April 11, 2007

McCain: I Blame Rumsfeld For Iraq

I took part in a blogger conference on my lunchbreak today with Senator John McCain on the topic of Iraq. McCain, who gave a speech on Iraq at the Virginia Military Institute earlier today, wanted to reach out to New Media sources for his perspective on the progress of the war, the critical nature of our effort there, and the need to persevere until we succeed.

McCain did not pull many punches in this call. Speaking as bluntly as I have heard in some time, he acknowledged the credibility deficit of the Pentagon and White House on the war. Saying that “too often, we misled the American people in the past” about deadenders, mission accomplished, and so on, McCain said that the press has become too reluctant to report actual progress in Iraq. He feels that bloggers and radio hosts can help get real information to the American people and help encourage the nation to remain tenacious.

Who does he blame for the credibility gap? McCain pointed out that President Bush has to accept the ultimate responsibility for that as well as for the faulty strategy used up to this year in attempting to pacify the insurgencies. The Senator says that he is pleased with the direction the White House has taken this year and the energy with which they have pursued it. He faulted the White House for not having regular press conferences dedicated to discussing the progress in Iraq in clear and objective terms, which McCain feels would have disarmed much of the criticism, especially this year.

Ultimately, though, he blames Donald Rumsfeld for shrinking the military and using too light of a footprint in post-invasion Iraq -- a position McCain has consistently maintained for over three years. He also blames Generals Casey and Sanchez for their roles in supporting Rumsfeld's strategies. He believes that General Petraeus, a "charismatic" commander, has the right approach and the skills to succeed in Iraq. McCain also praised Rumsfeld's replacement, Robert Gates, and told us that Pentagon morale has increased substantially since Rumsfeld's departure.

Progress has been made in Baghdad and Anbar since the surge, McCain insisted. Tribal sheikhs have lined up with the US for several reasons. Chief among them, al-Qaeda in Iraq has used "brutal and cruel" tactics in the region to fight their war without regard to the native Iraqis. Anbar tribes see the US attempting to rebuild Iraq and AQI as attempting to destroy it, and they see their interests with the West rather than with the jihadists.

I asked the Senator whether Moqtada al-Sadr's new orders for the Mahdi Army to attack American forces could cause a collapse of the Maliki government. McCain thinks Sadr is mostly bluffing; he waited too long and has not made a personal appearance for too long, and a defeat at the hands of the American and Iraqi forces would finish him. Joking that he was "digging for the pony here," he predicted that Sadr would back down as he has in the past rather than take that big of a gamble.

We will know within a few months whether the surge will succeed, McCain told us. By that time, we can see whether Maliki has the political strength and will to make the necessary adjustments. If the US cannot succeed in Iraq, McCain believes that David Petraeus has the strength of character to tell that to the President and then to the American people. Petraeus believes we can prevail, McCain told us, and that we must.

Final observations: McCain does well in this format. He speaks with a disarming humility that might surprise some, and with an honest passion that impresses. He should try to do more of these in the future.


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Comments (24)

Posted by Carol_Herman [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 11, 2007 2:28 PM

... And, Harry Truman, "blamed" MacArthur. What'da game.

Truman, knowing the jerks in the GOP did not run their best candidate in 1948, found a UN means of destroying MacArthur. And, so he did.

Do you know why?

Truman wanted to run for his second term. Which was coming up in 1952. And, he thought (to himself), the GOP wouldn't be so stupid, again, would they? His big competor in the field was none other than General Douglas MacArthur. Perhaps, not remembered, now. But the HERO of Japan! Our galvanizing hero in the Pacific.

So, yes you can. You can take out good men.

... And, McCain? Oddly enough, he cannot take his best shot against Bush. SO he "selects" the one man more efficent that George Tenet, and the CIA. Better than Paul Bremer. And, not one to promote a loser like Chalabi. Rumsfeld did the best he could. WHile also being loyal to the BOOB in the White House.

You want to take after somebody? Take after James Baker! But, no-o. McCain wants to be a "contendah." And, he thinks Rumsfeld's the ticket.


Because Rumsefeld, at least, tried his best to preent catastrophe; as only the spinning wheels and the swivel chairs in the pentagon, with "halp" from state ... can deliver.

Every day that passes I liike McCain less and less.

Sure. I carried sympathy for him! I know how he got derailed by the Bush's; on a fake play, back in 1988. Done by then Governor Sununu. To "halp" Bush win a primary. When the votes were not there.

How did he do it? Sununi was a computer engineer. AND, the governor. So, his primary was held on electronic machines. With no paper trail. And, an insider SWITCHING THE PHONE LINES.

That's how Bush "won." He got McCain's votes. And, McCain "lost" because all he got were Bush's votes.

