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Rumsfeld Responds

11:24 AM, Dec 2, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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The statement from Rumsfeld:

"In his speech to the nation last night, President Obama claimed that ‘Commanders in Afghanistan repeatedly asked for support to deal with the reemergence of the Taliban, but these reinforcements did not arrive.' Such a bald misstatement, at least as it pertains to the period I served as Secretary of Defense, deserves a response."

"I am not aware of a single request of that nature between 2001 and 2006. If any such requests occurred, ‘repeated' or not, the White House should promptly make them public. The President's assertion does a disservice to the truth and, in particular, to the thousands of men and women in uniform who have fought, served and sacrificed in Afghanistan."

"In the interest of better understanding the President's announcement last night, I suggest that the Congress review the President's assertion in the forthcoming debate and determine exactly what requests were made, who made them, and where and why in the chain of command they were denied."

This is true as far as I know and conforms with what Steve Hayes reported in THE WEEKLY STANDARD in October:

Perhaps more infuriating for Bush veterans was the suggestion by [Robert] Gibbs that the Bush administration ignored requests for more troops. It's nonsense, they say. McKiernan wanted more troops--he asked for three additional brigades in the summer of 2008--but he understood that he could have them only when they became available. "McKiernan was making requests down the line," says a Pentagon official, "and late in 2008 we did have the ability to commit more forces. So we did." Indeed, Bush sent nearly 7,000 additional troops to Afghanistan before he left office, including one brigade that had been repurposed from Iraq.

One Bush veteran asks, "If it's true that the Bush administration sat on these troop requests for eight months, is the White House suggesting that the Pentagon was incompetent or negligent or both? That would be a good question to put to the defense secretary--and President Obama is in a position to make him talk."

I couldn't reach Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, but I did talk to a senior defense official who serves with him. This person stressed that Gates has gone to great lengths to avoid being dragged into political fights between administrations. Nonetheless, he offered a strong rebuke to the present White House political team.

"There was no request on anyone's desk for eight months," said the defense official. "There was not a request that went to the White House because we didn't have forces to commit. So on the facts, they're wrong."