Page 5 of 8 FirstFirst ... 34567 ... LastLast
Results 81 to 100 of 148

Thread: The Best Trained, Most Professional Military...Just Lost Two Wars?

  1. #81
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    155

    Default Understanding and justification are different

    Ken -

    In my opinion, you veer toward the latter.

    And no one has a problem with Pakistan, we are talking about the leadership of the Army and the intelligence agencies, certain of which are able to help us because it just so happens that they trained huge numbers of so-called non-state actors (some of whom just happen to live in training camps and safe houses inside the country), some of which killed Americans on American soil and abroad. Also, they get paid a lot. Add that to the drug money and misdirected aid money and it adds up. Over the years, how much does the missing money add up to (I'm talking total world aid from the 1950s onward). A nuke or two?

    Call it a different kind of Marshall Plan.

    It's only natural that civilians such as Carl and I are leery of militaries that have a history of coups, interfere internally in governance and buy journalists and air time, and threaten their own populations physically. When American military--retired or otherwise--express admiration or a kind of benign understanding indulgence toward such a military, then, well, you can bet civilians start to become a bit testy.

    'Cause it makes us worry about some of you (kidding but you know what I mean).

    I understand that there are brave individuals who don't like the situation and may be trying to help us, but we are talking the realm of dissidents here and not "rogue actors". I sometimes think the term rogue actor was developed to distance ourselves from the fact that we are to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia what Russia and China are to Iran. It's a way to misdirect and lie.

    PS: Training scores of state/non-state actors is a bad strategy, so, no, I don't see how these agencies are acting in their nation's interest. It has hurt them badly and hurt their people badly. It's one thing to say, "this is the situation and we are not going to change it," it's another to say, "gee, they are just following their interests," in a mirroring fashion as if their Army is just like the American Army. Providing intellectual cover probably isn't a good idea because it means that you can't think about a situation properly. Poor rhetoric sometimes leads to poor decision making.


    I didn't think you lot represented the same sort of institution, but if you do think that, can you point me to the American coups that I've missed?

    PPS: Getting this right matters because we are about to embark as a society on a discussion about how we are to work with the currently changing Mid East. I have a sinking feeling we will do the same thing we've done over the years with Saudi Arabia and Egypt and Pakistan and now Afghanistan. It matters to understand how our aid, military or otherwise, how our building up of armies, Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan or otherwise, may have long term negative implications for our nation. We inadvertently hurt people, including our own.
    Last edited by Madhu; 10-31-2012 at 02:01 PM. Reason: added PS

  2. #82
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    8,060

    Default "You go to war with the Army you've got..."

    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    I know things will not be easy to fix and I hope that they are not as broke as I fear, though in the aircraft acquisition part I know they are that broke and probably worse.
    No more broken than it's always been. We just don't have the money now to throw away on dozens of X- models that never make it into production.
    In my own feeble defense, you wrote "are" risk averse. I know because I cut and pasted that part. But that is a quibble.
    'Are' is present tense, I wrote that at the time I wrote the paragraph. 'Were' is past tense, I wrote that to show what I'd previously written. I cite all that superfluousity to illustrate how you often seem to tend to concentrate on non essentials to the exclusion of the point of the item.
    I know you don't mean it to come across as a plea for understanding the plight of the multi-stars but, to me, that is what it comes across as.
    Not a plea but a statement of the facts of life they have to live with.
    It is like they are slaves of a police state that is able to exert an almost absolute rigid mind control. I didn't know it was that bad, scary bad.
    It isn't scary -- it is pervasive and it does stifle initiative and It isn't a police state -- it's a bureaucracy.
    I also didn't know that when that veritable police state was able to rescind previous reforms...Borg can be overthrown and changes made.
    The reforms were not rescinded, most are still with us. what happened was that some reforms were implemented but many were simply stalled by the bureaucracy and were never fully implemented however, the bureaucracy learned and developed defenses to preclude similar later attempts at reform. An example is the power of the Training and Doctrine Command and the entrenched civilian bureaucracy there. They're going to make sure that no future reformer pulls a Meyer and tries to eliminate their jobs and power by changing the way they do business. Throughout DoD, senior civilians are a problem -- I can talk about 'em because I used to be one -- they stay and provide bureaucratic continuity, the Generals rotate through at two and three year intervals. So who's running the show? A GO who stays a year or two and is nominally in Command -- or his senior civilians who've been there for years, were there when he got there and will be there when he's gone?

