'87 Sir

Thirty years of service ----USNA Class of 1987 '87 Sir

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Think Tanks and Reporters

Interesting article from the Wired Danger Room blog:

I agree with most of the author's premise, and I figure a reporter with good national security chops like Rick Atkinson or Thomas Ricks can be as much of a policy wonk as a retired general. 

I doubt, unlike the author, that there is a big worry, at least for now, of high-powered reporters becoming members of the "group think" for defense.  Ricks, for example, was highly critical of the military in Iraq in his book Fiasco, and although I haven't finished The Gamble yet, I can already sense his skepticism of the military in Iraq and the prospects for long-term success.  

Remember, with few exceptions, retired generals want to work for big fat defense contractors, not think tanks, where I doubt the get the cash Boeing or Lockheed Martin can pay, and ex-politicians want to become lobbyists, but reporters probably can't beat a good gig at a well know think tank-- so generals, politicians and reporters are unlikely to become drinking buddies in the long term.

And of course, I totally agree that most newspapers are going to hell in a handbasket and wouldn't recognize good military and national security reporting if it bit them in the ass....the days of Ernie Pyle, Hanson Baldwin have been replaced with ????? not a darn thing.  Most of the best war reporting these days is done by bloggers like:


BTW, I own Yon's book...it will be part of my Iraq War reading surge for early 2010....

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The State of Military History Part II

The most significant long-term trend for military historiography may be the emergence of “national security history"  a phrase coined by Edward Coffman in "The New American Military History," and Benjamin Cooling, in "Toward a More Usable Past: A Modest Plea for a Newer Typology of Military History," both published in the journal Military Affairs, now the Journal of the Society of Military History. The study of warfare can no longer be confined to military matters alone, but will almost always be integrated with political, economic, societal and cultural viewpoints. Although historians will continue to debate the level of influence of these factors on soldiers and strategy, the fact that warfare is too important to be left to the generals is no longer really in dispute. Warfare in the 21st century will involve all aspects of a country and proper military historiography must continue to adapt to remain relevant.

There are many encouraging signs that military history is gaining renewed respect in academic circles as well as increasing its military and public following. As the reality of global terrorism and conflict combine with the need to understand America’s recent military actions, the study of warfare is gaining some traction again at major universities. The result of military historians adapting to new research and historical methods, the new lines of inquiry in cultural, societal, and technical effects on warfare and militaries have broadened the appeal and potential for military historiography in an academic setting. Military history remains a legitimate and practical field within historiography. The recent trends underway assure a bright future of inquiry into this important field of human endeavor—“Historical examples clarify everything and also provide the best kind of proof in the empirical sciences. This is particularly true of the art of war.”

Hopefully this trend will continue....

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Well, not matter how much this current Administration would like to bury its head in the sand, (or stick it somewhere a little more descriptive), Iran is not going away as a problem.  2010 could very well go down in history as the year the U.S. and the international community allowed a rogue state run but ACUTAL religious fanatics and APOCALYPTIC thinkers, as opposed to the frightening Christian, right-wing, gun-totting, Tea Partyers feared by Barry and Rahm, to acquire nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them.

Going rogue - the militarization of Iran

Although this was, surprisingly, written in the Boston Globe, it still doesn't go far enough.  What will the Israelis do?  What will the international community do if the Israelis try to destroy the Iranian nuclear plants, missile factories and other military sites?  Will Obama and Co. throw them under the bus?  Like they have the pro-democracy protesters?

Iran Kills 5 Protesters in Fierce Clashes in Tehran, Witnesses Say

It's going to be a long, long year as the Dems try to whitewash, bribe, lie, cheat and steal to sell the crapsandwich "healthcare" bill to a pissed off public.  In addition, it is an election year, and no matter what sorta propaganda, Nancy and the gang pass off, she likes being Speaker and doesn't want to lose her position-and cool private jet courtesy of you and me.  So with more and more Dems looking over their shoulder at an electorate likely to toss them out on their fat butts, will Congress take effective action to stop the Iranian thugocracy?  Don't bet on it.  But hey, what's a couple of nuclear armed missiles compared to taxpayer funded abortion and plenty of Medicaid funding for Louisiana and Nebraska?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The State of Military History Part I

Military history today has become far more than tales of swords and muskets.  Although academic historians still view it with some suspicion, the certain realization that conflict and violence continue to play a role in the human condition will keep the need for military historiography alive.  In addition, military history continues to evolve to provide a deeper understanding of the process and meaning of warfare, and continues to be one of the few fields of historiography that can provide tangible benefit to its professional audience—members of the military and their political masters.  There are still many fields of historical inquiry that have only begun to be examined and these will not only provide some level of practical understanding, but create an inquiry into the nature of warfare itself and provide continuing avenues of historical evolution and inquiry.

What is warfare and how is it practiced in the age of global terrorism?  Most of military history consists of great battles between nation-states or their ancient equivalents.  However in this age of terrorism, renewed insurgencies and civil wars numerous non-state and transnational military actors have called into question traditional historical explanations of how warfare is waged.  The Middle East is full of these “non-state” actors such as Hezbollah in Lebanon that defy historical analogy and create a tremendous problem for military historians and strategic thinkers trying to fit them neatly into a construct as either a terrorist group, militia, army or political organization.

The role of technology and warfare will continue to be a controversial topic, but with a new explosion of information and media technology, the cultural and societal questions of warfare must now be examined on a worldwide versus a national stage.  Warfare is no longer the province of merely the combatants, but a world-wide audience of diplomats, commentators, propagandists and others that both observe and influence warfare.  As political violence becomes more decentralized and conducted on a world stage, military historians are still looking at weaponry and military technology and their effects on the battlefield, completely missing that the most potent weapon of the 21st century may be the internet webcam.

Related to both of these questions will be a need to understand warfare in a new political context as wars become not only affairs between or within nation-states, but truly global matters where transnational bodies and organizations begin to influence not only how wars start and are fought, but how wars end.  The role of international politics on the conduct of warfare, as well as the continuing evolution of domestic politics on the preparation and conduct of war has not been studied in the recent context of combat in the 21st century.  The proliferation of technologies, organizations and capabilities previously reserved for nation-states to transnational groups and organizations should also be a topic for military historians to consider.

Final post soon.......

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


This sort of bullsh** "lawfare" never ceases to really, reallly, really piss me off.

The incredibly tortured, convoluted logic that allows lefty, terrorist lovers like these Palestinian Solidarity Campaign idiots is amazing.  

HOW about some "War Crimes" indictments against the PALESTINIAN ARAB HAMAS MUSLIM terrorists who deliberately {<-emphasis on that word} shot rockets at Israeli CIVILIANS that unleashed the whoop-ass from the Israelis in December 2008?  Obviously the truth is just as inconvenient to these morons as it is to Al Gore.