In exchange? Just like Henry Clay's deal in 1824. Shove aside the winnah. (Then? Andrew Jackson.) Take a deal where you get a top seat at the cabinet. And, that's what happened. Before the WHIG house, collapsed.)

Lincoln gave lots of speeches about A HOUSE DIVIDED! It wasn't at first, said against the South, either. It was a lesson Lincoln learned as a WHIG. When the party couldn't shoot straight.

Shooting straight has practically disappeared from politics.

The donks? Enscounsed in the european union elite system.

And, at risk?

Oddly enough, out supreme's. IF KOH joins the court? Then it's gonna be "world rules," and not our Constitution.

Gives new flavor to why conservatives should win. But won't. They're now seen as special interests. Willing to give police powers to new laws that bring PROHIBITION back. What prohibition? The one that will jail doctors; and harass women. Because some people are way too religious in the zeal they take to turn their religious beliefs into laws.

Well, it raises money at the local levels! You should see how believers toss coins into collection plates. Even when the monster outside is WITCHCRAFT. And, people FOR NO REASON AT ALL, are made to feel very afraid.

McCain? It's too late for him, now. Except that he is a TROUBLE MAKER. And, he is "motivated." Sad. But true. Some crippled horses think 2008 is their field.

Is this our sorry state?

Or are people becoming way more politically savvy? The Internet's audience has qualities the nutwork audiences do not provide.

And, soap operas, which seem to go on forever; still can lose audience share. We can only hope.

Posted by nolakola [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 11, 2007 3:22 PM

The just-announced extended tours of duty have to be a punch in the gut for morale.

Posted by syn [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 11, 2007 3:39 PM

My question to McCain would be, looking forward to the future how will America be able to sustain a huge military if we continue aborting our future while at the same time creating an Oprahfication of an Infantilized Nation?

Further, since we will be unable to meet the demands of tending to a self-indulgent retirement boom of some 78 million people while at the same time maintain a sufficent military, will the Pentagon change its policy on Rules of Engagement from wait to shoot until fired upon or shoot to kill the enemy?

WIth the current Rules of Engagement established that our warriors must wait until they are fired upon how would having 150 more troops on the ground profoundly effect the success of winning any war. I mean there could be a milllion troops sent but if they can actually fight what difference does having lots of troops on the ground going to make.

I am delighted that McCain gets the reason why we cannot leave Iraq but very disappointed he misses the big picture entirely.

Posted by Larry J [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 11, 2007 3:43 PM

Ultimately, though, he blames Donald Rumsfeld for shrinking the military and using too light of a footprint in post-invasion Iraq -- a position McCain has consistently maintained for over three years.

This just shows another reason why I could never vote for McCain. Rumsfeld didn't shrink the military appreciably (some relatively small reductions in the Air Force, mostly). The real reductions in the military happened in the 1990s when the active duty forces were cut approximately 33%. McCain was in the Senate all of that time. Did he fight those cuts back then? I'd love to see his voting record on this subject.

There are two primary reasons why we only have about 140,000 service personnel in Iraq today compared to the roughly 500,000 we sent for the 1991 Gulf War. First, the military being so much smaller today than it was back then. Second, the mission of the Gulf War was to liberate Kuwait and leave. Taking over Iraq and overseeing a change in government is a marathon, not a sprint. Those who keep demanding that we needed to send over more troops come up short when asked where we'll get the troops. It takes time to work up a unit for deployment, send them over there, bring them back, let them rest and refit, only to deploy again. Are we to leave them over there indefinitely?

McCain-Feingold is reason enough to distrust him. Self-serving historical revisionism like this just adds to my opinion. McCain will never get my vote.

Posted by viking01 [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 11, 2007 3:56 PM

Not just McCain-Feingold. Don't forget the infamous Keating Five.

I think McCain is too far out of the loop to be commenting a blame game in this matter. He's entitled to his opinion though it might be wise to consider that the former SECDEF might have a better grasp of the underground war against terrorism than a camera-hungry Senator from Arizona who has too often been playing good cop / bad cop wherever it will get his name in the news.

McCain has become too Clintonesque for my taste by his willingness to point fingers to suit his own glorification and visibility.

Posted by Duke of DeLand [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 11, 2007 4:10 PM

I agree with the McCain-Feingold problem for John McCain....however, his Gang of 14 involvement is as much a problem for me as the 1st item.

I, for one Republican, will never vote for McCain....I cannot also vote for Hillary....thus, if these two are the candidates there will be no vote from me....unless a Libertarian of some note other than those currently running the party is in contention.

Take heed GOP!

You are leading yourselves down a garden path for 2008. It is not pretty, and it will lead to a disasterous future for the GOP for more than a decade to come....not to mention the devestating effect on our military and International Policy for the USA!


