Monday, December 18, 2006

The Republican House Gives Its Verdict on the Dumbsfeld Era: Wrong-Headed on Troop Numbers

The Republican House Gives Its Verdict on the Dumbsfeld Era:  Wrong-Headed on Troop Numbers

I read somewhere in the past two days that Vice President Cheney’s post-mortem on ex-SecDef Dumbsfeld’s tenure in the Pentagon was that he was “one of the best.”

Well, perhaps Cheney can be forgiven, since he and Dumbsfeld are apparently friends and Cheney know next to nothing about the military.

In reality, however, I believe Dumbsfeld will go down in history as an abysmal failure.  Like the British colonel in the story Bridge over the River Kwai, for whom completing a building project FOR his Japanese captors eclipsed for him in importance the war effort (AGAINST the Japanese) itself, Dumbsfeld’s obsession for force transformation (read:  a too-small but very high-tech force) smacked clearly of an unchecked eccentricity in the extreme.

Despite the demands of the two front war in Asian (Afghanistan and Iraq), despite the mounting US casualties, despite the surging chaos in Iraq, despite clear signs of impending strain on US military men and material due to the sustained war-time tempo, Dumbsfeld (like the Colonel in the River Kwai story) held obsessively, doggedly, and – one might add – insanely to his concept of a smaller force.

Keep in mind that during the past four years, even Senator Clinton was advocating for an increase in the size of US ground combat forces.  But Dumbsfeld would have none of it.

The story behind Bush’s failure to dump Dumbsfeld YEARS ago will probably occupy military historians for decades to come.  

House Republicans – in their last gasp – have repudiated Dumbsfeld by calling for an increase in the size of the US military.  Army Chief of Staff, General Peter Schoomaker concurs.

Unfortunately, however, as William Hawkins (the author of the Washington Times piece linked to above) points out – if a Republican Administration supported by a Republican Congress in TIME OF WAR failed to increase the size of our ludicrously small military, there seems little likelihood of a different approach under a Democratically-controlled Congress.

Alas, I suspect the post-mortem on the Bush/Dumbsfeld years will be:  Lost opportunities – including opportunities to take out the hostile regime in Damascus, to use force against the thugs in Khartoum, to WIN DECISIVELY in BOTH Afghanistan and Iraq, and to INCREASE the size of the military from its Clinton-era dwarfing.

In closing, as the father of a son who survived one combat tour in Iraq under Dumbsfeld, I bid the eccentric former Pentagon Chief a hearty “good riddance!”


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