Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Look Behind the Curtain

Hugh Hewitt's recent interview with Gen Petraeus covers a lot of ground. His appreciation of the strategic situation; whether Iran is helping al-Qaeda; about the media war. Etc. But in several spontaneous paragraphs, Petraeus gives us a glimpse into the sharp end of the war. The kinetic battle. Here is that section.



HH: How are the capabilities of the Iraqi security forces? You spent a lot of time training them in the first part of the occupation, General Petraeus. What are their, what’s their effectiveness now?

DP: Well, frankly, it is uneven. There are some exceedingly good units. The Iraqi special operations force brigade, a commando battalion, a counterterrorist unit, some other elements, national emergency response unit, the intelligence special tactics unit, SWAT teams in just about each of the provinces, and a variety of other sort of high end units that we have helped develop, each of these is really quite impressive, and almost at the level, certainly in regional terms, of the special operations forces of our own country, again, in relative terms, speaking in regional comparisons. On the other hand, at the other end of the spectrum, there are still some units that have a degree of sectarian influence exercised within them, and some that are still being cleaned up after having suffered from sectarian pressures, and given into sectarian pressures during the height of the sectarian violence in 2006, and into 2007. There’s also, there’s a vast number of units, frankly, out there just doing what I would call a solid job, manning checkpoints, going on patrols, in some cases in the lead, in some cases alongside our forces, in some cases, following. But I can assure you that the Iraqi forces are out there very much fighting and dying for their country, They, in fact, their losses typically are some three or more times the losses that we suffer.

HH: General, what about the losses on the enemy? You mentioned that hundreds of al Qaeda fighters have been killed in the last couple of months, but are they suffering losses in the thousands every month? Or is it hundred, two hundred? What kind of force reduction’s going on there?

DP: Yeah, as you know, we try to avoid body counting, but inevitably, obviously, it is something we keep track of, because we’re trying to have some sense of the damage that we are doing to al Qaeda-Iraq, its affiliates, other Sunni insurgent groups, and also certainly to the Shia militia extremist elements. And the answer to that in a general sense is that they are losing many, many hundreds of their, of these different elements each month, certainly since the onset of the surge.

HH: And you mentioned foreign fighters infiltrating. Has that flow slowed or accelerated over the past five months?

DP: We do not think there has been much of a change in that. Again, it is something that is difficult to measure. Certainly, if you knew precisely how many were coming, or where they were coming, we’d obviously interdict them. And we do in fact interdict some, but not huge numbers. We do occasionally capture them in the act of preparing to, or trying to carry out a suicide attack or some other attack. In fact, we recently killed a fairly substantial element, 34 in one batch, some of which certainly were foreign fighters and had suicide vests and belts on, and we trying to re-infiltrate into Anbar Province and cause problems there. But we think the number of these foreign fighters, foreign terrorists who come through Syria, by and large, has remained roughly the same, and that is a big concern, because of those 60, 80, 90 or so who do come in per month, many of those end up being suicide bombers. And even though their numbers are relatively small in the grand scheme of affairs here, they can cause horrific casualties, indiscriminate death to Iraqi civilians, and really substantial damage, physically as well as psychologically. ...

HH: Some of the arguments about Iraq in the United States argue that it’s possible for American troops to withdraw to their bases and just strike at al Qaeda, sort of an Anbar only option, I guess. Does that make any sense to you at all, General Petraeus?

DP: Well, first of all, al Qaeda-Iraq is throughout pretty substantial parts of Iraq, and it is a significant enough network in capability that it is not going to be dealt with just by certainly, if you will, classical counterterrorist operations. Indeed, we are doing those. Our best operators in America and in the world are here in the largest number of anywhere in the world by several multiples, and conducting a very, very high operational tempo, and doing extraordinary operations. When I think back to the operations that we did, for example, going after war criminals in Bosnia, or something like that, you know, and one of those would be a big deal, and you’d dine off that for the next several months. On a nightly basis here, you know, ten or twelve serious operations are going down by those forces.

HH: Wow.

DP: And any one of those is far more significant than we conducted for decades. They are very sophisticated, very complex, very lethal sometimes, and very effective. Having said that, although they may be the most important operations, because they can take down, as they did the senior Iraqi leader in al Qaeda-Iraq, or kill the three al Turkey brothers, or what have you, it is also the weight of the operations conducted by the, if you will, the regular special forces, the Green Berets and the others that make up the special operations task force, and operate throughout the country as a very high operational tempo, and of our conventional forces. I mean, it is conventional forces who cleared Western Baquba. Certainly, augmented by, again, our special forces and our special mission unit elements, but they’re the ones that, you know, killed the 80 or 90 confirmed kill, and perhaps another 80 or so more, and captured a couple of hundred in addition to that as well. And they’re the ones who will hold that area against attempts that have already taken place by al Qaeda and their affiliates to try to get back into those neighborhoods.

HH: You know, that…in the forward to that manual that you wrote with General Amos, it said you needed a flexible, adaptive force led by agile, well-informed, culturally astute leaders. You’re just describing that kind of a force. Is it increasing in its lethality and effectiveness on an exponential basis, General? Has it become a more…

DP: It has very much so, Hugh, yes, very, very much so. In fact, people ask, you know, what are the big changes during the sixteen months that you were gone from Iraq? I left Iraq in September, ’05, returned in February, as you noted earlier. And there were two really significant changes. One was the damage done by sectarian violence. It is undeniable, it was tragic, and it has, as I mentioned earlier, ripped the very society, the fabric of Iraqi society. It’s caused very significant fault lines between sects and ethnic groups to harden, and it has created an environment that is much more challenging that before it took place. Beyond that, though, I typically will note that our leaders and our troopers get it about what it is that we’re trying to accomplish here in a way that certainly was not the case at the outset, or even perhaps a year or two into this endeavor. The typical leader here now has had at least one tour in Iraq, some have actually had two. They have, during the time they’re back in the States, they studied this. Of course, while we were back in the States, we revamped the counterinsurgency manual, as you mentioned, published that, revamped our other doctrinal manuals, overhauled the curricula of the commissioned, non-commissioned and warrant officer education systems in the Army, Marine Corps and the other services, completely changed the scenarios at our combat training centers, the one in the Mojave desert, the one in Central Louisiana, the one in Germany, and also captured lessons learned, created the ability to virtually look over the shoulder of those who are down range through expanded pipes in the military secure internet, just a host of initiatives have been pursued, changed organizations, changed equipment, and have given us capabilities, particularly in the intelligence realm, and with the proliferation of unmanned aerial vehicles, much larger pipes, the ability to shoot much bigger data, if you will, down them, and so forth. All of this has enabled our troopers in a way that certainly was not the case when we did the fight for Baghdad, or even, frankly, when I was here for my previous second tour. And so again, our leaders get it, our soldiers get it, they are these flexible, adaptable, thoughtful, culturally astute, and by and large, leaders and soldiers and Marines, and they are showing that on a daily basis here. That is not to say that it is anything at all easy about this, that the complexity is anything but just sheer enormous, or that this situation is anything but the most challenging that I’ve ever seen in some 33 years in uniform.

