Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Van Riper Rips Rummy

In a Fox News interview, Retired Marine Lieutenant General Paul van Riper joined the chorus of former general officers calling for Donald Rumsfeld to leave his post as Secretary of Defense. (Hand salute to Think Progress for the link to the video.)

Van Riper has been long regarded as a leading iconoclast in the retired flag community. Long active in simulated war games, he resigned as commander of the opposition force during Millenium Challenge 2002, the battle experiment conducted by the United States Joint Forces Command just prior to the invasion of Iraq. Using unorthodox tactics, van Riper managed to sink most of the simulated U.S. naval forces in the Arabian Gulf, decisively defeating the "blue force" and repudiating such Rumsfeld favored "transformational warfare" concepts as network-centric warfare, shock and awe, and effects based operations. The game was stopped, the fleet re-floated, and the exercise continued with significant restrictions placed on the "red" force's actions. Van Riper resigned in disgust.

Almost four years later, we have seen what amounts to a real world recreation of the 2002 war game in Iraq. Except this time, Rumsfeld and his loyal generals can't stop the clock, go back, and make the enemy fight the way they want them to.

Rumsfeld is a nightmare, and I agree that nothing is going to get better as long as he's on the job. I don't think a new man in the Defense cabinet post can fix the fiasco in Iraq, and the same probably holds true for the "defeat snatched from the jaws of victory" situation in Afghanistan. There is nothing that can constitute "winning" in those two theaters of operations. The best we can hope for is avoidance of a complete loss.

But we have the war on terror--the real war on terror, not the distraction in Iraq--to conduct, and to date, Rumsfeld has handled it horribly.

Almost six years after the 9/11 attacks, the Pentagon has at long last come out with a comprehensive set of plans to fight terrorism outside of the two war theaters. We don't know too much about the plans because they're secret, so the only parts of it we'll hear about are the parts Rumsfeld authorizes to be leaked. But from what's been officially leaked so far, it sounds like a global Special Forces operation that will be run under the direct control of Donald Rumsfeld. And boy, isn't that just what we need: Field Marshal Don and his Howling Commandos running roughshod over the formal military chain of command, the State Department, the CIA, and the entire universe of international law enforcement agencies. If, by some chance, America has a genuine friend left in the world, it won't have any after two and a half more years of Rumsfeld slapping everybody in the face with a poop pie.

Ultimately, we're only going to make genuine progress in defeating terrorism by repudiating the entire neoconservative philosophy and the havoc it has wrought on our foreign policy and our own military, intelligence and law enforcement agencies. We need to get rid of a lot more people that Donald Rumsfeld--Cheney, Bolton and Rice are up at the top of my list.

But, you have to start somewhere, and Rumsfeld is as good a place to start as any.


  1. Anonymous12:54 PM

    And did you see this?

  2. What did I say earlier?

    We have a Navy that's a coast guard with an army and an airforce, an Air Force that's an airline, and an Army that doesn't know if it's an army or a police force.

  3. Jeff, Don't know if you caught this yet. I can't beleive a plan like this:


    Let's just cut more from those who are barely getting by!

  4. Oh my God. For what it's worth, I've got a major project in the oven regarding another group of veterans who are being abandoned.

  5. I did a little write up at http://www.lowandleft.org/ under my nom de plume, Seven of Six or SOS, (lord knows we need it).

    If they rule on this, what prevents them from going after retired Veterans and their Social Security next?

  6. Jeff,

    Re SOCOM being supported command for GWOT, as one of the handful of G.O.'s that I ever respected once said, "In the minds of special operators, what's SOF's is SOF's and what's yours is SOF's." Now these guys are Rumsfeld's darlings and are probably developing new ways to squander taxpayer dollars. In SPECAT ways, of course so we'll never know.

  7. Phil,

    I commented at your site about the chicken hawks sending kids off to fight their private wars while they screw veterans. Disgusting.

    Nav 130,

    I guess that's why they want to cut veterans benefits--so they can roll it into SPECAT spending!

