14 April 2006

Generalling poorly

Well, hopping on over to The Belmont Club I found a wonderful post on retired Generals doing the hindsight is 20/20 business with Donald Rumsfeld and the Administration. Needless to say there are some problems I find with this, but let me first have the Generals speak for themselves.

General Paul Eaton calling for Secretary Rumsfeld to go:

"During World War II, American soldiers en route to Britain before D-Day were given a pamphlet on how to behave while awaiting the invasion. The most important quote was: "It is impolite to criticize your host; it is militarily stupid to criticize your allies."

By that rule, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is not competent to lead America's armed forces. First, his failure to build coalitions with U.S. allies from what he dismissively called "old Europe" has imposed far greater demands and risks on American soldiers in Iraq than necessary. Second, he alienated his allies in the U.S. military, ignoring the advice of seasoned officers and denying subordinates any chance for input.

In sum, he has shown himself incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically and is far more than anyone else responsible for what has happened to America's mission in Iraq. Rumsfeld must step down."
So there you have it, by not depending more upon France and Germany, Secretary Rumsfeld is incompetent. I mean we got support from: UK, Italy, Spain, Poland and, I believe, Romania. Now, as to the demands that Iraq has placed on US Armed Forces, well it has stretched them some. But, then again, the force structure was set by Congress after Vietnam and has been static since then, mainly during the Cold War. If Generals wanted a *different* force structure, they could have made their voices heard through the chain of command up to the JCS and gotten that to Congress to address. You do remember Congress, don't you General Eaton? Finally, for denying lower ranking officers their chance for a say... You, sir, took an Oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. If you thought for one moment that US Armed Forces were going to be put in harms way for no good reason or that there was no latitude on what a proper force disposition was AND that was not listened to by your chain of command, what could you do?

You could have done something known as RESIGN and tell Congress. You remember them, don't you? Now, if you made a choice at the time between your *career* and *good sense* and decided upon your *career*, then carping *now* is just sour grapes. And let me tell you that sour grapes make for a poor whine. Oh, and why resign? So you could keep faith with the military structure because you would 'obviously' be re-instated if you were completely correct.

Next up is Lt. General Gregory Newbold, Retired director of operations for the joint staff in a TIME article. So lets take a look at what the good Lt. General had to say:

"From 2000 until October 2002, I was a Marine Corps lieutenant general and director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After 9/11, I was a witness and therefore a party to the actions that led us to the invasion of Iraq--an unnecessary war. Inside the military family, I made no secret of my view that the zealots' rationale for war made no sense. And I think I was outspoken enough to make those senior to me uncomfortable. But I now regret that I did not more openly challenge those who were determined to invade a country whose actions were peripheral to the real threat--al-Qaeda. I retired from the military four months before the invasion, in part because of my opposition to those who had used 9/11's tragedy to hijack our security policy. Until now, I have resisted speaking out in public. I've been silent long enough."
Well heavens be! An unnecessary war... that 'zealots' wanted! And then he had the temerity to only voice his opinion as is proper and told... that the civilians were in control of the military and that if he really felt that things were awry he could... Yes! Resign and go to Congress! Because the real threat was al Qaeda... NOT the joining up of Totalitarian regimes with Transnational Terrorist, because such regimes might, you know, supply, aid and abet such Terrorist organizations of which al Qaeda is just ONE.

Dear me! Those military folks are just so smart, able to make those broad judgements on the safety of the nation in the long run... And then a bit later, Mr. Braveheart goes on to say:

"With the encouragement of some still in positions of military leadership, I offer a challenge to those still in uniform: a leader's responsibility is to give voice to those who can't--or don't have the opportunity to--speak. Enlisted members of the armed forces swear their oath to those appointed over them; an officer swears an oath not to a person but to the Constitution. The distinction is important."
So don't be a coward like I was! And DO YOUR DUTY! And if you have any qualms then do remember your Oath, unlike ME! Because I may have decided to give the civilians in control the leeway as they just *might* be right and, indeed, made a persuasive case for such. So don't let those poor civilians have just one bit of leeway and tell them what's what and if they don't listen... then put yourself in front of your career, which I DID NOT DO. And then he *continues* with his courage:

