An Oversight Hearing on the Planning and Conduct of the War in Iraq
Senate Democratic Policy Committee Hearing
Monday, September 25, 2006
1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
138 Dirksen Senate Office Building
For a full transcript of the hearing click here.
Click here to see a complete video recording of the hearing. (RealAudio)
Click here for a recording of the hearing. (mp3 format)
Secretary Rumsfeld's dismal strategic decisions resulted in the unnecessary deaths of American servicemen and women, our allies, and the good people of Iraq. He was responsible for America and her allies going to war with the wrong plan and a strategy that did not address the realities of fighting an insurgency. He violated fundamental principles of war, dismissed deliberate military planning, ignored the hard work to build the peace after the fall of Saddam Hussein, set the conditions for Abu Ghraib and other atrocities that further ignited the insurgency, disbanded Iraqi security force institutions when we needed them the most, constrained our commanders with an overly restrictive de-Ba'athification policy, and failed to seriously resource the training and equipping of the Iraqi security forces as our main effort.
At critical junctures, commanders were forced to focus on managing shortages rather than leading, planning and anticipating opportunity. Through all of this, our congressional oversight committees were all but silent and not asking the tough questions, as was done routinely during both world wars, Korea and Vietnam. Our Congress shares responsibility for what is and is not happening in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The president is not well served by this secretary of Defense, a man history will not treat kindly.
So what to do? Replace the secretary of Defense with a proven leader who has a vision to get the country's defense establishment back on track. he Army is in terrible shape. The Marines are not much better. A secretary who understands how to build alliances at home and abroad, who understands the operational art and understand the contemporary operating environment we live in.
I find it remarkable the nation that could produce 4,000 aircraft a month in World War II is limited to 48 armored vehicles per month today. We did not ask our soldiers to invade France in 1944 with the inferior equipment they had in 1941. Why are we asking our soldiers and Marines to use the same armor we found was insufficient in 2003? It is simple: The administration has refused to dedicate the resources necessary to make it happen. It is content to let our troops ride in inferior vehicles.
Further, the administration has failed to replace and maintain the equipment necessary for the units of the United States to be ready for other potential operations. Although our units lack equipment to train, our repair depots are working single shifts and only five days a week. The American people have not refused to provide what our people need. The administration has refused to ask for the funding. The failure to provide our best equipment is a serious moral failure on the part of our leadership.
SEN. DORGAN: Does it surprise you that we have been told repeatedly over several years now that commanders have not asked for more troops?
GEN. BATISTE: It is not a surprise at all. The whole thing is absolutely disingenuous. We started with a strategy and a plan that was under-resourced in soldiers and Marines and airmen and sailors by over a factor of three. We have a secretary of Defense who browbeat his subordinates, surrounded himself with compliant officers that built his plan, his plan alone, and that's what we executed. So we started out way behind the power curve.
Radio Actuality #1: (.mp3, right-click to download)
General Batiste: "Bottom line, in the short term, our nation is in peril, our Defense Department's leadership is extraordinarily bad, and our Congress is only today, more than five years into this war, beginning to exercise its oversight responsibilities. This is all about accountability, and setting our nation up for victory. There is no substitute for victory, and I believe we must complete what we started in Iraq and Afghanistan. Donald Rumsfeld is not a competent wartime leader. He knows everything except how to win."
Radio Actuality #2: (.mp3, right-click to download)
General Batiste: "Secretary Rumsfeld's dismal strategic decisions resulted in the unnecessary deaths of American service men and women, our allies and the good people of Iraq. He was responsible for America and our allies going to war with the wrong plan and a strategy that did not address the realities of fighting an insurgency. Secretary Rumsfeld built his team by systematically removing dissension. America went to war with his plan. To say that he listens to his generals is disingenuous. We are fighting with his strategy. He reduced force levels to unacceptable levels, micromanaged the war, and caused delays in the approval of troop requirements in the deployment process, which tied the hands of commanders while our troops were in contact with the enemy. At critical junctures, commanders were forced to focus on managing shortages, rather than leading, planning and anticipating opportunity. Through all of this, our congressional oversight committees were all but silent, not asking the tough questions as was done routinely during both world wars, Korea and Vietnam. Our Congress shares responsibility for what is and is not happening in Iraq and Afghanistan."
Radio Actuality #3: (.mp3, right-click to download)
General Batiste: "I was privy to a meeting in 2002 where General Franks and some of his staff from US central command was to have briefed Donald Rumsfeld on the plan. It didn't get very far. The numbers were too high; for whatever reason they were ushered back to Tampa to try it again. And this process happened over and over and over again, until the plan was finally whittled down to this unacceptable level that we all accepted back in March of 2003. Completely ignored the insurgency which was an absolute certainty, completely ignored the hard work after the fall of Saddam Hussein, deployed insufficient troops and capability to the Iraqi theater of war so we could accomplish the mission."
Radio Actuality #4: (.mp3, right-click to download)
Gen. Batiste: There's no joy in the Dept. of the Army; I'll speak for that. I know a lot of great officers that continue to serve our nation. This business of arrogance and dismissiveness and contemptuous behavior has certainly transcended the department. An organization reflects its leader. Period.
Sen. Schumer: Is it worse than it's been in the past?
Gen. Batiste: Oh, it's absolutely worse. Now I caveat by saying that I've been out of the service now for 11 months, but I'm in close contact with a lot of great people. I have yet to be contacted by any serving general, or admiral, or flag officer saying to stop what I'm doing. And as you know, I've been speaking out pretty regularly now since the 4th of April.
Sen. Schumer: Have any of them contacted you and said, "Keep going!"
Gen. Batiste: Absolutely!
Radio Actuality #5: (.mp3, right-click to download)
General Eaton: "I briefed this plan, the second phase essentially of the operation given me, the requirement to adapt. Mr. Rumsfeld received this briefing on 5 September and I got his approval to proceed with an accelerated, adapted plan that would produce an Army of 27 battalions, essentially 40,000 personnel and associated command and control from national to squad, start the navy, start the air force, the logistics systems, and a budget of $2.2 billion. We laid out the basing strategy for the Iraqi armed forces. He approved this plan, but he put his finger in my chest and said "Just don't make this look like the American Army."
Radio Actuality #6: (.mp3, right-click to download)
General Eaton: "Mr. Rumsfeld came in to transform the US military. To turn the Army into a lighter, more lethal armed force. In fact, Rumsfeld's vision is a force designed to meet a Warsaw Pact type force more effectively - but we are not fighting the Warsaw Pact. We are fighting an insurgency: a distributed low-tech, high-concept war that demands greater numbers of ground forces, not fewer. Mr. Rumsfeld won't acknowledge this fact. And he has failed to adapt to the current situation. He has tried and continues to fight this war on the cheap."
Senator Byron L. Dorgan
Chairman, Democratic Policy Committee
Senator Harry Reid
Senate Democratic Leader
Senator Richard Durbin
Assistant Senate Democratic Leader
Senator Jeff Bingaman
Senator John D. Rockefeller IV
Senator Charles E. Schumer
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
Senator Mark Dayton
Representative Walter B. Jones
Major General John R.S. Batiste
U.S. Army (Retired)
Major General Paul D. Eaton
U.S. Army (Retired)
Colonel Thomas X. Hammes
U.S. Marine Corps (Retired)
- Leslie Gross-Davis (224-3571)
- Chief Counsel