…..Retired U.S. Army Col. David Hackworth is a cocky American military commander who for half a century was at the front lines of the Army’s most important battles. Most recently, though, Hackworth has been at the front lines of a domestic war: the debate over U.S. military strategy in Iraq, and whether the Bush administration planned well enough to achieve a decisive military victory and keep the postwar peace.
Hackworth was everywhere on cable television during the first days of the war, when early military setbacks convinced him and other retired military leaders that the administration, whose backers sold the conflict as a “cakewalk,” hadn’t sent enough troops to quell Iraqi resistance. He wrote a widely quoted column headlined “Stuck in the Quicksand” in early April — just as the tide seemed to turn and the pace of victory picked up again.
Though he is a colonel by rank, Hackworth was counted among the so-called “television generals” the administration blasted after Baghdad fell, and many conservative admirers turned against him. But now, with American soldiers still dying almost daily in Iraq, the tide of opinion may be turning again, in favor of Hackworth’s argument that the administration was unprepared for what’s turning out to be a long-term guerrilla resistance in Iraq.
Today the primary front of Hackworth’s war of opinion isn’t cable television, but a pair of Web sites — Soldiers for the Truth and his own site, Hackworth.com — where he’s campaigning to document the dire fate of U.S. troops in Iraq. The sites have quickly become a repository for the gripes and fears of America‘s beleaguered combat troops. On a typical day Hackworth receives hundreds of e-mails, letters and faxes from American soldiers, complaining about everything from silk-weight underwear to the weapons they’ve been assigned.
“Pistols suck,” wrote one soldier. “Bring and use every weapon. Shotguns are great at close ranges.” At a time when soldiers have been disciplined for griping to the media, Hackworth is providing a fascinating outlet for what they’re really experiencing. Among the more evocative messages:…………………