"Before the antiwar banners start to unfurl, however, let me make clear--I am not opposed to war. I would gladly have traded my general's stars for a captain's bars to lead our troops into Afghanistan to destroy the Taliban and al-Qaeda. And while I don't accept the stated rationale for invading Iraq, my view--at the moment--is that a precipitous withdrawal would be a mistake. It would send a signal, heard around the world, that would reinforce the jihadists' message that America can be defeated, and thus increase the chances of future conflicts. If, however, the Iraqis prove unable to govern, and there is open civil war, then I am prepared to change my position."
Yes he was against the war before he was FOR IT! And somehow those idiot al Qaeda jihadi's go to Iraq and get KILLED. Why, that would mean that Iraq served as a FOCAL POINT for drawing out al Qaeda. Why this Lt. General is just sooooo smart... makes John Kerry look like a boob. And then on further topics on management:

"What we are living with now is the consequences of successive policy failures. Some of the missteps include: the distortion of intelligence in the buildup to the war, McNamara-like micromanagement that kept our forces from having enough resources to do the job, the failure to retain and reconstitute the Iraqi military in time to help quell civil disorder, the initial denial that an insurgency was the heart of the opposition to occupation, alienation of allies who could have helped in a more robust way to rebuild Iraq, and the continuing failure of the other agencies of our government to commit assets to the same degree as the Defense Department. My sincere view is that the commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions--or bury the results."
Policy failures of McNamara proportions, just like Vietnam! Not enough resources to do the job... and what job was set out to be done? Was it *just* to destroy al Qaeda? Or might it have been a larger geopolitical goal to start de-linking Totalitarian States from Transnational Terrorists? Then there is that wonderful intelligence distortion from before the war, which, you know, all those translated documents are showing that Congress was JUSTIFIED in putting for the Authorization of Military Force. SUCH distortion that everyone was taken in from all parts of the Intelligence Community, even France, Russia and China! In fact the Russians were so taken in that they sent folks over to help remove WMD material and 'sanitize' facilities. Such awful intelligence!

Then the 'resources' issue. Just *which* resources are we talking about, sir? Armor for Humvees and the troops? Well, that stuff isn't produced overnight and even at full production meeting the needs would have taken YEARS! Now on the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq you might want to ponder this, and I will get back to it: the US Armed Forces suffered Catastrophic Success. Yes, the entire strike and fast movement totally immobilized the Iraqi Army and Republican Guard and they DISINTEGRATED as fighting units, losing total cohesion. The damn canard that the Iraqi Army should have been kept around is absolutely FALSE. Name me the one Iraqi Army unit that survived intact enough to stand down and offer surrender. Name me that General in charge who would offer surrender. Name them, sir. For they do not exist! The entire military complex in Iraq was based on Totalitarian control and when that disappeared, the Army atomized with soldiers fleeing and stripping off uniforms and equipment and donning civilian clothes. Gun sight cameras see this in action as equipment and tanks are taken out. There was no Iraqi Army LEFT. A war that was meant to take 3 MONTHS ended in 3 WEEKS and the military hierarchy did not adjust fast enough. Their own troops out-thought and out-commanded them and succeeded far faster than expected.

Now in the midst of an atomizing and disintegrating opponent with some units still fighting and others just disintegrating, and everyone looking for Saddam (you do remember him, don't you?), the idea that the US Armed Forces could search through files, translate them, find individuals and try to reconstitute totally demoralized Iraqi Army units is NUTS. And then, even if you did so, these troops were seen as THE ENEMY by the people of Iraq! Today 'revenge killings' is the leading death toll in Iraq, and that is Iraqi's seeking out their Republican Guard and high Army unit oppressors from under Saddam's control and KILLING THEM. If the US had actually tried to *use* these units, we would be seen as no better than Saddam. It might make some military sense, but it makes absolutely no political or long-term national security sense to do so. This *was* explained to you, wasn't it?

And then there is the 'entire civil disorder after the fall of a totalitarian regime from the outside is all our fault point' of view. Well, if things had taken two months and a week longer, the entire 4th Infantry Division would have been rolling in to secure things. This war was struck at an opportune moment as Saddam believed that internal revolt would be the order of the day until the 4th ID was in-place and he put his troops and resources out accordingly. Which, by-the-by, includes his secret police organizations. You remember those folks? The actual hard-core Ba'athists that were not in uniform, not fighting as units and squirreling away inside society to cause unrest. You know, those guys? You complain that there was no attempt to stop them, so I ask you in complete and utter seriousness: What do you think *could* be done about them?