I find it amazing that the Israelis are supposed to sit by and let Hamas, Hizbullah and all the other ARAB MUSLIM terrorists provoke them on an almost daily basis, but when the exercise their legitimate right of self defense, they are suddenly war criminals.  I think MS. Sarah Colborn, Palestinian Solidarity Campaign Director of campaigns and operations should spend a little time as a woman in Saudi Arabia, Gaza, or Afghanistan and then we can discuss Palestinian Solidarity......

Is history still relevant today?

The teaching and writing of history will always be important, if not always appreciated, part of the human intellect. Simplistically, history is the collected sum of knowledge of the events and people that have brought us to where we are today. History tries to tell the truth about both events in time and human nature while grappling with an ever-changing body of source material and new interpretations in how history should be considered.

The history profession is at a crossroads today in my opinion. The overspecialization and unfiltered influence of the Annales school and structuralism have caused history to be overly obsessed with what I call “revisionist” history. The desire to tell history from a gender, racial, or ethnic point of view can quickly cross a line from presenting untapped points of view on historical events to proselytizing against “traditional, patriarchic, and Euro-centric” history.

In spite of this tendency, history is more important today than ever as Americans seek to understand not only our own heritage in its proper context, but the history of other civilizations and cultures that have not been well understood. History, particularly economic, political, and military history are especially important as “applied” or “practical” humanities that can be used for informed decision making by business, government, and military leaders.

Unfortunately, I don’t think historians are listened to enough, particularly in the classroom. I suspect that one of the primary reasons is a lack of understanding (or instruction) by students on WHY history is important to them. Rather than a boring collection of dates, places, people, and events, I believe history teachers must be able to explain why events such as the American Revolution, Civil War, Cold War, civil rights movement, and other events are important to people now! I believe one of the best ways to do this is to tie current events to history via a cause and effect or some other analytic method to show students how today’s news becomes tomorrow’s history.

Historians have a vital role to play in educating not only our students, but also our policy makers. Too often, decisions are made without considering what has or hasn’t worked in the past, and although there is no such thing as a perfect historical analogy, there are certainly experiences and lessons from the past that are applicable today. It is the job of historians to bring these lessons forward and place them into the proper context for decision makers today.

More to follow......

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Current Status of Military History

The field of military history seems to have fallen on hard times in the last fifty years. Some academic historians have often commented that military history is to history what military music is to music—a discordant collection of works left to an insulated audience and no longer worthy of consideration in the wider discipline of modern historiography. Although military history remains a popular topic with the general public and continues to retain its utility to the military profession as a teaching tool, this rocky relationship appears to remain within the academic community.

However, beneath this surface malaise, military historiography is actually undergoing a renaissance with both the academic and military communities, as well as remaining very popular with the general public. This new appreciation for military history is driven in part by changes in military historiography during the last 50 years, moving beyond the traditional forms of historical narrative to incorporate other fields of study to examine a broader scope of militaries and warfare.

Military history usually brings to mind narratives of battles and campaigns and perhaps the occasional story of famous generals and leaders. Although these are certainly the most obvious aspects of this discipline of history, what really separates military history is the involvement of combat—a life or death struggle either on the individual, unit or national level. Military history grapples with many of the same issues that historians of all fields have grappled with, including how to integrate individual actions and events with an overarching narrative, cause and effect, and a very important questions for military historians- why were some countries and armies successful at war when others were not?

More to follow.......

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Revisionist History AT ITS WORST

Michelle Malkin has a great blog and I really read with interest this post:

Hollywood & Howard Zinn’s Marxist education project

Howard Zinn, is, in my opinion a bloviating Marxist whinner disguised as a historian.  I flipped through the COMIC BOOK version of his book (yes, I said comic book, I guess that's the only way liberals can read and understand history-comic books)  I find it hard to believe that the History Channel has anything to do with him and I've got to wonder if they have fallen off their rocker associating themselves with this nutball. 

Here's my question for Howie...if the U.S. is so bad, why not move to a Marxist paradise like Cuba or Venezuela?  And hey, I wonder if he has cashed all those royalty checks for his crappy books....just another liberal hypocrite like Michael Moore, Al Gore and all the other "do as I say and not as I do" limousine liberals.  

Friday, December 4, 2009

Which came first?

Okay, I don't usually blog about economics, since, as Clint Eastwood famously said, "A man's got to know his limitations."  Obviously, Obama and the Democrats in Congress don't understand how closed-loop feedback systems work and think they can command the economy to create jobs, thereby saving their "phoney-baloney jobs" as Mel Brooks once described corrupt politicians.

So, here's the first article: Job creation requires certainty, not government action
This article logically makes the case that "Small businesses create most of the jobs in an economy such as ours. But small businesses find it impossible to plan on expanding because they do not know what it will cost them to take on more staff.....This is not exactly a setting in which businessmen, especially small-business men, see a bright future. Uncertainty about some things, certainty about even worse things -- so hunker down, don't hire just yet, wait and see if things turn out as badly as it now seems likely they will."

More deficit spending on some phony jobs creation bill is not the answer.  Making smart decisions on tax policy, employer mandates, and regulation is the way to get jobs moving.

THIS is the more interesting article.  This guy is such a moron it nearly defies explanation, but I will give it a try:

Dems Doing Liberalism Badly

The crux of his argument is that liberalism is good, but Obama is screwing it up.  He clearly thinks that the porkulus bill should have been a "jobs" bill instead of a "stimulus" bill.  "It was Democrats' first big chance in decades to position government to affirmatively promote good, the keystone principle of active state liberalism from Lincoln to both Roosevelts to LBJ. Thereafter, the recovery of liberal thought was invested in the economic recovery act."  

CLUE IN DUFUS, that money wasn't about jobs or stimulus, it was a means to prop up sagging state governments (and unionized government employees), give lots of money to Democratic special interests and "build shovel ready projects" again with lots of union labor.

But his entire argument is flawed...the government does not CREATE jobs or wealth.  It uses TAXES taken from other people to pay its workers, buy its toilet paper and everything else.  This is money NOT available to the private sector.  In addition, all of the ridiculous regulations and policies don't help either....
trying to say liberalism is good, but being messed up by Obama and Pelosi is like saying communism was good, but the Russians were too stupid to make it work....

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Surrender by any other name is still surrender

Ralph Peters, one of my favorite Grouchy commentators has an excellent article in the NY Post.

Now Ralph is particularly acerbic, but he makes a good point-Wars are rarely won on a time table and the Taliban get a BIG vote in how things work out.  I think Obama clearly doesn't understand that annoying little tidbit.  I am also worried about how long it will take to get those troops into the country.  I read on another blog a very good point (don't remember the blog) that Afghanistan has lousy infrastructure and no port and rail system like Iraq.  SO it may take 6-9 months to get all the 30,000 troops in country, leaving the military only 6-9 months to make a difference.