    They know the GO is in charge so they just wait out a potential reformer in hopes the next guy will be more pliable. They are masters of the stall and all the arcane and tedious rules and regulations that can be used to stifle change of which they disapprove.

    Getting rid of the bureaucracy is likely impossible; reducing it's power and effect is possible. That's the good news. The bad news is that Congressional reform will be needed to do more than superficial change. Almost everyone knows there's a ceiling on Federal Employee numbers. Few know there's also a Floor, a level that agencies cannot go below lest too many workers lose their jobs and become disgruntled voters or the employment figures in an area start to look bad due to Federal layoffs...
    This leads me to a question. From what you say, I gather the Borg is getting more powerful. Do you think it will continue to grow in power such that it will be able to snuff out light of reform burning within last years LTCs before they hit the 4 star rank in 6-10 years? Will it kick reformers out altogether?
    The bureaucracy always tries and will impact some. Many like Michael C will leave in disgust, a few will try to stay to effect change but will get tossed. Still fewer will stay, survive and may achieve some improvements.

    Bureaucracies are always self protective. Ours is that and also is not stupid. Last time we had a big personnel cut, in the early '90s, they offered Majors up to a hundred plus thousand in hard cash to depart early and forego their retirement. A lot of smart up-and-comers took that.
    I am still shaking my head at the mind control structure multi-stardom has managed to establish. Those guys are geniuses, not military geniuses but geniuses. It's like Ellsworth Toohey is the beau ideal of the 4 star general.
    You're focusing on the wrong thing, that's a symptom. The multi stars are slaves to the bureaucracy, a bureaucracy that affects the entire US government which is far too large, far too expensive, has far too much money and tries to do far too many things it should not be doing. The bureaucracy must cater to Congress in all things to get funds; it's self protective so it forces all its minions, regardless of rank, to cater to the whims of 535 people who have 535 different ideas on what should be bought and how the system should operate. Take your aircraft purchase problem; how much of the excessive costs and delays are caused by ECP that some Congroid insists upon because the required part will be produced by a business in his or her district...

    It's really amazing that we, the US -- and the Armed Forces in particular -- do as well as we do in spite of the bureaucracy that is in constant conflict with a governmental system that is designed to be dysfunctional. The bureaucracy wants to grow, the system tries to limit that. We all suffer from the results.

    You and Michael C are correct, the system needs change. I know that also -- as does almost everyone wearing a uniform but Borg or Bureaucracy, the systems, plural, fight to protect themselves and to grow. Just fixing the symptoms will not achieve lasting results.
    I figure we shouldn't buy the bullets for guys whose simple pursuit of their interests results in our guys being dead.
    I agree with you but unfortunately, that's not the way the world works.
    Military guys do do what they are told. Multi-stars live in a whole 'nother world and sometimes they do, sometimes they don't, sometimes they will and sometimes they won't. It is a different game up there, as you well know.
    Not all that different. You'd be surprised about how those guys get jerked around -- and treat each other (lot of jealousies and vengeance up there...). They get a lot of perks to make up for that so there's a veneer of difference but in the end, they do what they're told by civilians who generally do not understand what the forces should do or are able to do -- and in that, I include many senior DoD civilians who have far more rapport with Congroids than do any of the Star wearers. Those folks have a different agenda and military reform is not one of their issues.

  3. #83
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    155

    Default I screwed up on my dates....

