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@Diogo Jimmy Morgado
Well love is something I reserved for my wife. But actually, I sense in Petraeus just another careerist general like Powell working the system to get ahead. Matt Ridgeway was the real thing. A general not only superlatively competent as a commander but when Army Chief of Staff did not refrain from strong criticism of the Eisenhower administration for neglecting balance in the armed forces in favor of nuclear weapons.
His performance in Korea was outstanding in taking a beaten and demoralized army and putting it back together again while still involved in combat. Woe is the junior officer who didn’t know where his troops were or the elevation of the surrounding terrain. He was a taskmaster but in being so saved lives and prevented defeat in Korea of the US/UN forces.
His advice on Viet-Nam was spot on. But at the same time brushed off by LBJ and his civilian hawk advisors whose only remarkable feature was their arrogance and stupidity. To his credit Mac Bundy said as much in his memoirs.
DJM, I could go on but you get the picture. Matt Ridgeway was a soldier’s soldier, highly intelligent but more importantly had the guts to risk his career for what he believed in. Petraeus is much more like a contemporary money center banker who is clever and manipulative. Thinks he has got the angle on things and has the bad taste to flaunt himself like a Latin American dictator. He acts as if he actually won a war or something?
15 hours, 14 minutes ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
Majrod, I think I did a poor job of making my point in my comment. The vast majority of terrorism in the world whether it be Boston bombers or cutthroats in London is in fact in the purview of law enforcement. On the other hand if we find an al Qaeda training facility in Afghanistan as we did in 2001 then of course the employ of military assets is appropriate. This also includes locating specific members and apprehending or killing them with direct action as with OBL or via drone strikes.
However in the larger sense terrorism is not a military problem but a law enforcement problem that occasionally requires the capabilities of the military to defeat. I don’t think this is a very controversial point of view.
The most important aspect of defeating terrorist is in the collection of intelligence and that requires international cooperation if not with Yemen or Pakistan at least with our more trustworthy allies with whom we share common interests. International law enforcement sharing of intelligence on threats is likely the single most important weapon we possess.
Invading countries and launching civil wars is not a particularly effective way of combating terrorism. I think that has finally dawned on us that we are not very good at occupation and our methods probably create more terrorists than we eliminate. Being muscle bound we extrapolate that power into thinking we know what we are doing and assume we are in control – we are not.
We need both law enforcement and military assets to seek out and destroy terrorists. But circumstances would dictate which would be the most efficient. It’s my belief this is a perfectly reasonable point of view?
1 day, 6 hours ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
Here is a question that maybe HUNTERS can address. While in WW1, WW2, Korea and Viet-Nam divisions were both combat maneuver units and administrative units would I be wrong in saying that in the past decade the brigade has become the favored maneuver unit while the division remains mostly an administrative unit? That certainly seems the case in the USMC? Perhaps the status of the divisional commander has slipped as the division has become seemingly archaic?
1 day, 16 hours ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
It is hard to disagree with Emile Simpson’s take on the tone of Obama’s talk. However, one must remember that Obama’s speech was meant for more than national security geeks in the NDU audience. It was for wide dissemination to a global audience hence the unsatisfied impression left in Simpson’s more discriminating mind.
If I understand what he was says it was simply that he would like to see an end to the endless military ‘war’ on terror and its replacement by a collective and cooperative international policing against assorted terror franchises. This makes sense and is a desirable goal worthy of achieving. It is preferable to misusing conventional military forces for essentially law enforcement issues.
1 day, 17 hours ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
Likely Matt Ridgeway’s heart would be broken looking at today’s Army high command that operates in the manner of conniving and self-satisfied corporate chiefdom’s. He likely would also be heartbroken to observe how his Army has been abused and misused in badly managed and ill-conceived wars. Personally, my view is that types like Petraeus & Co. couldn’t hold Ridgeway’s coat for him. Ridgeway believed that truth was actually relevant in this world and did not fear speaking it.
