In defense of Rummy: Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Michael DeLong

Posted by: ST on April 16, 2006 at 7:18 pm

I first linked to DeLong’s defense of Rummy in this post, but thought it deserved it’s own post. Key portions of DeLong’s defense of Rummy (with emphasis added):

Mr. Rumsfeld did not like waste, which caused some grumbling among the military leadership even before 9/11. He knew that many of the operational plans we had on the books dated back to the 1990’s (some even to the late 80’s), and he wanted them updated for an era of a more streamlined, technological force. He asked us all: “Can we do it better, and can we do it with fewer people?”

Sometimes General Franks and I answered yes, other times we answered no. When we said no, there was a discussion; but when we told him what we truly needed, we got it. I never saw him endangering troops by insisting on replacing manpower with technology. In both Afghanistan and Iraq, we always got what we, the commanders, thought we needed.

This is why the much-repeated claims that Mr. Rumsfeld didn’t “give us enough troops” in Iraq ring hollow. First, such criticisms ignore that the agreed-upon plan was for a lightning operation into Baghdad. In addition, logistically it would have been well nigh impossible to bring many more soldiers through the bottleneck in Kuwait. And doing so would have carried its own risk: you cannot sustain a fighting force of 300,000 or 500,000 men for long, and it would have left us with few reserves, putting our troops at risk in other parts of the world. Given our plan, we thought we had the right number of troops to accomplish our mission.

The outcome and ramifications of a war, however, are impossible to predict. Saddam Hussein had twice opened his jails, flooding the streets with criminals. The Iraqi police walked out of their uniforms in the face of the invasion, compounding domestic chaos. We did not expect these developments.

We also — collectively — made some decisions in the wake of the war that could have been better. We banned the entire Baath Party, which ended up slowing reconstruction (we should probably have banned only high-level officials); we dissolved the entire Iraqi Army (we probably should have retained a small cadre help to rebuild it more quickly). We relied too much on the supposed expertise of the Iraqi exiles like Ahmad Chalabi who assured us that once Saddam Hussein was gone, Sunni Arabs, Shiites and Kurds would unite in harmony.

But that doesn’t mean that a “What’s next?” plan didn’t exist. It did; it was known as Phase IV of the overall operation. General Franks drafted it and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the State Department, the Pentagon, the Treasury Department and all members of the Cabinet had input. It was thoroughly “war-gamed” by the Joint Chiefs.

Thus, for distinguished officers to step forward and, in retrospect, pin blame on one person is wrong. And when they do so in a time of war, the rest of the world watches.

The latest retired general to join the “fire Rummy” chorus is none other than former Democratic presidential hopeful Wesley Clark. I didn’t find Clark remotely credible during his attempt to win the Democratic nomination for president and my opinion on him hasn’t changed. As to the other generals weighing in, I’d heard from retired and current military folks prior to the supposedly uncoordinated wave of callings for Rummy’s resignation that Rummy wasn’t well received amongst some career military brass – mainly in the Army – specifically because of his attempts at streamlining the military. DeLong’s opinion piece backs that up.

Many of you may remember that during the Democratic presidential campaign while the race to win the nomination was hot, there were statements from a few of the candidates that one of the first things they’d do as president would be to fire Attorney General John Ashcroft. Don’t be surprised if, in the coming months, we see stepped up efforts on the part of Democratic incumbents in the House and Senate (or those trying to win seats in one or the other) to push for Rummy’s resignation, with the more than willing aid of the mainstream press, of course. Ashcroft was the evil boogeyman who was (paraphrasing) ‘trying to take away our freedoms’, and now that Ashcroft is gone, a new boogeyman is needed and the calls by the retired generals for Rummy’s firing/resignation I think will be too tempting for hopeful Democrats to ignore. Jumping on the ‘dump Rummy’ bandwagon will make them look like they ‘support’ the military at a time when the public’s perception on Iraq is that it wasn’t a war worth fighting while a few retired military generals blame all of Iraq’s woes on Sec. of Defense Rumsfeld.

