Big name speakers back out of expo
HEIDELBERG, Germany — Army officials confirm author and lecturer Ralph Peters, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, is still scheduled to speak at this week’s Land Combat Expo in Heidelberg despite a swarm of controversy around a recent column he wrote that was critical of Germany.
Peters will offer a daily lecture on the future of warfare during all three days of the expo, as well as do book signings.
“Peters will discuss his view that while our military is the best in the world, by far, our country’s overall approach to warfare is now based on false assumptions that hinder us from converting battlefield victories into enduring strategic successes,” according the expo program.
German officials said they were boycotting the event to “avoid confrontation” between Peters and German troops.
“With no combat experience, their officers might have profited even more from attending the sessions than the American troops, who have experience of their own,” Peters said. “This was a great chance for the German military to learn about post-modern war.”
Despite the controversy, USAREUR’s invitation to Peters still stands. But a slew of other high-profile guests have canceled for varying reasons.
In addition to the Germans, other would-be attendees who have canceled include Gen. John Abizaid, former 1st Infantry Division commander and now chief of U.S. Central Command, who was to speak on his command and the war on terrorism.
But with Iraq in recent weeks getting hit with some of the worst violence since the occupation began, Abizaid has had to cancel due to “scheduling conflicts” said expo organizer Maj. Tammy McKenna.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, the Pentagon’s number two civilian, also has had to cancel because of other commitments. Wolfowitz was to give a brief on the “transformation from the DOD perspective.”
Also bowing out is Gen. George Casey Jr., the commander of Multi-National Force-Iraq, who was to speak on the “challenges of an Army at war and transforming,” according to the expo program.
The commander of Fort Hood, Texas-based 4th Infantry Division, Maj. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, who was to speak on his unit’s yearlong tour in Iraq, as well as retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who has been highly critical of the handling of the war in Iraq, have also canceled due to scheduling conflicts, said McKenna.