Col. David H. Hackworth, author of "Steel My Soldiers' Hearts," "Price of Honor" and "About Face," saw duty or reported as a sailor, soldier and military correspondent in nearly a dozen wars and conflicts -- from the end of World War II to the fights against international terrorism.More ↓Less ↑
U.S. Army conventional brass, in their infinite wisdom, are about to throw the book at a good soldier for doing what savvy combat leaders have done since before the invention of gunpowder: deep-six the regs to protect the troops and win fights.
According to a 4th Infantry Division staff weenie, battalion skipper Lt. Col. Allen B. West violated the Rules of Interrogation – designed by a platoon of legal beagles far removed from the Iraqi killing fields of the Sunni Triangle, where West and his soldiers have been slugging it out since Saddam Hussein disappeared.
West’s sin was firing two pistol shots into the air and ground while questioning an Iraqi police officer who was aiding local terrorists and putting West’s soldiers in their cross hairs on a regular basis.
In my outfit, West would have gotten a pat on the back and been told to press on. But even though the double-crossing turncoat spilled his guts – enabling West’s unit to ambush the ambushers – West is looking at serious slammer-time if found guilty by court-martial.
From what I’ve discovered, this street-smart leader used the right tactics and techniques, while his commander, Maj. Gen. Raymond Odierno, played Political Correctness – a popular sport with our star-wearers and a major reason why the guerrillas are scoring so successfully in Iraq.
After six months of light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel propaganda from the Bush administration reinforced by sycophants like Odierno, I’m convinced few generals on the ground in Iraq understand either the nature of insurgency warfare in general or their specific terrorist enemy.
Which isn’t exactly breaking news. We’ve lost campaign after campaign because most of our brass, from George Custer of Little Bighorn to Thomas Montgomery of “Black Hawk Down” in Somalia, never bothered to understand the nature of guerrilla warfare.
Sure, the U.S. military brilliantly won the tactical war in Iraq with “shock and awe,” but no amount of spin can shift the reality that it has been losing the early innings of the occupation phase. The generals so eager to court-martial colonels for doing their jobs should be court-martialed themselves for not doing their duty and confronting SecDef Donald Rumsfeld before we invaded Iraq. Had they, we wouldn’t be dealing with the aftermath of an inept war plan that provided neither enough troops nor sufficient command guidance to prevent the looting and violence that fueled the ever-expanding guerrilla conflict, a conflict that Col. West and other heroes have been stuck in since Commander in Chief Bush blithely declared the end of major combat in Iraq last May.
Last April, the only ministry that our forces protected was the Oil Ministry. The rest of the ministries and infrastructure were sacked while our troops looked the other way, and the Iraqi people watched the nuts and bolts of their future Iraqi government being hauled away in hijacked trucks.
Because there was no coherent strategy in the early weeks of the occupation, our top brass responded to events rather than taking charge. Reaction rather than action allowed the insurgents to gain the initiative right from the get-go. And they’re still at it, brazenly displaying the same bold MO as they continue inflicting carefully planned pain on our increasingly weary combat forces.
The generals should also be brought up for not fighting the dumb White House decision to disband the Iraqi army. Instead of integrating that 450,000-man force into the stabilization process – and using it for reconstruction and certain security ops, which would have helped our badly stretched troops gain control over the looters and get the country up and running – we made it our enemy. Thousands of trained and armed Iraqi soldiers couldn’t make tracks fast enough to join the insurgent movement.
The conventional generals like Odierno should be replaced by mainly Special Forces leaders, both from the active and retired ranks, who comprehend the war at hand. Leaders who’d drop the silly charges against Col. West in a heartbeat so he could get on with winning his piece of this ugly war.
As for the Perfumed Princes, send them home from both Iraq and Afghanistan – another guerrilla war we’re losing – and let them play Political Correctness, or perhaps the emerging Blame Game, with the chicken hawks who got us in this mess in the first place.