Truly, until a full and national police force shed of everything Saddam had put in place was stood up, there was NOTHING to do about those guys. And it is quite natural that they would continue to seed unrest, work with terrorists and, in general, resist to try and get back into power. That is why de-Ba'athification has WORKED. Doing so GIVES LEGITIMACY to those units and the entire hierarchy. Could the stand up of a brandy-new police and military have gone smoother? Yes, it could have. But, then again, we haven't even attempted something like this since the 1940's and there is no longer a cultural memory in the Pentagon on how to do so. Griping about not doing it efficiently also points to a command problem area, which I will touch upon later.

Back to our 'allies': exactly which of them had excess manpower to spare to actually help? I mean France and Germany were trying to 'help' in Afghanistan and said they had no one left to spare. The UK put forth a robust force to help us, as did Australia. Stalwart Poland sent forces that the locals LOVE because they know exactly how to rebuild after totalitarianism. Who, pray tell, is left? India has a bit of a problem with Pakistan and China, and we did not want to bother them for more than support capacity. Japan sent medical troops, and bless each and every one and then their engineers. Saudi Arabia has a problem keep its little force coherent and under control. Israel is locked with its own problems, so had no one to spare. So please tell me which 'ally' had oodles of forces to spare in this.

Finally after such robust support from *you*, if Iraq goes to hell you will think that the US isn't capable of doing what it sets out to do. And, sir, do you know what that is, *exactly*? The one thing you have YET to state. Could it be: De-Link Totalitarian States that have proven capable of creating WMDs from hooking up with Transnational Terrorists? Might that, perchance, actually BE the goal, and that creating anything better than a Totalitarian state, even a complete state of Chaos is *better*? Has that even crossed your mind?

To top it all off he only realizes this *after* he retires! Military intelligence strikes again!

Now both these dear Generals do point to the command structure and so do I! But, my point seems to be completely different than theirs..... They seem to want a greater say in political affairs from a military aspect, which is NOT what this country is about. What I see, however, is a complete and utter lack of using modern training techniques to handle the new form of warfare that they have given their soldiers the capability to actually DO.

The US Armed Forces now practice something I call NetWar: using all networks from military to logistics to social to cultural, to achieve military objectives. NetWar is requiring a re-definition of how on-the-spot forces can react and adjust and changing the entire tempo and concept of warfare from that of 'neutralizing' the enemy to that of 'making the enemy unable to respond'. I look at the future possibilities for such in Iran in two different cases: first a 'standard' scenario and then in a fully 'engineered' scenario. The key to both is using capabilities to render your opponent unable to respond or fight effectively. This was demonstrated in both Afghanistan and Iraq. The entire nature of the Iraqi invasion changed from a three-pronged heavy forces and grinding scenario to one of a two-pronged lightning fast strike almost overnight.

Strangely enough, the troops on the ground responded in a manner unseen in warfare: they excelled in inventing new ways to WIN. They did so faster and better than their opponents and faster and better than their ENTIRE MILITARY COMMAND STRUCTURE. Which includes, by the way, BOTH of these Generals. When I point my finger at the main problem in the military today, it is not at the troop level or even the high-level civilian command. The folks at the bottom use every damn tool they have been given in ways that no one can foresee. And this, strangely enough, includes their Command Structure from the Theater level all the way to the JCS. There is something very much wrong with the military today, and it is in that most central of the hierarchies that is not *willing* to adjust to their soldier's *capability*.

To give an example: in every war we hear about SNAFU's in supply and how things take forever to get to the folks in the field. It is the number one standard complaint of any military on the planet in any war ever fought. Except Afghanistan and Iraq. TRANSCOM went to FEDEX and UPS and redesigned their entire stores and supply system to be responsive, adaptable and accountable. When there was an armor supply problem, it was *not* that the material was in stores and awaiting shipment. It was something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. It was everything shipped on-time, as fast as possible and actually running out of the complete stores of the item faster than it could be *made*. Has any war, at any time, ever, absolutely *ever* had THAT problem, save when their military and industrial complex are so battered that there is *nothing* to be had?

