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Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed, but I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops, uh, depending on the breaks...

Pentagon Warlord


Pentagon officials say orders such as No. 177 are normally reviewed thoroughly in advance and fly across a Defense chief's desk. But with every step America takes toward war with Iraq, which could be as little as a month off, Rumsfeld is doing things his own meticulous way. Over the past few weeks, he has been holding up deployment papers at the last minute, demanding answers and explanations about which units are going where, why. He has been running similar drills for months on the generals and admirals, reworking the plans to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein. General Tommy Franks, the Army four-star who would run the war as head of U.S. Central Command, actually prepared the plan. But as a Pentagon officer points out, "That misses the point. Franks may be the draftsman, but Rumsfeld's the architect."


Retired Army General Norman Schwarzkopf, who led the first Gulf War, says he is "nervous" about the control Rumsfeld is exercising over the buildup. "It looks like Rumsfeld is totally, 100%, in charge," says Schwarzkopf. "He seems to be deeply immersed in the operational planning—to the chagrin of most of the armed forces."


Republican Senators complained to White House chief of staff Andrew Card that Rumsfeld was keeping them in the dark about war plans and other military issues. So last week Rumsfeld reported to Capitol Hill for a 21/2-hour kiss-and-make-up session with Senators. Asked later if he had been ignoring his minders, Rumsfeld said, "I don't think there is a problem."

It is that truculent attitude that most irritates many military men. Some who have worked with Rumsfeld say his interpersonal skills are shabby, however charming he is on camera. "Rumsfeld's a bully; he's arrogant, and he has a huge ego," says a senior Army officer with more than 30 years' experience in uniform. The loudest cries come from the Army, where Rumsfeld and his troops have kneecapped the two men in charge. Rumsfeld let it be known last April that the Army's top general, Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki, was a lame duck 15 months before his term was slated to end. "It was condescending and a little bit cruel," says Barry McCaffrey, a retired four-star Army general. A month later, Rumsfeld loyalists made it clear that Army Secretary Thomas White, a former Enron executive who vainly tried to thwart Rumsfeld's decision to kill the Crusader, was one more mistake away from losing his job. "It's pretty clear that the Army is going to be the big loser," says Lawrence Korb, a top Reagan-era Pentagon aide.

"If it were not for the war in Afghanistan and the looming war in Iraq, I'm sure they would already be cutting two Army divisions." Perhaps Rumsfeld is counting on the first war of the 21st century to shake the brass out of its cold war mentality. But it may be that he has already accomplished most of what he came to do: reassert civilian control of a military that had grown used to getting its way. As photocopiers cranked out the deployment orders last week for Rumsfeld to consider at his own unpredictable pace, top military officers admitted they are scrambling to think ahead, no longer waiting for him to O.K. their every move. Any delay, they said, would be risky with a man like Rumsfeld prowling the halls. "We're sending troops forward without deployment orders," a top Navy officer conceded last week. "We don't want to get caught flat-footed when Rumsfeld asks, 'How come you guys haven't left yet?'"

Golly, don't you feel all safe and cozy with a cool head like this in charge?