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07-26-04, 06:10 AM

From the Editor:

Rumsfeld’s Strange Remarks

By Ed Offley

Love him or the opposite, everyone who serves in or works with the Defense Department knows that Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld is an exceptionally smart man.

That’s why a comment he made to Fox News interviewer Cal Thomas last week is so thoroughly baffling. Even as a throwaway line in an encounter with a rare “friendly” journalist, Rumsfeld’s description of the state of the U.S. military today was so insufficient and incomplete that it suggests the Secretary has become totally disconnected from the troubled institution over which he presides.

Here’s the exchange from the interview (the full transcript can be accessed at DefenseLink, the DoD web portal):

Q: And welcome back to “After Hours.” We’re here tonight with my exclusive interview with Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense. Mr. Secretary, I know you don’t get into politics, but Senator Kerry has been saying if he is elected, he will work hard to strengthen our military. That implies that our military is weak and I wonder if you’d like to comment on what you regard as how strong our military is?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, the United States military is the finest military on the face of the earth. It is more capable than at any time in our country’s history in terms of the ability to do its job and to put precision weapons on precise targets in an effective way and in a way that is agile and able to penetrate long distances on relatively short notice. … The victory in Iraq is another demonstration of the capabilities of the United States military. They were able to do a terrific job in a relatively short period of time with a minimum loss of civilian lives.

In strictly semantic terms, Rumsfeld’s four sentences accurately depict several very narrow slices of reality. Compared with, say, the Russian Army, the North Korean Air Force or the Belgian Navy , the U.S. military today is “the finest military on the face of the earth.” His line about putting “precision weapons on precise targets” is factually supported. The last two sentences about the combat takedown of the Iraqi army last year summarize what happened in the Euphrates Valley.

It’s what Rumsfeld did not say – or acknowledge – that I find troubling. Consider a sampling of news articles on the state of the U.S. military during the past two months:

* The over-stretched Army: On June 2, The New York Times reported: “The Army announced Wednesday that it would require all soldiers bound for Iraq and Afghanistan to extend their active duty at least until their units have returned home from duty there, a move that could keep thousands of troops in the service for months longer than they expected over the next several years.” This affected both active-duty and reserve component troops “who had planned to retire, move to other Army jobs or leave the military when their enlistments expired,” the newspaper added.

* Declining Air Force fighter performance: The industry newsletter Inside The Air Force on June 4 revealed a potentially troubling development following a force-on-force training exercise involving F-15s from the Alaska-based 3rd Fighter Wing and Russian-built fighters operated by the Indian Air Force. The publication reported: “The surprising sophistication of Indian fighter aircraft and skill of Indian pilots demonstrated at the Cope India air combat exercise Feb. 15 through 27 at Gwalior Air Force Station, India, should provide a reality check for those who had assumed unquestioned U.S. air superiority, service officials who participated in the exercise said this week.” In most of the aerial encounters, the Indian Air Force pilots defeated their American counterparts.

* Strains on the National Guard: On June 6 The Washington Post revealed that a growing number of National Guard adjutants-general were warning the Pentagon their units were nearing a breaking point as a result of multiple activations for duty in Iraq, Afghanistan and in homeland security missions. “Some Guard commanders are beginning to say they simply can’t deploy any more troops,” the article noted.

“ ‘As far as New Hampshire goes, we’re tapped,” said Maj. Gen. John E. Blair, that state's adjutant general, or Guard commander. Of his 1,700 Army National Guard troops, more than 1,000 are in Iraq, Afghanistan or Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, or on alert for deployment. And to get units fully manned to head overseas, he said, ‘We’ve had to break other units.”

* From Korea to Iraq: The manpower crunch in the Iraqi occupation prompted the Pentagon to shift a brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division from its longstanding deterrence mission near the Korean demilitarized zone to duty in Iraq. Nearly one-third of the 37,000 troops in South Korea may ultimately be redeployed, officials told The New York Times on June 8.

