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November 21, 2005



Whatever the circumstances surrounding Shinseki may be, the Coalition has been light on ground forces since the beginning. There have been insufficient troops to provide security for Iraq's infrastructure, borders, and weapons depots. Our troops frequently occupy a town known to harbor insurgents - often at the cost of American lives - and then have too few troops to remain in the town. Pat of the problem is that there are fewer non-American troops than expected, and the foreign troops are leaving as they had not anticipated staying for 3 years.

The Unbeliever

For shame, TM! Stop ruining the Kossacks' nice little conspiracy theories, that's just cruel!

What's next, proving that Rove doesn't use mind control waves to steal elections and/or make Kerry say stupid things?


Shinseki was perceived to be a "Clinton" general by many in the Army. (Not just because Billy C had appointed him btw). Believe it or not what really did him in was the idiotic "Army of One" advertising campaign and giving out the sacred black beret to everyone in the Army. That beret had been the Rangers and their's only.


So Rumsfield's line is -- what? -- "Fire Shinseki because he told the truth about the real requirements for war in Iraq? Are you kidding? I can spot a truth-teller a mile away. I cashiered that guy 15 months ago!"

Or is it: "Fire Shinseki because he told the truth about a war with Iraq? You've got it all backward. He told the truth because I fired him, not the other way around!"

Or is it: "It was just a lucky guess."


Whatever the circumstances surrounding Shinseki may be...

Well, whatever the quality of your argument, we continue to hope that Team Reality can live up to its billing.

Gary Maxwell

Whatever the circumstances surrounding Shinseki may be...

Is this the 2nd verse to that favorite song of the Left "Fake but Accurate"????


I would say Rumsfeld stuck a fork into Shinseki rather than a knife because he was DONE.

JM Hanes

Dorf -
I remember thinking the thing with the black berets was incredibly stupid -- if that was Shinseki, I suspect there were probably plenty of reasons to lame duck him.

I'm not at all sure the Shinseki was quite the seer he's made out to be. The "Powell Doctrine" of overwhelming force was traditional Army thinking, not an original concept.

The killer problem was not numbers, it was the last minute failure to bring Turkey on board. Without the big guns rolling in from the Turkish side, there was nothing to stop the dispersal of enemy forces being pressured from the south. They would not have lived to fight another day, if we'd been able to deploy as planned.


From "Reality Based Community":

Let's put aside for the moment the fact that this is a lie: the "sober judgment" of Gen. Eric Shinseki was that we needed more troops, and he was fired for his sobriety.
According to the conspiracy theorists on the left, there is no way this could have been an honest difference of opinion, and Rumsfeld decided to clear the field by demonstrating a lack of faith in Shiseki's leadership by naming his replacement early.

But Kevin Drum claimed to have had a handle on this whole situation back in 2004:

What really happened is that in April 2002, 14 months before the end of Shinseki's term as Army Chief of Staff, Donald Rumsfeld leaked the name of Shinseki's successor to the Washington Post — effectively making Shinseki a lame duck. But while Rumsfeld was probably hoping Shinseki would take the hint and choose to retire early, he didn't force him out — and in fact Shinseki ended up serving out his full term. What's more, Rumsfeld did this nearly a year before Shinseki's congressional testimony about needing "several hundred thousand" troops in Iraq. Rumsfeld disliked Shinseki, but it was mainly because of disagreements over weapons systems and Rumsfeld's view of "transformation," not troop strength for the Iraq war.

Or so I thought. But I wasn't aware that Shinseki had been privately challenging Rumsfeld's troop estimates for the war as far back as late 2001. Rumsfeld may have had other disputes with Shinseki as well, but the troop strength issue really was one of the reasons that Rumsfeld announced Shinseki's replacement so far ahead of time.

Sooooo, Mr. Rumsfeld. You were plotting to neuter the good General long before he testified. Could his testimony have been payback? Well, yeah, I guess. But it also could have been an honest disagreement that simply became intractable.

