As many of you know, I was an enlisted man in the Navy. As many of you who have served know, there is a wall between enlisted men and the officer class. A wall designed out of a need to maintain troop discipline, and a wall built on one group being more "important" than the other.
As I've also written before, there are good officers and there are those who think anyone not an officer shouldn't be in the same room with them. They believe they are better than everyone else. They believe the know more than everyone else. At the end of the day, it's all about them. For some, this is one of those days.
"We all agree there were mistakes made. Things happened we didn't anticipate…. We share in that responsibility."
- Retired Gen. John Jumper, Air Force chief of staff during the Iraq war
We now have retired ex-generals going to the suddenly friendly media, bashing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the Iraq war strategy. Now while I don't know if they're all soon to be shopping books and are testing the waters, or now have a sudden case of conscience, if these generals were true to their oaths, there would be no way they'd be squawking publicly today. But again, as we're talking about some in the officer class with egos as big as aircraft carriers, so anything is possible.
The reason I question their motives is because I can't see what good can come from this Monday morning quarterbacking.
Love, Media Style
Of course, to bash President Bush makes one an instant star with the mainstream media. But I wonder what's made these generals now want to come forward.
Many of these generals have been in combat strategy formulation situations before, and some were even involved Iraq war strategy. For them to come out now criticizing Rumsfeld and the war planning is counterproductive at the least. Hypocritical at best. Opportunistic, to say the worst.
"Everyone is assuming and agreeing we botched this. We're all agreeing this is not going to go down as one of the nation's great accomplishments. It's bad for (the Bush administration's) place in history."
- Michael O'Hanlon, a military analyst with the Brookings Institution, critical of the retired generals' speaking out against Rumsfeld
Forgive me for, as a lowly former enlisted, telling a highly-decorated general my insignificant opinion without permission, but what they hell do they think their public strategy outbursts could be doing for troop morale? It's one thing for a strategy-ignorant Cindy Sheehan to make irresponsible, highly-publicized statements during a time of war, but when former supposed military leaders are involved in hit pieces, just what is the soldier on the ground supposed to think when seeing six retired generals pictured on the front page of last Friday's New York Times? These generals publicly criticized the Secretary of Defense's handling of the Iraq war and called for his resignation. If this isn't a gift to the anti-war left and the terrorist insurgency, what the hell is?
When the media is given such raw meat, these generals have to know what this is going to do to the debate; a debate we have no business engaging in during a time of war and they know it.
What would happen to conversation here in our coffee shops if we were to see video or news stories of terrorist planners saying that their schemes to stop the American liberation of Iraq was a failure? What would we be talking about if Osama went on al Jezzeera and claimed his strategy wasn't working and his people incompetent?
The American people would be upbeat, we would be quoting Osama, laughing at is apparent squirming and pending doom. Our troops would be upbeat with the knowledge that they'd soon be coming home victorious.
"If we knew the insurgency would emerge, the occupying force would have changed. Those additional forces could have been in the queue."
- Retired Gen. John Keane, vice chief of staff of the Army during Iraq war planning
So what should we think the morale of the terrorists must be after watching Cindy Sheehan, Randi Rhodes, Hollywood actors, Democracy Now!, Dan Rather, Katie Couric, the Daily Kos, and now six retired generals saying yet again that we, in essence, are losing the war? Might we accurately conclude they may have just received another shot of adrenaline that will make constructing one more roadside bomb worth their while?
What's going through the heads of ex-CIA agents, ex-military officials, and the like who shop books and give tell-alls to the media that detail standard operating procedures and even more covert operations? Maybe they should just call al Qaeda and tell them what to expect next.
When's Osama bin Laden's book coming out so we can read the behind-the-scenes scoop behind suicide bombings and the planned political turmoil that would most likely occur by blowing up mosques while American troops are in the vicinity? When is Muqtada al-Sadr going to sit down with Matt Lauer and describe all the shortfalls of planning, and the piss poor logistics coming from Iran?
"The finger-pointing over Iraq has begun. We have a disaster on our hands and the generals don't want to be held accountable."
- Retired Col. Douglas Macgregor, defense analyst consulted on war planning while in the Army
It's not going to happen because our enemy obviously realizes that war is fought on a battlefield and not on the set of The Situation Room or the front page of The Times. Instead, we have self-serving, narcissistic, national policy and security types going off half-cocked and ratting out their own side to the worldwide press while young men and women are in theater, dodging bullets and watching where they step.
I don't know these generals, but as a citizen and veteran, I can and will judge these irresponsible, opportunistic men.
If they knew there was a possibility of an insurgency, they should have spoken up and made contingency plans at the appropriate time. Criticism after the fact, and in the safety of civilian life, is shameful at best, especially while our troops are in harms way.
If they didn't know there would be an insurgency and it eventually occurred, they should have devised a plan to use overwhelming force, removed the embedded reporters, and fought the war to win, not to win a media-driven, public relations conflict.
These generals should have been more concerned with winning decisively and quickly, not how war and the atrocities inherent would play on The Nightly News. Instead, they now opt to give themselves celebrity status amongst the media and anti-war left. They've chosen to whistle blow on their own nation during a time of war, something that if I were to do as an enlisted, would have me investigated and hassled until I wound up crying in front of Amy Goodman.
Until we decide to WIN this thing, al Qaeda will watch our news reports carefully. They are observing, documenting, and retooling their strategy daily depending on the evolving frowns and negative-speak issued by our media, and now ex-military personnel.