I can’t attend today, but Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Peter Pace are giving a media briefing at 1:15 p.m.
One of the topics I am sure that they are going to cover — or at least be queried about — will be Joe Biden’s oped this weekend which asserts that without serious adjustments in the deployment norms we have in place now for active duty military and the national guard, we will be compelled to draw down our Iraq-based forces simply because we don’t have enough people to rotate in to maintain current force levels.
Senator Warner, on Meet the Press this weekend, challenged Biden’s view stating that he had gone over the Biden oped word for word with General Pace. He said that Pace called the oped’s assertions “inaccurate.” However, as the discussion continued, even Senator Warner was compelled to concede that “serious adjustments” would have to be made to get either more National Guard over, or alternatively, to train troops for Iraq deployment who were trained for other tasks. Biden said that that kind of step was, in fact, a serious adjustment.
The other item that may come up in discussion is whether or not field battalion commanders have asked for more troops or not. This is important as Rumsfeld has harped on and on that he always gives his generals what they ask for to accomplish their mission. There are many in Washington who think that General Abizaid and Pace and others censor their requests for more troops because they know Rumsfeld wants them to. Again, on Meet the Press this weekend, Senator Biden made the case that he has yet to meet a field commander who has NOT asked for more troops.
So, let’s wait for Don Rumsfeld’s “aw shucks” excuses and side-stepping today, but still it should be an interesting meeting.
— Steve Clemons