Friday, January 27, 2006

The march of memes

Austin Bay has reprinted an email from blogger Dr. Demarche which discusses how the State Department can be made more effective. His recommendation: loosen the strings to Washington.

The first may seem counter intuitive, but here it is: loosen the strings. We are so tied to Washington , with e-mail, our archaic “cable” system and the telephone that for all intents and purposes our diplomats are hamstrung- no important decision, or even a semi-important decision, is made without consulting Washington. We need to instill the military concept of “small unit action” in our diplomats, and to turn them loose. In battle a general might set the objective to capture a small town as part of a larger strategy, but he does not draw up the assault plan. The authority trickles down to Captains and Lieutenants and NCOs, and when the team leaders hit a snag they are expected to improvise and accomplish the mission. No similar analogy exists at State. Objectives are set by Washington, but at the first sign of trouble the overwhelming response is to ask D.C. for guidance and to do nothing until it comes.

Second, get our diplomats out from behind their desks. CNN and the BBC cover most events more effectively than we can ever hope to- so why are we reporting on industrial accidents and the environment? We have limited resources; a minuscule amount compared to the military- and should focus those as accurately as possible. We spend an obscene amount of time feeding the beast- firing off cables into the abyss, largely regurgitating what the local press has said, perhaps with a comment or two by the “contact” we inherited from our predecessor. These reports, however, are first vetted through a clearance process notorious for being flawed- we call it the “happy to glad” syndrome whereby everyone who touches a document has to make a change. The end result is often bland and devoid of substance. Think writing by committee is easy? Gather four friends and write out the directions for how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich- that is how we inform foreign policy.

These ideas rang a bell because they had come up in a Belmont Club comment thread here and here in the context of fighting more effectively against Al Qaeda.

One way to think about the Al Qaeda and the Hezbollah as well as certain sections of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is as a kind of SOE or OSS. They will fight as individuals, but their metier is subversion, sabotage and training. They form resistance groups. They are functionally a Special Forces type of operation. It's interesting to consider how US capabilities compare, in flexibility, reach and impact, with these organs of enemy power. ...

It would seem to me that the key element would not be tactical or technological but organizational. Can we devolve authority to our own covert units? That's the critical issue, maybe the only issue. One of the reasons our information fight against the enemy has been somewhat effective is the existence of all these private efforts against them. Without MEMRI, the blogosphere, Soldier's Angels, Michael Yon, Bill Roggio and countless others we wouldn't have had a snowball's chance in Hades against Al Jazeera. We have decentralization in the political fight against the enemy.

But in armed conflict the government can't afford to have us all go out and act like private vigilantes; the danger of loose cannons is too great. Plus it would create a kind of intelligence fratricide. Who's a terrorist in that kind of context? Yet I can't conceive of effective covert ops against the enemy if everything has to be preapproved by a lawyer in Washington. So some compromise must be found between command and control and allowing initiative.


One of the constant themes of H. John Poole's work, Tactics of the Crescent Moon: Militant Muslim Combat Methods is the idea of a strategic blueprint of resistance being embedded in a culture. In his discussion of the Mujahedeen fight against the Soviets Poole notes how they would simply "pile on" against their enemy, using whatever center of leadership and source of funds happened to be available, in an almost instinctive manner. On the old Belmont Club site I recalled how the ability to give "saddle orders" made German Army units so deadly against their enemies. It is the same idea. People knew what to do even when they were temporarily out of touch.

In an earlier, low tech era, this phenomenon was referred to in the German Army as "saddle orders". Because the general principles of the campaign were so well understood by lower-level commanders, Guderian and Rommel could redirect subordinates and trust them to do the "right thing", that is, act consistently within the agreed strategic framework. They could give orders from the "saddle". In contrast, the French High Command had to laboriously consider its reaction to each threat. It was this kind of confidence in the Age of Sail which enabled Nelson to break the French line at Trafalgar. Nelson's captains had served together so long they were like a basketball team that could blind-pass to each other, so that his pre-battle signal consisted simply of "England expects every man to do his duty". Both the German Army of 1940 and Nelson's fleet of 1805 were inferior to the enemy in materiel and numbers. But it did not matter.

Decentralization means not only being able to act one own but to learn independently. Poole makes an interesting observation about Al Qaeda training methods. "Al Qaeda has trained between 25,000 and 50,000 fighters since its inception in 1987. It is dangerous, not because it has the most sophisticated tactical techniques in the world, but because it has a training methodology which will eventually discover those techniques."

So when studies conclude that the US Armed Forces are "broken", and that numbers need to be augmented, it is possible that they are not looking at an entirely adequate metric. As Dr. Demarche pointed out, there is more to upgrading the diplomatic service than increasing the number of FSOs.


Blogger summignumi said...

What had made the "American" solider a winner is the fact that they are taught to "Do their job" When separated from there command they would still function without a general yelling in there ear (in some counties it would be the "political officer" more then the general) much of this comes from the Cold War battle planning, Generals knew units in the first days of conflict in Europe where whole counties would effectively be over run by the mass soviet and friends armor would have to fight till main land Calvary arrived.
The other by product is the "American" solider has from birth been taught the American goal "Freedom, liberty and justice”! In those three is a solid foundation of right and wrong which has spurred many to perform in the heat of battle to over come the fear of the death and do or die.
The American solider has evolved in the last 50+ years (most of it in the last 20) to become the zenith of what a real warrior “is”! None have come that are better and none will come that will out perform. It is now at the level where we maintain or we decline.

1/27/2006 03:55:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Yes, but...

If we recall trish's link to the 'Soldier as Historian' and the story of Anaconda.
Ther Generals were concerned with planning the Operation, down to the Platoon level. The was no call for Stategic Corporals, they did want, nor need, inititive from their subordinites, did not want or utilize updated and accurate intelligence from the Battlefield. Instead they derided as egomancial the Delta Force Operators that provided the updates. Resulting in loss of US life, needlessly.

When the "Guiding Light" is a dim bulb, the US has got bigger problems than inept diplomats.

As seen extensively in Iraq, when the US Military loses or cannot bring to bear it's tehnological edge, 140,000 troops cannot Police a restive population of under 4 million Sunnis.

1/27/2006 05:50:00 AM  
Blogger Reocon said...

whit said...
You see incompetence and failure where others see outstanding results considering how badly things could have gone. Saddam deposed, Syria is out of Lebanon, Assad will soon be out of Syria, Arafat was marginalised, Iran is panicking the Euros, Libya is not a threat. These are huge developments but I guess the Bush administration simply blundered it's way to this point."

No, no, no! I am more than willing to credit the President with his successes: in particular Libya and the toppling of the Taliban (courtesy of the plans developed by CIA maven Cofer Black). What I am objecting to is the wisdom, principle and practice of nation-building and democratic globalism. Even if you are a liberal and embrace these policies you can not be satisfied with Bush’s implementation of them. (Wretchard has done such good work on corruption in the UN OFF, where is the commentary of the US’s gross mismanagement of Iraqi reconstruction?) Yes, Saddam has been toppled and now we are the inheritors of a failing Islamic state. Three of the five judges in Hussein’s trial have been replaced and this chaos and ineptitude is synechdotal of the nation: it can not get its act together to credibly try the tyrant.
If you're going to critique my comment you should at least address its substance. Just how credible do YOU think the President is when he refuses to deal with Hamas – because of it armed wing – while simultaneously negotiating with Sunni parties in Iraq whose "armed wings" are actively killing Americans? Watching Bush trying to explain this policy yesterday leads me to believe that he is indeed "blundering". That, Sir, is Bush’s democratic globalism in all its internal contradictions.

