Rumsfeld under attack: The back story
Six retired generals say they don’t like Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) Donald Rumsfeld. Why? One, because they don’t like his Pentagon shake-up and, secondly, because Secretary Rumsfeld doesn’t believe service academy graduates (ring-knockers) have a Divine Right to the military’s top leadership positions.
On Rumsfeld’s initial Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), only one of the service chiefs was a service academy graduate. JCS Chairman, General Richard Myers, was a ROTC graduate from Kansas State and the Chief of Naval Operations was an Officer Candidate School (OCS) graduate. When Rumsfeld wanted the Army to stop obsessing about Soviet tanks, he sought a new Army Chief of Staff with a background in Special Operations.
Rumsfeld rejected the recommendations of the largely West Point curia of four-star generals, passed over a bunch of active-duty Army generals, and got an already retired, University of Wyoming, four-star general with a strong Special Operations background to return to active duty. Later, Rumsfeld selected ROTC graduate, General George W. Casey, Jr., to be our overall commander in Iraq. Then, he broke tradition by naming the first-ever Marine to chair the JCS—albeit from Annapolis.
Rumsfeld insists that the ground forces include more highly mobile, light-infantry Brigades commanded by one-star generals and fewer of the much more ponderous and less mobile Divisions commanded by two-star generals. Obviously, a SECDEF who eliminates two-star positions does so at the risk of enraging those who wanted to be two-star Division commanders.
One of the criticisms aimed at Secretary Rumsfeld, General Myers and General Tommy Franks was that they didn’t go into Afghanistan and Iraq with sufficient forces. So, why didn’t they assemble same amount of force as did Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney; JCS Chairman, General Colin Powell, and the 1991 Gulf War commander, General Norman Schwarzkopf?
Cheney, Powell and Schwarzkopf still had the forces left over from the huge President Reagan defense build-up. But Rumsfeld, Myers and Franks had only what was left after President Clinton had decimated our armed forces over eight years and had transferred much of their funding to social programs.
Could the aftermath of Operation Iraqi Freedom have gone better? You bet. We could have left the Iraqi armed forces (sans its generals) intact. But then, the Left and its hand maidens in the Sinistra Media would have harkened back to how General Eisenhower and the Truman Administration left so many Nazis in position of authority in post-war Germany.
The only Rumsfeld critic of any importance is strategic thinker and retired Army Lt. Colonel Ralph Peters. When Rumsfeld became SECDEF, Peters was not picked to be one of Rumsfeld’s key advisors. Probably because Peters had been the protégé of Clinton favorite and drug Czar, retired General Barry R. McCaffrey. Understandably, Rumsfeld did not take Peters into his inner circle. That’s unfortunate; however, that’s the way of Washington.
Peters complains that funding the hugely expensive F-22 fighter-interceptor was not a good War on Terror investment. Maybe, not. But Rumsfeld sees two major threats: Al Qaeda in the near term and Red China, with its growing air-defense capabilities and its nuclear-missile submarines, in the longer term. Even so, Rumsfeld has drawn praise from Peters for the emphasis Rumsfeld is placing on Special Operations, Special Forces, the Delta Force and Navy SEALS.
Three of the six complainers are ring-knockers, another was canned for contractor irregularities and all were Clinton protégés. Meanwhile, Retired Marine Lt. General Michael DeLong, who dealt one-on-one several times a day with Rumsfeld during Operation Iraqi Freedom, says, “Dealing with Secretary Rumsfeld is like dealing with a CEO… You’ve got to be prepared. You’ve got to know what you’re talking about… That’s the way he is, and he’s effective.” In his memoir, American Soldier, Ft. Sill OCS graduate, General Tommy Franks, writes admiringly of Donald Rumsfeld.
Apparently, Air Force OCS-graduate, George W. Bush, understands what’s behind the attacks on Secretary Rumsfeld and is standing by his (Princeton NROTC and former naval aviator) Secretary of Defense.
William Hamilton, a syndicated columnist, a featured commentator for USA Today and self-described “recovering lawyer and philosopher,” is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy and The Panama Conspiracy – two thrillers about terrorism directed against the United States.
©2006. William Hamilton.