Saturday, December 04, 2010



The war in Iraq is not going as advertised.

It is a flawed policy, wrapped in an illusion

--John Murtha

It's my life and I'll do what I want

It's my mind and I'll think what I want

--It's My Life
, The Animals

If you don't know where you are going,

any road will do

--Alice in Wonderland
, Lewis Carroll

It is in these acts called trivialities that the seeds

of joy are forever wasted, until men and women

look round with haggard faces at the devastation

their own waste has made, and say,

the earth bears no harvest of sweetness,

calling their denial knowledge

--George Eliot


Just as our civilian world is insidiously becoming militarized, so is our military world co-opting the civilian.

The term "devastating fires" has been incorporated in several high-level reports and awards citations, using the literary to embellish the make-believe project of the Phony War on Terror (
PWOT©). But "devastating" is not a military term. There are only two types of fire: effective and ineffective. If effective, you lose your freedom to maneuver and will usually win or lose with the units engaged. (Ineffective does not make much of a ball game.) Volume of fire does not equate to effective fire.

, like withering, is an emotional word, befitting a Variety review of action in the latest Rambo installment perhaps, but not a military report. It sounds like a woody word, but fails to describe the reality of combat. A storm like Katrina may be described as devastating as we are at pains to describe the unexpected forces of nature; rifle fire does not fit that category.

devastating should not apply to an asymmetrical combat situation, which the Department of Defense has been peddling the PWOT© as since Day 1. If the insurgents can gain local superiority of fire and it can be described as withering, then Houston, we have a problem.

The Afghan insurgents are presented as local force guerrilla type units that carry and preposition weapons and stores to achieve local success. If true, than intelligence should function to identify these prepositioned stores. If intel cannot fulfill this function, then the U.S. should pack it in.

If the insurgents are carrying their combat loads -- or even if they used prepositioned munitions -- they should never have the ability to place sustained, effective fire on any U.S. unit for any appreciable time. Guerrilla units cannot fight sustained contact; devastating is not in their lexicon.

However, if we are to swallow this grandiose description, we should also wonder if the insurgents use small unit tactics such as range cards
, distribution of fire and fire discipline. If they do these things, then they can place effective fire for the decisive moments when they are on target. This window of opportunity will be limited to the initial contact for Guerrillas and insurgents (but should always be available to U.S. units.) Again, if it is not, then we should quit this sham war.

U.S. forces have Predator drones, guided and cluster bombs, mortars artillery, close air support and a preponderance of automatic weapons and mobility on the battlefield. If the enemy is gaining local fire superiority, then they are doing a bang-up job of preparing the battlefield. This reveals that they possess the initiative, choosing the place and time to engage.

If U.S. Commanders cannot manipulate their assets to control the battle space, and if they cannot focalize their fires at the decisive point and time, this is a scathing condemnation of our performance. It means that fancy words are fine in promos and briefings but they do not add up to success. If one is a warrior, how could enemy fire devastate? Warriors are not devastated by rifle fire as this is their bread and butter.

The words we choose define our parameters and perimeters. If one lacks the sense to move out of a beaten zone, then any fire is effective.

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