web counter Media Lies: Don't get your panties in a wad

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

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Don't get your panties in a wad

Gregory at Belgravia Dispatch writes about the question of troop strength, do we have enough? - what is Rumsfeld's "culpability?

I've never understood these questions. It's been clear from the beginning that both the President and Rumsfeld have enough trust in the military leadership to allow them to make troop level decisions. Rumsfeld states exactly this in the transcript Gregory quotes from.
The big debate about the number of troops is one of those things that's really out of my control. I mean, everyone likes to assign responsibility to the top person and I guess that's fine [ed. note: what happened to the buck stops here?]. But the number of troops we had for the invasion was the number of troops that General Franks and General Abizaid wanted, the number of troops we have had every day since has been the number of troops that the field commander thought appropriate. They have not been increased or decreased over the objection of any of the field commanders and, indeed, I don't believe that there's been a request by Abizaid or Franks or General Casey that has not been agreed to.
I know it's popular to quote Truman's famous aphorism, but does it really apply here? What is it that the objectors want? For Rumsfeld to shove troops down the commanders' throats against their wishes? If they've gotten all the troops they've asked for, then what's the problem? Rumsfeld isn't dictatorial enough?

Clearly Rumsfeld has chosen to defer the decisions about troop strength to the men who run the operation. (Gee, what a novel idea!) Do we really want the Secretary of Defense overriding his field commanders simply because others think their decisions were wrong? Is it wise for the Secretary to decide troop strength and override his field commanders? Who is to say that, if we had more troops we'd have less casualties? Is it possible to say with certainty that more troops would mean less casualties? And isn't casualties the force that's driving this argument?

In any large organization, the leaders at the top set policy and direction but leave the details of implementation to the men and women in the field. If you can't leave the details to them, then you've chosen the wrong people and the organization will fail. If you have chosen the right people, but you don't allow them to make decisions, then the organization will struggle and probably fail.

Gregory also is irritated by this statement from Rumsfeld.
Well, the last analysis, the Iraqi people are going to have to do it. And it's pretty clear for all the people fussing about the Iraqi security forces, it's reasonably clear to me that the extremists have decided that the Iraqi security forces are a danger to them. Else wise, why would they be running around trying to kill so many of them. They have to have decided that they're effective. They have to have decided that that's a threat and therefore, they make it a point to try to kill policewomen and Iraqi soldiers. And the Iraqi security forces have lost considerably more people killed in action than have the coalition forces in recent months.
Gregory responds
Hey, it's almost good news that the insurgents are killing scores and scores of new Iraqi security forces we need to train, for several years and in large number, if we are to have any hope of a viable and morally justifiable exit strategy! So stop "fussing." Goodness gracious. After all, it's "reasonably clear" that the insurgents think the Iraqi troops are a danger. Well, hot damn then! All is just swell. Oh, woe that Rumsfeld might express some regrets to the families of the hundreds upon hundreds of Iraqi forces slaughtered like lemmings by the insurgents--in large part because of our failure to provide for secure conditions because of inadequate manpower inserted into theater (a quaint 20th Century concept in mondo Rummy). Instead, ugly hubris and the same faux-macho talk--peppered with this trademark insouciance that makes his fans swoon (how big and tough he is!)
Goodness. So much angst.

Did Rumsfeld say that he didn't care about the Iraqis that are dying? No. Did he say that it's a good thing that Iraqi security forces are being targeted and killed? No. What evidence is there that a larger coalition force would make a difference in the death toll? None. What evidence is there that a larger coalition force would make the Iraqi security forces safer? None. Furthermore, there are good arguments for not increasing coalition troop strength, because it could alienate the Iraqis even further. (If you're not familiar with the arguments, get busy with Google. I'm feeling lazy tonight.)

Predictably, Gregory also takes umbrage with Rumsfeld's widely reported response today to a question about Humvee armor.
As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.
When I read the reactions of people to comments like this, I immediately know that they could not have served in the military.

I read a whiny complaint not too long ago about how the troops were hanging flak vests on the outside of the Humvees for protection. The writer thought that was an outrage. I had to chuckle. The Swift vets did the same thing in Vietnam. So did the grunts, on their jeeps. An old Marine vet friend of mine talks about how they used to leave base camp, each man carrying a LAWS rocket, and as soon as they got a few clicks away, everybody dumped the LAWS. They were too heavy and not much use in the close-in jungle battles. So, the trail outside the base camp was littered with LAWS rockets that had been plundered by the VC (for the ammo) and turned in to IEDs. The grunts have long had a term for the folks behind the lines who make stupid decisions on their behalf - REMF - Rear Echelon Mother Fu**er.

The troops have never had everything they need in any war we've fought. There are always snafus in supplies that keep the troops from getting what they need when they need it. That's just the way the military is. You learn to live with it, and you improvise, adapt, modify. The amazing thing is that our troops succeed despite all the routine screwups of the military system.

You can't blame Rumsfeld for that. It's the {insert your favorite service here} way.