Op-EdYou walk to War v the push You HaveHelmut Sonnenfeldt and also Ron NessenThursday, December 30, 2004

“You go to war v the push coverage girlfriend have. It’s not the push coverage you could want or great to have.”

Perhaps Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld should have actually said the in solution to Spec. Thomas “Jerry” Wilson’s famous question about scavenging for scrap steel to armor his unit’s Humvees. Actually, the episode’s push coverage can have supplied armor plating. A cautious examination suggests the media uproar to be shot complete of holes.

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First, it transforms out the concern did not originate with Spec. Wilson, of the Army’s 278th Regimental Combat Team. That was motivated to questioning Mr. Rumsfeld about armor plating by a reporter, Edward Lee Pitts the the Chattanooga (Tenn.) Times cost-free Press. The reporter’s role was rarely stated in succeeding coverage, back on a few occasions Mr. Pitts to be praised for making use of a soldier to obtain information from Mr. Rumsfeld the he didn’t think he can get directly.

Second, push coverage—particularly on television—provided a misleadingly truncated version of Mr. Rumsfeld’s full answer come the Pitts/Wilson question during a “Town hall Meeting” in Kuwait together the soldier’s unit was around to ship the end to Iraq.

This is the only portion of Mr. Rumsfeld’s answer that was — and also is quiet being—quoted endlessly in newspapers and also broadcast ~ above television and also radio:

“As you know, you walk to war through the army you have. They’re not the army you can want or wish to have at a later on time.”

Mr. Rumsfeld’s an answer has been repeatedly defined as an insensitive, brusque, disrespectful, insulting putdown. And that description might be installation if the was all the secretary claimed in solution to the Pitts/Wilson question.


Helmut Sonnenfeldt

Former priziv.org Expert


Ron Nessen

Journalist in Residence

Actually, here’s Mr. Rumsfeld’s full answer:

“I speak to the basic coming the end here around the pace at i m sorry the vehicles space being armored. They have actually been lugged from anywhere the world, wherever they’re not needed, to a ar where they space needed. I’m told the they room being … i think it’s something like 400 a month room being done. And it’s basically a issue of physics. It isn’t a matter of money. It isn’t a matter, top top the part of the Army, the desire. It’s a issue of manufacturing and capacity of law it.

“As you know, you go to war v the military you have. They’re no the army you could want or great to have at a later time. Because the Iraq problem began, the army has been pressing ahead to produce the armor essential at a price they think … it’s a greatly expanded rate from what exist previously, but a price that they think is the price that is every that have the right to be completed at this moment.

“I can assure you the Gen. Schoomaker and also the management in the Army and also certainly Gen. Whitcomb space sensitive come the reality that no every automobile has the level of armor that would be preferable for it come have, yet that they’re working at it in ~ a great clip.” and also so ~ above for an additional 117 words.

The complete quote provides quite a various impression of Mr. Rumsfeld’s mindset than the oft-repeated mini-quote, “You walk to war v the army you have,” doesn’t it?

But the worst shortcoming that media coverage of this dispute was fail to report virtually all the unit’s combat vehicles had currently been up-armored through the Army and also the rest were completed the job after Mr. Rumsfeld’s city Meeting comment to the troops in Kuwait.

Maj. Gen. Stephen Speakes was asked around the armoring conflict at one hourlong media briefing at the Pentagon on Dec. 15. That said: “When the concern was asked, 20 vehicles remained to be up-armored at that point. We completed those 20 vehicles in the next day. And so end 800 vehicles native the 278th to be up-armored, and also they are component now that their complete force that is operating up in Iraq.”

A reporter asked, “When you say they’re 100 percent up-armored walk that median 100 percent of their requirement or 100 of their vehicles?”

The general responded, “t this suggest the vehicles the they’re operating, the they’re driving, space all up-armored.”

Did you see that quote on TV? Hear it on the radio? check out it in most newspapers? Me neither.

Why walk the media, except for The Washington Times and a few other papers, disregard the readily-available information?

Perhaps, we would certainly guess, it reflect the crucial attitude toward conduct the the war amongst many reporters. No doubt it reflect anti-Rumsfeld sentiment amongst much the the media.

And it may additionally have reflected that staple that journalism the reporters, editors and also producers don’t prefer to talk around in public—a story that’s Too good to Check.

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Reporters then, and also since, have ignored Mr. Rumsfeld’s complete quote. And also the media generally suppressed the Pentagon’s comprehensive explanation the the 278th’s Humvees were practically all up-armored at the time. Why?

As the saying goes, you walk to push with the story girlfriend have. And also you don’t desire a good story damaged by the facts.