View Full Version : Rumsfeld Finally Gets The Message

07-17-03, 05:48 AM

Rumsfeld Finally Gets The Message

By Paul Connors

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld has finally caught on (or should I say admitted) to what senior military officers, journalists and even politicians have been saying for some time: More American troops will be needed to quell the organized guerilla attacks on American forces.

Appearing on NBC’s “Meet The Press” on Sunday, July 13, 2003, Rumsfeld also admitted that the attacks by the remnants of Saddam’s security forces, Republican Guard, released POWs and “fedayeen” fighters are being coordinated on a regional and possibly, a national basis. Those remarks reverse his previous comments over the last several weeks arguing that U.S. and coalition forces were not facing organized guerilla activity by former supporters of Saddam’s regime.

The attacks on American forces have been an almost daily occurrence since President Bush declared an end to major combat operations on May 1. Since that time, more than 70 American service members and eight British troops have lost their lives. During this same period, troops from the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division have been extended in theater and have assumed new duties of policing Baghdad and its environs. The 3rd ID, in theater since last fall and engaged in combat operations since Day 1 of the war, has seen little respite, either from combat or the constant harassing attacks by Iraqi insurgents.

Of the coalition forces still present in Iraq, some American and British units have deployed back to their home stations, but the vast majority remains there. Attempts are still underway to increase the total number of troops in theater and the U.S. government is soliciting troops from other NATO nations and elsewhere around the world. Just last week, the French and German governments publicly stated that they had not been requested to provide troops to help garrison Iraq and that they doubted if they would if asked.

Rumsfeld, so sure of himself on so many other issues of the day, disingenuously commented that he was unaware if the United States had officially solicited military assistance from Paris and Berlin. Come on, does he really expect us to believe that?

Prior to the beginning of hostilities, military planners predicted that an American occupation of Iraq would require several years and hundreds of thousands of troops. Then-Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinsheki (now retired) was severely rebuked by Rumsfeld when he testified before Congress that the United States might need upwards of 250,000 troops on the ground in Iraq after combat actions ended to be able to adequately police and govern the nation. As I have stated in past articles, Rumsfeld immediately dismissed Shinsheki’s estimates, despite the fact that the general did not deliver his answer off the cuff, but instead, relied on Army planners’ estimates for a post-combat force for Iraq.

It is absurd that a nation with the population (approximately 285 million) and global military commitments that the United States has undertaken should be forced to do so with a standing army of just 485,000 men and women. With the war in Iraq and the continuing war on terrorism, the Pentagon has been forced to activate more than 200,000 National Guardsmen and reservists, some for what appears to be an indefinite period.

Nevertheless, in the aftermath of large-scale combat operations, Rumsfeld has repeatedly denied the service chiefs’ requests to increase overall end-strength totals for this year and the future. Instead, he has continued to demand additional efficiencies from an overstrained military that has been downsized to the point where it cannot meet all the tasks assigned to it.

While many have lauded the speed with which the U.S. and British forces defeated the Iraqi military, there were always people who said the occupation of Iraq would be another matter entirely and that the U.S. government had not properly thought out what it would do with the conquered nation.

To further complicate the equation, other international events (Korea and Liberia to name just two problem nations) have combined to place even more strain on U.S. military resources.

Rumsfeld appeared to backpedal on the issue of personnel end-strength during his TV appearance. He stated that should American forces become too strained, he would lead DoD efforts before Congress to request additional personnel end-strength for the Army and Marine Corps. But then his very next comment seemed to negate that possibility when he said, “but at the moment, we do not see that that's the case.” Could he have sent a more contradictory message? Rumsfeld has insisted since he assumed office that there would be no, repeat no increases in end strength for the military.

What opponents of Rumsfeld have been saying all along is that the force cuts of the Clinton years went too far and too deep. During the 2000 presidential campaign, most military personnel, from flag rank to entry-level E-1s, hoped that a Bush administration would provide relief from the constant deployments, the lack of funding for operations, supply and personnel.

Instead, most of the post 9/11 defense budget hike has been swallowed by the cost of procuring new weapons, to the effect that the troops have received scant relief – and in early 2003, on top of other commitments, a war in Iraq.

The truth of the matter is this: The U.S. armed forces are spread far too thin worldwide. As reports from Iraq reveal daily, American forces are spread dangerously thin in that country, even with 210,000 members of the National Guard and reserve still on active duty to support them. After a year of deployment in the Persian Gulf region including the preparation for war, the war itself and postwar occupation duty, members of the 3rd Infantry Division still do not know when they will be re-deployed to their home bases at Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield in Georgia.

It's not too late for the secretary of defense to make a mid-course correction. Rumsfeld needs to accept that he is not always right and to listen to his senior service chiefs. He needs to stop playing politician and start thinking about the men and women that he and the President have sent in harm’s way.

And finally, he needs to start telling the full truth to the American people. We all deserve that much.

Paul Connors is a Senior Editor of DefenseWatch. He can be reached at paulconnors@hotmail.com. © 2003 Paul Connors.




07-17-03, 07:22 AM
Sooner or later, someone in authority is going to admit it. Like it or not, the draft is coming back.

Reservists will be bailing out as soon as they get back to the US.

In the late '60's and early '70's, the draft protestors were saying "NO" to Vietnam. In 20xx they will be saying "NO" to Iraq, Liberia, North Korea, Iran, Syria, etc. etc. etc.

And the government will be saying; "We have intelligience reports that indicate ............................"

Life was so simple when I could get along simply by saying, "Yes Sir".

07-17-03, 04:33 PM
I agree with you firstsgtmike! I have said it a few times the last couple of months of fearing them spreading us to thin. That is the only reason I figured they might end up having the draft again.

I have mixed feelings on the draft! I have two sons, 21yrs old, and 19yrs old. The Marine in me would make me proud for them to go into the military! The father/Marine in me knows what a military man will see and experience! I don't know if I want my son's experiencing some of the things I did!

Fox 2/23
07-18-03, 11:53 AM
I don't think you will find anyone more patriotic than an 18 year old E-1 in any branch of the service. Noone more willing to go in harms way than these young people. I think our leaders have an obligation not to abuse the patriotism of these young men and women as well as their older leaders. As Marines we were always ready to go where we were told to go and do what we were told to do. I just don't think some of these chickenhawk leaders appreciate this. If Rummy decided he didn't want the trouble of being Secretary of Defense any longer he could simply resign and go off and be a retired millionaire on his ranch. The grunts in the 3rd Infantry Division and other units would still be getting shot at on the streets of Baghdad. What did LBJ say say in so many words in 1968? "this sucks for me, goodbye". And the war drug on. The troops are left holding the bag. I have three sons and am a second generation Marine. Sometimes I feel like actively discouraging any of them from going into the service. I am afraid they would have their lives tossed to the winds by some politico who would then retire for drinks on the veranda.

Fox 2/23
07-18-03, 01:51 PM
my dad was an Iwo Marine, combat disabled. In his war everyone did something. Boy Scouts collected scrap metal, old ladies sewed socks and they put so-called conscienteous objectors in camps. All the able bodied men were in uniform or working at an essential war job and lots of older men volunteered when they didn't have to. Everyone did something. Conflicts now are more come as you are. I don't know if there will ever be another large mobilization like in WWII but I will be honest about how I would feel about it. If everyone had to go then I would hug my sons, wish them godspeed and wave as they got on the plane. If on the other hand some have to go and get chewed up and some get to stay home and get on with their lives then I want my sons at home. Because barring a mass mobilization, the elites will once again make loopholes for their kids and it will be the kids like mine that have to go.