1/27/2006 06:03:00 AM  
Blogger PD Quig said...

As you noted, the principles of a automonous decentralized organization are predicated upon their strategic alignment. While this results in excellent results in a well-trained, disciplined organization like our military (and Nelson's fleet and the German army before it), it would spell disaster in the context of our foreign services. The State Department is too large and has too many entrenched and self-serving fiefdoms that pay no heed to elected officials to be accorded this type of freedom of action. No doubt the Foggy Bottom arabists would still be whispering in Saddam's ear even as he sits in the dock on trial. No, the problem at State is not that they have to wait for orders from is that they simply can't salute and follow orders.

1/27/2006 06:15:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

What makes the "Independent Action" approach rather questionable at best is the basic mindset of diplomats.
This is a profession that commonly communicates in the form of a "non-paper" - which is a way of communicating an idea to a foreign government that you can later say was just some lower-level dummy's uncoordinated "mindfart" rather than a real, staffed, position.
Thus, it is a profession that has built-in duplicity. It is not merely saying "nice doggy" while you look for a suitable throwing rock but also one that can profess that the fierce hound frothing at the mouth really is nice - or that he is not even really there and that you have no idea what a rock is.
So it will not merely require a set of a broad orders to replace a "Simon says" approach but also a whole new mindset - one more suited to Teddy Roosevelt, Wild Bill Donovan, or even James Bond.

As for innovation and independance - those concepts are relied on heavily in the U.S. Military - and are actively discouraged except in trivial matters. Broad mythologies derived into highly specific plans rule the day and are only discarded when something really disasterous occurs.

1/27/2006 06:27:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...


Adding to the "confusion", AQ is the armed wing of the Pakistani ISI. Hamas is the armed wing of the Syrian Mukhabarat. Hizbullah is the armed wing of the Iranian VEVAK..
..Oh what a tangled web they weaved when we first practice to perceive.

1/27/2006 06:39:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

The fly in the ointment, it seems to me, is the occasional renegade operative. What we are seeing currently with numerous CIA leaks illustrates my point.

Intelligence gathering requires strict control of initiatives with operative lattitude within the objective.

The civilian culture, with it's idealogical infighting lacks such control.

Perhaps the best solution is to continue to dis the CIA and rely more heavily on DoD intel.

1/27/2006 06:48:00 AM  
Blogger JSAllison said...

Turning 'Team JawJaw' loose would be a good idea, *IF* said diplofolk can be trusted to toe the administration line. There are a sufficiency of clintonistas in the state department bureaucracy such that I suspect this might not be an unalloyed good. Short of instituting a policy of wholesale sacking of senior staff upon a change of administrations I wouldn't be all that willing to trust in good faith.

1/27/2006 07:22:00 AM  
Blogger Dave H said...

Concensus seems to be that the idea of decentralization is fine, what is needed is totally new personnel to execute the policy, State and CIA both seem totally inept.

1/27/2006 07:28:00 AM  
Blogger goesh said...

Rigid monotheists operating within strict patriarchal structures can't function too well when leaders are killed, particularily at the small unit level. that is their major flaw. If jihad were truly more than just an idea, the KIAs in Iraq and Afghanistan would be 6-7 times what they are. Note the taliban's recent attack on a girl's school if you doubt the role patriarchy plays in their combat mind-set. What rational field commander would waste time and resources and exsposure on a girls school assault?

1/27/2006 07:32:00 AM  
Blogger Doug Santo said...

I am not against increasing the size of the US military. In fact, I am for it, along with increasing defense appropriations. However, I do not find the recent studies indicating the military is near the breaking point convincing.

Call me a cynic, but each of the studies was apparently researched and written by Democratic partisons. Each of the studies backs up previous Democratic talking points. The timing of the release of the studies, coinciding with upcoming off-year elections, is not coincidental.

In a recent press conference Rumsfeld said overall US military strentgh is something like 2,000,000. Current combat commitments in Afghanistan and Irag are something like 150,000. That is 7.5% of our force. Of course this does not account for logistics personnel, planners in Washington, etc., but it does not seem like our military is broken.

Doug Santo
Pasadena, CA

1/27/2006 07:36:00 AM  
Blogger Brett L said...

There is one thread that runs through all of Wretchard's examples that I'm not sure the FS can duplicate, and the Dr. Demarche article talks about (but in a part not quoted by Wretchard). Nelson, Rommel, and even al-Qaida had an "agreed strategic framework"; Nothing about the Department of State gives me that feeling.

Basically, State would have to define a set of objectives in each locality and a template for achieving such objectives. One of the resistance points will be those who say that cultural differences prevent the establishment of "institutional templates". An Army Captain or Lieutenant is taught how to evaluate objectives and oppositional forces against his own resources, then maximize his advantage (or minimize his weaknesses). There are templates for "take a town", "hold terrain", and "repel an ambush".
Unfortunately, State doesn't have small unit templates for equivalent situations.

That's really too bad, because the Foreign Service Test still guarantees that our FSOs are pretty intelligent people. It's a waste to have the same 20 people in Washington evaluating and responding to every situation when there's that much brain power on the local level.

1/27/2006 08:00:00 AM  
Blogger emdfl said...

Yeah, a lot of the problems at both the cia and State are the result of 40 years of libs running the institutions. It's kind of an anlog to the school system. If a new administrator comes in, just balk and block until it goes away...

1/27/2006 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Brett, you hit on a brilliant and responsive chord: Unity of Purpose!

"So bright is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole Earth..."

So many of the problems and solutions discussed and suggested here come, sooner or later, to the Human Spirit.

In humans, Spirit shows up in speech, (written and spoken) for speech is the opposable-thumb of the human brain: speech allows us to formulate programs out of routines and sub-routines, which is where March of Memes comes into practice.

One man's meme is another's affirmation of faith... nevertheless, the words we use, in combination with other words, in public and in private and to ourselves, DETERMINE how we act!

There can be, therefore, NO POLITICAL SOLUTIONS to Spiritual Problems. We must recognize the motivation and expression through the human spirit, and refilter and repair THAT, as the core cleansing for a new world order, based on courtesy, male-female equality, respect for ALL races, all ages; the independent investigation of truth, the oneness of God...

1/27/2006 08:22:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

There is a short essay posted NOW at "The American Thinker", about the firsthand views and considered opinions of educated, patriotic and highly competent people in Iraq, people like Major Connables, who sees things QUITE differently than you and Trish.

It makes an interesting read, Desert.

1/27/2006 08:55:00 AM  
Blogger Starling said...


If there is one thing about which most organization theorists agree, it is this: all else equal, the more decentralization the better. Countless empirical studies and in-depth case studies attest to the benefits of delegating authority to the lowest possible level. Chief among them are enhanced performance of both the organization as a whole and at operational levels, as well as increased motivation and job satisfaction.

Perhaps because I have not kept pace with the organization design theory and practice in the military field, do I find so compelling the parallels between its principles and those taught in modern business schools and practiced by the business community.

