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Military Officers

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Paul Van Riper
Lt. Gen. Paul Van Riper (U.S. Marine Corps-Ret.) is a veteran of Vietnam and Desert Storm and currently lecturer at the National Defense University. He spoke with FRONTLINE about the lessons learned from those past wars, his bitterness over what has happened in post-war Iraq, and the failures of the Pentagon's civilian leaders: "We don't have a leadership that's involved intellectually," he says. "They simply want to will their way to this transformation. They don't want to get involved themselves and help think the way through." Despite this, Van Riper, a scholar of warfare, is hopeful: "I see inside the United States Army the germs of a second intellectual renaissance that's approaching these problems. And they're not caught up in the sloganeering that most of the Joint community's caught up in. They really are studying." This interview was conducted on July 8, 2004.

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Thomas White
Gen. Thomas White (U.S. Army-Ret.) was Secretary of the Army from 2001 until April 2003, when he was fired by Donald Rumsfeld. In this interview, he talks about Rumsfeld's leadership style and drive to remake the military, the Defense Department's rigid control in planning for a post-war Iraq, and why he believes the Army is on the brink of being broken. "What we are all worried about is that the manpower situation will come unglued. ... The Army is people; it's not weapons or platforms. Somebody once said, 'A soldier's not in the Army; they are the Army.'"This interview was conducted on Aug. 12, 2004.

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Gen. Joseph P. Hoar (U.S. Marine Corps-Ret.) was commander of CENTCOM from 1991 to 1994. In the build-up to war in Iraq, he supported from the outside Colin Powell's reservations about the consequences, joined other military figures to oppose the war plan and more recently to support John Kerry. In this interview, Hoar explains how the concept of military transformation has developed over the years, and why it should be executed cautiously."We were going to be lighter, faster, and we were going to depend more on technology. That part of it was clear -- so far so good," he tells FRONTLINE. "But I think one of the things that the Iraqi campaign has shown us is that you need to go very slowly when you talk about reducing the size of the armed forces." This interview was conducted on Aug. 9, 2004.

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A tank commander in Desert Storm and currently a Senior Military Fellow at the Institute of National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University, Col. Douglas MacGregor (U.S. Army-Ret.) is a well-known maverick in the military establishment and the author of Breaking the Phalanx, a book on how to reform the Army. Donald Rumsfeld read some of his ideas and as the Pentagon was formulating its war plan, he was invited to consult with military officials. "They brought me in and said: 'We're looking at Iraq. The chief of staff of the Army says it will take at least 560,000 troops.' Well, of course I burst out laughing immediately, because those are more troops than we have in the active component. Secondly, the Iraqi enemy was always so weak. Why would you want that many forces?" This interview was conducted on July 23, 2004.

Pentagon Officials

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john hamre
As deputy secretary of defense in the mid-to-late 1990s, John Hamre was involved in reconstruction planning for Kosovo and Bosnia. He now is president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), an organization that has studied every post-war reconstruction task since World War II. In May 2003 the Pentagon asked him and a CSIS team to go to Iraq and evaluate what the U.S. was facing in the aftermath of the war. In this interview, Hamre describes the range of challenges they saw and talks about whether the transformational concepts being pursued by the military today can handle them. "I think we're really having to struggle with a new and much more complicated problem. The security dimension is more diffuse and more complex. It doesn't neatly fit the way we've structured this brilliant military of ours." This interview was conducted on July 23, 2004.

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walter slocombe
Walter Slocombe is former director of national security and defense in the Coalition Provisional Authority, the U.S. organization charged with overseeing Iraq's reconstruction and transition to democratic rule. He also served in the Pentagon as under-secretary of defense for policy,1994 to 2001. In this interview, he talks about what wasn't planned for in the aftermath of the war and describes the challenges in training Iraqi security forces following the almost total disappearance of the Iraqi Army. "I wasn't completely surprised," he says. "I think the central issue why the army disappeared is that it was a conscript army. … The officers lost most of the control of their troops, and sometimes the will to try to control them." This interview was conducted on Aug. 17, 2004.

Washington Post Reporters

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dana priest
As staff writer for The Washington Post, Dana Priest covers intelligence and the Pentagon. She is the author of The Mission: Waging War and Keeping Peace With America's Military. In this interview, she talks about Donald Rumsfeld, his management of the Iraq war and its aftermath, and the challenges confronting the military in a post-9/11 world. Says Priest,"The military is incredibly overstretched. Barring a miracle and some unforeseen trend, you have great instability and the Iraqi government trying to get on its feet. And the last thing the United States would want is some pocket of that to become a safe haven ... that allows an Al Qaeda-like organization to live and organize in." This interview was conducted on June 30, 2004.

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thomas e. ricks
Thomas E. Ricks, the Post's Pentagon correspondent, has long covered the Pentagon and U.S. military. Since the war's official end in spring 2003 he has visited Iraq several times. In this interview, he discusses Rumsfeld's personality and leadership at the Pentagon and his push to transform the way the military thinks and fights. Ricks also talks about the many ways it went wrong for the U.S. in the aftermath of the Iraq war. "I think in one way or another, we, the United States, are stuck in the Middle East in a way that few of us anticipated," he says. "… We are the dog that caught the car. ... We may just be there for decades." This interview was conducted on June 29 and Sept. 28, 2004.

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robin wright
Robin Wright, the Washington Post's diplomatic correspondent, has reported on the Middle East for almost two decades and is the author of four books, including Sacred Rage: The Wrath of Militant Islam and Flashpoints: Promise and Peril in a New World. In this interview, she discusses how the Islamic world has viewed Saddam Hussein and U.S.-Iraq relations over the decades and the unintended consequences of America's invasion of Iraq. Addressing the larger picture, she says the U.S. has "profoundly" misread what was happening in the Middle East and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the '80s and '90s. This interview was conducted on July 9, 2004.


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james mann
In his recent book Rise of the Vulcans - The History of Bush's War Cabinet, James Mann detailed the intertwined relationships and intellectual disputes of six advisers to George W. Bush who have shaped the administration's foreign policy: Rumsfeld, Rice, Powell, Wolfowitz, Cheney and Armitage. Here in this interview, Mann details who they are, how they think and operate, and the larger context to their story: the ideology and idealism of the neo-conservatives in the Bush administration up against the "realists" more moderate views on war and foreign policy. Commenting on the latest turn taken in their battle, Mann says, "After September 11, all through the war with Iraq, the neo-conservatives won the argument. But with the violence, with the chaos, Iraq didn't turn out the way they expected. And the result is that the neo-conservatives who were really ascendant on Iraq policy are now in decline." This interview was conducted on June 30, 2004.

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lindsey graham
A military lawyer (JAG) during the Persian Gulf war, Sen. Lindsey Graham (South Carolina, R.), calls military lawyers "the conscience of the military." He says the JAGS have been marginalized in recent years and he has introduced an amendment to increase their authority and independence. In this interview, he discusses the early clash between military and civilian lawyers over rules of treatment and interrogation at Guantanamo and how Donald Rumsfeld dealt with the feud. And he outlines in this interview how harsh interrogation techniques of Taliban and Al Qaeda detainees at Guantanamo "migrated" to Abu Ghraib where Iraqi detainees were being held, supposedly under the terms of the Geneva Conventions. But with no military lawyers at Abu Ghraib to advise its commanders, Graham tells FRONTINE it's another example of the price being paid "for executing a great war plan and a pretty poor occupation plan." This interview was conducted on Aug 17, 2004.

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posted oct. 26, 2004

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