Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Generals Have Failed Our Troops

As some of you know, I now live near Fort Hood. I actually teach two courses a semester on base. Many of my students are either active duty, spouses or children of active duty personnel, or retired military. I have come to know many people who have a direct relationship with the Iraq War, and many are beyond tired of having their lives or their loved-one's lives put in harms way for no apparant reason.

Lt. Colonel Paul Yingling recently voiced his concern about the Lack of Military Leadership in this war--specifically, the lack of "the balls" to tell the politicians what was necessary to complete the mission in Iraq.

Yingling is no "Dove." He is deputy commander of the 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment stationed here at Fort Hood. He has served two tours in Iraq, another in Bosnia and a fourth in Operation Desert Storm.

Yingling states that:

"These debacles are not attributable to individual failures, but rather to a crisis in an entire institution: America's general officer corps. America's generals have failed to prepare our armed forces for war and advise civilian authorities on the application of force to achieve the aims of policy. The argument that follows consists of three elements. First, generals have a responsibility to society to provide policymakers with a correct estimate of strategic probabilities. Second, America's generals in Vietnam and Iraq failed to perform this responsibility. Third, remedying the crisis in American generalship requires the intervention of Congress."

In an interview on NPR Friday, Yingling conceded that the only General that he could think of that had the guts to "tell it like it is" was General Eric Shinseki, who was fired by the Bush Administration when he gave his honest assessment of how many troops were needed to succeed in Iraq.

It is incredible to read Col. Yingling's assessment of what is going wrong in the military today. What is the value of a General if they do not have the interests of their troops in mind? Over 3000 troops have given up their lives for a war many of my friends regarded as illegal in the first place. Bush's war strategy is falling apart at every concievable angle today. How is it that the Generals are also responsible for not being honest with the Executive Branch for this failed strategy? What does it say about the dangerous arrogance of the Executive Branch today (our Imperial Presidency) that they not only blatantly disregarded professional advice--they also FIRED the sole voice with the guts to tell them the honest truth?

For me, it is now imperative that we bring our troops home from a dangerous and unwinnable situation. Not even the Generals have the "balls" to give the troops what they need to win. Is "saving face" worth MORE THAN THE LIFE of other soldiers in Iraq today? And where is "saving face" part of the freedoms we have sent the troops to defend? Whose face are they saving by "Staying The Course?"

I'm not sure I agree with what Yingling asserts as the solutions to this problem. There needs to be a heirarchichal relationship between the Civilian authority over the Military Branch. The Civilian Authority should always question and critique the Military Branch's options for war. Still, what Yingling asserts is dangerous--the General Leadership is nothing more than ass-kissing hacks to the Executive Branch. For honest assessments, you get fired. What message does this send to lower ranking officers in the Corps? What message does this send to the troops on the ground?

It is time to get out of Iraq. It seems noone cares about the troops on the ground anymore (if they ever did)....

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