That having been said, one area of our understanding that is still under-developed, at least theoretically, is role of both vertical and horizontal integrating mechanisms, the means by which the information upon which decisions are based moves up and down the hierarchy of authority, across internal boundaries and between organizational subunits. Generally, the vertical ones get the lion’s share of the attention, thereby leading to a state of affairs wherein decentralization is conceptualized primarily as a vertical rather than as a vertical and horizontal phenomenon.

In his best-selling textbook, Organization Theory & Design, Richard Daft of Vanderbilt University does something rare among texts in the field. Working from the Information Processing Theory of Organization Design, he offers two typologies of integrating mechanisms- one “vertical” and one “horizontal”. In my estimation they have considerable applicability to the information discussed in this post, particularly with what is required to destabilize an organization like AQ, one which is both highly decentralized and cellular. Relating my observations will require more space than I should use in your comment thread. Thus, I’ll create a post on my blog within the next 24 hours that can do the topic justice.

1/27/2006 09:05:00 AM  
Blogger trish said...

"Current combat commitments in Afghanistan and Irag are something like 150,000. That is 7.5% of our force. Of course this does not account for logistics personnel, planners in Washington, etc., but it does not seem like our military is broken."

It's the extraordinary rotation schedule necessitated by this level of commitment, over a number of years, that is the problem. And it IS a problem.

1/27/2006 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Often, the best results are achieved when corporate management set objectives and senior management is tasked with organizing the resources so middle management can draw up the plans and the people who are doing the work get a chance to ‘buy into’ the plan by adding detail to the implementation.

This chain of command creates a sense of ownership all the way down the line.

It is called teamwork and when management at any level crams objectives up the kiester of its lower echelon the inherent resentment that is created poisons the plan. Alternately, a popular objective may be doomed if the plan is poorly formuated. Although it is easy to say that implementation is everything, it invokes the old joke about the argument between the heart and the brain.

The punch-line, the asshole always wins.

Small unit tactics work and when a fleeting opportunity presents itself, immediate action can only be organized by a field commander and only to the breadth of his ability to communicate to units under his command. This, of course, can atomize itself into smaller and smaller units down to a squad, approaching the Army’s “Army of One” concept.

In a larger context, centrally planned swarming tactics will win in set-piece warfare, witness the ‘Left Hook’ of Desert Storm, a tactic that was spawned by then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney’s ridicule of Schwarzkopf’s ‘hey diddle diddle up the middle’ plan. But it may not have worked without a multiplying dynamic, the cutting of Saddam’s lines of communication; the Iraqi Army was effectively working in the dark.

Custer shows us that small unit tactics can fail when overwhelmed by superior numbers. But if Custer’s reinforcements, Reno and Benteen, had known of Custer’s dire need, the outcome of Little Big Horn may have been different. Similarly, Army doctrine usually calls for a regimental level operations when operation in urban terrain. Squads may do the rounds but there are always reinforcements available either in the form of Striker Brigades or Close Air Support. There is danger in an enemy that is ‘armed’ with cell phones and who could always envelop a small unit. The system of management needs to be self supporting.

1/27/2006 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

What I am objecting to is the wisdom, principle and practice of nation-building and democratic globalism. Even if you are a liberal and embrace these policies you can not be satisfied with Bush’s implementation of them.

Yes you can. All around the Middle East, attention is turning inwards (our goal, remember?). As you might have noticed, the Palestinians seem to be preoccupied with themselves lately.

Since our democratic globalism was a response to the threat of terrorism, it must be analyzed in this light. It is not a cure for threats qua threats, it is a tonic for subnational attentions that would otherwise be limited to the polis from whence it sprang.

I have consistently defended the democratic agenda as an evolutionary necessity. Evolution is not pretty; it presupposes both winners and losers, presupposes viabilities and extinctions. Some cultures will die. Some cultures should die.

The democratic agenda may lead to a viable situation, which is our hope for Iraq, or it may expose a terminal defect, like it is doing in Palestine. What we know is this: Palestine will either walk back its strategic threat to be a classic nation-to-nation one (i.e. it will attack Israel as a united people, inviting a classical evolutionary response), or it will consume itself from within until its polis is absorbed by another state (extinction).

A third option is possible, though I'm not terribly confident that Palestine will evolve into viability. After all, there must be some terrible costs for losing entire generations to false, pernicious propaganda.

You must lose this inclination for snap judgments. The outcome of a single iteration is not determinative of long-term values. If it was, we would all still be Keynesians.

As Den Beste said, the standard isn't perfection. The standard is the alternative. What is the alternative to democracy in the world?

As a conservative, you agree with the principles of the market. This is the same kind of thing. Bush, in implementing his democracy agenda, is seeking to eliminate price controls. Afterwards, the testing of internal and external viability can ensue.

1/27/2006 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger Jrod said...

When the "Guiding Light" is a dim bulb, the US has got bigger problems than inept diplomats.

This piece appeared in the WaPo a couple weeks ago. Some of you are probably familiar with it, but its a critique of the US Army by a British Brigadier who served in Iraq. Having never served it's really not my place to say if he's right or wrong, but overall I found it to be a constructive assessment of our Army's strengths and weaknesses. Although he puts it differently, one of the conclusions Brigadier Aylwin seems to reach is approximately the same thing I think Desert Rat is saying: and that is no matter how much lip service the Army gives to letting the "boots on the ground" make realtime decisions, the reality is that there are so many inefficencies up the chain of command that the realtime decisions are not exactly realtime.

I suppose the same could be said of our diplomatic corps.

1/27/2006 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

HH: Now Robert, I asked the Vice President and the Secretary of Defense, and neither of them yet had the chance to read your book. But I asked them specifically about the idea that Special Forces at the forward operating bases, which you described in meticulous detail in Afghanistan and other places, are being constrained by a big Army, as you put it, at Bagram and other places, and they deflected the question. They just were non-responsive. What do you think that indicates?

RK: Well, I think to be fair to them, it indicates how de-centralized the system is. I'll tell you a story. I had a piece on U.S. Marines training in a country in sub-Saharan Africa, Niger. And it reached the office of the Secretary of Defense, and some people said wow, we had no idea we had people there. And that would have happened it Willian Cohen was Secretary of Defense, William Perry. It's not a reflection on the Republicans. It's a reflection of how de-centralized the system is.
Unless there's something uniquely controversial about the deployment, this is something that's going to be decided at the level of European command and Schtutgard, if it's Africa for instance. So let's get back to the Special Forces bases. These are issues that are basically decided, in the case of an Army Special Forces, a forward operating base, or fire base as they call it, in Afghanistan, it would be decided at the level of the two star general at Bagram, in Afghanistan, and would not go up to the Secretary of Defense.

The Secretary of Defense may have like an overarching order that I want as little bureaucracy as possible. I want our people unconstrained. But the problem is that those are all general commands, which can be interpreted in so many different ways as you go down the chain.
And the Vice President being further above, probably knows even less about this.

HH: That's remarkable. But it is a real problem. Is it getting remedied?

RK: See, this goes back to one of the main points in my book, that many of the policy discussions in Washington and New York are so ill-informed, because they often know even less than these people about how all this stuff is being carried out.

HH: Right.
RK: And the people who are best qualified to, say, write an op-ed is a staff sergeant somewhere, who would never even think of reading the editorial page of a newspaper, let alone submitting an op-ed.

