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Letter from an alumnus about View from the military

Date Posted: December 27, 2004

I am constantly amazed at the credit we give to leaders in this country, as if they have the wisdom of gods. Unfortunately they do have to depend on staff to some degree, unless it does not pass obvious common sense.

I’m on active duty, working at US Central Command. Working in the Joint Operations Center during the war in Iraq, I was a part of the evaluation and decision-making process. In case you doubt my proper concern, my son was in a recon unit, out in front of the Marines, on its way to Baghdad. Tracking his unit, out in front, in real time, always gave me a heightened awareness, as it did for the entire JOC, of the seriousness of our effort.

We’ve done our best to provide accurate factual, no-spin, recommendations to the leadership. By and large they have agreed to them. They have not stuck their noses in our business when we have described it as we see it. If you want to blame anyone for mistakes of this war, start with us. We’ve had our finger on the pulse 24/seven, many sleepless. We’ve made our best recommendations. Sometimes things just don't work out the way we thought.

Sometimes we tried to be intelligent and see if a political solution would work. You know, the kind of logic reasonable Americans would appreciate. But, apparently everyone else had it all perfect and we were the only dummies. I realize some of you have actually gone to basic training and understand our requirements, however, too many with their mouths open have not. I’ve never seen such a bunch of Monday-morning quarterbacks who have never played the game, never set foot on the field, never worn a uniform or had to make these decisions.

You know, we are not perfect. We are after all human, just like the rest of you. We're all Americans. We don't all agree. We do have a very purposeful intentional process and a system of checks and balances. The president and the defense secretary counted on good threat-analysis and recommendations from intelligence, and counted on good planning by the military.

Your military — we are the planners and executers. If you can't count on us to make the right recommendations, well, I don't think you have many other options. You can try rebuilding the military but I don't suspect you’ll change much. We do not ask you to give us the benefit of the doubt. But I only point out here that it is pretty lame to place blame for everything in government on one person.

Poli Sci looks pretty easy to me. Find the highest guy in the pecking order and place all blame on him. Should be a short program.

Sgt. Maj. Lewis Matson
US Central Command

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