Last night Paul and John commented here about David Ignatius’s Washington Post column supporting the removal of Secretary Rumsfeld. This morning at RealClearPolitics, Tom Bevan posts an officer’s response to Ignatius. The officer writes:
I would beg to differ with that assessment by Mr. Ignatius. I am a combat arms officer, a combat veteran of the Global War on Terror, currently serving on the faculty of one of the Staff Colleges.
My assessment from extensive and continuous contact with young field grade officers, most of which are combat arms branch, combat veterans, is that Secretary Rumsfeld is considered the finest Secretary of Defense of the last forty years. This is in addition to my “peer group,” of which many of us maintain contact with each each other regardless if we are in CONUS or SW Asia…
Tom has the rest of the officer’s message in his post. Yesterday we also received a related message from Air Force Major General J.C. Toomay in response to Victor Davis Hanson’s NRO column. General Toomay seconds Hanson’s argument and adds another point:
Hanson’s article is beautiful and correct but there’s supplemental information. Undergirding the operational aspects of the services where decisions have to be made instantly is a huge planning organization which worries about the future — the near future, where quick fixes are feverishly sought (as with HumVee Armor and roadside bombs), and the far future, where the changes in the services, which policy and technology demand, are agonizingly investigated, discussed, and finally approved. These arguments are incessant, and sometimes bitter, especially when the ultimate decisions are made (as they should be) by civilians who may have little or no detailed knowledge of the issues in question.
Yet there is a discipline in force which defines the military role: make your arguments before the decision is made; after the decision, execute it. Period. If you don’t like it, resign. That’s it. If you resign, you become a Monday-morning quarterback who can vent to the extent supported by the MSM and allowed by security considerations which are in effect until the day you die.
Ex-generals should shut up, but that’s really not the problem. The problem is the credence the media give to such people.
John C. Toomay, Major General, USAF (ret.)