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@RVN SF VET According to Sean Naylor Rumsfeld specifically nixed artillery from the TIPFID, believing them unnecessary due to air power capability... And then the A-10s and fast movers could not stay on station long enough and the AC 130s could not operate in daylight. Suddenly the most powerful military force in the history was pinned down without fire support, and the Taliban had artillery. Shameful and astounding. If Naylor's account is accurate of course.
5 months, 1 week ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
@Rubber Ducky @oldtanker Agreed. But Westy got his 200k, just not the next 200k he asked for. The 101st was denied an artillery battery in the initial Afghan operation. That is like 150 guys and eight guns. In 2009 the president did not draw the line at another 200 thousand men, he cut an already small request by 20 thousand - an amount that made no real difference politically or financially, but a tremendous number if you are trying to hold on in Helmand Province six months later. These choices became so critical, and yet represented relatively minor troop numbers. And that is command failure.
Degrees of possible culpability aside, sometimes a message must be sent. I suspect this was received loud and clear.
That said, Gurganus requested additional forces on multiple occasions. So did TF Ranger in Somalia (specifically the USAREUR ready mech platoon which was literally waiting on the phone call). So did Petraeus in Afghanistan, and many others. And the politicians made the political calculus and said, "no."
At some the leadership in both the Pentagon and the White House must take responsibility to ensure that adequate military force levels accompany political goals. From the 101st lacking fire support in Operation Anaconda, to the waive off of the 4th ID prior to the invasion of Iraq, to far more examples from the past 12 years than I care to count... politicians and political appointees have made political decisions that have unnecessarily cost American soldiers their lives.
Granted, this is not a new occurrence in American military history, but the trend line seems to be increasing. and in the past it was often due to the simple lack of resources, rather than as a result of a political unwillingness to go all in.
When I made the very difficult decision to leave the active Army in 1994 I knew one simple fact: It would be 5-10 years before I could know for certain if I had made the right decision. Now granted, I had not done two tours in Iraq or Afghanistan. But I had recently seen the less than scenic parts of Kuwait, Somalia, and Bosnia. The promise of more of the same left me looking for another life plan.
Now, nearly 20 years later I know that my decision was sound... But there are times when I miss the directness enabled by a clear chain of command and the camaraderie of the profession of arms, an experience that can come from no other endeavor.
5 months, 3 weeks ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
Perhaps if the intervention is "unbelievably small" is only a little undemocratic.
6 months ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
Imagine if Patton, Bradley, and Eisenhower (and hundreds of other officers like them) had bailed after WWI, concerned about budget cuts and the failure of the Army to move in what they perceived was the correct doctrinal direction.
So while I value the insight, I'm just not sure that a junior officer's perspective on these larger issues is relevant. As a lieutenant and captain I only had a vague sense of these larger issues, in both peace and war. The job of a junior officer is to dig in, to learn your craft, to suffer - and to be ready to lead again when your time comes.
8 months, 1 week ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
If you only read one thing his year, make it the Epilogue to this final volume. I was prepared for the typical 'what I think of all this after 10 years' conceit. Instead I discovered a quiet, contemplative, and deeply moving coda to the story of a horrible human event. The book's final sentence moved me to tears. History books don't normally do that, but great books do.
8 months, 3 weeks ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
@kosmosioux You are sadly mistaken in the idea that you are missing nothing here. I found all three books in this trilogy full of new facts, details, and clear-eyed analysis. After more than 30 years of reading WWII history in detail, writing and conducting research at the National Archives on the subject, I learned from each book. This series stands with any other in the genre, and marks an impressive achievement.
Sadly, the famous story of Fidel Castro getting a tryout of offer from either the Washington Senators or (then) NY Giants, despite detailed articles in Harper's Magazine and other sources, is just a good story. Though this is a fun baseball card: http://www.infinitecardset.blogspot.com/search/label/Fidel%20Castro
That said, I understand Che' had a good short game and could putt with some accuracy...
I read Swiss and thought Swede... this Alzheimer's thing is nasty.
9 months, 1 week ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
The issue may be a moot point, as the opportunity to engage diplomatically and in a limited military fashion has now perhaps past. The proxy forces that have joined the conflict on both sides are far beyond any US diplomatic engagement, and militarily the situation is now so muddled that intervention would simply place us in the middle. Or place weapons in the hands of groups that we would usually cross the street to avoid.
The president's 'policy,' such that it is, has utterly failed. His speeches and proclamations have landed without impact, leaving his rhetoric empty and unsupported by any concrete initiatives. The justifications used for intervention in Libya - primarily related to saving innocent lives - apparently have no legitimacy in the Syrian conflict.
