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Franks and Beans

This is interesting. A senior lecturer from Britain's Royal Military Academy Department of War Studies has written an excoriating piece on General Tommy Franks titled General botched both Gulf wars. The subtitle reads, "Re: Who Lost Iraq? It's Not Who You Think, David Frum, May 2."

I read with great interest David Frum's column that focuses on Michael Gordon's and Bernard Trainor's book Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq. It should come as no surprise that General Tommy Franks was at least partly responsible for the failure of the U.S. to establish stability in post-war Iraq. This is because 2003 was not the first time that General Franks botched a military operation in Iraq.

The open and subtitle clearly cast Kristian C. Gustafson as a man on a mission and no fan of General Tommy Franks. As a Gulf War veteran, I distinctly remember a few details. So, let's listen to the lecturer some more.

In 1991, Franks was the general officer commanding VII Corps in the First Gulf War. There he quickly proved not only to be well beyond his own competence level, but also overly cautious and lacking in initiative. With their start time for the ground war brought forward by 18 hours because of the lack of significant Iraqi resistance, Franks stopped his modern, night-vision-equipped army at nightfall, for fear of counterattack. Yet the Iraq army -- which had been bombed continuously for 30 days -- was not only immobile, but it also had no night capability. Upon learning of this ridiculous and timorous order (and so the loss of precious time), General Norman Schwarzkopf and General Colin Powell had to be persuaded not to sack Franks on the spot to replace him with a more capable officer.

We can stop listening now.

This irresponsible hit piece on General Tommy Franks (which continues further) is a hatchet job and angering & frustrating. Not because Gustafson has deemed the Iraq War a miserable failure. Not because he hammers General Franks as a failure.

General Franks did command VII Corps in the Gulf War, as well as make the decision to be cautious rather than agressive by pausing overnight, fearing unexploded ordnance, friendly fire in night ops and intel reports that the Hammorabi Division of the Republican Guards was going to be a tough fight. This decision was publicly and soundly criticized. This is not here to argue its merits for or against.

But it was General Fred Franks who commanded VII Corps. That has to be embarrassing for the Royal Military Academy.

This is also not to make any judgment that Tommy Franks was a great general nor that Fred Franks was a horrible general. But, if one is going to take shots at generals, the least a self-touted military academician can do is get the generals' histories and names straight beforehand.

Gustafson references General Bernard Trainor and his recent book, Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq. Perhaps he should reference his previous book on the Gulf War, The General's War: The Inside Story of the Conflict in the Gulf. For easy reference, please see pages 379-380.

Proper sight alignment and sight picture is not a trivial marksmanship detail.

Leave it to the Sargents to sort out, I suppose.

Carry on.


Listed below are links that reference Franks and Beans:

» Revolt of the Generals - V from Agricola
From Threatswatch comes a report from another informed critic on the incompetence of General Franks. In a letter responding to David Frum's criticism of General Bernard Trainor's latest book (in itself a criticism of the planning and conduct of OIF), [Read More]


So anxious to lay blame . . . so quick to stick low-quarter in mouth . . .

Great expose'. I wonder how close Gustafson is to the other spine deficient groups in the UK who are still blaming the London bombings on the Iraq war?