Jewish World Review Dec. 15, 2004 / 3 Teves, 5765

Joe Scarborough

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Taking aim at Rummy | Sen. John McCain is making news with his full frontal assault on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The Arizona senator is blasting away at Rummy for refusing to send more troops into Iraq.

The troop controversy reminds me of a conversation I had with one of Rumsfeld's closest aides while I was serving on the Armed Services Committee in Congress. Rummy's aide kept talking about how the Bush Administration would transform the military by dramatically cutting troop levels and slashing costs across the board. One of the more troubling plans involved the mothballing several aircraft carriers and slashing the number of ships available to the Navy and Marine Corps.

His logic seemed a bit simple: If America could send a bomber from an airbase in Missouri to hit a target in the Middle East on the same day it took off, why would America need all those extra ships to project U.S. power?

I replied that it was kind of hard to land a B-2 Bomber in a soccer stadium in Iran to rescue hostages, or to send a not-so-subtle message to the Chinese that those American carriers in the Straits of Taiwan should be interpreted as, "Don't screw with America or our allies."

But all I got from Rummy's advisor was a polite smile that said, "You just don't understand the future of warfare or how smart we are, boy."

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In less than a year, it would be obvious that nobody fully grasped the future of warfare that Osama bin Laden would bring to our shores. Unfortunately, success in Afghanistan months after 9/11 only reinforced the Secretary's belief that US Armed Forces could do more with less.

But Afghanistan is not Iraq.

It is said that in preparing for battle, generals are always fighting the last war. That seems to be the case in Iraq, where I have been saying from the beginning that our troop levels have been far too low. McCain and a group of retired generals have also been saying the same thing for over a year now, but no one at the Pentagon has listened until recently.

What that has meant for our troops has been an almost impossible security situation.

We are reading reports of insurgents moving back into Fallujah just weeks after being routed by U.S. Marines. After that bloody battle, the President and Pentagon were warned by an internal Marine report that without additional boots on the ground, terrorists would slip back into Fallujah and launch more deadly attacks on Americans and Iraqis who support freedom instead of terror.

For the record, I remain a big fan of Donald Rumsfeld. But it's time for the Secretary to listen to his generals, and give them the troops they need.

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Former Congressman Joe Scarborough (R-Fla.) hosts “Scarborough Country,” 10 p.m. ET, weeknights on MSNBC. He is the author of the recently published "Rome Wasn't Burnt in a Day : The Real Deal on How Politicians, Bureaucrats, and Other Washington Barbarians are Bankrupting America". (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.)Comment by clicking here.

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