At least according to Drum, Shinseki didn't change his story.


Drum has no links to his assertion that Shinseki and Rumsfeld disagreed over troop levels in late 2001, although it is certainly possible - if Rumsfeld believed in more transformation that Shinsekui, anything might be possible. Maybe they disagreed about troop strengtht in Afghanistan, for that matter.

Anything about that in Woodward's books?


Rumsfeld was at odds with Army Brass over a lot more than berets. His transformation plan rubbed them the wrong way.

Army guys are all about massive tank movements across large geographic areas. Every Army General dreams of being the modern day George Patton.

Rumsfeld wanted to transform the army into a lighter more mobile force and they didn't like that idea. Rumsfeld cancelled the Crusader 155mm Self Propelled Howitzer which was DEARLY beloved by the brass but couldn't be transported quickly by air. When he did that the brass fought a rearguard action against him in congress and after that they were all goners. Of course the berets didn't help, nor did giving the contract for making them to the Chinese.

But this was all water over the bridge long before the 'several thousand' troops imbroglio. And its all been long forgotten that this was a major campaign issue for Bush in 2000, including his commitment to cut the US nuclear arsenal to 1500 weapons unilaterally if necessary.


Leaders need team players. If Shinseki was not a team player, Rumsfeld had every right to sack him, for whatever reason.

As I recall, Shinseki was a muckety-muck in NATO headquarters in Bosnia when I was there in '98. There was some negative undercurrent then about Shinseki's performance, but I cannot recall exactly what it was. Maybe Rumsfeld's discontent with Shinseki had more to do with his past record of performance. After all, Clinton fired Wesley Clark after Kosovo.

Cecil Turner

For reasons unclear, Rumsfeld stuck a knife in Shinseki in April 2002 . . .

I don't think there's a lot of dispute of that the Rumsfeld/Shinseki/White feud first came to a head over Crusader (a completely unsuitable behemoth, twice as heavy as its predecessor, stupidly named, apparently conceived in response to a perceived imbalance in artillery throw-weight that could more profitably be countered by aviation). During a time when the OSD is working hard to lighten forces to improve strategic mobility, the Army was lobbying congress for a heavier weapons system. It didn't go over well:

When Rumsfeld first tried to kill the Army's new Crusader artillery system, Army Secretary Thomas White and Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki end-ran Rumsfeld and forced an unusual open battle on Capitol Hill. Crusader — at 90 tons — was too heavy to be deployed in less time than it takes to build a pyramid. It was typical Army old-think. Our Army may be the best the world has seen, but many of its leaders have yet to grasp that an Army that can't get to today's battlefields faster than the enemy can get away isn't going to be much use as a tool of national policy. [90 tons is wrong . . . perhaps 90,000#]
[Disclosure: contrary views are held by many, including Sec White, and as a former naval aviator, my natural bias, unsurprisingly, matches Rumsfeld's.]

Further differences were evident in the dispute over the Stryker (conceived by Shinseki, and seemingly a good fit with the overall strategic mobility initiative). However, the vehicle is necessarily a compromise (which some say is too light to be survivable, yet too heavy for easy deployment), and program management was the subject of some criticism:

Had the Army made sound decisions about what kind of armored vehicle would be the centerpiece of the IBCTs, the Army might now, after spending three years and billions of dollars, be well on the way to being 'transformed -- and would've spent a lot less money.
Comments about force requirements in Iraq (which were not in Shinseki's area of responsibility) undoubtedly didn't help, but were several months too late to have any effect on the already-made decision not to renew his contract.

. . . by putting out word that keane was the guy to listen to, and later denied it.

Not sure that's quite fair. The WaPo source was "Pentagon officials," and it's apparently a leak. Sec White's take looks spot-on to me (same PBS link as above):

I don't think he personally meant to insult the chief of staff. They were in the business of trying to lay out, as they should have, a long-term slate. ... Somebody leaked that either to the Post or the Times, and it was in the paper, and the damage was done.


