Thursday, December 09, 2004

Rumsfeld Shows the Soldiers His Appreciation

Everyone and their dog is talking about the Rumsefeld "town-hall" debacle, where he opened himself up for questions from soldiers about to go to Iraq. The now-infamous Question came from Army Spc. Thomas Wilson of the 278th Regimental Combat Team (comprised mainly of soldiers from the TN National Guard): "Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles?"

That would seem to be a valid question, to put it mildly. Rummy responded in a fashion that it is difficult to find more insulting or uncaring: "You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time."

I began a comment on this, but then realized that Fred Kaplan of Slate summed up my thoughts perfectly:

Rumsfeld's answer was, first, unforgivably glib, reminiscent of his shrugged line about the looting in the days after Saddam's fall ("Stuff happens"), but more shocking because here he was addressing American soldiers who are still fighting and dying, 20 months after Baghdad's fall, as a result of Rumsfeld's decisions.

More than that, his answer was wrong. If you're attacked by surprise, you go to war with the army you have. But if you've planned the war a year in advance and you initiate the attack, you have the opportunity—and obligation—to equip your soldiers with what they'll need. Yes, some soldiers will get killed no matter the precautions, but the idea is to heighten their odds—or at least not diminish them—as they're thrust into battle.

So here stands the secretary of defense, long and widely despised by officers for rejecting their advice before the war and now openly criticized by the grunts for failing to give them proper cover as the war rages on all around them.

And yet Rumsfeld is the one Cabinet secretary who has received explicit assurances that he will keep his job, with President Bush's full confidence, into the second term.

Today, Rumsfeld said he expects the Army to do its best to resolve the problem. His passing of the buck is unsurprising, in that he still has yet to suffer any consequences from Abu Ghraib.

CNB generally tries to be independent, but, for crying out loud, can someone explain why they voted for Bush, if this type of guy earns loyalty? Support our troops, indeed.