Posted by OldDeadMeat [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 11, 2007 5:05 PM

Uh...Larry, Viking - bashing McCain on this is kind of like stoning Cassandra when the Greeks landed outside the walls of Troy. No one listened to her either.

Regarding troop levels - this is entirely on Rumsfeld/the administration - the war started on his watch.

We had a peacetime military structure, and then went to war on Afghanistan. Hey, we win. Great.

Then we attack Iraq, without a mobilization, without any rampup of troops. Never mind that 1- even though we can't find any WMD we know Saddam has enough guns, bullets, RPGS and other arms for millions of troops, so when we do win the war we have no way to secure all the arms caches laying around. Oh, and 2-we let the Iraqi Nat'l Bank be looted of about a billion in CASH.

So any nefarious minded people, like say terrorists, got easy access to untraceable weapons and cash right after "Mission Accomplished".

Then we disbanded the Iraqi army, creating hundreds of thousands of unemployed young men who know how to shoot and have a fresh grudge against the Yankees who put them out of work - ready recruits for Al-Qaeda.

And still good old SecDef Rumsfeld ignores the lessons of nation building and war throughout history and the related literature - going all the way back to Sun Tzu, not to mention the British experience in the region, or Kipling's poetry or Lawrence of Arabia for goodness sake.

Still no mobilization, no call for more men even though regular Army brigades are facing 3rd or 4th deployment, oh, and lots of Nat'l guard units are looking at multiple deployments too.

Oh, and we have no readily deployable reserve in case of some other crisis - like say, a successful Taliban coup in Pakistan - can you say instant access to NUKES?

How about the fact that supply lines to our troops in Iraq run thru hundreds of miles of desert, and if things go to hell, it will be Xenophon and the 10,000 all over again, or even worse, like the British clerks in India during the Sepoy revolt?

You ALWAYS need to have a reserve, and we don't have one to speak of. Winning wars still take infantry--boots on the ground. Navy is good, Air Force is good, but grunts are essential.

This is basic military strategy 101, gentlemen, and Rumsfeld failed miserably. Don't blame McCain for it - it was Rumsfeld's watch.

You may have legitimate beefs with McCain, but the GWOT is not one of them - if he doesn't cave like everyone else but continues to back the war, we may look back and say he sacrificed his campaign by backing Gates and Petraeus and the new strategy on Iraq, instead of pandering to the winds of public or party opinion (lots of the GOP, and lots of bloggers/commenters wouldn't entertain any criticism of Rumsfeld or Bush in '04 or '05 - like it's a good idea if I see you about to shoot yourself in the foot but I don't say anything for fear of appearing disloyal).

Posted by ajacksonian [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 11, 2007 5:45 PM

Constitution, Article I, Section 8 (in part):

"To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; "

Rumsfeld *shrunk the military*?

Without the approval of Congress?

'Honey, I shrunk the military!'

The 'To raise and support Armies' and the 'To provide for organizing, arming...'

That is a Congressional role... perhaps Mr. McCain was just out of town those days when Congress voted for such a downsizing....

The point is that with the size of the military as it is you could *not* drop in Shinsekian numbers and keep them there for more than a year... that is why the 'oil drop' could not work... and the fact that it hasn't worked in almost every place it has been tried.

To get those numbers you would strip out all of EUCOM, half of the PACOM non-forward deployed, add in the Reserves... and have them for one year and change. Congress *could* have done something in those long, long, long months between authorization and actually moving... but they did squat.

Every supply problem is traced *directly* back to Congress not bothering to do its job and figure out what *it* thought was needed as that IS its job in wartime. Not to take the Executives numbers at face value, but to supply and re-inforce supplies and ensure that more reserves are available if need be. And every Congresscritter that tries to pin their problems on any other place than their own lapels should be reminded that they have, as an institution, *failed* the Nation.

They love to pack in pork and order things that aren't needed... but where are they on the things that *are* needed?

None of those in Congress escapes that: past and present.

Where were all the lovely military supply bills for all the things needed that Congress saw as vital and necessary to the war effort?

Any new arsenals of democracy open up? I know we finally added a supply line or two in for HUMVEE armor, but that stuff turns out to be extremely time consuming to *make* which is why we ran out of it. Maybe Congress should have planned for more? That is what they did in WWII... and WWI... Korea... Vietnam...

I am very glad Mr. McCain supports the war.

I would be far more pleased if he and the other 534 Lumps upon the Hill actually did their jobs. But those 4-day work weeks are just *so* exhausting.... and long vacations... meetings with lobbyists... the French Congress, obviously.

