August 09, 2003

The Retired Colonel calls Donald Rumsfeld an "Asshole" Whose Bad Planning Mired U.S. troops in an Ugly

The _resident and his cabal are desperately trying to
spin the quagmire in Iraq, and the "US mainstream news
media" is doing what it can to help them. Retired US
Army Colonel David Hakworth was one of TV's military
analysts...until, of course, he the truth of what was
unfolding in Iraq becam painfully apparent to him and
he began to challenge the thinking of Rumsfeld, et
al...Now his views are available only on the Internt,
but the Inernet is, afterall, the medium of the
Information Rebellion itself, which is the greatest
threat to the _resident and his cabal. They are using
industrial age Corporatist (Mussolini's synonym for
"fascism" not mine) propaganda methods in a
post-industrial age. Eventually, they will be
defeated. The Internet does not serve them well. It
cannot be controlled, filtered to any exhaustive
extent, or really even taken down for very long. TV is
their greatest weapon. America needs a second Boston
Tea Party, a Boston TV Party in which families of 9/11
victims, families soldiers in Iraq and folks who lost
their life savings in the Enron debacle hurl their TVs
into the harbor. TV can mesmerize, intoxicate or liberate (think about Sen. Sam Ervin (D-SC) and Sen. Howard Baker (R-TN) in the Watergate hearings). If the thought control enforced through corporate Kulchur is ever loosened, and real journalists are allowed to follow real stories (for example, not just "sixteen words" on Niger uranium in the SOTU, but the hundred plus words of exaggeration and disinformation in the SOTU), this illegitimate regime and the cabal it fronts for will collapse politically...David Hackworth's name is going on
the John O'Neil Wall of Heroes...Meanwhile, where is
Osama "Wanted: Dead or Alive) Bin Laden?
Published on Tuesday, August 5, 2003 by

The War According to David Hackworth
The Retired Colonel calls Donald Rumsfeld an "Asshole" Whose Bad Planning Mired U.S. troops in an Ugly
Guerrilla Conflict in Iraq. His Sources? Defiant
Soldiers Sending Dispatches from the Front.

by Jonathan Franklin

Retired U.S. Army Col. David Hackworth is a cocky
American military commander who for half a century was
at the front lines of the Army's most important
battles. Most recently, though, Hackworth has been at
the front lines of a domestic war: the debate over
U.S. military strategy in Iraq, and whether the Bush
administration planned well enough to achieve a
decisive military victory and keep the postwar peace.

Hackworth was everywhere on cable television during
the first days of the war, when early military
setbacks convinced him and other retired military
leaders that the administration, whose backers sold
the conflict as a "cakewalk," hadn't sent enough
troops to quell Iraqi resistance. He wrote a widely
quoted column headlined "Stuck in the Quicksand" in
early April -- just as the tide seemed to turn and the
pace of victory picked up again. Though he is a
colonel by rank, Hackworth was counted among the
so-called "television generals" the administration
blasted after Baghdad fell, and many conservative
admirers turned against him.

But now, with American soldiers still dying almost
daily in Iraq, the tide of opinion may be turning
again, in favor of Hackworth's argument that the
administration was unprepared for what's turning out
to be a long-term guerrilla resistance in Iraq. Today
the primary front of Hackworth's war of opinion isn't
cable television, but a pair of Web sites -- Soldiers
for the Truth and his own site, -- where
he's campaigning to document the dire fate of U.S.
troops in Iraq. The sites have quickly become a
repository for the gripes and fears of America's
beleaguered combat troops.

On a typical day Hackworth receives hundreds of
e-mails, letters and faxes from American soldiers,
complaining about everything from silk-weight
underwear to the weapons they've been assigned.
"Pistols suck," wrote one soldier. "Bring and use
every weapon. Shotguns are great at close ranges." At
a time when soldiers have been disciplined for griping
to the media, Hackworth is providing a fascinating
outlet for what they're really experiencing. Among the
more evocative messages:

"Soldiers are living in the dirt, with no mail, no
phone, no contact with home, and no break from the
daily monotony at all. I practically got in a fist
fight with this captain over letting my private send
an e-mail over his office's internet. This clown
spends his days sending flowers to his wife and
surfing the net. Fucking disgraceful and all too
typical of today's Army."

"Soldiers get literally hundreds of flea or mosquito
bites and they can't get cream or Benadryl to keep the
damn things from itching ... .I am not talking about
bringing in the steak and lobster every week. I am
talking about basic health and safety issues that
continue to be neglected by the Army."

"We did not receive a single piece of parts-support
for our vehicles during the entire battle ... not a
single repair part has made to our vehicles to date
... my unit had abandoned around 12 vehicles ... .I
firmly believe that the conditions I just described
contributed to the loss and injury of soldiers on the

"We have done our job and have done it well, we have
fulfilled our obligation to this operation, but we are
still here and are still being mistreated and misled.
When does it end? Do we continue to keep the
liberators of Iraq here so they can continue to lose
soldiers periodically to snipers and ambushes? My unit
has been here since September and they have no light
at the end of the tunnel. How many of my soldiers need
to die before they realize that we have hit a wall?"

