Saturday, April 28, 2007

U.S. officer criticizes generals for Iraq war

U.S. officer criticizes generals for Iraq war

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An active-duty U.S. Army officer criticized U.S. generals in a journal article published on Friday for failing to prepare the military and the country for war in Iraq, and urged Congress to intervene.

In a rare public airing of a vigorous debate within the U.S. military, Lt. Col. Paul Yingling compared generals' management of Iraq to their conduct in Vietnam and warned of a crisis facing the armed forces due to the "intellectual and moral failures" of U.S. generals broadly.

"For the second time in a generation, the United States faces the prospect of defeat at the hands of an insurgency," wrote Yingling, an Iraq war veteran and commander of an Army unit. "These debacles are not attributable to individual failures, but rather to a crisis in an entire institution: America's general officer corps."

Yingling did not single out any general for criticism.

The mid-ranking officer's cover article in the May issue of Armed Forces Journal reflects the debate among officers about the conduct of the Iraq war as well as the decisions and public statements made by commanders advising civilian policymakers.

Yingling repeated, for example, a widely voiced criticism that generals did not raise publicly the concerns held privately about the level of U.S. troops being committed by policymakers to secure Iraq in the early stages of the war.

Then, with too few troops, they could not devise a strategy to stabilize Iraq, he argued.

Yingling called on Congress to overhaul the way officers rise in rank to the level of general. That, he said, is needed to yield officers who are intelligent, creative and courageous.

He said generals should be subject to reviews that consider the opinions of junior officers. He said Congress also should modify the promotion system by having the Senate review the education and professional writing of nominees for three- and four-star general.

Congress also should exercise its authority to confirm the rank of a retiring general, and reduce that rank for a general who failed to give lawmakers an accurate, candid assessment of strategic probabilities.

(Additional reporting by Joanne Morrison)