Thursday, December 16, 2004


Bill Kristol and Senator John McCain want a new Secretary of Defense.

I want a new 500 horsepower, 8.3-liter, Viper-powered V10, Dodge Ram pickup truck. I prefer fire engine red. I'm short by about $46,000, though. If you wish to give me one of these fine machines, please leave contact info in comments.

Secretary Rumsfeld has performed a great service to this nation in very difficult times -- under pressure that most of us can only imagine.

He serves at the pleasure of the President of the United States. President Bush wants him to stay on longer. When President Bush decides it's time for change, he'll accept Secretary Rumsfeld's resignation and nominate someone else for Secretary of Defense.

I put a heckuvalot more trust in President Bush on this matter than I do William Kristol or Senator John McCain.

And Lord, help the military if John McCain were to become the next DoD chief. Some of the same generals whining to the press about Rumsfeld would gain a new appreciation of "Don't ask, Don't tell." Bend over buddy.

Rumsfeld took charge of a Pentagon that had, for 8 years, suffered from the lack of adult civilian supervision. Bill Clinton, the draft dodger, didn't want to be viewed as an anti-military Commander-in-Chief. He appointed weak Secretaries of Defense and let the generals run the place. That suited the generals just fine.

Contrary to popular myth, a lot of Pentagon generals are adverse to risk. They may not have been that way in their younger days as studly Captains and Majors, but after multiple tours at the Pentagon and other staff jobs -- jobs that take them away from troops -- something happens. They lose the edge as they gain rank and prestige. Too many worry about punching the ticket to the next billet. Don't rock the boat. Play it safe.

Not all generals. Too many.

That's why we bombed Serbia from 15,000 feet. It's why we launched cruise missiles at aspirin factories, unoccupied Iraqi intelligence headquarters, and empty tents in the Afghanistan sand.

Most of these generals sat on their thumbs as Clinton and Congress (Senator McCain's buddies, the Democrats) decimated the military ranks. Don't rock the boat. Play it safe. Get that next plum assignment. Get that next star.

Not all generals. Too many.

They played it safe, got their way and they got used to getting their way.

Enter Donald H. Rumsfeld.

He took charge and left little doubt who was boss. He did more than ruffle some feathers -- he rocked their world.

And the world of the Pentagon generals needed rocking.

He hadn't been in the job 3 months before some generals started whispering to the Washington Post: Rumsfeld was mean. Why Rumsfeld acted like he ran the place!

Before September 11, 2001, Washington conventional wisdom had Rumsfeld being replaced by year's end.

But that all changed. Rumsfeld stood tall in the storm. He showed uncommon strength and purpose. The American people responded positively to Rumsfeld's daily briefings -- they loved him.

For a long while the whispering generals let Rumsfeld be. They could read the situation. They're not stupid, afterall -- just political.

Again, not all generals. Too many.

I don't know that the generals are whispering to the press about Rumsfeld today. Some of that is probably still going on. This latest criticism of Rumsfeld seems to come mostly from politicians and pundits.

As you listen to the criticisms of Rumsfeld -- not enough troops, not enough up-armored HMMVs, forces stretched too thin and on and on -- keep in mind what he inherited.

Bill Clinton and the liberal Democrats decimated our military. They cut the Army from 18 divisions to 10 .. sent 300,000 soldiers packing. They cut the Navy in half .. from 600 ships to 300. The Air Force was equally decimated. Overall, the active duty military lost 700,000 soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen.

[PAUSE] . . . and consider those numbers.

They tried to have Defense on the cheap, shifting assets, that were best left in the active duty lineup, to the Guard and Reserves.

As Clinton and Congress slashed and hacked our military strength, Clinton increased our operational tempo (deployments) by 300% -- sending us to deal with such "national security threats" as Haiti and Bosnia and Kosovo (we're still there carrying the Europeans' water).

And there's more .. 20 out of 22 of our Army training centers were rated at the very lowest level of readiness. Political Correctness ran rampant. "Consideration of Others Training" came close to trumping combat training .. and on and on.

Remember these headlines?

Click on photo to enlarge

"An Army In Decline -- What Clinton-Gore accomplished that our enemies could not"

President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld inherited a mess. What took 15 years to rebuild after Vietnam, the Democrats decimated in Clinton's first term.

By the middle of Clinton's second term, the military readiness situation was dire. Plans for further cuts were shelved. Secretary Of Defense William Cohen tacitly admitted that the cuts had been too deep. The Defense Department initiated a program to try to get recently cut junior officers and noncomissioned officers to return to active duty. The service chiefs from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines were dispatched to Capitol Hill to ask for more resources.

The Clinton administration learned too late that it is easier to tear the military down than it is to build it back. With a stroke of the pen you can cut the force, but it takes years to train replacements. It takes years to build the Staff Sergeants, Sergeants First Class, Captains, and Majors -- those mid-level ranks that run the military -- the ones who took the brunt of Clinton's cuts.

Then before President Bush had even completed 8 months in office, with our military force structure dangerously thin, with our operational tempo still hovering around 300% over norm, with our military stretched to the breaking point .. two terrorist-guided commercial jets brought down the twin towers, another crashed into the Pentagon and another, aimed at either the Capitol or the White House, crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania when brave passengers said "Let's Roll!" and attacked the terrorists.

We have been at war ever since.

Believe it or not, Rumsfeld's critics are using this recent statement to beat up on him:

"As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time." -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld

What am I missing?

Oh. My new 500 horsepower, 8.3-liter, Viper-powered V10, fire engine-red, Dodge Ram pickup truck.

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