THE BLOG
04/25/2006 01:55 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Bush, Rumsfeld Use Failed Execs' Ploy – They're Downsizing the Military

In a story that's been overlooked by the major media, the failed management team of Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld Inc. is laying off nearly 900 Air Force lieutenants - while the country is publicly at war in Iraq, secretly at war in Iran, and claiming to fight a worldwide "war on terror." It's the classic last resort of floundering executives - show how tough you are by laying off employees, no matter how badly they may be needed.

The USAF is making the cuts from among the 2,100 lieutenants commissioned in 2002 and 2003. Writes Stars and Stripes:

The Air Force wants to cut nearly 900 lieutenants from the force due to an officer surplus that personnel experts attribute partly to high retention spurned by a weak economy and burgeoning patriotism after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Wait. "Officer surplus"? Wasn't this supposed to be the modernized, streamlined military created by Don Rumsfeld's visionary brain? Won't that lean, mean fighting machine need a higher officer-to-enlisted personnel ratio than before? And isn't the Air Force a key part of that high-tech "vision" that "The Decider" claims is Rumsfeld's strength?

Let's face facts: It's been clear for a long time that Rumsfeld - despite his much-vaunted "private sector" experience - is a terrible executive. His half-baked vision of military reform is typical of "leaders" who, as he did at Monsanto, get their jobs through political connections and not because of management skill or technical competence. (That's how his boss, Bush, got his job too.)

Weak execs like Rumsfeld usually fall victim to the vapid and highfalutin b.s. of overpaid consultants, the kind Rummy no doubt used to come up with his flakey vision of "streamlining" - a vision that helped lead to the chaos and ruin of the Iraq war.

Most business people have seen it all: the politically-connected manager gets a job thanks to his relationship with the boss, who often (as in this case) got the job himself through family connections. The misplaced and weak executive (in this case, Rumsfeld) lets consultants concoct wacky theories. The experienced professionals suffer through the exec's tirades ("You just don't get it!" Rumsfeld would scream at the generals) as he weakens the entire organization with his erratic leadership and nutty organizational schemes.

Then, as everybody begins to realize what a poor manager he is, he decides to prove himself by engaging in a round of layoffs. "I'm not afraid to make the tough decisions," he boasts.

That's why I've changed my mind on Rumsfeld. At first I thought he didn't matter. Why all the fuss about Rummy and not Bush? Why change monkeys if you're keeping the organ grinder?

But now I see it: The military belongs to us all. We need that organization, from its generals to its lieutenants and its enlisted personnel. Rather than fire them, we could send 900 lieutenants to work with a peacekeeping force in Darfur.

Sure, Rumsfeld is a reflection of "the Decider's" incompetence. His bad decisions are also his boss's decisions. But the military is too important to let an incompetent manager ruin it.

Keep the lieutenants. Fire Rumsfeld.

(A Progressive Executive post)

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