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How Rumsfeld ruined a perfectly good Army

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  • joeyxy@aol.com
    Click here: Mercury News | 09/29/2003 | How Rumsfeld ruined a perfectly good Army
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 1, 2003
      <A HREF="http://www.bayarea.com/mld/mercurynews/6887918.htm">Click here: Mercury News | 09/29/2003 | How Rumsfeld ruined a perfectly good

      <A HREF="http://www.bayarea.com/mld/mercurynews/6887918.htm">http://www.bayarea.com/mld/mercurynews/6887918.htm</A>

      Posted on Mon, Sep. 29, 2003

      How Rumsfeld ruined a perfectly good Army

      By Joseph L. Galloway

      Armies are fragile institutions, and for all their might, easily broken.

      It took the better part of 20 years to rebuild the Army from the wreckage of
      Vietnam. With the hard work of a generation of young officers, bloodied in
      Vietnam and determined that the mistake would never be repeated, a new Army rose
      from the ashes of the old, now perhaps the finest Army in history.

      In just over two years, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his civilian
      aides have done just about everything they could to destroy that Army.

      How do you break an army?

      • You can work it to death.

      Under Rumsfeld, by next spring 30 of the Army's 33 combat brigades will
      either be in Iraq or on their way home from Iraq. Some of them will come home from
      Iraq and head almost immediately to Afghanistan, Bosnia, South Korea or the
      Sinai Desert. More than 20,000 Army Reservists and National Guardsmen will be
      finishing one-year tours in Iraq, and thousands more will be called up to do
      their year. How many will re-enlist if they're faced with endless deployments on
      thankless missions?

      • You can neglect its training and education.

      With an operations tempo this high, there's little time for units to do much
      more than repair their equipment and send their soldiers home on leave with
      long-neglected families before it's time to deploy again.

      There's no time for divisions to rotate to the National Training Center at
      Fort Irwin, to maneuver their Abrams tanks and Bradleys and train to win the
      wars. There's no time for non-commissioned officers -- the sergeants who are the
      backbone of any great army -- to go to the schools they need to get better at
      their jobs and earn promotions.

      • You can politicize the Army promotion system for three- and four-star

      Rumsfeld and his civilian aides such as Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith and
      his military handmaidens have intruded deeply and harmfully into the way the
      services promote their leaders.

      Where once the Army would send up its nominee for a vacant billet, now it
      must send up two or three candidates who must run the gantlet of personal
      interviews in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Not just Rumsfeld, but all of
      his civilian experts who never wore a uniform. What hoops must the successful
      one jump through? Will it be the tough, bright candidate who's unafraid to
      speak when he sees mistakes being made? Or will it be the buttoned-down,
      willow-in-the-wind, can-do yes-man?

      • You can decide that you've discovered a newer, cheaper way of fighting and
      winning America's wars.

      Rumsfeld and company have embraced, on the basis of a fleeting success in
      Afghanistan and a flawed success in Iraq, a theory that all that's needed to win
      wars is air power and small bands of Special Operations troops. On the
      strength of this, they've refused all pleas for an urgently needed increase in the
      strength of an Army that has been whittled down to pre-World War II levels of
      485,000 soldiers. They still deny that there's a guerrilla war raging in Iraq,
      where 130,000 American soldiers are trying to keep the peace in a nation the
      size of California with 25 million people.

      Another defense secretary who could not admit he'd erred was Robert McNamara,
      who, like Rumsfeld, was recruited from corporate America. By the time he did,
      it was too late.

      JOSEPH L. GALLOWAY is the senior military correspondent for Knight Ridder

      © 2003 Mercury News and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

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