December 09, 2004

Secretary of Denial

"Any problem mentioned, he's in denial."

"Troop frustration is growing," especially as some soldiers head back to Iraq for their second occupation tour as the security situation there deteriorates, said another retired four-star general, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Officers and senior sergeants are worried, he noted, because, in his view, "we are breaking a small, great professional force."

The series of pointed questions shot at Rumsfeld reflect a consequence of the Pentagon's increasing reliance on National Guard and reserve units to carry out the U.S. mission in Iraq. Almost 45 percent of the 130,000 Army troops there now are drawn from the part-time components. Unlike active-duty troops, Guard and reserve troops tend to be older, more "civilianized" in their behavior and less deferential toward authority.

45% Guard and Reserve. It's a "temporary" problem though.

Read this too:

Our Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is in denial of reality. He publicly states the situation on the ground in Iraq is being distorted by the media and characterizes the violence as comparable to Washington, D.C., crime levels. He has denied there is a "guerrilla war" and insisted that the only opposition is a handful of "dead enders." He points with increasing defensiveness to the small number of coalition forces (besides the courageous Brits) and the increasing hours of electricity per day as evidence that his policies are working.

Some argue that Mr. Rumsfeld has ill served the president. We claimed victory in the initial war intervention. Our adversaries, however, haven't seen themselves as defeated. Mr. Rumsfeld's critics feel that he dug in his heels and inadequately resourced the campaign's opening phase. In my judgment, the manner in which we intervened, and ended the regime, has been a major source of our subsequent problems. It's not enough to achieve victory--which we did; you've got to achieve a situation in which your adversary recognizes that he's been defeated, and that violent resistance is futile--which we didn't. We went in with a small force that, while unstoppable militarily, was incapable of the sort of "takedown" of an entrenched opposition that our troops now face. We should have front-loaded our military power and withdrawn forces as things got better; instead, we went in light, and augmented power after the regime's fall.

...Thousands of reservists have been called up. The coming months will see a continued rapid drawdown of deployed U.S. military combat power in Iraq (160,000 to 103,000) and an increasing reliance on 43,000 deploying reserve forces. This is driven not by military logic but by the realities of military end strength. We need to add six more activated National Guard brigades and 80,000 personnel to the Army authorized active-duty force. Mr. Rumsfeld must level with the administration and Congress on the coming crisis in Army active and reserve personnel and equipment readiness...

But none of this gets to the heart of the problem, which is that the U.S. military forces in Iraq are being forced into a drawdown situation. "Iraqification" doesn't address the question of the much broader U.S. Army manpower shortages, and it concerns me that Mr. Rumsfeld himself has said that he fails to see evidence that a shortfall exists. "Iraqification" may prove to be an alibi for broader inaction. Mr. Rumsfeld has so dominated the national security process with the force of his personality that his views on manpower are not being sufficiently challenged in Congress. The Joint Chiefs of Staff will have to candidly face up to this issue in the coming months, notwithstanding the political considerations involved.

But when denial is just a river in Egypt--candor ain't forthcoming.

Oh, via Paris-bound Dan, check this too:

We're realizing strategic victory is about a lot more than annihilating the enemy," says one senior defense official in Mr. Rumsfeld's office. Victory also requires winning the support of locals and tracking down insurgents, who can easily elude advanced surveillance technology and precision strikes. In some cases, a slower, more methodical attack, one that allows U.S. troops to stabilize one area and hold it up as an example of what is possible for the rest of the country, could produce better results, according to emerging Army thinking...

...Before the war began, Middle East experts, along with some Army officials, warned that stabilizing and governing a fractious and ethnically divided Iraq would be much harder than toppling Saddam Hussein.

A recent directive, prepared by Mr. Rumsfeld's office and still in draft form, now yields to that view. It mandates that in the future, units' readiness for war should be judged not only by traditional standards, such as how well they fire their tanks, but by the number of foreign speakers in their ranks, their awareness of the local culture where they will fight, and their ability to train and equip local security forces.


Maybe, like Rumsfeld indicated in Kuwait, his age is getting to him. After all, it shouldn't take 19 months to figure this stuff out--especially when many were saying it before the invasion. Harsh? You bet. But we have had a real failure of leadership at the Pentagon for many long months now. POTUS needs to start hearing this from more people than John McCain. Pity many in the serried ranks of Washington officialdom are often too cowed by the Secretary to speak out more. Accountability, less stubborness, flexibility--all our desparately needed at the Pentagon. Now more than ever given all the critical challenges awaiting us.

P.S. Rumsfeld should also recall some of his own fabled "Rumsfeld's Rules".

Here are a couple worth keeping in mind:

"Don't think of yourself as indispensable or infallible. As Charles de Gaulle said, the cemeteries of the world are full of indispensable men."