It is frequently argued that the United States Armed Forces are being destroyed in Iraq. Not literally perhaps, but in terms of unit readiness, morale, equipment maintenance and so on. All those metrics may have in fact suffered to some extent, as they are measured. But it is less easy to quantify such factors as combat experience have had not only upon line units; but on intelligence, combat support and all-arms coordination. It is harder still to estimate the effect on doctrine. In the way the Armed Forces does business with the enemy. Gen Petraeus remarks suggest that the US Armed Forces are far more lethal and much more practiced than they have ever been before.

Of course these "software" multipliers have all been recognized by the media. But all on the enemy side. We are told that the enemy is becoming more experienced, sophisticated, tough and wily. That blowback from Iraq in the form of super-Jihadis unleashed on the West is imminent. But for some strange reason the same advantages are never believed to accrue to the US Armed Forces. The subject is hardly mentioned at all, except when parenthetically referenced in interviews which will hardly see the light of day in the mainstream media. Yet common sense argues that the US Armed Forces must be up on the learning curve to some degree. Learning occurs within all organizations when efficiency means life or death. To assume otherwise would be too fantastic.

The more sophisticated critic will probably acknowledge that the US Armed Forces are improving at the kind of battle they are fighting and quickly add this was what they fear most: because the War on Terror will teach the US Armed Forces bad habits; corrode the core capability of being able to defeat a conventional attack -- like China's for example -- should the event arise. That criticism fears the US forces will eventually become like the British Army at its colonial height; adept at fighting small wars but hopeless against a real army. In that view America doesn't need a small-wars capability unless those skills can be used for peacekeeping and nation-building under the UN aegis. Because America is not an empire, but a kind of distant and benign guarantor of the international order; and benignity and order stand apart from the chaos of active warfare. Hence the attitude that "armored divisions are too good for this", a statement ironically made by the SS Das Reich officers to the French resistance when they pushed past partisans on their way to the D-Day landings -- and are better used as instruments of deterrence and diplomacy. In that view, the US Armed Forces are best used when not used at all; like a sort of fleet in being whose menace lies in existence; too precious to be risked in battle except upon The Day. Der Tag, as the Germans ironically again, used to call it.

And the critics may be right. History wends its way unpredictably. The War on Terror, or whatever people prefer to call it, may be forgotten in five years and the world locked in a new struggle between superpower camps. The skills that Gen Petraeus described to Hugh Hewitt may then be as anachronistic as fieldcraft learned by British subalterns in the shadow of the Khyber Pass. Or the critics may be wrong and the world headed for a new era of networked warfare. One in which small groups of men, enabled by technology, little respecting borders, in the pay of one or many states, cults or criminal gangsters, continue to menace the world. In which case what we are learning in Iraq will come in very handy indeed. Who knows?

Update

At tonight's blogger round table I sensed a real confidence in the way military operations against insurgent cells are trending, but less so with respect to the political reconstitution process. The military effects can be gauged from the increasing sluggishness in the rebuilding of broken cells inside Iraq. While once an insurgent organization could replace its leaders, etc in X amount of time, it now requires longer periods. The enemy is clearly hurting. There is palpable blood on the floor, as it were. But there is less certainty about how to convert these military successes into reaching the psychological "culminating point" -- a Clauswitzian phrase which indicates a moment where the population throws in with one side or the other -- which the sense in which BG Robert Holmes, USAF, Deputy Director of Operations for CentCom seemed to use it. How close the MNF-I's effort was to reaching the "culminating point" was harder to reckon.

BG Holmes seemed most interested in being able to out-adapt the enemy, which he felt sure was going to morph and shift its point of attack, even out of the theater. It was fascinating to see how the battle was regarded in some sense, as a race of mutability. And in that contest, anything went. Diplomatic pressure, aid, the use of the "shame and honor" culture to encourage the rejection of surprise attacks -- all were fair weapons to use in this fight. In this case particularly so, because a "transnational" enemy like al-Qaeda could flit to the other side of the globe and attack in a substantially different way.

My own impression, and I should emphasize that it is a subjective feeling, is that the section of the US military I have heard has come to a practical, working understanding of what fighting a networked insurgency entails. It's an imperfect understanding, but it's not lip service, not buzz-word garnishing, and its getting better all the time. This understanding can typically enter a huge institution like the US military in only one way: from hard experience felt from the noncoms to the general officers. But this understanding is essential. "Getting it" makes all the difference.

For that reason I am somewhat skeptical of those who feel that "armored divisions are too good for this" or that it would have been better to hold a superb but unused force at a magnificent distance to hold the ring by intimidation unsullied by failure in practice. That bluff has its limits and in any event doesn't work against the Jihadi enemy.

34 Comments:

Blogger PierreLegrand said...

Or maybe we have to be good at both sorts of battles? Course I would feel a lot better about the surge if one of General Petraeus's top staff members Lt Col Kilcullen hadn't written this:
"If I were a Muslim, I'd probably be a jihadist. The thing that drives these guys -- a sense of adventure, wanting to be part of the moment, wanting to be in the big movement of history that's happening now -- that's the same thing that drives me, you know?" -- David Kilcullen, senior counterinsurgency adviser to Gen. David Petraeus, senior commander in Iraq

We need to get after this...
The Problem Child Iran, thinking out of the box…yes we can!

7/19/2007 05:21:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Rereading Kilcullen's comments now, I think the dynamics work both ways. Shannen Rossmiller, the Montana mom who taught herself Arabic and has caught a whole slew of terrorists, said her life took a drastic turn on 9/11. I know that mine did. I was simply interested in earning a living until that day. After then I lived for something else. Kilcullen says, "If I were a Muslim, I'd probably be a jihadist". But he's not and being the adventurous sort what does he become instead? A counterterrorist adviser. In the same way Shannen Rossmiller turns to hunting terrorists instead of ululating and handing out candies and I wind up writing on the Belmont Club instead of sneaking around on the Jihadi websites. We do the same things as the Other does but for different sides.

Both the Muslim and the infidel are being pulled into the same vortex as each strives to defend his beliefs, values and life. The adventurous Muslims become Jihadis. The adventurous non-Muslims become counter-Jihadis. The symmetry is complete.

But it's a frightening dynamic because spelled another way it means "war of civilizations". If left unchanged. What we have to do is create another storyline where the endings do not necessarily involve a final showdown between Us versus Them. Right now we can write a scriptline along the lines of Us versus Us (domestic politics) or Them versus Them (Gaza or Iraq). What a sorry being man is.

7/19/2007 06:15:00 AM  
Blogger 00JH said...

Hey! I want the writer of the counterinsurgency field manual to throughly understand and identify with the motivations of those we are fighting! Besides, when you read the quote in context it isn't worrisome at all. It is from an 8 page interview of Kilcullen in The New Yorker, December 2006, "Knowing the Enemy." Link: http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/12/18/061218fa_fact2

7/19/2007 07:05:00 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

“We are told that the enemy is becoming more experienced, sophisticated, tough and wily. That blowback from Iraq in the form of super-Jihadis unleashed on the West is imminent. But for some strange reason the same advantages are never believed to accrue to the US Armed Forces.”