HH: Right.
RK: My in-feeling is that things have gotten better.


1/27/2006 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - Angelina Jolie told a summit of business leaders and politicians, many driven to distraction by the Hollywood siren, to concentrate on the real issues.

The Oscar-winner and her beau Brad Pitt, whose child she is carrying, have reduced the global elite at Davos to star-struck autograph hunters, scrambling over each other to get a glimpse of the actress and her man.

1/27/2006 10:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reocon: 6:03

You’re right- my criticism of your comment was off the mark. It struck me as more strident than constructive but I’ll leave that alone because tomorrow I may be guilty of the same thing.

I was going to answer your question about the President’s credibility but after reading Aristedes’ erudite response what more could I add without embarassing myself?

1/27/2006 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Goodwill Ambassador U.S. actress Angelina Jolie adjusts the headphones during a session at the Open Forum 2006

1/27/2006 10:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She's eye candy, nothing more. The elitist' politically-correct version of a sex object. Last year it was Sharon Stone.

1/27/2006 10:33:00 AM  
Blogger Red River said...

1/27/2006 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Candy for the jaundiced eye perhaps.

1/27/2006 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger Red River said...

1/27/2006 10:46:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

You embarrass too easily!!

The Arab Mind: Misconceptions.

1/27/2006 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger Red River said...

About page 120 Boyd talks about Moral conflict for several pages.

He also has a section on counter-insurgency - the points he makes are exactly what we are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Go read POC.

1/27/2006 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie said...

Couple things:

First: Isn't it a bit early in the day to declare Iraq a "failing Islamic state," reocon? The new Iraqi government was just elected in December, after all. There are plenty of ways for it to fail, but a like number of ways for it to succeed - a goal we should be hoping for and working to enable, whatever our political stripe, because the alternative is so much worse. Just the fact that the newly elected government in Iraq is even willing to work within the political realm to resolve the serious differences between the various parties is encouraging - who would have considered it possible two years ago?

Second: I just heard a piece of an interview with the Sec't'y of the Army, in which he commented on the report that the Army is "broken." That conclusion, he said, was based largely on the Army's missing its 2005 recruitment numbers (while remaining in line with its historical recruitment numbers - the 2005 numbers were a growth figure intended to increase the size of the recruit "class" by some 5,000 or so, if I heard and recall his comments correctly). Why should the number of new recruits indicate the status of the standing Army? Particularly when the Army had a banner year for troop retention? The people most familiar with Army life and Army mission enthusiastically reupped; and the kids trying to decide whether or not to enlist did enlist in numbers precisely comparable to historical goals, in spite of a whole lot of bad press about the military's situation overseas. Where's the "broken"?

1/27/2006 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger Brett L said...


Since you bring in Boyd, it's a good point to mention that the higher up a chain a decision has to go, the longer the OODA loop. However, the "OD" part (Orientation - Decision) of the loop is basically pattern recognition. If the lower level actors aren't trained to see a pattern, or aren't trained with a general response to a pattern, it has to be pushed up a level.

Another problem with hierarchical information systems is that the signal/noise ratio (or perhaps the observation/analysis ratio) degrades at each node. Most of the time this is compensated for by requiring multiple independent confirmations. You could say that it slows the response by requiring multiple stimuli.

1/27/2006 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Aristides said...
"Since our democratic globalism was a response to terrorism it must be analyzed in this light. It is not a cure for threats qua threats, it is a tonic for subnational attentions that would otherwise be limited to the polis from whence it sprang."

But what you are still saying here is that democratic globalism is a "tonic" for "subnational attentions. . . ." incluiding those that threaten the US. So you DO see it as a solution to foreign threats. As an Al Gore liberal internationalist (which, no pejorative, you readily admit), do you believe that more democracy is really the solution for Somalia, Pakistan, Haiti and Sudan? These are all societies barely suited for the nation-state, so then are mere elections and "reconstruction" your panacea for their advancement? And advancement towards what political form -- our style of capitalist demcracy? I believe the faith that other societies must follow our path is the heighth of hubris.

"I have consistently defended the democratic agenda as an evolutionary necessity. Evolution is not pretty; it presupposes both winners and losers, presupposes viabilities and extinctions. Some cultures will die. Some cultures should die."

Ah, and here we have the confused Marxist heart of modern liberalism. You seem to suppose, with your "evolutionary necessity," that nations have a set evolutionary point at which point they stop. That these struggling societies can, with a little social engineering from Uncle Sam, become liberal democracies quite happy under their own nanny states. This dogma has many iterations and one of the most recent, which our President has paraded around, is Natan Sharansky's "The Case For Democracy," which claims to show the "evolutionary" arrival of modern day Russia. Never mind the retrogression into Putinism, or the deeply Orthodox cultural incompatability with our norms of democracy, this book is oft heralded as the blueprint for the Bush doctrine. Strange also that Sharansky, an anti-Sharon Likudnik doesn't believe in the democratic potential for Palestine, as he has repeatedly announced from the Knesset . . . . I'm sure liberals like you will take over from where he leaves off. If not, if you do not believe that Palestine is "viable" as you state, then you don't really believe in a Bush doctrine that says it does. You appear to be burying yourself with your own arguments: "A third option is possible, though I'm not terribly confident that Palestine will evolve into viability."
You support democratic globalism but are not confident about the "viability" of Palestine? So this is the confusion of a liberal supporting a "conservative" regime in setting out to revolutionize the world!

Aristides writes:
"You must lose this inclination for snap judgments. The outcome of a single iteration is not determinative of long-term values. If it was, we would all still be Keynesians."

A criticism I could throw back at everyone whose proclaimed the triumph of democracy in Iraq as Islamist and secessionist parties won power. Hamas is little different from their Sunni cousins in Iraq, but simply has more brand recognition and hence more opprobrium. The difference is that the Sunnis are actively killing our soldiers, andin turn we grant their political wing some political representation! Repugnant. And while we're at it, let's hear a cheer for those wonderful elections in Haiti: "evolution" marches on.

"The democratic agenda may lead to a viable situation, which is our hope for Iraq, or it may expose a terminal defect, like it is doing in Palestine. What we know is this: Palestine will either walk back its strategic threat to be a classic nation-to-nation one (i.e. it will attack Israel as a united people, inviting a classical evolutionary response), or it will consume itself from within until its polis is absorbed by another state (extinction)."

Clearly "evolutionary necessity", as determined by genes and the environment, is far more open than a mere three options of possible forms. But let us take this last option of yours and flesh it out a bit more. What other state do you think would absorb Palestine? Jordan? Already done that: Black September. Israel: No, Sharon already saw the need to amputate that demographic bomb. Who else?

1/27/2006 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger Doug Santo said...

In response to Trish's 9:37 post -

I am not an expert on military affairs, but in trying to get a common sense handle on the state of our military with respect to our current commitments, I am drawn to a comparison of current troop rotation to combat unit rotations/commitments in previous wars.

World War II for instance. I understand the average commitment for an individual soldier in WWII was four years. Front line units in the European Theatre would be rotated out of the line for rest and refit periodically, but not rotated out-of-theatre. Many units fought in North Africa and then Sicily, while others fought in North Africa and then Normandy. Once commited to the Theatre, units were pretty much commited for the duration.