* Shortage of Trained MPs: On June 15, the newspaper USA Today disclosed that one of the root causes of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq was a shortage of trained Army prison guards: “In a scramble for personnel, commanders wound up staffing Abu Ghraib with reserve military police who had never taken the Army's four-week course for prison guards,” the newspaper reported. “And because the military intelligence unit sent to Abu Ghraib was short of interrogators, commanders patched together substitutes from other military units and from private contractors.”

* Navy leadership problems: Navy officials announced on June 19 that the service will launch a formal study to determine why so many of its commanding officers have been fired in the last 18 months. Officials told The Virginian-Pilot 17 commanding officers were relieved of command in 2003 and 10 more in the first six months of 2004. “Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael G. Mullen has asked the Navy’s inspector general to see whether there are any similarities among the firings, Navy officials in Washington confirmed Friday,” the newspaper added.

* Ammunition shortage: The Associated Press reported on July 6 that the pace of military operations overseas has seriously depleted Army stockpiles of ammunition and other key spare parts. The report noted, “U.S. troops are firing so much ammunition that the military's largest supplier of bullets can't keep up. Tanks that log 800 miles a year in peacetime are grinding through that many miles in a month, wearing out their treads faster.”

* Installation budgets squeezed: To pay for ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military services are being forced to squeeze the budgets of their bases and facilities. Navy Times on July 7 reported on how this was impacting the Navy’s Mid-Atlantic Region: “Of the $300 million [in reallocated funds], about $199 million was pulled from operations and maintenance, about $78 million was produced by suspending certain repair and demolition projects, and $23 million came from delaying planned facilities maintenance projects such as painting and equipment repair, CNI spokeswoman Rachelle Logan said.”

* Hemorrhage of SOF troops: The U.S. Special Operations Command is experiencing a high level of early retirements among its seasoned commandos, the Associated Press reported on July 21: “Just when the U.S. military needs them most, senior Green Berets, Navy SEALs and other elite forces are leaving for higher-paying jobs,” the wire service reported. “After getting years of training and experience in the military, they leave for other government jobs or for what defense officials said Tuesday has been an explosion in outside contractor work.”

By all quantifiable standards, the U.S. military today outmatches any competitor. But the armed services are also in serious trouble.

Consider what one former military leader recently said of the state of the military:

“We have a topflight force that is running on empty, performing admirably with a growing number of weapons systems – including tactical fighter aircraft, Navy warships, and military transport helicopters – that are twenty to twenty-five years old and are becoming obsolete. Our men and women are suffering burnout as they are deployed in one crisis after another because our political leaders cannot understand the stress their policies have created. This situation cannot go on much longer without dire results.”

That was how retired Adm. Bill Owens, former JCS Vice Chairman, described the state of the force in April 2000 – 17 months before the 9/11 attacks and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that followed.

Secretary Rumsfeld does the U.S. military and its overworked personnel no favor by engaging in self-deceptive and evasive rhetoric about how well everything is going. He would better serve our people in uniform by being candid about the military’s resource crisis that has gone from bad to worse during his tenure.

Ed Offley is Editor of DefenseWatch. He can be reached at dweditor@yahoo.com. Please send Feedback responses to dwfeedback@yahoo.com. © 2004 Ed Offley.



07-26-04, 07:15 AM
be Secretary of Defense then Donald H. Rumsfeld.

As soon as I saw the nit-pickiing of to the secretary's response, I said what the heck, where have I seen this type of weird comparison before?

Sure enough there is was;

Colonel Hackworthlessness' croney... he is hackworth's mouth piece..

they have all forgotten that we went to war in Afganistan in response to the terrorist attack on America with a military that had been gutted by the Clinton years.


not worth a response more then this.


Jersey Joe
07-27-04, 12:15 AM
Sparrow Hawk

Good to see Rumsfeld has one person on his side. When in doubt,
"Kill the messenger", is that right?

