quickly validated. SecDef Lloyd Austin, Chairman JCS Milley, and CENTCOM's General McKenzie make his point in their own words that they are not being held accountable. Nor, apparently, will they resign in disgrace by holding themselves accountable for the greatest military defeat in American battlefield history.
It is that simple. And a special note to General Milley: Invoking your dad on Iwo, my only uncle, whom I am named after, also did not have the ability to resign because he was KIA on Iwo Jima, so enough with self-serving red herrings.
YouTube screen grab.
Americans who never served in the military have now finally observed what many in uniform have seen: there is one thing worse than an arrogant, pompous general, and that is an ignorant arrogant, pompous general.
In my opinion, fear and flop sweat were visible as they watched their carefully constructed Washington edifice of performance crumble — in a bipartisan fashion during Senate and House hearings. Life will go on, but as those being left behind enemy lines tell their stories of suffering in perhaps unimaginable ways, the devil's brew created by our feckless American leaders will fester and boil over.
"Leave no one behind" is U.S. military holy writ. Now, in the blink of an eye, that has become a hollow pledge.
The other Afghan issue is the logic of twenty years of combat being turned on its head. Lt. Col. Scheller is calling for full transparent public accountability covering the self-serving buffoonery of many during the twenty-year span of senior commanders. The consequences we created in Afghanistan are not going away. After all, if the basic argument for staying the course was that we have to fight Islamic crazy fanatical killers there so they do not come here, meaning the U.S. and western Europe, then the Biden administration just gave them billions and billions of nasty deadly weapons.
Way to go, guys!
Both Milley and McKenzie, the top U.S. military commander in the Middle East, acknowledged that while no U.S. troops remain on the ground in Afghanistan, neither the war on terror nor the war in Afghanistan is over.
McKenzie also said he was not confident in the U.S.'s ability to prevent ISIS and al-Qaeda from using Afghanistan as a launchpad for terrorist activity in the future.
Milley said he believes that U.S. credibility has been damaged after the U.S. withdrawal, which triggered the withdrawal of all NATO allied troops stationed in Afghanistan alongside Americans.
"I think that our credibility with allies and partners around the world, and with adversaries, is being intensely reviewed by them to see which way this is going to go. And I think that 'damage' is one word that could be used, yes," Milley told Sen. Roger Wicker, a Republican from Mississippi.
However, most importantly, what should never be lost in the quest for the truth in the fog of losing Afghanistan is General Milley's strategic calls to China about U.S. nuclear deterrence.
I suspect that, not anticipating the Afghan debacle, General Milley, being a legend in his own mind, leaked his brilliance to Bob Woodward. Putting himself in the strategic nuclear response chain of command was so arrogant and ignorant that it defies belief.
When I was Secretary Weinberger's principal director of mobilization and requirements for President Reagan, we made sure world leaders, both friend and advisories alike, knew beyond any doubt that the president has the launch codes — and, if ever executed, those orders go directly to our strategic forces. Even in those Cold War days, we measured response inside thirty minutes. Coordinating with anyone outside that direct link would have cost us millions of lives lost.
Americans should not excuse the chairman's call to the Peoples Republic of China because it is incredibly dangerous, beyond his stewardship of the Afghan debacle, and should be a firing offense. It is simple: just look at what happened to a previous ignorant, arrogant general, who became secretary of state on the day President Reagan was shot;
"[A]s doctors struggled to save the president and reporters clamored for information, Secretary of State Alexander Haig repeatedly insisted — wrongly — that he was in charge of the federal government.
"Constitutionally, gentlemen, you have the president, the vice president and the secretary of state, in that order, and should the president decide he wants to transfer the helm to the vice president, he will do so," Haig explained to reporters in the White House press room, apparently forgetting that the House speaker and the Senate's president pro tempore come before the secretary of state in the line of succession. And then, in a dozen words that would become famous, he said, "As of now, I am in control here, in the White House."
Note that the Reagan Team immediately pushed back on Haig's arrogant stupidity:
Haig stormed into the press room and said he was in charge of the government.
"That's a mistake!" one yelled.
"What's this all about?" demanded Treasury Secretary Don Regan. "Is he mad?"
"He's wrong! He doesn't have such authority," said Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger.
Where were the other senior leaders telling General Milley, "You do not have that authority!" when he was briefing them on his role and mission in strategic nuclear deterrence?
That would be part of the across-the-board accountability that is Lt. Col. Scheller's courageous point.
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