Monday, September 25, 2006



Embattled US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, has been told by the head of the US Army, General Peter Schoomaker, that there is not enough money left to continue to fight the 'War On Iraq'.
(General Schoomaker) refused to submit a budget plan for 2008 to Mr Rumsfeld, arguing the military could not continue operations in Iraq and its other missions without additional funds, the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday. The seriousness of the protest was underlined by Gen Schoomaker's reputation as an ally of the Pentagon chief. The general came out of retirement at Mr Rumsfeld's request to take up the post.

"It's quite a debacle," said Loren Thompson, a military analyst at the Lexington Institute thinktank. "Virtually everyone in the army feels as though their needs have been shortchanged."

Gen Schoomaker's defiance gives a voice to growing concern within the military about the costs of America's wars, and the long-term strain of carrying out operations around the world.

For the past three years, the $400bn (£210bn) cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been funded by emergency spending bills passed by Congress. But Gen Schoomaker and others say the Iraq war has also put a severe strain on regular budgets. That puts the generals at odds with Mr Rumsfeld's strategic vision of a more nimble, hi-tech military.

In addition, Congress and the White House have cut a number of army spending requests over the past months.

"There is no sense in us submitting a budget that we can't execute, a broken budget,"(Schoomaker) told a Washington audience.

So rotten has the relationship become between Rumsfeld and the various senior branches of the US Military, that criticisms of the Defence Secretary are no longer made 'inhouse'.

It is clear that the frustrations felt within the military ranks is spilling out into a very public battle quite purposefully, with the sacking of Rumsfeld, and the recalibration of the 'War On Iraq', and the 'War On Terror' in general, as the chief goal.

Not even during the height of the Vietnam War fiasco have so many senior serving, and retired, generals in the US Military been seen so publicly criticising the decisions and policies of the defence secretary, and calling for his resignation.

Rumours swirl now in US military circles that once the November mid-term elections are over and done with, bills will go before the Congress to reintroduce the draft.

The United States Army has an active-duty force of some 500,000 soldiers. But 400,00 of them have already done at least one tour of duty in Afghanistan or Iraq, with some 150,000 having recently completed their second tours.

Total US troop deployments to Iraq will actually increase next year from around 134,000 to just over 140,000. The US Army is expected to further heavily tap into the National Guard to make up the numbers and are demanding further massive budget increases to replace vehicles and equipment lost or destroyed in the fighting.

The US Army has clearly had enough of being short-changed by Rusmfeld in dollars and manpower. The day when the hammer comes down and the ultimatum is declared by the Army to the Pentagon: "Get the draft up, or pull out of Iraq" is possibly only a few months away.

All of this havoc comes along with the very public disclosure of the classified National Intelligence Estimate, compiled from reports by all 16 of the United States' intelligence services, that clearly stated that the 'War On Iraq' had fuelled Islamic extremism across the planet, and upping the likelihood of more terrorist attacks on Western targets, including the US.

The (NIE) report describes the invasion and subsequent conflict in Iraq as one of the major factors behind this spread. It says the threat from radical Islam does not now come from a tight-knit core of al-Qaeda terrorists commanded from a central organisation or group of leaders, such as those that carried out the 9/11 attacks.

Instead jihadi ideas have spread to create a new class of terrorists who are 'self generating' and can create terror cells capable of carrying out an attack without much outside help.

This flies directly in the face of claims made by the three key leaders of the 'Coalition Of The Willing' - President Bush, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and Australian Prime Minister John Howard - that the 'War On Terror', with Iraq as the "central front" would make the West, and the world in general, safer from terrorism.

Meanwhile, the withering attacks by high-ranking US veterans of the 'War On Iraq' continue in the United States today.

Retired Army General, John R. S. Batiste, has revealed he quit the Army after 31 years of service because of Rumsfeld's incompetence, and the strategic, humanitarian disaster which was Rumsfeld's 'War On Iraq' :

"Donald Rumsfeld is not a competent wartime leader," Batiste said. "He knows everything, except 'how to win.' He surrounds himself with like-minded and compliant subordinates who do not grasp the importance of the principles of war, the complexities of Iraq, or the human dimension of warfare.

"Secretary Rumsfeld ignored 12 years of U.S. Central Command deliberate planning and strategy, dismissed honest dissent, and browbeat subordinates to build 'his plan,' which did not address the hard work to crush the insurgency, secure a post-Saddam Iraq, build the peace, and set Iraq up for self-reliance."

From the New York Times lead editorial :

In the real Iraq, armed Shiite and Kurdish parties have divided up the eastern two-thirds of the country, leaving Sunni insurgents and American marines to fight over the rest.

The civilian death toll is now running at roughly 100 a day, with many of the victims gruesomely tortured with power tools or acid. Over the summer, more Iraqi civilians died violent deaths each month than the number of Americans lost to terrorism on Sept. 11.

Iraq is today a broken, war-torn country. Outside the relatively stable Kurdish northeast, virtually every family — Sunni or Shiite, rich or poor, powerful or powerless — must cope with fear and physical insecurity on an almost daily basis.

Growing violence, not growing democracy, is the dominant feature of Iraqi life. Every Iraqi knows this. Americans need to know it too.

Beyond the futility of simply staying the course lies the impossibility of keeping the bulk of American ground forces stationed in Iraq indefinitely. They have already been there for 42 months, longer than it took the United States to defeat Hitler.

'Civil War' is now breaking out in the Iraqi countryside, as what has been termed "The Taliban Republic" increases in popularity, and power :
Sunni insurgents have largely taken control of the province of Diyala, where local leaders believe the insurgents are close to establishing a "Taliban republic".

Officials in the strategically important province - composed of a mixture of Sunnis and Shias with a Kurdish minority - have no doubt about what is happening. Lt-Col Ahmed Ahmed Nuri Hassan, a weary-looking commander of the federal police, says: "Now there is an ethnic civil war and it is getting worse every day."

At the moment, the Sunni seem to be winning.

The UN said last week that 5,106 civilians were killed in Baghdad in July and August and 1,493 in the provinces outside it.

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