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12 Captains

The Real Iraq We Knew

Editorial in today’s Washington Post by “12 former Army captains”:

Five years on, the Iraq war is as undermanned and under-resourced as it was from the start. And, five years on, Iraq is in shambles.

As Army captains who served in Baghdad and beyond, we’ve seen the corruption and the sectarian division. We understand what it’s like to be stretched too thin. And we know when it’s time to get out.

Here are the 12 and the years that they served in Iraq:

Jason Blindauer, 2003 and 2005
Elizabeth Bostwick, 2004
Jeffrey Bouldin, 2006
Jason Bugajski, 2004
Anton Kemps, 2003 and 2005
Kristy (Luken) McCormick, 2003
Luis Carlos Montalván, 2003 and 2005
William Murphy, 2003 and 2005
Josh Rizzo, 2006
William “Jamie” Ruehl, 2004
Gregg Tharp, 2003 and 2005
Gary Williams, 2003

As Confederate Yankee said:

I value the writers’ service and their opinions as soldiers who have served in Iraq, but wouldn’t this editorial have meant more if the Washington Post had managed to find soldiers to write it who had actually been in in Iraq in the last year?

And here’s an interesting bit:

While our generals pursue a strategy dependent on peace breaking out, the Iraqis prepare for their war — and our servicemen and women, and their families, continue to suffer. [emphasis Murdoc's]

Murdoc tries not to spend much time criticizing commentary from those in the military or that have previously served. After all, Murdoc hasn’t been there. But to present the situation as one of “generals pursuing a strategy dependent on peace breaking out” is simply idiotic. That sounds like uninformed anti-war parroting, not analysis by former military officers.

Speaking of anti-war parroting, they also mention this:

There is one way we might be able to succeed in Iraq. To continue an operation of this intensity and duration, we would have to abandon our volunteer military for compulsory service. Short of that, our best option is to leave Iraq immediately. [emphasis again Murdoc's]

Get that? Either we START THE DRAFT or we GET OUT NOW.

I haven’t met anyone in the service who thinks a Draft has any chance of working at all. Nearly everyone I’ve talked to who likes the idea of a Draft likes it because they think it will give the antiwar movement the traction it needs to stop the war. Talk about pursuing a strategy dependent on peace breaking out.

Call Murdoc a dumb civilian, but he smells spokespeople for an organization of some sort. And it ain’t the Wednesday evening ladies’ quilting club. It will be interesting to learn what link these 12 former captains have to each other and how they all ended up on the editorial page of the WaPo together.

(via Instapundit)

UPDATE: Here’s a comment made by Jason Blindauer in November, 2006:

Like most Americans, I have that 1968 kind of feeling.

Tell Murdoc that that isn’t some sort of talking point. Probably just a coincidence that it was made at election time.

UPDATE 2: More on this:

Comments

  • Dfens says:

    Like I’ve said before, this is why you have treason laws. You cannot allow a political party to hang it’s fortunes on losing a war. Wars should not be political, or at least as political as this one is, because our young men are paying for those politics with their lives. In the end, the politics is getting in the way of the debate that we should be having, because no one knows who to believe. That being said, I think this war is a disaster. We are using highly paid mercinaries instead of citizen soldiers. The US has never done that – certainly not to the extent they are being used in this war. Is that better than instituting a draft? We pay companies to hire foreigners to fight for us and keep their deaths hushed up? If the numbers don’t show up in the newspaper, does that mean they didn’t die? And who insures they’re looking out for our interests? This war makes Vietnam look sane.

  • Murdoc says:

    I certainly don’t claim that the campaign in Iraq or the larger war is all roses. That being said,

    We are using highly paid mercinaries instead of citizen soldiers. The US has never done that – certainly not to the extent they are being used in this war. Is that better than instituting a draft?

    Even granting the ‘mercenary’ tag, Absolutely Positively Definitely 100% YES.

