Fred Kagan in the Weekly Standard on why Rumsfeld must go:
With more troops in Iraq during and immediately after the war, we would have been able to do the following things that we did not do:
* Capture or kill thousands of Iraqi soldiers who were at that time still concentrated in combat units and had not yet melted back into the countryside with their weapons and their skills.
* Guard the scores of enormous ammunition dumps from which the insurgents have drawn the vast majority of their weapons, ammunition, and explosives.
* Secure critical oil and electrical infrastructure that the insurgents subsequently attacked, setting back the economic and political recovery of Iraq.
* Prevent the development of insurgent safe havens in Najaf and Falluja, or at least disrupt them at a much earlier stage of formation.
* Work to interdict the infiltration of foreign fighters across Iraq’s borders.
If the U.S. Army had begun expanding in 2001, we would have been able to:
* Establish reasonable rotation plans for our soldiers that did not require repeatedly extending tours of duty beyond one year.
* Avoid the need to activate reservists involuntarily.
* Dramatically reduce the frequency with which soldiers return from one year-long tour only to be sent immediately on another.
* Let the troops that would still have been overstrained know that help really was on the way.
The U.S. military did not do these things because of Rumsfeld’s choices. He chose to protect a military transformation program that is designed to fight wars radically different from the one in which we are engaged. He chose to protect Air Force and Navy programs that are far less urgent and under far less strain during the current crisis rather than augmenting the service carrying the lion’s share of the load. He chose to focus on high-tech weapons technologies that are virtually useless to the troops now in Iraq rather than providing them sooner with the basic requirements of their current mission–including armored Humvees, body armor, and a regular complement of armored vehicles. Even the deployment of Stryker light armored vehicles, which many now tout as a major contribution to the fighting in Iraq, was not Rumsfeld’s initiative, but that of General Eric Shinseki. Shinseki was the Army chief of staff whom Rumsfeld drove out of office, partly for correctly predicting that Operation Iraqi Freedom would require more than the handful of units that Rumsfeld and his staff were willing to send.
It is not that Rumsfeld’s decisions were without a rationale. The secretary of defense simply chose to prioritize preparing America’s military for future conventional conflict rather than for the current mission. That position, based on the hope that the current mission would be of short duration and the recognition that the future may arrive at any moment, is understandable. It just turns out to have been wrong.
Update: Kevin Drum offers his two cents, Andrew Sullivan does the same