View Full Version : Generals Who Admit 'Lack of Leadership' Should Be Fired

06-25-05, 05:49 AM
Sent to me by Mark aka The Fontman

Generals Who Admit 'Lack of Leadership' Should Be Fired
By Eilhys England Hackworth
and Roger Charles

News reports earlier this week carried one of the most shameful performances by a Marine general officer before a congressional committee since 1983, when then-Commandant P.X. Kelley tried to avoid any moral responsibility for not preventing the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut that killed 241 American warriors, including 220 Marines.

Kelley tried to tap-dance away from accountability by actually claiming he "was not in the chain of command." While true on a strictly operational basis, his disavowal did not play well on Capitol Hill and was widely believed to have cost him his chance to serve as the first Marine Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Now we have the Nyland-Catto duck-and-weave show, where Gen. William "Spider" Nyland, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, and his one-star lackey, Brig. Gen. William Catto, the chief of Marine Corps Systems Command, confessed with straight faces to the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that the lack of armored Humvees was due to "lack of leadership" - although they assured the committee that their same lousy leadership would somehow make sure the Humvees and military trucks that the Marines used in Iraq "would be adequately protected by December."

Their testimony dovetailed with the release of a damning Marine Corps Inspector General report this week - obtained from sources by SFTT - that reveals the overall deterioration of Marine ground equipment due to the high optempo in Iraq.

For a Marine general to admit such a crummy leadership failure costing the lives of Marines in combat and somehow keep his command is probably the most twisted Beltway stunt since Pentagon hypesters sucked The Washington Post into publishing their public relations spin on Pfc. Jessica Lynch fighting "to the last bullet."

If Nyland and Catto truly accepted personal responsibility for a failure of leadership which led to the deaths of their Marines, they had one, and only one, honorable course of action - to walk the plank and resign their commissions. A painful trip that would have meant kissing their generous pensions and juicy revolving-door perqs goodbye.

The silence from Marine Commandant Mike Hagee's office on this matter merely underlines that Nyland and Catto were playing the "take responsibility" ploy with his approval - and a gullible news media once again bought into a Pentagon con that let the perps prevail.

Hagee - who should have been taking responsibility and sitting at the table alongside Nyland and Catto - was instead running around presenting coins to the grieving parents of a Marine being buried at Arlington National Cemetery and a Marine being readied for surgery at Bethesda National Naval Medical Center. Certainly, he had the power to have given these folks something even more meaningful along with the coins - new and competent commanders with the right stuff to prevent other needless casualties.

By allowing these two admitted screw-ups to remain in uniform, Hagee sends the message to all Marines: getting your brother and sister warriors killed or maimed due to leadership failure can be overlooked if you're a Perfumed Prince.

For his passive endorsement of his officers' proclaimed negligence - negligence with lethal consequences - Hagee should be fired.

Then there's the silence from the office of SecDef Donald Rumsfeld.

How many more times will Rumsfeld's minions - our uniformed leaders in today's Defense Department - traipse up to Capitol Hill to offer yet one more tired-ass round of mea culpas for the lack of up-armored Humvees?

The next time Rumsfeld stands at the lectern in the Pentagon Press Room and carries on about how deeply he cares about the loss to life and limb among our nation's fighters, maybe one reporter will stand tall and ask, "Mr. Secretary, how do you square your profession of compassion with your failure - two years into the post-war phase - to provide the best-available level of protection to our troops who are most exposed to death and destruction on Iraqi roads?"

As with Hagee, Rumsfeld also should be fired for his conspicuous-by-his-silence endorsement of sorry leaders whose incompetence continues to get our fighters killed, crippled and blinded.

But don't hold your breath. Rumsfeld, Hagee, Nyland and Catto will slug on. And vehicles without adequate and available armor will continue to be torn up by IEDs. And crocodile tears will continue to be shed by Perfumed Princes during photo opportunities at Arlington, Bethesda and Walter Reed.

