Rant of the Day, Friday, April 1, 2005
Readers, I didn't have time to research an update today. Instead, I offer this email exchange from early February between myself and a disgruntled reader. I won't call his initial message "monkey mail" because I have too much respect for veterans and a brother officer. But since he never responded, I'll publish our exchange of views.
I love watching you squirm at the site of a new born democracy. You would rather have anything but success in IRAQ.. how sad and pathetic . Please continue to amuse me with your sophomoric antics. hahahahaha. I bet you would piss your pants if you went on a mission with me.
170th AHC Camp HollowayBikini 25
RE: (no subject)
Ordinarily, I would not dignify the email you sent me with a response. But after conducting a few preliminary inquiries and some technical research, I’m fairly convinced you are who you claim to be. Further, it would be a sad day for America when two former US Army Warrant Officers and combat veterans cannot discuss an issue as serious as Iraq without resorting to petty insults.
I don’t wish for failure in Iraq. I don’t want to see my country fail at any endeavor. I sincerely hope the Iraqi elections lead to an end to the insurgency, because the American soldiers fighting there are the my friends, comrades, and brother officers. I trained many of those brave men and women. In the Casualty Reports portion of my blog, I’ve already posted the names of two friends (one KIA, one WIA) and the KIA name of the only son of one of the finest NCOs with whom I ever served. I remember bouncing that boy on my knee when his daddy and I were junior NCOs and our wives gossiped together. (NCOs love gossip, too.) I remember how proud his daddy was when his son was selected for West Point while we were later stationed together at Fort Bragg.
I don’t wish for failure but I don’t expect success. I started my blog as a result of the piss-poor coverage of the Iraq war in the American media. Rumsfeld and his buddies have fucked up this war from jump street, and the US media has failed to report it. After 27 years of active duty, I know a bit about US Army operational doctrine and force structure planning. You don’t make a deep attack on a strategic objective along a single axis of advance, and you always build your force structure with sufficient resources to protect your lines of communication during the campaign and to secure your objective after you’ve taken it. Despite the advice of the uniformed officers, Rumsfeld and his civilian political appointees (most of whom never served a day in uniform unless they were Boy Scouts or worked at Burger King) insisted on a minimal force structure and a single attack route to Baghdad.
A brief review of the campaign might be helpful.
During the initial high-intensity combat phase of the campaign in March/April 2003, the 3d Infantry Division crossed the LD at the Kuwaiti border and attacked along the Euphrates river on a planned line of advance through Nasiriyah - Samawah - Najaf - Hilla - to the strategic objective of Baghdad. The attack stalled at Najaf, less from to Iraqi resistance than poor logistical support due to Rumsfeld’s faulty force structure. As a result, the US follow-on exploitation force, 1st Marine Division, swung right across Tigris river at Kut and attacked Baghdad from the east bank of the Tigris, drawing off defending Iraqi units from 3ID. Re-supplied, 3ID continued the attack and Baghdad fell.
Although 3ID and 1MD took Baghdad, they lacked the resources to secure Iraq. Weeks of looting, murder, rape, riot and disorder followed, all directly attributable to Rumsfeld’s failure to follow the advice of the professional officer corps. Before the war, General Shinseki, US Army Chief of Staff, warned Congress that a successful conquest and pacification of Iraq required at least 400,000 troops, would take a minimum of five years, and would cost $100 billion annually. Rumsfeld and his buddies went apeshit and a Republican Congress ignored the General. Paul Wolfowitz said GEN Shinseki was “wildly off the mark.” Larry DiRita said GEN Shinseki was a political partisan. Dougie Feith publicly called GEN Shenseki a liar. GEN Shinseki made the honorable decision to retire. No civilian political appointee from Rumsfeld’s office attended GEN Shinseki’s retirement ceremony, presumably just to spite an American officer who disagreed. They didn’t hear GEN Shinseki say, “Beware the twelve division strategy for a ten division Army.” The American people didn’t hear that waning either, because our media was too busy yapping about “shock and awe.”
Since the fall of Baghdad, the occupation has been bungled at every step. The troops have performed like professional soldiers and Marines. In my opinion, the performance of the Reserve Component has been particularly impressive. But the troops are being abused through back-to-back deployments, stop-loss, and involuntary recall.
In the first Iraq War, I was an operations officer on an artillery assault command post. On the last day of the war, I accepted the surrender of an Iraqi artillery battery led by a very brave Iraqi artillery captain. My sergeants and soldiers gave the Iraqi soldiers food and water, and our medics treated the Iraqi wounded. I was very proud of my men that day because they treated those Iraqi soldiers with compassion and dignity.
I shared coffee, cigarettes and some cookies my sister sent me with that Iraqi captain. We talked. We looked at family photographs. We traded compasses.
As I write, from my little house in the green rain forests of western Washington State, that Iraqi officer's compass rests on my desk. It’s an excellent gunner’s compass, much better than the standard US Army M3 compass I gave him. It has black-enameled brass case, with a 6400 mil dial, a tight bezel that audibly clicks (so you needn’t strike a light a light to adjust it in the dark,) a radium-illuminated dial, rose and sighting notch. The compass rose floats on a small bubble and the dual swing action of the magnifying prism in the reading lens makes it easy to identify either an azimuth or a back-azimuth through the sighting wire. It even has a small thumbscrew so you can lock the dial and orientate an observed azimuth to your map. It’s a beautiful compass. There’s an Arabic inscription engraved on the back of the compass case. Later, an interpreter told me that the engraving said that the compass was awarded to the distinguished graduate of the Iraqi artillery academy in 1984.
When I look at that compass, I think about that young Iraqi captain. I like to think he is at home in Baghdad with his family enjoying peace, prosperity and his children.
But from our conversation so many years ago, I learned that he was a proud man, an able artilleryman and very devoted to his country. He didn’t want to surrender, but he had no ammunition, fuel, food, or water, his soldiers were demoralized by the bombing and his general and staff had run away. He didn’t welcome us into in his country. He was extremely pissed off. I was comforted only because he’d already given me his pistol. I didn’t want to stay in his country.
Today, I strongly suspect that Iraqi captain is using my old, piece-of-shit M3 compass to lay fire on the troops occupying his land. I regret giving it to him. But if an Iraqi army occupied my country I would pick up that captain’s compass from my desk, un-holster my M1911 .45 pistol, and unhesitatingly lay fire on him.
The ancient Greek writers called this dilemma tragedy. I call it folly.
Today, I’m retired from the colors. I doubt I’ll be recalled anytime soon. I broke my neck on my last tour in Bosnia in a vehicle accident. My knees are shot. Too much PT, too much running and too many parachute jumps. I’ve got a sweet civilian job supervising a bunch of young people who bitch about everything. I love hearing them bitch. They bitch, argue, resolve their issues, get back to work, and then go have fun. That’s America. America wouldn’t work if we didn’t bitch, argue, settle our disagreements respectfully and go have fun together.
Once upon a time you signed DA Form 71 and executed an oath as an officer of the US Army. I strongly suggest you review that oath:
"I, _____ (SSAN), having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God."
I took that same oath. I didn’t swear allegiance to a political party, like Soviet officers, and I didn’t swear my loyalty to a Fuehrer, like Wehrmacht officers. I know few Russians, but after serving in Germany and speaking the language, I met many former Wehrmacht officers who rued the day they swore a personal oath to Hitler. Ask me to swear an oath to a political party or a partisan leader and I’ll tell you to pucker up and kiss my ass.
CW4, USA (Ret)