Investigating the Anti-Rumsfeld Generals
"The fact that two or three or four retired people have different views, I respect their views," he said. "But obviously if, out of thousands and thousands of admirals and generals, if every time two or three people disagreed we changed the secretary of defense of the United States, it would be like a merry-go-round."
…Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense.
It’s called “common sense” for a reason.
For there are truisms that are accepted by the middle class who carry this country on their collective backs and they are accepted by the wisdom of experience and via lessons learned the hard way.
The “elite” class does not operate on common sense nor does the underclass. This is not to cast aspersions on any class, just to state a fact. The elite, including our political class and the Hollywood celebrated, do not live the sorts of ordinary lives of the middle class. The underclass generally is involved in all sorts of activities not in any way part and parcel of a middle class citizen, including crime and/or living off of the welfare state paid for by taxes on the middle class. The political and celebrated class are granted access the middle class can only dream of and having a lot of money is certainly different from the bank accounts of the middle class minions.
The mainstream media, as I’ll call it kindly, used to be part of the middle class, sent to monitor the political class and report back in an unbiased fashion to the peons of the middle class. Alas this is no more. The media, once appointed by the middle class and trusted to be our soldiers against an upper and political class takeover of all those things the mighty in numbers but anemic in power middle class cherish, have let us down.
Common sense has not gone away but if one wants to see it best not look at the handsome pundits and blow-dried news anchors to find it.
Thus this blogger, middle-aged and with no military experience and little knowledge of the jargon, decided to investigate the sudden ascension of various and sundry former military types, all of them ranting for the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld, the country’s Secretary of Defense. This with the hysterics of hyenas about resignation of one of the highest civilian authorities over the military in the land while we are still battling it out in Iraq and with Iran on the horizon.
I figured this was serious.
First, using common sense, let us re-visit just why the military reports to civilian authorities as delineated in our constitution. The Commander-in-Chief of the military is elected by the people, yay the common man who mostly pulls the lever based on the common sense that has guided this nation for lo these many years.
We don’t want a military that runs itself. Simple as that. Our country’s military is run by a commander-in-chief elected by the people. The common sense logic is that the elected commander-in-chief will not likely sic a mighty army on the very citizens who elected him or her. The commander-in-chief, being leader of the free world and very busy, appoints a cabinet member to oversee military operations. This position, the Secretary of Defense, STILL reports to the populace in that his or her decisions are guided by the commander-in-chief.
Without this duly elected civilian oversight, an army could decide to attack its own citizens, perhaps with the help of a few nut cases like Zacharias Moussaaoui who might have wended his way to top authority in the military by nefarious means.
So common sense first point, those military generals now out and about and carping for the removal of the Secretary of Defense (our quasi-ELECTED Secretary of Defense) were not allowed to run the military as they saw fit, attack wherever they wanted, abscond with taxpayer money for any far-fetched scheme, FOR A REASON.
Which is not to say that those retired generals don’t have a right to express their views and it is in no way denied. I have the right to investigate the stories behind these generals and using that old stand-by, Mr. Common Sense, try to ascertain just what’s going on here.
The very first thing my good common sense told me that the sudden appearance, en masse, of a bunch of retired generals all at the same time, looks suspicious. Out here in la-la land, such sudden convergence of similar groups is usually well-planned. The parents of a certain school’s students tend to congregate on a designated PTA night. A group of architects will call for a meeting to change by-laws or industry standards via the group’s membership’s newsletter or a widely-published notice. It’s how these things generally go out here in the land of the common man and any situation that would have a passel of architects suddenly show up in the same place with no prior notice or plan is suspect. Save cherished watering holes or such that certain occupations might frequent but there’s rarely any business activity enacted under such settings.
The American Thinker suggests a possible motive for this sudden convergence of armchair generals.
Are the generals strutting for Hillary?
It's a degrading spectacle for the military. If the general officers are back-stabbing their civilian leaders in public, what is to keep the grunts and NCO from doing it to the generals? The answer is: Nothing. The political generals are risking a return to Vietnam, when "fragging" became a term of art. This is not good for the country, and it's terrible for the military.
James Lewis 4 15 06
A light bulb of common sense blinks on. Well there is an election coming up in a few years and most of these sniping generals did come up the ranks during the Clinton administration. This doesn’t mean I think this is the case but common sense tells me it should be part of my concerned citizen analysis.
