Friday, April 27, 2007

Certified Madness...

Bruce Berkowitz has an excellent article today (subscription req) in WSJ regarding Jihad Jack Murtha:

Certified Madness

By Bruce Berkowitz
Word Count: 757

One of the more interesting sections of the war funding bill Congress will soon send President Bush is its provision for "readiness." The bill prohibits spending funds "to deploy any unit of the Armed Forces to Iraq unless the chief of the military department concerned has certified in writing . . . that the unit is fully mission capable."

John Murtha (D., Pa.), chairman of the House subcommittee on defense appropriations, is mainly responsible for the clause. Mr. Murtha is a Marine Vietnam combat veteran and he's concerned that U.S. forces don't have all the resources they need to complete their missions.
Berkowitz goes on to tell the tale of U.S. Navy Ensign George Gay, whose plane, along with every other underpowered, under-gunned plane in his squadron, went down while engaging Japanese zeroes during the Battle of Midway in WWII. Berkowitz makes the point that although untrained and ill-equipped, Gay and the rest of his squadron kept the Japanese Zeroes busy while American Bombers destroyed three of four Japanese carriers, the deciding point in that battle that turned the war in the Pacific in favor of the Allied forces. Ensign Gay, the only one of his squadron of 30 who survived the battle, stated:
"We had old planes and we were new," the pilot recalled. "We had a dual job of not only training a squadron of boot Ensigns," he said, "we also had to fight the war at the same time."

In fact, training and fighting became one and the same. Ensign Gay's squadron leader told him and the others to follow him to the target, and then they figured out a way to get through the flack when they got there.

Ensign Gay and the other pilots knew they were ill-equipped and under-trained. But they flew the mission anyway because they also knew that something larger was at stake -- like losing the war if they waited until someone was willing to "certify in writing" that they met official readiness standards.
Berkowitz, a research fellow at the Hoover Institute, summarizes:
Mr. Murtha has good intentions, but he's got it exactly wrong. If U.S. forces lack the equipment or training they need, it's his job, as the chairman of the one subcommittee specifically responsible for originating defense appropriations, to make sure they get it.
While I of course agree with Mr. Berkowitz' assertions, Mr. Berkowitz would do well to not be so hasty in assigning Murtha with "good intentions."

As has been evident throughout his far-too-long lasting career in the House of Representatives, Jack Murtha has never been about anything that didn't benefit his own prestige or his pocketbook.

To assign him "good intentions" in anything but service to himself is a gross error in character judgment.