Thursday, December 21, 2006

Gone Shopping

Mr. President,
Yes, go shopping Sir. For different Generals. Put in MBA terms:
US Army: chapter 7. The soldiers go to healthy organizations. The leadership meets the private sector.

USMC: chapter 11.

DOD---DA, DN, D of etc...get folded (and cut to 10% of current size) into one DoD organization.
The war: put SOF and USMC (post ch. 11) in charge overall. None of the current Army Commanders stay, except COL McMasters (3d ACR) who should be a 2 Star, today.
If you don't do the above.... "C" level management tasks...any resources you continue to pour in are wasted.


Blogger PJ said...

Not all of us have turned to jelly. Don't believe what you see and hear in the mass media. Americans still exist and we support you in your fight. God bless you and Merry Christmas, my friend.

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All the best to you and yours this day, and always! Laughing Wolf

5:30 PM  
Blogger Maggie45 said...

I just want to thank you for what you do. And I totally agree about Col. McMasters. May God keep you safe.

8:28 PM  
Anonymous LTC OEF/OIF Vet said...

Because I recently returned home after serving in Iraq, friends and relatives often ask me for my assessment of the latest change in strategy that President Bush seems to be considering – I say “seems,” because he has cautioned that he “will not be rushed” into deciding what’s come to be called “The Way Ahead,” no matter how many lives are lost or how much taxpayer money is spent while he ponders the question.

Ordinarily, I would be reticent to comment on such a momentous subject, particularly since I view my own service in Iraq as of no great consequence to the war effort as a whole. However, since the President himself appears to be incapable of determining whether we’re winning or losing in Iraq (contrast his “we’re neither winning nor losing” remarks last week with his pre-election positive affirmation of victory: “absolutely we’re winning in Iraq!”), I see no reason why I should not venture to express my own views of the situation there.

First, it is inconceivable to me that an Army of some 480,000 troops, along with perhaps 100,000 Marines, could ever lose a war with an insurgency of approximately 20,000 to 30,000 illiterate, uneducated, untrained, ill-equipped and fractious “fighters.” The insurgents always “cut and run,” and, as we know from a certain rail thin member of Congress from Ohio, who customarily drapes herself in the red, white and blue, only cowards and losers do that. Since this member of Congress claimed to have received her advice from a Marine reservist, often seen at political events (never on any battlefield) in his uniform, her analysis must be correct. So the President’s nonsensical statement that we are neither winning nor losing in Iraq is just that – nonsensical and flatly contradicted by those in the know.

Second, the number of those killed in action in Iraq (note to editor: insert here some mewling cliché about how every loss of life is regrettable) is minuscule, compared to other U.S. military actions, even those we are somehow forbidden from describing as “wars,” such as the Conflict in Korea, or the Viet Nam Conflict. 3,000 or so KIA is nothing compared to the 65,000 killed in Viet Nam, or the 35,000 KIA in Korea! The less-than-staggering loss of life in Iraq only underscores my first point: the insurgents are more lazy than lethal. As one US Special Forces soldier phrased this indelicate matter in a conversation with me earlier this year: “3,000! I could kill more than that in a week!”

Third, there never has been a single strategy in Iraq, a pathway to victory, or whatever pithy description the Bush Administration is employing this week or day or hour to describe exactly what it is we’re doing in Iraq. The “we’ll stand down as they (the Iraqi forces) stand up” sounded plausible at first, until we belatedly came to realize that the Iraqis aren’t all that interested in standing up – they’re more interested in getting paid by the Americans for not showing up at all. In fact, almost all Iraqi “commanders” have reported that their unit strength and attendance is perfect, one hundred per cent, at all times, even though the actual figures are often as low as ten per cent in some units. Why? Capitalism, Stupid: the commanders pocket the pay the absent “soldiers” would have received.

Then came the “ink spot” or “blot” theory, evidently first articulated by a think tank thinker (forgive my lisp), which posits that the Americans can prevail if only we establish security zones (the “ink spots”), into which we pour money and other material resources (I think this is called the “red ink”); once the first red ink spot is established, the theory goes, other blots or spots are created, until the entire country (Iraq, I mean) is awash in red ink. Because this strategy depends, however, on overcoming the tendency to corruption of the Iraqis, the red ink has flowed, certainly, but the spots or blots have never really stained the country’s map.

I’m not certain what other strategies the United States has attempted to apply in Iraq, to be honest, unless one falls into the error of confusing sloganeering with strategizing. For example, “our mission will be complete when Iraq has a stable democracy, a government that serves its people and is capable of defending itself” or something like that. Another example of this sort of error might be to think that “mission accomplished” means “mission accomplished,” when in fact it means, evidently (note to editor: please add qualifiers to what appears to be any statement of fact throughout this article), that only “major hostilities” have ended; logically, then, only minor, endless hostilities have remained.