Another example: Humvees in Afghanistan. They had too many of them still coming in on *old orders* and had parking lots full of them. Those then got trans-shipped to Iraq where they needed more mobility even if it was *unarmored*. Within a couple of weeks all those hummers got picked up, shipped and arrived in Iraq. While it is an in-theater shipment, it was also a front-to-front changeover and command changeover. In any other war that would have taken *months*.

So, when the troops get the supplies in a timely fashion they re-adjust their entire tempo of operations to one that is *higher*. The folks in the field used PDA's with wireless and made on-the-fly chat rooms to coordinate firecontrol with indirect fire and bombing. Yes, tanks that were transiting to a different area would stop, give indirect fire to support ground troops they couldn't see, hear battle damage asessment, adjust and re-fire all within seconds. Not minutes. Not hours. SECONDS. In point of fact heavy armor units started to disperse into combined arms infantry support units in cities as snipers would keep the nasties down, troopers would protect the tanks side and rear and tanks would take out hard points. Troops then would clear up the mess and snipers provide cover fire, while the tank provided a zone of fire control and as instant first aid and command center. And within an hour the units would head back to their previous assignments thinking nothing of it.

With all of that, what has the interior command structure above the immediate Theater ops and civilian command done?

As has been seen by both of these Generals, they are living in the Vietnam and Cold War era of command: at a distance and slowly. That MUST change and quickly. When Iraq morphed from a heavy armor war to one of lightning fast advances beyond what was expected, the need for troops to hold positions and supply lines was necessary. And what did those interior command organizations that were out of sight and out of mind do? NOTHING.

A proper response would have been to see this changing nature, and formulate plans for immediate call up of National Guard soldiers to be flown in-theater so as to buck-up the supply routes and serve as interim police. THIS WAS NOT DONE. And the reason it was not done is that the interior command hierarchy does NOT train with their troops nor train for unexpected tempo changes in warfare. Their troopers now adjust more rapidly than the military command structure. The one clear and obvious fact of Iraq is that the entire military command and control structure ITSELF needs to get heavier training and feedback than it currently does. It needs to break out of the Vietnam/Cold War/Powell Doctrine to something that is flexible and responsive and denies their opponent the opportunity to even *fight* effectively. When there is a change in conditions from that of a Heavy Armor war to one of Mobilized Mechanized Infantry on the move, the entire command structure, force structure, call-up and deployment needs to change OVERNIGHT. It needs to respond as fast as its TROOPS do.

So when you see Generals who have 'retired' giving out sour grapes, remember that this is because their entire conception of warfare needs to change and they are unwilling to do so. They do *not* want to join the 21st century of warfare and fight as flexibly and responsively as their troops can and DO.

These commanders are the *problem*.

Sour grapes make for a poor whine, especially as the vintage is old and the vintner unable to taste his crop.


Assorted Babble by Suzie said...

Thank you for taking the time to break it down like this. You are exacting right..in my opinion on all the points you brought up.

I heard this morning...that there are thousands of retired generals...and these few should not be what we should be paying attn to. Also Gateway Pundit wrote a wonderful post on all the credits that should be remembered that Runsfeld has done.
I think these negative generals need to shut up and let our Secretary do his job, that he has been doing good at...in my opinion. I admire and respect Donald Rumsfeld.

Happy Easter....(smiling)

TexasFred said...

And again, ANYONE that speaks out AGAINST the Bush Way is "not someone that needs to be listened to"...

Marvelous philosphy..

A Jacksonian said...

Suzie - My thanks! After seeing all the retired Generals go on and on about Afghanistan and the 'killer winter' and all that would kill us there, and then see something that no one... and I do mean NO ONE predicted told me exactly how much to listen to men who had been retired even just a few years from the military. Yes, I don't listen to them... for they no longer understand the modern military or how it operates, which is on NetTime. Internet Time, which is 3-6 times faster than real time. Iraq changed it again... and it is *still* transforming in ways that cannot be fully understood but fully supported.

Fred - I am willing to listen to anyone who *offers* something better. Neither of these Generals do so. And neither understand their role as obstacles in military transformation that now MUST happen so the entire military structure adapts and flexes much, much faster than anything up to 2001. They have the tools, if they dare to use them. Their troopers DO DARE, and these Generals are cowards for not daring to make things *better*.