"Be able to resign. It will improve your value to the president and do wonders for your performance."

Oh, and he never did help do a good job of this one, did he?

"Establish good relations between the departments of Defense and State, the National Security Council, CIA and the Office of Management and Budget."

Posted by Gregory at December 9, 2004 04:55 AM | TrackBack (10)

By these standards presumably war should really be clean and tidy as well.

The predominance of the US military has accelerated rapidly since Rumsfeld became Secretary of Defense. That is not only important, it is primary. Now he's working on making it better at cleaning up the mess after the fight. That's important too, but not primary. Iraq is not the only threat we face, and in war nobody ever awards points for the elegance of the effort fielded by the side which lost.

Posted by: ZF at December 9, 2004 01:55 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

ZF is right on all 3 counts.

Posted by: rkb at December 9, 2004 02:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Gregory: Could you comment on
which suggests that we went into Iraq as heavily as our force structure would permit?

Posted by: TMH at December 9, 2004 04:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm with Greg. Rumsfeld must go.

Posted by: praktike at December 9, 2004 05:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm with praktike and Greg.

Posted by: Eric Martin at December 9, 2004 05:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Well, I'm certainly not. Rumsfeld's the best SECDEF we've had in a very long time.

Posted by: too true at December 9, 2004 06:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Given that Greg has had a burr under his saddle about Rumsfeld for a long time, his blog's constant harping is to be expected. This screed, however, is starting to sound a bit shrill and thin. You may not like Rumsfeld's manner but his recognition as the most successful and transformational SecDef of the last half century is gaining ground.

Posted by: Dave at December 9, 2004 08:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I fail to see how Greg's consistency about Rumsfeld should somehow detract from the validity of his opinion. Would you be more inclined to agree with Greg if he were to...flip flop?

BD has praised Rumsfeld for his successes, but in an objective fashion, not turned a blind eye to his failures, and the failures that occured on his watch.

As for Rumsfeld being considered the most successful SecDef of all time, history will answer that, but I think the consensus is weaker than you suggest.

Posted by: Eric Martin at December 9, 2004 08:50 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Do we care if the Rumsfeld/soldier exchange was an ambush set up by an embedded journalist?

Following from LittleGreenFootballs:

The soldier who asked Donald Rumsfeld the question about armored vehicles yesterday was set up by a journalist—who then bragged about it in an email.

Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter Edward Lee Pitts is embedded with the 278th Regimental Combat Team, now in Kuwait preparing to enter Iraq, and is filing articles for his newspaper. Pitts claims in a purported email that he coached soldiers to ask Defense Secretary Rumsfeld questions!

When reached Thursday morning, various Chattanooga Times Free Press staffers offered ‘no comment’ on the development.

Sent: Wednesday, December 8, 2004 4:44 PM
To: Staffers

Subject: RE: Way to go

I just had one of my best days as a journalist today. As luck would have it, our journey North was delayed just long enough see I could attend a visit today here by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. I was told yesterday that only soldiers could ask questions so I brought two of them along with me as my escorts. Before hand we worked on questions to ask Rumsfeld about the appalling lack of armor their vehicles going into combat have. While waiting for the VIP, I went and found the Sgt. in charge of the microphone for the question and answer session and made sure he knew to get my guys out of the crowd.

So during the Q&A session, one of my guys was the second person called on. When he asked Rumsfeld why after two years here soldiers are still having to dig through trash bins to find rusted scrap metal and cracked ballistic windows for their Humvees, the place erupted in cheers so loud that Rumsfeld had to ask the guy to repeat his question. Then Rumsfeld answered something about it being “not a lack of desire or money but a logistics/physics problem.” He said he recently saw about 8 of the special up-armored Humvees guarding Washington, DC, and he promised that they would no longer be used for that and that he would send them over here. Then he asked a three star general standing behind him, the commander of all ground forces here, to also answer the question. The general said it was a problem he is working on.

The great part was that after the event was over the throng of national media following Rumsfeld- The New York Times, AP, all the major networks — swarmed to the two soldiers I brought from the unit I am embedded with. Out of the 1,000 or so troops at the event there were only a handful of guys from my unit b/c the rest were too busy prepping for our trip north. The national media asked if they were the guys with the armor problem and then stuck cameras in their faces. The NY Times reporter asked me to email him the stories I had already done on it, but I said he could search for them himself on the Internet and he better not steal any of my lines.

Personally, I'm voting on the side of Rummy. I think we're making it up as we go to a large extent, but it seems to me that a huge amount has been accomplished in the past couple of years, which the whiners and nay-sayers would NEVER have been able to even start on given all the "yes, but's" that would have first been necessary to address in their world view.

