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join the discussion - What  do you think of Donald Rumsfeld's battle to overhaul the Defense Department  for fighting a new kind of warfare -- the  war on terrorism?    And, what's at stake for the U.S. military in Iraq

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am a retired naval officer. I had three deployments flying off carriers in the Tonkin Gulf durin the Vietnam War. I was disappointed in your program. You started off with valid information, then slanted it to come up with faulty conclusions. The American public voted against your position in the most recent national election. You highlighted the few minor failures and completly missed the great success of the campaign as exemplifyed by the success of the Iraq election.

Peter Nystrom
San Diego, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

Your Frontline program on Donald Rumsfeld was the most liberal-biased piece of misinformation I have witnessed to date. That and your final assessment in the program - that Donald Rumsfeld has had limited success in his handling of the Iraq war and the subsequent rebuilding of Iraq - borders on criminal.


Sure there were some mistakes made. There are mistakes in every war. But the fact is that on September 12, 2001 had any of us been told that Mr. Rumsfeld would lead the US to completely defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan, take down Saddam Hussein and his army, destroy most of the resistance in Iraq and successfully hold the first democratic national election in Iraq in over 50 years, we all would have been non-believers.

But the truth is Rumsfeld has brought the US incredible victories over the last 3 years. But you and the rest of the media will not give him his well deserved credit. You just keep hammering away trying to convince us that the sky is falling.

Had you been around Christmas in 1944 you would have portrayed Roosevelt, his cabinet and the Army as misguided, inept blunderers for not having the forsight to see the Battle of the Bulge coming.

john cusumano
escondido, ca

Dear FRONTLINE,

Col. Douglas Macgregor talks about how easy it was for the US Army to defeat the Iraq Army. He appears to have forgotten the weeks of bombing that decimated the Iraqi armor and morale to a level they did not recover in the subsequent decade.

His comment that any European army can quickly dispatch any Arab army in the world is reminiscent of the hubris of the US Army about Vietnam

Dennis Feeney
Albuquerque, NM

Dear FRONTLINE,

Watching this program has made me appreciate the incredible effort and sacrifice that Rumsfield and others continue to make on behalf of our country.


David Holland
Salt Lake City, Ut

Dear FRONTLINE,

I cannot agree with every perspective that was outlined in your program but you did the country a great service by confronting a subject and an individual that most news TV programs wouldnt want to touch with a 10 ft. pole.

My greatest wish at this point would be that your program will not stop exploring the implication of the changes in the Defense Department over the past four years.

There is great disagreement in our country about the strategy that the Bush administration has used to confront the war on terror. But there is vast agreement in our country that we are at war with an enemy that wishes us great harm and that this conflict will continue well into the future. Under such conditions we are going to continue to need a professional and well led military. How will the changes under the Bush administration affects our ability as a country to defend ourselves in the future? Will we have to rebuild the Army and its recruiting system? Can we adequately defend ourselves with all volunteer Army and military?

I hope you will continue to explore these and other important topics as I fear no other medium will delve into them with the same impact and depth as PBS.

Bill Weissert
Milwaukee, WI

Dear FRONTLINE,


The extensive use of Washington Post reporters and ruminations from the former Secretary of the Army lacked any countervailing perspective. If the viewer is depending entirely on Frontline's report to make an assessment, none of the remarkable achievements that have occurred on the ground in Iraq would be known.

Using Abu Graib to symbolize the totality of Rumsfeld's management ability was leftwing sniping. It is possible that casualties would have been higher if more troops had been used without a corresponding higher level of success.
Waiting close to a year while Secretary Powell made his case to the UN when France was committed to a no vote because of scandal gave the bad guys all the time they needed to organize insurgency and get rid of evidence of WMD. Operations in Iraq have had a huge impact in the global war against terrorists.

The President's confidence in Secretary Rumsfeld speaks volumes about both of their characters. For them, having to persevere while enduring public television hatchet jobs is pretty standard.

James Locke
Whitefish Bay, WI

Dear FRONTLINE,

Frontline tells half the story very well. However, we inherited a Clinton military that was in the doldrums, suffering from Generals and civilian decisions made to make Willie look good.

I remember the Carter years, the Reagan and Bush (41) years and all of Clinton. Nothing was more demoralizing than to see the wholesale dismantling of the military by Clintonistas. Rumsfeld had the courage to move and project force--not just empty talk.

The French and Germans may not like us--who cares? The terrorists know they will pay a fearful price if they harm Americans.
That Army officers would fear going into battle tells me they don't believe in their forces...they want a paycheck and status among the DC crowd. If an Army officer does not want to go to battle, then why is he in the service? He is in the wrong profession.
Rumsfeld is clearing the decks of Clintonistas. Hopefully, Condi can do the same at State!

Patrick Winter
Saginaw, MI

Dear FRONTLINE,

Another presentation by the hate America first crowd.

Was there another side of this story presented tonight? I think not. When are you guys gong to figure out Rumsfield is protecting your backsides? When are you going to figure out that this stuff goes over better in Canada and France? Partial quotes still being presented out of context. Go sell it to the Europeans who dont know any better. Some of us in this country know the truth.

In the meantime, when tax dollars are obviously needed for worthy causes and programs, I am going to ask my congressman why this poor black mans money is being spent to support this drivel.

Darryl Maddox

Dear FRONTLINE,

I might be able to understand why some people might have supported our invasion of Iraq, but I do not understand how anyone could ignore the fact that the aftermath has been a fiasco. What should infuriate people is that there were many people--most career military people with vast experience--who gave Rumsfeld advice that, had it been followed, would probably have led to much different circumstances than we find ourselves in now. Instead, both he and Wolfowitz chose to ignore and dismiss this advice.

Failure to this degree would have led to the firing of these people. It does not make me feel better to know that we still have Iran, North Korea, and other unknown threats to face with this crew still in charge.

Debra Miller
Jamesburg, NJ

Dear FRONTLINE,

As a recently retired officer, Frontline simply illuminated what I've long suspected, and nothing saddens me more to see my fears confirmed. People ask whether the piece was balanced, it was, and at that painfully polite.

All that I was taught by those who learned the bitter lessons of Vietnam has been brushed aside by the arrogance of Bush, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz, to say nothing of Powell's unforgiving acquiescence. With the exception of Powell, they've underestimated this effort, cast aside expert opinion at every level and now the outcome is certainly not the bright shining city on the hill they've naively envisioned instead: a broken Army, exponential costs that dwarf the combined whole budgets of several federal agencies, and most embarrassingly, Iranian leaning Mullahs (previously held in check by Saddam) at the helm.

Still, Frontline should be lauded for noting the critical unwillingness of the senior US leadership to vote with their feet when they see Powell trampling his own doctrine. For all the profound lessons learned in Vietnam, the critical lesson then as now, is whether senior leaders in the next war will be willing to do their nation's bidding, and not those of fools. Senior officers then as now have capital invested and nurtured by this nation, and we owe it to our country to disagree when our nation is endangered by such foolish policies. We are squandering another generation, have we not learned anything from Vietnam?!

Keep things in perspective, Al Qaeda is a movement of radicals...a small movement, we have divisions, navies, and fleets of fighters, they can never succeed, yet we act like they are this vast army, they are nothing, we've made them so in our mind, yet paradoxically we have the least resources committed to the heart of their sanctuary: the Afghan-Pakistan border area.

PS The next key Frontline report should illuminate Wolfowitz's methodology for usurping sound intelligence analysis, see

http://www.cia.gov/csi/studies/96unclass/davis.htm

rod rivera
Albuquerque, NM

Dear FRONTLINE,

All Rumsfeld has done is to make the world less safe from terrorism. The smiling faces in Iraq will eventually be replaced by a government far worse than the Hussein one. I never ever heard of a wicked regime that is overthrown being replaced by a benevolent one.

What is at stake for the us military? An endless occupation with an endless crop of terrorists and an endless transfer of aluminum coffins to Delaware.

Jon Morbius
Wurtsboro, NY

Dear FRONTLINE,

Although I consider myself as a supporter of President Bush, I can't help question his decision to continue to stand by Rumsfeld. I believe he (Rumsfeld) has failed and more importantly refused to listen and heed the advice and warnings on his policies concerning Iraq and the war on terrorism. Rumsfeld should let the military do it's job and quit trying to re-invent the wheel.

Hector Padilla
El Paso, Texas

Dear FRONTLINE,

What worries me most is about the Bush and Rumsfield Doctrine is the paradoxical reality. Rumsfield is trying making the U.S. Armed Forces into a nimble and quick force that fights Alexander the Great. But we cant pacify any nation like Alexander did.
In the 21st Century, the only way hold ground is a large number of boots on the ground or the use of nuclear arms.

There might be a day when America is in a postion where the options are very, very thin. I doubt Rumsfield and others in the Bush Adminstration have thought about the implications of their grand dreams if things don't pan out. Doing more missions with less of a force means the ability to project influence wears thin. We are at a tipping point.

We need an accounting of what is going on. This FRONTLINE program was good start to a badly needed conversation with the American people.

.

Neil Daniels
Colralville , Iowa

Dear FRONTLINE,

With our troops already stretched thin, enlistee enrollment down, the future is supposed to be a leaner, more agile defence. How? This smacks of McNamara (http://www.defenselink.mil/specials/secdef_histories/bios/mcnamara.htm).

Randy T
Columbus, OH

Dear FRONTLINE,

Let Me begin this with an apology, the name I have provided is not actually My own. This is due to the fact I am still somewhat connected to the service.

During the Iraq war I was part of the US Army 10th Special Forces Group, deployed out from Fort Carson Colorado. As you may imagine i was intimately aware of the administration's stance and policy in action. Although I was told to act but the reasonings were at times ambiguous at best. Very little of our mission profiles were even given what you may call a back story.

But faithfully and dilligently the missions were completed. Some were fruitfull and benefitted many and some I am ashamed to share with others even as I attempt to seperate myself from the service.
Thank youvery much. For explaining why.

Dear FRONTLINE,

During more than 20 years of service in the United States Marine Corps I learned an excellent definition of leadership. Leadership is the art of influencing subordinates in such a way as to obtain their willing obedience to accomplish the mission. Sure in the military we can force subordinates to accomplish their jobs. But it was my experience that persuasion worked better 90 % of the time.


Mr. Runsfeld could have used this definition of leadership to obtain willing obedience, cooperation and better planning from the generals in the pentagon to conduct the Iraq invasion.

Modesto Silverio
Fairview, New Jersey

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posted oct. 26, 2004

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