Below you can read about Lt Col Yingling’s open criticism of his superiors about the "botched" job in Iraq. This would indicate a need for Congress to hold hearings with mid-level officers to get the real story about what is going on there and what the outlook is for success (whatever that standard is?). I have agreed with you and Sen Patty Murray since the summer of 2002 that we should not have gotten involved in this worst foreign policy decision in the nation’s history, but we are there. Perhaps if the republican naysayers were to hear something other than the scripted words of Gen Petraeus they might vote for meeting benchmarks and withdrawl within the next 12 months.
Generals repeated the mistakes of Vietnam, Army officer writes By Thomas E. Ricks The Washington Post
WASHINGTON — An active-duty Army officer is publishing a blistering attack on U.S. generals, saying they have botched the war in Iraq and misled Congress about the situation there. "America’s generals have repeated the mistakes of Vietnam in Iraq," writes Lt. Col. Paul Yingling, an Iraq veteran who is deputy commander of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. "The intellectual and moral failures … constitute a crisis in American generals." Yingling’s comments are especially striking because his unit’s performance in securing the northwestern Iraq city of Tal Afar was cited by President Bush in a March 2006 speech and provided the model for the new security plan under way in Baghdad. He also holds a high profile for a lieutenant colonel, having attended the Army’s elite School for Advanced Military Studies and written for one of the Army’s top professional journals, Military Review. Split inside the military The article, General Failure, is to be published today in Armed Forces Journal and posted at http://www.armedforcesjournal.com. Its appearance signals the public emergence of a split inside the military between younger, midcareer officers and the top brass. Many majors and lieutenant colonels have privately expressed anger and frustration with the performance of Gen. Tommy Franks, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno and other top commanders in the war, calling them slow to grasp the realities of the war and overly optimistic in their assessments. Some younger officers have stated privately that more generals should have been taken to task for their handling of the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison, news of which broke in 2003. The young officers also note that the Army’s elaborate "lessons learned" process does not criticize generals and that no generals in Iraq have been replaced for poor battlefield performance, a contrast to other U.S. wars. Top Army officials are also worried about the number of captains and majors choosing to leave the service. "We do have attrition in those grade slots above our average," acting Army Secretary Pete Geren noted in congressional testimony this week. In order to curtail the number of captains leaving, he said, the Army is planning a $20,000 bonus for those who agree to stay, plus choices of where to be posted and other incentives. Charges of incompetent leadership have not been made as publicly by an Army officer as Yingling does in his article. Criticism on several fronts "After going into Iraq with too few troops and no coherent plan for postwar stabilization, America’s general officer corps did not accurately portray the intensity of the insurgency to the American public," Yingling writes. "For reasons that are not yet clear, America’s general officer corps underestimated the strength of the enemy, overestimated the capabilities of the Iraqi government and security forces and failed to provide Congress with an accurate assessment of security conditions in Iraq." Yingling said he decided to write the article after attending a series of Purple Heart and deployment ceremonies for Army soldiers. "I find it hard to look them in the eye," he said in an interview. "Our generals are not worthy of their soldiers." He said he had made his superiors aware of the article but had not sought permission to publish it. He intends to stay in the Army, he said, noting that he is scheduled in two months to take command of a battalion at Fort Hood. Get Congress involved Yingling advocates overhauling the way generals are picked and calls for more involvement by Congress. To replace today’s "mild-mannered team players," Congress should create incentives in the promotion system to "reward adaptation and intellectual achievement," he writes. He does not criticize specific officers by name, instead, the article refers repeatedly to "America’s generals." Yingling said he did this intentionally, in order to focus not on the failings of a few people but rather on systemic problems. He also recommends that Congress review the performance of senior generals as they retire and exercise its power to retire them at a lower rank if it deems their performance inferior. The threat of such high-profile demotions would restore accountability among top officers, he contends.