Posted by conservative democrat [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 11, 2007 6:26 PM

If we did not have the 500,000 troops Shinseki said we needed to secure post-war Iraq, then why in hell did we go in undermanned? Our volunteer Army is not big enough to fight 2 wars at once. We complain about jihadists pouring into Iraq, but we will not secure the borders? Maliki will go easy on his fellow Shia Sadr because he needs Sadrs support. Iran is happy to stir up trouble by supporting and TRAINING Shia Militias. Its like an ugly stalemate going on over there. I have read the police are corrupt and infiltrated by militias. And people somehow see a win in this fiasco. Like I said previously, if we DO NOT have 500,000 troops to SECURE the country and its BORDERS, we should get out. Otherwise this stalemate could go on for decades.

Posted by docjim505 [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 11, 2007 6:30 PM

Cap'n Ed wrote:

Ultimately, though, he blames Donald Rumsfeld for shrinking the military and using too light of a footprint in post-invasion Iraq -- a position McCain has consistently maintained for over three years. He also blames Generals Casey and Sanchez for their roles in supporting Rumsfeld's strategies. He believes that General Petraeus, a "charismatic" commander, has the right approach and the skills to succeed in Iraq.

Um, maybe I'm confused, but I thought that Petraeus' strategy was classical COIN, which as I understand it DEemphasizes heavy units. Think Vietnam under Westmoreland vs. Vietnam under Abrams. Further, more American troops isn't going to help prod the Iraqis to stand up. We learned in Vietnam that too many US troops simply gives the locals a crutch. It's a delicate balancing act between helping the Iraqis form a competent army, leaving them to flounder, or doing all the work for them.

At any rate, McCain's statements doen't impress me at all. He's piling on a man who is despised by the left and has been a whipping boy for the MSM. Wow, how brave to blame it all on Rummie, who's been gone for several months now.

And I have to echo ajacksonian: if our military is too small, where the hell has Senator McCain been? Indeed, where has the Congress been? They gripe and complain that we're straining the military, but has one of those wardheelers presented a single serious piece of legislation to beef up the armed forces? All I've noticed is the occasional supplemental (usually announced with great fanfare) to provide more body armor or a few more armored HUMVEEs. Haven't seen too much about increasing the number of active Army and Marine divisions, or adding to the number of active Air Force combat wings.

Congress, if they don't like the way the military is being run, has not only a constitutional authority but a responsibility to increase funding. Instead, they prefer to whine for the cameras and spend our money on spinach farmers.


Posted by Monkei [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 11, 2007 6:38 PM

When a candidate like McCain makes a speech which basically calls the majority of American's traitors, un-American and anti-troop it ensures him that he wil win the base of the GOP (those that will be left) and get a solid 35-45 percent and lose the white house to "you fill in the blank" who will score solidly with the remaining 55-65 percent.

McCain ... a sure loser for the GOP. Take that stroll in the Bagdad Market Senator without a platoon of marines with you next time.

Posted by viking01 [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 11, 2007 6:53 PM

It is hardly "bashing" McCain to question his Monday morning quarterbacking about Rumsfeld or anybody else for that matter. McCain "thinks" al-Sadr or whomever is bluffing yet Rumsfeld probably knew one way or the other and had to act based on facts instead of speculation.

As others have already noted about McCain's apparent "I was for it before I was against Rumsfeld but I'm still for it by the way and haven't changed my position" position. It sounds suspiciously like parsing the meaning of "is."

Posted by OldDeadMeat [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 11, 2007 8:24 PM

In 2006....
McCain - send more troops - Oct. 27, 2006

In 2005....
McCain - more troops were needed - November 20, 2005

Rumsfeld - "the more troops you have, the more targets you have"
April 27, 2005

In 2004....
McCain - said no confidence in Rumsfeld, and cites the failure to send more troops - December 15, 2004

Rumsfeld declines to say how long the stop-loss orders would be in effect - December 9, 2004

McCain said the Pentagon should have known it needed more troops - April 16, 2004

In 2003....
McCain interviewed - not sufficient forces in Iraq - November 6,2003

Rumsfeld said post-war troop commitment would be less than the number of troops required to win the war. March 3, 2003

Took 15 minutes to find these comments. IF I took a couple hours, how much more do you think I would find?

The GOP-led Congress followed the administration's lead, and the mindset was win the war on the cheap.

It takes YEARS to add more deployable forces to the size of the army. In some of the articles I looked at Rumsfeld does comment that the occupation of Iraq does takes years. BUT he never begins to provide for relieving troops who have already faced multiple deployment.

We had a GOP-run Congress led by the President and Donald Rumsfeld - do you think they would have refused to create more troops to relieve those already in Iraq if the administration had asked? We'll never know, because THEY DID NOT ASK.

I repeat - put the blame where it belongs. McCain may have screwed up in other ways, but he was right and consistent throughout the past few years - when it was popular and unpopular, and regardless of whether any of us agreed with him.