Ralph is probably right that Obama is setting up the military to take the fall if his policy fails and he is forced (which he will be) by his lefty base to pull all the troops out of Iraq AND Afghanistan prior to the 2012 election...his choice to begin withdrawal of troops 1 year before the likely 2012 Defeatocrat Convention is no coincidence. 

If I was a real conspiracy nut, I would also say that Obama is setting up Gen. Petraeus to take the fall in order to keep him from becoming a potential political rival....not that he would EVER consider that in his calcuation....no I'm sure Rahmbo and the Axe would ever consider politics above national security....

Monday, November 30, 2009

My Prediction-"I was for the surge, before I was against it"

 Well the fix is in and the narrative is set, even  before President Obama (Urkel) goes in front of the nation today to explain his retreat policy for Afghanistan (at least that's my prediction).

POWERFUL Democrats (read liberal wacko Defeatocrats) are going to give the Prez two escape routes:
  • DANG, that war thing is expen-sive and we should be spending that money on something more important, like universal health workers at SEIU, ooops, I meant universal health care, and creating green jobs and funding more puppies and unicorns.
  • OH, and the Afghan government is SOOOO corrupt...look how they wasted $787 BILLION dollars, oops, my bad, that was OUR government.  But hey they had a rigged election...with Black Panthers intimidating white voters and everything...ooops, that was Philadelphia.  And they can't take care of their people, at least not like ACORN can...as long as you're pimps and 'hoes.  
Nonetheless, as Prez Urkel desperately tries to keep the loony left of his base happy before the 2010 election truck runs over the Dems and tries to placate those pesky generals trying to win a very difficult war, he will undertake some half-measure with a fixed timetable that the Taliban will LAUGH at before retreating into their caves or going back to their poppy fields and wait out the infidel Americans to leave...ouch, now I said it.

Obama does not want to take responsibility for this war, so his hacks on the hill try to blame Bush for "failing to get Obama., I mean Osama, ooops Freudian slip" in the fall of 2001.  Now, I won't excuse the decisions made at the time...their was a very conscious decision to keep our footprint on the ground and rely on the Afghans, which in retrospect was a mistake, but so was McClellan's Seven Days Campaign and John Pope's Manassas Campaign and you didn't hear Abe Lincoln whining about it!  He found a fighting general in Grant, gave him what he wanted and got the hell out of the way, knowing that VICTORY would be the best political result.

I fear we have Jimmy Carter and not Abraham Lincoln in the White House...or as someone once said, "Mr. Obama, you're no Abe Lincoln."  The good news is, Jimmy was a one-term President...will history repeat itself?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fascinating look at what might have been

Came across this article today talking about FDR's probable cancer and the fact that his doctors, probably with his consent or active participation, covered up his medical condition during his 1944 Presidential run for a 4th term.

The article raises a number of interesting what ifs?  Clearly FDR got run over by Stalin at the Yalta Conference and likely contributed to the Soviet takeover of Easter Europe after 1945.  The more intriguing question is who might have been President if FDR had died a year earlier or chosen not to run?  For various reasons, including his strong Soviet sympathies, Henry Wallace was not chosen as FDRs running mate, but who might have taken his place at the top of the Democratic ticket?  Harry Truman?  I doubt it.  It might have been a wide open floor fight in the day when the party bosses ran the convention.

Would Thomas Dewey have been electable and if so, what might have been different?  Dewey was an "establishment Republican", what we might call a RINO today on social issues, but he was a staunch anti-communist who might have stood up better to Stalin with a little backing from Winston Churchill.

FDR's reputation has taken a pounding lately, especially his Progressive social plan of the "New Deal" and his handling of Stalin and post-war Europe.  This potential revelation will not help it any.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Another Outstanding Work

Antony Beevor has written another excellent World War II history in this volume of the D-Day and Normandy Campaigns.  I read Beevor's book on Stalingrad for my Urban Warfare course and it was a very gritty look at one of the turning points of World War II.

As much as I dislike 'revisionist' history, I would actually have to say that in many aspects Beevor's book would qualify.  He looks at the Normandy Campaign from a much  more balanced perspective than many recent works, such as Steven Ambrose's excellent books and John C. McManus' two volumes focused on the American perspective of the battles.

Beevor spends half of the book detailing the fighting by British, Canadian and Polish soldiers around Caen, where, as he correctly points out, the Germans had as many Panzer divisions engaged as they did during the Battle of Kursk, arguably one of the largest tank battles in history.  He takes a great deal of issue with recent histories that credit the Russians with actually being more responsible for defeating the Nazis than the Western Allies.  Although the Russians certainly fought more German divisions, the intensity of the fighting in Normandy, both in terms of casualties and destruction, easily matched any fighting on the Eastern Front.

Most interestingly, Beevor tells the long-neglected tale of the French civilians who lived on the battlefield and struggled to survive through the grueling battles during the summer of 1944.  He also devotes a good deal of long overdue attention to the political and personality issues facing the Allies as they tried to keep together a fractious alliance together long enough to defeat a common enemy.  Needless to say, the French have truly been a pain in the ass for over 60 years, starting with Charles deGaulle.  Beevor pulls no punches in his criticism of many of the bad decisions by Allied military leaders and has a great deal of disdain for Bernard Montgomery.

The truly narrow margin by which the Allies won, should be a fixture of World War II "revisionist" history, in my opinion.  The myth that the Allies steamrolled over the Germans with a bottomless reservoir of men and material is shown by Beevor to be simply not true.  Britain, in particular, had a great deal of difficulty providing infantry replacements for the meatgrinder taking the city of Caen and it is not too much of an exaggeration to say that D-Day really was England's last throw in the war.  Although the Americans were in a little better shape, Beevor shows, but does not elaborate as much as he could, how the infantry replacements used by the U.S. Army were often cooks, artillerymen or other "soldiers" thrown into the line with little training, where they quickly suffered disproportionate casualties.  The U.S. Army's decision to limit the Ground Forces in World War II created a definite manpower crisis throught 1944 as heavy fighting caused 100% divisional turnover in many infantry divisions in the European Theater of Operations.  I reviewed Peter Monsoor's book detailing how the Army prepared infantry divisons for overseas missions and the many pitfalls in the manpower mobilization of the U.S. during the war.

This is a highly recommended book, no matter how many previous books you've read on D-Day and the Normandy Campaign.  As a first book on the subject for someone to read it really does shine.  He provides an extensive bibliography on his website and his research was clearly outstanding.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

More Brain Candy

Yup, Vince Flynn is my kinda brain candy...much like JD Robb, I consume these bad boys in about 72 hours...and I had to restrain myself with this one.  I have enjoyed all of the Mitch Rapp series and this book is a worthy successor.  I doubt Eric Holder has spent a long night reading these series of books, although I'm pretty sure they are on Dick Cheney's bookshelf.
Well done, Vince, can't wait for the next one...darn, gotta get back to my paper now.....


