Thursday, September 25, 2003
( 9:19 AM )
How to ruin a great army? See Donald Rumsfeld
Joe Galloway, one of the most awarded, most respected combat and war correspondents (you may recall he is the author of We Were Soldiers Once...And Young - remade into the movie with Mel Gibson) writes for Knight Ridder.
The title of this post is the title of his editorial today:
It took the better part of 20 years to rebuild
the Army from the wreckage of Vietnam. With
the hard work of a generation of young
officers, blooded in Vietnam and determined
that the mistake would never be repeated, a
new Army rose Phoenix-like from the ashes of
the old, now perhaps the finest Army in history.
In just over three years, Secretary of Defense
Donald H. Rumsfeld and his civilian aides have
done just about everything they could to
destroy that Army.
[...] How do you break an army?
- You can work it to death.
Under Rumsfeld, by next spring 30 of
the Army's 33 combat brigades will either
be in Iraq or on their way home from Iraq.
Some of them will come home from Iraq
and head almost immediately to Afghanistan
or Bosnia or South Korea or the Sinai Desert.[...]
- You can neglect its training and education.
With an operations tempo this high, there's
little time for units to do much more than repair
their equipment and send their soldiers home
on leave with long-neglected families before
it's time to deploy again.
[...] The Army began to break in Vietnam when
the senior NCO's, the grizzled old sergeants
who'd seen combat in World War II and Korea
and survived one or two tours in Vietnam, were
ordered back yet again and chose to retire
instead. Or went back and were killed. In their
place came 90-day wonders - young draftees
selected straight out of basic training, run through
a short course and shipped to Vietnam to be buck
sergeant squad leaders.
- You can politicize the Army promotion system for
three- and four-star generals.
Rumsfeld and his civilian aides such as Paul
Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith and his military
handmaidens have intruded deeply and harmfully
into the way the services promote their leaders.
[...] You can decide that you've discovered a
newer, cheaper way of fighting and winning
Rumsfeld and company have embraced, on
the basis of a fleeting success in Afghanistan
and a flawed success in Iraq, a theory that all
that's needed to win our wars is air power and
small bands of Special Operations troops.
Stealth bombers and snake-eaters.
On the strength of this, they've refused all pleas
for an urgently needed increase in the strength
of an Army that has been whittled down to pre-
World War II levels of 485,000 soldiers.
[...]Because reinforcement would be an admission
that Rumsfeld and company were wrong in their
belief that war would end quickly, their hand-picked
Iraqi exiles would take over and the soldiers
would come home in a few months.
Another defense secretary who could not admit
he'd erred was Robert Strange McNamara, who,
like Rumsfeld, was recruited from corporate
America. By the time he did, it was too late.
This editorial was in our local paper today, where the front page story was that thousands more Oregonian National Guard and Reserves were about to be called up. (for some reason the website isn't showing the article, but here's a version from other local news).
And yet, yesterday Tom DeLay, in a speech to the Heritage Society, continued the same old rightist haranguing that the people who are questioning whether there is any logical plan to what's happening, or exactly what the $87 billion is going to be used for, or how much more over that will be needed, are dividing the country, using hate language, are "blaming America first," and all the other flaming rhetoric right out of Ann Coulter's mouth.
The truth needs to continue to be spoken. The neocons in the government are ignoring even veterans who are calling for a hard look at what is happening. This train needs to be stopped before it's out of control and runs over everyone in its path.