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Congrats, General Batiste, Sir, on Your Support

Wow. Apparently, MG (ret) Batiste went to Fort Hood (?) to visit his former division on their way to Iraq.  The money quote of the article below is:

...He looked at the faces of those about to be deployed to Iraq, he said. Mostly what he saw were privates and newly commissioned lieutenants, right out of Infantry School.

The seasoned veterans he would expect to see, he said, were either already in Iraq or had left the service.

“We have soldiers pulled together as a pickup team,” he said, soldiers who were thrown together 90 days before deployment, instead of cohesive units that had trained for months together.”

“Folks are going over for their third or fourth deployment,” he said. “Their spirit is broken.”...

I've cut MG (ret) Batiste some slack before.  He's definitely entitled to his opinion.  But to visit troops going to combat and then telling a reporter that his old division is "a pickup team" is about as unprofessional as you can get.  Can you imagine what the Joes in 1st ID think of that assessment?

And then this gem:

“I have yet to be told by a retired general or admiral: Stop what you’re doing.”

Paging General Batiste, Common Sense on the line for you...

Really, though, has the General asked anyone?  A sergeant major or grunt?  The boys at the Army/Navy Club not asking you to stop?

The bottom line is that the general is entitled to his opinion - I wouldn't really be concerned if he penned an op-ed or column berating the adminstration or the war or whatever.  What I think is gross misjudgement on MG (ret.) Batiste's part is discussing his personal negative assessment about his old division as it heads overseas.  This little hit job was unwarranted, unprofessional, political and serves no purpose - well, other than possibly getting more Soros money for VoteVets.

Congratulations, Major General (ret) Batiste, Sir, on your support our soldiers, Sir.

Update:  Just heard from a pal at Fort Hood who is connected to the 1st ID unit and says that the BCT from 1st ID at Hood is loaded and ready for bear and that the general is ridiculously incorrect in his assessment of the unit. 

1st ID does have a Brigade here.  They are training up to go to one of the theaters.  I'm not being coy, their destination is not yet decided.  I've been helping train all the LTs from one of the battalions using a simulation Ambush, with the trainer being the battalion commander.  Awesome mentoring for a pack of butter-bars.  These guys do not reflect the broken, over-stretched soldiers that Batiste likes to prattle about.  He wouldn't be sponsored here, would have to come to speak after duty hours at some private function.  The soldiers in the 1 ID that I've worked with would likely need to vacuum their walls or rotate their flashlight batteries, and would not be able to attend.

I find no evidence that he was here.  I don't think it's credible that he'd be here to talk to 1 ID soldiers, unless it was off duty.  I don't believe that the 1 ID guys that I know would want to talk to him.

I can not prove that Batiste was not here, but I think that Beebe is off-azimuth.

The BCT does not have an official destination, yet.  So, either the reporter is incorrect or more likely, the general is telling things that he should not be telling...

The full article is after the Jump.

Retired Gen. Batiste continues to blast Bush over war

Rochester executivespeaks at Fort Hood

By Michael Beebe NEWS STAFF REPORTER
Updated: 10/09/07 8:13 AM

John Batiste took a day off from running a Rochester steel company a week ago so he could speak to Army troops from Fort Hood, Texas, as they were about to leave for another deployment in Iraq.

It wasn’t an unusual assignment for Batiste, president of Klein Steel Services, which recently took over a former Gibraltar Steel plant in the Town of Tonawanda.

Batiste is a retired major general who commanded 22,000 members of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division in Iraq. He spent six years at Fort Hood and married his wife there 30 years ago.

But the fact the Army invited him back to speak at all was surprising, almost unheard of. That’s because Batiste, a West Point graduate who spent 31 years in the Army, retired so he could freely criticize the way President Bush and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld were running the war.

And since he retired in November 2005, Batiste has been one of the harshest critics of the war and what he feels it is doing to the Army he still loves.

In April 2006, five months after his retirement, Batiste called for Rumsfeld’s resignation in a speech to the Rochester Rotary Club.

A few days later, he and five other retired generals were on the front page of the New York Times, again calling for Rumsfeld’s ouster.

And this April, Batiste appeared in a controversial advertisement commissioned by an anti-Iraqi war group, Vote- Vets.org.

“Mr. President, you did not listen,” Batiste said in the television commercial. “You continue to pursue a failed strategy that is breaking our Army and Marine Corps . . .

“Mr. President, you have placed our great nation in peril. Our only hope is that Congress will now act to protect our fighting men and women . . .”

Batiste’s role in that ad got him fired as a part-time military consultant to CBS News, which said he could no longer be counted on to give impartial military analysis. MoveOn.org collected 230,000 signatures demanding his rehiring.

Batiste, a youthful 54, still as trim and fit as he was when leading the Army’s Big Red, its famed 1st Infantry Division, said in an interview at Klein Steel’s Tonawanda plant that he anguished about leaving the Army but felt he had no choice.

Batiste went before Congress a week before Gen. David Petraeus testified in September, giving the other side of how the war is going.

He said there are no easy solutions in leaving Iraq, nor are there any good solutions.

Batiste compared the war effort to a four-legged stool, saying to be successful, the U.S. has to use diplomatic, political, economic and military means.

“Of the four legs,” he said during the interview in Tonawanda, “this administration only stresses the military.”

The result, one that he said he witnessed again during his Fort Hood visit, is that the military can no longer take the strain. “I came across an Army that is in decay,” he said. “That really bothers me.”

He looked at the faces of those about to be deployed to Iraq, he said. Mostly what he saw were privates and newly commissioned lieutenants, right out of Infantry School.

The seasoned veterans he would expect to see, he said, were either already in Iraq or had left the service.

“We have soldiers pulled together as a pickup team,” he said, soldiers who were thrown together 90 days before deployment, instead of cohesive units that had trained for months together.”

“Folks are going over for their third or fourth deployment,” he said. “Their spirit is broken.”

The troops were green, he said, and the Army fort itself was suffering from neglect.

“The infrastructure of the post is falling apart. The training apparatus of the post is falling apart,” he said.

Not everyone agrees with Batiste, obviously.

His critics want to know why he took so long to speak, how he could plan the Iraq War effort with former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and then complain about planning mistakes.

He was asked by Rumsfeld himself in Iraq, in front of reporters, if there was anything that he, as a commander on the ground, needed.

Batiste instead told the defense secretary about the successes of the war.

Batiste said he complained at the time through the chain of command but said he realized the only way he could speak freely was to retire.

He said he gave up a promotion and a promised third star so he could speak his mind. He also said it was the reason he went into private industry and not the defense industry.

“I’ve been speaking out for 18 to 19 months,” he said. “I have yet to be told by a retired general or admiral: Stop what you’re doing.”

He said he is speaking for those who are unable to, because they are either in the military or working for politically sensitive companies.

Joseph Klein, owner and chief executive officer of Klein Steel, encourages Batiste’s outspokenness.

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