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SWJED
09-17-2006, 11:59 PM
17 September New York Daily News commentary - Get Real, George (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ideas_opinions/story/453030p-381276c.html) by Andrew Krepinevich.


... For example, it is stunning that three-plus years into this war a war that requires a high level of coordination between security, intelligence and reconstruction operations, and their integration with political negotiations between Iraq's competing factions we still do not have any single individual in overall control of the war effort. Neither Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad nor Gen. George Casey, our senior political and military leaders in Baghdad, is in charge.

This is a striking violation of one of the most basic principles of war: unity of command. Apparently neither the State nor Defense departments wants to yield bureaucratic turf, and President Bush doesn't feel inclined to force them...

Take another example. In a championship football game, would you constantly rotate your star players in and out of the game? Of course not. But that's exactly what the administration has done with its best generals. Three years into the war, where are generals like David Petraeus, David Barno and Peter Chiarelli all of whom earned reputations for their skill in Afghanistan or Iraq? Petraeus was ordered back to Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. Barno has inexplicably been retired, while Chiarelli who is leading the do-or-die fight in Baghdad is scheduled to be replaced in December...

Finally, we have the homefront effort or, I should say, the lack of one. Not long ago, an Army officer remarked that "The United States is not at war. The Army is at war. The United States is at the mall." ...

RTK
09-18-2006, 11:48 AM
17 September New York Daily News commentary - Get Real, George (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ideas_opinions/story/453030p-381276c.html) by Andrew Krepinevich.

Andy is dead on with this assessment. Can you imagine if a congress of American Industrial Leaders was held 5 years ago with the premise "what can your corperation do to help this effort?" Can you see what the likes of Microsoft, GE, GMC, Nextel, and any one of a number of American businesses could have impacted this war if they'd thrown some efforts our way?

As for rotating people: My wife would kick my ass if she heard me advocating 24-36 month tours for tactical units. To build relationships and gather intelligence it's almost essential to keep units on the ground that long. I think it would burn out families far before it burned out units. I recall the old statement about Vietnam; "The VC fought the Americans for 9 years. The Americans fought the VC 1 year nine times in a row."

We can always dream.

Tom Odom
09-18-2006, 12:56 PM
Goes hand in glove with the global COIN effort. We--the US--have not organized our efforts mentally to accomodate a GCOIN and we our tendency is to try and fight WWII (albeit on a limited scale) again. If GWOT is GCOIN, then DoD should NOT have the lead. The problem is our national security structure is organized on a competitive basis and this only echoes wht Andy K was speaking of.

Best
Tom

marct
09-18-2006, 03:30 PM
Goes hand in glove with the global COIN effort. We--the US--have not organized our efforts mentally to accomodate a GCOIN and we our tendency is to try and fight WWII (albeit on a limited scale) again. If GWOT is GCOIN, then DoD should NOT have the lead. The problem is our national security structure is organized on a competitive basis and this only echoes wht Andy K was speaking of.

Good points, Tom. I'm still working through the Kilcullen paper (http://www.smallwarsjournal.com/documents/kilcullen.pdf) but, from my own understanding of Chaos theory and cybernetics, it strikes me that most of us are fighting the wrong war.

First off, this is a Global COIN (GCOIN? - love it!) operation, so why is it being fought on an ad hoc basis (a rhetorical question - I pretty much know why, but it is too depressing to think about)? Let me give one example most people on this council probably aren't familiar with.

As most of you know, Canadians are fairly heavily involved in Afghanistan at the moment. You also know that we don't, and won't, have troops in Iraq. What you may not be aware of is that our "new" government is a minority Conservative government and that the Liberal Party, which was in power when we went into Afghanistan and didn't go into Iraq, is in the middle of a leadership race. On Sunday, there was a major debate between the three top candidates (there are nine in total) and a large part of the debate centered on their varying positions on the war in Iraq and support for Bush's policies in general. The one person who was in favour of supporting the action in Iraq (Ignatieff) was forced to back down (see Ignatieff backs away from Bush in Liberal debate (http://www.cbc.ca/story/canada/national/2006/09/17/debate.html)).

There is also growing internal opposition to Canada being engaged in combat operations in Afghanistan, led by the New Democratic Party (http://www.cbc.ca/story/canada/national/2006/09/09/ndp-afghanistan.html) (a "parlour pink" version of socialism - good social policy, terrible economic, administrative and foreign policy IMHO). The NDP, and the Liberal leadership candidates, pushed by Bob Rae (who used to be the NDP premier of Ontario), are constructing a media environment that is antithetical to supporting a GCOIN. This is being done for a variety of purposes, and I really shouldn't speculate on them except to say that some are probably related to their getting elected whenever our next national election rolls around :cool: . The one clear, political-symbolic connection that they are both making is that PM Harper is solidly in "the Bush camp" as are other major Conservative leaders (e.g. Peter MacKay: and what, exactly, is his relationship with Secretary Rice? "Enquiring minds want to know").

What do they want us (Canadians) to do? To return to our "traditional" role of peacekeepers and work on reconstruction rather than combat operations (hmm, seems they've forgotten WWI, WWII and Korea). After all, isn't Canada the world's "Nice Guys"? :eek:

Our (Canadas') problem is that we aren't fighting WWII, we are fighting the Vietname War (yes, we had a battalion there early on but left around 1963 I think it was). Canada should be fighting WWII -at least in the sense of an all out effort against a foe that is totally antithetical to our culture and society - but, politically, we are being hamstrung by wannabe Neville Chamberlains. And, most importantly, the efforts of those Canadians who actually want to be actively engaged in the GCOIN are being sabotaged by a lack of any central co-ordinating body at the International level except for - :eek: - the United Nations.

