Friday, December 15, 2006
still I tell lies, try to turn around and face it:
So... Rumsfeld has his farewell ceremony at 1:15 this afternoon at the Pentagon, and with his exodus, his handpicked Army chief of staff, General Pete Schoomaker, goes on a bit of a tear:

Warning that the active-duty Army "will break" under the strain of today's war-zone rotations, the nation's top Army general yesterday called for expanding the force by 7,000 or more soldiers a year and lifting Pentagon restrictions on involuntary call-ups of Army National Guard and Army Reserve troops.

Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army's chief of staff, issued his most dire assessment yet of the toll of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on the nation's main ground force. At one point, he banged his hand on a House committee-room table, saying the continuation of today's Pentagon policies is "not right."

I have no doubt that Schoomaker is right in his assessment. But he deserves condemnation for only issuing this warning now that his boss is out the door. In February, when Rumsfeld had to go to the Hill to refute charges of breaking the Army, he brought Schoomaker along for insulation:

General Schoomaker points out that he remembers what a "broken" Army looks like when he was a young officer. The Vietnam War had just ended, the All-Volunteer force was in its infancy, and though we had many fine soldiers and officers, the force was also troubled by multiple problems. The difference between that Army and the professional and motivated force we have today could not be more dramatic.

Similarly, in the late summer of 2005, Schoomaker himself told Joe Galloway of what-was-once-Knight Ridder that the Army was far from the breaking point:

The Army chief, Gen. Peter Schoomaker, told Knight Ridder that many more soldiers are re-enlisting than were expected, and that may help make up some of the difference. Schoomaker acknowledged that while this could help hold the Army level at its current strength of about 500,000, it would not be enough to expand the force by 30,000 more soldiers, as authorized.

He said that the Army is recruiting, or trying to recruit, 165,000 new soldiers every year -- 80,000 for the active duty Army and 85,000 for the Army National Guard and Army Reserve. Schoomaker said the Army clearly faces challenges as it goes through a radical transformation even while it is heavily engaged in fighting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq -- but he flatly denied that the Army is broken.

Schoomaker deserves no praise for the warning he issued yesterday. The question he needs to face up to -- every morning while he shaves, in fact -- is why he didn't stand up for his soldiers against Rumsfeld.

LATE UPDATE: on TAPPED, Schoomaker's people respond.

--Spencer Ackerman
...and If the military heirarchy makes public dissent impossible, aren't there mechanisms by which military officials can raise their concerns with relevant committees on the hill?

Of course, if the Congress is run by shit-heads, that wouldn't help much either.
Blogger The Special | 11:53 AM

The opposite could also be true: the Army wasn't "broken" then (for certain values of broken) and it isn't now. Schoomaker could just be cynically playing the old Pentagon game of trying to get more resources now that Rumsfeld, who wanted to shrink the Army, is out the door.
Blogger Dylan | 3:33 PM