Posted by: NahnCee at December 9, 2004 10:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Assuming this e-mail is authentic, which I'm sure is not an unassailable assertion, there are still problematic aspects of the story.

Even if the soldier who asked the question about the armor was coached, the audience of soldiers erupted in applause which would indicate that the issue is on the minds of many regardless of the mouthpiece.

Second, there were multiple questions asked by multiple soldiers that gave Rumsfeld difficulties. The armor question was one. Another related to the disparity in equipment between reserves and regulars. A different soldier asked about pay scale disparities, etc.

As for Rumsfeld's answer to the armor question, that it was a matter of "physics," that appears not to be the case:

Armor Holdings Inc., the sole supplier of protective plates for the Humvee military vehicles used in Iraq, said it could increase output by as much as 22 percent per month with no investment and is awaiting an order from the Army.

Jacksonville, Florida-based Armor Holdings last month told the Army it could add armor to as many as 550 of the trucks a month, up from 450 vehicles now, Robert Mecredy, president of the company's aerospace and defense group said in a telephone interview today.

``We're prepared to build 50 to 100 vehicles more per month,'' Mecredy said in the interview. ``I've told the customer that and I stand ready to do that.''

Apparently, they weren't asked to produce more. That is a problem of "priorities" not "physics."

Posted by: Eric Martin at December 9, 2004 11:21 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Rumsfeld Grilled By Soldiers?

Almost immediately after returning to camp yesterday after the visit by the SECDEF, I did a google news search and read the AP Wire article and noted that, although the piece was fairly accurate, there was definitely a sense of exaggeration in the tone that presented the townhall meeting as a gripe session. As one of the soldiers in the audience, I felt that presenting the morning in such a fashion was misleading, and with such negative connotations, I wondered how long it may be before the MSM ran with the story and turned a pleasant morning with the Secretary of Defense into a scenario that resembled a defendant being cross-examined by the prosecution in a court room. I knew the story was generating heavy circulation when I saw it headlined on Drudge today (click here for story).

Before I dig in, I want to address one item in particular from the story linked above that I think was not made clear enough. When it stated:

Spc. Thomas Wilson had asked the defense secretary, "Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles?" Shouts of approval and applause arose from the estimated 2,300 soldiers who had assembled to see Rumsfeld.

Rumsfeld hesitated and asked Wilson to repeat his question.

I believe Secretary Rumsfeld hesitated because it was difficult to hear the first part of the question Spc. Wilson asked. Perhaps because of nerves, he spoke at first very quickly, and the acoustics of the hangar were hardly concert-hall quality. The Secretary asked others to repeat parts of their questions as well apparently because of difficulty hearing the question in its entirety. I do think Spc. Wilson is justified in asking such a question. It is a serious issue, and if logistics or "physics" is the obstacle from accomplishing the tasks of up-armoring vehicles to add to soldier safety, then we need to do our best to overcome that obstacle. The Secretary concluded with an anecdote in which he spoke of the recent terror warning surrounding the election. He said he looked out the windows of the Pentagon one day and saw 6-8 up-armored HMMWV's perched at the perimeter of the building. He then said, "Guess what, they aren't there any more."

I also want to express that as a person who has worked in politics for years, I was very surprised when we were told there would be the opportunity to ask questions without first having them screened. I would have assumed there would have been some process where those who had questions submitted them prior to asking the Secretary, and had them approved. Instead, everyone in the room was given the option to stand, motion for one of the soldiers holding a microphone, and ask anything they desired. There was no particular order of what kind of questions were asked and the soldiers who asked questions ranged in rank from Specialists to Lieutenant Colonels. When I say I was surprised that this part of the event was not micromanaged, I want to ensure you that I was pleasantly surprised. In my opinion, it shows the attitude that this Secretary has towards the soldiers he is sworn to represent. It shows those in uniform that he does not see us or our concerns as "below his level," but instead sends a signal that we are his concern, and ensuring we can accomplish the mission is his highest priority.

One more thing I would like to add is this, not one soldier present asked questions about why we were here, or expressed the sort of anti-war sentiment that Michael Moore led some to believe was prevalent in the military. Rather, the concern was about ensuring we would be supplied with all necessary equipment to accomplish the mission and return home safely. Let there be no doubt, this was not a hostile crowd eager to catch the Secretary of Defense off guard by grilling him with questions he has never had to answer. This was a group of truly admirable American's and patriots, receiving confirmation from the man who controls the Department of Defense, that we have the full fledged moral, financial and logistical support, to accomplish the mission.