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Another viewpoint on the Russian military

UPDATED!  Another take on the current state of the Russian military...maybe not so good as I thought...as long as they have a nuclear arsenal, they are certainly a threat, but against their regional neighbors...I guess they hope Obama will surrender our allies to them and spare us all that messy war stuff.

The newest issue of Military Review, published by the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center offers an interesting critique of the Soviet military operation in Georgia.

The Russian military performed solidly if not spectacularly, but lost a lot of aircraft to Georgian SAMs.  According to the report, elite Russian paratroopers and SpecOps guys did a lot of the heavy lifting and helicopter support was not very well coordinated.

Why is this important?  Well, the Russians are on the prowl again and the situation is getting tense with Ukraine and Georgia again.  Since Obama threw the Eastern Europeans under the bus over missile defenses, what effect will that have on Putin and his cabal?  Time will tell.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Interesting Strategic Problem

My sister sent my this link to an editorial on the NY Times (gasp) about the end of World War II.
Now I know a LOT about World War II in the ETO, since it is one of my favorite topics, but the story of the U.S. 6th Army Group, consisting of the 7th US and 1st French Army is truly a neglected topic of World War II history. 

Well, looks like I may have to turn my attention to this topic, maybe over the holidays after my current class in historiography in done.

The controversy over the narrow front versus broad front in Europe in the fall of 1944 will likely rage for ever.  I can't honestly give an educated opinion other than I think too many people take a very simplistic view about how "beaten" the Wehrmacht was in the fall of 1944.  Although I don't disagree the Ike was a very political general (which he had to be), I don't at this point think that he was wrong to be worried about a German counterattack of any "narrow thrust" made by the Allies into Germany in late 1944.

But we'll see what this guy has to say.

Thanks, Sis...

Friday, November 20, 2009


Now Ralph Peters is one of my favorite grouchy military commentators.  His latest column takes aim at our military leadership for failing to provide President Urkel with more options on Afghanistan.

I don't agree with all of his points, clearly no matter what option this Administration, short of withdrawal and surrender of Afghanistan to the Taliban, the U.S. will need to send more troops.  Where I think Ralph's column falls short is understanding that this is not a military or strategic decision, it is a domestic political issue:  How many troops can Obama send without appearing to give up, but not annoying his DailyKos wing of the Democratic party.  For him it is a lose-lose situation, hence he is putting of a decision as long as possible.

Here are some other viewpoints on a very important debate that should not be politicized. (Although with this Administration, EVERYTHING is about politics)

The Cost of Dithering

The Hurry-Up Offense

Both of these articles are by military analysts I have read and respect.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week. 
George S. Patton

The fact that our Dear Leader has still not made a decision about reinforcing our troops in Afghanistan is becoming disheartening.  This doesn't seem like rocket science to me.  Either you decide to win the war or you don't.  It is clear that Obama is trying to figure out how to have his cake and eat it too...he can't anger his lefty base by spending more money on winning a war that could go to ACORN or SEIU, but at the same time, he has backed himself into a corner by calling Afghanistan the "good war" that must be won.

So our troops and the Afghan people pay the price while Obama, Rahm and Axelrod decide how to make sure they don't let this crisis go to waste.

Jimmy Carter would be proud....

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The "new" global war or terror? I don't think so.

Funny how history continues to repeat itself.  Christianity and Islam have, alas, been at war for over 1300 years, since the first bands of Muslims came surging out of the desert to attack CHRISTIAN held lands in the Middle East.  In fact, America has been battling Islamic terrorism, on and off, since our country's founding.  Why is this so hard to understand?

From AMERICAN SPHINX The Character of Thomas Jefferson by Joseph J. Ellis

"Several muslim countries along the North African coast had established the tradition of plundering the ships of European and American merchants in the western Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic, capturing the crews and then demanding ransom from the respective governments for their release. In a joint message to their superiors in Congress, Adams and Jefferson described the audacity of these terrorist attacks, pirates leaping onto defenseless ships with daggers clenched in their teeth. They had asked the ambassador from Tripoli, Adams and Jefferson explained, on what grounds these outrageous acts of unbridled savagery could be justified: "The Ambassador answered us that it was founded on the laws of the prophet, that it was written in their koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their [islams] authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners...."

This event occured between 1784-1789 while Jefferson was ambassador to France and Adams (2nd president) was ambassador to England.

Friday, November 13, 2009

My Weakness

Okay, so sometimes I like trashy, brain-break kinda books.  Although JD Robb writes very classy brain candy books.  The combo of sci-fi, mystery, just a little romance (but not chick lit) makes these great books.  This is the kabillionth book in the series and Nora Roberts (JD Robb) is clearly making big bongo bucks off these books.

SO when will someone figure out what a gold mine of a TV series this would be....better than Women's Murder Club and nearly as fun to watch as Castle, my favorite TV show.

NO, I don't watch the History Channel all that much...too elementary for me...I could write most of that stuff. :)  {No my ego is not as big as Barrack Obama's I know I can't walk on water}

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

More Ugliness in the Middle East

This is not going to end well. Israel takes no crap from anyone and I seriously doubt if Benjamin Netanyahu is going to place Israel's safety in the hands of Barrack Hussein Obama.  The Israelis will not sit by and let Iran go nuclear with Hizbullah parked next door with hundreds of ballistic missiles.

Israel Says Hezbollah Has Capability to Hit Major Cities

When push comes to shove, the Israelis know the UN hates them, the Europeans despise them and the Arabs want to kill them, so they don't give a rat's ass about bombing Damascus and Tehran into glass.

Obambi had best wake up and figure out that the Russians, Chinese and UN aren't going to stop Iran, but the Israelis darn well might.  Wouldn't it be much better to have a Green Revolution and let the Iranians solve their own problems?


Veteran's Day

Today we honor all those who served and continue to serve.  General of the Army Douglass MacArthur's farewell address to West Point says it best:
"Duty, Honor, Country: Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying points: to build courage when courage seems to fail; to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith; to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.....The unbelievers will say they are but words, but a slogan, but a flamboyant phrase. Every pedant, every demagogue, every cynic, every hypocrite, every troublemaker, and, I am sorry to say, some others of an entirely different character, will try to downgrade them even to the extent of mockery and ridicule.....And through all this welter of change and development your mission remains fixed, determined, inviolable. It is to win our wars. Everything else in your professional career is but corollary to this vital dedication. All other public purpose, all other public projects, all other public needs, great or small, will find others for their accomplishments; but you are the ones who are trained to fight.....Yours is the profession of arms, the will to win, the sure knowledge that in war there is no substitute for victory, that if you lose, the Nation will be destroyed, that the very obsession of your public service must be Duty, Honor, Country......Others will debate the controversial issues, national and international, which divide men's minds. But serene, calm, aloof, you stand as the Nation's war guardians, as its lifeguards from the raging tides of international conflict, as its gladiators in the arena of battle. For a century and a half you have defended, guarded and protected its hallowed traditions of liberty and freedom, of right and justice."

