An Interview with Donald Rumsfeld

Oh, not me. Heck I wish. I am not that big of a blogger yet. haha. 

No it was a fellow milblogger and friend, McQ over at www.blackfive.net. Not that Blackfive needs links from me as they probably get more readers on a day than I get in a week. But this one is a good read that I wanted to let my readers know about. McQ had a chance to sit down and spend an hour with the former SecDef along with a few other conservative website bloggers. If you get a second head over to http://www.blackfive.net/main/2011/02/lunch-with-secdef-rumsfeld.html and give it a read. 

I Told You So, why doesn’t the President read Bouhammer?

You know if the President and the policy makers that surround him would just read and consult with milblogs like this one, Mudville Gazette, Blackfive, Afghan Quest and many others then we could save him the embarrassment of having us say “I told you so“.

When the President announced his new Afghanistan plan on 1 December, 2009, I and many other milblogs came out and started talking(http://www.bouhammer.com/2009/12/a-logistical-challenge-is-an-understatement/) (almost shouting) (http://www.bouhammer.com/2009/12/this-afghanistan-timetable-is-crazy/) how that was such an unrealistic timetable. Even my fellow Bouhammer Blogger, The Dude, put up his insight and opinions (http://www.bouhammer.com/2009/12/dear-mr-president/). Not that we are smarter than anyone else, I mean even his own SecDef started doing damage control the next day.

Well bad news does not get better with time, so it is no surprise that it was about now (February) when the truth finally was admitted (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/02/02/pentagon-schedule-deploying-troops-afghanistan/) and to those in the Administration, the truth hurts.


When in Command, COMMAND

“When in Command, COMMAND!” Those were the words of Admiral Nimitz during the battle of Midway in WWII. There are a lot of things going on today with Afghanistan and I need to catch up. But the bottom line is this, last week CJCS ADM Mullen started laying the groundwork because he read the report from Gen McChrystal.

Today the Washington Post released an almost complete copy of the assessment report from Gen. McChrystal to SecDef Gates. I said over a month ago that rumors were coming out that McChrystal would ask for upwards of 40,000 more troops. Now it appears those rumors were true and in the report McChrystal makes it clear that his opinion is that more troops are needed or the mission in Afghanistan will fail.

I need to take some time and read the entire report today which can be found here, http://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/documents/Assessment_Redacted_092109.pdf?sid=ST2009092003140

But until I get time to actually read it and post my opinion, please take a few moments and read my friend Greyhawk’s assessment of it. http://www.mudvillegazette.com/032628.html

 

I promise there will be more on this later today or tonight.

Take time to do it right rather than do it over

I am glad to see our military leadership do it the right way rather than the way the Presidential Administration does things. The current administration seems to like the approach of talking and making decisions before knowing all the facts (shutting down Gitmo, not keeping terrorists in prison forever, pulling out of Iraq within one year). All of those examples are ones that were said by the President during campaign time and then changed once he got in office.

I know, this blog entry is starting to sound like it should be on www.militarypundits.com and not here, but the point I am trying to make is that the SecDef and GEN McChrystal are at least taking their time to get the Afghanistan War review right the first time. Rather than putting out bad info and having to go back and re-work it again.

www.military.com/news/article/pentagon-delays-afghan-war-review.htm

 

Here is the bottom line, the administration fired GEN McKiernan and replaced him with GEN McChrystal after only 11 months on the job. They said McChrystal was the right man and the smartest man for the job (I think he is probably one of the best our country has right now also). So whatever GEN McChrystal asks for, he has to get. HAS TO!!

I mean how can he not get it. If the guy says he wants to replace all the MRAPs with pink and purple VW bugs then the administration has to give it to him. Of course that is sarcasm. But if he does ask for the 4-6 additional brigades (20,000 troops on top of what is there now) as is rumored, then the administration has no choice but give it to him. How can they put a guy in there who is the best one for the job and then second guess him? They will get chewed up in the press and in the election booth if they try.

So I am not sure why the report is delayed. Maybe the SecDef wants the General to re-check numbers or sharpen his pencil. Maybe the SecDef wants a different direction. Who knows, but the bottom line is that whatever comes out in that report will be the way our country takes this war. There is nobody in the service of this Federal Government that is qualified to second guess Gen McChrystal, the man put into place by the President himself.

Is there a strategy?

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/International/08-May-2009/No-time-limit-for-US-strategy-in-Afghanistan

“A 94.2 billion dollar war funding bill before the House of Representatives imposes no time limit for the US strategy in Afghanistan…”

I have not commented a lot lately on the McKiernan to McChrystal switch out in Afghanistan as I have been doing some research and giving it some thought. I have never met either man and would be honored to, if I am ever given a chance. From what I have seen and heard both seem to be very excellent leaders and tacticians. If SecDef Gates felt that GEN McKiernan was not the right man for the job, then I am fine with that. Everyone brings different strengths to the table. However I find it hard to believe that he was able to determine that in less time that a soldier is typically deployed to Afghanistan. GEN McKiernan was removed after only 11 months, and not just removed, but fired in a very public way. In fact SecDef Gates even publically stated that he told Gen McKiernan that his career was over. The way that the SecDef and the President handled this was very unprofessional and disrespectful in my opinion.

There were news reports about McKiernan being an armor officer and “old school”, etc. That is all BS. He was trained on the same doctrine, read the same lessons learned, and has followed the same TTPs of leadership that all the General Officers are. I don’t think that Gen McKiernan, who showed he knew how to reach out and understand the local culture, was given a fair shake and I feel really bad for him.

LTG McChrystal has had an impressive career and has been credited with many significant accomplishments in the Global War on Terror. He has also been implicated in the Pat Tillman cover-up. So there is some baggage there. We are not really sure how much he knew, but just as he was the commander of the units that caught Saddam and other high value targets he was the commander of the soldiers that tried to cover up how Pat Tillman was killed. LTG McChrystal is a fine example of a Special Operations (Clandestine) operator and leader. Having him in charge in Afghanistan is probably a very good thing. It was just how he was put there that I have a problem with, and why.

I say ‘why’ because the SecDef and the Administration stated that they were putting him in charge to support the new strategy. But in the same breath they stated that the strategy is not yet complete and is still a work in progress. From the link above you can see that they don’t even have a timeline (which is part of setting goals) for the new strategy. This so called “strategy” is appearing as vapor-ware as we say in the technology world. Which means it is talked about a lot but does not exist.

Problem solving 101 says the first step in resolving a problem is to “identify the problem”. In other words you cannot develop a solution to a problem before identifying what the problem is. So how can they put in the “right man to support the strategy” when the strategy is not yet developed?

The bottom line is this, McKiernan is a good man in my opinion. So is McChrystal. McKiernan was disrespected and treated terribly in the press and by the Administration in the manner that he was replaced. McChrystal is probably a very good choice or best choice for Afghanistan depending on what the strategy is (more kinetic or more COIN). I am convinced that McKiernan was fired and replaced because of his words of caution about US forces being to blame for the high number of civilian casualties in Farah province a couple of weeks ago. He made this statement the day after the President and the Secretary of State were almost apologizing to the world about it and essentially saying that our troops were guilty. I think that split in message is what caused the surprising and almost immediate firing of GEN McKiernan, and as the SecDef stated himself “the end of his career”.

What do you think? Comment and let me know.