There have been a few negative rumblings in the last couple of years about Rummy from some Democrats in the House and Senate. Look for those to become amplified now that they have some high-ranking retired generals essentially saying the same thing they did.

BTW, here are LTG DeLong’s credentials (via the Washington Times): deputy commander of U.S. Central Command during the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq – briefed Mr. Rumsfeld at the Pentagon.

Update I: Why does this not surprise me? (Hat tip: Joe Gandelman)

Update II: Here’s more, from retired Air Force Gen. and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld did not intimidate members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during planning of the Iraq war as some retired generals have charged, a former chairman said Sunday.

With Rumsfeld described by his critics as a micromanager who did not listen to military leaders, the Pentagon circulated a one-page memo late last week detailing the defense secretary’s frequent contacts with numerous military and civilian advisers.

Richard B. Myers, the Air Force general who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs from 2001 until last fall, dismissed criticism that military leaders failed to stand up to Rumsfeld and President Bush when they disagreed with those civilian officials.

“We gave him our best military advice and I think that’s what we’re obligated to do,” Myers said on “This Week” on ABC. “If we don’t do that, we should be shot.”

A half-dozen retired generals have called for Rumsfeld’s ouster, citing mistakes in the conduct of the war in Iraq. Some have suggested that intimidation by Rumsfeld kept military leaders quiet even when they thought policies were flawed.

“You’d have to believe that everybody in the chain of command is intimidated, and I don’t believe that,” Myers said. He added that Rumsfeld allowed “tremendous access” for presenting arguments.

“In our system, when it’s all said and done … the civilians make the decisions,” he said. “And we live by those decisions.”

The Pentagon memo, which was not dated or signed, put onto paper information that had been provided orally to reporters on Friday. It is not unusual for the Defense Department to distribute such information to analysts, military officials and others who might be reporting or commenting on a Pentagon policy.

Senior military leaders “are involved to an unprecedented degree in every decision-making process” in the Defense Department, according to the memo. Rumsfeld, it said, had met 139 times with members of the joint chiefs and 208 times with combat commanders from 2005 to the present.

Update III: ST reader sanity has a great post up that puts the hyping of the six (now actually seven) retired generals who are think Rummy should go in perspective by informing us just how many generals we actually have in the military.

Read more via QandO, Don Surber, Rantingprofs, Publius Rendezvous

Related Toldjah So post:

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  • The Moderate Voice trackbacked with GOP And Pentagon Circling The Wagons Around Rumsfeld
  • 19 Responses to “In defense of Rummy: Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Michael DeLong”


    1. stackja1945 says:

      Are there too many generals? Too much spare time between decisions to think up criticism? Fewer generals more soldiers?

    2. – Notice they “spread it out a bit”, no doubt to leave the public with the impression their contentuous comments were wide spread among the military brass. Why do I smell a Democratic rat somewhere behind this?

      – Every week its some new lame brained attack, and with each revelation of the scam under the lies, the left reaches a new low. I’m convinced that as the truth of each of these ScamGates becomes public, the left will suffer more defeats at the ballot box. With the advent of widespread high speed communications, chiefly in the form of hundreds of heavily read blogsites, the playing field and game rules have shifted (Recall RatherGate), but the left seems to be caught in oldtime political strategies. then again since they have no party plan, maybe smear campaigns are their only option.

      – The purpose behind the Rhummy attacks are simple. Discredit the chief architect, and your screeds against the war may gain some gravitas. Problem is if the truth comes out you stand to lose a lot more than you can gain. Since the left is something like 0 and 23 against Bush/Rove (soon to be 0 and 24 when Fitzy and his witch hunt crash) they apparently need a refresher course in modern political gaming. Hopefully they won’t bother.

      – Bang **==

    3. tom says:

      Whiz-Bang, you smell a rat because you live amongst them. Anyone that can defend the party of BushCo and Delay is putting politics ahead of their country. While you keep political score (not very well), this country is going down the toilet.
      It boils down to this. Rumsfeld is the CEO of the defense dept – top of the pyramid and ultimate decision maker. Whether he made the decisions, or he did defer them to his generals, his ‘messy’ war has not gone well. Who is responsible, if not the man at the top?
      I like the idea of down-sizing our out of control Military too, but last I checked he hasn’t been successful doing that either.
      tom BushCo + **== = <):)

    4. – Well Tom, if we didn’t have the stupid, partisan on-going “EverythingGate” scams by the asshat Liberals, we wouldn’t need to keep score.

