Secretary Rumsfeld responded to critics today in a op-ed in USA Today. His response provides at least one clue as to why there are so many angry at him.
Working with Congress, the department canceled at least two multibillion-dollar Cold War-era Army weapons systems: the Crusader artillery system and the Comanche helicopter. Undoubtedly, others will be considered. Any changes will most likely be opposed by special interests wedded to their systems, but nonetheless, we must continue to shift resources so we will be more adept at meeting today's challenges.Hmmm...the Crusader artillery system - cancelling that might piss off people like Senator Carl Levin, Senator John Warner and General Shiseki, all frequent critics of Rumsfeld - you don't suppose there's any connection there, do you? Cancelling the Comanche helicopter program would piss off people like, oh, John McCain, and Jon Kyl as well as Senators from states like Illinois (does Dick Durbin ring any bells?) where Boeing has its headquarters.
If you think for one minute the anger at Rumsfeld has to do with Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo or even uparmoring humvees, then you don't understand how Congress, the land of the greased palm, works. Rumsfeld has pissed people off because he's taken away multi-million dollar pork projects that benefitted their home states, and they are not happy about it.
Any American whose been paying attention knows how valuable the Predator was in Afghanistan and how valuable the surveillance drones have been in Iraq. It took "a bloody struggle" to get the Predator into the theater, much less to arm it with Hellfire missiles. Guess what it replaces? The Comanche helicopter. Which would you chose to patrol Afghanistan?
Want to complain about Rumsfeld's excessive use of the Guard? Blame Congress.
Also, during successive decades of national security policymaking, the government decided that it made sense to place large percentages of our war-fighting capability into the reserve component of the armed forces. What may have made sense during the Cold War makes less sense today, when it is clear that we need more of those skills — such as military police, logisticians, civil affairs specialists — as part of the active force. The fact is, with some 2.4 million Americans serving in some uniformed capacity (active, Guard and Reserve), it is not that we have too little military personnel, but rather that the skill sets are not well apportioned among active, Guard and Reserve forces for today's needs."Are you pissed about Rumsfeld's "insensitivity" vis a vis the town hall meeting and the uparmor uproar? That wasn't Rumsfeld's first town hall meeting.
When he assumed office, President Bush announced that he wanted the Defense Department to transform, to better face a century of new challenges. We began that effort before 9/11, motivated by the understanding that we live in an era that will be characterized by surprise and uncertainty.Now who do you suppose Rumsfeld learned this from? Generals like Shinseki who were still wedded to the Cold War way of thinking? Or the grunts on the ground who ask questions that embarrass the generals?
What we have found in four years, in dozens of town hall meetings with military and civilian personnel all over the world, is a department of about 3 million dedicated professionals proud to serve their country. The men and women in uniform are putting their lives at risk for our country. Many have paid the ultimate price, and I honor their service and the sacrifice and dedication of their families and loved ones. It is on their behalf that we must do all we can to develop a military designed to meet the challenges of this era.
We have learned that this wonderful institution is, in many ways, still organized, trained and best equipped for the more conventional challenges of the past century, when wars were conducted largely between large navies, armies and air forces.
The opposition to Rumsfeld appears to have three basic causes; anger about cancelled weapons systems, ignorance of how the military works or ignorance of how difficult it is to change a bureaucracy that has resistance to change built in to its core. All three can be cured by dispassionate study of the issues, but it seems far too few are interested in the truth. Their ox has been gored and now they want blood.
One of my readers recently wrote, "Your defending rummy is just pathetic. He "wrote" "every" letter... Yeah dude. If he wrote every one, it wouldn't be a problem to sign every one.
What it probably means is that its a form letter that he com[posed. For each soldier dead, some staffer will fill in the name and particulars. And affix a stamp sig.
And yeah, it IS disgusting that he cant even sign the damn thing.
Rummy has been incompetent from the start. Its a good thing Bushy won dispite that."
This is typical of Rumsfeld's detractors. He assumes that Rumsfeld lied about writing the letters. I suppose he's never heard of an executive dictating a letter and then signing it later? Of emailing the letter to a secretary so it can be transferred to official letterhead and then signing it when he returns from overseas? He even thinks Rumsfeld would have to use stamps!
The generalized "Rummy has been incompetent from the start" ignores the stunning success in Afghanistan, the deposing of Sadaam in less than a month with very few casualties, the transformation of a department that is highly resistant to change, the overcoming of pork-barrel opposition to program cancellations, and on and on and on.
What Rumsfeld has accomplished in four short years is nothing short of remarkable. Only people whose bias has blinded them or who believe every word they read in the New York Times think otherwise.
Fortunately, President Bush sees very clearly and always has.
UPDATE: For a Marine father's perspective on Rumsfeld, read this from Powerline.
Bottom line, we support Sec Rumsfeld. The people who are making a big deal about this have their heads up their collective a****. They need to have a serious priority check on what people in positions of responsibility should be doing with their time. They should also chat with some military families if they could figure out how to contact them.When do hands ring? When they can't find the damn doorbell.
UPDATE 2: Even more from Powerline. The deeper you look in to this story, the more intellectually bankrupt and obstreperous Rumsfeld's critics appear.