Myers Slams Monday Morning Armchair Quarterbacks
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 1, 2003 Reports that American forces went into Iraq undermanned are "bogus" and "not helpful" while the United States has troops in combat, said the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff today.
Air Force Gen. Richard Myers expressed his annoyance with armchair quarterbacks who are second-guessing the battle plan, which has American forces poised to take Baghdad after 12 days of operations. He spoke during a Pentagon press conference with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.
The response came following questions about charges in the New Yorker magazine, The New York Times and The Washington Post that Rumsfeld had purposely held down numbers involved in the operation because he wanted to do it on the cheap. Some unnamed officers quoted in the articles allege that changes to the plan were forced down the throat of Central Command chief Army Gen. Tommy Franks.
"I don't know how (the reports) get started, and I don't know how they've been perpetuated, but it's not been by responsible members of the team that put this all together," Myers said.
The chairman said unnamed officers who spoke to the press did not know the particulars of the Central Command plan on Iraq, or they were working to further their own agendas.
"It is not helpful to have those kind of comments come out when we've got troops in combat, because first of all, they're false, they're absolutely wrong, they bear no resemblance to the truth, and it's just harmful to our troops that are out there fighting very bravely, very courageously," he said.
Myers stated that he has been a part of the planning process every step of the way. "There is not one thing that Gen. Franks has asked for that he hasn't gotten on the time line that we could get it to him," he said. He said some items or troops might have been delayed, but that was because of a logistics bottleneck, not because there was a policy decision to withhold the forces.
"Every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff signed up to this plan and the way it was executed from the first day. And they'll be signed up to the last day, because we still think it's a good plan," he said.
Myers said the United States went to the area with sophisticated objectives. "We had diplomacy under way at the United Nations," he said. "We wanted to deploy a sufficient force, but not the kind of force that would make it look like diplomacy didn't have a chance to work."
He said the plan needed to generate tactical surprise for coalition troops. "How do you protect tactical surprise when you have 250,000 troops surrounding Iraq on 'D-Day'? How do you do that?" he asked. "Well, you do it by the method (Franks) did it: by starting the ground war first, air war second. Do you think there was tactical surprise? I think there was. Do we have the oil fields in the south? About 60 percent of the oil wealth has been preserved for the Iraqi people. You bet.
"Have we had a Scud fired against Jordan or Israel yet? No. Why? Because we went in very early, even before the ground war, to secure those places," Myers continued. "Do we have humanitarian supplies flowing into Umm Qasr now? Yes. Why? Because we put the ground forces in there early. Were we 200 miles inside Iraq in 36 hours? Yes."