Read the full speech...puts our current Apologizer in Chief to shame...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Getting the Freak on in Korea

Does anyone think this is a coincidence?

Navies of 2 Koreas exchange fire near border

The North Koreans don't do anything by chance.  This is a clear attempt by the whiny little Norks to get Obama's attention on their demand for hostage negotiations on their nuclear program.  

The question is how will this Administration respond?  Will they try to buy off the Norks like the Clintonistas?

The Center for a New American Security, the current think tank de jour has a new report out on how to negotiate with North Korea.

 I am a tad skeptical.  Maybe after we board and capture on of their arms exporting ships, or use our Aegis ships to shoot down one of their ICBM tests, then the little Commies might negotiate, but I doubt it.
Obama's feckless foreign policy is truly world wide.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Russian Military on the Rebound?

The newest issue of Military Review, published by the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center offers an interesting critique of the Soviet military operation in Georgia.

The Russian military performed solidly if not spectacularly, but lost a lot of aircraft to Georgian SAMs.  According to the report, elite Russian paratroopers and SpecOps guys did a lot of the heavy lifting and helicopter support was not very well coordinated.

Why is this important?  Well, the Russians are on the prowl again and the situation is getting tense with Ukraine and Georgia again.  Since Obama threw the Eastern Europeans under the bus over missile defenses, what effect will that have on Putin and his cabal?  Time will tell.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Virginia becomes the first chink in Obama's armor

Dang, it's getting more crowded under that Obama bus.  Now the Obamabots are gonna throw Creigh Deeds under the bus and make sure President Urkel does not take any heat.  Now I can't disagree with the notion that Deeds ran a feckless campaign, even with the supreme help of the Washington Post's hit piece on McDonnell's 20 year old term paper.  McDonnell has been running for Governor unopposed for two years and has built an incredible campaign.

And of course, embracing Obama today is probably not gonna sell well with Virginians outside of Richmond and Norfolk with their heavily minority populations.  The key to Virginia is Northern Virginia, and I think folks here are getting some buyer's remorse, especially when they figure out they are the "rich" that Urkel wants to tax to pay for everything.  (Are you listening Gerry Connolly? 'cause, you're next)

So, another one bites the dust to redeem the image of the Obamasseah.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Discussion on History: Amatuer or Professional?

A profession is defined as “a calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation.” This was certainly true of the historical profession during the late 1800 and early 1900s as the university system began to spread and history acquired its own methodology and set of standards.  Instruction in historical research and writing became more academically rigorous, causing not only the decline of amateur writers but affecting how history was written, especially in the United States.  As academic history became more widespread, it assumed the basic form that continues today, particularly the emphasis on scholarly research, critical analysis of primary sources, and most importantly, the use of the thesis as a stepping-stone and “rite of passage” to becoming a full-fledged university professor.

 The debate about professional versus amateur historians also continues to this day.  While amateurs are no doubt looked down upon by some academic historians, the fact is that within their particular topic of interest, many amateurs, particularly correspondents, have written outstanding works, including Rick Atkinson, who won the Pulitzer Prize in History for An Army at Dawn in 2003.  The skills of research, collation of sources, critical thinking, and incisive writing take time and practice but are not confined to the historical profession.  The primary difference between amateurs and professionals is the intended audience.  Although I have read outstanding works by history professors, I have also read just as many sharp works by enthusiastic amateurs, particularly in the fields of military and political history.  In my opinion, academics often write truly scholarly, but dreadfully dry and boring articles for publication in peer-reviewed journals.  Amateurs want to sell books, so they write for a more general audience and try, sometimes with mixed results, to write outstanding narrative history that gets the “facts” right, but tells a story that Romantic historians would no doubt approve.  Although they were not PhDs, I would postulate that few American history professors could write history like Shelby Foote or David McCullough.

The continuing disputes about historical objectivity also seems a little baffling to me—the whole point of history should be to strive for the truth as best the sources can tell you.  When new sources are discovered, then the historical truth should change without invalidating the overall calling of the historian to seek objectivity. 

World War II history is a good example of this issue.  Almost all military history written about the European Theater had to be rewritten after the disclosure of the Ultra code-breaking program in the 1970s.  However, that didn’t necessarily mean that history written before knowledge of Ultra was useless or false, it merely didn’t tell the whole story.

The professionalization of history was necessary to bring some accepted standards and consistent methodology to the practice of history.  However, the amateur still has their place in the highly specialized and prolific writing of history today.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Navies and COIN Warfare

Just saw this article on navies in counterinsurgencies.  Small Wars Journal is one of my favorite web sites.  It will be fascinating to read about the riverine war in Iraq and the role of Coalition forces on the Iraqi oil terminals in the Persian Gulf.  And of course, someone will doubtless pen a story of their time in the Narmy, supplementing the many staff jobs in Iraq and Afghanistan.  {That's Navy guys assigned to an army staff and given small arms training, scary stuff...Navy guys with M-4s)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Thought For The Day

.... You ask, What is our policy? I will say; "It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us: to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy." You ask, What is our aim? I can answer with one word: Victory - victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival.

Sir Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965)

Good advice from a true statesman and wartime leader to a sad empty-suit wannabe.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Today is the Anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt, one of the most important battles of the Hundred Years War.   Of course since there were no women, Hispanics, lesbians, blacks or other oppressed minorities, not much is mentioned about this battle today, but it was a major turning point in European history.  And of course, it inspired one of my favorite motivational speeches of all time.

