Friction at the Pentagon: Rumsfeld's ideals vs. Gen. Franks' realities

by Geo-Strategy

April 2, 2003

The tensions between Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Tommy Franks are not about intelligence estimates and the invasion plans for Iraq.

Rather, they're about the performance of U.S. ground troops in that country. The tensions are about organization and Rumsfeld is a very organized man.

Simply put, Rumsfeld and Pentagon analysts have been dismayed by what they have determined is the poor combat ability by the more than 100,000 troops in Iraq. It's not about courage, Rumsfeld believes, it's about poor command structure and supply lines.

Tens of thousands of U.S. troops are trapped in a logistical and operational nightmare in Iraq. They are stuck smack in an area surrounded by Iraqi terrorists dressed as civilians between Nassariya and Karbala. The troops are short of food and ammunition and in some cases have actually begged Iraqi civilians for a bite to eat.

And this was the state of affairs 10 days into the war.

Meanwhile, U.S. Air Force air command has been dropping bombs like there's no tomorrow. The command is short of JDAMs as well as a range of air-to-ground munitions.

The situation is so chaotic that Franks wants a recess. He's been ordered to move too fast with too few troops. The four-star general wants a major reinforcement of troops and supplies that could take a week or two.

Rumsfeld doesn't want to wait much longer. He doesn't want U.S. forces already in central Iraq to become sitting ducks for Saddam's terrorists. The secretary is urging President Bush for a drive to Baghdad. Franks is warning that his forces are stretched to the limit and aren't ready for anything. A decision is expected over the next few days.