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Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Kerry Fundamentally Misunderstands the Role of Commander in Chief

In light of the MSM and the Kerry campaign’s collaborative hatchet job on the President and his conduct of the war in Iraq, I think that it is an appropriate time to point out the basic misunderstanding that these entities share regarding the role of the CINC. The latest charge of Presidential incompetence regarding missing RDX/HMX from a site designated by the IAEA is disingenuous not only because the story is patently false, but also because it lays the responsibility for this action at the feet of the President. Much like Kerry’s repeated charges that the President failed to capture Usama bin Laden at Tora Bora because of “outsourcing” this Al Qaqaa ammo dump charge is specious.

The President’s role in conducting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was multifaceted and strategic. The President along with the Secretary of Defense and the National Security Advisor set goals for the military actions proposed. The Joint Staff was tasked with planning the overall campaign and designating individual combatant commanders to be responsible for planning to execute their portion of the campaign plan. These plans were submitted back up to the Joint Staff for approval and then once approved, sent to the President for inspection. As you might imagine, the entire war plan for Iraq or Afghanistan is extremely complex and elaborate and relies on certain assumptions made by the Intelligence services about the characteristics of the situation in the theatre. The President’s vision for how he wanted the war conducted was borne out in these plans, but it is foolish to assume that the President would have been or should have been poring over target lists and plans made by field commanders related to tactical contingencies.

The President had other things to do. In the case of the Iraq war, he had to meet with the Secretary of State and his staff to formulate the Diplomatic plan that would be used to convince the UN Security Council, NATO, and other allies to either participate or at least not to obstruct the US war plan. This diplomacy was performed by hundreds of ambassadors around the world and different diplomatic devices were utilized for different nations. The UN resolution effort required different emphasis and language than the diplomacy directed toward NATO, which was different from diplomatic appeals to our strategic rivals like the Chinese and our enemies like the North Koreans and the Iranians. Then there was the diplomacy directed at Iraq itself which included a disinformation campaign meant to confuse and disrupt enemy forces and to disguise our intentions. This effort is notwithstanding the conspiracy of corruption with regard to the UN, members of the Security Council, and NATO allies working to undermine our diplomatic goals to protect themselves from exposure to the Oil for Food scandal. Incidentally, the President was involved in all of this simultaneous to the war planning.

The President also had a responsibility to the American people and Congress to explain the reasons why the invasion of Iraq was necessary to the security of the US. He had to meet with legislators in an effort to gain bipartisan support for the Iraq war resolution. He also had to fashion a message to the MSM and thereby the American people to garner public support for his plan. This includes responding to critics and MSM inquiries about justifications for going to war, and deciding what kinds of sensitive intelligence information must be released to affect this support without harming the ability of the CIA to continue to collect it.

John Kerry seems to think that being President during a war means that every tactical decision that comes up in the course of the conflict is to be shelved until it is forwarded to the CINC for action. In other words, Kerry is saying that at Tora Bora he would have been briefed on this rapidly developing situation, asked by the Joint Staff what he wanted to do about it, then Kerry would have redirected the 10th Mountain Division in Uzbekistan to perform a long range helo borne infiltration into an area with no inherent combat support elements and deployed them into the vastness to assault AQ. Furthermore, he would have told the SF A-Teams leading the Northern Alliance to back off and wait until 10th Mountain got there. Allrighty then. Next, the Al Qaqaa ammunition depot would have been ostensibly chosen from thousands of similar facilities in Iraq as a key target by President Kerry himself. He would have then ostensibly ordered a Company of Rangers to perform an airborne assault on the site with instructions to hold until relieved. Super.

Kerry thinks like a Lt. on a Swift Boat in the Mekong, not like a Commander in Chief. On a Swift Boat, he had his little part of the war to worry about. He and the other PCF officers could game plan the evening's ambush operation in some tributary like kids playing touch football in the park (Billy, you go deep and Johnny you run ten yards and out and Bobby…..) This is not how wars are directed from the Oval office. The Presidency is the ultimate multi-tasking job, and this is never so much in evidence as during the conduct of armed conflict. What makes anyone think that a backbencher with no legislative accomplishments, whose most impressive leadership role in government was a delegation with John McCain to normalize relations with Vietnam is up to the challenge of leading the greatest military force ever assembled on the planet? Not a chance.

Kerry, true to form, has denigrated the actions of the US Military even though he knows the Tora Bora operation successfully killed Usama bin Laden. Kerry’s persistent disparagement of the US Military in a futile effort to achieve his life’s ambition is further evidence for his unfitness to serve as CINC. Kerry has no idea how to be President, and he has no business trying to learn it on the fly during one of the most dangerous episodes in US History.