I think similar statements can be made for civil war units.

During peace time, troop commitments on specific posts or assignments are relatively short and, to the extent possible, made to maximize convienance for all involved, especially in the modern military.

During time of war; however, we ask our soldiers to sacrifice. Sacrific includes putting themselves in harm's way to protect the rest of us and donating their time and energy to the nation. Of coarse we should make the life of indivdual soldiers as good as possible during time of war, but using combat trained units in combat is the function the units were designed and trained for. I assume that combat units in Iraq and Afghanistan are monitored by senior command for morale and battle worthiness and rotated to provide adequate rest and refit. The use of individual units in Iraq over and over again does not strike me as abusive or in anyway out of the ordinary. I do not understand how this can be cited as evidence that the military is broken or overstretched.

Explain where I am wrong.

Doug Santo
Pasadena, CA

1/27/2006 12:18:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

whit said...
Reocon: 6:03
"I was going to answer your question about the President’s credibility but after reading Aristedes’ erudite response what more could I add without embarassing myself?"

Mika has a point, don't be embarassed to dinstinguish yourself from such liberal confusion. Aristides did not answer the query I put to you, so let me pose it again: How credible is it for Bush to claim we won't negotiate with Hamas because it is an Islamist terror party with an armed wing while we are simulataneously negotiating with Sunni political parties in Iraq whose insurgent wings are killing our soldiers? I'd really like to know what you think about this.

1/27/2006 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


Even when studying Chemistry at school I knew enough to know that not always if you add baking soda to milk sugar eggs and flour are you going to get cake. Same applies here.

And as far as "Palestine" goes, the milk is way passed spoiled.

1/27/2006 12:46:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Mika, I concur and apologize if the last comment was unclear. My question was posed to whit.

1/27/2006 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Doug Santo,
Re-enlistment rates for those that have served in Iraq support your point, I believe.

1/27/2006 01:15:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

I believe that the greatest objections raised against Operation Iraqi Freedom were the uncertainty of the outcome. We heard grave projections of a Stalingrad siege of Baghdad with losses in the tens of thousands. We have all heard the meme that a war can not be won by air power alone, and the Baathist regime certainly understood this when they chose to garrison half the state operations in underground bunkers. Now after notable failures such as Somalia, it was abundantly clear to some, and certainly bin Laden and his minions that the US could not weather the domestic politics of a ground invasion, that the casualties would be to great for the American public to bear. Now I think that this notion has been roundly defeated, in spite of the tremendous efforts of the Left wing of American politics and it’s actors.

Now to the point in case. If ‘boots on the ground’ were absolutely necessary to eject the Baathist government, provided that is could be accomplished, what to do with the remnants of the Iraqi government in its stead? I think this is where Powell most famously said; “You break it, you buy it”. If that is so, what do you do, you prop it up on its own, brush it off, give it a few lessons on democracy (CPA), then send them on their way.

The U.S. set about to democratize Iraq as a remedy and to make a positive example out of what was largely an affront to the ‘Arab street’. Nation building is a rationalization born in the practicality of a particular Iraqi predicament more than it is policy of future world political conquest. May it serve as a shining light for the brave generations of the future.

The best way to deal with tyrants is to tell them what you expect of them, give them a chance to reform, and failing that, give them a dose of medicine. Occasionally, you have to ‘show them the implements of torture’ to get their attention. Unfortunately, with the vast schism in the United States, regimes like Iran’s new president don’t think the U.S. has the necessary resolve. The lesson must be re-taught until rote memorization sinks in. I would hope that the upcoming showdown with Iran would be resolved by strictly bombing Iran into smithereens, but I am afraid that is chances of going regional, or global are substantial.

1/27/2006 01:16:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"A third option is possible, though I'm not terribly confident that Palestine will evolve into viability. After all, there must be some terrible costs for losing entire generations to false, pernicious propaganda."
Steyn points our another deficit:
The incredible brain-drain that has occured since 1948, as evidenced by the more exceptional than there numbers Palistinians that moved west.
Great Lebanese example:
Michael Ellis DeBakey, M.D. (born September 7, 1908, Lake Charles, Louisiana, United States)
- "Strive for nothing less than excellence."
His parents were Lebanese Christian immigrants.

He's still kicking, and still in the field, tho not operating, obviously, at least as recently as ten years ago!
(that would be when he was 87)

1/27/2006 01:29:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Correction, he WAS still operating at 88!
"Russian President Boris Yeltsin called DeBakey "a magician of the heart" after the surgeon performed quintuple bypass surgery on him in 1996. "

1/27/2006 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger dannykim said...

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1/27/2006 01:40:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

carridine, post a link, I'd be glad to read anothers view. The closer to on site, the better.

1/27/2006 02:17:00 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

I think Desert Rat and Reocon are forgetting that the #1 reason for the Iraq War was to permanently give Shiites the balance of power in the Middle East after the Sunnis stabbed the USA in the back on 9-11 (admittedly after giving us a 10 year warning that the Clintonites wouldn't listen to).

Our only need to deal with a "restive" Sunni population in Iraq...was to keep them bottled up while we got a powerful Shiite Army and police set up to deal with them later on. The fact that the Sunnis are now getting into the political process only shows that we won...and that these idiots should have known that in April 2003. The insurgency never should have happened according to logic and reason. You can't blame Bush that the Sunni Islamic mind is really, really, really slow.

Take their alliance with the western left. How is that every going to help political Islam in the long run?

1/27/2006 02:38:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

It seems obvious to me why we have treated the Sunni’s in Iraq and Hamas in Palestine differently. Hamas has been on the record both militantly and politically as an opponent to Israel and its’ people and all their forms. Hamas published charter has said so with no ambiguity. The major actors in this conflict have been Israel and the Fatah party who have upheld the notion of a Palestinian state. Hamas has long been a spoiler in this fight as has been the U.S. The government is correct, as is most of western Europe in demanding that Hamas changes it’s tune and change it fast.

Now in Iraq, the Sunni’s, being the bad asses such that they are, were not a problem as a sect to the United States, the Baathist party was and that is who we are in a fight with. The Sunni’s haven’t pledged the destruction of the United States, only the destruction of the ‘occupier’. If they have a part in the new Iraqi government it is because the Shiites and the Kurds consider it to be a desirable outcome to maintain the Iraqi state. It is up to the Iraqis to decide. Apart from killing innocent woman and children, there are those Sunni’s who targeted the U.S. occupation forces and fought the good fight, I wouldn’t think it stretch that they consider themselves patriots to their cause though I do not share their beliefs.

Since time immemorial armies have stood across from one another ready to engage in combat. Most engagements ended with a conqueror vanquishing the opposition. In any case, there were always prisoners, and one would have to decide whether to enslave them or put them to the sword. In modern times we do not enslave, but if an individuals crimes arise to the point of infamy, we will put them to the sword. As such, I believe that no individual responsible for horrific crimes should be set free, nay, they should be put to the sword. But I do not believe completely in guilt by association. If our nation did we would have been a party to a much greater genocide after WWII than has been seen in history.

“The parade began with placards announcing the countries that had been conquered, wagons bearing the spoils of war, and trophies commemorating the campaign's victories. Then came the captive kings, queens, and their children, along with other eminent prisoners, destined usually for execution but sentenced first to walk through the crowds of taunting citizens lining the route. The procession's highlight was the victorious general, clad in a purple toga adorned with golden stars, who rode in a four-horse chariot. Behind him marched the triumphant army and the sacrificial animals. Beside him stood a slave, holding a laurel wreath over the general's head and whispering, "Remember that you too are mortal."”

