Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Atrios catches this Reuters article:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A recently retired two-star general who just a year ago commanded a U.S. Army division in Iraq on Wednesday joined a small but growing list of former senior officers to call on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to resign.

"I believe we need a fresh start in the Pentagon. We need a leader who understands teamwork, a leader who knows how to build teams, a leader that does it without intimidation," Maj. Gen. John Batiste, who commanded the Germany-based 1st Infantry Division in Iraq, said in an interview on CNN.

In recent weeks, retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton and Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni all spoke out against Rumsfeld. This comes as opinion polls show eroding public support for the 3-year-old war in which about 2,360 U.S. troops have died.

"You know, it speaks volumes that guys like me are speaking out from retirement about the leadership climate in the Department of Defense," Batiste said. "But when decisions are made without taking into account sound military recommendations, sound military decision making, sound planning, then we're bound to make mistakes."

Add Gen. Joulwan to this list:

BLITZER: Barbara, thank you very much.

Let's get some perspective now on these calls from retired military officers, including generals, for Donald Rumsfeld to go. Joining us, retired U.S. Army General George Joulwan, he's the former NATO supreme allied commander. General Joulwan, thanks for coming in to THE SITUATION ROOM.

JOULWAN:... And what you're feeling now or hearing now is a great deal of frustration by both the active and retired community and what you've quoted as a retired community, about a management style.

I heard those same things back in the Vietnam War with McNamara and his team. And we've had different secretaries of defense over the years that have had their own style of how to operate as secretary of defense.

JOULWAN: You have hit the nail on the head. It's our responsibility as military leaders to stand up and be counted on tough issues, and if that's not done, if they cannot take the intimidations, the micro management by this Department of Defense, which there is, if they don't stand up and have the moral courage to stand up and defend their troops and the mission that they've been assigned, then it's their issue, their problem.

I would hope there would be more of that. I've been saying that for a long time. This does not mean you don't support the troops or you don't support the war even. But it's the method, the tone. And I would hope the secretary would realize all of this. And the micro management, though, has got us into a situation where I think we are today.

BLITZER: What are you hearing from your friends at the Pentagon, the top three, four-star generals right now behind the scenes? How frustrated, how angry are they with Rumsfeld?

JOULWAN: Many of them very much so, particularly the last two or three years. The issue was, they don't trust us. The team that Secretary Rumsfeld has surrounded himself with doesn't trust the military.

And Gen. Trainor:

MR. RUSSERT: Coming next: the inside story of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, chronicled in a new book “Cobra II.” What went right, what went wrong with Iraq? We’ll ask the authors, Michael Gordon of The New York Times, and retired Marine Corps Lieutenant General Bernard Trainor. The authors in their first television interview are right here next on MEET THE PRESS.

MR. RUSSERT: General Trainor, you also write, “They did not bring the right tools to the fight and put too much confidence in technology.” We had all, and have been discussing General Shinseki, the Army chief of staff who was recommending hundreds of thousands of troops for years in order to stabilize, occupy Iraq, but in the book, you write that there were several other people, other studies, also advocating supporting that same notion.

GEN. BERNARD TRAINOR, (Ret.): Yeah, Tim. It was—you have to come back to kind of the philosophical aspect of Rumsfeld, who was the secretary of defense. He’s a businessman and he wanted to do things efficiently at the smallest possible price, and in terms of the military the smallest possible numbers elitely prepared with all this high technology. The military, of course, tends to be conservative, and if one is good, three is better. So when they were looking at the plans and going back to the contingency plans that predated the war itself, they talked in terms of about 385,000 people and not so much for, for taking out the Iraqi Army, but for, for governing, taking over the occupation of Iraq. Well, this was poo-pooed by the administration because they didn’t feel that there was—those numbers were necessary for victory, and they were correct. They didn’t need those for the victory, but they did need it for the post-victory phase, which was what the military was insisting upon. But Rumsfeld, as Michael has already indicated, and the administration, had poo-pooed the idea of a long occupation, that we win the war and we get out and the Iraqis govern themselves and the international community comes in to help. So, therefore, they had a small number of people, enough to win the war, but not enough to win the peace.

GEN. TRAINOR: ... I mean, the assumptions that were made on the basis of, of their, their intelligence were almost consistently wrong, and one of the problems with it, they never adjusted to it, never realized it. The people in the field did, but the, the hierarchy, at the secretary of defense level and even at General Franks’ level, they totally misread the effects, the, the events that were taking place on the ground.

No comments: