Letters To The Editor

Don Chapman
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January 14, 2009 - MidWeek
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Shinseki was right

I would like to set the record straight in regards to the recent letter “Shinseki was off,” from the perspective of “someone who was there.”

I was assigned to the Army staff at the Pentagon when Gen. Eric Shinseki made his remarks to Congress. I was also at the Pentagon before, during (saw the fireball and felt the concussion when the plane hit) and after 9/11 (when the Pentagon was ramping up for war). I left the Pentagon for Fort Bragg, N.C., took command of a brigade with the 82nd Airborne Division in June 2003, and by September 2003 was in the tri-city Ramadi-Habaniya-Falluja area of Iraq’s Al Anbar Province, where total lawlessness reigned.


 

As President-elect Obama has stated, Gen. Shinseki was right in his Congressional testimony about Iraq. I can personally attest that Gen. Shinseki was absolutely right when he said we would need “several hundred thousand soldiers” as soon as we were responsible for law and order in Iraq. The only civil control structure in Iraq was gone, thanks to the flawed Coalition Provisional Authority policy of de-Baathification and the dissolution of the Iraqi military. Imagine a poor country of more than 26 million people with suddenly no police, military or civil authority. It was a free-for-all.

The author was mistaken in citing the 180,000 troops of the surge as the correct number of troops required. This is like comparing an apple to a pineapple. By the time of the surge, the Iraq civil infrastructure, military and government had been re-established at the cost of thousands of American and Iraqi lives. Most of the original insurgent leadership had been killed, and the Sunni minority was now siding with the coalition. When we were there in 2003, none of these conditions existed. We were sent in ill-equipped and spread paper-thin to fight a mushrooming insurgency. Check the records, we were not even allowed by the Pentagon to call it an “insurgency.”

The letter’s other point, that Gen. Shinseki was not fired, is equally incorrect. For his professionalism and honesty in that testimony, he was summarily punished by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz. Again, I was there, and have personal knowledge of what transpired. Gen. Shinseki’s very public punishment came quickly, soon after being berated by Wolfowitz for being “wildly off the mark.” The very early and abrupt announcement that he would be replaced as the Army Chief of Staff was his punishment. It made him an instant “lame duck,” with all the negative effects. This, despite the fact that we were fighting a war and there was no replacement identified. In fact, his replacement could not be found in the active Army; his replacement had to be brought out of retirement.

The cold and calculated effect was immediate and stifling. The message to the U.S. military was received loud and clear: If anyone, even a four-star general, did not echo the party line and dared to say the “Emperor has no clothes,” they were not welcome in the Pentagon and would be punished. Many of us on the Army staff were furious. But Gen. Shinseki, always the humble and quiet professional, did not publicly protest, he just soldiered on until his retirement in June 2003.

It is history that has proven him right.

Glenn Takemoto
Colonel, U.S. Army, Retired


No more aerials!

I completely agree with the letter from Thomas Chang, “War on aerials” - our city has a terrible problem with an underground black market in illegal fireworks, and one that puts entire neighborhoods in danger of massive explosions.

Our law enforcement leaders should make this a top priority in the next year - although I’ve heard from reliable sources that law enforcement people are among the biggest distributors of these illegals. I’ve also heard that dock workers are involved.

So there you go, Gov. Lingle, Mayor Hannemann, HPD Chief Correa, Prosecutor Carlisle, U.S. Attorney Kubo, FBI Agent-in-Charge Kamerman, a tip from a concerned citizen.

Now declare war on illegal fireworks and end the lawlessness before someone gets killed!

Edward Omura
Honolulu

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