I begin to wonder that if these mighty generals are all upset about the Secretary of Defense than how must the poor soldier grunts view this ineffective man so maligned by their former superiors?
From Strategypage.com, I discover:
In the last six months, the U.S. Army is seeing 15 percent more soldiers re-enlist than expected. This continues a trend that began in 2001. Every year since then, the rate at which existing soldiers have re-enlisted has increased. This despite the fact that 69 percent of the troops killed in Iraq have been from the army. New recruits continue to exceed join up at higher rates as well.
Common sense thus tells me that something is starting to smell real bad here. For if the Army is seeing such a high re-enlistment rate, 15% MORE than expected, well things can’t be too bad, right?
I then ponder are there other retired generals with an opinion and how do they stack up against this barrage of disgruntled armchair generals of late.
Richard B. Myers, the Air Force general who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs from 2001 until last fall, dismissed criticism that military leaders failed to stand up to Rumsfeld and President Bush when they disagreed with those civilian officials.
"We gave him our best military advice and I think that's what we're obligated to do," Myers said on "This Week" on ABC. "If we don't do that, we should be shot."
Now I know the argument is that the generals of the complaints are freed to speak by their retirements but Richard Myers is retired and he’s not joined the chorus. Another retired General, Tommy Franks, has also been heard from, more on him later. I read Franks’ book as a matter of fact and I don’t recall any criticism of his civilian leader within.
Finally, still holding onto my common sense, I begin to wonder what’s the story behind these carping generals.
We have jobs out here in la-la land. Most times these jobs replaced someone else who once held that job. Some times the person we replaced had been fired from that very same position.
Unlike the President of the United States, we don’t necessarily have to tolerate the carping of the employee who once held our position. Given an unusual scenario where we were forced to work alongside of an employee that had either been fired or held our job in any capacity, we understand criticism is often sour grapes and an attempt by the former job occupant to keep their reputations pristine.
I did a little investigating, all information found on the Internet, and found some interesting things about the current and sudden crop of carping ex-generals.
Paul Eaton was a Major General responsible for rebuilding the Iraqi Armed forces. He was given this assignment in June of 2003. So far as I could discover, Eaton has no book coming out or does he appear to be a dinosaur of the old military.
From DefendAmerica.mil, I did discover this tidbit:
Eaton recognized the parallels between his career and the huge assignment to rebuild the Iraqi Armed Forces and civil security forces. A duty that brought him here June 13, 2003 - and one which true to his modest reputation, he quietly handed over to the current chief, U.S. Army Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, on June 6, 2004.
Now I don’t know under what circumstances Mr. Eaton was relieved of his job of supervising the Iraqi Armed Forces but I note that word “quietly” to describe his handing over the reins to David Petraeus. It’s also a subject of much discussion, this training of the Iraqi armed forces as the plan is that the U.S. will train an Iraqi army and in due course, leave the country for that trained army to defend. Often the discussion is very negative in terms of how quickly the Iraqi army is being trained and the problems involved in this difficult endeavor.
Common sense makes me suspect that Mr. Eaton was not doing such a good job with his task as assigned and perhaps he’s a bit bitter about being removed from this job.
Of course Mr. Eaton could have simply retired as per army normal and my suspected motives are not at all true. Common sense tells me that combined being relieved from this very important job perceived by so many as not going so well then coming out swinging against the man responsible for this removal is more than just coincidence.
John Riggs spent 39 years in the Army, earning a Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery during the Vietnam War and working his way up to become a three-star general entrusted with creating a high-tech Army for the 21st century.
There’s a world of information out there about John Riggs. Though the above describes him as a three-star general, it seems Mr. Riggs lost one of those stars.
"That's the coldest way in the world to leave," Riggs, 58, said in a drawl that betrays his rural roots in southeast Missouri. "It's like being buried and no one attends your funeral."
So what cost Riggs his star?
His Pentagon superiors said he allowed outside contractors to perform work they were not supposed to do, creating "an adverse command climate."
The report prompted Gen. John M. Keane, the Army's No. 2 officer, to write a disciplinary "memorandum of concern" to Riggs. The memo found that a female contractor was allowed to draft congressional testimony, respond to congressional correspondence and communicate with Capitol Hill staffers.