Speaking at the National Defense University in March, 2011, the president declared, “To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and — more profoundly — our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are... Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different.” Or not.
And yet the Syrian conflict has shown a much greater potential to kill innocents, and additionally to destabilize the entire region. And this region has been defined as vital to the interests of the United States since the Carter administration. Iran and Hezbollah - clearly defined enemies of the United States - are directly involved in this war. The conflict is on the verge of spreading to Lebanon, Jordan, and to Turkey, a NATO ally.
The president's options have dwindled from slim, perhaps a limited no-fly zone and a refugee safe zone as we successfully did in Operation Provide Comfort, to none. If we had engaged, and built a base of goodwill by doing exactly what the president described in 2011, perhaps now we would have some leverage. But we did not, we do not. Begging the Russians to be reasonable is not actually a policy. We 'led from behind,' and were left behind. Mr. Irrelevant. Failure.
The multiple re-edits of the original post, to include deletion of the author's name and of the ridiculous charge that Rangers units do not "develop leadership...," does serious disservice to this forum's credibility.
Mr. Ricks, you perhaps need to address your thought process and standards related to these alterations.
NCIS? Wow, is Abby doing the forensics?
@majrod I certainly understand that... and worked closely with 2/75 at Fort Lewis. Again, to say that Rangers are not about leadership is just plain strange.
To state that Ranger units are "not about leadership and development" is a bizarre and wildly inaccurate assertion. Ranger school was the single best leadership training event I ever endured.
That said, the time has come when a non-combat arms officer of either gender could and should command at a service academies.
On a personal note - as a young officer I took an assignment on a division staff, my first time out of 'the trenches.' The biggest challenge I faced was learning to interact with female soldiers. In retrospect there were moments when I was unknowingly (or just stupidly) inappropriate. Eventually I figured it out, but it was not easy. A few years later commanding a logistics company I had a female first sergeant, at the time the only one serving in the 9th Infantry Division! She was the best ass-kicker I ever saw and we were a great team. The foolishness and mistakes of youth usually provide the experiences for understanding. But it does not happen overnight.
@Jackrabbit Neither remorse nor jubilation is required. However there is little doubt they have learned both a lesson and a standard. The institutional failure represented by their stupid email requires an institution-wide solution, not a few heads on pikes along the Palisades Parkway.
9 months, 2 weeks ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
The proper treatment and respect for female service members, to say nothing of blatant sexual harassment, is a serious issue with which DoD is still floundering. But in this specific case it seems like some people want to swat a fly with a Claymore. It is wrong to wield a bigger hammer simply to make a point - particularly against junior members who are products of a culture that has not yet evolved.
It does sound like West Point dealt directly and formally with the issue. The "Maoist" indoctrination event may not have necessarily had a direct effect on the individuals concerned (other than time and trouble). But the no doubt very direct counseling by senior officers along with the disbandment of the team sends a loud and clear message to both those individual cadets and the institution at large - to say nothing of the direct message imparted by the Commander-in-Chief at the Naval Academy and the SecDef at West Point.
What more does anyone want from this specific instance? These cadets/second lieutenants will never forget this lesson, even if they were allowed to graduate on time. Trying make a wider statement with harsher punishment - the Eddie Slovik model - is unfair, and potentially unjust... particularly when the crime was an ill-thought email, rather than a camera in a female locker room, the rape of a recruit, or a parking lot assault. Those direct events deserve the harshest punishment under UCMJ. Not this.
LTC Fivecoat makes this assertion early in the article, but without citing a source:" The Army’s decision to allow underperforming division commanders to complete their deployment, rather than firing them midtour, minimized disruptions to divisions fighting complex insurgencies at the “graduate level of war.”
This point is central to his overall thesis. However, without specific reference to a Department of the Army of Chief of Staff policy or decision his argument has no basis in fact. The difference in promotion rates that he cites, in such a small sample size, could simply be a random anomaly or attributed to a couple of commanders deciding to cash in private sector opportunities following a lifetime of hard service.
Nixon was a paranoid and petty man, altogether the worst president in history. And yet his administration's record on issues from social welfare to foreign policy is in many ways outstanding. Obama is not the low person that Nixon was, but his accomplishments are few and his failures growing. Above all, his emphasis on politics over governance has led him down many empty paths. Nothing is ever his/his administration's fault. He got elected blaming the other guy. His signature achievement was produced with simple parliamentary tricks. Noble ideas perhaps, but clearly bad legislation. It is going to be a long 3.5 years.
9 months, 4 weeks ago on Access denied | The Best Defense