I've had the opportunity to speak with a few dozen Soldiers who I served with over the last ten years. I just finished the last discussion on the 19th. I'm not going to get specific, but I will tell you the general consensus of a few of their thoughts on the War, Rumsfeld, and Troop Strength.
The Soldiers range from Sergeant (E-5) to Captain (O-3), and all, at one time or another, served with me when I was their Commander. All are married. One is female. They are educated - almost all of them have undergrad degrees and four have advanced degrees. For example, one Staff Sergeant has an MBA in Finance from Notre Dame and is resuming his second year of law school right now. One of the Warrant Officers has a law degree and is pursuing his cert. in Actuarial Science. Another soldier, a Captain, has an MBA from Stanford.
While I might agree or disagree with these concepts, I didn't add my thoughts to this post.
1. The Duration Plus Six Concept - All believe that, at the start of the war, the entire force should have mobilized for "the duration plus six months". This is what was done during WWII. This would have set expectations correctly for the coming fight. "The duration plus six months" mentality means that everyone (Active, Reserve, Guard) is mobilized until six months after the war is over. It's a fight till it's over mentality.
Expectations are very important to morale, family readiness, etc. for deploying soldiers. If you think that you'll be deployed for a year and then back home on the block, and you're stuck in Iraq for another six months, morale plummits. Then you come home for six months to a year before heading back.
Soldiers are much more willing to do what is needed to be done when they know that they are in the fight until it's over. No false expectations. Let's get this @#$%er done and go home...
2. Troop Strength - All believe that the Army needs more than 30-40,000 additional soldiers. And most believe the Marines should be significanlty plussed up in the MEUs (and all should be SOC). Troop strength increases will take time, but will be necessary for years.
Three think that a draft will be necessary if Iraq continues to need over 100,000 troops.
Five think that military action outside of Iraq and Afghanistan is imminent. Syria was considered the most likely candidate for an introduction into the capabilities of the US military...
One thought that the entire Reserve force would be mobilized in the near term.
3. Donald Rumsfeld should resign - Everyone likes Rummy. However, nine soldiers think that he should resign immediately after the elections in Iraq. The rest think June is more appropriate for Rummy to step down.
If a Commander in the field had the same kind of problems that SecDef had, he/she would have been removed. It's a responsibility issue, not a like/dislike issue. He should accept responsibility and step down. Most feel that it's not fair to have higher standards for Soldiers than for the Civilian leaders of the DOD.
Half thought that General Schoomaker should resign as Army Chief as well.
All think that General (ret.) Eric Shinseki was right and crazy. He was right that we would need more troops in Iraq. And he was crazy for issuing berets to raise morale...yeah, that one is still really bothering everybody. No one thinks he was removed for his dissenting opinion as he was supposed to retire. No one liked Shinseki very much.
Most thought that the E-4 who questioned Rumsfeld at the Q&A was a "carpet-bagger" for the media (one Sergeant's term for him). Two thought that he had guts, but most thought he was just dumb...Most had more respect for Rummy after the Q&A.