Saturday, January 13, 2007

Listening to Which Generals?

“It would be a sublime, yet historic, irony if those who believe the views of the military professionals were neglected at the onset of this war were now to dismiss the views of the military as irrelevant or wrong."

Robert M. Gates, US Secretary of Defense
January 12, 2007
Lets take a look at this, you know, historically.

Prior to the beginning of the war in Iraq,
General Eric Skinseki, in testimony to the US Armed Services Senate Committee, stated that:
"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. We're talking about post-hostilities control over a piece of geography that's fairly significant, with the kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems. And so it takes a significant ground- force presence to maintain a safe and secure environment, to ensure that people are fed, that water is distributed, all the normal responsibilities that go along with administering a situation like this."
In a show of disregard for the opinion of his general, the president and then-Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld sent then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz to Congress to testify that the numbers given by General Shinseki were "wildly off the mark."

As recently as November of 2006, General John Abizaid, commander USCENTCOM and in charge of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, said in testimony to a Senate committee
"I do not believe that more American troops right now is the solution to the problem. I believe that the troop levels need to stay where they are."

In July of 2006, President Bush said that when it came to troop levels, he would defer to General Casey, commander of the US and allied troops in Iraq. General Casey has been blunt in his view that increased troop levels would further delay hand off of operations to the Iraq military. But according to a Washington Post report, on December 20, 2006, "Bush indicated that he will not necessarily let military leaders decide, ducking a question about whether he would overrule them."

Yesterday it was announced that General Casey is being brought back to Washington as chief of staff of the Army. General Abizaid is retiring in March. Conveniently, the generals who will be replacing them are advocates of increasing troop levels. The lesson? You don't stay in a war with the generals you have; you shop around until you find a couple who will agree with you.

No comments: