View Full Version : Rumsfeld criticism escalating

04-14-06, 04:51 AM
Rumsfeld criticism escalating
Two more retired generals called for him to resign over the Iraq war. The White House reaffirmed support, saying he was doing "a very fine job."
By Drew Brown
Inquirer Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - The White House said yesterday that President Bush had confidence in Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, even as more retired military officers called for Rumsfeld to step down.

"The President believes that Secretary Rumsfeld is doing a very fine job during a challenging period in our nation's history," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.

But the public expression of support did not dampen what appeared to be a rising controversy and political headache for the Bush administration, as a fifth and sixth retired general came forward to demand that Rumsfeld resign.

In an interview broadcast on National Public Radio's All Things Considered, retired Army Maj. Gen. John Riggs said Rumsfeld created an "atmosphere of arrogance" at the Pentagon in which military advice on Afghanistan and Iraq was ignored or discounted.

As a result, Rumsfeld and his deputies miscalculated badly when it came to planning for how Iraq would be secured after Saddam Hussein's ouster, Riggs said.

"We just grossly underestimated the numbers of soldiers we would need," said Riggs, who spent 39 years in uniform, rose from private to lieutenant general, and won a Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery in Vietnam.

Riggs was forced to retire in 2004 minus one star after he gave an interview in which he said the Army had been stretched thin in Afghanistan and Iraq and needed thousands more troops. He said yesterday that it was time for someone to lead the Pentagon who could work with the top military brass in a more practical manner.

"They only need the military advice when it fits their agenda," he said of Rumsfeld and his civilian deputies. "I think that's a mistake, and I think that's why he should resign."

Retired Maj. Gen. Charles Swannack Jr. told CNN yesterday that he also thought Rumsfeld should make way for new leadership. Swannack, who commanded the 82d Airborne Division in Iraq in 2003 and 2004, told CNN that Rumsfeld "carries way too much baggage with him."

"There's nothing wrong with people having opinions," Rumsfeld said at a briefing Tuesday in response to a question about earlier criticism. "And I think one ought to expect that. When you're involved in something that's controversial, as certainly this war is, one ought to expect that."

A Pentagon spokesman said yesterday that he had nothing to add to what Rumsfeld had said.

Retired Marine Lt. Gen. Mike DeLong, who served as the deputy commander of the U.S. Central Command from 2000 to 2003 and had a chief role in planning the Iraq invasion, defended Rumsfeld on CNN yesterday.

"Dealing with Rumsfeld is like dealing with a CEO," DeLong said. "When you walk in to him, you've got to be prepared; you've got to know what you're talking about. If you don't, you're summarily dismissed. But that's the way it is, and he's effective."

But retired Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni, who served as the top military officer in the Middle East, kept up the pressure yesterday for Rumsfeld to step aside. Zinni first called for the defense secretary's ouster April 2.

Speaking on CNN, Zinni said Rumsfeld should be held accountable for a series of blunders in Iraq, including "throwing out 10 years' worth of planning" for a postwar occupation after Hussein's removal.

"We grow up in a culture where accountability, learning to accept responsibility, admitting mistakes and learning from them was critical to us," Zinni said. "Poor military judgment has been used throughout this mission."

Retired Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste also has called for a change in Pentagon leadership. Batiste retired after he commanded the First Infantry Division in Iraq from 2004 to 2005.

Retired Marine Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, in an essay in this week's Time magazine, castigated himself and other top generals for not being forceful enough in opposing the Iraq war, which he called an "unnecessary war" orchestrated by "zealots."

"The consequence of the military's quiescence was that a fundamentally flawed plan was executed for an invented war, while pursuing the real enemy, al-Qaeda, became a secondary effort," wrote Newbold, who served as the Pentagon's top operations officer until he retired in October 2002, partly out of opposition to the war.

Retired Maj. Gen. Paul D. Eaton was the first prominent retired general to say publicly that Rumsfeld should resign, in an opinion piece March 20 in the New York Times. He was in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004.

