U.S. Military: Leaders Can't Lead

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A few writings ago, I got full of myself (again) and wrote that we, as a nation, have forgotten how to fight. It seemed to make some sense to some of you; it sure did to me. Here are a few more thoughts on this fighting stuff.

For me, and many like me, this war is about real people out dying and getting blown apart because of a few incompetents. Our generals, the most senior of the military, are to blame for this. They are the very root of our demise, our malaise and our inability to win.

In the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps, almost all of the daily decisions are made by those in the senior level; the Navy is the only one that's not totally corrupted... yet. The soldiers are simply the recipients of the many bone-headed things that come down the pipeline. When discussing Iraq and Afghanistan, even the most ardent supporter of this administration starts the conversation with the non-combat word "chaos," and ends with the least combat word, "hope." Many are content to gloss over why things are so bad. The truth is, that the conduct of the war, the daily fight, the loss of life, the failures, the piss poor planning, and the incompetence lies completely at the feet of our generals.

On a recent trip to Iraq, with Mr. Bill “I-have-the-number-one-show-on-all-of-cable-and-you-don’t” O’Reilly, I was treated to briefings, meetings and sights that left me breathless by their absurdity. These briefings are called “Battle Update Briefings”; they last for hours and there's multimedia events which are impressively colorful. When I asked, “Did anything you’re presenting have anything to do with killing bad guys?” the general answered, “Ah … no.”

NO? Then how about a briefing that actually helps kill bad guys, and supports your soldiers, rather than impressing your visitors and yourself ... General?

Now check this out:

Roadside bombs are responsible for 70 percent of American deaths and casualties in Iraq — but a vehicle called the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) offers four to five times the protection of the most heavily armored Humvee. These MRAPs, with their V-shaped hulls, can cut casualties by two-thirds.

But, according to a Marine Corps document leaked yesterday, commanders in the field in Iraq first asked for MRAPs in February, 2005 — more than a year earlier. That request — for 1,169 vehicles — was labeled "priority one urgent." Here's what the request said:

"There is an immediate need for an MRAP vehicle capability to increase survivability and mobility of Marines operating in a hazardous fire area against known threats ...

The expanded use of improvised explosive devices requires a more robust family of vehicles capable of surviving ... MRAP-designed vehicles represent a significant increase in their survivability baseline over existing motor vehicle equipment and will mitigate casualties ... Without MRAPs, personnel loss rates are likely to continue at their current rates. MRAP vehicles will protect Marines, reduce casualties, increase mobility and enhance mission success." (Source)

How is it possible that it took more than a year for the military leadership to act on this urgent plea?

How is it possible that, when it did act, it ordered only 185 vehicles, not the 1,169 requested?

How is it possible that with the country at war, with more than 130,000 Americans in danger, with roadside bombs taking more and more lives and limbs, this administration did not make these Mine Resistant vehicles a national priority?”

How is it possible?

This info comes from the campaign of Senator Joseph Biden — I checked it out, and it is right on the money. That this happened, that our soldiers need to wait even one day more for things they need, is wrong, and makes my point in full color: our senior military leaders do not deserve the men and women they claim to lead. I am laying the blame for much of what we have come to know as the "Chaos in Iraq and Afghanistan" at their feet and then, further up the chain of command, on the president’s head. While he still can, he should fire the lot of them, at least most of those at the three and four-star level, and promote some real fighters. Our soldiers and our nation deserve nothing less.

We once had a president who got it; his name was Lincoln. He got fed up with the Union Army and fired a bunch of senior generals. He hired a drunk by the name of Grant, a man who was not even in the Army at the time, but who knew how to lead and how to be brutal when necessary. This was a man who knew how to win. Lincoln’s advisors told him, “Mr. President do you know that you just hired a drunk?” Lincoln said, “Find out what he is drinking, and give it to the other generals.”

Now, that my friends is leadership and we need it both in the military and the White House.


Colonel David Hunt, U.S. Army (Ret.), is a FOX News military analyst and the author of the New York Times bestseller They Just Don’t Get It. He has extensive operational experience in counterterrorism, special operations, and intelligence operations. He has trained the FBI and Special Forces in counterterrorism tactics, served as the security adviser to six different Olympic Games, testified as an expert at many major terrorist trials, and lectured at the CIA, the FBI, and the National Security Agency. You can read his complete bio here.