Senior military officers, including members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have told President Bush and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates that the new Iraq strategy could fail unless more civilian agencies step forward quickly to carry out plans for reconstruction and political development.
The complaints reflect fresh tensions between the Pentagon and the State Department over personnel demands that have fallen most heavily on the military. But they also draw on a deeper reservoir of concerns among officers who have warned that a military buildup alone cannot solve Iraq’s problems, and who now fear that the military will bear a disproportionate burden if Mr. Bush’s strategy falls short.
Among particular complaints, the officers cited a request from the office of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that military personnel temporarily fill more than one-third of 350 new State Department jobs in Iraq that are to be created under the new strategy.
At a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Mr. Gates made clear that he shared the officers’ concerns, telling senators, “If you were troubled by the memo, that was mild compared to my reaction when I saw it.”
To back up his point, Mr. Gates also told senators that Mr. Bush himself had addressed his cabinet at the White House on Monday about the need for civilian agencies to “step up to the task.”
Dept. of Everything Else, Civilian Reserve, whatever. It has to be done if we’re really on a war footing. If not . . .