And more American kids will pay in blood for the uncaring incompetence of Rumsfeld & Co.

Eilhys England Hackworth is Chairman and CEO of Soldiers For The Truth. Roger Charles is President of SFTT. Charles can be reached at Sfttpres@aol.com.


06-25-05, 02:21 PM
June 26, 2005 <br />
Safer Vehicles for Soldiers: A Tale of Delays and Glitches <br />
When Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld visited Iraq last year to tour the Abu Ghraib prison camp,...

06-25-05, 02:21 PM
At roughly $700,000 each, the M1117 is considerably more expensive than the current $140,000 price for an armored Humvee.

"This decision is based upon budget priorities," Claude M. Bolton Jr., an assistant Army secretary, wrote to Congress in 2002. Existing vehicles, he added, can be used instead "without exposing our soldiers to an unacceptable level of risk."

Yet the military was reluctant to mass-produce the armored Humvee, with many in the Army agreeing that the vehicle made little tactical sense.

By the time the Iraq war started, the Army had been ordering only 360 armored Humvees a year.

"We never intended to up-armor all the Humvees," says Les Brownlee, who was the acting Army secretary from 2001 until late last year. "The Humvee is a carrier and derives its advantage from having cross-country mobility, and when you load it down with armor plating, you lose that."

But just months into the war in Iraq, it was lives the Pentagon was losing, and it reached for the quickest solution.

Clinging to a Contract

What the Defense Department thought would be the easiest option turned out otherwise.

The Humvee chassis is rapidly made on a vast assembly line near South Bend, Ind., by AM General. But before its vehicles can be rushed to Iraq, they are trucked four and a half hours to O'Gara's shop in Fairfield, in southern Ohio - which had 94 people armoring one Humvee a day when the war began. There, the Humvees are partly dismantled so the armor can be added.

"Clearly, if you could have started from scratch you wouldn't be doing it that way," Mr. Brownlee said in a recent interview.

In February 2004, Mr. Brownlee visited the O'Gara plant and asked the company to increase production, gradually pushing its monthly output to 450 from 220 vehicles. The Defense Department also wanted to contract with other companies to make armor.

Determined to hold onto its exclusive contract, O'Gara began lobbying Capitol Hill. Among those it drew to its side was Brian T. Hart, an outspoken father of a soldier who was killed in October 2003 while riding in a Humvee. Early last year, as a guest on a national radio show, Mr. Hart urged the Pentagon to involve more armor makers. Two weeks later a lobbyist for O'Gara approached him.

"He informed me that the company had more than enough capacity," Mr. Hart says. "There was no need to second-source."

Mr. Hart then redirected his efforts to help the company push Congress into forcing the Pentagon to buy more armored Humvees. With support from both parties, the company has received more than $1 billion in the past 18 months in military armoring contracts.

Meanwhile, the Army did not give up on trying to speed production by involving more armor makers. Brig. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly said several armor companies were eager to be part of a plan to produce armored Humvees entirely on AM General's assembly line.

In January, when it asked O'Gara to name its price for the design rights for the armor, the company balked and suggested instead that the rights be placed in escrow for the Army to grab should the company ever fail to perform.

"Let's try this again," an Army major replied to the company in an e-mail message. "The question concerned the cost, not a request for an opinion."

The Army has dropped the matter for now, General O'Reilly said, adding that he hoped to have other companies making armor by next April.

Robert F. Mecredy, president of the aerospace and defense group at Armor Holdings, the parent company of O'Gara, acknowledged that the company was protecting its commercial interests. But, he said, the company has proved it can do the Humvee work and he blamed the Defense Department for delays. Military officials concede that it sometimes took months for requests made in Iraq to filter through the Defense Department. O'Gara says it has armored nearly 7,200 Humvees since the war began, and while there is a persistent need for more in Iraq, the company stresses that the Pentagon keeps changing its orders: from 3,600 in the fall of 2003 to 8,105 last year to more than 10,000 today.