St. Crispen's Day Speech
William Shakespeare, 1599
                                  Enter the KING
         WESTMORELAND. O that we now had here      
        But one ten thousand of those men in England      
        That do no work to-day!      
        KING. What's he that wishes so?      
        My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;      
        If we are mark'd to die, we are enow      
        To do our country loss; and if to live,      
        The fewer men, the greater share of honour.      
        God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.      
        By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,      
        Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;      
        It yearns me not if men my garments wear;      
        Such outward things dwell not in my desires.      
        But if it be a sin to covet honour,      
        I am the most offending soul alive.      
        No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.      
        God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour      
        As one man more methinks would share from me      
        For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!      
        Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,      
        That he which hath no stomach to this fight,     
        Let him depart; his passport shall be made,      
        And crowns for convoy put into his purse;      
        We would not die in that man's company      
        That fears his fellowship to die with us.      
        This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.      
        He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,      
        Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,      
        And rouse him at the name of Crispian.      
        He that shall live this day, and see old age,      
        Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,      
        And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'      
        Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,      
        And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'      
        Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,      
        But he'll remember, with advantages,      
        What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,      
        Familiar in his mouth as household words-      
        Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,      
        Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-      
        Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.      
        This story shall the good man teach his son;      
        And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,      
        From this day to the ending of the world,      
        But we in it shall be remembered-     
        We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;      
        For he to-day that sheds his blood with me      
        Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,      
        This day shall gentle his condition;      
        And gentlemen in England now-a-bed      
        Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,      
        And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks     
        That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

New Report on Afghanistan

The continuing waffling on Afghanistan by President Urkel Obama is becoming almost criminal.  I can't figure this out, other than to assume that Urkel and his minions are deciding on a way to gracefully dump Afghanistan so they have more money for spending on votes.

The complete BS with the recent elections would seem to be their narrative on retreating.  I mean, hey, if a bunch of sheepherders can't buy votes like ACORN does, screw'em.  I mean seriously, Al Qaeda probably has very fair election for head suicide bomber, supervised by SEIU I'm sure.

The bigger point, of course is not Afghanistan, but Pakistan, where this disturbing news came out this week.  Punjabi Taliban threat growing

If the Pakistanis can not depend on their Punjabis, then we (the world) are in serious dog doo.  The prize here is not Afghanistan, which nobody gives a rat's patoootie about..Pakistan has 100 million people, nuclear weapons and a large and well equipped military.  If it falls into extremist Islamic control, the consequences would be BAD.  Forget Al Qaeda getting their hands on a few nukes, that's just another crisis not to waste, according to Rahm "Fishwrapper" Emanuel.  But the Indians will NEVER put up with that.  They know first hand what Pakistani sponsored terrorists are capable of doing.  What would Urkel do?  Good question..not one I want to know the answer too.
While Urkel decides on his next move in the REALLY important war on Fox News, here the latest assessment by the Center for a New American Security on Afghanistan.  I don't quite agree with the author's conclusion that the government can't fall, if Urkel has his way and starts pulling out troops so we don't support an "illegitmate" government, then anything is possible.

Remember, PAKISTAN, PAKISTAN...I know most of our recent high school and college graduates probably can't find it on a map, but they will!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Future War and the U.S. Army

As the U.S. military winds down six years of major combat in Iraq and shifts resources to salvage a seemingly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, the U.S. Army has begun to reexamine it strategic planning for the future.  The decisions made during this process will have long-term effects not only on current operations, but future doctrine, strategy, training and acquisitions.  Therefore, the decisions must be made carefully and with a longer-term focus than the current counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations.

As warfare or the threat of force is likely to remain a valuable tool for conducting international affairs, the Army must consider the types of threats it is likely to face.  These threats fall into three basic categories:  high-intensity conventional combat against a significant regional power (i.e., China or North Korea), continued global action against Al Qaeda and other counterterrorism actions, or a hybrid conflict where the Army may face a terrorist or insurgent group armed and equipped for conventional combat (i.e., Hizbullah).  Although each of these potential threats may be countered with similar tactical abilities at the small unit level, their operational and strategic challenges will pose a very different challenge for the Army as it is currently organized and equipped today.  Any military action by the United States in the next twenty years will also be greatly complicated by the expected proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) capabilities to potential adversaries, particularly in the Persian Gulf and South Asia regions of the world.  Additional gray areas of international diplomacy where U.S. forces may be deployed against a failed state or even a full-fledged state sponsor of terrorism will present unique diplomatic and political challenges further complicating these military operations.  Combined with these potential threats is the high probability the U.S. military will find itself on a nuclear or chemical battlefield where the threat of regional powers armed with ballistic missiles equipped with WMD warheads will immensely complicate not only American strategy, but operations as the entire battlespace becomes threatened with attack.

As the Army continues to develop their strategy for conflicts beyond the current Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns, there are also number of potential “wild cards” that could have an unforeseen and potentially significant effect on Army doctrine, training and strategy:

•            The rise of unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) systems, including potentially armed systems, could become a major force multiplier for combat operations, particularly in the urban environment.  The Army has experimented with these systems on a limited basis, but the planned procurements of major new UGV systems was cut from the FCS program.  As all branches of the military begin to integrate unmanned systems of all types into daily operations, the potential for UGVs to take over many of the more dangerous tasks such as disarming or destroying IEDs and potentially engaging enemy armored units, their potential is nearly limitless.  The Army will need to ensure that doctrine and strategy keeps pace with technology development, and their integration with soldiers in the field is handled in a concerted manner.

•            U.S. military forces have basically assumed that air and electronic dominance will be a fixture for future military operations.  But as computer and information technology proliferates and non-state forces such as Hizbullah develop more sophisticated capabilities, the U.S. military could very well find itself in a degraded environment where American dominance in C4ISRT can not be assured.  In addition, the potential for hostile countries to marry WMD with ballistic missiles would intensely complicate the air defense picture at a time when air defense assets are being downsized within the Army.  The ability of U.S. forces to fight dispersed combat in a degraded environment is likely to be a key component of future strategy and tactics.

The U.S. Army has just begun to address many of the issues needed to move into the 21st century and face a new serious of threats.  This effort will be complicated by the need to successfully conclude current operations while recapitalizing most of its combat equipment inventory.  The Army will need to carefully balance a set of fairly well defined threats and capabilities with entirely new kinds of asymmetrical threats from opponents able to exploit new technologies and political situations.  The potentially revolutionary technologies that could change the basic role of the soldier on the future battlefield should also be carefully considered as intelligent and autonomous robotic technologies assume some of the more hazardous tasks of combat. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Future of Warfare?

My professor for Contemporary Tactical Thought posed a very interesting question about the use of unmanned vehicles and whether the days of the fighter pilot were numbered. A very good question and here is my response.

The introduction and proliferation of unmanned vehicles has revolutionized much of how Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance, and Targeting (ISRT) are conducted on the modern battlefield. The development of the unmanned aerial combat vehicle (UCAV) is likely to be as revolutionary to warfare as the airplane itself. Assuming that either remote or autonomous capabilities can be developed, it is highly likely that he UCAV will take over many of the more dangerous duties of air warfare, particularly “Wild Weasel” missions for the suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD). As loiter times and payloads are increased unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and UCAVs will likely become the weapon of choice for on-call close air support and targeting of selected high-value targets as is already happening in Pakistan.