      “While you keep political score (not very well), this country is going down the toilet.”

      – Since the right isn’t attacking anyone politically, who exactly is it thats so damn desperate to regain power they’re willing to hurt the country for their own partisan reasons again?

      – Your claims are pure BS. You’re on the outside looking in with the motive, and selfish agenda that drives you. The right has no such need Sparky. Get a clue. The only thing dumber than making assinine claims, is thinking anyone with a working brain cell is buying it.

      – Bang **==

    5. steve says:

      “asshat Liberals”,”since the Right isn’t attacking anyone politically”, Bang, your kidding right? Peace

    6. Baklava says:

      Attacking someone’s policy and their ideas and solutions isn’t attacking like the left does.

      The left attacks whether someone “cares”, “is for peace” (ala Steve), “is racist”, “is greedy” (ala Steve), etc.

      As if you lefties even take time to hear what is on our minds. There are some on the right who do attack personally but there is an EXTREME amount on the left who attack personally. Just look at the blogs and bumper stickers. Re-defeat Bush says it all. Isn’t it great. Casting aspersions on whether or not Bush stole the election.

      You people need to start learning to debate ideas and solutions without hating so much. Hear me Steve? Hate doesn’t lead to peace.

    7. PCD says:

      tom, comments from Daily Kos don’t play well here. We like something like facts to back up arguments, and the baggage people like you carry is enormous. Your term, “BushCo”, is meant to connote corporate corruption in political office. People like you were silent, if not cheering on, the Clintons’ rape of the government and national security in the name of campaign contributions.

    8. tom says:

      PCD –
      First of all you assume I support the Democrats. I don’t. Unfortunately, the two-party system this country has makes us choose between the lesser of two evils.
      Yes, “BushCo” is meant to connote corporate corruption in political office. What else do call the huge influence (understatement here) that corporate america has on this adminstration – and members of both parties in Congress. I could label the whole Republic caucus as “BushCo” because they’ve rubber-stamped all of this administration’s corporate-friendly initiatives until America finally woke up and his ratings went in the toilet.
      And you ask for facts? That’s something this administrations been pretty short on. Anyway, I’m not the “ass-hat”? that’s alleging a grand left-wing conspiracy orchestrating Rumsveld being discredited. I was simply responding to Whiz-Bang’s posting. Apparently only postings that disagree with you need use facts.


    9. sanity says:

      is putting politics ahead of their country.

      Unfortunately this refers more to the Democrats than anything else. They have a habit of obstructionism, putting politics ahead of national security…ect.

      There is a reason why they are always called weak on national security. There is a reason why after 6 years, the Democrats still do not have a plan, except to play the ‘we aren’t Bush’.

      I hate to say it, but Democrats should put Bill Clinton in for Dean, he would have made a much better person to fill that slot. They also need ot drop the Bush-hate rhetoric, because he is not up for re-election, and if they hinge their hope for regaining power on we are not Bush when he isn’t running, they will lose.

      When you think of putting politics ahead of your country, Democrats are the first ones I think of when I hear that statement.

    10. – I notice the moonbats never talk to the main point. They’re out of power and feeling it, so naturally they’ll try anything. Its down right wonderous watching the tap dancing and scrambled rhetoric as they try to deny the obvious. All the adhominen personal attacks, the Liberal polito-rags that print all their lies and “AnythingGate” scams. I suppose in a gaggle of people that can’t begin to seperate their “feelings” from their politics its only natural. What isn’t natural is all the pitiful, feckless denial. Then theres that annoying lack of any party plan. All in all, its not a good time to be a Socialist.