    ....in my first post on this thread. I was referring to the following:

    Document 2 – State 109130
    U.S. Department of State, Cable, "The Secretary’s Lunch With Pakistani Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar," June 22, 2001, Confidential, 8 pp. [Excised]

    U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has lunch on June 19, 2001 with Pakistani Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar to discuss Afghanistan, U.S. sanctions and Pakistan-China relations. Secretary Powell encourages the Foreign Minister to explain Pakistan’s involvement in Afghanistan as “the United States and Pakistan have different perspectives about the Taliban.” Minister Sattar describes the Pakistan-Taliban "relationship as ‘reasonable, but not problem free,’ and listed points of contention such as: smuggling of goods through Afghanistan to Pakistan, Afghan refugee/migrant flows into Pakistan, and Pakistani fugitives in Afghanistan.”
    http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB325/doc02.pdf

    I've got more (you all know by now I like to use references for my comments. Plain ole' opinion kinda bores me right now....you guys got good reads for me, I'll read them).

    We strung things out during the Afghan campaign a lot longer than we needed to because we believed our own fairy tales about that region and our ability to outsmart locals when they did the outsmarting. Given the location of prominent Al Q leaders within that country, they did a lot of outsmarting of us (even if the leadership didn't know about OBL, it means they weren't looking very hard and so that is kind of outstmarting us too). I can understand why people want to sweep this stuff under the rug. I sometimes think there is a touch of the "soft bigotry of low expectations" about our dealings in that part of the world.

    PS: I mean, read that document. We keep doing the same things over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again and expect different results. At this point, though, I am waiting for the history books and more interviews and declassified material. I need more intellectually. And to go all school marm on you, young people lurking, you demand more too.
    Last edited by Madhu; 10-31-2012 at 02:21 PM.

  4. #84
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    8,060

    Default You're shooting at the wrong target...

    Quote Originally Posted by Madhu View Post
    It's only natural that civilians such as Carl and I are leery of militaries that have a history of coups, interfere internally in governance and buy journalists and air time, and threaten their own populations physically. When American military--retired or otherwise--express admiration or a kind of benign understanding indulgence toward such a military, then, well, you can bet civilians start to become a bit testy.
    Testy is okay, misperceptions less so. You and Carl have misperceptions about the US Armed Forces and you tend to accord the hundreds (thousands when you include those retired) of US Flag Officers far more power than they actually possess. As I told Carl and as you objected to, they do what they're told. In many ways, they're more constrained than are Majors and Lieutenant Colonels.

    Not just militaries buy journalists and air time -- in fact, when it comes to that, the militaries, here, there or elsewhere are generally way down the power curve...

    American military people, retired or otherwise do not set the policy of the US toward any given nation. None. You may judge people on what they say if you wish, but I'd suggest that being aware of what they're directed to say and appear to do is not the same as watching what they actually do and to whom they respond.
    I sometimes think the term rogue actor was developed to distance ourselves from the fact that we are to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia what Russia and China are to Iran. It's a way to misdirect and lie.
    Yep. Agreed but who directs that? What level of government?
    PS: Training scores of state/non-state actors is a bad strategy, so, no, I don't see how these agencies are acting in their nation's interest. It has hurt them badly and hurt their people badly.
    I agree, so does Bob's World. Shame that many don't agree with us, isn't it?
    It's one thing to say, "this is the situation and we are not going to change it," it's another to say, "gee, they are just following their interests," in a mirroring fashion as if their Army is just like the American Army. Providing intellectual cover probably isn't a good idea because it means that you can't think about a situation properly. Poor rhetoric sometimes leads to poor decision making.
    Usually does lead to poor decision making -- doesn't change the reality that both we and Pakistan are pursuing our interest as seen by some in each Nation.

    I can assure you that I do not see their interests and ours in the same light nor do I see their -- or any other Army -- as a mirror image of the US Army. We're kind of unique -- not special, not great (usually just barely adequate, in fact) but we are different. I've worked with enough others to know that, to appreciate the good points of that difference (and there are some) and dislike the bad issues (and there are some of those as well).
    I didn't think you lot represented the same sort of institution, but if you do think that, can you point me to the American coups that I've missed?
    Nope, I can't. That's due to a strongly entrenched civilian control ethic. As I said, the Generals do what they're told...

