Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The General Who Got It Right on Iraq

December 26, 2004  
The General Who Got It Right on Iraq
By Frank Gibney,
Frank Gibney, president of the Pacific Basin Institute, is a professor of politics at Pomona College and author of "The Pacific Century" and other books on Asia and foreign policy.
LA Times
When Donald H. Rumsfeld swooped down on the Pentagon in 2001 as President Bush's secretary of Defense, Gen. Eric Shinseki must have looked like a natural ally to him. Like Rumsfeld, Shinseki wanted to "transform" the armed services and had announced his plan for changing the Army when he became chief of staff in 1999.
But Shinseki's notion of transformation differed substantially from Rumsfeld's. To the new Defense secretary, transformation meant greater reliance on technology, not troops, to achieve goals; to Shinseki, it meant more intensified training, featuring highly mobile medium-light brigades of mechanized infantry capable of a variety of missions.
Their philosophical clash became public when the United States went to war against Iraq. The preemptive attack relied on overwhelming air power and deployed a bare minimum of ground troops. Asked by a Senate committee to estimate the number of troops needed for the operation, Shinseki said "several hundred thousand." Rumsfeld's office immediately denounced the number as "wildly off the mark." But the disastrous experience in postwar Iraq has proved the general right: Security remains elusive because the numbers of U.S. and coalition forces on the ground are inadequate.
Since his retirement in June 2003, Shinseki has restricted his public appearances to foreign policy and university audiences. Early this month at Pomona College, he outlined his policy for a post-Cold War Army equipped to deal with a multitude of duties.....