Friday, December 23, 2011

O Sole Mio

But she goes not abroad,
in search of monsters to destroy

She is the champion and vindicator

only of her own.

She is the well-wisher to

the freedom and independence of all

--John Quincy Adams

You can't do Right


and you can't do Wrong,


--seen in American Craft Magazine

(Dec/Jan 2012)


Terrorism is often called "War on the Cheap", and one must wonder if that is true of the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©), also.

We say the U.S. is the lone Superpower, and that We Support the Troops, but sometimes things aren't as hoped for. In the Waygul battle, and in the three Medal of Honor scenarios (Murphy, Miller and Meyer), the troops received sketchy support -- conduct not meet for the world's sole Superpower.

Waygul (503rd) featured a U.S. Platoon with an inexperienced platoon leader, non-existent engineer support and an inadequate supply of water (Ranger bets the insurgents had adequate water sources). The Platoon could not be reinforced by road or air cover, to include drones -- a dodgy force protection posture, at best. Yet this did not spur anyone in the chain of command to review the mission statement.

The troops soldiered on until nine were Killed in Action and 16 Wounded in Action, causing one to question the logic of utilizing far-flung command outposts that lack proper support, mutual support or adequate logistical support. Is this how Superpowers support their troops in the face of the enemy? Ranger tabs and jump wings will not stop a bullet, contrary to popular belief.

There is a systemic infection across the spectrum of these actions, and this is a weakness in planning and execution. With Lt. Murphy we have three men killed and "one lone survivor", and award a MOH based upon one live witness. The other witnesses were on the other end of a radio link.

Staff Sergeant Miller's MOH was foreshadowed by Lt. Murphy's three years earlier, and was a precursor to Meyer's fight. RangerAgainstWar has discussed each of these engagements per available open-source material, but all leave uncomfortable, unanswered questions.

And the rest of the leading quotation is below. Our esteemed leaders might take some guidance from a not-so-distant luminary in America's intellectual and political arsenal:

She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom.

--John Quincy Adams, On U.S. Foreign Policy (1821)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim, Here's what I am thinking recently about your posts concerning military blunders leading to KIAs and MOHs.

The problem starts with and ends with the civilian leadership; not military leadership.

Civilian leaders decide to embark on these impossible missions. They are responsible for setting goals and metrics of success - both quantitative and qualitative. They also set the budget constraints within which the mission must be acomplished. Military leadership just folows that direction as best they can.

The idiocy of the civilians puts the military in a bad spot where less than optimal strategies become the norm. In fact, given the impossibility of what the civilians want to achieve, there probably are no good military strategies.

We used to have true statesmen in government and we used to have a good mix of former military leaders in Congress and the Whitehouse. That mix has changed dramaticaly. Now we have a preponderance of vacuous whores and shills without such background.

This is all upstream from Murphy, Miller, etc.

I wonder at what point the military says, "enough, we're not going to do that. period. hard stop". Some say that a stance like that has been the only barrier to the US attacking Iran. I'd like to believe that is true.

In the meanwhile you have these small wars wherein the military leadership balances career preservation (at the mercy of the civilians) versus of handful of killed and wounded here and there.


Saturday, December 24, 2011 at 3:46:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous CholoAzul said...

Not just civilian leaders, but civilian bureacrats.

How much of these 'short-sighted' operational fusterclucks can be traced back to some GM-14's desk at Ft. Monroe?

'No Major, you can't have the drones, we're having them polished up to show off at an important meeting with Karzai and some defense contractors that afternoon'.

Saturday, December 24, 2011 at 10:55:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Yes, I think you have a part of it here:

We used to have true statesmen in government and we used to have a good mix of former military leaders in Congress and the Whitehouse. That mix has changed dramaticaly. Now we have a preponderance of vacuous whores and shills without such background.

I am reading PRT team member van Buren's "We Meant Well" re. the Iraq adventure, and it bears out what you've said well.

Per, "I wonder at what point the military says, "enough, we're not going to do that. ..."

Vonnegut wrote:

Wars would be a lot better, I think, if guys would say to themselves sometimes "Jesus — I'm not going to do that to the enemy. That's too much."

Saturday, December 24, 2011 at 12:05:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...


I suspect that if you questioned a resident of Mexico City picking up after the siege of Chapultepec in 1845 he or she would question the "statesmanship" of the powers that were in faraway Washington D.C....

I think we've done this before; the Philippine "Insurrection", the various Banana Wars, fiddlefucking about in places like Lebanon, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam...

As jim's bottom quote reminds us; you can't do Wrong (as in "there's no right way to make this postcolonial, preindustrial, warlord- and poverty-ridden clusterfuck of a Third World shithole into a modern industrial democracy Right") Right.

I'd like to think we had a history of "statesmenship" and wise military judgement...but
I think instead we had a combination of luck and incompetent enemies (Mexico...). We picked some more competent foes and combined that with some bone-stupid Bush "leadership" and the mix resulted in a real nasty mess. But I don't think that electing "smarter" guys and/or vets would have changed things.

