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Hearing of the House Armed Services Committee on Army Transformation - Transcript

Location: Washington, DC








REP. JIM COOPER (D-TN): Thank you.

REP. G. TAYLOR: Would that be the unanimous opinion of the --

GEN. SCALES: Two seconds: I agree with everything my old boss said. The only thing I'd say is I just wish that-oftentimes this team chatter occurs almost in spite of itself. I wish we had more flexible, more open means of communication at the lower levels-at the captain, lieutenant, major level. I wish we had a-you know, the two most popular websites in the Army are and, where we have lieutenants and captains all over the world just chatting each other up in this rich dialogue going on.

I just wish our institutions, frankly, and our units were more-to say more open isn't the right word-more accommodating-maybe if that's the right word-to that degree of team chatter. Because it's team chatter. It's not people falling on the sword over programs, but it's the team chatter. It's the richness that comes from sharing ideas and so forth at the captain, lieutenant, major level. I never had an idea after I was promoted to lieutenant colonel. You know, everything I know I learned when I was a young officer when, you know, we all had the capacity to learn. I just wish we were a better institution at that. That's all I'm saying.

REP. G. TAYLOR: General Keane, just one quick follow-up. And I certainly respect you professionally and everything that you said. But my follow-up question is, when we met with David Kay last September, and he's telling us about these enormous ammunition caches that they have discovered-that he knew the Iraqi insurgents were sneaking into at night and stealing weapons out that went out to become IEDs-his direct words were, "I'm being told for lack of manpower we can't guard these caches."

How would you respond to that? Was that a poor utilization of the troops that were there, or a lack of manpower, or a low priority given to guarding those caches?

GEN. KEANE: If we're losing weapons and ammunition out of those caches, then we should guard them. My initial response, I would have tried to guard those with Iraqi security forces, because the guarding of a cache doesn't require the complexity and combat skills that you would need to defeat these forces that are out there. And until the Iraqis were better trained, I would have used those as a pool of labor to help do that sort of thing-would have been my solution to it.

I don't dispute the fact they needed to be guarded. I-I didn't look at them. I've been there, and I-I only overflew them, and I did not intellectually deal with the issue. But I'll take them at face value. And if that's the issue, then they should be guarded.

REP. G. TAYLOR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Thank you, General.


REP. SAXTON: Yes, go ahead.

COL. MACGREGOR: -- comment briefly? First of all, I want to tell you that General Keane's assessment of the inter-war period is absolutely correct. And there's a lot of romanticism that is on the street about that that I think is very misleading.

The other point is that I absolutely totally disagree with his characterization of the senior leadership and how people get there. And I think anybody who reads my work knows that.

In the United States Army, it has been my experience that your most difficult subordinate commander is your best commander. He's the fellow that raises all the questions. He's always got a better idea. He's always trying to figure out how to do it better. He's the first person we get rid of, because he's not a team player. That, incidentally, is a critical difference between the German Army culture that was mentioned earlier by General Scales, and our culture. We value the team player. We value compliance. We value conformity. We want to believe that the fellow working for us is our friend and will support us and be loyal to us. It's a cultural problem that is not going to be solved unless there is an interruption in the system. We've been through these interruptions before; we will go through them again.

REP. SAXTON: Thank you.

Mr. Cooper.

REP. COOPER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I agree with the earlier comments. This is one of the best hearings we've had in the two years I've been on the committee. I would like to propose three action steps as a result: number one, that the transcript be supplied to all members of the committee so that the many who are not with us could benefit; number two, that we have an additional hearing on the Stryker and perhaps other vehicles. I know the chairman has had a strong interest in that. Now that it's been battle-tested in Iraq, let's see what the genuine results are. And number three, I'd like to propose a stop loss order on the Pentagon so that all the services of these gentlemen could be retained by the current military.

Because to me, if you ask why this is such a good hearing, there are several interesting factors. Number one, there's no civilian from the SECDEF's office on the panel. So we're not getting a lot of spin. Number two, you're all retired. Number three, you're extremely knowledgeable people. But I think one of the reasons for the wisdom is, we have a colonel present. For almost two years I've been agitating that we have witnesses who are colonels, majors, captains. I asked Secretary Wolfowitz this one time, and he said, "Well, sir, they'd just be harming their careers if they testified before this committee."

