Col. David Hunt: Military Questions Answered

Published June 08, 2007

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It took General Abizaid 10 years to be promoted from a LTC to a four-star general. How did that happen? Judging from the results of his command, there were probably more able generals to do the job. Please advise. — Best Regards, Dave

Col. Hunt: Dave, making general in today’s military is more about briefings, degrees, looking good and having the right jobs and knowing almost zero about fighting. Abizaid was always considered smart … too bad he was not considered a fighter, since that is what we need in Iraq.


My gripe lies with leadership at all levels. Why did it take so long to “surge” in Iraq and to generate an offensive capability? Why are the generals sitting in the Green Zone doing BUBs instead of leading counter-insurgency operations, to target the real enemy — al Qaeda and the source of fundamentalist Islamists that will perpetually continue to generate suicide killers of Americans? Why won’t the president and his cabinet clarify to the public why we’re at war and exactly who we are at war with? — Lou, US Army

Col. Hunt: Lou, thanks for your service. You are describing a total lack of political will and guts. We the people are also to blame for not holding our political leaders accountable. You deserve better ... we all do.


I watched a real video clip of young U.S. soldiers trying to flush out insurgents in the basement of a building while they chanted Allah Akbar. The bravery was astonishing, but in a previous war (WWII) the enemy would have got the old flame thrower treatment. I’m sick of soldiers being picked off, one by one. We should either fight to win using all available force, including air power, or leave. What do you think? — John

Col. Hunt: John, our biggest enemy is ourselves/our government because they are holding our soldiers back at almost every turn. We do not bomb 300 terrorists in Afghanistan because they were in a cemetery, we do not go after terrorists in a mosque in Iraq, we did not arrest or kill Sadr over two years ago in Najaf. We have rules of engagement that are written by lawyers, not soldiers. You are right we fought and won WWII against a determined and brutal enemy, so why we are not now is criminal.


I have read your most recent book, (On the Hunt ) and found your insight fascinating to say the least. My question to you sir is this; could and should this war have been and it still be prosecuted better and more effectively with a more WW2 style of approach? — Steve

Col. Hunt: Steve, yes Sir, we should be using an approach more similar to WWII but in that war we had political leadership that understood what had to be done. We have not seen that type of leadership in a long long time. We need more of to vote in elections than vote for American Idol to change things.


Just discovered your corner — it's great. What's your opinion of the prosecution of the Marines in Haditha? As I understand it, the motivation to go after the troops was a story in Time Magazine that was fed to the reporter by a "source" later identified as a terrorist suspect. It continues, in part, because Murtha is pushing the military brass for a conviction to cover him for publicly convicting the troops. Do I have it about right, or is there some substance to the charges? — SP4 Gallagher, US Army 1960-62

Col. Hunt: Speedy 4 Gallagher, thanks for your service. I read the draft report on Haditha, written by a two-star named Bargswell, who won the DSC as a SSGp in 'Nam. The report is damning. The Marines were very pissed at the loss of their guys by a roadside bomb. The Marines shot civilians some of them kids. The Marines are part of the best military in the world, but on this day, the Marines on this street in Haditha got it tragically wrong.


After completing 35 years in the military and enjoying the use of many state of the art communication devices, I wonder why we don't shut down the phone system in Iraq along with the cellular phones used to trigger IEDs and provide up to date information to the BGs. Secondly, how does the military cut the media out of the picture, kind of like censuring them. Soldiers were born, trained and willing to destroy property and kill people — how can we let them do their job with all the political correctness in the service today? — Sheldon (Maryville, TN)

Col. Hunt:Hey Sheldon, thanks for your service. The short answer is we cannot win this way. You are correct we have great technical expertise but lack the political and military leadership to use it. Hell, we have generals now who say, “ We used kinetics” rather than kill. We are so much better than this.


My name is Wendy. My family received news that my nephew PFC Matthew was killed in Iraq on May 3 from gunfire, and I cannot sleep without doing something! He was sent out to fight the insurgents. We do not have any more information and we're not sure of when he will be returning home to us. He turned 20-years-old last week. My family is completely heartbroken and, as we speak, are flying in from all over the country to be there for my sister and her family.

So the question I am asking is, why? No matter why we are in Iraq the real question is why our boys don’t have enough protection and why would anyone hold up funds to help our young men and women get what they need to fight for our freedom?