Asked why the Marine Corps is still waiting for the 498 Humvees it ordered last year, O'Gara acknowledged that it told the Marines it was backed up with Army orders, and has only begun filling the Marines' request this month. But the company says the Marine Corps never asked it to rush.

The Marine Corps denies this, but acknowledges that it did not get the money to actually place the order until this February. Officials now say they need to buy 2,600 to replace their Humvees in Iraq that still have only improvised armor.

Beyond the Humvee

With insurgents using increasingly powerful bombs and bullets, American troops in Iraq have been looking beyond the Humvee.

When the Marine Corps returned to Iraq last year, it settled on the Cougar as a superior vehicle to perform one of its main jobs: searching the roads for improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.'s. The Cougar can take more than twice the explosive punch as the armored Humvee and deflect .50-caliber armor piercing bullets. British troops had used the vehicle during the invasion.

The Marines used a new ordering method called the Urgent Universal Need Statement - which allows it to skip competitive bidding - to speed the process, officials said.

Even at that, the Marines Corps took two months to complete a product study, its records show. The contract took two more months to prepare. By then, one of its units in Iraq, Company E, was suffering the highest casualty rate of the war; more than half of its 21 troops who were killed were riding in Humvees with improvised armor or none at all.

When the Cougar order was completed in April 2004, the Marine Corps got only enough money from the Iraq war fund to buy 15 of the 27 Cougars it wanted. "This start-stop game is driving everybody nuts," says Michael Aldrich, an executive with the Cougar maker, Force Protection.

Marine Corps officials, who have high praise for the Cougars they have, said they needed to move cautiously for fear of overwhelming the company, which had only 39 workers. It now has 250 and is racing to fill a new order for 122 Cougars, at $630,000 apiece, by next February.

"I think we are moving about as fast as we could move," Mr. Aldrich said. "It's the chicken and egg. If you don't have the order you can't make the investment, and there are extremely long lead times" on the components.

Wars are always tricky affairs for defense contractors who are asked to ramp up overnight. But for this and other makers of armored vehicles, the Iraq war has been especially challenging.

To get Congress's attention last year, Mr. Aldrich compiled a set of maps showing the home states of soldiers whose deaths were more likely attributable to insufficient armor.

"I got some very open pupils and a couple of gasps and a couple of questions on who I had showed this to," said Mr. Aldrich, who presented his finding during the fall election campaign. "The Republicans wanted to know if I showed it to the Democrats, and the Democrats wanted to know if I showed it to the Republicans."

The M1117, made by Textron in Louisiana, had advocates in that state's senators, who told Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, in a September 2003 letter that the vehicle was superior to the armored Humvee in blast and bullet protection.

Still, the M1117 did not shake off its 2002 cancellation until last summer, when the Army began placing a series of orders totaling 290. The company, which will make 16 vehicles this month, has been asked to more than triple that pace by next March, Textron officials said.

Labock Technologies, which makes the Rhino Runner in Israel, thought it had the best advertising ever. Besides posting photographs of Mr. Rumsfeld aboard the Rhino at Abu Ghraib, the company has pictures of a shackled Saddam Hussein going to court last summer, with the headline: "So safe. ... some V.I.P. won't ride anything else."

The Defense Department says some military personnel are using the privately owned Rhinos that run the gantlet of bombs on the airport road. But with the Army not accepting the company's test results, and Labock not wanting to destroy a Rhino on the chance of getting orders, some soldiers in Iraq are having to find their own way to riding the vehicle.

Last month, the company says, an Army colonel and two other soldiers at Camp Victory in Baghdad picked up a satellite phone and called Labock at its Florida office to pepper the company with questions about performance, price and how fast it could deliver.

Mark Dunlap, a company executive, said in recounting the exchange, "They said they would run it up their chain of command."