Hard to gin up much enthusiasm for weighing in on this issue. But my little bird brain did spot a fractured cliche:

Water does not normally flow over a bridge.

It is frequently stated to have flowed over a dam but usually doesn't...a properly designed dam has a spillway or other provision to prevent that from happening!


Anyone really interested in the issue of troop levels for the Iraqi invasion should read Tommy Franks "American Soldier". Gen. Franks does not come across as any kind of liar. He writes at great length regarding the controversy. Brief summary: Pentagon generals were a bunch of jealous, second-guessing rats who were NOT in the chain of command regarding the war plan; Rumsfeld is weird. (Bonus: Gen. Franks believed that Saddam had and was prepared to use WMD's particularly chemical).



Drum has no links to his assertion that Shinseki and Rumsfeld disagreed over troop levels in late 2001, although it is certainly possible - if Rumsfeld believed in more transformation that Shinsekui, anything might be possible. Maybe they disagreed about troop strengtht in Afghanistan, for that matter.
Maybe Drum found out here (just scroll down to November 2001).

Anything about that in Woodward's books?
Well, I haven't read it, but according to this article, Woodward didn't interview Shinseki for "Bush at War".

Question regarding another Meme:

In the Plastic Turkey story, the reporters refer to the turkey that Bush held up as being 'decorative' - that is, it's a real turkey but it isn't eaten, and may be, in fact, inedible.

The turkey is just there to look at.

If the turkey were there for purely photogenic purposes - for example, food photographers will burn the skin golden brown but don't cook it - does that make the 'plastic turkey' story accurate, yet wrong?



JM: brilliant point on Turkey. 4th ID was going to come screaming across the northern border. What a great friend they were huh?


It took me several reads to realize that dorf was not replying to Bumperstickerist on the question of turkey.

Harry Arthur

Cecil, [90 tons is wrong . . . perhaps 90,000#], not sure you're right on this. As I recall, the Abrams tank weighs in at about 60 tons, plus or minus. It's not real easy to move many of them by air so the Army's heavy armored divisions deploy relatively slowly, at least by comparison with the 101st or the 82d.

I don't have any problem at all, believing the Army brass would be interested in a large, extremely heavy, not very mobile 155 SP gun that outweighed even an Abrams MBT.

I guess I should also disclose my built-in bias as a retired Army aviator. In that regard we have much in common and I believe probably share the view that small, mobile and extremely lethal forces, such as Rumsfeld advocates, are probably the way we should be taking the Army in view of the most probable threats from terrorist states and regional conflicts.

Unfortunately, the generals often opt to buy equipment to fight the last war, as opposed to the next one.

Harry Arthur

Cecil, more from your linked article:

As soon as the war began, Shinseki began trying to keep the Army from having to fight it. When the Army was asked what it would take to destroy the terrorists in Afghanistan, Shinseki responded that the entire XVIII Corps — about 50,000 men — would be needed, and would require several months of training, mobilization, and deployment. As a result, the Afghanistan campaign began without the Army.

I can't help but wonder why it is that our friends on the other side of the isle often quote Gen Shinseki on his troop estimates for Iraq but never seem to provide the context of his troop estimates for Afghanistan.

From the same article

In November 2001, Rumsfeld asked Shinseki what it would take to defeat Iraq. Shinseki assured him it would take a huge number of troops — a number, in fact, that actually exceeded the active-duty strength of the entire Army. Instead of finding ways to support the president's policies, Shinseki has repeatedly resorted to obstruction and delay. Last week, he did something much worse.

Small wonder that Gen Shinseki's "contract" was not renewed. The remainder of the cited article is equally illuminating.

Harry Arthur

Even the Stryker is arguably basically a peace-keeping vehicle - very much in tune with Gen Shinseki's career experience.

JM Hanes

dorf - Thanks, I've stopped being amazed that it has never made the Democratic litany of "mistakes."

Jeff - Took me a second too. ;)


noah said: "Water does not normally flow over a bridge."