Although the controversial Hackworth has his critics,
no one disputes his half-century of military
accomplishment. During World War II the 15-year-old
Hackworth lied about his age to fight in Italy. During
Vietnam he designed and implemented unconventional
warfare tactics -- allegedly including a private
brothel for his troops -- and wrote the Vietnam
Primer, considered by many to be the leading book on
guerrilla warfare tactics in Vietnam. Wounded eight
times (his left leg still carries a bullet from the
Vietnam War), he racked up enough medals, he says, to
declare himself the "Army's Most Decorated Soldier" --
though he admits the U.S. Army has no such title. No
one denies that Hackworth has seen more combat and
taken more bullets than almost any American soldier
still alive.

Today, the bestselling author -- his books include
"Steel my Soldiers' Hearts," "Price of Honor" and
"About Face" -- writes a column for the conservative
site World Net Daily.

He's starting to feel his years. His bullet-ridden leg
propped up on pillows at his home in suburban
Connecticut, Hack is far from the action. So he chose
another tactic: He brought the front home. In a
conversation with Salon, he termed Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld an "asshole" who "misunderstood the
whole war" and he predicted that American troops could
be stuck in Iraq for "at least" another 30 years.

How long do you think U.S. troops will be needed in

God only knows, the way things are going. At least 30
years. Tommy Franks [recently retired commander of
U.S. troops in Iraq] said four to 10 years. Based on
Cyprus and other commitments in this kind of warfare,
it is going to be a long time -- unless the price gets
too heavy. We say it is costing the U.S. $4 billion a
month; I bet it is costing $6 billion a month. Where
the hell is that money going to come from?

How do you see the combat situation evolving in Iraq?

There is no way the G [guerrilla] is going to win; he
knows that, but his object is to make us bleed. To
nickel and dime us. This is Phase 1. But what he is
always looking for is the big hit -- a Beirut [-style
car-bomb attack] with 242 casualties, something that
gets the headlines! The Americans have their head up
their ass all the time. All the advantages are with
the G; he will be watching. He is like an audience in
a darkened theater and the U.S. troops are the actors
on stage all lit up, so the G can see everything on
stage, when they are asleep or when his weapons are
dirty. The actor can't see shit in the audience.

For many weeks your Web site has described conditions
in Iraq as being far more chaotic and unstable than
generally reported. Why did the Pentagon try to
downplay the problems instead of playing it straight
and saying this is a long- term problem for America?

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul
Wolfowitz made a very horrible estimate of the
situation. They concluded that the war would be Slam
Bam Goodbye Saddam, followed by victory parades with
local Iraqi folks throwing flowers and rice and
everything nice, then the troops would come home.

When I examined the task organization, my estimate was
totally contrary to this asshole Rumsfeld, who went in
light and on the cheap, all based upon this rosy
scenario. I never thought this would be a fight
without resistance. And there was another guy who
thought the same way I did; his name is Saddam
Hussein. He looked at the awesome array of forces
being set up against him and said, "Wait a minute, no
way can I prevail, I tried that in '91 and just saw in
Afghanistan what happened to Taliban and Al-Qaida, I
will run away for another day."

Saddam is saying, "I am going to copy Ho Chi Minh and
the Taliban and go into a guerrilla configuration." It
[the invasion of Baghdad] did go Slam Bam Goodbye
Saddam, but we are in there so light that we don't
have sufficient force to provide the stability after
the fall of the regime. We can't secure the banks, the
energy facilities, the vital installations, the
government, the ministry, the museums or the library.
The world was witness to this great anarchy, the
looting and rioting that set over Baghdad. There was
that wonderful quote by Rumsfeld. "Stuff happens," he
said. He flipped it off.

Do you see any similarities to the U.S. engagement in

The mistake in Vietnam was we failed to understand the
nature of the war and we failed to understand our
enemy. In Vietnam we were fighting World War II. Up to
now in Iraq we have been fighting Desert Storm with
tank brigade attacks. The tanks move into a village,
swoop down, the tank gunner sees a silhouette atop a
house, aims, fires, kills and it turns out to be a
12-year-old boy. Now, the father of that boy said, "We
will kill 10 Americans for this." This is exactly what
happened in Vietnam; a village was friendly, then some
pilot turns around and blows away the village, the
village goes from pro-Saigon to pro-Hanoi.

What kind of weapons would you be using in this war if
you were running it? Would you trade the pistols for
grenade launchers? Would you bring in more Apache
helicopters, more snipers, what?