"I think Rumsfeld has lost some important allies on [Capitol] Hill and in the senior military," said Charles Stevenson, who teaches at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. "But I don't see how the President would find it in his political interest to get rid of Rumsfeld unless he also wants to change policy and use Rumsfeld as kind of a scapegoat or whipping boy or whatever. But there doesn't seem to be any evidence that the President wants to blame anybody or change his mind."

Stevenson, the author of SECDEF: The Nearly Impossible Job of Secretary of Defense, said the only historical parallel to the current situation was during the Vietnam War, when several generals testified to Congress about their disapproval of Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara's bombing campaign in North Vietnam.

Wade Zirkle, the executive director of Vets for Freedom, a recently formed group of Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans, said the controversy could have a corrosive effect on morale in the ranks if it continued.

"I think the bottom line is that the troops on the ground want to win the war, and they want someone who is going to lead them to success," said Zirkle, a former Marine officer who served two deployments in Iraq and was awarded a Purple Heart.

6 Generals: Profiles in Dissent

Retired Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste: Commanded the First Infantry Division in Iraq in 2004-05. Former senior military assistant to then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz. Reportedly declined a chance to be the number-two U.S. military officer in Iraq because he did not want to continue serving under Rumsfeld.

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul D. Eaton:Oversaw the training of Iraqi troops in 2003-04. Also served as commander of the U.S. Infantry Center at Fort Benning in Georgia.

Retired Marine Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold:At his retirement was director of operations for the joint military staff. Previous assignment was as commanding general, First Marine Division. Also commanded the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit in the Somalia operation.

Retired Army Maj. Gen. John Riggs: Retired from the Army in 2004 after 39 years of service. Was critical of the Iraq operation at an early stage, saying commanders did not have enough troops on the ground. A former helicopter

pilot in Vietnam, his last command was running the Army's Transformation Task Force.

Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni: Former commander-in-chief of the U.S. Central Command. Retired in 2000 after 39 years with the Marines. Served in more than 70 countries. Also participated in diplomatic missions involving Somalia, Pakistan, Ethiopia-Eritrea, the Philippines, Indonesia, and

the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Retired Maj. Gen. Charles Swannack Jr.: Commanded the

82d Airborne Division in Iraq in 2003 and 2004. In May 2004, while still on active duty, Swannack told the Washington Post that he thought the United States was losing strategically in Iraq. Swannack served more than 30 years in the Army.
Contact reporter Drew Brown at 202-383-6104 or dbrown@krwashington.com.


04-15-06, 08:04 AM
The Generals' Revolt
by Patrick J. Buchanan
Posted Apr 15, 2006

In just two weeks, six retired U.S. Marine and Army generals have denounced the Pentagon planning for the war in Iraq and called for the resignation or firing of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, who travels often to Iraq and supports the war, says that the generals mirror the views of 75 percent of the officers in the field, and probably more.

This is not a Cindy Sheehan moment.

This is a vote of no confidence in the leadership of the U.S. armed forces by senior officers once responsible for carrying out the orders of that leadership. It is hard to recall a situation in history where retired U.S. Army and Marine Corps generals, almost all of whom had major commands in a war yet underway, denounced the civilian leadership and called on the president to fire his secretary for war.

As those generals must be aware, their revolt cannot but send a message to friend and enemy alike that the U.S. high command is deeply divided, that U.S. policy is floundering, that the loss of Iraq impends if the civilian leadership at the Pentagon is not changed.

The generals have sent an unmistakable message to Commander in Chief George W. Bush: Get rid of Rumsfeld, or you will lose the war.

Columnist Ignatius makes that precise point:

"Rumsfeld should resign because the administration is losing the war on the home front. As bad as things are in Baghdad, America won't be defeated there militarily. But it may be forced into a hasty and chaotic retreat by mounting domestic opposition to its policy. Much of the American public has simply stopped believing the administration's arguments about Iraq, and Rumsfeld is a symbol of that credibility gap. He is a spent force ..."

With the exception of Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, the former head of Central Command who opposed the Bush-Rumsfeld rush to war, the other generals did not publicly protest until secure in retirement. Nevertheless, they bring imposing credentials to their charges against the defense secretary.

Major Gen. Paul Eaton, first of the five rebels to speak out, was in charge of training Iraqi forces until 2004. He blames Rumsfeld for complicating the U.S. mission by alienating our NATO allies.

