11, 2004 #01: Political
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author, Jim Wrenn.
Kennedy blasts Donald Rumsfeld for delays in replacing or upgrading unarmored HumVees-- Gold-Plated
Rhetoric, Gold-Plated Equipment, Gold-Plated Courage, Gold-Plated Leadership.
In all armies in all wars, troops at the bottom of the chain of command experience the frustration
of an inherent flaw in every chain of command-- complaints don't go up the chain with the same
efficiency as orders go down it. By scheduling a "town hall" meeting in Kuwait with
troops at the bottom of the chain without imposing chain-of-command restrictions on questions,
Rumsfeld afforded a real-- and public-- opportunity for complaints to reach the top even more
efficiently than orders normally reach the bottom from the top. He deserves commendation for
So what if the soldier who asked the question expressing discontent over the rate at which the
Department of Defense is adapting HumVee's (and other transport vehicles) to meet the unexpected
scope of the need for lightly armored versions of such vehicles in Iraq? That Rumsfeld was
willing to entertain such question without reprisal against the one propounding it boosts rather
than lowers the morale of our troops, who respect a leader willing to confront unpleasant, as well
as pleasant, realities.
While the media focus almost exclusively on two aspects of Rumsfeld's answer (that "[y]ou go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want, or wish to have, at a later
time" and that the Defense Department is procuring armored replacements and/or armor-upgrade
kits for unarmored HumVees (and other transport vehicles) at the maximum practicable rate), the
troops heard and understood the rest of his answer: That with rare exceptions troops
assigned to units with unarmored HumVees will be transported to their duty location in other
vehicles, their unarmored HumVees will be transported to such locations on other vehicles, and that
at duty locations, unarmored HumVees will be used to transport troops within areas less vulnerable
to roadside bombs and small-arms attack. [See additional sources in Footnote
01.] In one of those rare exceptions, members of a unit refused to transport needed
supplies to other units via unarmored transport vehicles.
Did Rumsfeld's answer define such arrangements as "satisfactory"? Of course
not. Instead, his answer describes such arrangements as the best that can be done until
replacement and/or upgrading of unarmored vehicles is complete. It's likely the overwhelming
majority of troops understand the latter despite being understandably frustrated by amount of time
likely to be required for completion of the task.
Has further inquiry cast doubt on the accuracy of Rumsfeld's assertion that the
replacement/reconfiguration process is proceeding as fast as possible? Of course. Some
private companies have asserted that they could produce more replacements and/or armor-upgrade kits
at a significantly (but not dramatically) higher rate. Is it likely that this incident will
produce some improvement in the process? Of course. The question that obviously arises,
therefore, is whether this incident is a manifestation of Rumsfeld's lack of, or exercise of,
leadership skills? It's equally obvious that the answer is the latter rather than the
former. Most troops appreciate and respect a leader at or near the top of the chain of command
affording them an opportunity to bring bottom-of-the-chain-of-command perceptions of serious
problems directly to the top of the chain of command. This is one of the factors that
distinguishes the best leaders from good leaders.
What about the sanctimonious finger-pointing by those critics of Rumsfeld who during peacetime would
have characterized Pentagon specifications for a vehicle designed to replace the World War II jeep
to be a vastly more costly armored vehicle rather than merely a vastly superior jeep?
Of course, the Pentagon did not propose an armored HumVee because they did not perceive it's primary
use to be in military contexts presenting risks equivalent to those of urban combat. Does
anyone seriously doubt that if the Pentagon were to have proposed (years ago) that all military
transport vehicles be armored, most, if not all, the same critics would have characterized such
proposal as an example of the Pentagon's desire for "gold-plated" equipment? Long
before the current conflict, opponents of continual modernization and strengthening of the military
made such "gold-plated" phrase their political battle cry. My ears are deaf to their
current Gold-Plated Rhetoric.
Although those now serving with Gold-Plated Valor may welcome
the belated support of such critics, I doubt they feel resonance with the Gold-Plated Sanctimony
with which such Gold-Plate Rhetoric is expressed by the likes of Sen.
Ted Kennedy, who described the circumstances as "cruel and callous,"-- the same
Ted Kennedy who viciously equated the harsh treatment of prisoners by U.S. guards at Abu Ghraib
prison with the barbaric treatment of political prisoners at Abu Ghraib under Saddam Hussein.
Wrenn, Editor at PoliSat.Com
8, 2004; DOD-Dec.
8, 2004 (more); DOD-Dec.
immediately preceding the one above, go
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Questions for Americans:
we be at least as generous in supporting the families of our troops killed or injured while
serving our country in Afghanistan, Iraq, in America and throughout the rest of the world as we were
for the families of the victims of 9-11? Here are some suggestions:
American Heroes* *Support
Fallen Heroes Fund*
we recognize that many, if not most, instances of foreign anti-Americanism in the late 20th Century
(like most of the foreign anti-Americanism today) focused reactionary rage against maintenance of,
and willingness to use, human-rights-respecting power against forces that oppose liberty and favor
the "stability" of the status quo? See a retrospective
on Ronald Reagan. Shouldn't we recognize that despite arguments to
the contrary by devotees of the United Nations that the world remains a yet-to-be-civilized place in
which the wise exercise of human-rights-respecting power more than intellectual sophistry can best
assure the survival of liberty?
we recognize that "property rights" are among the most fundamental of "human
rights" and are therefore vital to the survival of liberty? See "'Life,
Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness' versus 'Life, Liberty [and] Property.'"
for secular thinkers:
secular thinkers be at least as respectful towards ordinary people of faith as George
Bush is towards ordinary secular thinkers, and shouldn't ordinary secular thinkers
repudiate fanatical secular fundamentalists at least as firmly as Bush repudiates fanatical
religious fundamentalists? Shouldn't secular fundamentalists learn to recognize the
unscientific nature of their own leaps of faith before throwing stones at unscientific leaps of
faith by ordinary people of faith? See satire/commentary about Secular
Fundamentalists and Religious Fanatics.
people professing to be secular thinkers learn to understand the difference between science and political
science (i.e., politicized science)? Shouldn't radical environmentalists learn
to understand that their views are little more than modern forms of pantheism?
See Satire/Commentary about Pantheopians. Shouldn't they learn
to objectively and scientifically scrutinize theories such as Global Warming at least as rigorously
as they scrutinize "creationism"? See "Global
Warming or Scientific Flatulence?" See also the commentary on proposed "climate
stewardship" legislation and the animated illustration, "Goblins
of Globalized 'Warming.'"
people professing to be secular thinkers learn to understand that what science reveals about human
evolution supports, rather than undermines, the sensibility of a rebuttable presumption that
monogamous, heterosexual marriage best serves the interests of children notwithstanding the
sensibility of recognizing civil unions to accord comparable (but not identical) privileges
to mutual-support partnerships? See commentary "Evolution
versus Revolution" and the animated illustration, "Devolution
for people of faith:
people with faith that a Deity created free will recognize that compulsory piety would be offensive
to such Deity?
people with faith that a Deity created free will recognize that political compromises limiting the
power of government to compel conformity with theocratic doctrines over which other people of faith,
as well as secular thinkers, can reasonably disagree would not be offensive to such Deity?
See commentary about our Founding
Documents, the Constitution and the Creator.
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