Posted by: NahnCee at December 9, 2004 11:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"That is a problem of "priorities" not "physics.""
How would you like to ship them? Air or ground? Are you also worried about the deficit? Do you know how long it takes to ship it ground? From Kuwait how long does it take to get them to where they are needed? Rumsfeld bashing is fun if you don't have a clue.

Posted by: jrdroll at December 10, 2004 12:05 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


I'm sure it takes years to get from here to Kuwait. Are you really suggesting that they didn't order more armor because of how long it takes to ship it? Since reports of shortages were first reported?

As for deficits, I would say that as an American with a pretty decent income, I would be willing to forgo a portion of my Bush tax cut to insure that my friends, family, and countrymen in the armed forces have adequate equipment.


That is an interesting account. Was it supposed to rebut anything I said, or just provide a bite more context? If it was provided for background and context, I appreciate the post.

As for the bolded part, I never said it was a gripe session. I stand by my statement that there was more than one question asked that was criticial of certain areas. I made this point initially to suggest that even if one soldier were coached (an allegation that I has not been proven to my knowledge), there were others with complaints, even if not a "gripe session."

Posted by: Eric Martin at December 10, 2004 12:37 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Historical perspective, please. What army in history has ever armored all general-purpose transport vehicles?


Posted by: SAS fan at December 10, 2004 02:22 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

SAS, we are supposed to be the best equiped, best trained fighting force in the world. Certainly armoring general purpose transport vehicles is not too much to ask from the best of the best; especially when the principle mode of attack against US forces is roadside bombs.....Adapt and overcome, anyone? Furthermore, the hummer is more than just a transport vehicle.

But, tell you what, SAS (and others) you can volunteer for the sand box and then request to be assigned to an un-armored hummer for the duration.

I'll look forward to a post regarding your opinion of Rumsfeld and this topic, say, about this time next year; if you're still around to post, that is.

Posted by: avedis at December 10, 2004 03:18 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Knock off the snark. Armies don't armor up their general purpose transport vehicles. Wastes petrol: big time. The Brits didn't do it, the Wehrmacht didn't do it, the PLA didn't do it, and the Red Army sure as hell didn't do it. Hell, I bet the Romans didn't even do it cause it would have worn out the oxen.

Nobody wants GI's to be driving around in lightly skinned humvees in Iraq, not even Bushhitler and RummyHeydrich. Most of the Humvees in theater that are being used on patrol have been up-armored by now. The one's that aren't, aren't taken out on patrol. And guess what? G just upguns the yield of his IED; it's a vicious cycle. The best bet is to use Stryker, which has turned into a fantastic weapons platform, especially in urban areas. You don't hear too much about burning Strykers, not even in Mosul anymore.

Yes, let's up-armor as quick as we can. However, let's remember that, intelligence, and of course, allow the Iraqi political system to sort itself out-which will make all the IED's moot in the end. You can armor something up till your blue in the face but C-4 is easy to add on. And those Panzerfausts can really ruin your day, especially that new stuff the Frogs are trying to smuggle in.

Hummer was designed to be a general transport vehicle-nothing more. It was designed back in the seventies, to replace the Willys, which was designed in 1940. Rumsfeld is right in this respect: all the armor in the world can't help but be destroyed by the right kind of weapon. In WWII, if a Tiger didn't get you, a Panzerfaust would. Now if a Panzerfaust could take out a Sherman OR, better yet, a T-34Christie, odds are an RPG can work wonders with an up armored Humvee.

Up armoring, if they're doing what I think they're doing, does not consist of putting an extra plate on the door and the floor. Aside from that, we've probably taken a leaf out of the Wehrmacht playbook and put a standoff layer around the outside of the Humvee, sort of like what the Germans did to the backbone of their panzer force, the Mark IV medium tank. But there's only so much you can do. It's a car, not a tank.

Humvee's ain't tanks. Blaming Rumsfeld ain't gonna make them tanks. Part of the problem is tactical-we have to move people around, mostly in deuce-and-a-halfs and humvees. There are only so many Strykers to go around. It's a new platform, and it's still in its teething phase. Only so many Bradleys. Only so many Abrams. You can blame Rumsfeld, as I do, for not raising up an additional six divisions of rifle infantry in, say, 2001. They would come in real handy right now. He's a brilliant guy, and some of the stuff he is doing, like killing the Crusader arty piece and the actual campaign plan for OIF, were things of beauty. But don't blame him for a design flaw in the freaking Humvee (to be fair, you can blame him if he's just getting around to this process eighteen months after the war began. In fact, you can kick his ass out the door personally-however, I find it hard to believe that Rumsfeld would not have been aware of this problem and have acted on it.).

The jihadis are simply exploiting a weakness in our chain. You can up armor till the cows come home, and they'll just increase the yield in their bombs.