Marine Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs up to the eve of war, charges Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith with a "casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions -- or bury the results."

Maj. Gen. John Batiste, who commanded the Army's 1st Division in Iraq, charges that Rumsfeld does not seek nor does he accept the counsel of field commanders. Maj. Gen. John Riggs echoes Batiste. This directly contradicts what President Bush has told the nation.

Maj. Gen. Charles J. Swannack, former field commander of the 82nd Airborne, believes we can create a stable government in Iraq, but says Rumsfeld has mismanaged the war.

As of Good Friday, the Generals' Revolt has created a crisis for President Bush. If he stands by Rumsfeld, he will have taken his stand against generals whose credibility today is higher than his own.

But if he bows to the Generals' Revolt and dismisses Rumsfeld, the generals will have effected a Pentagon putsch. An alumni association of retired generals will have dethroned civilian leadership and forced the commander in chief to fire the architect of a war upon which not only Bush's place in history depends, but the U.S. position in the Middle East and the world. The commander in chief will have been emasculated by retired generals. The stakes could scarcely be higher.

Whatever one thinks of the Iraq war, dismissal of Rumsfeld in response to a clamor created by ex-generals would mark Bush as a weak if not fatally compromised president. He will have capitulated to a generals' coup. Will he then have to clear Rumsfeld's successor with them?

Bush will begin to look like Czar Nicholas in 1916.

And there is an unstated message of the Generals' Revolt. If Iraq collapses in chaos and sectarian war, and is perceived as another U.S. defeat, they are saying: We are not going to carry the can. The first volley in a "Who Lost Iraq?" war of recriminations has been fired.

In 1951, Gen. MacArthur, the U.S. commander in Korea, defied Harry Truman by responding to a request from GOP House leader Joe Martin to describe his situation. MacArthur said the White House had tied his hands in fighting the war.

Though MacArthur spoke the truth and the no-win war in Korea would kill Truman's presidency, the general was fired. But MacArthur was right to speak the truth about the war his soldiers were being forced to fight, a war against a far more numerous enemy who enjoyed a privileged sanctuary above the Yalu river, thanks to Harry Truman.

In the last analysis, the Generals' Revolt is not just against Rumsfeld, but is aimed at the man who appointed him and has stood by him for three years of a guerrilla war the Pentagon did not predict or expect.

04-15-06, 10:39 AM
An Officer Responds To David Ignatius
RealClearPolitics.com ^ | April 15, 2006 | Tom Bevan

A Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army sent the following email in response to David Ignatius' assertion in the Washington Post yesterday that 75%+ of senior military officers want to see Rumsfeld gone:
I would beg to differ with that assessment by Mr. Ignatius. I am a combat arms officer, a combat veteran of the Global War on Terror, currently serving on the faculty of one of the Staff Colleges.

My assessment from extensive and continuous contact with young field grade officers, most of which are combat arms branch, combat veterans, is that Secretary Rumsfeld is considered the finest Secretary of Defense of the last forty years. This is in addition to my "peer group", of which many of us maintain contact with each each other regardless if we are in CONUS or SW Asia.

Maybe Mr. Ignatius has limited his conversations to Officers assigned in the Beltway. Yes, "beltway types" unfortunatly also exist in the military.

However, I can tell you that beyond the Beltway in dusty and dirty places like Ft. Benning, Ft. Stewart, Ft. Hood, Ft. Campbell and Ft. Bragg, where officers wear BDUs instead of Class Bs that there are tens of thousands of Officers, Commissioned/Warrant/Non-Commissioned, that would go to hell and back for this Secretary.

He pushes us to what we "think" is our limit, then shows us we have another ten percent to give. Secretary Rumsfelds nickname among many is the "110% Secretary." Former Secretary Cohen, a good man whom I respected, would have been considered the "90% Secretary" as he never was able to get us to give "all."

It's only one email, of course, but it does provide a perspective on how Rumsfeld is viewed by the officers' corps that stands in stark contrast to the one Ignatius gave yesterday. My hunch is that it's also a lot closer to the truth.