You have to use surgical weapons, not weapons that can
reach out and strike innocents. The American Army is
trained to break things and kill people -- not the
kind of selective work that is needed. You don't use a
tank brigade to surround a village; instead, you set
up ambushes along the route. It is all so similar to
what I saw in Vietnam, this tendency to be mesmerized
by big-unit operations. But if you fight like a G,
everything is under the table, in the dark, done by
stealth and surprise; there is no great glory --
except the end result. America has never been capable
of fighting the G; from [Gen.] Custer who fucked it
up, you can fast-forward to today. [In Iraq] they are
proving it again. The U.S. military never, never
learns from the past. They make the same mistake over
and over again.

What other changes would you say need to happen in

Get rid of the conventional generals; these guys in
Iraq are tank generals, but they don't have any
experience in fighting an insurgency. Reminds me of
Vietnam when the artillery commanders wanted to build
bases everywhere to fire their cannons. These tactics
do not work against the G. I said in a recent piece:
"Fire these fuckers and get a snake eater."

Snake eater -- where does that term come from?

That is an old expression from the beginning of
Special Forces. They would have demonstrations at Fort
Bragg [U.S. Special Forces headquarters in North
Carolina] to demonstrate their animalism and they
would bite the head off a chicken or bite a snake in

Gen. John Abazid -- a snake eater -- has just come in
and admitted this is a classic guerrilla war. What
kind of new strategy can we expect to see?

The guy is extremely bright and a fighter -- a very
rare combination. Generally the fighters are Rambo
types who can't walk and chew gum at the same time.
There are on occasions the Rommel and Patton who are
brilliant fucking guys who can also duke it out with
you, they understand the street fighter. You got that
with Abazid.

How is it that you, a retired soldier in suburban
Connecticut, appear to have a better take on the
soldiers' mood than the generals in the Pentagon or in

I have incredible sources -- on average I get 500
e-mails a day from kids around the world that have
read my work and know that I am not going to blow the
whistle on them; a lot of that shit you see on my Web
site comes from those kids.

This is the first war with e-mail. You have asked U.S.
soldiers to emulate Winston Churchill and act as war
correspondents by sending you dispatches from the
front. What has been the response?

Very, very favorable. The soldiers know the traffic is
being monitored by the Pentagon, that Big Brother is
monitoring everything they write. But still my sources
keep coming from Afghanistan and Iraq. I very seldom
get direct sources -- remember before we deployed,
they [soldiers] were at home and could send e-mail
from personal Yahoo accounts, now they have to use
military accounts and are paranoid that these are
being read. The [direct] traffic I get now are from
guys who don't give a fuck, who are not going to stay
in [the military], who don't give a shit about the
consequences of sounding off. But remember -- you can
never outsmart a convict in prison or a soldier on the
battlefield. They both live by their wits, so what
they do is write home and say "Hey dad I love you, we
are having a few problems with tanks, etc. If this
letter should happen to find itself into the e-mail of
Hackworth at it wouldn't disappoint
me." I am getting 30 to 40 of these letters.

American troops in Iraq are complaining of basics like
clean clothes, hot food and mail from home. Is there
anything wrong with the Pentagon's famous supply

This goes back to the shitty estimate on the part of
Rumsfeld. He did not provide enough troops or the
logistical backup, because his Army was not staying,
it was coming home. So who needs a warehouse full of

One letter I got today, written by a sergeant in a
tank unit, said that of its 18 armored vehicles --
Bradley or Abrams -- only four are operational. The
rest were down because of burned-out transmissions or
the tracks eaten out. So it is not just the shitty
food and bad water -- a soldier can live with short
rations -- but spare parts, baby! If you don't have
them, your weapons don't work. Most of the resupply is
by wheeled vehicles, and the roads and terrain out
there is gobbling up tires like you won't believe.
Michelin's whole production for civilians has been
stopped [at certain plants] and have dedicated their
entire production to the U.S. military in Iraq -- and
they can't keep up!

Do you think there is any truth to the sense that
British soldiers are better at nation-building than
the Americans?

I would say so. They have a long history -- going back
to the days of the colonies. If you look at their
achievements in some places where they have
established solid governments -- in Africa, in India,
they have done a very good job. They were very good at
lining up local folks to do the job like operating the
sewers and turning on the electricity. Far better than
us -- we are heavy-handed, and in Iraq we don't
understand the people and the culture. Thus we did not
immediately employ locals in police and military
activities to get them to build and stabilize their
nation. (Pauses) Yeah, the Brits are better.

What would you tell Rumsfeld if you could talk to him?

In mid April, I wrote a piece that asks for Rumsfeld
to be fired, to be relieved. I took enormous heat for
that. He went in light, on the cheap, he has
misunderstood the whole war, he should go ... Rumsfeld
is an arrogant asshole. That's a quote, by the way.

Jonathan Franklin covered the first Gulf War from
inside the Pentagon's "Desert Storm" mortuary. He is a
reporter with the Guardian of London.

Copyright 2003


Posted by richard at August 9, 2003 05:59 PM