For his failures, Rumsfeld must go
Paul D. Eaton The New York Times
MONDAY, MARCH 20, 2006

FOX ISLAND, Washington During World War II, American soldiers en route to Britain before D-Day were given a pamphlet on how to behave while awaiting the invasion. The most important quote was: "It is impolite to criticize your host; it is militarily stupid to criticize your allies."
  By that rule, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is not competent to lead America's armed forces. First, his failure to build coalitions with U.S. allies from what he dismissively called "old Europe" has imposed far greater demands and risks on American soldiers in Iraq than necessary. Second, he alienated his allies in the U.S. military, ignoring the advice of seasoned officers and denying subordinates any chance for input.
In sum, he has shown himself incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically and is far more than anyone else responsible for what has happened to America's mission in Iraq. Rumsfeld must step down.
  In the five years he has presided over the Pentagon, I have seen groupthink become dominant and a growing reluctance by experienced military men and civilians to challenge the notions of the senior leadership.
  I thought we had a glimmer of hope last November when General Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, faced off with Rumsfeld on the question of how U.S. soldiers should react if they witnessed illegal treatment of prisoners by Iraqi authorities. (Pace's view was that U.S. soldiers should intervene, while Rumsfeld's position was that they should simply report the incident to superiors.)
  Unfortunately, the general backed down, giving the impression that America's senior man in uniform is just as intimidated by Rumsfeld as was his predecessor, General Richard Myers.
  Rumsfeld has put the Pentagon at the mercy of his ego, his Cold Warrior's view of the world and his unrealistic confidence in technology to replace manpower. As a result, the U.S. Army finds itself severely undermanned - cut to 10 active divisions but asked by the administration to support a foreign policy that requires at least 12 or 14.
  Only General Eric Shinseki, the army chief of staff when President George W. Bush was elected, had the courage to challenge the downsizing plans. So Rumsfeld retaliated by naming Shinseki's successor more than a year before his scheduled retirement, effectively undercutting his authority. The rest of the senior brass got the message, and nobody has complained since.
  Now the Pentagon's new Quadrennial Defense Review shows that Rumsfeld also fails to understand the nature of protracted counterinsurgency warfare in Iraq and the demands it places on ground forces. The document, amazingly, does not call for enlarging the army; rather, it increases only Special Operations forces, by a token 15 percent, maybe 1,500 troops.
  Rumsfeld has also failed in terms of operations in Iraq. He rejected the so-called Powell Doctrine of overwhelming force and sent just enough tech-enhanced troops to complete what we called Phase III of the war - ground combat against the uniformed Iraqis. He ignored competent advisers like General Anthony Zinni and others who predicted that the Iraqi forces might melt away, leading to chaos.
  It is all too clear that Shinseki was right: Several hundred thousand men would have made a big difference then, as we began Phase IV, or country reconstruction. There was never a question that we would make quick work of the Iraqi Army.
  Last, you do not expect a secretary of defense to be criticized for tactical ineptness. Normally, tactics are the domain of the soldier on the ground. But in this case we all felt what L. Paul Bremer, the former viceroy in Iraq, has called the "8,000-mile screwdriver" reaching from the Pentagon. Commanders in the field had their discretionary financing for things like rebuilding hospitals randomly cut; money to pay Iraqi construction companies to build barracks was withheld; contracts for purchasing military equipment for the new Iraqi army were rewritten back in Washington.
  So, what to do?
  First, President Bush should accept the offer to resign that Rumsfeld says he has tendered more than once, and hire a man who will listen to and support the magnificent soldiers on the ground. Perhaps a proven Democrat like Senator Joseph Lieberman could repair fissures that have arisen both between parties and between uniformed men and the Pentagon big shots.
  More vital in the longer term, Congress must assert itself. Too much power has shifted to the executive branch, not just in terms of waging war but also in planning the military of the future. Congress should remember it still has the power of the purse; it should call U.S. generals, colonels, captains and sergeants to testify frequently, so that their opinions and needs are known to the men they lead. Then when they are asked if they have enough troops - and no soldier has ever had enough of anything, more is always better - the reply is public.
  Our most important, and sometimes most severe, judges are our subordinates. That is a fact I discovered early in my military career. It is, unfortunately, a lesson Rumsfeld seems incapable of learning.

Paul D. Eaton, a retired U.S. Army major general, was in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004