I believe it’s not being reported because we’re not promoting it.

General Petraeus didn’t even promote it in that interview. You had to extract it and repackage it as a US benefit from the Iraq war.

Three days ago I turned off a White House press conference on the latest Intel report because the spokeswoman missed that same point. A couple of reporters pinned her down on how the report proving we created a more lethal al Qaeda from Iraq. It was such an obvious response to say something like, “All sides in all battles become more lethal as they fight, until they are reduced and defeated.” But she wasn’t prepared. I believe that unpreparedness comes from the very top

7/19/2007 07:25:00 AM  
Blogger R said...

Reading this article sends my thoughts over to our Administration, headed by George Busk and his stalwart warriors...err, lawyers; experts in passive aggressive warfare!

Just imagine if we had a leader, a President, who could communicate to American citizens in such a way as to frame realties which seem to become self evident every month relative to this "religion of peace." Perhaps a much more united America, with a voice heard 'round the world, would understand "force multiplier" through adding such a united voice against this terror, mass movement.

Our soldiers would go out into the dark of night knowing that back home most Americans would be cheering wildly for their success in hunting and killing these enemies to western civilization!

The energy transfer would be beyond fantastic, it would enter the realm of lethal to all those who we came upon and who declared themselves to be our enemies! Glory, as such, would be ours!

If there was a cheery on top of this cake, it would take the form of those who hates us, blindly, learning that Americans don't hate them, nor do we want to crush their cultures. Just because we invent tools and technologies that find their way into other cultures, causing changes, doesn't mean we are conquerers! Kinda like discovering fire and then sending some over to the next tribe on the other side of the mountain: Change will always occur through invention and discovery.

What a dream! Spaceship Earth joins Rodney King in singing that crazy ballad: "Can't we all just get along!" However, we do wake up, and in this article I find our good General doing what he does best, fighting the fight.

Too bad most Americans haven't heard nor come to believe how deadly this war is for us and for many others.

I got my wake up call, but many still have not. Some still play the game of trying to catch a few more winks...Harry Reid for one.

That's what lawyers do, I guess!

7/19/2007 07:28:00 AM  
Blogger stumbley said...

The notion that the jihadis are progressing rapidly into super jihadis and that the U.S. forces are standing still reminds me of the idiotic statement that seems always to be made in football games: "Their defense has been on the field a lot today; that'll mean they're getting tired. So-and-so's offense is going to have a field day."

Well, if the defense is getting tired from being "on the field all day," isn't the same true of the offense? Wouldn't fatigue accrue to each?

To think that our soldiers and Marines are learning nothing from this fight and that they're "broken" is to ignore the obvious fact that the same is happening to the enemy...only in much greater numbers to a force (the enemy's) that was much less effective to begin with.

7/19/2007 09:02:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Just because we invent tools and technologies that find their way into other cultures, causing changes, doesn't mean we are conquerers! Kinda like discovering fire and then sending some over to the next tribe on the other side of the mountain: Change will always occur through invention and discovery.

Your mistake is to think the natural human order is to share inventions and innovations with your rivals, and everyone will be the more prosperous and happier for it.

The reality is darker.

The tribe with the 1st fire likely saw it as an excellent way to kill and burn out their rival tribes. And so on with each new innovation that gave a competive edge.

It is only very recently that the concept, or some say the conceit, of sharing info with rivals advances the abstract "whole of humanity" by advancing the abstract "Community of Scientists, businesmen, etc."

*****************
And I will say Bush has broken a good deal of the military, based on what I have observed. The conventional and reservist one - not the 60,000 or so high tech special ops supersoldiers fighting a low tech enemy.

Meaning Reservist eligibility burns out in 2008 from Bush's overuse rather than risk his tax cuts for the rich back in 2001 by a military manpower expansion.

Meaning that the objective measure of the order of battle - the bombers, fighter jets, subs, M1A tanks, carriers, logistics fleet, attack helicopters has significantly attrited compared to what Clinton handed Bush.

And arguments that a single F-22 is far, far more capable than 100 F-15s, F-16s, F-14s burned out in 5 years of overuse and not replaced only goes so far in war where presence and numbers matter more than "qualitative edge". 100 good soldiers has greater impact than 3 high-tech supersoldiers. A single F-22 Wing cannot do the work of 6 F-16 and and F-15 wings Bush II wrecked and did not replace.

7/19/2007 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger PierreLegrand said...

Wretchard the battle for civilization is always on. We should not shy away from the fact that Islam has been in violent competition with the West, in one arena, for over 1300 years. It is not a fact that can be disputed. It is simply part of being a muslim.

And while I agree that I want my director of counter insurgency to understand the enemy. I don't believe that Kilcullen does.

Hey! I want the writer of the counterinsurgency field manual to throughly understand and identify with the motivations of those we are fighting! Besides, when you read the quote in context it isn't worrisome at all. It is from an 8 page interview of Kilcullen in The New Yorker, December 2006, "Knowing the Enemy." Link:

Here is Diane West's take on Kilcullen.

Objecting to a recent column characterizing his views as being non-comprehending or indifferent to jihad, Lt. Col. David Kilcullen, senior counterinsurgency adviser to our forces in Iraq, wondered in an e-mail whether I "may not like Muslims, and that's your choice." It was a long e-mail — one of several — but even these few words convey the viewpoint, increasingly prevalent, that discounts the doctrinal centrality of Islam to jihad violence convulsing the world, from Iraq to London. In the mental no-jihad zone (and, in Lt. Col. Kilcullen's case, despite what he calls his "significant personal body count of terrorists and insurgents killed or captured"), only personal animus can explain alarm over the Islamic institution of jihad (let alone dhimmitude). "Alternatively," he wrote, "you may think Islam contains illiberal and dangerous tendencies."

Now more than ever...
The Battle for Civilization…pick your partner and dosey doe

7/19/2007 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger John Lynch said...

It's like having a car but not driving it to avoid the mileage. What's the car for?

The hit on Rumsfeld was that he was too interested in the next war rather than the one we were in.

One could say that you go to fight the war you have, rather than the one you wish you had.

7/19/2007 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

That bluff has its limits and in any event doesn't work against the Jihadi enemy.

Good points Wretchard. Look at Pakistan. The jihadis there blew up a bunch of Chinese workers in the South building dams. After abducting and torturing Chinese Prostitutes in Islamabad.

China is Pakistan's ally against India. Gave them lots of nuclear tech.

That Jihadis would pick a fight in Pakistan with China, the US, and India at the same time is ... instructive. Sane and rational these people are not.

Deterrence and bluff don't work. Considering how China's Army is huge and shares a border with Pakistan.

[The counter argument is that the US is learning lessons that apply to conventional wars -- Unmanned vehicles, new small arms, finding out now the vulnerability of tanks and planes. And most of all getting the military in the habit of learning. In a war with China say, our only advantage would be the ability to learn quicker. That's a big advantage.]