Canada, and many countries internationally, cannot trust US political leadership as a result of the complete foul-ups involved in the run up to OIF. BTW, this is not a judgement of the morality of the invasion but, rather, a judgement of the effects of the revelations about political manipulation of intel data given to the world as justification for the invasion.

Back to Tom's comment


If GWOT is GCOIN, then DoD should NOT have the lead. The problem is our national security structure is organized on a competitive basis and this only echoes wht Andy K was speaking of.

I certainly agree that the US DoD should not have the lead in a GCOIN, but I have to, respectfully, disagree with your placing of the problem. It isn't that US "national security structure is organized on a competative basis", it is that there has been no credible attempt since Afghanistan to organize a global security structure by all of the parties involved.

Marc

Tom Odom
09-19-2006, 12:48 PM
Marc,

I don't disagree (duble negative as I are an Aggie) with :
It isn't that US "national security structure is organized on a competative basis", it is that there has been no credible attempt since Afghanistan to organize a global security structure by all of the parties involved.

In many ways the problem I am speaking of ties directly into that you address. If we cannot get our 100 pounds of "stuff" in our 50 pound rucksack, we cannot expect others to do the same or even listen to us.

Classic issue is being debated on another thread here and that is the detainee questioning argument. My central concern in that debate is if one accepts GCOIN centers on the population, then the strategic PERCEPTION of wrongdoing/cruelty/illegality trumps all possible tactical benefits of such "defined" interrogation techniques. IO is about perception, not realilty. And COIN centers on the population. So the GCOIN must also do the same. We cannot afford to alienate the world and we have I believe burned way too many bridges in the past several years.

Getting a global security structure in place should be a priority goal; the first step is setting a tone that encourages cooperation.

Best
Tom

marct
09-19-2006, 02:07 PM
Hi Tom,


Classic issue is being debated on another thread here and that is the detainee questioning argument. My central concern in that debate is if one accepts GCOIN centers on the population, then the strategic PERCEPTION of wrongdoing/cruelty/illegality trumps all possible tactical benefits of such "defined" interrogation techniques. IO is about perception, not realilty. And COIN centers on the population. So the GCOIN must also do the same.

I've got to agree with that :). One of the things that has been most troublesome for me is watching the current shifts in the media space in Canada. There is a very nasty symbolic move going on that is aimed at portraying the US as being totally incompetent and mired in another Vietnam, all the while decrying our (Canadian) casualties as "unacceptable" and, in part, due to American incompetence (the friendly fire casualties). Sheesh! We have taken a total of 37 killed (http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/afghanistan/casualties/total.html) in 5 years (as of September 19, 2006): 27 combat / attacked / explosions, 5 friendly fire, 5 accidental. This is "unacceptable"!?! Personally, I think it is amazing given our force levels.

I keep thinking of WWI where we had over 400,000 troops and took over 20,000 casualties at Vimy Ridge alone in 3 days. Our media hailed that as a victory (which it was). Now, every time we take a casualty, it is being portrayed as a defeat. This is not the type of media space that we should have in a GCOIN!

On the detainees issue, I have to agree with you - it is in the process of shifting the media space in both North America and Europe to a dangerous degree. As I understand the problem, at a global, not US national level, the problem seems to centre on the legal definition of non-state "combat" troops and what, if any, protections they may have under the Geneva Conventions.

It might be best, since it actually is an issue that deals with inter-state and state/non-state relations, for the US government to toss the entire issue over to the World Court for "clarification". Since the World Court has a tendency to move at the speed of molasses in January in Inuvik, we could all be certain that clarification would appear - some time around 2015 or so.:rolleyes:

Still and all, it would create a perception that the US Administration has correctly identified the international nature of the detainee problem and requested clarification from the "appropriate" international body. This might serve to help shift the media space, at least partially, from a perception that the US Administration is condoning "illegal" torture practices and "illegally" detaining citizens of other nations.

On the detainee issue, there is another problem which seems, to my limited understanding, to be even more dangerous - a perception that the Bush Administration is side stepping the Posse Commitatus Act of 1878. I have a feeling that all of the anti-NAZI rhetoric used at the start of OIF is now, symbolically and sub-consciously, coming back to roost on the home front except that the perception is that the Administration is now, at the minimum, condoning actions that are symbolically resonant of the NAZI's. Please note that I am not saying that this is what they are doing, just that it is symbolically resonant of it. ("Symbolic resonance" is a technical term out of Anthropology that means that the symbolization of one pattern of action / perception triggers off the emotional connotations of another symbol.)


We cannot afford to alienate the world and we have I believe burned way too many bridges in the past several years.

Honestly, I'm not too sure about that. I agree that a lot of damage has been done at the international level not only overtly (e.g. the intel failures, the detainees and the secret prisons), but also via other arenas of international action. The trade wars with both Canada and the EU have not exactly endeared the US to many people :rolleyes: .

Still, most people in the EU, Canada, etc. have an incredible investment in an ideal view of the US as a symbol with specific connotations of individual freedom and opportunity, and a very high set of principles. While we may, and do :), laugh at your politicians during elections (hey, at least in Canada we do that for our own politicians too), there is a deep well of trust in the American people to do what is "right" and to punish those who do "wrong" - even if the people have to do it for themselves. I think most of us still believe that that will happen even in the current situation.

Marc