Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock the last few days, you’ve seen the articles and watched the interviews of the six retired generals who are calling for the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumseld. A sampling of what they’ve said:
“We went to war with a flawed plan that didn’t account for the hard work to build the peace after we took down the regime. We also served under a secretary of defense who didn’t understand leadership, who was abusive, who was arrogant, who didn’t build a strong team” — Retired Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste
“My sincere view is that the commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions — or bury the results.” — Retired Marine Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold
“They only need the military advice when it satisfies their agenda. I think that’s a mistake, and that’s why I think he should resign.” — Retired Army Maj. Gen. John Riggs
“We grow up in a culture where accountability, learning to accept responsibility, admitting mistakes and learning from them was critical to us. When we don’t see that happening it worries us. Poor military judgment has been used throughout this mission.” — Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, former chief of U.S. Central Command
“I really believe that we need a new secretary of defense because Secretary Rumsfeld carries way too much baggage with him. … I think we need senior military leaders who understand the principles of war and apply them ruthlessly, and when the time comes, they need to call it like it is.” — Retired Army Maj. Gen. Charles Swannack
“He has shown himself incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically, and is far more than anyone responsible for what has happened to our important mission in Iraq. … Mr. Rumsfeld must step down.” — Retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton
On the surface, this (supposedly) uncoordinated wave of calls from top retired generals for Rummy to step down seem pretty damning, but a few of my favorite bloggers have weighed in on the issue and from those posts I get the distinct impression that these calls have more to do with a dislike by some “Old School” higher ups in the military of Rummy’s ideas about reforming the military (especially the Army) rather than issues with his handling of the war in Iraq.
Two blogposts I found of interest:
Dafydd ab Hugh at Big Lizards wrote about Rummy’s reforming of the military and speculated as to what the motivations may be behind the calling for Rummy’s resignation by the generals.
McQ, who served in the Army, takes issue with the generals because they waited til they were retired to speak out:
But I also have a problem with generals who can’t find it in themselves to risk their stars and speak out when it might make a difference, but instead wait until they’re safely retired, and essentially risk nothing.
Consider both of the above posts must reads. There’s more to this story than the press is giving you (surprising, I know )
More: In response to the barrage of criticism thrown at the Sec. of Defense, some retired generals and other military higher-ups are speaking out in support of him:
“I think what we see happening with retired general officers is bad for the military, bad for civil-military relations and bad for the country,” retired Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs under Mr. Bush, said in an interview with The Washington Times. He said he would elaborate his views in an op-ed essay.
“I’m hurt,” said retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Michael P. DeLong, who was deputy commander of U.S. Central Command during the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and briefed Mr. Rumsfeld at the Pentagon.
“When we have an administration that is currently at war, with a secretary of defense that has the confidence of the president and basically has done well — no matter what grade you put on there, he has done well — to call for his resignation right now is not good for the country,” he said. …
Retired Gen. John Keane, former Army vice chief of staff under Mr. Rumsfeld, said the secretary involved himself in war planning “just like other strong secretaries of defense.”
“Generals bring forward their campaign plans, and the civilian leaders apply their judgments,” he said. “As a result of that, those plans are changed. The secretary has done the same thing as pertains to our plans for invading Afghanistan and Iraq. In my view, this is healthy and in my view this collaboration-making is healthy and it serves the nation well.”
Add General Tommy Franks to that list.
I’m sure MSM news outlets far and wide will saturate their newspapers, news sites, and news programs with the news that some former generals actually support Rummy – it’ll rival the coverage the six who’ve come out against him.
By the way, here’s the President’s declaration of support for Rummy.
Hat tip: Captain Ed
Update I: Tom Bevan at Real Clear Politics has posted an email of support for Rummy written by a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army.
Update II: Here’s retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Michael DeLong’s opinion piece defending Rummy.