  • J. says:

    You’ve nailed it Murdoc. No self-respecting military officer would ever go against the administration’s line. Obviously these are ‘phony soldiers’ who probably never served any time in the military, and who are paid off by MoveOn.org to express these treasonous thoughts. Or instead of moving to the automatic explanation that the right so often uses to brush off opposing views by thinking men and women in the military, you could consider why the Army is increasingly being driven to use ‘moral character waivers’ and huge cash bonuses to meet its quotas. We’re losing our young officers and NCOs because they’re tired of multiple deployments and limited, temporary and tactical successes. The problem with a draft isn’t that people think it won’t work in practice, it’s because no politician will grant it a fair shot. If you think the public believes Iraq/Afghanistan are wars that we ought to be in until we ‘win’, then the American public ought to be paying the price of participation and taxes to execute the war. Instead, we’ve doubled the national debt and paid, what, four-five times as much for contractors to double the footprint of US forces in Iraq. And as much as you might like the idea of private military contractors taking the place of military personnel, Blackwater et al is not doing us any favors in winning the ‘hearts and minds’ of the Iraqi public. And that means we’re stuck there longer than we need to be.

  • Murdoc says:

    J:

    You’ve nailed it Murdoc. No self-respecting military officer would ever go against the administration’s line. Obviously these are ‘phony soldiers’ who probably never served any time in the military, and who are paid off by MoveOn.org to express these treasonous thoughts.

    At least you aren’t putting words into my mouth or misrepresenting what I wrote at all. (I’m being sarcastic. If you will at least pretend to listen to what I said I’ll respond to your comment on it.)

    You could consider why the Army is increasingly being driven to use ‘moral character waivers’ and huge cash bonuses to meet its quotas.

    The quotas are increasing because the Army and Marines are expanding, yet they’re being met. Pay rates are up across America in most sectors, and the military has to compete on the open market for good recruits. I think the military is badly underpaid, and the free market is helping correct that in this time of low unemployment. As for lowered standards, it’s as much a phenomenon of the scarcity of potential labor as anything else. The place where I work hires people it wouldn’t have looked twice at previously. Is that because of the unjust war in Iraq?

    We’re losing our young officers and NCOs because they’re tired of multiple deployments and limited, temporary and tactical successes.

    That must be why retention rates are so low, particularly in the combat roles. Oh, they aren’t. In fact, they’re unexpectedly high, particularly in the combat roles.

    The problem with a draft isn’t that people think it won’t work in practice

    No, that is EXACTLY the problem with the Draft: that people don’t think it will work in practice. At least not military people. Why does the military want an average person who doesn’t want to be there when it can have people who volunteer? What I find amusing about those who claim that Draft makes sense (including your comment) is that they don’t think it makes military sense, they think it makes social sense. There’s a good reason to drastically alter (for the worse) the makeup of the finest fighting force on the planet. (I wonder if the use of ‘moral character waivers’ would increase or decrease with a common draft.) Regarding contractors, I certainly will welcome rational and workable measures to help regulate the industry. It’s nowhere in the neighborhood of perfect. Even more, I would welcome a military end strength increase of around 150,000 – 200,000 and military pay increases to eliminate most reliance on contractors. Not gonna happen, though. All that said, I absolutely positively believe that an overpaid KBR contractor cooking meals or an expensive Blackwater guard protecting diplomats beats an underpaid draftee doing the same thing every day of the week, every week of the year.

  • Dfens says:

    Yeah, hell, why not outsource our military. We’re already outsourcing our weapons makers, why not the weapons users too? Can anyone see a problem with this? Anyone at all see a problem with this? Hello… Is anyone home? This is sanity calling.

  • Murdoc says:

    Yeah, hell, why not outsource our military. We’re already outsourcing our weapons makers, why not the weapons users too?

    C’mon, guys. Stop it already with the strawmen.