We have here something we call a "low water bridge." It's basically a concrete roadway a few feet above the normal creek level. When the creek rises, the water flows over the bridge. There are markers at either end of the low water bridge, so that you can tell whether there's too much water flowing over the bridge to drive across. Unfortunately, the markers don't tell you whether the current is strong enough to push your vehicle off the (underwater)low water bridge.

The Kid

Cecil Turner comes through again, while noah’s mention of Tommy Franks’ "American Soldier" is especially apt; Shinseki is mentioned but once in the whole durn book. That says a lot. While Cecil doesn’t mention it, Shinseki stationed the Stryker brigades where he did (Pennsylvania, Hawaii, etc.) for political payback.

Former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense in the first Bush administration Jed Babbin has had a lot to say about Shinseki and other Perfumed Princes of the Pentagon. Rumsfeld and Shinseki butted heads from the get-go.

According to an Army source, shortly after his accession Mr. Rumsfeld walked into the Tank — the vault-like conference room on the fourth floor of the Pentagon in which top-secret matters can be discussed freely — for a meeting with the Clintons' Army chief of staff, General Eric Shinseki. Shinseki is the protégé of Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye, and as political as his mentor. In that meeting, Shinseki tried to give Big Dog the Don Corleone treatment. Let me run things my way, said Shinseki, and I'll make you look really good on the Hill. But forget about transformation. The Army doesn't need it, and we don't plan to do it. Rumsfeld, to the surprise of his interlocutors, declined the offer they thought he couldn't refuse.

Shinseki should have been fired. That he wasn't is a tribute to the White House's fear that Sen. Inouye — ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee — would take his revenge, with ballistic-missile defense the most likely target. Shinseki stayed and the Army stood fast against change, insisting that its 1950s Cold War culture and configuration should remain. In essence, Shinseki chose irrelevance, taking the Army off the table as a tool of national policy and defense.

Babbin speculates on Shinseki’s political ambitions here

There’s also another quite interesting view here. It’s got insights into the Pentagon you won’t see elsewhere.

Shinseki made himself and the US Army irrelevant. It took true joint-forces guys like Franks to help save it.


Regardless of bureaucratic politics, Shinseki needed to be fired for making the beret the standard army cover. Previously their wear had been a privilege earned by special forces and rangers. Instead he forsook that tradition to make the Army look more European. I is not an exaggeration to say that they are hated by the rank and file either. They take forever to "shape" properly, usually involving soaking in water then stretching while still damp and shaving, yes shaving!, with a razor. The last thing soldiers need is another piece of chicken-sh#t to have to attend to. If Shinseki couldn't be trusted to make a simple uniform decision without evoking hostility from soldiers like myself, how could he be expected to make sweeping structural changes to the army.

richard mcenroe

"Army guys are all about massive tank movements across large geographic areas. Every Army General dreams of being the modern day George Patton."

Shinseki, on the other hand, dreamed of giving every soldier a cool hat. Yep. JCS material if ever there was any.


Ah, the turkey meme again ...

Look. In serving lines, the turkey being served has been already sliced up.

Many civilian cafeterias and such hold back a fully cooked garnished turkey or two that hasb't been carved YET, but that can and probably will be later on, and put it on display in the serving line or the entry area.

I have certainly seen this many times, both in and out of the military ... why is this such a talking point for the MSM?

Bush lied, that turkey didn't die?


Re Turkish Invasion Route:
The failure to acquire permission from Turkey for the Northern Invasion scenario falls to the State Dept IMHO. This was just one of the first visible manifistations of the byzantine war going on in DC against the Bush Admin. Neither the State nor CIA careerists believed in this campaign against terrorism - didn't want to upset the ME applecart. (If we get the Saudi's mad at us, we won't be able to get those cushy consulting contracts when we retire.) Joe McCarthy used to wave a piece of paper (or say it was in his pocket) claiming it contained the names of ... Commie spies at State/etc. Well, he might not have had the names, but there were spies in the gov't. As we now know, State/CIA/and others are loaded with careerists whose first priority is not the national security of the United States of America.

