On All Things Considered
, Melissa Block's piece, Murtha: Military Supports Call for Iraq Withdrawal
[audio link], is an extended conversion with the Democratic Congressman, Jack Murtha
, who is a hawk and supporter of the military, who has called for withdrawing US troops from Iraq.
A Vietnam veteran and retired Marine Reserves colonel, Congressman Murtha spent a long time weighing his decision, but it is based on his personal evaluation of the situation by actually going to Iraq and talking to the troops on the ground.
Of interest was his evaluation that officers are not reporting their concerns to the Pentagon because they don't want to be fired like General Eric Shinseki
, for disagreeing with the civilian leadership at the Department of Defense.
General Shinseki, the then Army Chief of Staff, testified before Congress that more than a quarter million troops would be needed for the war against Iraq, but his opinion was discounted by Pentagon officials and his replacement was announced 14 months before his retirement. When giving your honest opinion results in losing your job, honest opinions become few and far between.
In the end, no serving Army general would accept appointment as Chief of Staff and Rumsfeld was forced to recall General Peter Schoomaker
from retirement to fill the position.
As Congressman Murtha notes "stay the course" is an easy thing to say sitting in an air conditioned office. There is no plan; there is no course. The troops don't know why they are in Iraq or what they are supposed to be doing other than staying alive to leave.