Allowing a contractor to perform functions that should have been undertaken only by government employees was improper, Keane wrote.
Common sense tells me that John Riggs, witness his quote about being buried with no funeral attendees, just might be a bitter man.
I’m not at all sure what jobs those “outside contractors” performed that left Riggs with one less star but read on.
Retired Maj. Gen. Charles Swannack Jr. is the second general who served in Iraq under Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to call for Rumsfeld's resignation.
I didn’t find much of import about Mr. Swannack. However, here’s two quotes from Swannack long before he began building a career bashing our elected civilian military leaders.
1. Swannack, 11/18/03:
"So where we are on a glide path now to the future in Iraqization. I talked to you about governance. We're doing a great job. We're on the glide path to go ahead and get the security situation under control. We are infusing jobs into the society to reduce the unemployment numbers. And the one bright spot is that essential services out there in Al Anbar are better now than they were during the -- prior to the war."
2. Swannack, 01/06/04:
I also can tell you that we're on a glide-path toward success as attacks against Task Force All American forces have decreased almost 60 percent over the past month... We have turned the corner, and now we can accelerate down the straightaway. There's still a long way to go before the finish line, but the final outcome is known. There certainly will be some friction along the way, but we will continue to kill or capture enemy forces, train Iraqi security forces to work independently, continue to create jobs, reduce the availability of weapons and ammunition, and finally, transfer the governance to local control that is legitimately recognized by the people."
The argument is, of course, that generals currently serving are not as free to speak as generals retired. Common sense tells me that when speaking on a subject one is not all that enthusiastic about but must act as if they are, such eloquence and enthusiasm isn’t usually part of the pitch. Here’s this guy going on about how better essential services are in parts of Iraq, talking about turning corners and so forth. If he had been so disillusioned I would think a simple “things are going along as planned” would have sufficed.
However I found Swannack with no obvious cross to bear. Except, who knows, maybe the guy means it. Or he’s trolling for a job with the 2008 Democratic administration.
John Batiste commanded the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq in 2004-2005.
Batiste denies having discussed anything with the other armchair generals though he states this sudden appearance of disenchanted former generals is happening for a reason.
Common sense tells me someone might have planned it and that’s the reason.
Earlier Friday, retired Gen. John Batiste, who called for Rumsfeld's resignation, said the recent criticism is "absolutely coincidental" and said he did not know of any coordinated effort to discredit the defense secretary.
"I have not talked to the other generals," Batiste said on NBC's "Today" show. But, he said, the demands for Rumsfeld to step down are "happening for a reason."
One of General Batiste’s major criticisms of Rumsfeld, as he indicated during an interview with Jim Lehrer, was the decision to disband the existing Iraqi army under Saddam Hussein. This was a bad decision as Batiste saw it.
Only problem, the decision to disband the Iraqi army was not made by Rumsfeld and indeed, wasn’t made by the Department of Defense at all! Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, made that decision.
At any rate, this is an issue that cannot be proved. I’m not at all convinced, again that common sense thing, that keeping the enemy’s army intact after invasion with the hopes that these same troops could be turned around to fight a different enemy than the one they’d been trained for is such a great idea. I’ve heard the argument on the political pundit shows but this looks to me like a stretch. The decision was made to disband the enemy’s army and it wasn’t made by Rumsfeld as Batiste asserted. Whatever the case, I don’t see it as being such a stupid move as common sense tells me that I’m not sure I’d want to be working with a former enemy who still has guns and mortar shells.
Batiste too seems to speak out of both sides of his mouth. Here’s some quotes and dates by this Rumsfeld basher.
PHILLIPS [CNN]: General, while we watch the successful operations go down side by side with Iraqi troops, of course we continue to see a lot of violence throughout Iraq. We see children being targeted and, most recently, Ambassador Paul Bremer coming forward saying there was a mistake in the strategy in Iraq, and there just weren't enough troops post Saddam Hussein.
Do you agree with that?
BATISTE: Let me answer that by saying that while we were conducting the operation in Samarra, at the same time we were conducting a battalion task force level air assault into an objective in the vicinity of Sharkak (ph), at the same time we were conducting a battalion level operation in the vicinity of Muqdadiyah. And at the same time, we were conducting a battalion level operation south of Balad. So, I think we had plenty of flexibility. Add to that the Iraqi security forces. They really do bring a lot to the fight now.