Posted by: Section9 at December 10, 2004 04:17 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


I am pissed-off at Rumsfeld and his crew because they weren't prepared in any way, shape or form for this protracted insurgency.

They sold the war based on scenarios of flowers and candy being tossed to our troops, not IEDs. The failure to have uparmored humvees is a small symptom of a grander blunder. There really was no contingency plan for the aftermath. I'm not even sure there was any plan of any sort for the aftermath.

As for your points regarding the enhanced armor on a hummer, there is some validity to them. However, just a the kevlar helmet won't stop an AK round at close to medium range, it will stop one at longer range. At close to medium range it will slow it and/or deflect it enough that survival may be possible. I wouldn't go into combat without it, even if it isn't perfect. Same with the uparmormed humvee and the larger countering IEDs that you envision; or RPGs for that matter. The chance of survival is increased and I think our troops deserve at least that much.

Posted by: avedis at December 10, 2004 04:50 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Avedis says, "I am pissed-off ..." Gee, yah think?!?

You're pissed off, closed minded and snarky and nothing no how, no way, not ever is gonna change your beady little Loony-Liberal-Lefty demo- neo-brain. Being as pissed off as you are and undoubtedly have been for the past two years, you will believe *nothing* unless it fits your preconceived conception of reality, regardless of facts, statistics, eyewitness accounts, or edicts from the Pope.

It is people like you, avedis, who are the *real* dangers to Western Civilization right now -- not the amok but backwards heathens hacking off heads in the Middle East. And guess what? Because of your hatred and your bitterness (and stupidity), you and yours are teaching the rest of us who thought maybe we could get together and work as a team after the Presidential election to ramp up *our* bitterness in return just to stalemate the situation. Since you've already lost one big battle, my bet is that you'll continue to lose, and that's gonna be totally joyous fun for me to watch.

Watch me point my finger at you, and gloat a "tee hee" at your acidic impotence.

Posted by: NahnCee at December 10, 2004 05:38 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"It is people like you, avedis, who are the *real* dangers to Western Civilization right now"

Yes, we can't have opposing opinion in a democracy can we? That would be a threat to our Constitution (BTW the very Constitution I once swore to defend defend against all enemies foreign and *domestic*).

"...your beady little Loony-Liberal-Lefty demo- neo-brain..."

Actually, I think Move-on is a foolish little bunch, although their predictions regarding Iraq have proven far more accurate that the Bush/neocons, if you can handle them facts.

"...get together and work as a team..."

So whatever her POTUS says I should just agree with? Interesting, because the topic of this - and several other post is Greg's dislike of Rumsfeld, who Bush says is the best Sec. of Def ever. Maybe you should cuss out Greg for not getting with the Bush team.

"Watch me point my finger at you, and gloat..."

I don't know, but that sounds an awful lot like the pot calling the kettle black.

Posted by: avedis at December 10, 2004 06:41 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

But, Greg, It's a war - right? What would you expect of the reserves? 10%? 5%?

And you're talking about 54 seperate State Area Commands. It's not as if half of New York's militia has been at war for 3 years.

People forget that we are returning from the aberration (the cold war), not moving towards codifying it.

Posted by: Art Wellesey at December 10, 2004 02:23 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

As for you, avedis - since you care so much - choke on some reality:

Truth is most U.S. military vehicles have required some kind of armor upgrade to withstand the volleys of RPGs and large-munition roadside bombs the Iraq conflict has produced. The Stryker units have what looks like steel grating around them to throw up an anti-RPG "fence," photos of Bradleys show what looks like reactive armor kits in place, and even the mighty Abrams appear to have been modified with extra plating.

So it is just not a case of the bloodless Pentagon stiffing the Guard and Reserves with thin-skinned Humvees, as some of the comments today seem to suggest. Rummy was right, if typically tone-deaf, by telling Wilson he could get blown up in a tank too.

Further, more armor is not a magical solution, never has been. It is represents a trade-off between protection and mobility, just as in the age of knights when if the peasants managed to violently unhorse an up-armored foe, they could go off and have lunch and leave the knight flailing face down in the mud. If he didn't drown, you could always stab him in the eye-slits later.

The preference for less armor can be seen today with at least some Marines in Fallujah. They point out that up-armoring their Humvees reduces the ability to see threats coming. Oh, but they bitch that the regular Army gets all the good stuff anyway, so at least that's square.

Finally, was it a disgrace or outrage that American tankers in Normandy had to cut up German steel obstacles to make hedge-cutting teeth for their tanks? No, it was an inspired response to the insanity of war. Rummy being nuts has very little to do with this sad and eternal fact.

byline - Jeff Taylor @

Posted by: Art Wellesley at December 10, 2004 02:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Wasn't this supposed to be the "responsibility" administration? Didn't they tell us four years ago that "the grownups are now in charge"?

