Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Surge and Shinseki

One of the interesting ironies in this whole craziness of presemption is what our infamous government is trying to achieve now.

Think about this What our government now is trying to do is extend the troops that made up “The Surge,” an addition of approximately thirty thousand men for an indefinite period of time. Bush has realized that this added force component is essential to reporting progress in Iraq.

But wait a minute, isn’t that what the generals were trying to tell him in the very beginning: That you couldn’t go in and take over a country of 26 million with under 200,000 troops. That why General Shinseki lost his job and other generals took early retirement. At the Pentagon, the ruling consortium of Rumsfeld and Cheney would not listen to common sense.

Now, the irony is that this is “new policy.’ It is no such thing. It has been at the very center of military thinking since Vietnam and it was the fundamental basis of the First Gulf War under the Powell Doctrine, that the way to win is through the use of overwhelming force.

Rumsfeld, in his insistence on technology, cut the Army back to the bare minimum and then believed that his beloved machines would replace boots on the ground.

And just in case we forgot, here’s a little background from Wikopedia’s entry on the good general and his feud with Rumsfeld and the Administration:

Tensions with Rumsfeld while Chief of the Army
Shinseki's tenure as Chief of Staff was marked by tensions with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. As incoming secretary, Rumsfeld publicly addressed and ultimately supported Shinseki's controversial decision on March 16, 2001 to issue all Army troops the black berets that had previously been worn only by the United States Army Rangers. [4]

In 2001, Shinseki reportedly staved off suggestions by Rumsfeld and his aides that the Army be reduced in size. [5] According to one source, at their first meeting Shinseki told Rumsfeld that his orders would not be implemented [6].

Defense strategist Thomas P. M. Barnett, in a 2005 piece for Esquire magazine, captured the thoughts of Rumsfeld's aides in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Aides felt Shinseki became "too fixated on improving the Army's efficiency in combat without questioning the relevance of the capabilities he was developing, as in, Great force, wrong war." Rumsfeld and his aides believed systems like Crusader, while superb for a Cold War-era fight, were not relevant to 21st-century threats that required speed and precision. [8]

The personality clash between Shinseki and Rumsfeld was well known. Shinseki had a reputation as a quiet, reserved officer, while Rumsfeld had a history of his tough questioning and "wire-brushing" senior officers. (Barnett describes wire-brushing as "chewing them out, typically in a public way that's demeaning to their stature. It's pinning their ears back, throwing out question after question you know they can't answer correctly and then attacking every single syllable they toss up from their defensive crouch.") Shinseki and other army officers resented Rumsfeld's rough treatment of officers, while Rumsfeld and his aides felt the military had to be challenged vigorously in order for the civilians to exercise effective control of the department and steer it in the right direction. [8]”

Under Rumsfeld, the fact that the Army was in fact seriously reduced in numbers so that it could not fulfill its mission if we were to face more than one opposing power over a sustained period of time. .

And while presidential candidate McCain says that it is the best trained force in the world and that we have maintained our strength in all categories, what McCain conveniently neglects is the fact that enlistments are down, that if we did not lower the standards, we would be unable to meet recruitment targets and that although the numbers may seem the same, the very quality of our armed services has been sacrificed with major gaps in ever critical MOS.

Now, Bush is struggling to find any way to effectuate if not a win at least progress and Petraeus has come out with a policy based on adding new troops. Wow! This thing has gone full circle and the man who wouldn’t budge now sounds like Shinseki.

Both Powell and Shinseki must be laughing up their sleeve nows watching the desperation of a leader who has tried everything except listen to the real advice of his leaders until every other option failed.

It is interesting to see how we’ve forgotten what the Surge is really all about.

Les Aaron

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