At this point, since I’ve revealed the vast lacunae in my knowledge about U.S. strategy in Iraq, you may be wondering what I tell my relatives, friends, and other kindly-disposed people who ask me what we should do in Iraq. Here’s what I tell them: we should, of course, pull out immediately, and as quickly as possible. I can tell you that there is nothing in Iraq worth another US dollar or even another hangnail suffered by an American. The Iraqis have lived under a dictator, a murderous one, and for most of them outside of Baghdad, not that much has changed now that they’ve been “liberated” and have dipped their forefingers in purple ink. For those in Baghdad and other population centers, conditions have degenerated to an indescribable extent thanks to their “liberation.” Unexpected, violent death is a part of their daily existence. Kidnappings, ordinary street crime, and despair have become the legacy of this shameful, morally wrong war. Were the Iraqis better off under Saddam Hussein? For the dead, the answer is of course obvious: at least they were alive. For the maimed, the answer is obvious, too: at least they were whole. For the remainder of population, one might ask them. Their answers, I suspect, will be far more predictable than America’s “strategy” in Iraq.

In any event, since Bush is determined that those who are serving in Iraq “stay the course,” (although that slogan has been abandoned now, too, once someone pointed out that when Bush said “we’re going to stay the course,” what he really meant was, “those soldiers and Marines who’ve served multiple tours will stay the course because I say so. I myself will stay here in the White House, in Crawford, or at Camp David, naturally.”), here’s the strategy we should adopt in order to use our fighting force of over half a million fighting men and women to accomplish the mission of suppressing, more or less permanently, the 20,000 or 30,000 insurgents: let our men and women fight. So many of our troops in Iraq sit around in air-conditioned offices on insulated American bases, that serving a tour in Iraq is like doing time in prison, except the guns are pointed outward, and the guards are Ugandan or from Central America (I’m not kidding; the mega-base security is contracted out to war profiteers who hire Africans and Central Americans.) My educated guess is that probably three-quarters of the troops never even see an actual Iraqi in his or her native element. Instead, the troops spend their time shuffling from an office, to the chow hall, back to the office, to the food court, and then to the trailers in which they sleep.

This setup masquerades as “force protection,” which is a way of saying, “we don’t want anyone to get hurt.” The tip of the spear employed by the American Army resembles the tip of a barroom dart thrown haphazardly by the drunks who run the place. In order to prevail in this struggle, we have to forget the loser, garrison mentality of the “commanders on the ground” (read: pompous generals hiding out in Saddam’s former palaces), most of whom joined the Army in the 1970’s, when anyone with any talent, intelligence, education or alternative shunned the so-called “hollow Army.” Instead, get our soldiers and Marines off the sprawling bases we’ve created at a huge cost and get them out into to the field, armed and ready to do battle. The paperwork the military generates – and it is Kafkaesque, believe me – can wait, and if it’s not done, no one will notice anyway. Ship two-thirds of the general officers home, put their bloated staffs into up-armored Humvees, and send them out with the rest of the paper-pushers to close with and destroy the enemy. That’s what an army does, and that’s the only way we’re going to win in Iraq.

While I’m at it, I may as well reveal another ground truth: the Army is nowhere near “broken.” If, as is the case, approximately half of the active Army has never served in Afghanistan or Iraq, how can the Army be described as “broken”? In fact, those who’ve been sent overseas for successive tours might be close to the breaking point, but only because they’ve been denied the ability to go out and kill the enemy and destroy his hiding places. The other half of the Army – the combat avoiders, the physically unfit, those who are forever and conveniently in one military school after another – put them on troop ships and send them over. They can then either fight to survive, or perish. Either way, their shameful avoidance of the fight will end.

Next, lay off the reservists who’ve served multiple tours already. Since 2001, I’ve deployed to Bosnia, Africa, and most recently, to Kuwait, Bahrain, and, of course, Iraq. When I returned home this last time, I felt as though my life had been ruined. I was estranged from my wife and children, my job had been given away to my supposedly “temporary” replacement, and it hit me with the force of revelation that while most Americans do “support the troops,” they do so only insofar as they have to make no sacrifices themselves. America is not at war; the Army and Marines are. Americans drive around in their SUVs, complain about taxes, their love handles, their mutual funds, the bags around their eyes, and so on, but most have never really suffered as those who’ve fought in Iraq have suffered. Not even close.

Finally, my advice to the commander-in-chief is this: Esto Vir! Be a man! Tell your commanders on the ground over the rank of Colonel to take their advice and shove it; can the chickenhawks (except yourself, of course – after all, you did fight for our freedom in the Texas Air National Guard, risking your life in nighttime missions over the Caribbean) who surround you and who got us into this war in the first place, ignore the think tankers who haven’t got a clue, and either get us out of Iraq, or get us in. Decider, decide to go to war, huh? Order a full-scale mobilization of every person in uniform who isn’t wearing a combat patch or who hasn’t left Camp Victory (a misnomer if there ever was one), Camp Liberty (ditto), Camp Anaconda (WTF?) or any of our force-protective bases in Iraq, and send them out to kill insurgents and destroy the rat holes in which they hide. Either that, or do the right, just and moral thing and get us out now.

Either way, start making plans to name your Presidential Library the “George W. Bush/Millard Fillmore Quasi-Presidential Reading Room.”

7:52 PM  

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