Tommy Franks

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Tommy Ray Franks is a retired, highly political U.S. Army General closely associated with the incompetent neocon clique who has led the United States from one disaster to another in the Middle East. He was born on June 17, 1945. Franks was Commander-in-Chief of United States Central Command, overseeing United States Armed Forces operations in a 25-country region, including the Middle East. Franks succeeded General Anthony Zinni to this position on July 6, 2000 and served until his retirement on July 7, 2003. The General was a member of Delta Upsilon fraternity at the University of Texas at Arlington. He was succeeded by General John Abizaid.

He was the U.S. general leading the attack on the Taliban in Afghanistan in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and The Pentagon. Franks also led the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and was commander-in-chief of the American occupation forces.

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Early life

Born in Wynnewood, Oklahoma and grew up in Texas, Franks attended the same high school as Laura Bush in Midland, Texas.

Franks was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1967 as a distinguished graduate of The U.S. Army Artillery and Missile Officer Candidate School (USAAMOCS), Fort Sill, Oklahoma. After an initial tour as a battery Assistant Executive Officer at Fort Sill, he was assigned to the US 9th Infantry Division, Republic of Vietnam, where he served as Forward Observer, Aerial Observer, and Assistant S-3 with 2nd Battalion, 4th Field Artillery. He also served as Fire Support Officer with 5th Battalion (mechanized), 60th Infantry during this tour.

In 1969, he was selected to participate in the Army's "Boot Strap Degree Completion Program," and subsequently attended the University of Texas at Arlington, where he graduated with a degree in Business Administration in 1971. In the United States military officers earning MBAs has helped to strengthen the ideological linkage between the military and Big Business in the same way that the Islamist education of military oficers in Pakistan has helped to strengthen the ideological linkage between the miltiary and Fundamentalist Islamism. Following attendance at the Artillery Advance Course, he was assigned to the Second Armored Cavalry Regiment in West Germany in 1973 where he commanded 1st Squadron Howitzer Battery, and served as Squadron S-3. He also commanded the 84th Armored Engineer Company, and served as Regimental Assistant S-3 during this tour.

Military career

Franks, after graduation from Armed Forces Staff College, was posted to The Pentagon in 1976 where he served as an Army Inspector General in the Investigations Division. In 1977 he was assigned to the Office of the Chief of Staff, Army where he served on the Congressional Activities Team, and subsequently as an Executive Assistant.

In 1981, Franks returned to the Federal Republic of Germany where he commanded 2nd Battalion, 78th Field Artillery for three years. He returned to the United States in 1984 to attend the Army War College at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where he also completed graduate studies and received a Master of Science Degree in Public Administration at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania. He was next assigned to Fort Hood, Texas, as III Corps Deputy Assistant G3, a position he held until 1987 when he assumed command of Division Artillery, US 1st Cavalry Division. He also served as Chief of Staff, 1st Cavalry Division during this tour.

His initial general officer assignment was Assistant Division Commander (Maneuver), 1st Cavalry Division during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. During 1991-92, he was assigned as Assistant Commandant of the Field Artillery School at Fort Sill. In 1992, he was assigned to Fort Monroe, Virginia as the first Director, Louisiana Maneuvers Task Force, Office of Chief of Staff of the Army, a position held until 1994 when he was reassigned to South Korea as the CJG3 of Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea.

From 1995-97, General Franks commanded the 2nd (Warrior) Division, Korea. He assumed command of Third (U.S.) Army/Army Forces Central Command in Atlanta, Ga. in May 1997, a post he held until June 2000 when he was selected for promotion to general and assignment as Commander in Chief, United States Central Command.

General Franks' awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal; Distinguished Service Medal (two awards); Legion of Merit (four awards); Bronze Star Medal with Valor device and two oak leaf clusters; Purple Heart (two oak leaf clusters); Air Medal with Valor device; Army Commendation Medal with Valor device; and a number of U.S. and foreign service awards. He wears the Army Staff Identification Badge and the Aircraft Crewmember's Badge. He is a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In late 2004, he was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

General Franks' retirement was announced on May 22, 2003. Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had offered him the position of Army Chief of Staff, but he declined.


