What is the role of the SecDef? For one, to define a vision for the DOD; a roadmap to the future, a strategic plan. In this, Secretary Rumsfeld has provided the vision of ‘transformation’. In short, it’s a plan to make the armed forces lighter, more quickly and easily deployable, and simultaneously, more lethal. Laudable goals. Hence, we have the cancellation of the Crusader, a behemoth of a self propelled howitzer. Too big, too heavy. We also have the promotion of the Stryker armored vehicle. It fits into the network-centric warfare scheme of the future quite nicely. So far, so good.
Finally, on the ‘vision’ thing, we have the light-mobile force concept. Special forces types, acting with forward air controllers, use combined arms techniques to leverage modern telecom capablities and precision weapons synergistically. They’re ‘force multipliers’, as Rummy likes to say. The war in Afghanistan was a demonstration, if you will, of how light forces can bring precision firepower to bear to create battlefield effects formerly reserved for heavy armored divisions. Again, no quibbles.
That brings us to the SecDef’s other primary duty, the strategy and management of warfare. And that brings us to Iraq.
Here’re some views on where we’re headed in Iraq. Not from pundits, from the folks commanding troops there:
Deep divisions are emerging at the top of the U.S. military over the course of the occupation of Iraq, with some senior officers beginning to say that the United States faces the prospect of casualties for years without achieving its goal of establishing a free and democratic Iraq.
Their major worry is that the United States is prevailing militarily but failing to win the support of the Iraqi people. That view is far from universal, but it is spreading and being voiced publicly for the first time.
Army Maj. Gen. Charles H. Swannack Jr., the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, who spent much of the year in western Iraq, said he believes that at the tactical level at which fighting occurs, the U.S. military is still winning. But when asked whether he believes the United States is losing, he said, “I think strategically, we are.”
From the wholesale dissolution of the Iraqi army, to the complete failure to plan adequately for post-war Iraq, to his apparent unwillingness to adequately address repeated assertions that things were getting out of hand in Iraqi prisons, the arrogant and inflexible Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz team are leading us to a strategic defeat in Iraq.
In addition, take a look at this USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll. By a margin of 46% to 33%, the majority of Iraqis feel the invasion has done more harm than good. What’s most worrying about this poll is that the polling was done before the recent uprisings in Fallujah and Najaf.
Who would I replace him with? Who better than Colin Powell?
Who would I nominate as SecState? In times gone by, when Europe was the center of our stategic calculus, I’d nominate a Russsian & European policy wonk with a diplomatic touch. That was then. These are new days. We need someone who not only understands the M/E and Moslem world, but has an ability to speak and work with them. Someone who understands and supports American policy goals, but knows how to give advice to the President when he needs it, and rally allies when necessary. I’d nominate Fareed Zakaria.