7/19/2007 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger R said...

Cedarford I didn't make a mistake, you decided to present your view of a society via Darwin et al. Fine, I have no problem with this view, only it is not the only view, nor the only truth history can provide. Further, your complaining of military burn out and placing such blame on the Bush administration is a fool's argument, especially if one goes back 30 plus years when Americans came to loath the military and only volunteers were available. It was then that our methods were changed in manning our military, using the Reserves as a major back up which would "sooner, rather than later" come into active status: We are now paying for such a response to Viet Nam and a lack of foresight since.

As to our worshiping high tech weapons over boots on the ground, etc., here I start to swim with you, but only to the relativity of this war in Iraq. Our high tech weapons would be just fine if the rules of engagement were different...very different. We could deliver so much destruction and death...so much even God would wonder how we could do it!

What I was saying is this: Ask an American if they would offer medicine and tools to those who could urgently use and need such. I would bet the answer to be more often yes, than no. I know what it means to be an American. Our enemies have a very distorted view of who we are, as perhaps we have of them.

Their leaders have convinced them to hate us. They don't elect new leaders...because they can't. We can elect new leaders. It's that simple. And we do elect new leaders, more often than not.

All I have to do is turn on my TV and see those Iraqi hospitals or those in Afghanistan, even Pakistan, and I see beds from the 1930's with chipped paint, few nurses or doctors, limited equipment, scant supplies...bet me Americans would not want to help these people in need!

it's tough to talk with a young adult who has been mentally programmed since childhood that the Jews and Americans are his true and natural enemies, that they are responsibly for all his problems, that his god has commanded him to wage a war of death against his natural and most evil enemies in order to attain his salvation.

And if you don't think that these are the people who are learning how to use an AK-47, well...just stand in front of me when you begin to hear the shots!

Or just maybe this is all just a dream except for those history books that keep staring me in the face!

7/19/2007 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger Ikez said...

Excellent interview.

I hope he makes another media round soon.

7/19/2007 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger 00JH said...

Pierrelegrand,

As to who knows the enemy better,I found Kilcullen's arguments in The New Yorker to be more persuasive than Diana West's in WashTimes Op-ed.

All of us can see that Muslims do not take the same path in life even those who are exposed to the same same ideology. Kilcullen asks 'Why?' and 'How can we exploit that?' From that article he talks about the "ladder of extremism."

"At the bottom is the vast population of mainstream Muslims, who are potential allies against radical Islamism as well as potential targets of subversion, and whose grievances can be addressed by political reform.

The next tier up is a smaller number of “alienated Muslims,” who have given up on reform... They require “ideological conversion” —that is, counter-subversion, which Kilcullen compares to helping young men leave gangs.

A smaller number of these individuals, already steeped in the atmosphere of radical mosques and extremist discussions, end up joining local and regional insurgent cells, usually as the result of a “biographical trigger—they will lose a friend in Iraq, or see something that shocks them on television.” With these insurgents, the full range of counterinsurgency tools has to be used, including violence and persuasion.

The very small number of fighters who are recruited to the top tier of Al Qaeda and its affiliated terrorist groups are beyond persuasion or conversion. “They’re so committed you’ve got to destroy them,” Kilcullen said. “But you’ve got to do it in such a way that you don’t create new terrorists.”"

I wouldn't call that "blind to threat of Jihad," as Diana West did. I'd call it practical.

Here is a rebuttal to Diana West's article that you might be interested in: http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2007/06/unwarranted-attack-on-petraeus/
It is by Jim Guirard the writer of TrueSpeak.org.

7/19/2007 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger Evanston2 said...

Bill rightly observes in his comment that we're not trumpeting our military advancement in both technology and experience. By way of explanation, it's awkward to say we're getting better and then get questions like (1) well, why aren't we "winning" and (2) why didn't we start the war with this force (the question made to Rumsfeld regarding truck armor, etc.).

Further, mid-level and senior officers hesitate to say things like "We're much better at killing than we were 2 years ago." While that's the gist of Petraeus' remarks, it sounds bad -- it has connotations of war-loving blood lust.

Cedarford is worried about the equipment ground up in the dust and he has "observed" (how?) that conventional forces and reservists have also been ground up. First, a partial agreement: the reserves will be hurting for quite some time. It seems that the folks who always whine for respect during peacetime with slogans like "total force" can find real duty to be disruptive to their lives. No doubt. Reserves were responsible for Abu Ghraib as well as spotty work I personally witnessed in Iraq, so it doesn't bother me that there has been and will be some attrition. Those who did their time in the barrel are, indeed, much more capable than when they entered.

The active component of the Army and USMC have also been re-greened, after a long gap following Vietnam. I served during that gap, as a logistics officer, and while we were challenged in small contingencies for the most part we never were challenged on a large scale (Desert Storm/Shield is debateable).

The bottom line is that we have more combat experience in the U.S. armed forces than all the rest of the world combined. We've tested our doctrine and upgraded equipment to the point that my knowledge is obsolete, less than 2 years after retirement. Above all, remember that toys can be replaced but there is no substitute for tactics and experience.

7/19/2007 01:12:00 PM  
Blogger PierreLegrand said...

Here is a rebuttal to Diana West's article that you might be interested in: http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2007/06/unwarranted-attack-on-petraeus/
It is by Jim Guirard the writer of TrueSpeak.org


Here was my resonse to that article.

Very interesting article. I will probably be characterized as a "Lets kill all the Muslims" by some of you. That is not what I believe but it seems that both sides in this argument work better from generalizations. Perhaps that is simply the way the human mind works.

I believe that we are at war with Islam, we are fighting against a way of life that demands submission.

The writings of Islam and the example of its founder Mohammad give its followers the right to attack us to expand the religion. For over 1300 years that is exactly what the fighters inside of Islam have tried to do. For very long periods they were immensely successful.

It is true that the fighters are just a small minority of the population. That is also true of our nation. Does that mean that our soldiers are any less Americans than those they fight for because there is such a small minority of people willing to fight? Are those who stay at home any less Americans than those who fight? No both are equally Americans.

So why is it that we try to separate the fighters of Islam from the rest? Would that work in our country?

And lets remember that in polls around the world we have seen a great deal of admiration for Bin Laden. Indeed in 2003 in Indonesia over 58% of the people polled had a good deal of admiration for Bin Laden. That is remarkable considering that he had just murdered 3,000 innocents. Sure we can point to the 2005 poll where that ardor had cooled to a mere 36% but considering that Indonesia is supposed to be a moderate Islamic state it should be a bit more worrisome than it seems to be.

Which leads me to wonder if Lt Col Kilcullen is correct in believing that we can "de-aggregate" those inside of Islam. Certainly by and large you cannot "de-aggregate" those inside of America.

7/19/2007 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Cedarford: "And I will say Bush has broken a good deal of the military, based on what I have observed."

Not a bad thing, in my opinion.

When I served, urban warfare was just about the scariest thing we could imagine - a don't-go-there scenario. A COIN fight in an urban environment? Unthinkable.

