Friday, November 10, 2006

Troop reaction to Rumsfeld's departure 
Apparently, I'm not the only one who was sorry to see him go.

Via Captain's Quarters:

Half of America and the upper echelons of the US military may be cheering Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation from the post of Defence Secretary, but there was no rejoicing yesterday among those most directly affected by his decisions: the frontline soldiers in Iraq.
Troops expressed little pleasure at the departure of the man responsible for their protracted deployment to a hostile country where 2,839 of their comrades have died.

Indeed, some members of the 101st Airborne Division and other troops approached by The Times as they prepared to fly home from Baghdad airport yesterday expressed concern that Robert Gates, Mr Rumsfeld’s successor, and the Democrat-controlled Congress, might seek to wind down their mission before it was finished.

Mr Rumsfeld “made decisions, he stuck with them and he did what he thought was right, whether people agreed with it, liked it, or not”, Staff Sergeant Frank Notaro said. He insisted that Iraq was better off now than before the war.

Staff Sergeant Michael Howard said: “It’s a blow to the military. He was a good Secretary of Defence. He kept us focused. He kept the leaders focused. It’s going to be hard to fill his shoes.”

But then get this:

But one US army colonel, who did not want to be named, said that such positive views were uncommon in the higher ranks of the US military. “We are the ones closer to the problem. We are the ones who have the broader picture,” he said.

The colonel criticised Mr Rumsfeld for sending too few troops to Iraq, and for refusing to listen to the advice of his generals. He noted that General Eric Shinseki, the former US Army Chief of Staff, was dismissed for demanding more troops, while General John Abizaid, the commander of Central Command, was the sole general to have differed publicly with Mr Rumsfeld and survived.

This Army colonel - Army with a capital "A", thank you, London Times, apparently doesn't have a "broader picture" of much more than his own arse, because if he did, he would have realized that Shinseki was not dismissed. This is a longstanding liberal lie and is easily demonstrated false:

Shinseki was appointed to a four year term as Chief of Staff. He served his full term. Every day of it. His departure was planned long before his remarks to Congress. He was not going to serve longer. Nobody has served longer than a 4-year term as CoS of the Army since General Marshall in WWII.


Of course, the Times of London can't be bothered to check its facts. Instead, they implicitly endorse this Colonel's remarks by characterizing them as "notes" rather than "asserts" or "claims."

And as for troop levels, how about we check with General Abizaid, the CENTCOM Commander, who stated, on September 20, 2006:

“[T]he tension in this mission has always been between how much we do and how much we ask the Iraqis to do. The longer we stay, the more we must ask the Iraqis to do. Putting another 100,000 American troops in Iraq is something that I don’t think would be good for the mission overall, because it would certainly cause Americans to go to the front, [cause] Americans to take responsibility. And we’re at the point in the mission where it’s got to fall upon the Iraqis. They know that; they want responsibility. The key question is having the right balance, and I believe we’re maintaining the right balance.”

General Tommy Franks also falsifies the Colonel's position. From page 333 of his memoir:

“As I concluded my summary of the existing 1003 plan, I noted that we’d trimmed planned force levels from 500,000 troops to around 400,000. But even that was still way too large, I told the secretary.”

And my own point, which I've been trying to hammer in this space for years, is that had we committed 4 to 5 hundred thousand troops in OIF I, we would not have been able to sustain any kind of presence in out years. An insurgency could guarantee victory simply by laying low for a year, maybe two, and waiting until the U.S exhausted itself.

That would have been folly.

Meanwhile, U.S. logistics with a presence that large would become a drain on itself - the ultimate "self-licking ice cream cone." Much of the added force would be diverted to sustaining and securing nothing more than its own point-blank presence. The law of diminishing returns takes effect very quickly at echelons above Brigade.

Further, from Frank's own testimony before Congress in July of 2003 - in the early days of the occupation:

“There has been [the] suggestion that perhaps there should be more troops. And in fact, I can tell you, in the presence of [Secretary Rumsfeld], that if more troops are necessary, this secretary’s going to say ‘yes.’ I mean, we have talked about this on a number of occasions. And when the tactical commanders on the ground determine that they need to raise force levels, then those forces in fact will be provided.”

The newspapers are writing the story as if everybody but Rumsfeld was screaming for more troops in 2003. Nothing could be further from the truth. There were very good reasons to go in with a relatively small footprint - and broadly speaking, Franks and Abizaid were in agreement. The Times of London and the Drive-By-Media (DBM) can't be bothered with reporting context or, you know, checking facts.

Splash, out


A few points:

1. Shinseki's now famous Senate testimony actually endorses Frank's pre-war force level plans. Here's the quote:

SEN. LEVIN: General Shinseki, could you give us some idea as to the magnitude of the Army's force requirement for an occupation of Iraq following a successful completion of the war?...

GEN. SHINSEKI: I would say that what's been mobilized to this point -- something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers are probably, you know, a figure that would be required...

2. Note if you included the 1st Cav [later canceled] the coalition would have deployed around 200K to Iraq. This was the number that Shinseki and later Army Secretary White talked about as needed for post war occupation.

3. Thus the debate was about how fast to draw down coaltion forces after the war was completed. Contrary to popular thought pre-war 2003 there was no JCS debate about the invasion force.

4. As to Abizaid here's Gen. Keane's 2004 testimony on post war force levels:

"...when I was the Acting Chief of Staff during the summer, the first thing I asked John Abizaid when he took over from Franks was, John, do you have enough troops to do the mission? And I said, if you need more troops, don't even think about where the administration is or what your perception is on this; put it on the table, and I am absolutely convinced Secretary Rumsfeld and others will give you the troops you have, and don't think about what the impact will be on the stress of the Army. John had looked at it very closely himself. He is a thoughtful person. He came to the same conclusion that General Franks did; that they really had enough troops to deal with the actions they had. What they were desperately in need of was more targeted, focused intelligence upon which to use those troops against."
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