As far as ground combat, unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) will also continue to handle particularly dangerous jobs, such as clearing improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and scouting terrain during urban combat. The development of remote or autonomous controls will also give UGVs the potential to perform valuable perimeter security duties for installations.
However, there are certain missions that will still require boots on the ground. Only an infantryman on patrol can truly conduct successful counter-insurgency operations via interaction and intelligence gathering from the local population. Many special operations missions will continue to require highly-trained personnel able to make split-second decisions based on a fluid situation. Peacekeeping or peacemaking missions like the Balkans will also require boots on the ground, for a political statement if nothing else.

The Department of Defense FY2009–2034 Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap lays out a very ambitious agenda for integrating unmanned vehicles as force multipliers. There will likely be major changes to doctrine, strategy and tactics as the capabilities of these systems evolve and they become more ubiquitous on the battlefield. However, a lot more work must be done on autonomy, power systems, and payload capabilities before these vehicles assume a major tactical role.

It is probably not too much of a stretch however, to state that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter may be the last manned fighter plane the U.S. ever builds.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Two views of the future, each equally grim

These two works of fiction, both scary in their own right present two different and ominous views of the future that I fear Barrack Hussein Obama is potentially accelerating with his feckless, naive and utterly dangerous foreign policy.  In Tom Kratman's novel, set in the early 22nd Century, Europe has become a completely Muslim controlled continent, where the declining birthrates and lack of courage in defending their heritage and culture against an Islamic onslaught has rendered Christians in Europe an oppressed minority subject to Sharia law.  Kratman does not paint a pretty picture, with slavery of Christians (yes slavery, especially concubinage of Christian girls to pay taxes)  becoming commonplace as Europe stagnates into backwardness, just as most of the Middle East is now.  His novel also has a terrorist nuclear attack on America in the early 21st Century which turns America into an expansionist, overreacting Fascist state, ala George W Bush on steroids.  The novel itself is pretty workman like with a plot that's been done a thousand times, but the characters, background and setting of the story are what is truly scary.  Islam run unchecked will not be pleasant for non-believers.
Ralph Peters' novel is equally scary and a little preachy.  Peters is one of my favorite military commentators and is very much a grouchy historian.  His novel is set in a post-apocalyptic world where Israel has been destroyed by Iran, the U.S. and Europe have suffered nuclear terrorism and the U.S. and Europe revert to fascist states that persecute and essentially destroy their Muslim populations before embarking on a new "Crusade" to recover Jerusalem.  Peter's draws upon many of the themes of his early book, Wars of Blood and Faith, a pithy tome of his newspaper columns from the height of the Iraq War in 2006-2007.  Peters clearly thinks that Christians are at least as capable of religious killing as Muslims, a point I might disagree with, but if the U.S., Europe and Israel suffered nuclear attacks, who knows...there might be some glassy areas of the Middle East.  In any event Peters is also very skeptical of the U.S. military's dependency and assumption of technical superiority over future opponents and as a fictional account of how future war could happen when the electronic spectrum is so full that NOBODY'S high-tech toys works, this book is an excellent cautionary tale.  Could the U.S. military fight without GPS, SATCOM, air supremacy and against an opponent willing to die in great numbers?  Good questions for real life.
In any event, I highly recommend these two books, Kratman's especially as a fictional wakeup call for why we must absolutely WIN in Afghanistan and not surrender as I fear this Administration is getting ready to do.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Really good book w/ a warning

I have nearly finished Meyer's masterful narrative history of World War I and have really enjoyed it.

Meyer writes a fairly high level history of the war, not delving into the nitty-gritty of individual campaigns or battles, but telling a more comprehensive story about the war as a truly European War.
 Like most Americans who read WWI history, I tend to read about the Western Front, and lately about the American experience of the war.  Of course, much as in World War II, there was a much grander war being waged on the Eastern Front, and Meyer points out the tragic missteps, stupid blunders and outright bad luck that prevented the Russians from playing a more decisive role in the war, potentially preventing the tragedy of the Russian Revolution and Communism.

I think the biggest lesson of this book and the war in general was the sheer tragedy and waste of it all and how Europe, which seemed to be entering another Golden Age, descended into four years of unspeakable savagery.  The British Army had almost 20,000—yes that’s 20,000 dead the first day of the Somme Offensive in 1916, can you imagine the 2009 New York Times wrapping their brain around that??  The fact that the monarchs of Britain, Russia and Germany were all related didn’t stop them from killing millions (did you know that?  They were all sons or grandsons of Queen Victoria, ironic huh?)

So what does this mean today?  Just like people said in 1914-“Europe can’t go to war, they are too economically interdependent” or “Don’t worry any war will be short and decisive”..History can have a nasty way of repeating itself.  What do people say now? “Oh, the internet and global communications have made us one giant village” and “The U.S. and China or the U.S. and Russia could never go to war, what about the nukes?”

But consider this…what if terrorists sheltered and funded by Pakistan blew up another hotel in India, killing hundreds, or carried out multiple attacks that killed thousands.  India responds militarily and things spiral out of control, ala Serbia and Austria-Hungary 1914.  Maybe China, sensing an opportunity, backs Pakistan and moves troops to the China-Indian border, which has been under dispute for 50 years.  And, what if the unthinkable (at least to Western sensibilities) happens and Pakistan fires off a nuke…India responds, maybe against China too out of desperation and fear.  Where would the U.S. and Russia line up?  What about Iran and the other Muslim states? 

The potential for misstep would truly be catastrophic on a global state.  Forget the hopelessly lost, dazed and confused Administration of Barrack Obama, this would be a challenge for any U.S. President—although Obama truly scares me ‘cause I don’t think he could handle this.
So, if you can find a copy, enjoy Meyer’s book and keep thinking…we’re much to civilized to let this happen to us right?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The US Army-Not Ready for the GWOT.

      As the hijacked airliners hit their targets on September 11, 2001, the U.S. Army was in the midst of its biggest debate on doctrine, technology and future warfare since the end of the Vietnam War.

     The end of the Cold War, the stunning victory over Iraq in Operation Desert Storm, and numerous peacekeeping missions in the 1990s had, in many ways, set Army doctrine adrift, unsure if the next war would be an armored slugfest or a fight against Third World street militias.  Combined with a lack of a clear future threat, the Army was also undergoing a major technological shift and its implications on doctrine, strategy, and training was still not understood.  This left the Army unprepared for the multiple types of warfare it would face in Afghanistan and Iraq.

     When the Army was called out to conduct operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the current doctrine was not really suitable for the mission at hand.  Consequently, the Army was not ready for any of the three types of conflicts it would face.  In Afghanistan, the logistical requirements for conducting force projection would have been daunting.  Fortunately, there was a viable Afghan resistance force in the Northern Alliance and the Army was able to quickly adapt to the situation by deploying Special Forces in a classic low-intensity conflict scenario for special operations forces.  These highly trained troops were able to work with the Afghan resistance and provide targeting for close air support missions in support of these fighters.  Although a successful raid by a Ranger battalion was conducted during the early part of the war as a show of force, conventional Army forces played virtually no role in the initial overthrow of the Taliban.