If they meant what they said, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feithn and all the other closet Clausewitzes would have been gone long ago. Just like Les Aspin was.

If you're asking "Les who?" let me refresh your memory.

He was Clinton's first SecDef, and it was on his authority that soldiers were sent into the middle of Mogadishu with insufficient armor and firepower. The result—as chronicled in "Blackhawk Down"—cost the lives of 19 Americans.

Within a matter of weeks, Aspin was out of a job.

Flash forward to 2004, with a death toll of 1250 and rising, and no one has been held accountable for the serial blunders that have mired us in a situation where we can neither stay nor leave. And with a president who cannot think of a single mistake he has made.

Grownups, indeed.

PS: While Clinton made his share of mistakes, Somalia was not one of them. The troops were there because Poppy Bush sent them there.

Posted by: Zak at December 10, 2004 03:15 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You, like most of the rightwingers here, are clueless. A stock humvee will not even stop a bullet.

But hey, maybe we should make them out of balsa wood. They'd be faster, lighter, cheaper.... perfect in Rummy's eyes.

BTW, interesting that one article I read stated that Rumsfeld drove away from the meeting in guessed it...armored car.

But, like you said, what good is armor anyhow? Something can always defeat it.

Posted by: avedis at December 10, 2004 04:43 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You're right. Bush does need to hear these things but how can that occur as he surrounds himself with syncophants to a greater extent than ever before?

Posted by: yank in london at December 11, 2004 01:54 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sector9, what you say generally makes sense. But I'm a little concerned about some of it.

Traditionally armies didn't armor their general transport vehicles because they used those vehicles behind the lines where they wouldn't get shot at. But there aren't any lines to be behind in iraq. They're likely to get shot at whenever they're on the road or off-road.

Obviously if you're going to take a HumVee out on patrol you'll use an armored one or not go. But where do you take an unarmored one when you aren't on patrol? "I can't take you *anywhere*."

The enemy can upgrade his IEDs to match improved armor. But he mostly can't upgrade his RPGs. Saddam got RPG factories and he stockpiled millions of them, and it's those stockpiles the insurgents have been using. They of course prefer to hit unarmored HumVees that are getting from point A to point B, those are much better targets than the guys who're out looking for a fight. So up-armoring can make maybe-millions of existing RPG rounds worth less. If the insurgents have to try to import better weapons through iran or turkey or syria, that's a *win*. They have no shortage of RPGs, they'd have a shortage of the new stuff.

Oh well. You can say it's brilliant to get rid of the Crusader, but hasn't every administration since Bush I gotten rid of the Crusader? That one isn't brilliance, it's just simple common sense and the Crusader keeps coming back like crabgrass. I fully agree we should have had an extra 6 divisions, but there's a peculiar political logic that appears to trump the practical logic. Until we were ready to invade iraq we had no excuse for 6 more divisions. And it wasn't expedient to explain the actual motivation for invading iraq, so they had to make up a story about WMDs, and the WMD story didn't let them wait for new divisions to train. Also for some reason they kept insisting that they had more than enough troops. Rumsfeld kept claiming that none of the field commanders wanted any more troops, he kept offering to send more and they told him they didn't want any more. So to back up that story he needed to continue to delay creating new divisions. See the pecuilar political logic -- the harder they pretended everything was fine and they didn't need more troops, the less able they were to actually create more troops. Even now, the claim is it would take 2 or 3 years before the new troops would be ready, and by that time one way or another we won't need them. Politics trumps reality.

Anyway, I don't see that the HumVee design was flawed. It's fine for its primary purpose -- transport behind the lines. The new model will be better for iraq.

The only problem is in the short run a bunch of reserve units have unarmored HumVees that they're supposed to improvise armor from using whatever junk they can find. It's understandable they'd be upset.

Posted by: J Thomas at December 11, 2004 03:21 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Art, you're right that in general everything we put into iraq gets hit and everything gets up-armored.

And there is a point where mobility matters more than armor, where you want to see the RPG coming and get out of the way. ;)

But given that, I don't see where you get "So it is just not a case of the bloodless Pentagon stiffing the Guard and Reserves with thin-skinned Humvees"

It looks like the Pentagon *is* stiffing the Guard and Reserves with thin-skinned HumVees, and they're supposed to figure out how to bolt junk on them to improvise their own armor. If it's true that a lot of units have too much armor on their HumVees, why don't they switch with the Reserves? Alternatively if they don't have too much armor, how do you figure the Reserves aren't getting stiffed?