I believe our invasion strategy of bypassing built-up urban areas and then the pre-Petraeus FOB-heavy occupation strategy were at least in part motivated by an institutional fear of urban combat.

Of course, our fears and weaknesses are common knowledge, so how do our enemies choose to invest their strategies? It shouldn't have taken a genius to figure it out, but then, we always preferred to war-game to our capability and preferences, not realistic conditions. Hopefully, this war has cured us of the hubris, war fantasies, and profound disrespect for our enemies that led us to believe the enemy would take it upon himself to do what we want him to do, and taught us how to be genuine winners.

Our conventional war-fighting ability may take a hit in the short-term, but that's okay. That knowledge won't be lost. We can restock our high-tech military using our wealth and industrial capability - heck, depleting our stocks should spur replacement with next-gen battle-tested weapons. However, the lessons and real-world expertise we've learned in this battle, with the institutional reforms based upon them, could only have been gained in the battle. Judging the current war solely by metrics designed for another kind of war has to be done in context, anyway.

I'm very proud of our military. When the Iraq invasion began in 2003, I actually had very low confidence because I saw it as an urban fight using a military that was phobic to urban combat. It's taken us time and with cost, but our military's ability to confront its fears and learn, perhaps even master, the urban (COIN) fight has impressed me tremendously.

I was a a member of this mythically powerful, immaculate military that the last CinC supposedly handed off to the current CinC. Without exaggeration, what today's soldiers have accomplished in the field far surpasses the highest expectation I held for myself and my buddies. And I was considered a "high-speed, low-drag" troop. A weapon is only as effective as the warrior wielding it - in my book, our military is stronger now than it was on Sept 10, 2001.

I wonder, how much might a proven mastery at urban combat and COIN, while not measured in tanks and jets, be worth as a deterrent?

7/19/2007 02:39:00 PM  
Blogger Panama Ed said...

evanston2 tells US that
The bottom line is that we have more combat experience in the U.S. armed forces than all the rest of the world combined.

Which is patently false, by any number of indicators.

Most of the US troops deployeed to Iraq or Afghanistan never see "combat"

The Russians, from their experience in Chechnya, have greater absolute numbers of experienced combat troops, than does the US.

Then there is the Islamic Enemy. Judged in a myriad of ways, but gaining combat expeerience in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Yeman, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Algeria, Chechnya, Georgia, Phillipines and Morocco. Taken enmass, accounting for more combat experienced troops than the US.

Perhaps logistical experts do not see that the tail to tooth ratios that the US employees, along with its nonKinetic doctrines, makes for VERY FEW combat experienced troops in the US military, even amongst those that proudly and honorably served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Floor buffers and school painters, we've got more of those type experiences than most other Armies.

Combat redefined, aye.

7/19/2007 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger NoGenius said...

I want to echo what Bill had said:

"I believe it’s not being reported because we’re not promoting it."

I am frequently asking myself why the military has not appeared to learned a lesson from Vietnam, in that there will be strong opposition and misrepresentation of their mission at home, by very strong media influences fueled by oppositional political forces.

The US miitary needs to spend some more dollars on marketing their performance in battle and conflict. I think the do a fine job marketing for their recruitment needs, why not spend some dollars getting out information on what they are doing to win support for their mission?

7/19/2007 03:02:00 PM  
Blogger Tarnsman said...

US military doctrine has for a long time been focusing on the ability to sustain war on two fronts. What may occur because of the challenges presented by the terrorist threat is that US military doctrine will morph into sustaining war on one major front and dealing with an insurgency/terrorist threat elsewhere at the same time. I know many love to trash the man, but I think Rumsfeld had it right in pushing for a lighter, faster Army. Using a sledgehammer makes no sense when an ice pick is what is needed. I dare say that many of the reforms and initiatives that he began will bear fruit down the road. But he ran afoul of the old brass that wanted their heavy divisions, longing for the day where the US Army had its side of the map, the enemy its side, and the mission was to take over the map in a linear manner. Plus the media and Democrats were looking for any way and anything with which to attack the Bush Administration, and the squabble between Rumsfeld and the old brass suited their purposes. Just like the Air Force has had to be dragged kicking and screaming to accept UAVs, so too must the Army into creating what essentially may be two Armies: one to duke it out with another First World nation’s army, and the other to deal with terrorists and/or insurgents. I think we are witnessing that transformation.

JL, Rumsfeld wanted to fight the war we’re in, not the previous one. He wanted a force structure more in tune with the unconventional warfare we face. More SpecOps, more technology, smaller and quicker but more lethal. The old brass was still stuck in a Cold War frame of mind and did not want to go there. They used their allies in Congress and the media to thwart him. But ultimately, as I stated earlier, events are forcing the old guard to step aside and new young Turks take over. Petraeus is one of these young Turks, ready to fight the new war.

R, yes we all long for a President with the communication skills of a FDR, JFK or Reagan to rouse the populace, but to paraphrase Mr. Rumsfeld, “You go to war with the leader you have, not the leader you wish you had.” Mr. Bush was at the helm when this “storm” struck, and like it or not, he has charted the course that the next skipper will have to decide to continue or alter. None of the current contenders for President fit the bill I think in terms of a brilliant orator able to stir this country out of its slumber. I believe as many of the callers stated after Hewitt’s interview with the general that only a major attack against this country will awaken the American people to threat and duty before us.
Only then will they cheer on the successes of our military and shower their disdain on those that question our efforts.

C4, since you insist on trotting out old canards:

1.) I know this may come as a news flash to you, but all wars “break” armies and navies. It’s called attrition and it’s being happening since man’s first attempts at organized warfare. The wear and tear of combat does that to men and machines, and it is not unusual nor unexpected.
2.) Congress, not the President, authorizes the force level of the US military. If Congress authorizes only 10 divisions for the Army, then the President only has ten divisions to work with. He can ask for more troops, but ultimately it is Congress that sets the force level. Your beef is with Congress and since military spending is not their priority……
3.) The F-22 is want the military wants and has requested given the force structure imposed on it by Congress. The Air Force has been forced to put all of its eggs in the F-22 basket. I am quite sure that B-29s, P-51s, Sherman tanks and M-1 Grands would be quite sufficient in dealing with the terrorists and insurgents, but then would you send the men and women into the fight with WWII weapons? They’re cheap and would get the job done, but at what cost?
4.) For the last time stop with this “tax cuts for the rich” crap. In case you haven’t notice both the economy and tax revenues are surging:

* The inflation-adjusted 2004-2007 revenue surge of 25 percent represents the largest three-year tax revenue surge since 1966-1969.

*Tax revenues in 2007 are now estimated to be $70 billion above the level projected even before the 2003 tax cuts. In other words, tax revenues are now above their pre-tax cut baseline.

*By historical standards, Americans are now overtaxed. Total 2007 tax revenues (18.8 percent of GDP) and individual income tax revenues (8.5 percent of GDP) are well above their historical averages, and even above their averages in the 1990s.

