Physician, Heal Thyself

Try a Little Decent Leadership
I like Donald Rumsfeld because he’s a straight talker. If only he could take some straight talk from the people at the pointed end of the spear.

Apparently that’s exactly what he’s getting from General Abizaid regarding the low-level insurgency our troops are facing in Iraq. It’s sheer stupidity to avoid telling the truth regarding the situation in Iraq. We encountered a similar insurgency in Germany that lasted two years after WW2, so it’s not like it’s without precedent. Hopefully Abizaid’s honesty will also mean that the soldiers needed to fight such an insurgency are on their way or chipping away at it as we speak.

We’ve tasked half the force we had in 1991 with twice the number of missions. More than 500,000 GI Joes and Janes are deployed in 120 countries. And a chunk of rubber or a military force can only be stretched so far before it snaps. That’s what the troops are trying to tell us – that they’re getting to the breaking point.

While there’s no easy solution, a good beginning would be more leaders who know and love their troops enough to put their welfare ahead of their own stars and bars. Truth-tellers who are unafraid to lay their careers on the line and stand up to dumb, uninformed decisions such as SecDef Les Aspin’s refusing to send tanks requested by a field commander in Somalia or SecDef Donald Rumsfeld’s cutting the number of troops recommended by his generals for the invasion of Iraq.

Truth-tellers who stand tall and stick to their guns with any and all civilians, from the president on down, over what our forces are capable of doing, the probable consequences of jumping into places like Afghanistan and Iraq, and how running-sore commitments like these degrade their outfit’s ability to defend America from international terrorism.

Now, fortunately, Gen. John Abizaid, who’s just taken over Central Command from Tommy Franks, has had the guts to call the conflict in Iraq a “guerrilla war,” over his boss Rumsfeld’s deep denial that it was any such thing. Then Abizaid leveled with his troops in Iraq and told them the ground truth – that their tour would be extended, to stop bitching to the press and to suck it up.

Read the rest of the article. They’re right to tell the soldiers to stop bitching to the press and further harming morale, but there’s more to it than that. With a volunteer force we have to keep the needs of the soldiers in mind and consider their quality of life.

The Professor has an interesting observation regarding our military which is worth sharing:

We Americans don’t always realize just how unusually well-off we are to have a professional, and honorable, military. It’s very much the exception, around the world.

Of course, so is having an effectual military. I think there’s a connection.

Quite true.

UPDATE: It appears that our soldiers are adapting to the guerilla tactics even while Rumsfeld is in denial mode. Good news.

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