Posted by: J Thomas at December 11, 2004 03:35 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Mr. Thomas;

Agree completely. esp w/ "Anyway, I don't see that the HMMWV design was flawed. It's fine for its primary purpose -- transport behind the lines." - which is why 278 Cav is not getting stiffed.

Mr. "fake everquest name";

See J Thomas posts above and, please, keep choking.

Posted by: Art at December 11, 2004 04:51 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Now that I think about it Greg, Rumsfeld will be able to leverage this whole situation to his advantage (e.g. budget games in favor of transformation or whatever). See for the details.

Posted by: praktike at December 11, 2004 06:57 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Praktite! Shhhhhh.

We're not suppossed to tell anyone about "rope-a-dope" - Karl's orders...

Posted by: Art at December 11, 2004 04:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

POTUS needs to start hearing this from more people than John McCain.

Oh for God's sake that's the LAST thing we need. McCain is mentally unstable and is not someone anyone in the military trusts to give sound advice.

It's always amusing listening to all the second-guessing from the pundits and seeing how little it has to do with anything being discussed at DOD.

The truth is that we could have cleaned up Fallujah in April but CHOSE to withdraw for political reasons. It was not lack of troops or resources or any other such nonsense. It was a DECISION. Politics, pure and simple.

What none of you seem to want to face is that Iraq it THEIR COUNTRY and the Bush administration has chosen to cooperate with the interim government: in other words, not to behave like an occupying force, but more like a partner. This has had unfortunate consequences and there are definate inefficiencies involved.

It hasn't been a neat little war that you can take pretty pictures of and wrap up in a nice package. But wars seldom are like that, are they? Try opening a history book.

Wars are just politics by other means, and if we mean to let the Iraqis settle their own destiny instead of doing everything for them, we have to start listening to them, even if perhaps it would have made more sense to drain the swamp back in April.

This is NOT miscalculation. It is partnership and true democracy, and if it meant losing some lives, well, that is the price we pay for freedom. The military didn't mind. We know freedom isn't free, even if the idiotic media and the pundits don't get it.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 12, 2004 12:01 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Darn it all :) Forgive the typos. Two glasses of cabernet and emotion are not conducive to accurate typing.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 12, 2004 12:04 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Art, where in iraq is behind the lines that the 278th can take their unarmored HumVees? Maybe they can drive them from barracks to PX?

However, I see now that when Rumsfeld was talking about "a matter of physics" he wasn't talking about the single company that has the contract to build armor for new HumVees.

He's talking about the 699th Maintenance Shop which apparently sits in kuwait and up-armors vehicles that have inadequate armor. They have added armor to 6000 some vehicles, and they have a maximum rate of about 400 vehicles a month, which by coincidence is about the rate that new HumVees are made in the USA. It isn't physics that we're making so few new HumVees, but it is physics that the 699th can't armor more old ones. They're taking steel, cutting it into shape, and putting it onto vehicles, and they can't do it any faster without more men and equipment.

When they don't have time for the 278th, there's a rule that the 278th's inadequate HumVees mustn't be driven into iraq, they have to be carried on flatbed trailers. ;) So when they get the order to move, and they don't have the flatbeds, do you think it will be considered an adequate response to report they aren't going yet? Or leave the HumVees behind in kuwait until they can get armored? You know perfectly well that they'll have to break the rule and drive the things on the roads.

Why do you say they aren't getting stiffed?

Anyway, the obvious solution is to expand the 699th, or get them prefab steel, or whatever. It isn't really a problem of physics, it's a problem of engineering and logistics. Two of Rumsfeld's weaknesses.

Posted by: J Thomas at December 12, 2004 01:48 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

hey, commenters are commenting on two glasses of! maybe i should start blogging that way....

Posted by: greg at December 12, 2004 01:50 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"McCain is mentally unstable..." WTF?, over.

Is that the sort of wisdom produced by cabarnet?

Mybe you should establish a one glass limit on this blog.

Posted by: avedis at December 12, 2004 04:19 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"why do you say they aren't getting stiffed"

Well, primarily due to the execellent answer that Cassie has already given. Specifically,

"This is NOT miscalculation. It is partnership and true democracy, and if it meant losing some lives, well, that is the price we pay for freedom. The military didn't mind. We know freedom isn't free, even if the idiotic media and the pundits don't get it."

But, that's not what your at, is it? Which is strange, considering that I agree with your original assessment that;

"Anyway, I don't see that the HMMWV design was flawed. It's fine for its primary purpose -- transport behind the lines."

But here again, this point has already been illuminated (Section9 in his brilliant 10 December post), so I don't read your disconnect. 278 are not getting stiffed. They're an ACR and arrived in country with standard ACR kit. Especially so as they are one of the old "enhanced brigades", specifically resourced by the DOD and (the much more powerful) Guard Bureau to be at parity with AD TO&E.