COL. MACGREGOR: (Laughs.) I'm surprised he was that frank.

REP. COOPER: Well-and then I said, "Do you mean that the Pentagon would punish them for telling the U.S. Congress the truth?" Then --

GEN. KEANE: Mr. Cooper, I didn't realize that. I did testimony here 19 times. If you-if I could have sent a colonel in my place, I gladly would have. (Laughter.)

REP. COOPER: I think another reason the hearing has been excellent is there are very few interruptions. We appreciate the chair's indulgence and patience, and very few editorial comments.

To me, we're going to have to function as a committee. CSIS has issued a very damning report on the quality of our operations. If we're going to have a chance of standing up joint commands, taking the reform steps that are necessary, that each one of you, I think, has agreed will not come from the separate branches of the military, this Congress, this committee has to do its constitutional duty, which I am deeply worried that we're failing to do, because we're like the services: we have a culture of yes; if you raise questions, you're not a team player. Some people here will even question your patriotism. And that's a culture that will lead to our demise as the greatest country in the history of the world.

So I'm proud of your work.

And my real question has to do with what General Keane described earlier as intellectual planning to take down Baghdad and intellectual planning postwar. Why was there a thimbleful of planning for the postwar period? Were we deluded by the neocons? Were we seduced, as the earlier answers implied, that, you know, we were going to be greeted as liberators? To me, the duty of a professional military man is to know the lessons of history, to plan for the future, and unless you're given a direct order to the contrary, to at least have a plan B, if not a plan C. We've gone so far from the Powell doctrine, with a clear exit strategy. Now, we had apparently almost zero postwar planning. How could this possibly be, in the greatest military in the world?

GEN. KEANE: Well, that's a legitimate question. And as I said at the outset in response to another question, that mostly occurred because we accepted the belief that it wasn't going to be necessary. Now, were there options? Yes. General Franks' people could talk, you know, more comprehensively to the numbers of options that they had and contingencies. Certainly they were all there.

But what I was talking about is the genuine intellectual capital that went into it. The way the war was constructed to take the regime down now we look on, you know, very fondly because it went so rapidly, but we actually changed the way we fight to do that war. And there was a lot of criticism before we did it and actually while we were doing it, in terms of not having enough troops to do it and so on. So there was some rather dramatic change taking place in how we were prosecuting our war. And it unfortunately has been overshadowed by what's taken place. So that was one of them.

I think the other thing that happened to us also, which I always was curious about, is we-dealing with the stability operations, we brought on another command structure, so to speak, to deal with it. Initially it was General Garner, and then it was Ambassador Bremer.

I think while some of that may have had its place in time, I think when you're transitioning from a regime takedown to the beginnings of physical and political reconstruction and the stability of the people, you should leave the military commander completely in charge so he can make that transition, and then let him have the tools of the interagency to help him do that. That model we have been successful at in previous major wars in the 20th century.

When we separated ourselves from that, we stood Garner up and then Jerry Bremer to take his place, one of the challenges I think we had-I remember when I was talking to General Garner in my office and he was laying out what his plans were, I said, "Who are you working for?" And he said, "Well, I work for Secretary Rumsfeld." I said, "But you should be working for General Franks. You should be working for the theater commander who has control over that theater so that security, physical reconstruction and political reconstruction are all connected to one another with one person in charge."

And so I think we went down a separate path and we learned another valuable lesson about unity of command.

And it doesn't make much difference what the task is, we have all learned that throughout our military careers, that whenever you have challenges and you have significant tasks in front of you, you've got to have unity of command to apply the solutions to that task. And I think that was a second mistake that we had made that cost us.

REP. COOPER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I know time is short, but I do think this is accurate; I don't believe that we have heard in this committee from one prior CENTCOM commander, which is an embarrassing lack of information if we're going to have continuity and understanding of this troubled part of the Arab world.

MR. : Good point.

REP. COOPER: So not only have we failed to hear from rank-and- file soldiers, airmen and Marines, but to not even to have heard from one prior CENTCOM commander is an amazing lapse of oversight by this committee.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


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