My family needs to have more info. Why was he killed by gunfire? Did he die alone? Was anyone there to help him? Why didn’t he have enough to protect him. The Army is not saying much now. Can you find out? Or is there an avenue I can find out? — Wendy

Col. Hunt: Wendy, I am sorry for your loss. Your anger and pain come through in no uncertain terms. The gear is not getting to our guys because we have a supply system and money system that is totally broken, coupled with leaders who care more about their promotions and legacy than the soldiers they claim to lead.


I have two sons in Iraq, both on their second combat tour. I am beginning to feel like the president is completely out of touch with what is really going on over there. If you were the president, what would be the very first orders you would give regarding Iraq? — Dave

Col. Hunt: Dave, may God protect your sons. I will never be president, thank the same God that is protecting your brave sons. However, if I had the power, I would bring back 100,000 of our guys, leave three bases to support Iraq and keep Syria and Iran somewhat in check. I would continue to train the Iraqi police and military, and continue to build up the Iraq government ... but I would stop our guys dying for an Iraqi people who seem not to care. Men like your sons gave a great gift to the Iraqi people, but now the price of that gift is way too high, it is way past time to adjust.


First off, do you honestly think this is our war anymore? Personally, I think that it ended when we captured Saddam Hussein. Ever since then, it has been nothing less than bloody and never-ending post-war. I think that this war is more an Iraqi war than our war. I mean, it is THEIR country that we are trying to stabilize and THEIR government that we are trying to setup. — Remy

Col. Hunt: Remy, you are right, it did not have to be this way. If the Iraq government goes on their planned two month vacation, then we should bring all of our guys back.


Do you ever think about running for office? You would have my vote for sure. Thanks for taking time to read my e-mail even if you can't reply. You are a great American. — Steve (El Dorado, AR)

Col. Hunt: Steve, no on running for office, I would never survive the background check. However, more, like you, need to vote regardless. Steve, more people voted for American Idol than for president, that has to change.


First of all thanks for coming to the Natick Soldiers Systems Center last year. I've become a huge fan of yours. I would like to ask you a couple of questions concerning Taliban. Enough is enough when it comes to our troops being sitting ducks in helicopters.

1. Why doesn't our military sit back for a solid one to two week period and just shadow the Taliban, then send in the airstrike in the middle of the night? My thinking is, you can't hit what you can't see is my thinking.

2. Do you think dropping napalm on the opium fields in Afghanistan would strike a serious blow to Taliban's cash flow? I feel there has to be a way to break the Taliban's will or ability to get supplies. — David

Col. Hunt:1- This is a good idea, we do some of it, but not enough. Last year we had over 300 Taliban in a formation and did not pull the trigger because the Taliban was near a grave site. I would say how appropriate and put them in it, but it did not happen we back out.

2- Yes it would cause trouble for the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and our own country. Afghanistan is the largest producer of or raw opium in the world and we are the larges user, we own both sides of the pipe line and that is so very wrong.


I didn’t hear your comments on homosexuality in the military, but it’s a subject that has interested me since being a young infantryman at Camp Lejeune.

You’re right, our soldiers and Marines are exhausted. What do you think are the details involved with allowing homosexuals to serve openly? What does that mean? Are there going to be gay pride parades on post? I think homosexuals are looking for a celebration of their orientation and not just acceptance. I’m OK with the latter, but not with the former. — James

Col. Hunt: James, thanks for your service. I want the best we have to serve, I do not care how they have sex, or go to the bathroom. The British and French (good military and spies, terrible governments) allow gays to serve, as does Israel. I would not allow the gay pride stuff, but we need talented and dedicated men and women, and I think excluding people because they make some of us nervous is crazy. We once prevented blacks from serving in wars or with whites, which was wrong, and it is my opinion that preventing gays to serve is just as wrong. The "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy is a cop out. In this war on terror we must be willing to accept or at least tolerate things in others that make us nervous or that we do not agree with in order to kill bad people who want to kill us. Homosexuality is accepted in much or the world and we should be using those who can move in that world to help us find and kill terrorists. James, I totally get why you and many do not agree with me on this.


Why does the U.S. keep fighting a nice war? When three of our GIs disappeared, then one was found dead, we should have pulled 20 of the al Qaeda out of prison and hung them. Let their bodies hang for over a week, then cut them down. If another GI shows up dead, take 30 and hang them. I don't know why we fight a weak war.

The area between Pakistan and Afghanistan ... the hills where the rebels hide ... I would do high level bombing using napalm, bunker busters and any other type bomb that would do maximum damage.

I would also stop charging our troops with murder ... we are in a war.

