In April 2006, six retired generals called for then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's resignation. In May of this year, Lt. Col. Paul Yingling, an active-duty officer, wrote an article lambasting the Army's general officer corps as lacking "professional character" and "moral courage." Now, just last Sunday, seven infantrymen and noncommissioned officers--all finishing their 15-month tours in Iraq with the 82nd Airborne Division--took to the New York Times op-ed page to dismiss prospects of victory as "far-fetched" and recent appraisals of progress as "flawed" and "surreal."
This last insiders' protest is the most jaw-dropping and may ultimately be the most potent. It is unusual enough to see officers--active or retired--publicly denouncing military superiors or civilian leaders for mistakes or deficiencies in wartime. But for NCOs--none higher in rank than sergeant--to air their contrary views on the war (and, implicitly, their sour views of high-ranking policy-makers) is, as far as I can tell, unprecedented: an act of, depending on your politics, great courage or outright insubordination--or, perhaps, both.