Summarizing the S%$t Goin' On for May could have been tough without help from the ever-frustrated Maureen Dowd of the New York Times. For Mothers' Day, she served up a stew of complaints about the racy guy mags -- Maxim, Stuff and FHM -- that Wal-Mart just stopped selling. Such is the stuff, she says, of Dubya's tailhook landing on the U.S.S. Lincoln two weeks ago: "The fabulously successful British glossies were inspired by the American 'guy culture' of 'Top Gun,' 'Animal House' and 'Cheers.' The hormonal graphics and absence of erudition were designed to appeal to what one media expert called "high-tech cave men." If this girl had ever dated a pilot, a submariner or a tank driver, she'd know that being a "high tech cave man" is a career objective, not an insult.
Last year, ol' Mo wrote about how tough it was for her to find a guy in Manhattan. Dowd's frustration boils over at the Dems' inability to find a way to take Dubya on: "They don't know how to combat the Bushies' visceral belief in action over explanation, juice over justification." Get used to it, Mo. Every real guy knows it's better to act decisively to solve some problem than to speak eloquently without doing a damned thing about it. The kind of guy -- like Dubya -- who qualifies to hang out in the squadron ready rooms on the Lincoln, on the Grinder at BUDS, or pretty much any other place you find warriors is not the kind of guy you're likely to find at a leftie cocktail party in the Lower East Side. Or among the Democrats.
While Mo moans, the SGO is getting rough in Iraq and at Fort Fumble. Task Force 75 -- the group directing the WMD hunters -- are leaving Iraq empty-handed. Until they find the people who know where the WMD are hidden in Iraq and -- according to the latest intel -- Syria and Lebanon, those weapons will never be found.
Bashar Assad's vague assurances to Colin Powell about shutting down the terrorist sports bar that Damascus has become were complete baloney, as even Assad admitted as soon as Powell left. Syria openly supports and harbors every terrorist outfit known, from Hizbollah to Ansar-al-Islam to al-Qaeda. This is not something we can long ignore. Assad and his thugs are Baathists, Saddam's pals. There is no greater likelihood of their conversion to democracy than there was for Saddam. We need to draw a line in the Syrian sand, and use whatever forces are needed to replace Assad's government. We should remember that there can be no peace between Israel and the Palestinians while Syria controls Hizbollah and foments trouble in the West Bank and Gaza.
Mr. Rumsfeld finally sacked Army Secretary Tom White who opposed transformation of the Army to Big Dog's face, and behind his back. Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki -- also an opponent of transformation, who orchestrated some of the criticism of the war plan by retired generals during the Iraq campaign -- will retire at the end of June. Unfortunately, White's replacement is John Roche, former Air Force secretary whose only accomplishment was to surrender preemptively to the feministas and fire the top four leaders at the Air Force Academy before the investigations of the many sexual assault allegations were close to completed. Roche may try to canonize PFC Jessica Lynch, which will make all the services more vulnerable to the feministas. Last week Dubya defaulted to the services on the women in combat issue. With people such as Roche in charge, this is gonna get ugly early.
Roche was chosen because he'll back Mr. Rumsfeld's plan to transform the Army. The question is whether he can replace or run over the remaining Shinseki adherents and other entrenched old-thinkers. The first test of Roche will come in the budget battles going on now. If he flunks this test, he'll pass no other. The Third Infantry Division's tremendous charge from Basra north to Baghdad in less than three days, and kicking tail whenever the Iraqi "Elite" Republican Guard was encountered, is a testament to the soldiers, their on-scene leaders, and their heaviest weapon: the aging M1A1 Abrams tank. One lesson of Iraq is that if you can get them to the battlefield, there's nothing better on the ground than a heavy, RPG-proof tank like Abrams (except battalions of them, some with "USMC" painted on the side). The problem, as usual, is that the Army can't afford to do it. The money that should be going to Abrams is going elsewhere.
Gen. Shinseki's baby is an armored truck called "Stryker." The problems with Stryker (detailed in my piece in the latest American Spectator) are that it can't go where warriors need it to go, and won't do the job even if it can get there. It's designed to keep the peace in places like Bosnia, not fight wars in places like, say, Syria or Iran. Some House Republicans, including Rep. Jim Saxton, are asking the right question: Why shouldn't we take the money meant for Stryker, and modernize the M1A1 force? Good idea. Kill Stryker, and use much of the money to give the Army the upgraded tanks it needs. You'll probably have enough left over (Stryker is not only a bad idea, it's an enormously expensive bad idea) to upgrade the M113 light armored vehicle to the A3 version, giving the Army another badly needed weapon system. At the same time, Roche needs to help pick the new Army Chief.
The most obvious pick for Chief of Staff -- Gen. Tommy Franks -- turned the job down in a meeting with Big Dog a couple of weeks ago. If Franks doesn't want it, there's only one thing to do: go down in the ranks to the one-star level. Find a heretic, an unconventional thinker who is a real leader. Promote him to four stars, and turn him loose. Pershing did that in 1939, coming out of retirement to pick George C. Marshall for FDR. The hunt will take a while, but the right guy is out there.
The '04 Pentagon budget is now in the Congressional pipeline, and the pressures of the presidential election year will be felt on every page of it. What the warriors need is always different from what they get. But this time, the differences need to be narrowed quickly.
The Pentagon is under pressure to tell the Hill about the lessons learned. But the internal feuds -- the leftover Clinton generals and some who are just plain hidebound -- don't want that question to be answered correctly. If it were, there would be many more Special Operations units, and the money to create them without lowering the standards of their predecessors. There would be an acceleration of the Joint Strike Fighter program, the end of the Stryker program, and a lot of other changes to take advantage of the lessons learned in Iraq. There would be -- in short -- a transformed budget to ready the military for the next campaign that will be no more than a year away. No, make that months.
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