What factual information do you have to dispute any of the above? Do you believe our Marines and Army personnel who took
Bagdad had all the proper equipment on their way in? Did you
hear of any supply problems in that two/three week fight? Why did some guys have to buy their Kevlar vests? Where were (and are) the Corps' tanks in that fight? (I understand we have less than 2 dozen out of 400+ MarCor tanks (real tanks) on the ground).

Yes,I know, I know, these guys coming up from the south of Iraq got great help from the "greatest armored army division in the world"...opps, thats right, the Turks wouldn't let them into Iraq and the grunts had to "do without" all that armored support. One of Rumsfelds better planning decisions!

No, we were fortunate we had so many brave and smart Marines and (yes, even) Army paratroopers who overcame shortages and equipment breakdowns and won the ground war. As with many battles and wars, they won despite all the Washington "advice and guidance" (the guys in DoD, however, have done a really
GREAT job winning the peace in the war's "aftermath"). Right?

And now Rumsfeld think's everything is "honkey dorey". We didn't
need any more troops to quell the arabs, why I'm sure he asked
General Shinseki that and got confirmation--oops (again), that's right, Rummy fired Shinseki when the General said we needed some 200,000 troops to win the war and control the country after the war. Guess who was right?

Don't mean to get totally on your case, Sparrow Hawk, but I repectfully disagree with your comments. I've never liked Rumsfeld as he reminds me TOTALLY of McNamara during Kennedy/Johnson years (remember, the guy who said he and his "amigos" were the "Wiz Kids"???). That crew got thousands of our guys killed since they really knew better.

Rummy and his "neo-conservative" buddies (don't think ONE OF THEM served in any active branch of service) will never admit to doing anything wrong because, well, they REALLY know what's best for the military.

No, Sparrow Hawk, no one (in this Forum, at least) forgets why
we went to Afganistan nor all the damage done by Mr. Clinton and
his boys (I hope we never forget). But as far as Rumsfeld goes,
neither he, his "neo-conservative" buddies, nor any other butt lickers at DoD, don't get my vote of confidence. Just typical
Washington a******s--and the guys keep on getting killed.

Don't know all the answers, pal, but Rummy would not be invited to the table.

Semper Fi

(sorry for the long thread, but this is one guy I REALLY dont like)

07-27-04, 02:00 AM
Sec of Defense Donald Rumsfield was a State Representive from the State of Illinois in the 1960's.
I went looking for his voting record during that period.
If memory serves me right, there were only two disenting votes in the House of Respresentives.
I found this on young Donald Rumsfield;


There's also some interesting reading on Vice President Dick Chency aka "I had other piorities in the 1960's".

The closing paragraph;
The following year Haldeman and Ehrlichman both lost their White House jobs as the Watergate scandal grew ever wider. Meanwhile, Rumsfeld was safely off in Europe, far removed from the taint of the Nixon White House. Eventually the details of his service for Nixon would largely be forgotten; few would remember the era long ago when Donald Rumsfeld was a dove, more interested in issues of postwar reconstruction than in war itself.
A Dove turned Hawk, seem that there many of the same in this adminstration.
Dove when their butts were on the line, now Hawks when others butts are on the line.
I worry about how Iraq will finally turn out.
Will we be safer?
Arabs don't want our presence in the Middle East, they were the ones that attack us here.
They forget we had a Flag with a rattlesnake and the words;
"Don't Tread On Me"
Force is the only thing that they will respect.
If they didn't want us coming into their backyard, they should curse the ones that attacks us on 9/11/2001...

Semper Fidelis/Semper Fi

07-27-04, 02:16 AM
Forgot to say Representive Donald Rumsfield wasn't one of those disenting votes on the Tonkin Resolution giving LBJ unlimited powers leading to a widening of the Vietnam War.
Its now history...

Semper Fidelis/Semper Fi

07-27-04, 02:55 PM
I know it's somewhat unfair to both parties, Rumsfeld reminds me of McNamara.