Thursday, June 12, 2003

So long, soldier!

I met Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki a few times in Bosnia. Working in Army public affairs in the country, I had a few chances to talk to him before he talked to the media or congressmen who were visiting us at Camp McGovern. He seemed like a nice, funny guy and a real soldier to boot -- one of those people who is confident enough that he doesn't feel the need to strut. He left the Army today and had the guts to chide Don Rumsfeld, but the class to not dishonor the Army in the process.

''We understand that leadership is not an exclusive function of the uniformed services,'' Shinseki said to an audience that included members of Congress and military officers from countries across the globe. ''So when some suggest that we in the Army don't understand the importance of civilian control of the military, well, that's just not helpful--and it isn't true.

''The Army has always understood the primacy of civilian control,'' he added. ''In fact we are the ones who reinforce that principle with those other armies with whom we train all around the world. So to muddy the waters when important issues are at stake--issues of life and death--is a disservice to all those in and out of uniform who serve and lead so well.''

Well put. Now go read this Counterpunch article about how Rumsfeld is alienating his commanders. Don't you think there's a reason that the couldn't get a currently serving general to take the Army Chief of Staff slot?

P.S.: If you're interested in an interesting article about the history and consititutionality of getting rid of a serving officer makes "contemptuous comments" against a sitting president (like the Air Force general who called Clinton a "pot-smoking draft-dodger" and the Army colonel who said Bush was "sleazy and contemptible"), then check out this article from The Army Lawyer


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