General Sanchez, a Continuous Failure

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Here we go again! Another senior officer has retired and suddenly found his integrity, his manhood, or — to be kinder — his "voice."

Since the incompetence of the current administration — politically and militarily — in running the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has become, sadly, accepted by almost all, we have been treated to a series of startling revelations by some of the very officers that ran the war. Those that have spoken up are the very officers that planned, and later commanded, soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. They spoke up, but after the fact, when it would not hurt their precious careers.

Now, anyone who has read these columns, seen me on TV, or heard me on the radio knows that I have been a very harsh critic of those in charge of this war. I have been saddened and enormously frustrated by many of our senior officers' inability to show even a modicum of original thought, bravery, or barring those two necessary ingredients for leadership, at least a basic understanding and love for soldiers. Alas, few seem to measure up to their own soldiers' bravery, basic goodness and innate brilliance.

So, when former big shots like Gen. Sanchez finally state the obvious — that the media has been uneven in their reporting, and in fact has hurt the war effort, that the administration just screwed the pooch on this war, and that Iraq is a nightmare — I think, “Well hell! Finally, they are speaking up.” However, I am also reminded that Sanchez was the guy in charge of Iraq in 2003. He was THE MAN, at least in Iraq. He had direct access to Rummy and could, when he wanted to, talk to the president. Sanchez also could have, at any time, said what he said last week while he was in the Army, when it really would have mattered.

We can all imagine the political storm an active duty three-star, the commander of all Iraq forces, would have made if he had said, “The press sucks and the administration can not find its collective ass with both hands,” (metaphorically speaking of course). Not one general has ever, at least not in my lifetime, spoken up saying we are not fighting correctly. Col. David Hackworth is the only officer above the rank of Lieutenant Colonel to tell it like it is in public, and that was over 40 years ago. We do not select generals to be outspoken or original in any respect. We select generals to be compliant, “get along” types who put themselves ahead of their men and women in order to be promoted. This hardly works in time of peace, and in this time of war, it is tantamount to opening our veins and bleeding to death.

I do not like Sanchez. I suspect he became a general for reasons other than competence. Having said that, he was dead right all his points, 100 percent on the money on the administration’s failures, the lack of intellectual honesty in the media, and the complicity of the American people in this nightmare in Iraq and Afghanistan.

What eats at me, and what I hope gets to you too, is this: can you imagine what those same words would have meant if they were said from a podium in Iraq, on worldwide television ... or standing on Rummy's chest pointing a finger and yelling at the top of his lungs? Gen. Sanchez did none of these things. He took the coward’s way out, and in so doing, he and the rest of us have blood on our hands.

General, you could have really made the difference — but you did not; you stood silent, watching your men and women die. You stood silent and watched Abu Ghraib flush this great country's reputation down the toilet; watched as Iraq descended into total chaos. So, while we appreciate you finally finding your manhood, we are not impressed. In fact, we turn our backs to you, waiting to see if anyone who really matters will finally do what you failed to do: tell the truth and care more about their soldiers than about getting their next star.

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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.