Guys, you don't like McCain, fine. He's a moot point - he is too old to be President - he won't win the nomination, but don't blame him for everything - it's not his fault, and in case you hadn't noticed - HE IS TRYING TO WIN THIS BLOODY WAR AND HE IS TRYING TO SELL THE PUBLIC ON WINNING THE WAR, which means he is doing all of you conservatives a big favor by helping the GOP win the next general election.

Geez, show a little gratitude for what good he is doing, wilya?

Posted by ajacksonian [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 11, 2007 9:05 PM

conservative democrat - That is the point about sustainment... you would have 500k... for effectively one year... and then no one for troop rotation. As in zero.

That is why we are at where we are at... without involving both EUCOM and PACOM you cannot get an effective rotational force on the ground above 200k troops. And that would strip out all of EUCOM and half or more of the PACOM non-forward deployed reserves, plus the Reserves stateside. You can't do it unless Congress increases the overall force structure.

It is not 'boots on the ground' but how many you can keep there continuously. If we had Shinseki levels to start the draw down would be in AUG 2003 to a few thousands...say 20,000 at best. And that would have been a disaster considering the size of forces kept on in Germany and Japan after WWII was over... and we kept them there for a decade or longer, in the case of Germany. We still *have* 115,000 in Germany.

If Congress was dissatisfied with the force structure at *any time* it could do something. It has *not*. That is why Congress has all those lovely oversight committees and investigative powers and the CBO and can do all sorts of lovely things to scope out manpower and logistics needs as that is their *job*. And if they buy into rosy estimates from the Executive and do not check them, then they are not doing their job.

And have not for nearly two decades.

Two entire divisions fell into the lowest readiness status as the Executive forgot to rotate them on a timely basis and Congress did not outlay enough equipment to replace used equipment. One of them was the 10th Mountain Division. It was not really fully ready for Afghanistan, three full years later.

Is this picture becoming clearer?

I want Congress to get off its high horse and actually do some work on the Hill. As in the jobs they are elected to do instead of blaming others for their lacks and shortfalls. You cannot get anything done if Congress is a squabbling, finger-pointing mess of kindergarteners like they have been on funding the Armed Forces for going on 15 years. Which means D and R *both* are at fault in this in the long run, and now we pay for their lack of wanting to do their jobs.

Posted by bayam [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 11, 2007 9:18 PM

Then we disbanded the Iraqi army, creating hundreds of thousands of unemployed young men who know how to shoot and have a fresh grudge against the Yankees who put them out of work - ready recruits for Al-Qaeda.

DeadMeat is right on this count.

If you read any credible acounts of post-war Iraq, the disbanding of the Iraqi army might go down as one of the greatest blunders in military history. For the cost of about $15 million per month, the US could have kept the Iraqi army fully employed and generally on the side of the new government. In fact, keeping the Iraqi army employed had always been the goal of the US army in post-war Iraq: it was a centerpiece of General Garner's plan.

When Rumsfled replaced Garner with the incredibly incompetent Bremer, it was truly the beginning of the end. Bremer was far too arrogant to consider the consequences of dispanding the Iraqi army- even when Iraqi generals warned that dispanding it would definitely lead to an insurgency. Incredibly, no one in the White House even asked a question when Bremer reversed Garner's long-standing strategy. Hard to believe, but an unfortunate reality.

If you read accounts written by any numer of military and other sources on the ground after the invasion, the other fatal mistake occurred when Rumsfled and Franks stood and watched as the capital was looted and most of the Iraqi government's infrastructure destoryed. Iraqis either believed that the US purposefully intended to see all Iraqi government property destroyed so that the US could rule the country, or that the US was incredibly stupid and incompetent. To our enemies, the US suddenly looked far less than invincible. It emboldened the enemy far more than any news accounts of opposition to the war among some Americans on the other side of the world. It was perhaps the spark that started the insurgency.

Posted by Chimpy [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 11, 2007 11:46 PM

During a senate hearing on the war, televised on C-SPAN, I saw Joe Biden hold up a leaflet that the US military dropped over Iraqi troops during the beginning of the war. The military brass and civilians being grilled never denied this happened. It basically said, “don’t fight, go home and you will be paid”.

I also saw a Saudi official on Charlie Rose say that we should not have disbanded the Iraqi military. He said it would have cost 100 million for back pay, (this interview was about 6 months into the war), and 15 million a month after that. The Saudi’s were briefed before we invaded and I’m sure they made the point about not disbanding the Iraqi military then.

Posted by Brooklyn [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 12, 2007 2:51 AM

i think Carol has some points i can agree with...

Captain, i find your report a little odd.

i understand you are reporting here...

this is another weak excuse to distance a tired politician from the negatives in Iraq, to highlight generic mistakes made by those entrusted with the implementation of this incredibly difficult endeavor.

it is truly bs...