     Iraq would be another matter and would ultimately show not only the limitations of the Army’s conventional warfighting strategy but the eventual need to rewrite the Army’s counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine and relearn many hard lessons from Vietnam that the Army had institutionally lost.  During the planning stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom during 2002, Central Command (CENTCOM), the American joint command charged with running both the ongoing war in Afghanistan and the Iraq invasion planning, tried to fall back to the tried and true planning scenario from Operation Desert Storm-weeks of a massive air campaign, followed up by an overwhelming multi-corps armored thrust into Iraq.  Unfortunately, the operational and strategic circumstances had changed and that plan was no longer feasible.  The additional armored corps that had been shipped from Germany to Saudi Arabia in 1990 no longer existed after the Clinton budget cuts, and CENTCOM now had available less than half the maneuver battalions available in Desert Storm.  The plan that eventually emerged was a significant change in operational thinking that involved more risk, but played to traditional American strengths of decentralized command and control combined with rapid maneuver.  However, even though the revised strategy of a simultaneous air-ground campaign proved successful, the extremely long flanks and exposed supply lines of the American forces, combined with bad weather, nearly brought the offensive to a halt after the first four or five days.  The two additional two divisions were required to reduce bypassed cities and root out Iraqi fedayeen irregular fighters that had been attacking supply convoys.  The initial phase of the Iraqi invasion revealed a fundamental flaw in American ground doctrine-there was no longer a “rear” area with a well defined forward edge of the battle area (FEBA).  Traditional combat support and combat service support units now had to be tracked and protected as an integral part of the maneuver force.  This fact would remain a critical factor in military operations throughout the entire Iraqi Campaign. 

     Once Baghdad fell, the biggest gap in Army doctrine and thinking became apparent and nearly led to the failure of the overall Iraqi campaign.  CENTCOM, and indeed the entire American military and foreign policy establishment, expected to transition from combat operations to another Balkans-type peacekeeping scenario, where U.S. troops and coalition allies would administer Iraq and conduct benign nation-building missions until an interim Iraqi government could be established.  The insurgency that erupted took American commanders on the ground by surprise and the Army had no suitable doctrine for conducting COIN operations in an urban environment.  Most of the MOOTW doctrine had assumed that some sort of cease-fire and negotiated peace was in place prior to a military presence and conducting ‘armed’ nation-building, particularly in an urban environment was not something the Army, or American military in general, was doctrinally prepared.  As a result, the Army carried out essentially search and destroy missions reminiscent of the Vietnam era, which achieved about the same results-plenty of dead insurgents and a sullen and hostile population.  Combined with an overall lack of understanding of the Sunni-Shia political struggle, this doctrine nearly lost the war by the summer of 2006.
     A complete revision of American COIN doctrine was undertaken by a joint Army-Marine Corps group led by senior officers from both services with extensive Iraq experience.  FM 3-24, published in December 2006, was a major component in the change of strategy from killing insurgents to protecting the Iraqi population that led to the success of the 2007 surge.
In addition to the changes to doctrine and training, the Army has also reconsidered the need for heavy armor and mechanized units.  The ability of both the Army and Marines to operate mechanized units in an urban environment successfully has called into question the wisdom of adapting a smaller, lighter force more vulnerable to the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) used so heavily by insurgent fighters in Iraq.  Although the Army continues to integrate lighter units built around the Stryker wheeled armored vehicle, the days of the tank do not appear to be over yet.

The Army was clearly not prepared for the widely varied types of combat encountered from 2001-2009.  Although great strides have been made in addressing doctrinal and strategic shortfalls, the Army must again decide what the future land warfare environment will be and how to adapt.  As doctrine drives technology and vice versa, the lessons of nearly eight years of warfare have not been fully incorporated into the Army’s strategic thinking and the full influence of the Iraq and Afghanistan Campaigns on Army doctrine has yet to play out.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Surprisingly Good Book

This book about the wartime and post-war professional relationship between Dwight Eisenhower and George Marshall was much better than I expected.  I don't generally read biographical books and my knowledge of the Allied High Command has been lacking.  This book did a good job of filling that need.  Well written, if in need of a little trivia checking (the 82nd  AB not the 101st parachuted onto the Salerno beachhead) and a little less opinion by the author (although I agreed with most of them) would have made this a really outstanding book.  I will admit I just skimmed the post-war relationship between Eisenhower and Marshall, since that wasn't my interest, but overall well done.  It continues to amaze me, the more I learn, how the Allies managed to hold together and win the war.  The British and American high commands really, really didn't like each other very much most of the time, and it was only the sheer will of Roosevelt and Franklin that kept the war going, it seems to me.  The Allied relationship nearly brokedown over British and American machinations to get their strategy pushed as the Allied strategy and the book really shows how Eisenhower was truly the right man in the right place to make it all work together.  Every new book I read convinces me that the victory was much, much more narrow than most people, and sadly, most conventional texts, think.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Retreat Begins

I have to say, I am sorry I am right. The Dems are beginning the process of retreating from Afghanistan, and by extension Pakistan.

Senate Armed Services Chairman: No More U.S. Troops to Afghanistan

I called this months ago in a number of posts describing how an Obama Administration might play out and the nightmare consequences.

I also saw the left wing of the Defeatocrat Party signaling surrender even before Mr. Hope and Change took office.

And I knew it would get worse as the Dems started looking for ways to pay for all their ridiculous spending.

But I am even more alarmed now because the connection between Pakistan and Afghanistan is becoming more and more clear to me. If the Taliban establish safe haven in Afghnaistan, which they will if the Dems have their way, then the strategic prize becomes Pakistan, a NUCLEAR armed and very unstable state.

Surely this is clear to the Administration? How can we hammer Pakistan to deal with their Islamic insurgency when we won't deal with the one next door.

Scary, scary stuff

Shaheen-II / Eagle-I / Hatf-6 / Ghaznavi IRBM  from www.globalsecurity.org

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Iraq War-The Early Years

Thomas Ricks pulls no punches in the first of his two volumes on the Iraq War. The title pretty much sums his opinion of the American military effort from 2003-2006. He spends a considerable amount of text on the detainee issues leading up to the Abu Ghraib scandal and does an admirable job of highlighting the difference between the Army and Marine Corps approach to counter-insurgency. This is not a military history per se, but does give a sense of the overall ebb and flow of America's efforts to contain an insurgency that was neither expected or understood. Ricks is particularly hard on American military and civilian leadership and clearly shows his disdain for Rumsfeld, Bremer and Bush during this period. It should be interesting to contrast this book with his follow-0n volume The Gamble.