Back in 1967 or 68 Ridgeway met with LBJ to explain his professional criticism of the war in Vietnam. Objections that Johnson’s and his coterie of mindless hawks scoffed at. Later he wrote in Foreign Affairs “that political goals should be based on vital national interests and that military goals should be consistent with and support the political goals, but that neither situation was true in the Vietnam War.” This is a sentiment by an American giant of his profession that we have often addressed on this blog and can never be repeated enough. Unfortunately, it has also been consistently ignored by arrogant midgets who believe that they know better – they don’t.
1 day, 18 hours ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
That's fine but those humans taxed into service still expect to be paid, equipped, and trained. Iraq cost conservatively 1.7 trillion dollars and Afghanistan is approaching that. Where should the money come from? Many of the people in Washington who relish these wars the most at the same time refuse to be taxed to pay for them.
2 days, 14 hours ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
Except under Diem the ARVN was in fact being consistently out maneuvered and frequently outfought. Perhaps this was largely due to the fact that Diem was using the army more to protect his regime from a coup than to hunt down and destroy the NLF?
In this case the ARVN was for a variety of reasons seemingly intimidated by the NLF and could not provide enough security to allow effective administration. The ‘strategic hamlet’ program may have been poorly and in many cases brutally administered but even if it were superbly administered it would have made little difference if the security forces were ineffectual?
2 days, 15 hours ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
@Anthony Gale's Ghost @HUNTERS
Or as Tom once reminded us on the blog:
"The great Civil War historian Bruce Catton once described the military mind as 'stepping from one undeniable truth to another, until it arrives in a land of crippling nonsense."
"Selecting the right conflict and understanding that conflict's equities before you engage is basic to Strategy 101".
Well said and worth repeating!
These are all fine ideas but in my view the author Todd Greentree puts the cart before the horse. We have some work to do before we jump into another war in the style we have done from Viet-Nam to Iraq and Afghanistan. His article is essentially about the bureaucratic and tactical improvements that should be considered before we do this sort of thing again.
However, there is another dimension for our involvement in limited wars that needs to be explored before we ship one soldier or fly our first mission. That is about the development of a coherent strategic objective that serves American interests at a reasonable cost?
In his article I see not a word about garnering a solid domestic political consensus. By that I don’t mean the mere cheap exploitation of the usual emotional hyperventilation that the public is capable of and which usually burns out quite quickly?
Or how about generating a STRONG bi-partisan political consensus with clear goals and a robust and objective assessment of risks? It also seems to me it would be best if we did not merely have a toss of the dice by some political faction to serve some imaginary agenda using the pretext of national security?
We also should test our willingness to TAX the people in order to pay for any war effort. If the powers that be want a war then there is no better way to test the resolution of the highly irresolute American public than by asking them to pay the full tab for some new military adventure?
2 days, 17 hours ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
For those living on the west coast or visiting if you ever have a chance go to the San Diego Zoo. Beside a Bengal Tiger they have a pair each of Siberian Lynx and Snow Leopards. Couldn’t take my eyes off them. When they choose to look at you they gaze right into your soul.
3 days, 13 hours ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
It would seem that Assad’s under such circumstances as you describe would be more likely to consolidate his forces into the western coastal Alwaite region between Latakia and Tartus. Is this a more likely scenario than a complete collapse of the regime? If so, they would continue to have both seaborne and air connections with Iran and Russia?
4 days, 13 hours ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
‘Confessional re-balance’ is not restricted to the schism within the contentious Islamic community or ancient Catholic-Protestant quarrels but seemingly is alive and well even within Israeli Judaism.
There is nothing like religion to whip up hatred, intolerance and oppression. Another reason to appreciate the philosophy of the theoretical physicist Richard Feynman.
