Wednesday, September 26, 2007
In commentary published in the Christian Science Monitor, former three-star vice admiral and now Congressman, Rep. Joe Sestak (D) of Pennsylvania declares that ending the war in Iraq is necessary, as it has “degraded our security” and pushed the Army “to the breaking point.”
I actually have to confess that I retain admiration for the Monitor, despite its soft progressivism and reflexively anti-war prejudices. I am quite sure they know the differences between armed services, and equally certain they recognize partisan flag bearers. I suppose with all the pro-Petraeus press reports of late, war opponents feel the need to trot out the reliably pro-Dem military.
Rep. Sestak’s not the only pro-Dem military figure who’s spoken out against our efforts in
Sure, he was once upon a time a three star admiral. Then he worked as a national security advisor in the Clinton White House. He ran for Congress demanding a pull-out from
Here’s a small sample of what he’s been saying since hitting the campaign trail for his current seat in congress, this from October 2006:
"We must redeploy out of
"We went in there. We never found those (weapons of mass destruction). There were none to be found," Sestak said.
After the event, Sestak said when troops withdraw, the
None of which takes away the legitimacy of his voicing his opinion, no doubt informed by his military experience. But do take note how remarkably unchanged his characterization of the situation in Iraq from 2006 to now (post-surge); how his solution then is his solution now; and how his idea of a bipartisan solution is to have the other party entirely adopt his point of view:
I have consistently argued that a planned end to our military engagement in
Our troops could either return home or deploy to areas (such as Afghanistan) where terrorists pose a threat to our security, while others remain at our existing bases in Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and on aircraft carrier and amphibious groups, to ensure our interests in the region (as we did prior to invading Iraq).
Because our Army must either start a lengthy redeployment or risk unraveling, we have the catalysts for a bipartisan agreement to end this war with a stable
Indeed, Rep. Sestak has a strange conception of bipartisanship. I suppose it would be a bipartisan approach for Democrats and Republicans to agree that the war was a tragic mistake, that President Bush lied us into war, and that Democratic plans for an immediate withdrawal should be implemented. “Agree with me, and we’ll have consensus!” I wonder were the Admiral picked up that bit of political wisdom?
No surprise, he holds equally bizarre ideas of what “ahead” and “progress” look like in terms of National Security. Does Rep. Sestak really believe that
In no way would I dismiss Rep. Sestak’s 31 year Navy career, but some of us in sister services find his characterization of having “led an aircraft carrier battle group in combat operations in
And even if individual pilots or squadrons did, would you call the Navy Commander of the Carrier Group a participant in the combat? Oh I’m sure for service ribbons and commendations and the like, but to highlight that as combat duty, and to use as the military basis for what is a much different area of operations (ground combat)?
I’m sure my MILBLOGGER friends will correct any misimpression on my part on that score.
Even if one grants Sestak military cred for his Naval service, what expertise does he have on the health of the Army, or the pros and cons of ground operations?
Rep. Sestak also highlights his stint as Director of the Navy's anti-terrorism unit after 9/11, and declares that “an inconclusive, open-ended involvement in
I can’t argue that Rep. Sestak has not thought carefully about what’s involved in withdrawal, even if he blithely ignores the consequences and significance of that withdrawal:
Moving 160,000 troops and 50,000 civilian contractors and closing bases are logistically challenging, especially in conflict. To ensure our troops' safety, it will take at least a year – probably 15 to 24 months.
The "long pole in the tent" is the closure or turnover of 65 Forward Operating Bases (FOBs). Conservatively, it takes 100 days to close one FOB. It will be important to balance how many to close at one time with calculations about surrounding strife. Kuwait's receiving facilities to clean and package vehicles for customs and shipment back to the United States can handle only 2 to 2½ brigade combat teams (BCTs) at a time, and that there are currently 40 BCT-equivalents in Iraq.
Redeployment is the most vulnerable of military operations, particularly because this one will be down a single road, leading from
Why do I get the feeling that one of Admiral Sestak’s areas of expertise was logistics? He’s absolutely correct in noting the complexities and heavy lifting involved in fully withdrawing from
Sestak concludes with his plea for bipartisanship: not because we should work together to advance
Because a redeployment of troops will take a long time, we can have a bipartisan approach to
Which only serves to underscore how pathetically out of touch senior military officers can be, when asked to render judgments out of their area of expertise.
The only constructive role
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