      – Bang **==

    11. tom says:

      They have a habit of obstructionism, putting politics ahead of national security…

      I think it’s fair to say both this is true for both parties. Espescially true for whichever is the minority party at the time.

      There is a reason why they are always called weak on national security.

      I’m curious about this reason. Is it based on perception?, or facts? Have we been attacked by our enemies more under Dem leadership?

      the Democrats still do not have a plan

      Actually they’ve announced a “Five-Point Plan” offering a “Bold New Direction”. We could argue whether they have a good plan, or how successful they’ve been publicizing it, but they do have plan.

      Bang – “AnythingGates” are not new for ANY administration, where were you during WHITEWATERGATE, and LEWINSKYGATE. Not to mention Watergate, IranContraGate, etc, etc. That’s just “modern political gaming”, so quit your whining. I’m still waiting for evidence from you that the Democratic Party have somehow persuaded 4 retired generals to coreograph the timing of their statements in opposition of Rumsveld. And please, don’t let your “feelings” influence your answer. You might be considered a -gasp! – “moonbat”.

    12. Baklava says:

      When was that “Five Point Plan” issued? :) Just recently. And what does the solution for Iraq say? :) I’ll leave that question for you to answer.

      “Bold New Direction”? :) Or giving in to the enemy and letting Iraq fall to peices? Are you proud of the Five Point Plan? Is it something you are willing to stand up for and say this is what I want and what I want to vote for?

    13. – Lets see. The late, great “five point plan”. Ah yes.

      #1. Threaten to Leave Iraq.
      #2. Make planes to leave Iraq yesterday.
      #3. thru #5. Leave iraq.

      – Great plan. Nice and simple, and simpleminded unfortunately.

      – Bang **==

    14. tom says:

      I agree that the Dems do a poor job publicizing their agenda. This administration has been stealing the headlines lately.

      1. Honest Leadership and Open Govt.
      Seems like a good start to me. Yes, both parties have had problems with corruption scandals, but any objective person must admit, the Republic party is rife with them now. Take your pick – Abramhoff, Delay, Libby, etc. Also, by most accounts, this has been the most closed administration in recent history. This country can see thru the Orwellian spin this adminstration gives to its business freindly initiatives. “Blue Skies”? Give me a break. “Healthy Forests”? more like no forests. At least call it what it is. Maybe “Cheap Energy” instead of Blue Skies.

      2. Real Security
      This one’s a tough sell for the Dems. However, average Joe is beginning to finally understand that while we flush billions down the drain ‘spreadin freedom’ in Iraq, we have serious security shortcomings at home. The simplistic, simpleminded argument of “wouldn’t your rather fight the terrorists there” just isn’t cutting it.

      3. Job in America that will Stay in America
      I’m not of the isolationist, protectist persuasion- so I don’t agree with this point. This policy will hurt business and therefore the economy.

      4. A Strong Public Education System
      Long a tenet of the Dem positions, and unlike security, one of their strong suits.

      5. A HealthCare System that Works for Everyone
      This is a problem that’s not going away, and the Dems will pounce on Bush’s Medicare Drug Plan that many Republicans aren’t happy with either.

      Admittedly, this 5-point plan has no specific unified solution for the Iraq problem that was created by this administration. How do you fix this clusterf*@k? Personally, I say we get DO out of Iraq, get real focus at home on energy independence and let that whole region sort out it’s politics. As it’s societies open up and become educated, these countries will become less radical. We can’t hope to solve their problems for them. We’ve got plenty of our own- our national debt is not getting smaller.

      You want to stay in Iraq at any cost? Just so the “enemy doesn’t win”. Who is our enemy now anyway? I would say we’ve become our own enemy.


    15. Baklava says:

      1) Honest leadership and open government. Yes. That is what we had for 54 years of Democrat Control of the House. And that is what we have now with the minority leader Harry Reid and his laundry list of false allegations and Abramoff money and letters charging “culture of corruption”. We should have an honest debate between conservatives and liberals but we don’t. We have liberals accusing conservatives of “not caring” and being “racist” and “against the poor” and any other half baked charge you can come up with without dealing with the substance of conservative solutions.