4 days, 15 hours ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
Tyrtaios opens up an interesting question concerning Iran’s lines of communication with Hizbollah. While at the current time Iran finds it convenient to ship direct by air to Syria there may come a time that it would be more efficient to ship by sea. Hence, I connect the importation from Russia of a breed of anti-shipping missile (P-800 Yakhont) announced the other day. With a range of up to 300km it could conceivably thwart an attempt at a sea blockade of Syrian ports.
Hence, it seems that the Russians and Iranians just may be singing off the same sheet of music if in a different key? It has always seemed to me that the Russians find the pugnacious Iranians a very convenient foil for the Americans. Surely, from Iraq to Afghanistan to our bleating over Iran they portray a false earnestness while trying to conceal a smirk.
4 days, 16 hours ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
Well, if AP is circulating this 'secret' around the world via its wires then it can't be too hush-hush. One would have to suspect that the Chinese have agents planted in the Northern Korean government and military. It would be out of character for them to pull a coup a la ‘Ngo Dinh Diem’ as long as they have reasonably good intelligence on the happenings within the regime. KJN is a rabid little squirrel but he is essentially caged. If he starts gnawing through the wire to escape that may impel Beijing to do something.
4 days, 17 hours ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
Seems to me that the Middle East is actually in the process of re-drawing it’s post-First World War less than optimal borders. Various ethnic and Islamic sects are uncomfortable with the current arrangements and are seeking self-determination by the gun and bomb. It is even possible that the wake created by this contention could swamp a nervous client state like Jordan an event likely not amusing to Tel Aviv. Within the arc stretching from Syria to Iraq to Bahrain to Yemen there is no reason to believe that this process will not intensify irrespective of western wishes.
Hezbollah and Al Qaeda may be merely the most militant and proficient factions fueling the strife while their paymasters in the form of Iran and shadowy elements within the Gulf States loom in the background. We consider them bonkers and irrational but my view is that they are coldly calculating in their own way to accelerate the process of change and violence and terror are the tools. Awhile back we wanted to accelerate the process of change in the minds of the daft Japanese and used B-29’s loaded with incendiaries to achieve it rather than IED's and AK47’s.
Tom asks why would we want to get involved in this? Beats me, perhaps the farsighted and brilliant strategist John McCain and his pet poodle Lindsay Graham could write a piece for this blog enlightening us? Interestingly, even the Pentagon seems to have become rather jaded about dipping their toes into this untidiness. Perhaps that is a sign that as a nation we are actually becoming more adult like and demonstrating a capability of learning a lesson or two?
In sports these drills are called the ‘fundamentals’ and it seems to me as an outsider that the primary job of the senior NCO’s is to make sure the fundamentals are being practiced? In the old day’s (I am thinking of the era of Burt Lancaster’s role as Sgt. Milton Warden in ‘From Here to Eternity’) if the career NCO’s weren’t doing their job didn’t they earned a place in a rifle section and somebody else was awarded stripes who would do the job? Just wondering?
5 days, 15 hours ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
@Jim Hasik The Iranians don't have to sink a carrier but with mining or high speed short-range anti-shipping missiles can damage it enough to discourage placing it in the Straits. In case you haven't noticed all modern naval vessels especially the top heavy US versions that have good left-right offensive combo are still handicapped with having glass jaws.
5 days, 16 hours ago on Access denied | Foreign Policy
He was a dim bulb, a frivolous personality and unpopular in both the Commons and the Foreign Office. William Manchester and Martin Gilbert don't think he had any influence on foreign policy at all.
1 week ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
Excellent point! In the spring of 1936 the Germans could have been stopped by a determined show of Anglo-French political will and French military force. But French economic and political chaos at home made that unlikely. It did trigger some modest renewed interest in rearmament in the UK (pretty much restricted to aircraft) and a rush to complete the Maginot Line in France. But there was no political consensus with the head-in-the sand Baldwin as PM in the UK and the Radical Socialist’s Albert Sarraut and then Leon Blum in France. They had the power but neither the will nor popular support. In the UK the general feeling was that the Germans were only taking back what was rightly theirs.
1 week, 1 day ago on Access denied | The Best Defense