Hence, no stiffing.

Posted by: Art Wellesley at December 13, 2004 12:44 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Art, let's review the bidding.

They have a bunch of unarmored HumVees. The rule is, you can't drive an unarmored HumVee into iraq. It has to be carried on a flatbed and when it gets where it's going it can only be driven on base.

So they have to armor their HumVees unless they have a lot of flatbeds to carry them on, and they have a great big base to drive them on.

But the guys who uparmor vehicles are too busy to uparmor theirs. And when it comes down to the crunch and their orders are to move in, which rule takes precedence? The one that you can't drive an unarmored HumVee or the one that you and your equipment has to move when you're ordered to move?

It's true that in our democracy we have a long tradition that the reserves get the least training and the worst equipment and take higher casualties, and so they should have known what they were getting into when they joined. But just becuase they've always gotten stiffed I don't see why that translates to them not getting stiffed.

Posted by: J Thomas at December 13, 2004 02:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

My dear avedis:

If it helps any, I was of that opinion while entirely sober (which I am, more often than not) as well. The grape only makes my language a tad stronger - it does not change my basic opinions.

It also happens to be an opinion shared by many active duty military. You may not agree, and this is certainly your prerogative :)

My language was perhaps intemperate. Let me say I question his judgement and leave it at that.

I do try not to blog while drinking. Can't say I've been entirely successful, but I confine myself to frivolity while under the influence :) Commenting, on the otter heiny, is fair game. I've read many a comment that makes far less sense from sober commenters.

J Thomas makes an interesting point. In the Marines, at least, God help the person who openly suggests the Reserves are not 'equal' to the ADuty forces.

This is patently silly - if you train more, one would hope you would be better at your job: if not, WHY ON EARTH HAVE ACTIVE DUTY FORCES AT ALL?

And why have active duty I&I staff with each Reserve BN? I'll tell you why: because no matter how dedicated, the Reserves show up on the weekend and precious time is lost just getting their minds back into the game - it's called ramp-up time. And someone has to mind the store the other 28 days of the month and do all the dirty little jobs that no one has time to do during drill.

Yet we send these guys into battle as though they had the same training as AD forces - it makes no sense to me (not that DOD has consulted me for my opinion lately :)

But Congress (and that includes folks like Kerry - who was a Reservist - and Kennedy) are complicit in this little arrangement. They voted for it. They want to cut defense. They don't want to pay for a full-time active duty force in readiness.

And so we continue to make do, with the cost you see on the news every night.

And by the way, there are sizeable portions of both active duty and Reserve WHO STILL HAVEN'T GONE OVER THERE. We are by no means tapped out. There are some management issues, and not all these decisions are made by Rummy.

The joint chiefs have something to answer for. It's their ball game - I'm no Rummy fan (ironically) but he gets blamed for things that are WAY below his pay grade.

Look a bit lower.

Good Lord, nothing worse than an opinionated (sober this time) female.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 13, 2004 09:21 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Um... While the conversation is interesting, Mr. Thomas, it's not that interesting. So let's Oc Razor this and move on.

You simply fall in on the vehicles of the unit that you're rotating out. Been going on for several cycles now. I know - I 'm one of the loggies that helps ship it all (Sorry, no unit #'s , that would be a no-no for me).

Cassie - Stop apologizing. You're better with the Vino (typical)

Cheers to ALLCON

Posted by: Art Wellesley at December 14, 2004 03:19 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Cassandra, the choice to consistently send in the Reserves too was one of the lessons from vietnam. I'm not sure how well it's working out.

One of the lessons the army learned from vietnam was that career officers are likely to put the best face on their own battle results etc. Not that they'd actually lie about it, but they need combat experience and they need it to look like they're as competent as the other officers. They don't want to be the ones who look like they're having problems. So all through vietnam we were getting unduly optimistic reports.

They figured that reserve officers don't have as much incentive to do that. They don't have as much to gain by hiding unflattering info; they don't have as much to lose by telling the unvarnished truth. So we'd make sure there were lots of reserves keeping an eye on things and helping keep the regular officers honest.

I have my doubts about how well that's working. But the idea wasn't just to cut costs. There was a noble idea there, that was worth some sacrifice it it worked.

Posted by: J Thomas at December 14, 2004 04:32 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Another spin I've heard on the Reserve/Guard mobilization was that the Army said "next time out, we're going to spread the pain": i.e., it was an attempt to get Joe Six Pack's niece and nephew involved so the nation would never be tempted into another debacle like VietNam again.

You're right - I do realize it's not simply a matter of cost. Part of that is 20+ years of frustration talking. (sigh...) I tend to get testy when you separate me from the bottle for any length of time.


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