Robert Novak wrote a column on July 9 claiming that National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley was making the rounds to Republican senators to stop the defections for their war policy. He wasn't persuasive and, according to Novak, the Republican senators had concerns. "Some senators were left with the impression the White House still does not recognize the scope of the Iraq dilemma. Worse yet, they see Bush running out the clock until April, when a depleted U.S. military will be blamed for the fiasco."
So you may get blamed for this Iraq mess so let's review your record on the war. There was a concern and a reluctance to go by the General officer corps to go to war with so few troops and so quickly. After General Shinseki stood up in Congress, committed truth by saying how many troops you really needed and got fired, the rest of you hit the deck or retired and kept silent. You knew that Secretary Rumsfeld was wiping out your logistics plan and forcing you to go with fewer troops. That made you have to heavily rely on contractors for logistics in a way you never had to do before. You used the KBR LOGCAP III contract, which was around $60 million contract before the war and now has exploded to over $26 billion. You put contractors in the battlefield driving truck convoys that the troops had to rely on and that left soldiers in the desert for months with terrible lack of supplies including even food and water. Want to know more? Take a look at what troops and contractor employees told me in my recent book. It is a shameful chapter of Army history that the Generals allowed their troops to be neglected that way while you all stayed in Sadam's palaces and on the well supplied bases while KBR catered to your needs.
You may not have wanted to use the contractors to this extent for your logistics, but once you had them, you let them run wild with the billings. You allowed private security contractors run through the countryside without rules, losing hearts and minds and then making your troops walk through those same towns to face the hatred of the population. You didn't want to be stuck with KBR as your main supplier for all the bases but when they threatened to stop work and keep their employees in their trailers unless you paid their grossly inflated bills, you caved. You overrode the beleaguered DCAA (Defense Contract Audit Agency) and told the top civilians in the Army to pay the contractors so you could keep getting supplies. You even gave KBR a bonus despite all the pleadings of the DCAA to not do it.
KBR has been billing over half a billion dollars a month and had their workers work 12 hours day, seven days a week, no matter what they are doing. Why didn't one of you, if your civilian leaders would not stop this, do the honorable thing and go to the Congress and tell them what was happening? What would General Patton have said to the KBR manager if he tried to do a work stoppage on the battlefield? I suspect a pearl handled pistol would have been produced and Patton would have appealed to the manager's patriotism. I don't expect you to do that but could one of you, just one, gone to the Congress and if that failed, leaked what was happening to the press? What were you afraid of? Backlash from the contractors? What do you think the public would have said if they found out that a contractor was threatening not to feed the troops in war?
You also find yourselves in the dilemma of not having enough money to fix your broken equipment and give higher recruitment bonuses to get people to sign up. (some current soldiers are not reenlisting so they can go work for contractors in Iraq and make more money.) The Congress has given you all the funds you have asked and more. So why is the U.S Army so "depleted?" One of the reasons is that the supplemental money given to you in the past Congress was "colorless", i.e. flexible enough to use for what areas you needed. Since the contractors were bleeding the Army dry with their billings, you had to shift money from war fighting equipment to cover the bills. Why didn't you just let the DCAA scrub the numbers and get the contractors under control? Instead, you allowed the equipment to go unfixed and plunge our unit readiness in the active and reserve Army to dangerously low levels. Wasn't that also the reason that our troops never seemed to have enough body armor, uparmored Humvees and night vision goggles no matter how much money Congress shoved at you? Don't believe me? Talk to some real troops and they will tell you that they could get soft serve ice cream at the large bases supplied by KBR but they could not get enough night vision goggles when they had to go out on patrol. The troops told me that they would rather have the equipment that could save their lives.
You didn't ask for this war or for Secretary Rumsfeld and cannot be blamed for any foreign policy blunders. But once you were tasked to fight it, why were you so cowardly in confronting the people and the contractors that were taking advantage of the system to the determent of your troops? Why did you allow so much of the money to be wasted and abused and let your war fighting capabilities get so compromised? Were you afraid of the political consequences of confronting the contractors and others instead of insisting that your troops, the ones doing the real fighting outside the bases, had the war equipment that they needed? After this is over, there is a lot of soul searching to be done by you, the Generals, to make sure that this sorry mess is never repeated.
If you want to know more, go here.