      2) Security. Very complex issue. Both Democrats and Republicans have good ideas on security however Democrats seem more interested in demagoguing Republicna as if they are interested in “scoring” points. To the detriment of this nation. On many issues also. I do not beleive “finishing” the job in Iraq is harmful to us. To the contrary. It is advantageous to us. This is a well thought out opinion of mine. To just dismiss it would be unwise Tom. My question would be, if we leave Iraq too early and the region is over run by Syrian, Iranian and Baathist terrorists how would that be good for security or our reputation in the world.

      3) Job in America that will stay in America – Nice populist line that appeals to many but what is the “solution”? Ford has plants in Canada and Mexico. Honda has plants in America. Do you give a tax break to Honda and a tax rate hike to Ford? How do you micromanage companies hiring decisions. If Dell wants to erect a call center in India for technical support what is the solution. Consumers should be the solution. That is what capitalism is. The definition of capitalism is the economic system where people choose who gets what resources. Government choosing who gets what resources is the reason why France hasn’t had any new company break into their top 40 companies for over half a century. Our top 40 companies always fluctuates.

      4) A strong public education system – A lot of hyperbole I see. My opinion. You take the states that spend the most on public education and see that performance does not follow. Period. Accusations abound and yet federal funding during the Bush administration of education spending has skyrocketed. THe legacy drive by media helps perpetuate false allegations and people drive around with bumper stickers that say, “If you think education is expensive Try ignorance”. I once was at a rally where this protester woman wore a shirt that said that in CA. I asked her if she knew how much CA spends on educations. She didn’t. I informed her (at the time) that it was 51% of CA’s budget. That means that ALL other budget items combined is less than the education budget in CA. Accusations about in CA by Democrats that Arnold cut education spending when black and white figures show that every year CA has spent MORE on education and the dollar amount is controlled by the Democrat legislature. Arnold didn’t veto those spending bills or budgets. Period. Conservative ideas to strengthen education by injecting competition with vouchers is based in the desire to improve education for everyone. If Public education has over $8,000 per pupil and $4,000 is given to a parent for a private school that leaves $4,000 in the public system for a non-existant kid and that kid is better educated and the public school system can either refocus and teach better with less kids or picket and strike.

      5) A health care system that works for everyone – I’ve talked about this before. I kind of lost steam. But this was an issue during Clinton. He had 40 million uninsured people in America also. During the Democrat controlled Congress of 93 they tried to tackle it but the American people didn’t like the solutions being talked about AND FOR GOOD REASON. Market based reforms are what is needed. Injecting the market place is what is needed. It used to be that health insurance was for catastrophic coverage (i.e. Major health problems or accidents). Now people expect the insurance company to pay for everything as if money is magically appearing. So.. People pay the insurance company and there is administrative costs associated with the insurance companies hiring call centers, lots of people, large computer systems and the IT people, etc and then spending the rest on medical care for people. If we can get back to people not expecting $10 copays and paying for EVERYTHING except catastophic problems with large costs then we can LOWER health costs instead of having them skyrocket every year at double the rate of inflation.

      Your last two paragraphs Tom suggest that you are not using logic and common sense as well as reading alternative view points other than the drive by legacy media view points. Trust me. I know. I once was a liberal.

      Listening to the false allegations everyday will do nothing but get you to HATE conservatives and BELIEVE that the war in Iraq which was voted for by Democrats also should be abandoned (which would be the worst thing this country did since Vietnam).

    16. tom says:

      Come on, Baklava. If you’re going to call your opinions objective and well-thought out- which they mostly appear to be- you’ve got to concede that this congress and it’s K-Street Project are a problem. By all accounts they’ve taken it to extremes not seen before, and it’s gotten some of them in trouble. Trying to tie Abramhoff money to Dems can’t be done and is just using the they-do-it-too excuse. Weak argument. By the way, “half-baked charges” are not entirely the purvey of the left. Both sides have their share of this. I occasionally listen to Limbaugh, et al, spout off their half-baked charges too. Honest Leadership is the Demcrat’s first point for a reason – it WILL play well with the public.