I guess my question is why don't we fight this war as a war? Why don't we retaliate against the enemy? Why don't we take the fight to them? Why do we keep charging our GI's with murder? — Rob (Felton, PA)

Col. Hunt: Rob, in a very few, very rare occasion our soldiers and Marines do make mistakes, Calley in Vietnam comes to mind. The Haditha incident is going to come out very badly for the Marines, but 99 and 9/10 of our men and women serve honorably and with great distincition. What pisses me of is the over reacting of the senior leadership to what is just tough combat. The Marines prosecuted a Marine for shooting a terrorist “too many times.” The Army prosecuted an officer for firing his weapon passed the ear of a terrorist he was questioning, he “scared” the terrorist — this type of crap has to stop. I want to prosecute those bringing these ridiculous charges. Much of what is happening can and should be laid at the feet of our political and senior military leaders. They have lost their guts and their way.


Excellent assessment of poor leadership by our generals … I wonder if their dog and pony shows to impress the press and themselves aren’t also seen as career enhancers and “advertising” for a post military “career position?”

While you are posting the facts, what do you think about the recommendation to increase TRICARE costs? I understand one comment from the review committee was they are trying to bring TRICARE in line with other plans available in the civilian world. This logic is absurd because civilian careers are not subjected to the things a military career requires ... like three and four tours in a combat zone in a four to five year period.

Keep up the good work! — Rusty

Col. Hunt: Rusty, the State Department is refusing to man over 300 posts in Iraq and Afghanistan and the rest of the US government will not even consider serving in a combat zone and they should. TRICARE needs serious revamping and money. The way we take care of our retirees is criminal.


Why do you suppose it's taking so long to find our two missing troopers in Iraq, given the amount of resources we have dedicated to finding them? Thanks, and keep up the good fight. — Frank, Carrollton, TX

Col. Hunt:Frank, the enemy always have a vote and al Qaeda and the insurgents and the militias in Iraq have watched us not for over four years and they are learning how to fight us.


Would you consider sending me a signed copy of your latest book? I am currently deployed to the Baghdad area. — SFC Kevin

Col. Hunt:Sarge, book is on the way. You keep your head down and use noise and light discipline when you read it.


Sir, I thank you for your service to our country. I read " Why Leaders Can't Lead" with interest. I am a retired Marine Master Sergeant, but I cannot understand what is going on in the military services today. I'll stay in my paygrade, but something is wrong. I have five children who have all served in military service in some branch; however, all of them got out. Why? A career in the service is not for everyone, but it seems at least one out of five would stay.

Why do we have so many flag grade officers, yet many rifle companies are undermanned? It seems we have more flag grade officers now then we had in WWII. Something is wrong. — Lawrence, Master Segeant USMC Ret.

Col. Hunt: Master Sergeant, thanks for you service even though it was as a Marine, Army would have been better ... but to answer directly, you are right we are nuts over generals, we have many times the number than needed and they control things even at the squad level. This war is Sergeants War and because the Army and Marine Corps have forgotten that, the soldiers and marines are being blow apart and killed. I am afraid it will take outsiders to fix this. Neither service is capable of even talking about this much less fixing it.


Colonel Hunt, thanks for your service and for also letting us pick your brain a bit. My question is very simple. Why don't we target al-Sadr?

I understand that we may be afraid of some backlash, but isn't he causing us a lot of trouble right now while he's alive? It seems to me that since we are running out of time to show some large positive steps, that we can't afford to have him keep stirring the pot every time we start making some progress. I believe this is just a front in the war on terror, but it is still a war and if we have an enemy that is preventing us from winning and calling for our soldiers to be killed, then he has to be eliminated. Yes, the backlash will be bad but maybe it would send a message if we dealt just as severely with the those troublemakers as we do with al-Sadr.

I think we should let they soldiers fight and let the generals and they politicians do whatever they need to do deal with the accusations and criticisms that may come from it. At the very least I think the time for al-Sadr to assume room temperature has come. Just wanted your idea of why we haven't done it yet and if we will and if not, then why? — Dave (Myrtle Beach, SC)

Col. Hunt: Dave, on arresting or killing Sadr, I really went at that in my latest book “On the Hunt” ... sorry about the shameless promotion. We chickened out over two years ago in Najaf. When we invaded Iraq Sadr had about 300 militia; he now has over 40,000. He also controls 31 seats in the "do nothing" Iraqi Parliament. We simply do not have the political will to go after this fat, robe-wearing gerbel.


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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.


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