Saturday, December 24, 2011 at 10:33:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But I don't think that electing "smarter" guys and/or vets would have changed things."

Are you saying that President FDChief and VP Ranger Jim would have invaded Iraq and more generally kicked off the whole war on terror?

As for the banana wars, et al, I don't agree with the policies, but, that said, part of statesmanship and military leadership is knowing what hand to play, how to play it and when to fold. For the most part, those little adventures worked out quite nicely for the US stakeholders. They were a success by the metrics in play.



Sunday, December 25, 2011 at 2:10:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I should add that maybe the early adventures worked out too nicely.

So much so that by VN military intelligence and leadership broke down and was overwhelmed by civilian hubris and greed. It was assumed that these things would play out as they always had, de rigour.

An imperial bubble, if you will. that which has always worked and gone up always will......


Sunday, December 25, 2011 at 2:22:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

avedis: In 2002? Sadly, we might have. I suspect that a President Gore would have gotten us into Afghanistan, given the hysteria that we let loose as a nation after 9/11. I think we would have screwed that pooch even if I'd had jim as my SecDef. Hopefully the ol' snake-eater would have advised me better than Rummy did Dubya and we'd have avoided the idiotic Afghan finger-trap of sending maneuver units into the damn place.

Iraq...well, yeah, you've got a point. Even at the time there were a LOT of people who saw that for the clusterfuck it was always gonna be. It took some special short-bus-grade thinking courtesy of C-Minus Augustus and his cronies to manage that one.

I think one thing that is hard for these New American Century types to really "get" is that it is nearly impossible to do the sort of things we did in Central America and even the early years of Vietnam now. The combination of cheap automatic weapons and explosives, open-source insurgency, the 24/7 news cycle, and the bizarre way we the U.S. public has managed to conflate the deaths of volunteer long-service imperial troopers with draftees getting waxed on Omaha Beach makes it nearly impossible to re-create the Banana Wars. Combine Sandino with an AK and semtex-packed IEDs and CNN and you've got an explosive mixture that'll blow neocolonial foreign policy all to hell...

Which might be a good thing, if it'd stop us doing it the NEXT time...but as we saw in Libya, there's always a good reason for disregarding ol' JQA's advice...

Sunday, December 25, 2011 at 8:07:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous CholoAzul said...

So the brothers Dulles live on.

Sunday, December 25, 2011 at 1:02:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

i can't drop it in the civilians lap. yeah they were as crazy as bed bugs, but so were the military leaders.
imagine an invasion of a country with no follow on plan of what to do AFTER you won the thing. i say thing b/c nothing else describes it.
i believe the military has been radicalized and religionized to a criminal state of being.
how can anyone invade a country that has not aggressed against us??!!isn't that aggressive war?
did any military leader raise that niggling little detail?
remember nuremburg?
it's clear to me that the military has become the 4th branch of government. we've had a coup and nobody bothers to notice.

Monday, December 26, 2011 at 10:11:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hear you Jim and I'm not diminishing the military's responsibility completely, I'm just saying that it is the civilians' job to oversee the military and to direct it. Secratary of State, of Defence POTUS should have asked, "so, what do we do once the shock and awe is over and we own the place". But th civilians had a plan. remember? It involved smiling faces and flowers and candy and lots of parades. I understand that there were military leaders who questioned this outcome, but they were warned as to the consequences of being so negative. Some were dismissed.

I see Colin Powell as the poster child for this civilian neutering of the military. Back in 1991/arly 1992 when we had wrecked saddam's war machine and had its remnants fleeing back to Baghdad tail between legs, a lot of military rank and file up through top brass thought it would be a good idea to go all the way and get rid of Saddam while the getting was good.

However, Powell publicly exlained that tempting as that scenario appeared, it was a bad idea in the long run. He laid out an aftermath that looked exactly like what actually happened in 2003 - 2011.

My point being that the military therefore cannot be suffering from strategic or tactical retardation. It has to be something else. That something else looks, to me, to be the civilians who are pulling the strings and creating the budgets.

Now, whether or not the military should tell the civilians to go screw themselves is another matter. It would constitute mutiny, of course. prhaps even foment revolution.

Maybe that is ok.


Monday, December 26, 2011 at 11:29:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

I NEVER BOUGHT the Powell image.
he was ALWAYS A SUCK ASS and said what his white bread handlers fed into his fed tray.
in gw1 he mouthed what GHWB wound him up to say. in gw2 he spouted gwb's garbage.
the problem is that careerism has replaced logic and leadership.
in a sane world powell would've retired an 06 and that cmt applies to mc crystal as well.
look at boykin army dc/s intel. what song was he singin' at the time?
it was a tune of jesus and right wing crazy ass religion.right off the approved hymnal. and what song was powell singing harmony to?

Monday, December 26, 2011 at 1:55:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim, yeah, no doubt Powell was just a sock pupet, but that's point. The people, the civilians, that their hand up his ass were making the right call; the sane call. We don't have those civilians any more.


Monday, December 26, 2011 at 5:36:00 PM GMT-5  

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