Army chief tells Bush: there's not enough money for Iraq war




 
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Army chief tells Bush: there's not enough money for Iraq war
 
September 26th, 2006  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: Army chief tells Bush: there's not enough money for Iraq war


Army chief tells Bush: there's not enough money for Iraq war
Media: Guardian
Byline:Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington and Richard Norton-Taylor
Date: September 26, 2006


George Bush suffered a serious rebuke of his wartime leadership yesterday
when his army chief said he did not have enough money to fight the war in
Iraq.

Six weeks before midterm elections in which the war is a crucial issue, the
protest from the army head, General Peter Schoomaker, exposes concerns
within the US military about the strain of the war on Iraq, and growing
tensions between uniformed personnel and the Pentagon chief, Donald
Rumsfeld.

Three retired senior military officers yesterday accused Mr Rumsfeld of
bungling the war on Iraq, and said the Pentagon was "incompetent
strategically, operationally and tactically". Major General Paul Eaton, a
retired officer who was in charge of training Iraq troops, said: "Mr
Rumsfeld and his immediate team must be replaced or we will see two more
years of extraordinarily bad decision-making."

The rare criticism from the three officers, all veterans of the Iraq war, is
an embarrassment to Mr Bush at a time when his party had hoped to campaign
on its strong leadership in the "war on terror".

The officers echoed the findings of the National Intelligence Estimate at
the weekend, which said the Iraq war had fuelled Islamist extremism around
the world. They also accused the Pentagon of putting soldiers' lives at risk
by failing to provide the best equipment available. "Why are we asking our
soldiers and marines to use the same armour we found was insufficient in
2003?" asked Thomas Hammes, a retired Marine Corps colonel.

The criticism comes amid an unprecedented show of defiance from the army
chief, Gen Schoomaker. The general refused to submit a budget plan for 2008
to Mr Rumsfeld, arguing the military could not continue operations in Iraq
and its other missions without additional funds, the Los Angeles Times
reported yesterday. The seriousness of the protest was underlined by Gen
Schoomaker's reputation as an ally of the Pentagon chief. The general came
out of retirement at Mr Rumsfeld's request to take up the post.

"It's quite a debacle," said Loren Thompson, a military analyst at the
Lexington Institute thinktank. "Virtually everyone in the army feels as
though their needs have been shortchanged."

Gen Schoomaker's defiance gives a voice to growing concern within the
military about the costs of America's wars, and the long-term strain of
carrying out operations around the world.

For the past three years, the $400bn (210bn) cost of the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan have been funded by emergency spending bills passed by Congress.
But Gen Schoomaker and others say the Iraq war has also put a severe strain
on regular budgets. That puts the generals at odds with Mr Rumsfeld's
strategic vision of a more nimble, hi-tech military. In addition, Congress
and the White House have cut a number of army spending requests over the
past months. "There is no sense in us submitting a budget that we can't
execute, a broken budget," he told a Washington audience.

As the war in Iraq continues with no sign of a reduction in US forces,
military officials have repeatedly complained about the strain on personnel,
and say they fear they may be forced to rely more heavily on the National
Guard and reservists to meet the demands of overseas deployments. General
John Abizaid, America's senior commander in the Middle East, said last week
there was little chance of any drawing down of the 140,000 forces in Iraq
before next spring.

The burden of that commitment was underlined yesterday when the army
extended the combat tours of about 4,000 soldiers serving in the Ramadi
area.

In Basra yesterday, British troops killed a prominent al-Qaida figure who
was hiding in Iraq after escaping from US custody in Afghanistan last year,
the ministry of defence said. Omar Faruq was shot dead while resisting
arrest during a pre-dawn raid by 250 soldiers after a long-planned
intelligence-led operation. A British military spokesman described Faruq as
a "very, very significant man".
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