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From AJR,   October/November 2003  issue

The Generalís Closet   

I just finished reading AJR's May story "Pundits for Hire." As my newspaper's military editor (just one minor hat of many), I devoured your post-mortem coverage with intensity.

One thing I'd like to point out that I noticed absent from the package was mention of retired Lt. Gen. Barry McCaffrey's controversial history. He's been rather lionized for his staunch criticism of the Pentagon war plan in Iraq, but his contextual history was missing from almost everything I'd read (and heard) about him.

McCaffrey in the first gulf war commanded the 24th Mechanized Infantry Division, one of the stars of that show. After the cease-fire, his troops engaged Iraqis near Basra and a battle ensued. Hundreds of Iraqi vehicles were knocked out and a number of casualties taken. No Americans were injured. The official report says the Iraqis blundered into the Americans and started the fight. Critics say McCaffrey and the 24th drove across the Iraqis' line of retreat in order to ensure a fight started.

The Village Voice, Seymour Hersh at The New Yorker and others went after him with zeal, but nothing much ever came of it. The issue seemed as if it never happened by the time he was trotted out for this war.

I have no real opinion of McCaffrey or what happened in 1991. I was just amazed that it never really came up when he was given carte blanche to comment on this war.

I found this legit link, if anyone is interested: http://www.cnn.com/2000/US/ 05/12/gulf.war.probe/

Bill Shea
Assistant city editor/military editor
Times Herald
Port Huron, Michigan