Harry Arthur

So many excellent and incisive comments re General Shinseki!

Shinseki is precisely the "careerist" type general we had running Viet Nam and who we had to get rid of post-Viet Nam to create the disciplined, lethal fighting force we now have. That several, Clark is another, would creep back in during the Clinton years is no surprise to me.

It has been the warrior generals such as Stormin' Norman Swarzkof, Tommy Franks and others who have produced the stunning military victories in Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq of which we can be justifiably proud.

Cecil Turner

I don't have any problem at all, believing the Army brass would be interested in a large, extremely heavy, not very mobile 155 SP gun that outweighed even an Abrams MBT.

I wouldn't put it past 'em either. But in this case, though I'm not sure of the precise Crusader weight prior to cancellation, the program office claimed to've put it on a diet down to the 40-ton range (and I suspect Jed just forgot to divide by two):

The PDR effectively completes the program's transition from its original 60-ton design to a more mobile, deployable yet equally lethal 40-ton system design.
In that regard we have much in common and I believe probably share the view that small, mobile and extremely lethal forces . . .

Yes. In particular, we need to work on integrating our overwhelming air superiority into the ground fight more effectively (Afghanistan was a nice start). It makes no sense to purchase an extremely expensive TacAir capability and keep it idle whilst depending on less effective and logistically less supportable land-based fire support platforms.

Harry Arthur

Cecil, thanks for the clarification. As usual your insight and analysis is spot on.

and I suspect Jed just forgot to divide by two

Perhaps he was throwing in the weight of the RSV, which is about the same as that of the SPH. One howitzer and one resupply vehicle run at close to 80 tons, and that's excluding ammunition and extra armor. Part of how they trimmed weight was to kit out some of the armor.

It's debatable whether the Crusader made any sense at all in any land war scenario not involving a huge opposing force, but that not being the case it's beyond belief that one could seriously propose Crusaders over, say, M198 and a towing vehicle, which have a combined weight under 20 tons.

Cecil Turner


That may well be what he meant. If so, though, he should have specified that (especially since SPH could be deployed without the RSV). I don't see how anyone could argue the system wasn't too heavy, especially as compared to the M198 or its lighter-weight replacement, but a proponent could fixate on the 90-ton claim as misleading. (And though I agree with the thrust of Babbin's article, I felt that figure needed a caveat.)


Thanks for the kind words. As you point out, our similar backgrounds probably explain much of the similarity in views.

Big D

Yes, the 90-ton figure is for the fully-loaded system complete with specialized ammo trailer.

Note that after being forced to go back to the drawing board and start over, United Defense has basically gotten it right--the FCS NLOS-C is the one piece of FCS that is looking solid, weighs in at like 20 tons plus 20 more for the ammo trailer. To get the last few tons to 20 (a magic number that approaches C-130 size), they did chop the length of the cannon a little, losing like 5-6km range, I think; but it's still roughly the same range as the M-109 has today.

If FCS dies a fiery death (possible, Boeing is apparently goofing up the software milestones on several projects and several vehicles are overweight), the parts that survive will probably be the artillery piece and Netfires, which is looking really, really impressive right now. There will also likely be a successor to Stryker, whether it's FCS or not, that incorporates the lessons learned.


Yeah, I knew about XM-777, but fas.org somewhere along the way decided they were going to stop keeping their weapons systems descriptions current. Or effectively did that, at least.

Artillery is cool stuff once you start looking at it; just look at what the muzzle brake and bore evacuator do, sometime.


Shinseki did the "Army of One" advertising campaign and gave the black beret to everyone in the Army, so that they would magically feel like Special Forces or Rangers just by joining up? Did he think it would be good if army recruits were a bunch of narcissists? I'm glad that most currently serving military personnel don't live up to his apparent expectations for self-absorption.


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