5.) In 2000, the top 60 percent of taxpayers paid 100 percent of all income taxes. The bottom 40 percent collectively paid no income taxes.

6.) Congress, not the President, sets the spending priorities of the Government. The Democrats in Congress have decided to increase the government’s discretionary spending by 9.4 percent--$23 billion more than the President's request. Note that this additional money won’t be going to replace the broken men and equipment in the US military you love to harp about. As I pointed out in an earlier post elsewhere the war in Iraq accounts for only 7% of the total Federal budget not counting Social Security. The rest of the military accounts for another 17%. So 76% is going elsewhere. All a matter of priorities, my friend. And it seems that many in Congress do not share your concerns.

7.) Since I know you’ll bring this up, total 2007 federal spending is estimated to be 20.2 percent of GDP, up from 18.5 percent when President Bush took office. Had spending remained at 18.5 percent of GDP, this year's budget would show a $35 billion surplus. The tax cuts did not create the budget deficit; the increase in spending created the deficit. The necessary increases in national security and war spending have not been balanced with reductions in lower-priority programs. Again, Congress, not the President, decides how much and where money is spent.

7/19/2007 03:31:00 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

I am well satisfied with the recent applications of "lessons learned" by the forces themselves. I accept Petraeus' assertion that "exponential" improvement has been made since 2005.

However, this does not apply to the political class and our C-I-C. Restrictive ROEs that do not allow our forces to go after the enemies who use borders and civilian enclaves for protection are criminal. To reach the "culmination point," one MUST force the other into submission. Pacification, in my opinion, is a prerequisite for any such culmination in Persia.

So long as we fight with less than our full complement of weapons and tactics, we will never achieve anything close to pacification.

7/19/2007 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger Tarnsman said...

Forgot to complete my argument on #5

From 2000 to 2004, the share of all individual income taxes paid by the bottom 40 per­cent dropped from zero percent to –4 percent, mean­ing that the average family in those quintiles received a subsidy from the IRS. By contrast, the share paid by the top quintile of income earners increased from 81 percent to 85 percent.

Including all federal taxes, the share paid by the top quintile edged up from 66.6 percent in 2000 to 67.1 percent in 2004, while the bottom 40 percent's share dipped from 5.9 per­cent to 5.4 percent. So the Bush tax cuts have led to the rich shouldering more of the income tax burden and the poor shouldering less.

7/19/2007 03:39:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Ed,

I think you have a point. The real danger, I think, is not that the US Armed Forces may degenerate into the British Colonial gendarmerie, but that it may become like the Roman Army campaigning across the Rubicon. No Army must ever become that good at statecraft. As I was reading Petraeus interview, something subconcious was nagging at me. Now I know what it is. It's very dangerous when the real political capability comes to reside in the Armed Forces instead of the civic arms.

But maybe it's happening by default and by a failure in the leadership of the traditional elites. Just as the military "didn't do cities", many current instruments of politics and statecraft don't wander outside the terrain of diplomacy, aid work and the MSM. They don't do chaos in the Third World. That's why "all the instruments of national power" have been absent from Iraq in particular, but in many other places as well. They've been absent because like the pre-OIF military, they had no skillset for conflicts of the 21st century. But unlike the military, they weren't forced to learn. And I believe a large part of the impetus for calling for a withdrawal is precisely to shift the action -- or so they think -- back onto the familiar diplomatic ground on which they feel they can operate. Current instruments of statecraft don't do the politics of the networked counterinsurgency. But the military does. Not well, I grant you, but better than the State Deparment. Eric mentioned the military's aversion to fighting in cities and is glad that it can engage in urban combat today. But the fight has involved much more than just a change in terrain. The military has learned how to engage in combat among people, and that, come to think of it, means learning political warfare and information warfare. Petraeus has arguably learned how to become what Bremer was not. Could never be. And that is a terrible commentary.

For a long time I've been bothered by the feeling that the political instrumentalities of government have lost contact with the world. How else to explain the President at 30% popularity and Congress at 14%? I think this is temporary and the political system should adjust. Re-root itself in the new reality. But it's not the 20th century any more and they should hurry up and adapt. War and politics is too important to be left to the generals, however well intentioned.

7/19/2007 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

On Prof's exc. pt.: It's very dangerous when the real political capability comes to reside in the Armed Forces instead of the civic arms.

Wow - the Pentagon talking back to the House of Lords, err, the Senate?

"Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia," Edelman wrote. FROM DRUDGE

Has the twice-elected President's Administration (62M votes in '04, compared to 40M for Dems in '06) finally begun paying attention to the insurgency on the homefront? Al-NYT, WaPo and All-TV? I know it's all beneath them, but this busy Administration has to counter: endless enveloping Media becomes the Message - lies have a depressing effect upon the civitas.

Could they get out the proto-narrative that we have a chance at least, that we are not all trapped on a flaming asteroid to hell, and all our children with us?

Say, for example, we might not have to surrender to the headchoppers?

In the nicest possible way, of course. You know, the idea of a happy ending somewhere ... Courage, I think it used to be called.

7/19/2007 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Wretchard: "It's very dangerous when the real political capability comes to reside in the Armed Forces instead of the civic arms."

Speaking of which, that reminds me - what is LTG Lute up to these days?

Given the full-spectrum nature of COIN, violence as a dominant feature of the AO, and the level of organic adaptability and responsiveness needed on the ground, I don't see how political capability can be kept out of the military's toolkit without compromising the mission, short of perfectly aligning, even integrating, civilian GOs (Lute's job?) and their personnel with the military in the COIN mission.

For the long term, I hope that many of our military leaders who prove themselves in GWOT pass on their lessons learned to their juniors ... then leave the uniform, grow out their hair, and cross-over to revolutionize the government with their hard-earned military experience and acumen.

7/19/2007 06:43:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Talking back may be momentarily gratifying, but it's not the way things are supposed to work. It's like finding your 24-inch monitor actually makes a nice dartboard. It does, but it was designed for something else.

The newest post carries the conclusions of the NIE. It makes the point that the Jihad of the immediate future will come largely from the internal Muslim populations of the West. And whatever luck the security services have in catching bombers, they will have no luck whatsoever in apprehending voters. The NIE says there will probably be less and less political will to fight terror. And this is related to the internal radicalized Muslim populations. They can, like an anaconda, just heave their coils tighter whenever a leftist candidate comes on the scene and never let loose again. Tighter and tighter until there is no wiggle room at all.

And I don't look forward to hoping that some man on horseback -- or a track -- should break the Gordian knot. If the democracies have to be saved by the military, they are past saving. Democracies don't live in institutions. They live in memory and tradition. Until we recover that tradition and memory, danger is very close to us.

7/19/2007 06:45:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

But it's a frightening dynamic because spelled another way it means "war of civilizations". If left unchanged. What we have to do is create another storyline where the endings do not necessarily involve a final showdown between Us versus Them. Right now we can write a scriptline along the lines of Us versus Us (domestic politics) or Them versus Them (Gaza or Iraq). What a sorry being man is.
///////////////////////
This triggers a thought that I've had once or twice when Wretchard have made this passage.