2. Batiste, 12/24/2004:
Afterward, Rumsfeld flew off for Tikrit in a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter flanked by an aerial security escort. Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste, commander of the 1st Infantry Division, met Rumsfeld in Tikrit, where the secretary also met with troops. Batiste told Rumsfeld that he was "comfortable we're heading in the right direction" regarding security issues for the upcoming Iraqi elections slated for January.
This guy is one of the generals who right from the start clashed heads with Rumsfeld. From the NY Times, Feb. 28, 2003:
February 28, 2003
In a contentious exchange over the costs of war with Iraq, the Pentagon's second-ranking official today disparaged a top Army general's assessment of the number of troops needed to secure postwar Iraq. House Democrats then accused the Pentagon official, Paul D. Wolfowitz, of concealing internal administration estimates on the cost of fighting and rebuilding the country.
Mr. Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, opened a two-front war of words on Capitol Hill, calling the recent estimate by Gen. Eric K. Shinseki of the Army that several hundred thousand troops would be needed in postwar Iraq, "wildly off the mark." Pentagon officials have put the figure closer to 100,000 troops.
Common sense tells me Shinseki has been in the pockets of the Democrats right along judging by his original determination that almost half a million troops would be needed to secure post-war Iraq. We have nowhere near that amount now so how was he more right than Rumsfeld?
Another tidbit, from Truthout.org, in its article about Riggs and the loss of his stars:
One of those was Shinseki, who himself had a stormy relationship with Rumsfeld and battled with the secretary over troop levels and spending programs. At his retirement ceremony in June 2003, Shinseki warned "our soldiers and families bear the risk and hardship of carrying a mission load that exceeds the force capabilities we can sustain."
Neither Rumsfeld nor his top deputies were in attendance.
In his letter of support for Riggs, Shinseki said, "There was no one who was more professional, more honest, more selfless, more dedicated, nor more loyal to the Army and to its soldiers than John Riggs.
Oh, and General Shinseki is a former commander of the peacekeeping operation in Bosnia. Well wowie, wowie, that military operation was an unqualified success wasn’t it?
Finally, we have this from General Franks on Hardball.
MATTHEWS: Do you remember -- I`m sure you do, you`re the fighting man and the general who won the big war when we went in there -- do you remember how Shinseki was treated?
I keep reminding myself of generals who have spoken out, gotten picked up in the press, they haven`t been treated so well.
FRANKS: I think that`s fair comment.
I think, Chris, you will find personalities that get along and you find personalities that do not get along.
My personal appreciation was that the personalities of Rick Shinseki, a friend of mine, and Don Rumsfeld, a friend of mine, were not exactly -- well, I`ll describe it this way.
It was sort of like oil and water, and this was not something that, as many in the mainstream media presented, well, Rick Shinseki spoke out against the war and Don Rumsfeld canned him.
Come on, Chris. You know better than that.
How long was Rick Shinseki the chief of staff of the Army?
Rick Shinseki retired on time. That part of this discussion has been blown out of proportion.
Now, the fact of the matter is that there was friction, and the fact of the matter is that Rick Shinseki had concerns about this effort. From my memory, the concerns had to do with logistics support.
But be that as it may, there certainly was friction there, and I think you`re going to find that. That does not imply that from time to time there was not friction between Don Rumsfeld and myself, because there certainly was.
Ah, General Zinni. I know him well as every week he is on my TV lambasting the administration, Rumsfeld, Bush…name it.
Zinni was commander of the U.S. Central Command from 1996-2000. Common sense tells me Zinni was summarily fired by Rumsfeld. Zinni was in charge of that pathetic missile in the aspirin factory nonsense during Monica Lewinsky’s testimony during the Clinton Administration.
And goodness, in April of 2006, imagine this, Zinni just released a new book.
Common sense tells me that anybody who stands to benefit by book sales as a result of grandstanding to remove the Secretary of Defense already has very suspect motives.
And then there’s this. From Dawn.com:
ISLAMABAD, Oct 7, 2003: Former US Centcom chief, General Anthony Zinni, is arriving here on Oct 24 in his capacity as a director of a multinational company which wants to invest in Pakistan's telecommunication industry.
