View Full Version : The Secretary of Denial

09-22-03, 06:19 AM

The Secretary of Denial

By Paul Connors

When is he going to wake up?

The U.S. Army is just too small to do all the jobs asked of it. The Army has approximately 485,000 men and women on active duty and they are assigned all over the world.

Despite an end-strength approaching a half-million people, the Army today is spread thinner than at any time since Dec. 7, 1941. Requirements in Iraq, Afghanistan and South Korea are forcing the Army to rely on the services of more than 75,000 members of the U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard.

Just last week, the Army announced that the tours of duty of National Guardsmen and reservists serving in Iraq will be extended to one year on the ground. That does not count the months on active duty since their mobilizations, nor will it include the demobilization process when they return and the time that takes.

Still, the Secretary of Defense refuses to admit that he was wrong and that the missions placed on it have stretched the U.S. Army to the breaking point.

With activated reserve component soldiers on active duty, the U.S. Army is still smaller than it was when the downsizing process began after Desert Storm. Consequently, to allow for unit rotations into and out of the theater, the Army also has announced the mobilization of two Army National Guard enhanced readiness brigades; which will deploy next year to allow Regular Army units to leave Iraq to recoup, refit and retrain.

Activating two brigades is insufficient given the current operational environment. Working as a military analyst on TV, retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey publicly repeatedly recommended that the administration should activate nine of the National Guard’s enhanced readiness brigades, arguing that this was the minimum number of units needed to provide some respite for the overworked regular units that have been deployed to Kuwait and Iraq for more than a year.

Rumsfeld, along with other neo-conservatives like Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, sold President Bush on the need to attack Iraq. They did so, not caring about the fact that the service that would provide most of the combat power was already exhausted from constant deployments during the Clinton era.

Personnel resources were much thinner than they had been in 1991 and equipment maintenance accounts had been empty for far too long. But these officials decided that Saddam Hussein had to go, and they didn’t care that the Army and the GIs serving in it would have to do the job with less than adequate numbers of people. To them, their mission was paramount. Our people came last.

The mainstream news media has, of late, stressed the problems faced by U.S. forces in Iraq since President Bush declared an end to “major combat operations” on May 1. Since that date, the guerilla war that Islamic extremists and former members of Saddam’s regime have launched has been costing the United States one or two soldiers a day. The heart-wrenching stories of soldiers falling in Iraq – both Regular Army and Reservists – have continued nonstop.

It is common knowledge that members of the Regular Army often look down on members of the USAR and the National Guard. The stories of discrimination in pay, equipment, training and other areas of support are legion.

Yet, when called upon, these citizen soldiers respond and carry out the missions they are assigned. Col. David Hackworth and the editors of DefenseWatch each day receive far too many letters from reserve troops providing details of this discrimination. Sometimes I’ve wondered why we haven’t heard of mutinies by reserve component personnel and units. But these men and women do not rebel. They may complain, whine and grumble, but they almost always pop to attention, say “Yes, Sir!” and carry on with the duties they have been assigned.

At the head of the entire defense pyramid that has abused the good will of both active and reserve component soldiers is a man who seems totally indifferent about the rank and file members of the U.S. armed forces. He is fighting this war on the cheap but the people who have the most to lose, the GIs on the front line of this conflict, are the ones paying the steepest price.

When the President campaigned three years ago for the office he now occupies, he promised the men and women of the armed forces that “Help is on the way.” Like other Bush comments, many in the military took that one to be a campaign promise – one that the Bush administration most quickly broke.

With only token increases in the defense budget, and those primarily supplemental appropriations for the war on terror, the Bush/Rumsfeld war cabinet has not only fought a war in Afghanistan, they have conquered Iraq. To that I say, well done! My next immediate question is, “When are you going to face reality and start looking out for the men and women who trusted you when you promised help three autumns ago?”

I do not know if Rumsfeld really believes that we have adequate forces or not, but like many people in uniform, I have grown weary and even more wary of his comments concerning end-strength numbers. While Rumsfeld continues to deny reality, there are soldiers sitting in the desert sands of Iraq without enough water or food who do not have any idea when they will leave that pestilential hellhole.

The personnel deployment policies, rules and facts change daily, and Rumsfeld continues to argue for a lighter, smaller Army – not the major increase of personnel that we need today.

If Rumsfeld and his lieutenants persist in this illusion, the next time that the United States needs to fight a major war, there won’t be anyone to go. The combat veterans in the Regular Army will have had enough of the lies and the deceit and the lack of relief, and we will see that the reservists and Guardsmen will have just melted away when their units were finally demobilized from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The United States of America deserves the finest military our tax money can buy. But the armed forces of the United States never did anything to deserve the travails they have endured under the Secretary of Denial.

I wish all the troops the best of luck. They are going to need it as their civilian boss proceeds with his plan to gut both the Active and Reserve Components to pay for his plans for “transformation.”

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




09-25-03, 06:46 AM
:marine:Pres Bush and his Cabinet are doing a great job in defending the United States...in his tenure, the USA fights back and rightly so...the United Nation beauracrats [suits] finally got a wake up call since 1992...hey, WORLD....the USA fights back now...3 cheers for Old Glory ...long may she wave...Semper Fi, Mac :marine: