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more on Mid-level military officers on responsibility for Iraq
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Mon, 24 Apr 2006 07:15:08 -0400

Begin forwarded message:

From: EEkid () aol com
Date: April 24, 2006 2:16:53 AM EDT
To: dave () farber net
Subject: Re: [IP] Mid-level military officers on responsibility for Iraq

Mr. Farber,

Unfortunately, I think the writer of this article doesn't really understand the problem. Prior to the Iraq war, many of our nation's military officers were clueless to the realities of the battle field. Sure, some of the most senior officers knew, but they became senior officers because at some point in time, they became politicians in uniform. This article brings to mind a day I had a couple years before 9/11. I was attending a Marine Static Display, which is a display of military hardware. I stood there shooting the breeze with an officer and we were talking about how great the Humvee's were. I asked if the composite body panels where bullet proof and he said no. I was a bit surprised that they didn't take such a rugged design to the next level with some light Kevlar armor. He added, that Humvee's aren't used in areas where fighting occurs. He made some comment about the only time "jeeps" are on a battle field is in the movies. Immediately my thoughts traveled back in time to a family friend who was severely wounded in Vietnam while driving a jeep down a dirt road. He was shot with an AK-47. This wasn't on a battle field. We moved on to another display which featured an M-16 with a third generation night vision scope. He commented that the technology was new and only available to the military.. I was a bit shocked that he didn't know this exact same scope was available on the internet. In fact, I later printed out an ad from the internet and gave it to him later. The display also had several confiscated AK-47's and he commented that they were worthless at a hundred yards because they were so inaccurate. Well, I've personally shot many types of AK-47's from all over Europe and Asia and every single one was accurate enough to put a bullet on a pie plate at 100 yards with ease. I walked away wondering what would happen if we ever had to go to war.

In addition to this experience, I once had a conversation with an officer regarding our reliance on very expensive, slow to produce, high tech weaponry. I commented that we could never fight a large scale protracted war with these weapons because we simply couldn't build them fast enough. His response was we will never fight another large scale war. I said, what happens if we were to go to war with China? He said, we will never let that happen because we know we can't win without using nuclear weapons. I walked away stunned.

I'm not criticizing our military here. Let me make an analogy. Suppose you have an engineer who graduated from a good engineering school. He then hangs out with other engineers from other good schools. Yet, none of them have ever designed anything. After a decade or so, they're suddenly given a very complex, large scale and taxing engineering project to do in a short amount of time. They are going to make mistakes and miscalculations, we as humans can learn from books but we learn the most about our environment by doing. Sure, I know our military constantly trains, but I bet they didn't train in an environment with real roadside IED's and car bombs in public places on a regular basis.


In a message dated 4/23/2006 7:09:40 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, dave () farber net writes:

There is a fascinating article in this morning's New York Times, based on interviews with mid-level officers and others, suggesting widespread discontent and debate within the military over the failure of senior officers to give candid advice to Rumseld and the Adminsitration about the reasoins why the invasion of Iraq would be a mistake.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/23/washington/23military.html? hp&ex=1145851200&en=307b714052e595e5&ei=5094&partner=homepage

Officers making such comments as,

"This is about the moral bankruptcy of general officers who lived through the Vietnam era yet refused to advise our civilian leadership properly," said one Army major in the Special Forces who has served two combat tours. "I can only hope that my generation does better someday." and

"The history I will take away from this is that the current crop of generals failed to stand up and say, 'We cannot do this mission.' They confused the cultural can-do attitude with their responsibilities as leaders to delay the start of the war until we had an adequate force. I think the backlash against the general officers will be seen in the resignation of officers" who might otherwise have stayed in uniform."

There was also an interesting angle on Condoleeza Rice's famous comment about "thousands of errors," casting it in a light I had not considered, as a slap at the military and a deflection of responsibility for the Administration's own failures:

The debates are fueled by the desire to mete out blame for the situation in Iraq, a drawn-out war that has taken many military lives and has no clear end in sight. A midgrade officer who has served two tours in Iraq said a number of his cohorts were angered last month when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that "tactical errors, a thousand of them, I am sure," had been made in Iraq.

"We have not lost a single tactical engagement on the ground in Iraq," the officer said, noting that the definition of tactical missions is specific movements against an enemy target. "The mistakes have all been at the strategic and political levels."

Paul Alan Levy
Public Citizen Litigation Group
1600 - 20th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20009
(202) 588-1000

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