Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Hat Trick

"Which road should I take?" she asked the cat.
"Where do you want to get to?" the cat asked helpfully.

"I don't know," admitted Alice.

"Then," advised the cat, "any road will take you there."

--Cheshire Cat,
from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

We all knows times are not good, so corporate members often have to wear many hats. Add to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates's vita that of necromancer or magus. It is unclear if he matriculated an accredited program at the Hogworts School.

Gates says, "today's enemies are the foes of the future,"
conventional conflicts are probably passe, and warns the Pentagon not "to fall back on Cold War mentalities." Are these diktats based upon intelligence, or is he pulling this out of his magic hat?

Historically our enemies have morphed into trade partners, so what does he have that indicates the future would be otherwise? China, Italy, Germany were all enemies who now regularly trade and inhabit our world.

When Gates says, "the armed services and their corporate counterparts should steer technology and resources toward battling insurgencies," exactly how and when did the U.S. become the epicenter of COIN? It is still the "Department of Defense," not "Department of COIN."

The U.S. should not feel compelled to fight insurgents unless they're in the streets of America.
Let other countries fight their own insurgencies; putting our horse in the race only complicates the bookkeeper's job.

Gates also addressed the need to prioritize current needs versus projected ones:

He mentioned the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected truck, a $1 million vehicle designed to protect U.S. troops from improvised bombs that Gates said met resistance because some officials said it would not be useful after the war in Iraq. He said that in more than 150 attacks on MRAPs, only six soldiers died, citing it as an example of a system that troops need now but that is "competing with the funding for future weapons systems with strong constituencies inside and outside the Pentagon (Defense Secretary Urges Military to Mold Itself to Fight Iraq-Style Wars.)"

Just imagine if the U.S. would quit their job as Baghdad security guards. We wouldn't need the MRAPs and no soldiers would be dying. Saves lives, saves money. Sounds like an aphorism even George Bush could spit out.

Similarly Gates spoke of the Air Force's F-22 fighter jet, "which that service covets for its speed, agility and ability to battle advanced fighters from countries such as China, but which has not made a single combat sortie over Iraq or Afghanistan."

In historical context, the British Hurricane and Spitfire planes didn't keep the Germans from conquering Western Europe in 1940, but they sure saved Britain during the Battle for Britain air campaigns. The M60 tank never fought in combat against the Russian hordes of 1960-75, but they served as a bulwark versus Soviet tank invasions. Only time can tell if the cost of the AF F-22 is justified.

Gates has said we have untapped Naval and Air Force reserve power to "defeat any adversary who committed an act of aggression." While he conceded there would be a risk,
"it is a prudent and manageable one." Perhaps wisdom from George H.W. Bush should be enlisted about now -- "wouldn't be prudent at this juncture."

When Gates argues for success in Iraq --
"That is the war we are in. That is the war we must win" -- he forgets this is a war which defies all definitions and cannot be quantified in objective mission terms. How can you win if you don't know what winning looks like?

Ranger, enjoying precision and commitment as he does in his daily life, would be happy if the U.S. could just state what it wants to win, in quantifiable terms.

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Anonymous Labrys the Bitter said...

Don't give him that much credit. He is no magus, and the dead would refuse to do his freaking bidding. He is just the run of the mill political bullshitter!

Thursday, May 22, 2008 at 9:42:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

the enemy that strikes decisively is always the one where one can truly and honestly say "we didn't see that shit coming." part of what has always saved the russians is that there simply isn't a quick way into that country. by the time someone has crossed through poland, lithuania, the ukraine, the russians have already known they were coming, scorched the earth and gone to ground in preparation for calling their greatest military mind, "general winter."

there are all kinds of effective strategies that aren't "romantic" but are very effective. the fabian strategy against hannibal, running him up and down the peninsula, but always avoiding pitched battle, allowing enlistments to expire, allowing for disease and fatigue to weaken the army, and then, once victory was assured pouncing. it took nearly a decade, but, when the trap was sprung it was the end of hannibal's invasion, which by hounding the retreat became the end of hannibal, then, the end of carthage.

al-sadr is running a fabian strategy against al-maliki, iran, and the americans. it appears to be working well for him.

Thursday, May 22, 2008 at 6:25:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

labrys: No magic there, eh?

MB: Excellent, that is it -- the Fabian strategy, and time is on al-Sadr's side.

Friday, May 23, 2008 at 9:14:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

MB, IF gwb were a real Texican he'd know that Sam Houston did exactly as you described. Another example would be George Washington . GW did everything to preserve his army because he knew that the new Army was America.No Army=no USA. jim

Saturday, May 24, 2008 at 9:21:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger BadTux said...

Indeed, George Washington never won a significant victory against the British Army. Cornwallis's surrender at Yorktown was of only 7500 men of an army in the Americas that numbered over 100,000. But what Washington managed to do was spend the British Crown into bankruptcy. When the Crown could no longer meet even the interest payments on the crown debt, there was naught to do but sue for peace. Recruiting volunteers to replace Cornwallis's men was out of the question because there was no money for enlistment bonuses, indeed, provisioning the other British armies in the Americas was pretty much out of the question, meaning no offensive operations and soldiers deserting for lack of pay and provisions. It was the long game that won the American Revolution. And the long game that al-Sadr is playing. Provisioning overseas armies is still not cheap, even these 230 odd years later, and sooner or later the superpower will always run out of money if forced to conduct continous combat operations overseas...

BTW, the disparagement of George Washington's professional army by those who claim that rag-tag militias won the War of Independence always irritates me, because it is historical revisionism of the rankest sort, intended to serve political purposes (especially if done by Libertarians). Given the military technology of the day, which required mass fire and massed bayonets by disciplined armies in order to obtain military vctories due to the short range of military muskets and the utter infeasibility of combat use of rifles of that era (one shot, and that was it for the next few minutes as you hammered in a new bullet), if George Washington's army hadn't existed the British armies could have marched anywhere they felt like marching without a problem. Other than the initial battle that started the war, every single encounter of colonial militia and professional British soldiers resulted in the colonial militia running like little girls for mommy and not quitting running until they got home or ran into a natural barrier stopping them (see: Cowpens, where Morgan deliberately set up the militia contingent of his forces so that when they attempted to run away, they'd run into a river).

But then, I suppose that is what must be expected when what passes for "history" in our schools is nothing but unmitigated pap and propaganda and serious study of military history is not done even by people preparing to become our so-called "leaders". Idiocracy, indeed...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 12:06:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Bad Tux, your comments and my articles on Roberts Ridge and recent MOH series has brought some thoughts on the will to fight into my conciousness.
GWashington removed their will to fight even tho the surrender was militarily insignificant.
Will attempt to write this today for entry later this week. This makes me feel like i'm a series on tv.
thanks for your insights. Does anybody in the chain of national command ever read or understand the history of war? Not the facts BUT RATHER what the facts mean! jim

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 10:13:00 AM GMT-5  

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