Rant of the Day, Tuesday, March 21, 2006
“Mr. Secretary, it is I, General Eaton, and I just threw your rotten, stinking palm tree over the side. Now what’s this crap you’re spouting about the Quadrennial Defense Review?”
"By that rule, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is not competent to lead our armed forces. First, his failure to build coalitions with our allies from what he dismissively called "old Europe" has imposed far greater demands and risks on our soldiers in Iraq than necessary. Second, he alienated his allies in our own military, ignoring the advice of seasoned officers and denying subordinates any chance for input.
"In sum, he has shown himself incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically, and is far more than anyone else responsible for what has happened to our important mission in Iraq. Mr. Rumsfeld must step down.
"In the five years Mr. Rumsfeld has presided over the Pentagon, I have seen a climate of groupthink become dominant and a growing reluctance by experienced military men and civilians to challenge the notions of the senior leadership.
"I thought we had a glimmer of hope last November when Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, faced off with Mr. Rumsfeld on the question of how our soldiers should react if they witnessed illegal treatment of prisoners by Iraqi authorities. (General Pace's view was that our soldiers should intervene, while Mr. Rumsfeld's position was that they should simply report the incident to superiors.)
"Unfortunately, the general subsequently backed down and supported the secretary's call to have the rules clarified, giving the impression that our senior man in uniform is just as intimidated by Secretary Rumsfeld as was his predecessor, Gen. Richard Myers."
Retired Major General Paul Eaton’s Op-Ed piece
in Sunday’s New York Times
seems to have attracted quite a bit of attention in both the blogosphere and the corporate media due to the blistering smackdown General Eaton administered to Rummy’s sorry ass. Yesterday, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer made quite a big deal out of trying to discredit it, going so far as to interview Colonel H.R. McMaster (the author of the book Dereliction of Duty
, cited by MG Eaton in his NYT piece) to see if the colonel agreed with the retired general - a pointless exercise in journalism given that a serving officer is forbidden by law and regulation from publicly criticizing the SECDEF. What was the point, Wolfie?
But I think the pundits, the bloggers and the media celebrities are all missing MG Eaton’s two most important messages, aside from the fact that he just equated a USMC four-star general with a USAF four-star pussy.
First, MG Eaton is sending a strong message to the officer corps: You are doing a disservice to the country, your troops and your oath of office if you fail to resist the bullying of an incompetent SECDEF. Flag officers, you might be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice: retire and publicly sound off or future historians may find you as lacking in integrity as McMaster found LBJ’s Joint Chiefs - the “five silent men.”
Second, there is a warning directed specifically to the American electorate as contained in this passage:
Donald Rumsfeld demands more than loyalty. He wants fealty. And he has hired men who give it. Consider the new secretary of the Army, Francis Harvey, who when faced with the compelling need to increase the service's size has refused to do so. He is instead relying on the shell game of hiring civilians to do jobs that had previously been done by soldiers, and thus keeping the force strength static on paper.
This tactic may help for a bit, but it will likely fall apart in the next budget cycle, with those positions swiftly eliminated.
Fealty? An officer takes an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, not a pledge of fealty to the liege lord of DoD. I don’t think most Americans realize how we select our flag officers. The Secretary of Defense interviews candidates proposed by the military service chiefs and endorsed by the civilian service appointees. Nominees are confirmed by the Senate and their commissions are signed by the President. Every subsequent flag officer promotion relies on the same procedure - uniformed service chief to civilian service appointee to SECDEF to Senate to President. If you don't get past the SECDEF selection interview, you don't get another star.
Rummy demands fealty and surrounds himself with bootlickers and brown-nosers, civilian and uniformed. He has presided over five years of military disaster. He has had five unrestricted years to thoroughly pollute the senior officer corps with sycophants and yes-men. Now he has control of the QDR.
Listen up, you maggots. The General is sounding off.
P.S. Full disclosure. I served under Paul Eaton as a supporting counterintelligence officer when he was a colonel commanding 1st Brigade, 3d Infantry Division, Schweinfurt, Germany - later re-designated 2d Brigade, 1st Infantry Division when our Division was re-flagged in 1995.