  8. That was Van Riper what beat the US forces in 2002? I remember that! He used bike messengers instead of radio and cell phones to relay battle plans, didn't he? That pissed Rummy off no end. And then they scrapped the whole damn thing like a bully flipping over a checkerboard after losing to the nerd.

    Phil, you devil, pimping L&L like that! It was a great article, though.

  9. I was part of a training exercise at JOTC. I decided to throw a wrench in the mix and made up some non-toxic chemicals and deploy them on my own initiative with my squad. Whoa! The defecation hit the rotating device for not playing by the rule book. My defense; what the hell do you think these fools are going to do to us, play by the rule book.

    And yes coyote, this issue is important to me. I was willing to pimp if I had to get more exposure.
    I have the greatest respect for Jeff, his site and writings. BTW, E Pluribus Media rocks!

  10. I don't know why we bother with these dopey large scale war games. The enemy never fights the way we game them, and we never game them the way we'll fight.

    Well, I do know why we have these dopey war games. To "validate" pet projects and doctrines.

  11. Jeff, which is exactly why going off script is not allowed. It's all for show, so the non-military types think there's learning going on in the ranks.

  12. I disagree, Cmdr. I think that the reason that "we" have these dopey war games is to try to think innovatively, figure out how to break the system, and remind ourselves that, no matter how advanced any specific analysis of a system, it will be limited. Using clever, imaginative people to come up with ways to get around our own battle plans and tactics is the best way to anticipate what the enemy will do (because god knows they're using clever, imaginative people to come up with ways to get around our battle plans!) No plan ever survives first contact with the enemy, but wars are not fought by unadaptable automatons. War games such as these don't give birth to routine end games that let us capture and kill terrorists--what they DO is teach adaptability, imagination, flexibility, and insight.

    That having been said, I think that the reason that "they" have these dopey war games is to justify spending on brilliant programs like the Osprey....

  13. Sadiq,

    I agree to the extent that that's what war games are supposed to do. But in experiments like MCO2, they're validations of already decided upon systems and doctrines.

    The annual global game at the Naval War College is much the same. What happens is what's supposed to happen according to the senior guy running the game.

  14. Seven of Six7:53 PM

    I think it comes down to training regardless of the outcome. It's the war environment; stress, operations, mistakes.
    Open for debate and novel ideas is not one of them. Especially from the lower ranks or NCO's. Your just another turd who is designed to do his job. I've asked questions and offered suggestions, everytime I was ignored or told to STFU. Which I find is the biggest mistake, every soldier's or sailor's idea should have merit.

  15. SOS,

    I think it's a question of immediacy (sp?). There's a time to say "What do you think?" and there's a time to say "just do it."

    Lamentably, today's Pentagon is in the "just do it" mode.

  16. Yes, but one unfortunate, unintended consequence of these war games is that there are SOME (those who go in with an open mind) who actually learn how to be adaptable and imaginative in dealing with challenges. It took the humiliation of Vietnam to get Powell to create a new doctrine of how to wage a war, and now that we don't have to worry about triggering a hot nuclear (nucular?) conflict with the Soviet Union we can afford to fight a decisive conflict in a limited theater. Because of the Powell doctrine and leaders like Schwartzkoff, the first Gulf War was a resounding success.

    Now you have a lot of maverick young officers that are participating in these exercises and coming up with creative ideas, and although they are getting shot down by their CO's, they are looking at the response and asking "What the fuck?" How many Van Ripers are there out there? How many Phils are there? And, assuming they don't get out in disgust before they achieve real command positions, they are going to be the future leaders of the military.

    I'm an optimist, but I think that the rules of the game are evolving, and the more distance you create between the paradigm of the young and the paradigm of the old guard, the faster our military will evolve in response. These war games might not have the desired effect on the old guard or in the short term, but in the long term I think that they have more profound an effect on our leadership than is readily apparent. But like I've said, I'm an optimist.

  17. You could be right, Sadiq.