'87 Sir

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

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Where are all the Medal of Honor winners?

The question of why there are have not been more Medals of Honor awarded since 2001, particularly for living receipients has bothered me for a long time.

The New York Times magazine has a fascinating article out this weekend that deals with this issue.

Military bureaucracy aside, I agree that many more Medals should have been awarded, even if Iraq has been as controversial as Vietnam.

So, here is my theory.  Given the "reality show" and YouTube culture we live in, is it possible that the military is concerned, nay, scared to death that some PFC or Sergeant is gonna do something stupid and embarrass the military and what the MOH stands for?
Or, worse yet, turn into some rabid antiwar protester? 

I don't know, but my theory is that the military knows that dead heroes will never be anything but dead heroes.

I think this is a mistake, given the track record of Marines and soldiers awarded Navy or Distinguished Service Crosses, I think any service member awarded a MOH who lives to tell the tale would be aware of the responsibility they now bear.

Questions to ponder on Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Humor For Today

Some humor for today:

A U.S. Navy Admiral was attending a naval conference that included admirals from the U.S., English, Canadian, Australian and French Navies At a cocktail reception, he found himself standing with a large group of officers that included personnel from most of those countries. Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks but a French admiral suddenly complained that, whereas Europeans learn many
languages, Americans learn only English. He then asked, "Why is it that we always have to speak English in these conferences rather than speaking French?"

Without hesitating, the American Admiral replied, "Maybe it's because the Brit's, Canadians, Aussie's and Americans arranged it so you wouldn't have to speak German."


Robert Whiting, an elderly gentleman of 83, arrived in Paris by plane. At French Customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport in his carry on.

"You have been to France before, monsieur?" the customs officer asked sarcastically.

Mr. Whiting admitted that he had been to France previously.

"Then you should know enough to have your passport ready."

The American said, "The last time I was here, I didn't have to show it."

"Impossible. Americans always have to show their passports on arrival in France!"

The American senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look. Then he quietly explained, ''Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day in 1944 to help liberate this country, I couldn't find a single Frenchmen to show a passport to."

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What qualitative and quantitative considerations must we take into account in any examination of war?

An excellent question from my MILS521  - Strategy, Tactics, & the Operational Art 
In order to qualitatively and quantitatively analyze the operational art, some aspects clearly standout as lessons for military and political leaders.

The qualitative variables can be basically divided between technology, training & doctrine, and leadership. When comparing the operational capability of two or more opposing armies, the qualitative differences are fairly well discerned. Technology is probably the easiest to describe, for example the differences between the American and Iraqi forces in 2003 clearly gave American forces an operational edge.

Qualitative differences in leadership, training & doctrine can also be easy to tell if there is a clear differential, i.e., the difference between the Israeli and Arab armies in 1967 and 1973 is pretty stark. However, when tactical and operational differences are less obvious or telling, an operational comparison is more difficult. Allied and German forces were much more matched evenly matched at the tactical level in World War II, and many historians, like Max Hastings, give a marked qualitative edge to the Germans. However, other historians such as Rick Atkinson, note that Allied forces quickly adapted to the battlefield and were, by 1944, able to engage German forces much more successfully at the tactical, operational and most important, strategic level.

Quantitative issues would seem to be a more obvious marker of operational and strategic success, however history offers many examples where quantity did not always guarantee successor failure on the battlefield.

“God is on the side with the big battalions” is a common military maxim, but the American Civil War offers some excellent examples where this was not true at the operational or tactical level.

The Seven Days Campaign and battles of June 1862 shows how poor quality of leadership can negate a significant numerical advantage. General McClellan’s cautious approach to Richmond in spite of his overwhelming superiority gave his more audacious opponent Robert E. Lee time to marshal his forces for a counteroffensive to drive the Union army back. When the two generals met later, in September 1862 at Antietam, McClellan squandered his numerical advantage in a tactical setting by committing his army in piecemeal and uncoordinated attacks, allowing the outnumbered Confederates to shift forces along interior lines and fend off his offensive. When the armies met again in May 1863, the outnumbered Confederates were able to overcome their quantitative inferiority through superior battlefield awareness and tactical prowess to defeat a much larger Union army through a daring flank attack.

The interaction between qualitative and quantitative aspects of an army is also a factor to study in the operational art. Armies that know they must always fight outnumbered usually try to maintain a qualitative edge over their potential opponents, i.e. Frederick the Great’s Prussians, the modern Israeli Defense Forces. This qualitative edge will almost always provide a significant advantage over more numerous but poorly trained and equipped foes. However, if this qualitative edge slips, as it did in the first phase of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, it can provide a costly and severe challenge.

Qualitative and quantitative measurements are the beginning of understanding the operational art and provide a good basis for beginning a campaign or battle analysis.