Saturday, May 12, 2007

General-ly Speaking

Now we have an active duty General speaking up that he does not have sufficient troops to do the job he has been tasked with, and he is doing so publicly. Major General (two stars) Randy Mixon has expressed his need for more troops since taking his command in Diyala province in September. "I'm going to need additional forces," he said, "to get that situation to a more acceptable level, so the Iraqi security forces will be able in the future to handle that."

He was absolutely scathing in his assessments of the Iraqi government.

Mixon emphasized that he had asked for more troops shortly after arriving in Iraq last September, well before the U.S. troop buildup was started in Baghdad. Mixon said he saw that violence was rising and the region was becoming a stronghold for Sunni extremists tied to al-Qaida in Iraq.

He said he had been given a battalion in reinforcements, or about 800 soldiers, and that Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the day-to-day commander in Iraq, has said he would send additional forces when possible.

"The level of violence began to increase before the surge," Mixon said. "It has increased, of course, during the surge . . . (because) we are sure that there are elements, both Sunni extremist and Shia extremist, that have moved out of Baghdad."

It is rare for an officer of Mixon's rank to publicly call for more troops. When Donald H. Rumsfeld was secretary of Defense, there were intense pressures on officers to not make such requests, even privately, according to officers who served in Iraq.

Mixon's comments were the first of what could be a succession of blunt evaluations by officers under Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, said retired Army Maj. Gen. William L. Nash, a veteran of the Bosnian conflict who is now an analyst with the Council on Foreign Relations.

"I suspect the new Defense secretary has told general officers to speak their minds," Nash said. "It's going to be hard for some in the administration; suddenly they're going to feel it from the inside. I think you're going to see more of it."

One Pentagon official said Mixon's public request for more troops was being viewed as an attempt to pressure the new commander in Iraq, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, into sending more troops to Diyala from Baghdad, since the overstretched Army is currently unable to send substantial numbers of additional reinforcements from the U.S.

Mixon is not known for publicly airing problems he faces in the field. One recently retired Army general close to the northern Iraq commander said his frankness likely stemmed from a new "command climate" under Petraeus that is more conducive to blunt evaluations.

Many Army generals also have been stung by disclosures by lower-ranking officers. A recent article in the Armed Forces Journal by Lt. Col. Paul Yingling, an Iraq War veteran who is deputy commander of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, accused the Army's top generals of botching the war and misleading the American public and Congress.

"That's weighing on the consciences of the general officers of our Army," Nash said. "(Yingling) said they failed to live up to their sacred oath of telling the truth. As a consequence, I think everybody is saying, `Not me. I'm not going to be guilty of that.' "

Frankly, Yingling called out a group of men who should not have needed to be called out. Every last General in uniform now was either a junior officer during Vietnam, or came in right after. In either case, they know the devastation to the officer corps and the rank and file when the Pentagon propagates lie upon lie and tries to justify unjust conflict and bloodshed.

Look for more active duty Generals and Colonels to make with the public proclamations.

Make no mistake – this is happening for one reason and one reason only…the SecDef has bestowed his blessing on senior officers to speak out. (But why? Gates doesn’t have his morning coffee without considering four agendas that no one else knows about.)

I am watching Gates operate right now, and wondering, frankly, just what the fuck he is up to.

He is a rogue Secretary – the one man that Karl Rove has no dirt on – in fact, the inverse of that is probably true. He is the one man in the administration that the Mayberry Machiavellis can not control, and that wildcard makes watching the interactions between the White House and His Father’s Man, sent to save him, interesting. Especially if you are familiar with Gates earlier work, as I am. I detest the man, don't trust him any farther than I can throw a bull by the tail; but damn, I respect the talent.

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