I always loved watching the Greatest Military Blunders show on the History Channel, back in the day. Even though I may have been 16; the show, as far as I was concerned, allowed me to analyze and expand my reasoning skills by learning how and why the leaders of the past made decisions, their decision’s outcome, and what could have been done differently in order to achieve success.
Sometimes this methodology of analysis had to be adverted when it came to the Enemy’s misfortunes during the wars of past. Those misfortunes were analyzed not only on understanding what went wrong, but seeing how (if at all) the blunder was taken advantage of by the forces of general good.
In comes the Greatest Military Blunder of the 21st Century. An assessment of which is brought to you by the RAND Corporation, commissioned by the Army, and published and secretively covered up by the Army in 2005. The report, called “Rebuilding Iraq,” was commissioned specifically by, formally, Lt. Gen. James Lovelace, previously the Chief Operation Officer of the Army and now in command of the Army’s forces in the Middle East, and Lt. Gen. David Melcher, who previously had the responsibility for deploying the Army’s forces and now works on budgetary issues.
In my personal opinion based on the treatment of this report by the Generals, and other DoD officials, and the actions taken since the submission of the RAND report both Generals, and subsequent ’other DoD officials,’ should be forced to retire at the very least, and held for dereliction of command duty at the very most.
The Army initially wanted the report to study its postwar handling of the Iraq War, known internally as Operation Iraqi Freedom, both for current revisions to the Army’s strategy and for future wars. The RAND corporation gathered a team of 50 or so civilians and military officials to pour over unclassified, classified, and press documents relating to the Iraq War.
In RAND’s research, it became clear that decisions made by civilian officials had contributed to the Army’s difficulties in Iraq. They effectively stated that by no miracle of the Army could the Army alone achieve success in Iraq. RAND cited that nearly every agency associated with Iraq had contributed to Iraq’s difficulties.
The reported drew attention to the fact that the resources of the ‘civilianized’ State Department were never utilized by the all too manly Department of Defense, and vice-versa as the State didn’t want to ask for help from the overbearing meat-heads at the Pentagon. “Throughout the planning process, tensions between the Defense Department and the State Department were never mediated by the president or his staff,” the report stated [via a citation of the draft report obtained by the NYT].
The report also points the finger directly at the President for not, I guess being President. By not “mediating” the President effectively didn’t do his job. To be frank, wtf was he doing if not telling his people what to do? If he was telling them what to do, then he was obviously telling them to do the wrong things? And the dumbass people of this country elected him because? And the Generals and officials that followed him over this cliff, did so because?
The President, and all the President’s men, didn’t understand that State had the exceptional ability (or rather a tad bit greater ability than most), to carry out humanitarian and civilianized missions. The President, and all the President’s men, didn’t understand that handing the reconstruction efforts over to the Pentagon would not be very useful to the overall reconstruction of anything – seeing how the Pentagon, then led by Rumsfeld, hasn’t reconstructed, much less constructed, anything substantial since it’s inception out of the War Department of times past, save for the building it lives in maybe.
The report even states that despite being given the lead in the postwar reconstruction, DoD had a “lack of capacity for civilian reconstruction planning and execution.” While State, then led by Colin Powell, made up for it a bit by having the capacity, one should forget that it really didn’t matter since the two agencies rarely talked, especially since the Department of Defense had been given the lead in the reconstruction efforts.
The report also cites that the Commanding Officer for forces in Iraq, as well as in charge of Central Command (CENTCOM), Gen. Tommy Franks, had a ““fundamental misunderstanding” of what the Army needed to do in order to rebuild Iraq.
The cover-up comes when the Army, after learning the report criticizes such a wide range of government agencies and officials, deems the report did not accomplish its original intention of helping the Army along in its postwar rebuilding efforts, or for future wars. What the Army didn’t realize though is that the report does help the Army, by stating that the FREAKING ARMY SHOULDN’T BE REBUILDING A COUNTRY WHEN IT HAS NO EXPERIENCE, FRAMEWORK, OR LEADERSHIP, and that is why the Generals and other officials who kept this RAND report in the trunk should be chided and thrown out.
For what it’s worth the RAND Corporation, in keeping with its policies, wanted to release an unclassified version of the report. But the Army thought that there may be classified material still in the unclassified version so they didn’t let the cleaned up version be published. To make matters even more rosy, the Army is asking the report now be resubmitted – so they can cover their rear ends (at least they still practice that strategy).
In effect from the top to the bottom of the United States Government, the boondoggle that is Iraq, a place where tens of thousands of civilian’s, who had no quarrel with anybody, have died; where thousands of Soldiers of the United States of America, have given their lives; where hundreds of billions of our tax dollars, have been squandered, is nothing but the Greatest Military Blunder of the 21st Century. Granted it’s also the first. What is key here, is for my generation to learn that we are not a government of many, looking out for ourselves, but rather we are a government of one looking out for many. We should realize that in a leader we not only choose a Commander in Chief but a person who isn’t unwilling to listen and learn on a constant basis.
We as a country and as a people should look out toward our future remembering the tragedy that our most immediate forefather’s generation has brought upon this Earth, knowing that our future will be marked by the learned and the not by the ignorant, by the exceptional and not by the sub-standard, by the needs of the whole of the people, and not by the careless wants of the individual.
The RAND report and the reaction it garnered (not from the public or the media; the latter of which could care less probably) from those officials involved in this sad Saga of Freedom’s retreat from its own meaning, those officials we entrust with our liberty, freedom, and justice, those officials, we have learned, effectively have shit for brains. Let’s us take, if not anything, but this away from the above reading.