      You asked “if we leave Iraq too early and the region is over run by Syrian, Iranian and Baathist terrorists how would that be good for security or our reputation in the world.” Hello? It already IS overun with terrorists, and this war is the reason it is. See Jan WaPo article “Iraq New Terror Breeding Ground”. Our troops on their soil is the magnet drawing in new terrorists. By staying we create more terrorists. I’d love to hear your well thought out opinion on this issue.

      I agree with you on Jobs, point three. I would add that we need to be careful with trade agreements like CAFTA and NAFTA so that they do not allow US companies to exploit the people and resources of our partners.

      States pay over 90% of their education. I’m not sure what the numbers are on spending vs performance, but if you’re looking at just Fed spending, it’s not a large enough portion to draw conclusions. Also, where the State is located makes a juge difference. I’m guessing CA would need to spend more per pupil than most states to get equivalent results because of their large minority population. The Feds contribution of less than 10% supplements States to pay for costly mandates like No Child Left Behind. The Heritage Foundations states “while only about 7 percent of local education funding comes from Washington, D.C., that funding brings with it more than half of the mandates and red tape faced by local schools. A reform-minded alternative approach would empower those closest to the student to make decisions about his or her education”. The Fed has more than doubled spending since 1990. This sounds like throwing money and beuracracy at the problem. “Lack of money is not the problem. Increased funding has not led to increased achievement. Over the past three decades, per-pupil education spending has doubled, but test scores have remained stagnant.”-Heritage Foundation. I agree with you on vouchers and private schools. My state, MN, consistently ranks among the top 5 in education opened the first charter school in the nation 15 years ago.

      You left an important component of that cost out of your list (call-centers, IT, etc): profit. The largest 20 HMOs made $10.8 billion in profits in 2004. The worlds 13 largest Drug companies: $62 bil. $-) What do Drug Companies spend on R&D?, less than 20% of Revenue. They spend nearly twice is much on SG&A. Clearly not efficient. And their influence on where your tax dollars go? For the first six months of 2005, the health care industry outpaced all other sectors in federal lobbying, spending over $164 million to influence legislation, according to Political Money Line. Drug companies regularly top the spending charts. The government currently pays (directly or indirectly) more than half the cost of health care (see Medicare/Medicaid). For the most part, private insurers add cost and suck out the value. The insure the healthiest portion of the population leaving the taxpayer to foot the bill for the rest. Employer paid healthcare now covers less than 35%, half what it was in the 20 years ago.

      And please tell me how my last paragraphs don’t use common sense. Spare me the “I once was lost” and now I see the light BS. You offered me no argument on why we shouldn’t get out of Iraq, only a question, which I answered in this post. Where are my false allegations? You’re the one trying to tie Abramhoff to Democrats. I don’t HATE conservatives so quit labeling me. Is there ANYTHING the Republican party has done wrong, or that don’t agree with? Anything at all? Didn’t think so.

    17. PCD says:

      tom, sure you are not a liberal shill. Just like the DFL didn’t censor an ad from Iraq veterans and a mother who lost her son in Iraq because the ad supports Bush and not the Democrat cut and run meme.

      The Donkeycrats are nothing but shysters and liars. How many times do you have to be shown that?

    18. tom says:

      I’m Green. I voted for Nader. I’d agree with more of the Dem party platforms than those of the Republicans. I think both major political parties are mostly liars and shysters.

      Anyway, does it matter? Or is this one of those far-right blogs that only allow other conservatives to post and commiserate on their president’s poor ratings?

      Are you refering to the ad bankrolled by the conservative advocacy group Progress for America which featured testimonials from Minnesota veterans defending U.S. war policy in Iraq interspersed with images of the 9/11 terrorist attacks? The same ad that makes the ridiculous statement “Where do you want to fight terrorists? [pause] We want to fight them and destroy them in Iraq.” (see my previous posting). Still trying to connect 9/11 Al Qaeda to Iraq, huh? The ad didn’t get much traction here. Minnesotans can recognize bullshit even if they wrap it in an American flag.