On the campaign trail in South Carolina Monday, Arizona Senator John McCain had some tough words for former Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld, calling him "one of the worst in history."
We are paying a very heavy price for the mismanagement _ that's the kindest word I can give you _ of Donald Rumsfeld, of this war," the Arizona senator told an overflow crowd of more than 800 at a retirement community near Hilton Head Island, S.C. "The price is very, very heavy and I regret it enormously."
McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, complained that Rumsfeld never put enough troops on the ground to succeed in Iraq.
Quite naturally, no one at the event--media or retirees--bothered to ask Senator McCain the logical, follow-up question:
Senator, two U.S. administrations--with the backing of Congress--cut six divisions from the U.S. Army between 1988 and 2000. The Marine Corps was cut as well. You were a member of the Senate during that period. What responsibility do you take for the defense cuts that left us with an undersized Army and Marine Corps, and unable to sustain the troop levels supposedly required in Iraq?
That's a question that should be asked of every Senator seeking the White House in '08, even Barrack Obama. True, Senator Obama wasn't in Washington when these troop reductions occurred, but we haven't seen him leading the charge to expand our ground forces, either.
Unfortunately, my travels don't take me to New Hampshire or Iowa, and my visits to the Palmetto State are limited. However, I would encourage any of our readers in those locales to pose my question to the various presidential aspirants. An undersized Army and Marine Corps was something that George W. Bush inherited--not something he created. And for that problem, the finger of blame can be pointed at lots of people, including some Senators who want to move into the Oval Office.
While I'm a big supporter of the President, and I’ve seen some very positive things that SecDef Rumsfeld has tried to do to get the lumbering bureaucracy that is the Pentagon off its lard-laden butt, still, any honest person has to ask – just what the hell is going on in Iraq?
I was just reading an article in Naval Institute Proceedings about the advances in prosthetics. In passing the article mentions that the Marine they were writing about was injured by an IED planted inside his compound! How is this possible? How are the insurgents able to plant IEDs everywhere, frequently in the same place over and over again? What do they do when they’re digging it in? Put up ConEdison “Dig We Must” signs? Or maybe, “Oh, excuse us, guys, we’re just digging for oil?”
We have complete air supremacy, Predators, satellites, night observation devices. How can the RIFs be moving about the streets without our noticing? How do you move 4 or 5 105mm shells around to make an IED? Disguise them as fruit baskets for Grandma?
How do you assemble a convey of 15 or more vehicles to attack the Education Ministry without our seeing it? Wouldn’t that attract your attention? I know it would attract mine.
Why aren’t we laying ambushes along the border crossing points (which have been used for centuries, so it’s not like nobody knows where they are) and popping the convoys or pack trains as they come across? Even better, why aren’t mysterious explosions leveling the safe houses in Iran or Syria where insurgents and materials are assemble before being brought over? If the Wall Street Journal can find them, why can’t our intel community?
Where’s our Dirty Tricks Department? Why aren’t bomb-makers blowing themselves up while they’re assembling their little toys? Why aren’t terrorist’s wives waking up next to their dead husbands?
What about the ROE? Our troops can’t shoot back unless they see somebody with a weapon? What kind of nonsense is that? In World War II, if our GIs took fire from a house, they’d bring up a SP 105 or 155mm gun and fire it point-blank at the house. That solved the problem. If we had waited until we could actually see they enemy with a weapon, we’d still be in the bocage (hedges) of Normandy.
It seems to me we’re playing by the RIF’s rules – contrary to what everybody is saying, they don’t want asymmetric warfare, they want us to be symmetric – with them. We can’t use our vastly superior technology, training, organization, and firepower against them, we have to play by their rules, walking around with our heavy equipment, only using small arms, only firing when the enemy lets us. Reminds me of that old Bill Cosby routine about the American Revolution, you remember: “The British will march in straight lines, wearing bright red coats, with bands playing and drums beating. The Americans will hide behind trees and rocks, wear dark clothing, shoot, and then sneak away.”
If our military leadership doesn’t understand that they’re just spinning their wheels, it’s up to the civilians who control them to make them understand or replace them. As Clemenceau said, “War is too important to be left to the generals.” Ultimately, the blame for our mediocre (or worse) performance in Iraq can only be laid at the feet of Secretary Rumsfeld and the President.
What's surprising is that no one posed this question to McCain sooner. After all, he's been a proponent of more troops in Iraq since 2003. Last month McCain even said, "I am the guy that for three years - more than three years - has said, 'You don't have enough troops there! And you are not running this war right...'"
You're asking exactly the right question. While I do blame former Sec. Rumsfeld for hanging onto his dream of "transforming" the Army by another two divisions after 9/11, he had a point (although it was no longer quite so true by the time he said it) about going to war with the army you have.
Plenty of blame to go around. I'd like the Peace Dividend back where it came from, please. With compound interest.
I've quoted you and linked to you here: http://consul-at-arms.blogspot.com/2007/02/re-follow-up-for-senator-mccain.html
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