  • Dfens says:

    3 hours ago mercinaries were great, now they are bad? Is there some alternate word for the of ‘contractors’ from other countries to kill people in a third country? I mean, if you don’t like that nasty little mercinary tag, then you apparently are also adverse to the more euphemistic ‘outsourcing’ moniker? What do you want to call them, strawmen? But they bleed real blood. They make real money, real money we don’t have to spend. They really don’t have any allegiance to the US. There are some real problems here, and you can go on playing politics, or you can look at the problems for what they are.

  • Murdoc says:

    Dfens: The ‘strawman’ is saying that since I think ‘mercenaries’ are a vital part of what our military does, I’m also saying that we should replace the entire military with ‘mercenaries’. I said nothing of the sort and you know it.

  • Dfens says:

    I did not say anything about outsourcing all of our military either, so where is the strawman? It seems it would be your implication, not mine. The fact of the matter is over half of the US presence in Iraq is contractors. The fact of the matter is many of those contractors are not US citizens. That’s outsourcing, and the particular term used for the people who are hired in that kind of outsourcing is mercinaries. The fact is, US spending on military contractors has doubled in the last few years, and yet the number of defense workers has steadily declined. What do you call that? And if our military is stretched when only supplying half of the troops in Iraq, why does that not put our nation at risk from the very mercinary armies we have hired?

  • Murdoc says:

    My bad, Dfens, about you arguing against outsourcing the military. I thought when you said

    Yeah, hell, why not outsource our military. We’re already outsourcing our weapons makers, why not the weapons users too?

    you meant Yeah, hell, why not outsource our military. We’re already outsourcing our weapons makers, why not the weapons users too? My misunderstanding.

  • Minturn says:

    Phil Cater in particular is a fraud. He thinks he’s so great now that he can bash the military from the safety of his LA law firm. What a douche.

  • vincente says:

    Hessians, anyone?

  • Nicholas says:

    1. Call Iraq a ‘quagmire’ and compare it to Vietnam 2. Institute a draft, just like there was during Vietnam 3. Send a whole bunch of people to Iraq who don’t want to be there, just like Vietnam 4. Wait for actual quagmire to develop 5. Spit on returning soldiers 6. ??? 7. Profit!!

  • Dfens says:

    And who exactly do you think stands to profit the most from a quagmire in Iraq, 12 Army Captains or Blackwater? This is every bit as moronic as what goes on in my part of the defense world. We profit on failure, and, guess what, time after time we fail and make a huge profit doing it. Now you’ve set up the same kind of thing in Iraq, but if anyone notices it, you stick your fingers in your ears and start yelling LA LA LA. This is insane.

  • submandave says:

    And who exactly do you think stands to profit the most from a quagmire in Iraq?‘ The more cynical would say Democrats and those even further to the left who would ride such ruin to greater power, as they have tried to do with the problems encountered so far.

  • Dfens says:

    Excellent point, submandave, and exactly why I made my earlier statement regarding treason laws. Why don’t they put a clause in Blackwater’s contract giving them a bonus to win sometime in this century? I mean, hell, does no one in this country believe in capitalism anymore? Is everyone so sold on ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs’ that we’ve forgotten that profit incentive works – either for you or against your, but it works?

  • vincente says:

    Defens points out the obvious difference between traditional defense contractors and security operations such as Blackwater’s: Boeing and Northrop Grumman make their money war or not – many would argue that they’d be making even more money if there were not war going on (a la the Reagan Years) because recapitalization and modernization would be getting more dollars. Blackwater, on the other hand, depends on instability. No war, no catastrophe, no business. Their motivation to ‘win’ is, to say the least, limited to gettting the SUV from one place to the other.

  • Dfens says:

    Exactly! The big defense contractors like I work for make more money with the threat of war, but make less with war. Our bread and butter is development work, and has been for nearly 2 decades now. The profit movtive makes a big difference in how you get the SUV from point A to point B if you have a vested interest in winning the war vs. making money from it. And before someone starts in with, ‘oh, but these people are such good patriots that they’d never do that.’ Let me remind you that the majority of the people these companies hire are NOT AMERICANS. So let’s dispense with the notion they give a damn about the good ol’ USofA.

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