A Pakistani-American who is a partner in Gen Zinni's company, claims that the initial investment will be between $120 million to $150 million that might expand to $5 billion over a period of 10 years.
Talking to Dawn he said Gen Zinni would stay here for two days. He said the general, who is special envoy of President Bush on the Middle East, would meet Pakistani high-ups but his schedule was still being worked out.
Asad Kazmi, the Pakistani American who represents the company in Pakistan, said the general was coming here "on the call of the people and the government of Pakistan." President Musharraf, he said, in his visits to the US had urged the Pakistani community to invest in Pakistan. "And here I am," he told Dawn . "I have brought a major American company with Gen Zinni as its director to come and invest in Pakistan."
According to Mr Kazmi the major area of their interest is wireless local loop, long distance international, PTCL privatization, particularly GSM cellular license. He said his company is also exploring avenues in energy sector.
He claimed that the company he is representing was telecommunications giant with branches in 42 countries. This will be major investment venture in Pakistan after the controversial IPPs and, more specifically, 9/11.
Now I don’t know what all this means but in 2003 Zinni felt cozy enough with this administration to be depicted as a “special envoy of President Bush on the Middle East”. Maybe he had to wait until this deal was in the bag before beginning the carping.
Retired Marine Lieutenant General Newbold, was the director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff until 2002
Tommy Franks reported, again on Chris Matthews’ Hardball
FRANKS: Well, my memory -- and of course, I mean, I`m an older fellow, but my memory does not embrace a single event wherein Greg Newbold told the secretary of defense anything like that. I was in a number of sessions.
MATTHEWS: He`s saying it now.
FRANKS: Yes. And the fact of the matter is that I said a great many things to Secretary Rumsfeld over the course of our professional relationship, as I think military people and secretaries of defense will.
There was friction. In fact, I think if you look at some of the reporting of that time, there is mention of the fact that -- or the suggestion that Franks was thrown out of his office and this and that, and that`s all foolish, that absolutely did not take place.
But one-on-one, face-to-face dialogue, wherein we discussed the puts and the calls associated with Iraq planning, certainly did take place. And I must tell you that I don`t recall Greg Newbold having been involved in many of those sessions.
Tommy Franks could be lying, I suppose, about Newbold’s non-participation in those fractious meetings with Rumsfeld and the military poohbahs. Common sense tells me to go with Franks here.
Blog Corrections This Week
As a result of a comment on my post on Those Armchair Generals (see below), and through some more research, I was mistaken when I alleged that Mike DeLong was one of the generals out and about and lambasting Donald Rumsfeld. I’ll not change the original post but note this correction on the cover page and will note it within the original post as well.
In fact I really didn’t find much on DeLong whereas the other carping generals had a load of baggage to carry. DeLong has authored a book on his military experience but it was published in 2004, two years ago and hardly a new release to be hyped at this time.
Apologies to General DeLong and thanks to commenter SV.
Lt Gen Mike DeLong has come out in strong support of Rumsfeld. He was on many talk shows SUPPORTING Rumsfeld.
Lieutenant General DeLong has led a distinguished, 36-year military career, most recently serving as the Deputy Commander, United States Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida. He is the most recent entrant into the Bash-Rumsfeld genre.
DeLong, goodness me, also has a book he’s hoping to sell. And his co-author is…tada..General Anthony Zinni!
I tried to find some quotes from DeLong’s book but found not much of substance. Most reviewers said his book wasn’t all that earth-shattering. Below is one such review with what I thought a pertinent assessment bolded.
Review by Seth Labadie
Lieutenant General Michael "Rifle" DeLong, USMC, Ret. is author of INSIDE CENTCOM: THE UNVARNISHED TRUTH ABOUT THE WARS IN AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ (Regnery, 2004).
This book is a quick and interesting read, in which the author points out some interesting facts that might not be apparent to the reader. Unfortunately, the book is a little short, and I couldn't help but feel that the author isn't sharing nearly enough of his experiences at CentCom as he should. On the negative side, there does seem to be a small amount of hubris in the book.
So there you have it. A bunch of armchair generals all of a sudden out and about and demanding, demanding I tell you, the resignation of this country’s quasi-elected Secretary of Defense.
Most of them with some serious water they’re carrying.
Common sense tells me to take it all with one very large block of salt.
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