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Friday, November 11, 2005

Thanks For Caring

Joe Galloway talks with Rummy:

It was a slide down the toad hole that ended with a bump as I landed in Wonderland: The E Ring office of Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld where the great man waited to do battle with me.
"I'm not hearing anything like the things you are writing about," Rumsfeld said. I responded that it had been my experience that information coming up the chain to someone with Rumsfeld's reputation was often not the whole truth. Him: "Oh, I know that but I talk to lots of soldiers all the time. Why, I have given over 600 Town Hall meetings and anyone can ask me anything." Uh-huh.
An hour and a bit later as I headed for the door, Rumsfeld detoured me by a small room in his suite of offices. He wanted to show me a letter he found in his late father's belongings, now framed. It was written by Defense Secretary James Forrestal to the elder Rumsfeld, thanking him for his service in the Navy in the Pacific War.

Rumsfeld told me: "My dad was over-age but volunteered for the Navy. A year later he was the deck officer on an aircraft carrier fighting the war in the Pacific."

On the way out the defense secretary said, in parting: "I want you to know that I love soldiers and I care about soldiers. All of us here do."

I replied that concern for the troops and their welfare and safety were my only purpose "and I intend to keep kicking your butt regularly to make sure you stay focused on that goal."

He grinned and said: "That's all right. I can take it."

Paul Connors talks about the late, great Colonel Hackworth:

David Haskell Hackworth was a complex man with the proverbial heart of gold.  He made enemies on high because he cared enough to speak out.  He loved his soldiers and did all he could to protect them.  Sticking up for and doing the right thing for those who protect us became Hack's sacred mission and raison d'etre.

Hack deserved better treatment than he received from the Perfumed Princes at the Pentagon.   Unfortunately, for the remainder of his life, he would have to continuously do battle with those who did not believe that training, equipment and leadership should be high on their priority list.  Despite his battles with the venal and the vindictive, he never gave up the fight, even when faced with the illness that would eventually end his life.

David Hackworth would have been 75 this Friday.  This is the first birthday that I will not be able to share with him.  I will not be able to call him at home and wish him "many happy returns."  I am going to miss that, just as much as I am going to miss his intelligent and thoughtful recommendations and the advice he would give, but only when asked.

There are too few real leaders in the world today, but Colonel David Hackworth was surely one of them.  His wife and family grieve his loss, as do the members of the DefenseWatch staff.  Hack was truly one of a kind.

In the months since his passing, I often think of Hack.  When I wonder how to handle a particular situation, I often find myself asking "what would Hack do?"  And it is at those times that I smile and try to apply any one of the various lessons he taught me.

This Veteran's Day, when I celebrate my birthday, I'll also be celebrating the birthday of  one of the most remarkable leaders I have had the pleasure to meet, David H. Hackworth.

Somehow I think Hack cared for our troops more than Mr. Fungible does.


November 11, 2005 | Permalink


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Troops unfortunately die during serious wars, sorry. That's what Vets Dat is all about BTW.

But, we CANNOT afford to give up. Let's see what Rummy (the best SecDef the U.S. has ever had) and his Boss had to say today:

"our debate at home must also be fair-minded. One of the hallmarks of a free society and what makes our country strong is that our political leaders can discuss their differences openly, even in times of war. When I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bipartisan support. I also recognize that some of our fellow citizens and elected officials didn't support the liberation of Iraq. And that is their right, and I respect it. As President and Commander-in-Chief, I accept the responsibilities, and the criticisms, and the consequences that come with such a solemn decision.

While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began. (Applause.) Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.

They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction. And many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: "When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security." That's why more than a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate -- who had access to the same intelligence -- voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power. (Applause.)

The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges. (Applause.) These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will. As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them. (Applause.) Our troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough. (Applause.) And our troops deserve to know that whatever our differences in Washington, our will is strong, our nation is united, and we will settle for nothing less than victory. (Applause.)"

Posted by: Charlie | Nov 11, 2005 11:33:20 AM

1) Way to miss the point, Chuckles. It's not about soldiers dying per se--no duh they die in war--it's about launching stupid wars without proper planning, armor, etc, while cutting benefits at home.

2) Who says anything about giving up? The world isn't binary: either fight in Iraq, or lose. You might consider that for a change.

Posted by: NTodd | Nov 11, 2005 12:06:20 PM

Allow me to clarify then: we CANNOT afford to give up IN IRAQ!

Posted by: Charlie | Nov 11, 2005 12:23:22 PM

Staying the course is not a strategy, and we CANNOT afford to say IN IRAQ!

Posted by: NTodd | Nov 11, 2005 1:17:03 PM

The Republicans are truly getting desperate, methinks. The spinners are revolving faster than the average tornado, and their effects are just as devastating. Keep on turning, Chuckles. You'll spin your party out of power all the faster. Fiat justitia, ruat coelum!

Posted by: Michael | Nov 11, 2005 2:05:53 PM


It doesn't cost that much to say "IN IRAQ" See - I just said it.


You'll spin your party out of power all the faster.

Happy Veterans Day to you too - go ahead and undermine the war effort all you like then - that's the only way you are getting us out of Iraq prematurely (and, as I've long maintained, if we can overturn Roe v. Wade too, I could care less if the GOP ceases to exist - it would be nice historical bookends - abolition of both slavery and abortion.

Posted by: Charlie | Nov 11, 2005 2:25:13 PM

I and mine aren't the ones undermining the war effort, Chuckles. That would be Bush and has band of baboons who lied this nation into it in the first place, failed to plan for it adequately, failed to provide proper equipment to the troops they sent to fight it, and still haven't managed to find a "Strategy for Victory," to quote the latest incarnation of "Mission Accomplished."

Posted by: Michael | Nov 11, 2005 2:52:30 PM

That's your opinion. Have a good weekend.

Posted by: Charlie | Nov 11, 2005 3:09:41 PM

That's not opinion, doofus. That's fact. What Bush and his buddies are pushing, that's opinion. And not terribly well-informed opinion, either.

Posted by: Michael | Nov 11, 2005 3:37:32 PM

It doesn't cost that much to say "IN IRAQ" See - I just said it.

I guess you hadn't heard that it's cost over $200B, 2060 American lives, 39k-128k Iraqi lives, shows no sign of ending and has actually spread to neighboring countries. Oh, and that to pay for Katrina, the GOP wanted to cut programs for the poor. We literally cannot afford it.

But of course, I meant 'afford' in the same context you did. And we cannot afford to be there.

Posted by: NTodd | Nov 11, 2005 5:18:51 PM

OT if I may, NTodd. (I'll blame Charlie for bringing it up, but it is something I have never understood.)

Because Charlie, you declare yourself against abortion, are you also against contraception, birthcontrol pills, etc? Could you see yourself working hard to make every baby a wanted baby so abortions are rarely if ever used?

I believe if all the energy that is invested on both sides of the abortion issue would be put into a fail safe contraceptive, we would no longer have to have such a divisive issue between voters.

Posted by: ellroon | Nov 11, 2005 6:29:50 PM

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