How low will some go in order to defend Don Rumsfeld? Lt. Col. "Buzz" Patterson sinks pretty low in Human Events. He dnounces Army Spc. Thomas Wilson for jumping his chain of command. "where was this guy's commander? You don't jump the chain of command, and in this case, I mean the entire chain. It's military cardinal rule number one. About 15 seconds after that question was asked I would've had the young man standing in front of me while I offered him a quick refresher on this whole military thing. 'Before you make a statement to the big guy, how's about you complain to me first. Having the Secretary of Defense hear about it before I do, or my boss, or his boss, or his boss's boss, is not a happy thing.'"
There are a couple of problems with this rant. First, how does Patterson know that this issue hasn't come up in Wilson's chain of command? He doesn't of course. The second problem is the way that Patterson ignores the nature of the gathering. While Rumsfeld refused to take questions from the press, he threw the floor open for questions from the gathered soldiers. Now, I assume that it was intended to be a sham, with Rumsfeld hoping to answer questions along the lines of: "What is your best quality, your bravery or fortitude?" Wilson and the other soldiers shouldn't be blamed for taking the defense secretary at his word when he opened the floor for questions.
Patterson praised Rumsfeld's response, but composed one of his own that Rummy should have given:
Well, young man, you can thank former President Bill Clinton, who in 8 years in office, never saw the need to evolve the military from a Cold War force to one that would be fighting future wars, one that would emphasize urban fighting and move away from 'the linear battlefield' doctrine. You can thank him for reducing Army Divisions from 18 to 10, otherwise you probably wouldn't even be here. You can thank him and Secretary of Defense William Cohen for failing to program for these weapon systems back in 1997 and 1998, when they were developing and funding the Six-Year Defense Program (SYDP) under the DOD's Planning, Programming and Budgeting System (PPBS).
You see, soldier, we've never gone to war with the army we want. We were grossly undermanned and under-equipped entering World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Thanks to President Bush and a program called "Defense Priorities and Allocations System," we've increased the production of Humvees from 15 to 450 a month. We've spent $1.2 billion since August 2003 on armor and armored Humvees alone. (Numbers courtesy of 2slick.blogspot.com and Soldier for Truth.org) We are adapting as we always have. You can be sure, soldier, that no Humvee heads north without "Level III" armored protection.
Where would we be without Bill Clinton? It is particularly egregious that he would have Rumsfeld denouncing Slick Willie for shrinking the size of the military. If Don Rumsfeld has a signiture issue, it is his desire to 'transform' the military in part by reducing the size of the military. He has repeatedly denied the need to increase the size of U.S. occupying force, which more honest conservatives have denounced. Patterson ignores the deliberate nature of the build up to the Iraq war, which was run on a schedule set by the Bush administration.
It can scarcely be said too often: the U.S. military is streched to the limit in Iraq with inadequate supplies because Rumsfeld and the Bush administration were unprepared for a long and costly war.