Cheat-Seeking Missles

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Rumsfeld, Transformation And Iraq

Yesterday I posted my worries about how Rumsfeld's resignation, on top of the election's "message on Iraq" (that's not really one), would dispirit our troops. But there's more than one way to look at this development.

From John at the mil-blog Op For, we get this rather startling intro to the subject:

It was a flight commander in my squadron who clued me in to Secretary Rumsfeld's resignation. Halfway into a sentence, the phone rang. "I know! I heard! It's like Christmas man!" exclaimed the excited officer. As the captain went on like a schoolgirl, I asked one of the other guys in the room what all the hub-bub was about. "Rummy threw in the towel man. Cryin' ass shame."

It reminded of an old urban legend surrounding FDR's death. Upon hearing the news of the President's passing, one construction worked exclaimed "Thank God the old son of a bitch is dead!" The worker's friend responded by punching him in the face.

Rumsfeld had the same effect on the military. To some, his leadership was inspirational. To others, he was the guy who was single handedly dismantling a force that had barely survived eight years of Clinton-era defense cuts.

John details Rummy's role in the Pentagon's "bridge to the 21st century," the "Transformation" program for the military. This was Rummy's vision: A lean, swift, quick-response military armed with the highest technology and capable of exerting force on a moment's notice anywhere on our troubled planet.

After success in Afghanistan, Transformation was tested in Iraq:

And like a Shakespearean tragedy, Rumsfeld's bold new vision for a brave new military collasped at the height of its success. The insurgency dug-in, and with each IED blast another hole was punched in the Transformation concept. Billion-dollar B2s flew helpless overhead as suicide bombers and roadside bombs took the lives of troops who lacked armor on their Humvess and on their bodies. 100 dollar bombs killed 100,000 dollar weapon systems. The highly touted, highly financed UAV force could only watch as car bombers exploded Iraqi marketplaces. What we needed was more troops. What we got was more gizmos.

Transformation has failed us in fighting the Iraqi insurgency. It takes troops to sustain an occupation. When you are trying to win hearts and minds, heartless and mindless technological gadgets can't win the day. Victory takes boots on the ground. It takes Soldiers and it takes Marines. And, as Iraq has proven, it takes a hell of alot of them.

And that may be the deep dark place that this Long War is forcing us to visit. Terrorists only stop terrorizing when they are dead, dictators do as they please until they are forced to otherwise, and the disease of militant Islam spreads until it is stopped. That takes men with guns. It takes the clashing of swords and shattering of shields. And, tragically, it takes casualties.

It was casualties that forced out Rumsfeld; casualties brought about by the inability of politicians and diplomats to form an Iraqi government that was willing or able to stop the death squads, leaving the troops too exposed and too hamstrung.

You see the conundrum: Rummy's out because too many deaths and not enough progress. The solution, if victory is the goal, is more troops, more funding and more deaths to push over the hill. The solution, if appeasement and deferring problems is the goal, is fewer troops, less funding and fewer deaths as you flee from the hill.

John ends on a hopeful note: "The death of Transformation could very well be the birth of victory. Let's seize the opportunity." But will Robert Gates and Bush be able to find a way to get a Dem congress on the right side of this matter? I don't think so.

hat-tip: Jim Art: Nova
Related Tags: , , , ,