Nobody wants to talk about this in the media, but it’s true: The Army hates the Bush administration, and the Bush administration hates the Army.
This is all started when the White House ordered the Army to fight a war that wasn’t necessary. And if you’ve been in the military, or know those who have, you know that this is the cardinal sin in the sometimes rocky, but always balanced relationship between the military and its civilian principals. In essence, it’s the basis of trust between the military and the civilians who control it: You don’t send us to fight when it isn’t necessary, and we’ll do whatever else you want.
While most people would see this as pretty fair, President Bush doesn’t. He wants a military that doesn’t ask for as much. That’s why his administration has begun purging the military’s top ranks of Army officers.
Richard Lardner reported for the AP this afternoon:
At a time when the Army's soldiers are doing most of the fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, the service's influence in key decision-making positions is waning.
Of the U.S. military's nine combat commands, only two are run by Army generals, and that number will be cut in half when Bryan Brown retires next month as the senior officer at U.S. Special Operations Command.
So why would the Bush administration want to rid the top brass of the Army’s influence? That’s pretty easy:
"The political appointees seem to be saying to the Army that its senior officers are not intellectually equipped to hold the highest levels of command," said Loren Thompson, a defense analyst with the Lexington Institute, a think tank in Arlington, Va.
Allow me to translate that: In this case,
"are not intellectually equipped"
"do not agree with our insane methods of managing international conflict."
Because that’s what this is all about. It started when Army General Shinseki told Congress that it would take "several hundred thousand" troops to pacify Iraq during an invasion. It continued when General Abizaid told the President that the "surge" was a bad idea. And it most recently manifested itself when Generals Batiste, Eaton, and Clark took to the airwaves to tell America that President Bush is a liar.
For its refusal to walk lockstep with this sociopathic Commander-in-Chief, the Army has now been punished. It is being systematically locked out of the military’s top leadership roles, and soon, there will only be a single Army general in one of the nine combat command positions—the rest being Air Force and Navy officers, along with one Marine. And this is while U.S. forces are ensconced in ground wars worldwide—not air wars, and not naval wars.
But it gets worse: What Lardner left out of his AP article is the fact that the Army has been barred from two other very important posts held by military men: The Director of National Intelligence and the Director of the CIA. Admiral Mike McConnell, a career naval officer (and recent BoozAllen consultant), is now responsible for the nation’s intelligence collection. At the same time, General Michael Hayden, a career Air Force officer, heads up the CIA.
Considering the fact that the bulk of the intelligence needed by American forces is ground-collected intelligence for ground forces, you might think that a career Army intelligence officer would be useful in one of those positions. But when you see the pattern forming, you realize that there’s no need: Army officers are simply not wanted by the Bush administration in leadership roles.
They’re seen as troublemakers. They’re viewed as those who would attempt to slow the fanatical ambitions of the White House. They’re seen as placing the needs of America and of the military over the wishes of people like Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Lieberman. And for that, they have been uninvited to running the nation’s wars.
I only regret that more senior Army officers aren’t willing to speak out publicly on this topic. America could use that sort of leadership. Because years from now, when the Bush administration is maligned in history books throughout the world, people will want to know, "Why didn’t the Army generals speak out when they had the chance? They could’ve done something, couldn’t they? Why were they silent when their soldiers—and America—needed them the most?"