Tuesday, May 18, 2004
Col. David Hackworth on the failure of leadership in Iraq:
"When I was a buck private in Italy, five-star Gen. Dwight David Eisenhower visited my outfit. Of course, there was no television in those days, so there was no globally televised Bob Hope-type spectacle like last week's Rumsfeld-Myers show-of-all-vaudeville-shows at Abu Ghraib prison. Instead, Ike walked through the ranks and talked to every soldier in my reconnaissance company.
posted by lazarus |
He stopped in front of me - 15 years old and quaking - and asked: "How do you like the chow?"
"It stinks, Sir."
"Why?" he asked.
"All we get is Spam."
"Spam? Why?" he roared to his entourage.
A shaky voice replied that the depots were filled with Spam from World War II, and the supply people were getting rid of it.
"Stop it," he snapped. "Feed these soldiers proper rations."
"That take care of it, son?" he asked me.
"Yes sir," I gulped.
I still remember the concern in his voice. And I learned then that if a soldier got to the boss and bitched, the odds were the boss would fix it. I also learned a valuable leadership lesson: A commander must get down on the ground with his troops in order to find out what's really going on.
Had Army leadership been following Ike's example, our nation would not be shamed, and our critical military mission in Iraq wouldn't be jeopardized.
Instead, the chain of command was egregiously AWOL. Army sergeants, lieutenants, captains, majors, lieutenant colonels, colonels and at least one brigadier general, one major general and one lieutenant general shrugged off their duty. And the buck stops far higher."