    You have assumed, as Carl often does, that I have attitudes that I do not possess and did not state. Y'all tend to make standing broad jumps at wrong conclusions and infer things that tickle your sensibilities, things that were not written or meant.
    PPS: Getting this right matters because we are about to embark as a society on a discussion about how we are to work with the currently changing Mid East. I have a sinking feeling we will do the same thing we've done over the years with Saudi Arabia and Egypt and Pakistan and now Afghanistan. It matters to understand how our aid, military or otherwise, how our building up of armies, Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan or otherwise, may have long term negative implications for our nation. We inadvertently hurt people, including our own.
    I could not agree more. However, you're talking to the wrong guy. I'm with you on all this -- you need to address this to the Council on Foreign Relations and the rest of the US governing and foreign policy elite. They're the idiots that sway our government of the day in certain directions with their misguided vision of what's needed.

    ADDED: I agree with the thrust of your later post. Many in the US Armed Forces who had experience in the area (and many more like me who had that but were retired) let the powers that be know we were getting taken for a ride and that we were not going to outsmart people playing a game they've played for centuries -- especially not on their own turf. You see how much good that did,
    Last edited by Ken White; 10-31-2012 at 02:50 PM. Reason: Addendum

  5. #85
    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Berkshire County, Mass.
    Posts
    896

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Madhu View Post
    It's only natural that civilians such as Carl and I are leery of militaries that have a history of coups, interfere internally in governance and buy journalists and air time, and threaten their own populations physically. When American military--retired or otherwise--express admiration or a kind of benign understanding indulgence toward such a military, then, well, you can bet civilians start to become a bit testy.
    Having spent time in Central America in the mid-90s as a very impressionable 20-year-old I came to pretty much the same conclusion about the State Department. My view of the world is much more nuanced now but I think my knee is going to jerk for the rest of my life when I see a blue blazer. The DOD does not have the job of spreading truth, justice, and the American way. State, on the other hand, says its mission statement is to “[a]dvance freedom for the benefit of the American people and the international community by helping to build and sustain a more democratic, secure, and prosperous world composed of well-governed states that respond to the needs of their people, reduce widespread poverty, and act responsibly within the international system.”
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

  6. #86
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Montana
    Posts
    3,195

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Madhu View Post
    PS: I mean, read that document. We keep doing the same things over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again and expect different results. At this point, though, I am waiting for the history books and more interviews and declassified material. I need more intellectually. And to go all school marm on you, young people lurking, you demand more too.
    You don't need to wait that long. Many of the patterns you're talking about in US policy go back to our own Indian Wars (the constant struggle between the Army and the Department of the Interior). There's plenty out there about the US in the Philippines (anything by Brian Linn is well worth the read), and the interaction between State and the Marine Corps in Central America is also pretty well covered.

    This, incidentally, is why I contend that the US military is often reluctant to learn from its own past...or in some ways may actually be incapable of learning.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  7. #87
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    3,189

    Default

    Sometimes I sense that the usual suspects at SWC (not that many are active here...) think of the U.S. heavily armed bureaucracies as something more special than they are.

    I suppose you don't need to look at individuals, individual laws or events to explain the state of affairs at all. The global socio-economic and psychological theories apply to U.S. humans just as to almost all if not all others.


    This fits well to he persistence of certain problems.
    You might close with the solution an inch or two more if you look at the problems as fundamental, human ones - and strive to search for some policy lever that could trick the bureaucracies into being better (illusionary) agents of the people.


    Or you simply destroy the beast and replace it with a newborn version, one without all the accumulated scars, poisoning and decrepitude. The newborn will need some time until it can acquire all those bad old habits.

  8. #88
    Banned
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Durban, South Africa
    Posts
    3,902

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    You do seem to vastly under-appreciate the benefits of civilian control over the military.
    It's human and thus not perfect, but orders of magnitude better than a military not under strict civilian control.
    Not sure I agree fully... but can see where you, as a German, are coming from .
    Last edited by JMA; 10-31-2012 at 05:46 PM.

  9. #89
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    8,060

    Default Yeah...

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Sometimes I sense that the usual suspects at SWC (not that many are active here...) think of the U.S. heavily armed bureaucracies as something more special than they are.
    Not special but breeders of ineffectiveness in the name of efficiency...
    Or you simply destroy the beast and replace it with a newborn version, one without all the accumulated scars, poisoning and decrepitude. The newborn will need some time until it can acquire all those bad old habits.
    Exactly -- which is why I'm a fan of our ad-hocery. And why the bureaucracies hate and stomp on ad-hocery; thery like all those old habits. Job security, y'know...

