by Dan K. Thomasson
Scripps Howard News Service
December 14, 2004
The error was substantially compounded by choosing a National Guard outfit for the military version of a town hall meeting instead of a regular Army unit whose career soldiers probably would have thought twice about asking questions that might put their bosses on the spot. The guardsmen, already angry about the inequalities in status and treatment between them and the regulars, had nothing to lose. After all, everyone knows they're really civilians who most of the time just play at soldiering on weekends and can't be expected to show the kind of professionalism required of those who do it for a living.
And pullezz don't give us all that hooey about the New Mexico National Guard on the Bataan death march and that the most decorated soldier of World War II, Audie Murphy, was a scrawny youngster from the Texas National Guard, and that all those Thunderbird Division guys from the Oklahoma National Guard were the first to try to hold back the Chinese hordes in Korea and so forth. That's just bloody ancient history. Besides, Rumsfeld kind of covered that by answering that one goes to war with what one has, which is exactly what the Guard has been doing since it took over for the state militias all those eons ago.
Americans realize that not every one is going to be equipped properly even if those who aren't make up 45 percent of the troops in Iraq. There are production problems, don't you know? Defense contractors have their problems too, with a delay here and a shortfall there and a cost overrun in between. Maybe next time those "weekend warriors" will think twice about signing up to supplement their incomes. See what can happen when you get greedy? You can end up in the desert riding on a mined road in a truck that has about the same metal content as your wife's SUV while this civilian jerk explains there wasn't enough stuff to go around.
But President Bush and "Rummy" are going to make it up. They already have asked the armor specialist to increase the number of rocket and bomb resistant Humvees by several hundred and the guy has promised to try even though it might take a month or two. Now, that's the spirit, fella. One can't do more than that at Christmas time.
Isn't this the nation that overwhelmed the world between Dec. 7, 1941, and Sept. 2, 1945, with an outpouring of military machinery never before equaled in the history of human beings? Isn't this the nation that since then has spent more money on the tools of warfare than it expended on everything else in at least its first 150 years? Then why should anyone in a U.S. uniform not have the best of everything?
One must understand the Bush-Rumsfeld concept of modern conquest. It's sort of based on the old one riot, one ranger theory. You go in there with this undersized highly mobile force (despite warnings from those old-fashioned military codgers) and you blitzkrieg through, scattering the enemy everywhere. No real advance planning is necessary and the whole thing is over before you can spell Baghdad. Democracy is declared and the liberated citizens open their arms in joy and everyone goes home. Who needs armor?
American troops are the most self-reliant in the world. It's just a matter of fact. So if they should happen to require some extra protection, you can just bet they will adapt. There are always city dumps around, especially in Kuwait, which happens to be one of those big time consumer societies like home.
It all reminds one of the last recruits in the Army. No rifle remains for him so he is issued a broomstick and told the real thing will be forthcoming. It isn't and he still has the broomstick when he is assigned to combat. Suddenly separated from his unit, he is facing an enemy soldier who is huge and heading straight for him.
He pulls up the broomstick and shouts, "Bang! Bang!"
But the hulking enemy soldier walks right over him shouting, "Tank! Tank!"
Well, as Rumsfeld said, you go with what you have.
Dan K. Thomasson is former
editor of the Scripps Howard News Service.