Mcain wishes to appease the partisans in the MSM (as well as some Democrats) by tossing President Bush and his Administration under the bus with generic 'mistakes', while sticking with the mission to get Conservatives with him in a primary race.

thus he dumps on the fine MEN and Women who bravely led the USA-Allied Effort in Iraq. yes, even Tommy Franks deserves better than this crap from a Senator.

in reality, if McCain had been doing HIS JOB, and speaking out like this all along, maybe the Democrats would not have been so empowered to feel free to unethically undermine this admirable endeavor in Iraq.

but McCain pretty much let the President hang in the wind alone to fight the GWOT, while he made deals in the Senate with Democrats over Judges...

then, when Iraq was deemed unpopular he bashed Rummy and the US Military at Senate hearings.

real gutsy leadership there...

McCAIN is so utterly unimpressive, and his last minute push to save himself in a primary is duly noted.

he could have been talking like this all along, but he was too busy making insane laws with Feingold, flying to Alaska with Hillary, and entertaining John Kerry's VP invitations.

this Keating Five Member has been a complete let down, and is impossible to trust.

and it surprises me, to see some blindly accept his bitter attempt to demean the Bush Administration.

we see quite a few, who intensely advocated for the Operation Iraqi Freedom, try to weakly distance themselves from the effort, by denigrating those who had to do the job.

most of these are Democrats...

this desperate effort to deny association with the Mission, demonstrates a lack of responsibility and character, for it is so easy to suddenly say 'they botched the job'.

as if a sitting Senator, who sits on these Committees, has nothing to do with anything, after they vote for it.

that is embarrassing.

i don't hear Joe Lieberman harping on mistakes...

John McCain was in Combat, and he should know full well, just how difficult it is... (his plane was shot down - was this a part of poor planning? of course not...)

this is an American War Hero, who i deeply appreciate, but he cannot seem to get it right.

probably because he doesn't know what is right...

Posted by The Yell [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 12, 2007 4:32 AM

ajacksonian is dead right.

Properly, our military strength ought to be proportionate to our population and our industrial output. Congress has been too willing to demobilize despite self-evident disruption of our ability to preserve our global committments.

For twenty years, career officers have known the price of advancement is refusing to call out Congress on the underwhelming force availble for global projection.

McCain and pals had full authority to force more troops and equipment down Bush's throat. He didn't. He still doesn't.

If we're going to insist our guys don't have to spend more than a year in a combat zone-which is uniquely generous--then we need a bigger military. Back to 1985 levels. And if we returned to Vietnam era medical standards, we could do it. I know of three persons who were turned away from the Army because of pins in their ankles, who found employment with police forces. If they're fit to be cops, why can't they serve in the military? No pins. No braces. No large tattoos. I know a fellow who was turned away because he's too overweight--lose thirty pounds and come back, the recruiter said.

If medical conditions it wouldn't have prevented conscription into the Vietnam military, it shouldn't prevent volunteer admission into the GWOT.

"For the cost of about $15 million per month, the US could have kept the Iraqi army fully employed and generally on the side of the new government. In fact, keeping the Iraqi army employed had always been the goal of the US army in post-war Iraq: it was a centerpiece of General Garner's plan."

I love that, "generally employed on the side of the new government"! If the history of Latin America, Weimar Germany, the French 2nd and 3rd Republics, Brazil, 1940s Iraq, Republican China, etc etc etc etc is any guide at all, it would be more like the new government would be employed on the side of the preconstitutional officer corps.

McCain is not showing his best face here. The fact is President McCain would have to accept guidance and advice from a lot of other people, and he can't predict in advance who'll be willing to work for him. Unless he's got a Cabinet already drawn up, he should refrain from bragging about wanting heads to roll.

Posted by The Yell [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 12, 2007 5:54 AM

>>How about the fact that supply lines to our troops in Iraq run thru hundreds of miles of desert, and if things go to hell, it will be Xenophon and the 10,000 all over again, or even worse, like the British clerks in India during the Sepoy revolt?

Not so.
The supply lines run through thousands of miles of atmosphere.
Our close air support and supply systems are much more capable than at Ia Drang, where American forces inflicted 10:1 casualties before leaving--by air.

Posted by The Yell [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 12, 2007 6:06 AM

>>How about the fact that supply lines to our troops in Iraq run thru hundreds of miles of desert, and if things go to hell, it will be Xenophon and the 10,000 all over again, or even worse, like the British clerks in India during the Sepoy revolt?

Not so.
The supply lines run through thousands of miles of atmosphere.
Our close air support and supply systems are much more capable than at Ia Drang, where American forces inflicted 10:1 casualties before leaving--by air.