Iraq Troop Levels and Conduct of the Iraq War

In their book, COBRA II, military historians Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor argue that Franks failed to recognize the threat the Saddam Fedayeen irregular fighters posed to the invading ground forces in 2003 and their potential to form the core of a post-war insurgency. For instance, in their book, they make a disputed claim that Franks threatened to fire General William Wallace, commander of the Army's V Corps, for his comments to the press during that war where he said that the enemy the U.S. was facing was different than the enemy the military had planned against.

The authors also suggest that Franks was worn down by repeated pressure from U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to reduce the number of U.S. troops in war plans and cancel the deployment of the 1st Cavalry Division, a scheduled follow-on unit that was slated for deployment in April of 2003. (New York Times: Dash to Baghdad Left Top US Generals Divided 13 March 2006) More generally, they argue Franks' command was somewhat understandably focused on the immediate task in front of it -- defeating Saddam Husseim and taking Baghdad -- and few were willing to divert resources away from that effort and toward the long-term post-war needs.

The writers also question his decision during the war to keep sealift ships carrying the equipment for the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) at sea instead of bringing the equipment ashore in Kuwait sooner so the division could have entered Iraq earlier than it did to add to the force levels in post-war Iraq. Frank argues that by keeping the ships at sea the Iraqis were deceived into believing a U.S. attack was yet to come from the north through Turkey, though Colin Powell and others have questioned his view (Plan of Attack, Bob Woodward, 2004).

Franks wanted to retire after the major combat phase of the war, tired from having planned for and prosecuted two major wars and led a war on terrorism since September of 2001. As a result, Gordon and Trainor argue he was slow to act during the crucial months following the fall of Baghdad. They suggest there was a leadership void at U.S. Central Command until General John Abizaid succeeded Franks in the middle of the summer of 2003. They also note that there was a command transition in Iraq as V Corps and General Ricardo Sanchez took command of U.S. forces in Iraq without being fully resourced and trained for the mission in advance. (COBRA II Gordon and Trainor 2006)

Statements on nuclear attack against the United States

According to TIME magazine, on November 21, 2003, Tommy Franks said that in the event of another terrorist attack, American Constitution liberties might be discarded by popular demand in favor of a military state. His quote:

Discussing the hypothetical dangers posed to the U.S. in the wake of Sept. 11, Franks said that “the worst thing that could happen” is if terrorists acquire and then use a biological, chemical or nuclear weapon that inflicts heavy casualties.

If that happens, Franks said, “... the Western world, the free world, loses what it cherishes most, and that is freedom and liberty we’ve seen for a couple of hundred years in this grand experiment that we call democracy.”

Franks then offered “in a practical sense” what he thinks would happen in the aftermath of such an attack.

“It means the potential of a weapon of mass destruction and a terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event somewhere in the Western world – it may be in the United States of America – that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event. Which in fact, then begins to unravel the fabric of our Constitution. Two steps, very, very important.”

On America's not finding WMD in Iraq

"No one was more surprised than I that we didn't find (WMD's)." General Tommy Franks December 2nd 2005 [1]

Post-Military Career

  • Following his retirement, General Franks published his memoirs in a best-selling book (American Soldier by Tommy Franks, Malcolm McConnell, ReganBooks, 2004 ISBN 0060731583).
  • Complicit in the second Bush administration's grotesque incompetence, Franks endorsed George W. Bush for (re)election (sic) on August 31, 2004, speaking at the Republican Convention in New York.
  • In December 2004, General Franks became a spokesman for Teen Arrive Alive, which is a company that uses GPS in cellular phones to tell parents how fast their teenage children are driving.

External links

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