Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Rumsfeld in Kuwait...the whole exchange.


The general media has been fairly crafty the way they have depicted Secretary Rumsfled the past few weeks.

Most notably is the way the exchange between Secretary Rumsfeld and a U.S. soldier during his Townhall meeting in Kuwait on December 8th. Putting aside the "fact" that the question itself was embedded by a reporter, what needs to be looked at is the actual answer given.

The soundbite world we are now living in has reduced the exchange to the soldier essentially like this:

Question:
Q: Yes, Mr. Secretary. My question is more logistical. We’ve had troops in Iraq for coming up on three years and we’ve always staged here out of Kuwait. Now why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromise ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles and why don’t we have those resources readily available to us? [Applause]

Answer from Rumsfeld:
"As you know, you go to war with the army you have. They're not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time."

Sounds rather arrogant and smug doesn't it?


Let's look exactly how the exchange was handled from the official transcripts:

Q: Yes, Mr. Secretary. My question is more logistical. We’ve had troops in Iraq for coming up on three years and we’ve always staged here out of Kuwait. Now why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromise ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles and why don’t we have those resources readily available to us? [Applause]

SEC. RUMSFELD: I missed the first part of your question. And could you repeat it for me?

Q: Yes, Mr. Secretary. Our soldiers have been fighting in Iraq for coming up on three years. A lot of us are getting ready to move north relatively soon. Our vehicles are not armored. We’re digging pieces of rusted scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass that’s already been shot up, dropped, busted, picking the best out of this scrap to put on our vehicles to take into combat. We do not have proper armament vehicles to carry with us north.

SEC. RUMSFELD: I talked to the General coming out here about the pace at which the vehicles are being armored. They have been brought from all over the world, wherever they’re not needed, to a place here where they are needed. I’m told that they are being – the Army is – I think it’s something like 400 a month are being done. And it’s essentially a matter of physics. It isn’t a matter of money. It isn’t a matter on the part of the Army of desire. It’s a matter of production and capability of doing it.

As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They’re not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time. Since the Iraq conflict began, the Army has been pressing ahead to produce the armor necessary at a rate that they believe – it’s a greatly expanded rate from what existed previously, but a rate that they believe is the rate that is all that can be accomplished at this moment.

I can assure you that General Schoomaker and the leadership in the Army and certainly General Whitcomb are sensitive to the fact that not every vehicle has the degree of armor that would be desirable for it to have, but that they’re working at it at a good clip. It’s interesting, I’ve talked a great deal about this with a team of people who’ve been working on it hard at the Pentagon. And if you think about it, you can have all the armor in the world on a tank and a tank can be blown up. And you can have an up-armored humvee and it can be blown up. And you can go down and, the vehicle, the goal we have is to have as many of those vehicles as is humanly possible with the appropriate level of armor available for the troops. And that is what the Army has been working on.

And General Whitcomb, is there anything you’d want to add to that?

GEN. WHITCOMB: Nothing. [Laughter] Mr. Secretary, I’d be happy to. That is a focus on what we do here in Kuwait and what is done up in the theater, both in Iraq and also in Afghanistan. As the secretary has said, it’s not a matter of money or desire; it is a matter of the logistics of being able to produce it. The 699th, the team that we’ve got here in Kuwait has done [Cheers] a tremendous effort to take that steel that they have and cut it, prefab it and put it on vehicles. But there is nobody from the president on down that is not aware that this is a challenge for us and this is a desire for us to accomplish.

SEC. RUMSFELD: The other day, after there was a big threat alert in Washington, D.C. in connection with the elections, as I recall, I looked outside the Pentagon and there were six or eight up-armored humvees. They’re not there anymore. [Cheers] [Applause] They’re en route out here, I can assure you. Next. Way in the back. Yes.



Decide for yourself if the answer itself is appropriate, valid, whatever, but it what is not in question is that a full explanation was offered to the soldier and it certainly sounded like the problem was actively being addressed by the DOD.

Now I must admit to you. I have always maintained a liking to Donald Rumsfeld and I have been for some time (well before the current war). He is the person most responsible for modernizing our military to such an extend that we could militarily defeat a hostile nation in 3 weeks, and with relatively little loss of human life on both sides of the conflict). I encourage anyone the least bit interested to read about Donald Rumsfelds entire history, in addition to the daily consumption of the "sound bite" lessons offered by the media.

At the same time, it must be observed that Secretary Rumsfeld has fallen short with regards to handling modern occupation in a hostile environment. To say that we have thus far been grossly unprepared for the visciousness and strength of the insurgent forces would be a gross undestatement. From all that I know and have read though, it is virtually an impossible task to perfect this type of 'governing' given the circumstances. This is increasingly difficult when one wants to remain 'humane' in this effort.

Make no mistake about it though. A majority of Rumsfelds critics are inspired not by Abu Graib, or Kevin Sites video of a U.S. marine shooting a dying Iraqi in a Mosque. As deplorable as these acts may have been, the most viscious critics of Donald Rumsfeld are more fearful and concered about the success that "Rummy's Army" has had to date and its immediate impact on "World Politics". It seems that an American Military, up for any challenge, is unsettling to some, despite the great good it is doing.
Posted by mightymerk, 7:00 AM

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