Thursday, April 03, 2003

A quick note on the battle of the Pentagon battle plans: it's sometimes described as "Rumsfeld vs. the generals". But according to Seymour Hersh's much noted New Yorker article on the fracas, it would be better to describe it as Rumsfeld's generals vs. all the others:

Gradually, Rumsfeld succeeded in replacing those officers in senior Joint Staff positions who challenged his view. "All the Joint Staff people now are handpicked, and churn out products to make the Secretary of Defense happy," the planner said. "They don't make military judgments?they just respond to his snowflakes."

In the months leading up to the war, a split developed inside the military, with the planners and their immediate superiors warning that the war plan was dangerously thin on troops and matériel, and the top generals -- including General Tommy Franks, the head of the U.S. Central Command, and Air Force General Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- supporting Rumsfeld.

From which we can draw two conclusions. First, when Rumsfeld and Franks say that the current battle plan is the Franks plan, not Rumsfeld's, they are probably telling the simple truth. But also, what they're trying not to say is that Franks and Rumsfeld together overrode the Pentagon's normal planning process. (And for what it's worth, Rumsfeld did overrule Franks, according to Hersh, on at least one key point -- the decision to go ahead without the 4th division in place).


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