Introducing Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez
Peter Spiegel reports in the Wall Street Journal of 8 May 2009 that the Pentagon has appointed a second 2-in-C to the US/NATO International Security Force (ISAF) commander Gen. McKiernan:
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is expected to bolster the U.S. military leadership in Afghanistan by appointing a three-star general to Kabul, according to senior defense officials. The move underscores growing concern in the military over the course of the conflict and marks the first time since the seven-year war began that the U.S. will have two senior commanders there.
The appointment of Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez, who holds the military’s second-highest rank, hasn’t been announced publicly, and his exact role in Kabul is still being discussed. He was chosen by Mr. Gates last year to be his personal military assistant after a widely praised tour as a division commander in eastern Afghanistan.
The Wall Street Journal also reveals that in the face of the dissatisfaction with the way things are going in Afghanistan, the Joint Staff have also appointed a task force, independent of field commanders (ISAF and CENTCOM), to review the situation and make recommendations:
Last month, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, quietly assigned his top staff officer, Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, to head the task force with the aim of improving the effectiveness of the Afghan strategy. Such strategic planning is usually left to commanders in the region.
Reading between the lines, the change may reflect (i) either an effort by the White House, through the defence secretary, joint staff, and the national security adviser, to exercise greater control over the war, at the expense of the field commanders; or (ii) early indication of withdrawal of NATO military forces, in anticipation of which Lt. Gen. Rodriguez has been placed to take over from Gen. McKiernan’s present deputy, UK Lt. Gen. J. B. Dutton, and ; or (iii) both.
Even an experienced analyst like Robert Haddick, who as a former US Marine Corps officer has been an infantry company commander, and an artillery battalion staff officer, confesses that: “To this day the chain of command out of Afghanistan remains a mystery. Does ISAF, which General McKiernan commands, belong to NATO and European Command? Or is Afghanistan really still part of Centcom?”
The War in Afghanistan is being conducted by the US/NATO Interantional Security Assistance Force (ISAF) headed, conveniently, by US Gen. McKiernan, whose deputy is Lt. Gen. J. B. Dutton, of the British Royal Marines. Naturally, Lt. Gen. Rodriguez’s appointment raises questions about the need for a second 2-in-C, and the division of responsibility between Dutton and Rodriguez. As Hadick asks: “Will the arrival of Rodriguez make Dutton, and perhaps much of the current ISAF staff, irrelevant? What would that mean for European participation in the war?” This answer may lie in this last question: could it be that Rodriguez is being groomed to replace Dutton, as NATO forces withdraw from the military component of the operations in Afghanistan?
In another insightful review of these developments, Robert Haddick, raises larger questions for the US administration:
As the United States embarks on a military buildup in Afghanistan, what process has been put in place to assess whether the new strategy is working? How much patience should decision makers show for the arrival of favorable results? What specifically are the favorable results decision makers are looking for? How will the president find out if his strategy for Afghanistan is not working? Is there a procedure for honestly finding the bad news and truthfully reporting it up through the bureaucracy?
Haddick also draws attention tothe analysis of these issues by Bing West, a former Marine Corps officer, former assistant secretary of defense, and author of three books on the Iraq war (see his essay for the Marine Corps Gazette (reprinted at Small Wars Journal). According to Haddick, West rejects that civil (in Iraq) and military officials (in Vietnam) engaged in willful deception; instead, West argues that in both Vietnam and Iraq, there was agreement among military and civil decision makers, and thus they shared the responsibility for flawed strategies and risk assessments. West identifies three factors that led to this outcome:
- The military shares the “the culture of large guild organizations” in which camaraderie and group loyalty discourages candour, except in private, leading to errors in assessing risk;
- Second, the diffusion of risk-management responsibility between the field commander, the defense secretary, and the national security advisor, among others, whose divergent agenda and other interests prevents them from reporting the truth to the President;
- Finally, West asserts that when the Bush administration finally got serious about assessing progress and risk in Iraq, it chose irrelevant or constantly shifting measures of progress and risk, that did not help decision makers.
No related posts.
Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.