Posted by Larry J [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 12, 2007 8:03 AM

Then we disbanded the Iraqi army, creating hundreds of thousands of unemployed young men who know how to shoot and have a fresh grudge against the Yankees who put them out of work - ready recruits for Al-Qaeda.

DeadMeat is right on this count.

If you read any credible acounts of post-war Iraq, the disbanding of the Iraqi army might go down as one of the greatest blunders in military history. For the cost of about $15 million per month, the US could have kept the Iraqi army fully employed and generally on the side of the new government. In fact, keeping the Iraqi army employed had always been the goal of the US army in post-war Iraq: it was a centerpiece of General Garner's plan.

So, after WWII, should we have not disbanded the Geman and Japanese militaries? Should we have left the SS intact? After all, disbanding those units threw millions on young Germans and Japanese out of work. The Iraqi Army had to be disbanded and rebuilt in order to clean out the Saddam toadies and hard core dead enders like the Republican Guard.

Posted by ajacksonian [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 12, 2007 8:09 AM

I take issue with anyone who supports the idea that there was an organized *anything* left by APR 2003 from the Ba'athist regime to demonstrate it.

This should be simple: find the list of all military units of larger than Company size that had an orderly stand-down and awaited demobilization.

You cannot find that list. It does not exist. Why? Because there weren't any. The entire Iraqi Army and Republican Guard plus various Secret Police organizations splintered and then evaporated. One can recall UAV and guncam footage of men running *away* from operational tanks and vehicles and stripping clothes off as they went. The reports of clothes just strewn around vehicles and footprints heading into the desert at various areas points to this. The entire counter-attack by the Republican Guard which was to be the entirety of their remaining T-72s was decimated by two of the CBU-97 devices. They were only facing up to light Marine Infantry on fast recon. The Marines found hulks of tanks, some armored vehicles and damaged railstock hit by the munitiions. The people behind the forward element had fled. Time from call-in to finish of airstrike: 10 minutes. There was NO orderly stand-down of any part of the Saddamist regime.

How do we know they were not there? We sent folks to LOOK for them, like Jay Garner, who had a few hundred folks out racing around to fine *anyone* standing by their posts, doing their jobs, staying around to police things.... he did, indeed, complain bitterly in JUN 2003 that we shouldn't disband the Iraqi power structures. What he did *not* do is present evidence that there was any to *save*. No one has. The MNF had ample time to scrape things up and find anyone with any competence left... and a number of folks at the *bottom* of the power structure actually able to run a few things were around - the entire echelon immediately above them all the way to Saddam itself had *fled*.

Why did they flee? They were afraid of being strung up at the nearest lightpost because of their connection to one of the most vile and repressive regimes to see the ligh to day there. By JUN 2003 announcing that we were 'disbanding' the old regime was not an actual dismissal order, but a recognition that there wasn't anything left to keep going. Show me the thousands of bureaucrats who stuck to their jobs to keep things going. Or all the police that had retained their uniform, their posts and stayed around to keep civil disorder down. In their tens of thousands, please, not their ones and twos.

All post-war military and civil plans required that there be something coherent left. Without that basic and fundamental basis, there was *no* plan that could work unless you wanted to spend long months or a year trying to go after those that had fled and put them *back* into power. That didn't seem like such a good idea at the time...

As the saying goes: 'No battle plan survives contact with the enemy. That is why they are called: The Enemy.' Similarly none of the post-war plans survived non-contact with the remaining elements of the regime. They self de-Ba'athified.

Since the on-the-ground need was to get some sort of real structure *going* the choice was to start new, which meant a longer term strategy and Creating an Army that was *not* a typical Arab or Middle Eastern Army. And if you don't know what it takes to create a reliable army that will obey civilian control, especially in the Middle East, then putting a time-line on that is something out of the easy comprehension range. Luckily that overall strategy addressed how to start doing that, how to keep things together while a new and trustworthy military operation was being set up and to start the political process moving forward. This has worked out far, far better than my most optimistic expectations which had things finally settling down in 8-15 years.

In that time two tyrannical regimes have been over turned, two entirely new Armies have been stood up, civil government stood up in two Nations, and ongoing fighting against redentists, die hards, and foreign employed terrorists have been ongoing. That with one of the smallest force structures the US has ever *fielded* in its history, especially when you consider that the active forces are coming from only ONE of the Commands. I understand that the spin-up time to get brand-new forces from other Commands to Iraq is as long as a year and then they must stay in the active rotation cycle so they do not lose their knowledge and skills.