1/27/2006 02:51:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

As to deploying aprox. 8% of our Military and having it described as "Streched" or the newest "Broken".

A year or so ago I came to the similar conclusion. Posted as much, right here at Belmont. Was told by a Cascade of Voices, led by helodriver and echoed by trish as how the Force was "Streched" and that numbers were decieving.

The Active Force, due to redployments of activated Reserve & Nat Guard uniits to Iraq, have come under stress. That the Skill sets the Sec-Def admits are in short supply are over deployed to the War Zone.

I do know this, with out a doubt, now a year later. The Military has proven to be exremely mismanaged. When an 8% deployment, which has been a fact of life for the past 4 years and will continue for the foreseeable future cannot be better managed.
Proof is in the pudding.

The casualty rates, in Iraq, are VERY LOW, the pay incentives for Service members are very good.

Mean time the Generals can find neither the Enemy nor Recruits in adequate numbers to ensure Victory.
This will be especially true if the US Force were to confront an enemy with some capacity & size. Say the combined armed force of Pakistan, the 500,000 in the Army and the 300,000 in the mountains with aQ & the Taliban.

Keep worried about the Mullahs, in months or years they may get a Bomb,
the Pakistanis have 48 of them today.
Their bomb designs are in Iran, Dr Khan's bombs are in "Good" hands. Same hands that cradled the Taliban, same hands that protect Osama, today.

A more real threat to US and our Military then meeting Chinese tanks on the Plains of Southwest Asia.

While at the same time holding Iraq, and maintaining order in the Oil Fields of Bolivar's new Southern Republic.

1/27/2006 03:08:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Army has the highest retention rate it has had in 5 years.

3rd Infantry Division exceeded re-enlistment goal by 36%
- Sec of the Army.

1/27/2006 03:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reocon: 12:21
You asked:
How credible is it for Bush to claim we won't negotiate with Hamas because it is an Islamist terror party with an armed wing while we are simulataneously negotiating with Sunni political parties in Iraq whose insurgent wings are killing our soldiers? I'd really like to know what you think about this.

For me, it’s credible. I may be too optimistic and naive but I take George Bush at his word.

I could parse your statement and say that the answer to your question lies in your statement. Hamas is an Islamist terror organization. The Sunnis are a political group which could be and have been brought into the political process. That’s not to say the Sunnis are freedom loving democrats and all is well but I suspect they are more pragmatic than Hamas; someone that could be negotiated with. Would you be willing to say that fewer soldiers have been killed than would have been if we acted otherwise? I think it’s fair to say that the “flexible” approach (talk when possible, kill when necessary) has done more to calm the situation and save US lives than the scorched earth tactics used by the Russians in Chechenya would have.

I don’t have any illusion that talk or negotiation will work with the Palestinians particularly Fatah or Hamas. I think that the President having rightly come to the conclusion, that the Arafat and Company were “scam artists” decided to let the Israelis call the shots. I think his statements regarding Hamas were not only honest but also meant as a sign of solidarity with the Israelis. So

I admit that the two positions appear contradictory but I think it would be a terrible mistake to lock in a rigid, dogmatic policy in this part of the world. But in regard to to terrorists, we should be unequivocal.

This may turn out to be a very long, Orwellian war of shifting alliances. I’m thinking of down the road when Saudi Arabia will have to be confronted more forcefully about the Wahhabis.

To me, the President is credible. I’m sure after Afghanistan and Iraq some of his enemies take him at his word. For others, it doesn’t matter what he says: It’s a lie.

1/27/2006 03:50:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

That was not the way I read the Authorization. It was to bring Iraq into compliance with relevent UN Resolutions. We did say we would support the emergence of a democratic government.

You would find few, if any, quotes from me about not allowing the Victors in the Irai Elections from taking their seats. Anything but. I have often claimed that the Iraqi / Iranian border was an advantage to US, if Iraq could become a Federal Republic.

The US is not at War with Iran. While many believe there is sufficent cause for War, the Congress has passed no Law and the President has not envoked the War Powers Act, (if he woudld?).

The Sunni in Iraq only constitute a small minority (20%) of the Country. If, four years after the Invasion, we have not successfully addressed the issue of who we hand off to, the failing is ours.

That we waited almost three years to acknowledge that there was an Insurgency and our techno-Force was inadequate for the task of combating it has yet to be acknowledged.

In the Army's upcoming "Plan" Iraq's Insurgency is a "one of" event, not to be duplicated.

The Oil Fields of Coulmbia and Venezuela as well as Mexico will not require a techno-Force, either.
Each of those battlespaces, they'll be "one of" events, too.

Let alone any kind of stabilization Plan for Iran.
No way would the US Army EVER have to face an Insurgency, there.
Why it is not in the Army Plan!

Thor, help the next President,
he'll need it

1/27/2006 03:52:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

I agree that the Army has been stretched and the numerous redeployments, particularly with the Reserves and ANG have taken its toll. But I remember in Gulf War I how many people who were enticed into the armed forces because it was the fountainhead of benefits while being so multi-culti. There were people I knew who were astonished that they were going to be deployed. They didn’t sign up for that! But sure, we shouldn’t make a sacrifice be a virtual death sentence either. I believe they should allow some to opt out.

I thought it was bad etiquette to criticize U.S. presence in Iraq or recommending pulling out prior to the latest round of elections. Now that they are over, it is time we set a time table for Iraq to handle its own problems and determine what would be acceptable terms for our withdrawal. I hope that will be well underway by this summer when the Iraqi Army is supposed to be fully operational. Certainly we will have reduced troop levels by then if not for purely political reasons.

As far as there not being enough troops to support the OIF campaign, it is a difficult call. It has been strenuously asserted that the commanders have gotten all that they asked for but, that has difficulties also, no commander would ask for something he knew he could not get or that the Pentagon would not provide, doing so would be career suicide, such are the frailties of organizations.

I think this whole strategy for we need more troops by the Democratic Party has been a huge, but failed ruse to turn the public against the war. First if we need more troops, obviously we need to begin a draft, a Democratic demagogic effort. Once this is agreed upon, the rest of the call and answer Kabuki show would rally every malcontent in the nation saying: “Your government wants to kill you kids!” People don’t like seeing somebody dying for their country, but they can rationalize that they were doing something that they believed in, provided that they were enlisted. The same can not be said for someone who was drafted. For that, a war would have to be very popular or very inevitable.

1/27/2006 03:56:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...


Many of your points indicate a gap of understanding between us, rather than a difference of opinion. Let me point to a few.

As an Al Gore liberal internationalist (which, no pejorative, you readily admit), do you believe that more democracy is really the solution for Somalia, Pakistan, Haiti and Sudan?

I voted for Al Gore, yes, as I have said. I was 19. In the same post you cite, I also said 9/11 obliterated assumptions that had become entrenched in my world-view: watching the towers fall, I was looking upon a world I no longer recognized. Getting intimately aquainted with it became my sole imperative, which made my presence in college somewhat timely. What I have learned since has made me somewhat more complicated than an 'Al Gore liberal internationalist'.

