2004/12/18

Why Rumsfeld's remarks were offensive

People are still discussing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's remarks on 8 December 2004. Army Spc. Thomas Wilson asked why he and his fellow National Guardsmen had to "...dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to uparmor our vehicles?" After the other 2300 National Guardsmen cheered, Rumsfeld hesitating and asked the soldier to repeat the question. His reply then was “As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They’re not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time."

This would have been a satisfactory answer had the US been forced to go to war before it was ready to do so. In March 2002, Bush came to three Senators & Condoleezza Rice and said "F--- Saddam. We're taking him out.", thereby indicating that a decision on the Iraq War had long since been made. The New York Times pointed out that serious, in-depth planning for the invasion and occupation of Iraq began in April 2002. The project was reportedly of uneven quality, but successfully predicted many of the problems that would later befall the occupation.

And it's not like it took so long for things inside Iraq to start going sour. Has the situation in Iraq improved in the meantime? Apparently not. A Philadelphia soldier is accused of arranging for a relative to shoot him so that he wouldn't have to return to Iraq. Retired Col. David Hackworth had recieved numerous emails about poorly and under-equpped units by August 2003, only three months after Bush's infamous aircraft carrier landing.

It's been a long, long time since the Department of Defense needed to reexamine their strategy.

[This article, written by yours truly, is reproduced in it's entirety from http://phillyimc.org/ because I felt it was directly relevant to PRAWN, an organization that "went dark" or slumbered for about the past year or so.]

Personal note: Back when I was in the Navy, a Second-Class Petty Officer was in charge of two other sailors and occasionally, as all people do, made mistakes. Making mistakes is not a big thing all by itself. But the two other sailors were absolutely furious (In Navy language, they were expressing "hate and discontent") at her because she kept blaming them for her mistakes. As she outranked me, I decided to approach her indirectly, passing it on to a friend of hers, who passed it on to her, that this was seriously uncool and the problem was fixed. Naturally, there were lots and lots of times when I was "counseled" (Which can mean anything from a gentle reminder to a screaming, jumping-up-and-down, banging-one's-fist-on-the-table fit.) about dodging responsibility myself.


The point is, responsibiliy goes two ways. Subordinates are responsible to superiors, but superiors are also responsible to subordinates. A junior person has to do what they're told, but a senior person has to see to it that they don't demand anything of the junior person that they wouldn't do themselves. It is a flagrant violation of military protocol and manners for a senior person to deny that he's responsible for something and to try and pass the buck to someone else.


For the guy in charge of seeing to it that American troops have all that they need and to then not do that is called dereliction of duty


Now, if Rumsfeld wanted to claim that he just didn't understand how determined the Iraq resistance would be, that'd be fine. But what he would need to do next would be to tell us how he's going to fix it. As he's ruled out a draft (Remember his comment from early 2003: "Rumsfeld recalled that the draftees of years past had been thrown into battle with little training 'adding no value, no advantage really, to the United States Armed Services over any sustained period of time.' ") it's difficult to see how anything positive is going to happen.

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