Saturday, April 15, 2006

Stars vs. stars

As soon as it came to light that (surprise!) some generals don't like Sec. of Defense Rumsfeld, the anti-rummy crowd from left and right jumped up and crowed triumphantly. Pat Buchanan, someone I have long found thoroughly exasperating, wrote a vague column citing the people who somehow get instant credibility since they are retired generals and supposedly know. But it certainly isn't that simple.
Major Gen. Paul Eaton, first of the five rebels to speak out, was in charge of training Iraqi forces until 2004. He blames Rumsfeld for complicating the U.S. mission by alienating our NATO allies.

Marine Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs up to the eve of war, charges Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith with a "casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions -- or bury the results."
Etc, etc...the list includes a couple more. But Pat got some worthwhile feedback from military readers:
These generals are largely politicians. Zinni, Shinseki and some of the others rose to command during the Clinton years, and gained those posts not because of demonstrated command skill, but because they knew how to kiss Democrat a**. Wesley Clark was the most blatant, and his failings as a field commander had been known since Vietnam. Some political generals in our past proved to be able commanders, but most (Sigel, Butler, McClernand) proved to be disasters. It doesn't matter if a general has a West Point commission, if he's a politician, he'll be a lousy commander.....and the generals who are complaining were lousy commanders.
To put it in the words of a classmate of mine (a Marine on reserve) who got to video conference with him, "he's all business." The Washington Times further debunked the charges from these politician/generals with counter statements from other commanders, as well as the continuing stream of praise from the White House (well worth the read). However, especially interesting is the explanation some had for the criticism.
Several retired senior officers also say the calls from the six generals were inspired by Mr. Rumsfeld's far-reaching transformation of their services and his refusal to increase active forces by a large number.

The officers defending Mr. Rumsfeld say the complaints are an institutional battle between the generals, who think Mr. Rumsfeld is damaging the Army, and the defense secretary, who thinks he is better organizing it for post-Cold War 21st-century threats.
This checks closely with what Rowan Scarborough writes in his biography of Mr. Rumsfeld and the issues he faced at the outset of the Bush presidency. Rumsfeld's War is an eye opener if nothing else. I had a profound respect for Mr. Rumsfeld's conduct even before I read the book, and I came away with a much better understanding of the man who has helped decide the destiny of our nation many times over the past half-century.
<< Home 4 Comments:
Blogger Retired LTC said...

What nonsense.

If General Clark was such a failure as a commander, why was he given three company commands, two battalion commands, a brigade, and command of the Operations Center at Ft Irwin? Why was he selected for his first star by the Reagan administration and assigned to the single most important one-star command billet in the Army, the National Training Center at Ft Irwin? And why he was he given his second star and command of the Army's premier armored division, the First Cavalry, in the first Bush administration. Colin Powell said Clark was one of the best soldiers he'd ever served with.

It is shameful to tell lies about great American soldiers just because you don't agree with their politics.

5:02 PM, April 15, 2006  
Blogger Mark R said...

He ran for president...and right into the waiting arms of a lovey-dovey press—of course he served in those capacities you mention...but why did he disappear in the prime of his career?

The portrait the men under him painted during his presidential run looked like a man who put personal ambition first in his military service. Even Clinton didn't like him because he wanted more limelight then he was willing to give him during the “war” with Serbia.

Since when did his political views enter into it? I don't think many knew what kind of political agenda he had anyway. I just happen to hold a special place of disrespect for someone who attempts to use his leadership position for personal aggrandizement (oops...that's what most politician do anyway).

5:49 PM, April 15, 2006  
Blogger Retired LTC said...

Ha! If the media had done Clark any favors, he'd probably be president today.

Disappeared in the prime of his career? Clark was a principle on the Joint Staff as a three-star, then the chief military negotiator for the Dayton Peace Accords, then promoted to 4-star and given a unified command, then given a second unified command and made Supreme Allied Commander in NATO. That's hardly disappearing. By the time he retired, he'd served 34 years and been a four star for 5. That ain't bad.

I doubt you can name a single man or woman who served under Clark who claimed he put personal ambition over his troops or his mission. On the contrary, there were many of us who volunteered for his presidential campaign. No, it was the officers who complained about Clark who did so for political reasons, and you can count on one hand the number who were willing to lend their names to their criticism.

You really ought to spend more time digging up facts, instead of reading GOP propaganda.

6:58 PM, April 15, 2006  
Blogger Mark R said...

whew! I found a clark campaign worker! No disrespect really, but I think you need to cool it...even if you do have some kind of personal loyalty to is apparent by your willingness to cite, at the drop of a hat (read: comment), detailed stats most will never hear in their lifetime. You'd think he was still running for president.

If you think I have something personal against Clark that you need to beat out of me, then I suggest you look elsewhere. I've abliged you for now and here's some reading I've recently come across for your personal (if not optional) enrichment. I think you will appreciate the diversity of sources.

Reflections on serving under Gen. Wesley Clark
(simple objective personal observation) Wesley Clark: The Guy Who Almost Started World War III
(some interesting digs) Why Wesley Clark is dangerous
(eh...a little over the top that one)

National Review: An Army of One
Choice quote: "military officials reveal that Clark was disliked by only three groups: Those whom ranked above him in the chain of command whom he ignored, his peers at the same rank whom he lied to, and those serving beneath him whom he micromanaged. Other than that, everyone liked him."

NY Times: Tape Shows General Clark Linking Iraq and Al Qaeda(ok, I though Kerry liked to contradict himself)

AP: Ex-Military Leaders Speak of Clark Flaws
(choice quote: "There's no question that General Clark is for General Clark," Ret. Army Brig. Gen. David Grange)

There's this great tool out there called Google that can find a lot of stuff pretty quick, but I'm pretty tired of reading about Clark now. Anything else I should waste my time with?

8:08 PM, April 15, 2006  

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