Now, cognition is categorization, so I don't begrudge you your reflex. However, be careful you don't succumb to confirmation bias, which a flight to categorization can bring about.

I believe the faith that other societies must follow our path is the heighth of hubris...

Ah, and here we have the confused Marxist heart of modern liberalism. You seem to suppose, with your "evolutionary necessity," that nations have a set evolutionary point at which point they stop.

This indicates that you have not fully immersed yourself in the principles of evolution. Evolution, of course, doesn't stop, except in the case of extinction, which I don't think is the point you were making. Ecosystems can be said to reach equilibrium, but they are anything but static, and in the long-term unstable anyway.

Therefore, there is no path for others to follow, since all paths are chaotic. Only if a society had the exact same starting conditions would they take the same path as ours (highly unlikely, to say the least).

There are, however, some general principles you can glean from history (our record of societal evolution) by looking at it empirically. Certainty, alas, cannot be found even here, but truisms can be discovered that are measurably (statistically) sound. It is here where I rest my arguments, not on Marxist historical determinancy, nor, for that matter, on any other kind of unfalsifiable social theories.

In other words, my arguments for democratic globalism (your phrase) are about as "conservative" as you can get. I have read the empirical arguments laid down by our founders, I have traced their ancestry, and my journey backwards led me to the same conclusions they got. In a sense, I peer-reviewed their political philosophy, and I concur with their analysis. Democratic accountability is the only viable species in the genus of government--a genus, let's not forget, that is a necessary, and lamentable, evil.

My great advantage is to be alive some 200 years after the falsification of this particular experiment began. My great disadvantage is not being present some 400 years afterwards. However, the amount of data generated over the last two centuries (not to mention that generated over all of history) comforts me in my newly-minted assumptions.

Of course, I could at this time point to the similarities in principle between democracy and evolution (and the market, for that matter), and how the success of the former might be best explained with the lexicon of the latter, but I won't. Your attention is probably waning.

You support democratic globalism but are not confident about the "viability" of Palestine?

I don't think the two are contradictory. I support the principles of democracy, and I'm not even sure about the long-term viability of my own culture, or, for that matter, my newly-minted assumptions. Who knows, some other event could be right around the corner that could once again disassemble my world-view. I doubt it, but if it came I wouldn't resist.

Supporting "evolution" is a priori acknowledging the unpredictability of specific outcomes. It is a faith in the mechanisms of nature to work out problems that are otherwise unsolvable by man (which is, by the way, a good summation of the bio-tech revolution). It is trusting the impulse of life to wriggle out of the shackles of death, a trust that is not as naive as it sounds (it is the history of evolution). Death has a terrible gravity; the history of life is a striving towards escape velocity (which may be nearer than we expect). This makes me think that, if we allow it, societies will evolve to be more life-affirming, in both their internal and external posture, or they will die.

Democracy incorporates the reality of time (change), and accounts for it, so it is successful. It is successful here, and if it is built to last, it will be successful elsewhere.

1/27/2006 04:14:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

I'd be against the Draft, for Combat Forces.
But how many of our Soldiers never come close to Iraq, or any other Combat Arms posting.
Trash collectors, gate guards, supply guys all could be Draftees. Heck, no draftee deployeed outside CONUS could be an easy Policy to implement.

Wouldn't pay the same, of course.
The Reconstruction Brigades, these should definately be established. Developing infrastrucuture, painting schools, running electrical plants, water purification. All tasks now tasked to the Army, that could easily and more economically transfered to a para military organization, kind of like the Peace Corps Plus.

Our whole Structure has to be rethought, they have completed the "Plan" and it is way off target, unless the only fight we will have in the next 15 years is in SW Asia against China.

Anaconda, writ oh so large.
A System wide dysfunction in percieving the actual threat, when it deviates from the "Plan".

In spite of the lessons learned from 9-11 or the Iraqi experiances.

1/27/2006 04:26:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"I assume that combat units in Iraq and Afghanistan are monitored by senior command for morale and battle worthiness and rotated to provide adequate rest and refit. The use of individual units in Iraq over and over again does not strike me as abusive or in anyway out of the ordinary. I do not understand how this can be cited as evidence that the military is broken or overstretched."

- doug santo

Here's the doctrine: A unit or individual theater-deployed for 12 mos. will have 24 mos. back in garrison before another deployment. Half of the 24 are spent in recovery; half are spent preparing to go back out again. Previous experience demonstrated that overall effectiveness in the field declines precipitously when the ratio of deployment time to recovery/prep time is reduced. Yet, recovery/prep time has been cut in half in order to meet the year-on-year demand of OEF and OIF.

"Abuse" has nothing to do with it. It's the result of a relatively small force with protracted, outsize commitments.

Rumsfeld can blow smoke by citing 2 mil. A unit that deployed last year is not available for deployment this year. A unit now deployed is not available for deployment next year. A combat communications or engineer unit cannot be substituted for an infantry or intelligence unit. Reserve and national guard units often cannot be subtituted for active duty ones. Then there's the whole issue of non-deployables, a serious and very familiar long-term problem in the military.

Look at it this way: If we had gone into Iraq with the 400,000 that some saw necessary, we only could have done so if the vast majority had been drawn down the following winter. Because we went in with substiantially fewer, we were able to go long. But we can't go on forever at current levels.

As for deployment-for-the-duration (as in WWII) perhaps you are unaware that we seem never to conclude any operation anymore.

We are STILL in Kosovo. It is STILL classified as a war zone.

OEF will quite likely endure for many more years.

And OIF? Well, that's far from a wrap.

1/27/2006 04:38:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

So if I understand your point, you are for a draft, but it should be conditional, i.e. not for combat forces. I don’t have a real problem with that. They have something like that in Germany where you either go into the armed services or some kind of social services sort of thing. I would say that it would be a good thing for youth but looking at the outcomes of the average German youth I am not so sure. Peace Corp was an interesting program. It sure beat joining the Lincoln Brigades but in the end it was voluntary. Right now Americans and non-Americans can volunteer for duty between the ages of 18 and 35. We could certainly do a better job of encouraging more of our young to volunteer but the military is getting more and more picky about its applicants, and those who qualify are more often more attracted to the private sector where they can get a better start on their careers. Maybe that is why I think privatizing support services makes a lot of sense. Look for a lot more Halliburtons in the future.

1/27/2006 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Haliburton would have alot more billable hours than two year indentured workers need in Room & Board.

It goes to the whole mindset of what we are doing, not just in Iraq, but every where.

If we'd prefer not to use our Military, what other options are there?
Ms Rice and the Striped pants set cannot help one violated woman in Darfur.
A group of thousands of Americans, armed but carrying and not Military could restore order, drill wells, aid the ravaged, etc.
We trip wired on the DMZ in Korea for 50 years, just to earn the spite of the Koreans. We could easily do that in Iraq or Darfur or Pakistan.
10,000+ US "Aid Workers" in Pakistan with helicopters and real assistance in the EarthQuake Zone would be a dagger aimed at Osama's heart.

1/27/2006 04:57:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Armed, for sure. I tried to volunteer to go to Iraq just to do some of the scut work you're talking about. They way I saw it, we're in a war. People asked me what I’d do and I’d say that I’d sweep the floors, pour coffee, stack boxes, and relieve somebody younger with boots and an M16 to do their job.

