. . . Tuesday May 18, 2004

Where is Tommy Franks?

The more we see certain breakdowns in Iraq, the more it all adds up. The key war planners in the administration believed (and they’ve hardly hidden this position) that the coalition troops would be welcomed as liberators – which surely they were by a large portion of the population.

But for those who are backing the insurgency, the “major combat” part of the story was only the beginning. They were planning for this period. We were not. So it makes perfect sense that our troops would find themselves somewhat unprepared to deal with car bombings and suicide attacks (not that there’s an effective preparation for either) and that our most embarrassing performances have been in prisons where reservists were interrogating prisoners to get information that we (and more importantly they) never thought they’d need.

Think this insurgency (the killings of top Iraqis, the prison breakdown, the extended tours of duty, the growing public opinion resistance to U.S. troops) is depressing and upsetting to watch on the news? Think of how it must feel to the soldiers who are risking their lives in the name of freedom for the Iraqi people.

Lately, I’ve been wondering, where is Tommy Franks? His retirement as head of the U.S. Central Command was largely expected, and the guy certainly can be forgiven for wanting to take some time off after running back-to-back wars. And the Pentagon’s decision to appoint the Arabic-speaking Gen. John Abizaid as Franks’ successor seems like an appropriate move.

But Franks left before the war was over. It’s now clear that he left way before the war was over and did so in era when many members of the military reserves are pushing two years on the ground in Iraq. Did Franks simply put off his post-Afghanistan retirement for a few months so he could lead the charge in Iraq? Or did he see the writing on the walls in Baghdad and Falluja and decide it was a smart time to step down?

Or did he really believe that the job was basically done?

Concentration is important!