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A Different Set of Generals

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From this morning’s Wall Street Journal (subscription required):

Since our nation’s founding, the principle of civilian control over the military has been a centerpiece of our system of government. Under our constitutional system, it places elected and appointed government leaders in charge. American soldiers are bound by this tradition to subordinate themselves to civilian authority. We give advice but it is ultimately up to civilian leaders to make key strategic and policy decisions. Unlike many other democracies, this is one important reason why we have never been ruled by the military, and have been the most successful country the world has ever seen.

Some critics suggest that the calls by the six retired generals signify widespread discontent in the military with Secretary Rumsfeld’s leadership. It is preposterous for them to suggest that this small group represents the views of the 1.4 million men and women serving on active duty or the 7,000 retired generals and flag officers who respect, understand and appreciate the established American tradition of the military being subordinate to civilian control and direction….

Despite criticisms, Mr. Rumsfeld is arguably one of the most effective secretaries of defense our nation has ever had. Under his watch, the U.S. military has been transforming; it brilliantly deposed Mullah Omar’s barbaric Taliban regime (Osama bin Laden’s sanctuary) and Saddam Hussein’s ruthless Baathist regime, freeing 50 million people from oppression and placing the countries on democratic paths. With these actions, terrorists have been denied secure home bases. These are a few key factors why terrorists have been unable to attack the American homeland again. The policy and forward strategy implemented by Secretary Rumsfeld has taken the fight to the enemy as did the nation in World War II and the Cold War.

Some, like Generals Zinni, Newbold, Eaton, Batiste, Swannack, Riggs and others, may not like Secretary Rumsfeld’s leadership style. They certainly have the right as private citizens now to speak their minds. Some may feel that he’s been unfair, arrogant and autocratic to some senior officers. But those sentiments and feelings are irrelevant. In the end he’s the man in charge and the buck stops with him. As long as he retains the confidence of the commander in chief he will make the important calls at the top of the department of defense. That’s the way America works. So let’s all breathe into a bag and get on with winning the global war against radical Islam. In time the electorate, and history, will grade their decisions.

Lt. Gen. Crosby (ret.) is former deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. Lt. Gen. McInerney (ret.) is former assistant vice chief of staff, U.S. Air Force. Maj. Gen. Moore (ret.), U.S. Air Force, was director of Central Command during Operation Desert Storm. Maj. Gen. Vallely (ret.) is former deputy commander of the U.S. Army, Pacific.

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