While checking it out I was told you could not bring a firearm. I figured no problem, I’d get one there. I am not going to be anybodies hostage. It they’d want to make an example of me on TV they could do it posing my dead body!

1/27/2006 05:07:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

For Pierre

1/27/2006 05:14:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Linking to the LA Times, doug, next thing I know it'll be the NY Times that is your source.

I mean this piece Warriors & Wusses sets the tone of that periodical.

But read what you will, just do not buy an ad from them or any other Tribune Newspaper.
Let alone a subscription.

1/27/2006 05:40:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"While checking it out I was told you could not bring a firearm."

That turns away a lot of qualified, prospective hires. It is often THE question in the interview: "Will I be armed?"

1/27/2006 05:52:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Here , again, is an example of why the Military is the last thing you'd want to Model the State Dept on.

Retired Maj. Gen Robert H. Scales, a former commander of the Army War College writes about how to disarm Iran, in the Washington Times.

" ... leaves only the airborne "coup de main" option, doable with help from a robust international coalition and only remotely possible if we have reliable intelligence about the location of Iranian nuclear warheads, missiles and launchers. A takedown of Iranian nuclear capabilities would begin with special operations, light infantry and air transported light armored units arriving by an aerial bridge to establish forward operating bases, essentially secure but temporary enclaves, deep inside Iran near known nuclear facilities.
A sustained presence on the ground would buy time for ground units to fight their way into nuclear sites, positively identify exact locations of all nuclear capabilities and destroy them by direct attack or indirectly using precision munitions delivered by air. The key commodity would be time, sufficient to allow a careful search and complete eradication of Iran's nuclear arsenal. Once the mission is complete the force would withdraw by air back to secure bases outside Iran.
The bad news is that we cannot do this now. We lack sufficient transport aircraft and light ground maneuver vehicles to establish and maintain these enclaves inside Iranian territory. But we could build such a force perhaps before the Iranians detonate their first bomb. Such a capability would be expensive and would involve an extraordinary investment in land forces rather than air forces. ... "

So there you have it.
"The bad news is that we cannot do this now."
Five years after 9-11, four years of Combat in Iraq, knowing of the Iranian threat since Jimmie Carter was President,
the US Army is still unprepared for the next War.

No matter the size of the Force, the Force itself is misdirected. The task for which it was designed has become obsolete, due to the very effectiveness of the Force.
Now it is not prepared for the next Generation of threat, as a System it denies the threat's very existence.
Iraq is not a "one of", not if US's resource needs are going to be defended, worldwide.

Especially if there really is, or are, Mohammedan Wars.
As well as if the Iranians and Mr Chavez really have struck a deal.

1/27/2006 06:05:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

As for Mr Kaplan and his input into the discussion. The small unit, whether training mission, A-Team, CIA Trainers has always been the Level that succeeded. In 'Nam, Laos, Salvador, Congo to name a few.
When the footprint of an Army of Occupation is on the ground, innovation and use of local assets go to the siding.
Percentages, doug, there are not enough men scattered around the World to fill the Rose Bowl, out of a million and a half troopers, that's not nearly enough.

The Wash. Times reports the "Plan" calls for degrading training foreign troops to the "general purpose" troopers, another major error. If you want to gain the loyalty of the foreigners.
Language Skills are just part of the challenge.
Smash & Grab raids are SO much more important, then building relationships with our allies.

1/27/2006 06:30:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Rat I'm coming around to your point of view. This is my first time really watching our troops fighting and committed to anything before. With the victory of Hamas, and the decisive entry of the Muslim Brotherhood - Hamas's father - into the mainstream with the latest Egyptian elections, and Iran on the verge of getting the bomb, but Syria fallin apart, the strategic logic becomes white hot: we will need to Syria and Tehran quickly, and Israel may have to assert itself in a manner not seen since Lebanon. We're going to have to start philosophizing with a hammer over there - because we definitely woke the place up.

Also, imagine having invade Iran AFTER they got the bomb someday (in either case, the invasion can't be far off). Even if we manage it without US armed forces or Israel getting nuked, it will only be because in the turmoil agents were busy smuggling them out to al Qaeda or some other group, to be used later with maximum effectiveness.

This will not be resolved without force. There is absolutely no way.

1/27/2006 07:45:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

57% say they support military action in Iran.

I thought they would after Bush made a case. But before?

It is probably the most fascinating news I've heard in a long time.

1/27/2006 07:50:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...


"A Major Voice from Iraq"

Still online as of 1100 Saturday Bangkok time, 2100 Friday nite West Coast time.

Thanks for courageously participating.

1/27/2006 08:02:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"57% say they support military action in Iran."

My husband would like to "thank them...and promptly retire."

1/27/2006 08:32:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Supporting an invasion in a poll question takes a lot more cajone's than merely doing it.
...and is proof of their undying support when times get tough.

1/27/2006 11:27:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

(as long as someone else does the dying, and it doesn't take too damn long.)

1/27/2006 11:28:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Not much courage required to read.

I have thought that the Iraqi"War" has been over for a while,
The Major agrees,

" ... “The young men are signing up for the Iraqi Army and police in droves It’s not like the last time when they were sullen, looking for a quick buck and not too keen on risking their lives against the insurgents. We now see energized, motivated young guys who want to protect their families and regain some dignity. When a suicide bomber blew himself up at the recruiting station across the river from our base on January 5, killing over 40 people, most of the recruits who were not wounded got right back into line… ... "

Then he says
" ... “This is still going to cost time, money and lives…still a chance this could all go to hell in a handbasket. But that chance diminishes a little bit every day…I wish there was some way to convey how incredible it is to witness first-hand this struggle to emerge from 30 years of dictatorship, lies and fear.” ... "

We've met the Goals outlined in the Authorization, there is an emerging Democracy, in Iraq.

There are no Enemy Units, while there are still enemy.
Whom are we actually fighting, no one. Where are the Military Operations occurring, not in Iraq, There we are in a Civil Administration mode, as described by boyh the Major and Mr Roggio.

There is little need for Mech Inf. units, in Iraq, today.
That we do not have a Civil Administration Force ready for the Combat Arms troops to hand off to, is a failure of Policy. A failure of Srategic thinking. A failure to develop an exit plan.

It goes to W's larger question
When the Army's footprint is to much and the Striped Pants are ineffectual, what should we do?

We need better paraMilitary options, to threats the Army will not even admit exists.

Reality does not fit the "Plan"
As in all Socialist eatablishments we continue, as "Planned".

1/28/2006 02:52:00 AM  
Blogger Mannning said...

Dr. Demarche and several other conservative FSO's have been very reluctant to answer one simple question: what is the percentage of liberal, leftwing officers in DOS. The most I could get from them is that they, the conservatives and Republicans, are very much in the minority throughout the DOS.

In a parallel chat with some ex-CIA people I asked the same question, and received just about the same answer. The main source of this answer came from an admittedly leftwing and formerly very high-level manager, who had a lot to do with terrorism.

Thus, two of the US faces to the rest of the world are dominated by career civil servants who have a radical leftwing philosophy, which may emerge when trying to decide between alternate courses of action, especially when there is little substantive guidance, or only leftwing guidance to follow from above.

Peter Goss, in the opinion of some, will not succeed in rooting out this sickness.

1/28/2006 02:07:00 PM  

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