    Ideally we'd have a big training base from which we select individuals, form and deploy units for specific conflicts and durations and then disestablish them to be replaced by another newly formed bunch when needed. That's not about to happen, costs would be too great and even if we did that, the training base would still become an old bureaucracy...

  10. #90
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Latitude 17° 5' 11N, Longitude 120° 54' 24E, altitude 1499m. Right where I want to be.
    Posts
    3,137

    Default

    This conversation has wandered a bit, nothing unusual.

    Certainly most here can find something to complain about in US foreign policy, though different people will have different complaints. I don't see how that can be laid at the door of the military: foreign policy is an executive function. The military may have some debatable degree of influence, but responsibility lies with the executive branch. I can't see any instance in which one could state with any certainty that policy would be different if the military had taken a more aggressive role, nor do I think the military taking an aggressive role in the formulation of foreign policy would necessarily be a good thing. Like Fuchs, I believe the only thing worse than a military under civilian control is a military not under civilian control, and thus under no control at all.

    The citation in the original post seemed to complain that the claim that the US military is the strongest that has ever existed is inconsistent with that military's performance in recent COIN campaigns. I don't see any inconsistency there. The US military is by any objective standard the most powerful military force that has ever existed. Not all goals are achievable through the application of military force, though, and recent campaigns are evidence of that.

    Certainly the US military has its share of weaknesses, defects, and inefficiencies. Some of these are common to almost any large bureaucratic organization. It is perhaps some saving grace that the potential peer competitors have similar problems: the overt corruption in the Chinese and Russian military is as severe an obstacle to performance as anything afflicting the US.

    I still think the equivocal results in COIN campaigns are attributable less to military deficiencies (though they certainly exist) than to policy errors. I see no reason why American forces should be taking a primary role in any fight against another country's insurgents. If we need to assist a government in a fight against insurgents, fine: that's why we have Special Forces. It's not something to be undertaken lightly, but it something we've some capacity to do. Sending our own forces to fight another country's insurgencies is something to be avoided in almost any case. Fighting insurgents is a fundamental governance function, and it is not our place to be taking on fundamental governance functions in other countries. That's a recipe for a mess, for reasons RC Jones has explained many times.

    Our government has a hammer. It's not a perfect hammer in any way, but it's better than anyone else's hammer. If the government chooses to employ the hammer as a screwdriver, we shouldn't blame the resulting mess entirely on the hammer.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

  11. #91
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    3,169

    Default

    Posted by Bob's World

    Pop-centric thinks one can bribe the populace to success, and that manufacturing better effectiveness of host nation services is the long-tern answer. There is no evidence of that ever working for long, if at all.
    Of course there is, 3-24 say it works, so it must be law . I agree, and that is what happens when you have a bunch of GPF folks who have been focused on fighting tank battles get tasked to write a COIN manual. They turn to a couple of guys who had no experience at all, but did a thesis on COIN in college and subsequently were crowned the COIN home coming queen.

    Threat-centric thinks one can simply defeat the various aspects of the threat: his fighters, his sanctuary, his ideology, his funding, etc, and that that is the long-tern answer. Equally, while this has indeed suppressed the fighting in many places over time, and has eradicated more than a few specific insurgent groups, I am not aware if it ever producing an enduring peace, and it typically drives the conditions of insurgency deeper into the fabric of the society.
    I guess it depends by what you mean by enduring, but it does achieve effects if you're willing to go to the extremes needed to make this approach work. Fortunately our national values don't permit this, but based on that we should realize it isn't an option. It is like the paper Davidbpo posted on the USSR's experience in Afghanistan. In it the Soviets pointed out we finally realized we were waging war on the peasantry, and it was a no win situation.

