Friday, December 24, 2004

From IBD

On Dec. 22, 1944, almost 60 years ago to the day 22 people died in a mess tent in Mosul, Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe of the 101st Airborne, surrounded in Bastogne, Belgium, by a German offensive that was not expected, responded to a Nazi surrender demand with the famous one word response: “Nuts!”
Things don’t always go as planned in war. We certainly found that out in World War II, when our first encounter with the Nazi Wehrmacht, at Kasserine Pass in Tunisia, in February 1943, using outdated tanks and tactics, was a disaster.
As Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld put it recently: “You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want or wish to
have.” We learned from our mistakes at Kasserine, and we went on from there to victory. Yet there were more surprises to come.
One wonders how today’s press would have handled getting bogged down and taking heavy casualties on Omaha Beach or plodding through hedge row country. Yet nobody said the D-Day assault on Hitler’s Festung Europa was badly planned or mismanaged. Our eyes remained on the prize.
On Dec. 16, 1944, Allied forces were surprised by Hitler’s last
great offensive, and found themselves in the single biggest engagement in which U.S. troops have ever fought. Yet no one demanded Eisenhower resign because he didn’t expect the Battle of the Bulge.
Allied intelligence had reports of a transfer of German troops from the Russian Front to the Western front in the fall of 1944, and there was evidence they were regrouping in the Ardennes. But six months after the invasion of Normandy, the war seemed won. The information was not forwarded up the chain of command. In today’s vernacular, nobody had bothered to connect the dots.
The battle would involve three German and three American armies and three British divisions, more than a million men. Americans would suffer 80,000 casualties and 19,000 dead — 500 a day. Yet few demanded to know why our intelligence failed. There were no hearings, no demands foe Eisenhower’s scalp.
The Nazis had taken everything into account except the sheer determination of the American GI and a nation that knew victory would be worth the price being paid. Operation Iraqi Freedom should be no different. Patience and courage won the day in the Ardennes. It will again in Iraq.

Among the dead in Mosul were members of the 276th Engineer Battalion, a Virginia-based unit that traces its lineage back to 1652 and once had George Washington as its commander. Its motto is Patrick Henry’s passionate “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death.” It is up to us to ensure they have not died in vain.
John F. Kennedy once pledged that America would pay any price, bear any burden and meet any hardship to ensure the success and survival of liberty. He spoke of a long, twilight struggle with the enemies of freedom and democracy.
Let us keep that pledge and respond to the cowardly killers in Mosul and to Zarqawi and to Bin Laden and the terrorism they represent: “Nuts!”

Personal Unsecured Loan