That goes in quadruplicate for Afghanistan as Mountain and Highland Warfare is a specialized job that lowland troops need long months if not a year or more to learn survival skills, how to equip properly, get new equipment, and *train* hard at altitude to get stamina for the reduced air pressure and oxygen there. Every lowland force that goes in large numbers to such areas gets killed in high numbers and demoralized because that sort of warfare is *all* small forces and using terrain to your advantage. That takes time to learn and adapt to. Even Special Forces need retraining time for such work. That is why, in 1999, when the 10th Mountain Division fell into the lowest readiness status seen by any unit since Viet Nam, it pointed to extreme lack of Congressional oversight and willingness to support the Armed Forces and, also, something bordering on neglect by the Administration of that time continually putting that specialized force into harms way and not allowing time for rest, recovery and re-equippage. They were *not* ready to go into Afghanistan at the start. Three, long years later. That is what it takes to operate and effectively there as the Persians, British and Soviets will attest to in their defeats.

The Nation got a lovely 'peace dividend' in the all so swimming 1990's. The world got no less violent through that decade.

And now we *pay* for that 'dividend'.

And Congress wishes to run from its lack of oversight and outlook and abdication of their duties and blame someone *else*.

That doesn't wash, with me.

I do like Mr. McCain supporting the ongoing effort.

I wish he had pushed hard early on to ensure that the Armed Forces were properly scoped, sized and equipped. And that goes for every other Congresscritter upon the Hill.

Posted by OldDeadMeat [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 12, 2007 8:43 AM

We have strayed a bit from the original post - begging your indulgence, Captain.


We have awesome air power, but.... look at the logistics.

there are hundreds of thousands of American citizens dispersed in Iraq, not to mention tons of equipment.

Worst case scenario - if it does turn that bad, like say, the Dems mandate an immediate troop pullout, and the civil war goes to high intensity, and the Iraqi gov't falls and it's successor says the infidels are no longer welcome. (Quibble with the details all you want, but the risk of some similar situation is there - I could spin a dozen different situations - when things fall apart they can do so very very quickly).

OK, just to evacuate 200,000 American citizens (civilian and military) by air would require around 1,000 jetliners or so if we assume they each can carry 200 people.

How many airfields would we have available? How long to assemble everyone there? Crud, it takes an hour for me to board a plane in Texas and no one wants to shoot me while I am doing it.

How many Americans would be killed or taken hostage and beheaded in the chaos? I guarantee you there are some officers in-country who have nightmares about this sort of situation.

We don't know. Granted there are other alternatives, but none of them are terribly palatable. For example, some might be able to retreat to Kurdish areas and from there to Turkey.

Never mind about all the equipment right? the arms, the munitions, the brigades worth of vehicles. We need to replace many of them anyway at this point.

Larry J,

In WWII, Germany and Japan's populations had been bled white - Adolph was deploying teens and even pre-teens and 50 year olds, and we also had a heck of a lot more manpower available, so I am not sure the analogy is a fair one. I will look into it, however, and if appropriate will comment further.

One other comment though, part of the problem in the MidEast is that there are too many young men with no opportunities and no job skills besides shooting and bomb-making - this was part of Afghan's problem after the Russians left.

So if we want young men to behave themselves, we probably should give them something to do instead of leaving it up to them. Leaving them to their own devices results in the movie Jackass.

Lastly, I fully agree with everyone suggesting Congress should step up and get on the ball. That said, I would note that committees don't lead, leaders lead.

Since we are talking McCain specifically, I see little point in railing on him for not calling to expand the army when there is no one else in power who did otherwise. If nothing else, McCain was still stuck on step one - persuading the powers that were that more troops were needed. Where they would come from falls into step two, but GWB wouldn't even accept step one until a few months ago.

ajacksonian - interesting post - I fully agree with your last statement. Actually, I rather wish we could get military procurement structured differently - almost like the base closure group - something nonpartisan that Congress simply approves in a lump, instead of all this pork-barrel BS.

Posted by docjim505 [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 12, 2007 9:11 AM

The idea that we erred in not keeping Saddam's army and secret police in power is as bewildering as it is stupid. By this reasoning, the yankees shouldn't have demobilized the Confederate Army, or gotten rid of the CSA government and that of the various Confederate states. Truman should NEVER have demobilized the Wehrmacht, the SS or the Gestapo. He should have left the Imperial Japanese military and government alone (what a mistake he made in hanging Tojo!). For that matter, WE should have rescued Mussolini and put him back in power in Italy. Maybe we should dump Karzai and bring the Taliban back; THEY knew how to keep people (especially women) in line, eh?

I'm not sure whether this idiot idea that the libs have is due to mindless hatred of Bush (if he did it, it must be wrong!) or their natural love of thugs and despots. Think of the modern left's pantheon of heroes: Stalin, Mao, Castro, Che, Ho, and now Saddam. They're hard at work preparing to deify Assad and Ahmadenijad. Give 'em time and they'll be singing the praises of bin Laden.