Both WWII and the Cold War were also won by technological signs and wonders. In the case of the WWII it was the atom bomb. That bomb didn't just end the war it ended an era. A british movie on china from a decade ago described that bomb's effect over asia was like having some cosmic being take everyone's picture. Everyone is exposed in a moment of time and they are never ever quite the same again. Rather like an animal in the forest tripping one of those photography wires and having their picture taken.

What did it for the Cold War? What technology kicked the photographic trip wire and caught the world in a flash? What technolgy brought the cold war to an end --like the atom bomb ended WWII--in every sense...As the end of not just a war... but of an era... I would argue the space race which culminated in the landing of a man on the moon. (It could be argued that Reagan's Star Wards ended the cold war except that it never existed nor does it now.)

So what would be the equivalent of the atom bomb or a man landing on the moon? There's a lot of technological innovation going to happen in the next couple years--and almost more than can be imagined in the next 10-20 years. My bets would go for technology that made the internal combustion engine obsolete and technology that made it possible to turn the world's deserts green.

I don't think anyone's going to get their picture taken. However, I do enjoy talking to my brother in Hawaii and seeing him at the same time.

I saw a movie over the weekend called "the transformers" which started with an american gi talking to his wife over a skype video computer connection. Soon after he's attacked by robot mutants who can transform themselves into any kind of machinery.

7/19/2007 07:27:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Perhaps the most unexplored aspect of military history is how new technological developments affect not only specific areas by basic ways of thinking about waging war. Col John Boyd’s sophisticated analysis of aircraft maneuverability which then led to his analyses of maneuver warfare is probably the best known example – and it is not really very well known, at least outside of certain circles in the military.

Aircraft led to new strategic warfare concepts – and now, today, that archtype of strategic air warfare, the USAF 8th Air Force focuses increasingly on cyber warfare. And it probably was not possible to conceive of cyber warfare without first conceiving of strategic airpower

Some concepts have fallen by the wayside, or by all rights should. “Tooth to Tail Ratio” for example, is meaningless – what counts is useful capability, and airpower has proved that again and again, from the 509th Bomb Group in WWII, to the F-117 in 1991, to the GPS guided bombs of today.

The U.S. military is large enough to handle any reasonable task. The question that remains is whether the U.S. military is large enough to be able to think about the tasks it needs to do. In the 90’s it certainly was not. Real combat tends to focus the mind, and it remains to be seen how the current conflict will affect that focus.

7/19/2007 07:43:00 PM  
Blogger Derek Kite said...

Fascinating point about the dangers of a powerful military. Most western nations can only dream of that threat.

If the Pentagon top brass are stuck in the cold war era, maybe that explains the political and public desire for a quick end to the conflict.

The cold war produced peace. I'm 49 and canadian, and have never seen war. The military as an option was for a small group who couldn't do anything else. We tasted peace, and anyone who would rock the boat in any way was dangerous, could bring an end to it all.

The whole of the State Department, Pentagon and the political class was structured to do nothing. These institutions reflect the greater society, who too wanted nothing done except maintain a credible threat to scare anyone from doing anything.

So when this thing blew up, doing something would make it worse. All that would be required was reconfigure the guidance of some missiles, and everyone would settle down. Oddly enough, everyone thought that peace was a normal situation, not remembering that the cold war peace existed only by making every human hostage.

Very odd, very dangerous. And I think that the radical jihadist strategists have figured out what the thinking is in the west, better than we in the west have.

Derek

7/19/2007 10:49:00 PM  
Blogger phil g said...

Tarnsman - great rebuttal to C4. C4 is capable of making good points but than typically squanders them with the pro forma cliches about Jews, tax cuts for the rich, neocons, etc. ad nauseum.

7/20/2007 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger Evanston2 said...

Panama Ed, thank you for belaboring a point ad nauseum: that we have an extensive logistics tail in each of the services.
That tends to happen when you fight halfway across the world.

Let's revisit my statement that "we have more combat experience in the U.S. armed forces than all the rest of the world combined."

Now, when I use the term "armed forces" I mean uniformed military who can project power in a meaningul way. If you, in contrast, mean rounding up any muslim who has a weapon and would shoot if an American passed by, then I concede that we do not have as much "combat experience" as everyone else on the planet.

And let's revisit your "indicators." What is the approx. number of Russians who served in Chechnya, and what is the source for your numbers?

Regarding the "Islamic Enemy" how about specifying one of the "myriad of ways" you mention to speak of their combat experience. How about referencing the estimated numbers of jihadis from just one of the countries you mention? These are guerilla movements and the actual numbers are small, even when compared strictly to U.S. combat arms units. Remember, we've been rotating these units in and out of the theater. What, do you think that the jihadis have been doing the same?

Oh, and when you talk about "accounting" (and fail to count anything in a meaningful way) it's spelled "en masse." It's not logistical, it's "logistics." It's normally "tooth to tail" not tail to tooth, as you say. Of course, my 22 years in logistics hardly qualify me to understand this...instead, I'll rely on your knowledge regarding how to "employee" a ratio. It's sweet that you mention non-kinetic (or what you call "nonKinetic") doctrine, but instead of just using big words in drive-by comments, you may wish to occasionally explain their relevance.

Also, before you critique the support arms, think about the fact that the soldiers who are getting hit daily are motor transport (that is, "truck drivers" if you have no military background to understand the terminology). While Army convoys at the beginning of the war most often drove through ambushes, they are now armed to the teeth and are trained to handle complex ambushes. Perhaps the Engineers who disable IEDs do not count in your definition of combat, either? Or the many support personnel who stand watch at bases and FOBs throughout Iraq and Afghanistan. If not, then exclude the car bomb and vest making jihadis (as well as financiers and their command networks) in your definition of "combat experience."

Finally, in regard to floor buffing and chipping paint, I'll grant that you are the expert in these areas.

Expertise redefined, aye.

7/20/2007 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Kevin:
You have it wrong, totally, irrevocably wrong, but don’t feel too bad because so many others do as well.

We did NOT “strike back at Japan after Pearl Harbor.” We went to WAR and set about winning that war. That did NOT mean singling out the specific carriers and leaders that conducted the attack but instead simply figuring out what we needed to do to win the war and proceeding accordingly.

Granted, we did specifically kill Yamamoto a year and a half later – but please note, that specific Admiral was NOT even with the strike force at Pearl Harbor and did not even plan the details. The Dolittle Raid was a morale booster and proved to be a clever strategic move as well, but still was part of the overall war effort. Ideas such as kicking the Emperor out of his palace or wringing Tojo’s neck were tossed about for fun and to boost morale but in fact were simply fun stuff and had about as much impact on the war effort as the Blackhawk comic books. We did not worry about going after specific Axis leaders until the war was won.

There were those who said we should ignore Germany and Italy and focus on Japan, but fortunately wiser strategic minds prevailed and we chose to not only go to war in Europe but place first priority on that aspect. Even then, the first really big air attack we mounted was not on Germany, but on Romania, which technically was not even at war with us.

