Hackworth on Rumsfeld, Guerillas, And the War

Salon’s running an interesting interview with Col. David Hackworth, one of the most valorous and decorated soldiers America has produced in the last half-century, and a man who has been tireless in his advocacy for the average soldier through his organization Soldiers for the Truth. He’s speaking out now to let people know how the logistics folks over at the Pentagon are screwing over the warfighters, the men and women whose hides are on the line in Iraq, and how the conflict there shows signs of degenerating into a classic guerrilla war.

Hackworth on how the U.S. Army fights guerrillas:

The mistake in Vietnam was we failed to understand the nature of the war and we failed to understand our enemy. In Vietnam we were fighting World War II. Up to now in Iraq we have been fighting Desert Storm with tank brigade attacks. The tanks move into a village, swoop down, the tank gunner sees a silhouette atop a house, aims, fires, kills and it turns out to be a 12-year-old boy. Now, the father of that boy said, “We will kill 10 Americans for this.” This is exactly what happened in Vietnam; a village was friendly, then some pilot turns around and blows away the village, the village goes from pro-Saigon to pro-Hanoi.

America has never been capable of fighting the [guerrilla]; from [Gen.] Custer who fucked it up, you can fast-forward to today. [In Iraq] they are proving it again. The U.S. military never, never learns from the past. They make the same mistake over and over again.

Hackworth on how the supply chain isn’t working:

[Rumsfeld] did not provide enough troops or the logistical backup, because his Army was not staying, it was coming home. So who needs a warehouse full of shit?

One letter I got today, written by a sergeant in a tank unit, said that of its 18 armored vehicles — Bradley or Abrams — only four are operational. The rest were down because of burned-out transmissions or the tracks eaten out. So it is not just the shitty food and bad water — a soldier can live with short rations — but spare parts, baby!

The only good news he shares is that the new head honcho in the theater, Gen. John Abizid, is what he calls a “snake eater” — a soldier who understands how to fight guerrillas, and isn’t afraid to buck the Army’s big-iron send-in-the-tanks mentality to get it done. Let’s hope he’s right.