So why are we not blowing up Saudi Arabia and Egypt? The same reason we did not bomb the gun factories in Switzerland that were supplying the Nazis, the same reason we did attack Ploesti, and the same reason we sent thousands of airplanes and tanks to the Soviet Union. We were fighting a war to win, not trying for snappy sound bites and superficially satisfying gestures.

7/20/2007 04:10:00 PM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

W said: ..."I should emphasize that it is a subjective feeling, is that the section of the US military I have heard has come to a practical, working understanding of what fighting a networked insurgency entails."

In my two year experience fighting a "networked insurgency" back in the day, when I arrived the VC were almost running every village and half of the various depts. in the local governments. In the following years we literally dug them out, destroyed them and out thought them. Then as now, the population turned around and had more confidence in us and their government and started helping in the fight against the VC.

And it worked, the VC were virtually destroyed, driven to desperation and to impotence.

Kilcullen said: "The thing that drives these guys -- a sense of adventure, wanting to be part of the moment, wanting to be in the big movement of history that's happening now -- "

Yes, and religion is involved now where it was not with the VC. But even if that is true, most men (boys) don't want to die. They may like to talk big and be involved with something bigger than they are and such, but when it comes down to it, most will turn and run, not blow themselves up or attack superior forces.

Those that do have the religious fervor and the guts to push the button, can not be stopped by any force. The only thing that will stop them is someone that they trust convincing them that their religion really is against suicide and murder. There doesn't seem to be those voices available in the ME, that can do that convincing.

So they will continue to blow up themselves and others.

Soon we will have to endure that fact here in the United States.

W said: "Right now we can write a script line along the lines of Us versus Us (domestic politics) or Them versus Them (Gaza or Iraq). What a sorry being man is."

You’re too right. It seems with or without religion; man serves only his self interest. But with religion he can garner support from others and use that support and righteous emotion to continue doing terrible things while putting the burden of those terrible things on others or on his religion. Just another way of saying, "I was just following orders".

Bill said: "the spokeswoman missed that same point. A couple of reporters pinned her down on how the report proving we created a more lethal al Qaeda from Iraq. It was such an obvious response to say something like, “All sides in all battles become more lethal as they fight, until they are reduced and defeated.” But she wasn’t prepared. I believe that unprepared ness comes from the very top"

r (the following comment) gave an excellent answer and breakdown of what might have been. I only want to add one thing.

In discussions with hundreds on the net and scores in person, the one thing that people have said is that our President and his advisors are losing this "war" (actually the first two large battles) and doing great damage to our efforts. The second thing they mention is that Dr. Rice has been (or already was) hoodwinked by the liberals and realists at the State Dept. and that the State Dept. is the second biggest contributor to weakening our efforts world wide.

As an after thought, it is a shame upon everyone in our government that Bolton was kicked out in the first place and in the second place with not even acknowledging the great job that he did. (I am discounted greatly the pitiful words of the President).

Cedarford said: "The tribe with the 1st fire likely saw it as an excellent way to kill and burn out their rival tribes. And so on with each new innovation that gave a completive edge."

That is so true; man's basic instinct is towards himself and his. It still is, even if civilization has been trying to groom him to consider others also.

To no avail for thousand of years.

Except now, we have a large population of liberals with a socialist lean, mixed with a guilt and self destructive realist attitude.

Which if left unchecked, will assure the destruction of our Nation.

r said: "it's tough to talk with a young adult who has been mentally programmed since childhood that the Jews and Americans are his true and natural enemies, that they are responsibly for all his problems, that his god has commanded him to wage a war of death against his natural and most evil enemies in order to attain his salvation."

I have to agree, and even go so far to say that it is understated. By comparison, our children are being taught and raised to try and get along with everybody and spread the love, so to speak. To distrust and hoodwink authority and to champion those who are impoverished and those of color (but not the rednecks), while believing themselves above the masses, but not to let on about it.

pierrelegrand said:
"I believe that we are at war with Islam, we are fighting against a way of life that demands submission.

Out of all of the suppositions, opinions, plans, excuses and good ideas here on this thread...

This is the most important and true of all.

The Book of the Muslims, the book that they live their lives around, for and adhere to also directs them that if they are losing, they may surrender under false colors, lie and even appear to join the enemies of Islam, the Infidels in order to deceive them. They are instructed to bide their time, prepare for continuing the struggle against the infidel when it is better to do so.

They are never going to quit because their Qur'an tells that they can not.
Most do not take the radical way of subduing the Infidels, but the sly way of working their way into the governments of the infidel and changing the laws and customs so that Islam and in turn the Muslims will prosper and slowly take over the governments of the infidel.

That has been accomplished to a degree in Europe that is unbelievable, and small inroads are being made right now in the U.S.

Muslims as a whole don't want infidels dead; just to serve Muslims and Islam.

That is the way of it, saying it is not so is to sign your Nations life away, bit by bit.

nogenius said: "The US military needs to spend some more dollars on marketing their performance in battle and conflict."

That might help, but some would look upon it with distaste. Liberals would say that our Military is bloodthirsty warmongers at the very least.

What needs to happen as others here have said is for our President and his administration to market the purpose of making war, and the dangers that face this nation. You might think that they have done that, but they have not been effective and many there have been working at cross purposes and sabotaging and muddling any message to the American Public.

Then of course you have the liberals and democrats that are at war with this administration and will do anything to bring it down, and to regain the power that they seek so hungrily.

W said: " Now I know what it is. It's very dangerous when the real political capability comes to reside in the Armed Forces instead of the civic arms".

Great minds...I thought the same, but have been thinking it for a long time. Our State Dept and other civic arms have lagged so far behind or worked at cross purposes so long that they do more damage than good when they decide to try and get involved. Our CIA is a national disgrace and appears not to understand that or be on any track to reforming itself.

As said before, a military that has more influence and power than the government it works for is a recipe for disaster.

I'm a great believer in using war by proxy when it is possible and even contracting out some of our small battles and conflicts to private enterprise, but the military governing by proxy is just one giant step too far. But, what to do about it? There is but one answer to most of these questions.

Leadership. We must as a nation, find the leadership that will serve this Great Republic well and selflessly.

Great discussion, I hope someone in power would read it.

Papa Ray
West Texas
USA

7/20/2007 06:17:00 PM  
Blogger JakeGint said...

Thanks for the great discussion (and original commentary from W) as usual, gentlemen.

I really wish the Senate read this site.

7/21/2007 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

Papa Ray, sir,

Thanks for your tremendous post.

If you are still watching this thread (hard to do with Wretchard starting a new great thread every 15-20 secs.) - I'd love to hear more about what you are hearing in your graf below:

In discussions with hundreds on the net and scores in person, the one thing that people have said is that our President and his advisors are losing this "war" (actually the first two large battles) and doing great damage to our efforts.

How is Bush Administration losing it? Looks to me like they are the only ones fighting it at this point, besides the troops.

Is this what funny W used to call "fighting with everything except one pinky tied behind our back?"

7/22/2007 04:56:00 PM  

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