    No, sometimes I feel a little lonely on these thoughts, so perhaps they are "Bob-centric"; but in simplest terms they recognize that the roots of these conflicts reside in the nature of the relationship between various aspects of some populace and the systems of governance that affect their lives. Actual sins of governance and grievances of populaces vary widely, but the core human emotions that seem to pop up again and again in the many histories of these types of conflict around the globe and over time are the ones I try to focus on here.
    I think you're close, but the Afghan people aren't ready to accept a national government yet, or so it seems. Karzai is strongly criticized, but he knows what he needs to do to retain the loyality of the tribe/ethnic group that will be with him after we leave. The Soviets realized Afghanistan was ungovernable and their task was easier than ours, because you can impose a communist system upon the people by the very dictatorial nature of communism.

    Those chasing threats or populaces either one with a package of tactical programs that do not keep an eye to the the larger strategic criteria I attempt to discover, define and describe, tend to fail. They may put up great numbers, get a great report card and big promotion for their efforts on their tour, but they fail at their mission. Truth.
    Only partially true, those executing the missions at the tactical more often than not accomplish their mission. If the mission doesn't support the strategy, or strategies, then shame on us for letting them happen. In my view I think it does support the strategy and we're over reacting to enemy propaganda in many cases.

    As to this:


    Quote:
    Of course what you don't address is how will abandoning this tactic enable the opposition? Will it increase their freedom of movement? Will they be able to conduct more operations against coalition forces if they're not disrupted (especially if the population doesn't reject the insurgents)? There are two sides to this coin, and they're both important.
    I have never advocated abandoning any tactic, what I have said is one must frame their COAs and CONOPS for implementing any tactic or program, be it one to defeat, develop or shape governance, with these simple strategic questions as their framework. One must then also employ these same considerations for their measures of success. If one does this and the government one is supporting still falls to the insurgency?
    At best these missions disrupt. You can't win with coercive/lethal operations if we're not prepared to conduct them in their safe havens.

    Well, sometimes you just can't fix something no matter how bad you want to and it will go sooner than you want it to. You don't know what will replace what goes, and most likely things will be chaotic and messy for quite some time while the people who this directly affects sort it out on their own terms. Sometimes the insurgent is right and needs to win, more often the government is just too wrong and needs to go; better however, if one can convince said government to cure itself and avoid that uncertainty and chaos all together.
    Strongly agree, and this ties into a comment I made on blog response earlier:

    It is the host nation's fight (political and military) to win or lose, if they fail to take the needed actions, or lack the political legitimacy to do so, then they can't win. When they can't win is when we tend to make what in hindsight appear to be very dumb decisions about surging our forces and in fact taking the lead, that is when we own the problem and it is our fight to win or lose. That in itself seems to be form of mental illness, we realize the HN can't win for a variety of reasons, so we decide to prompt them up with our military forces and then wonder why the people we think we're trying to help are turning against us.
    But we have put GIRoA in a sanctuary. We don't honor their sovereignty, but we allow them to act in all manner of self-destructive ways and protect them with our blood and treasure. History will judge us poorly for this. Public opinion already has.
    Agree, time to move on. The scariest part of this is all the articles I see on the lessons the Army learnt in the past decade. Unfortunately most of them need to be unlearned.

  12. #92
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    2,706

    Default

    Bill,

    Only point I think I need to clarify is that what I propose in no way prevents going into safe havens after the enemy. It simply drives a shaping of HOW we best do that.

    For example, we could have aggressively gone into the Pakistan tribal regions in intel-driven raids back in 2001-2002, kicking in doors, dragging out true AQ members, lined them up on their knees in the village main street and announced "These men came to our homes and murdered our friends, families, women and children. We are here to avenge those murders." Shot them in the back of the head and got back on our aircraft and moved to the next target. The local Pashtuns granting those AQ sanctuary under Pashtunwali would most likely have simply nodded in acknowledgment, understanding and respect, and gone back about their business with a very positive view of the US.

    Instead we coaxed (threatened, bribed) the government of Pakistan to go up into the tribal regions to "enforce the rule of law and secure their borders", etc. Thereby violating a long standing agreement of non-interference between that government and those populaces, and accelerated Pakistan to its current instability in the process. Equally the drone strikes we do now that are so loved for their clean, easy, safe application bring death within the terms of the rules of law we have written for ourselves, but absolutely violate fundamental rules of humanity and bring the same kind of violent, unjustified death to innocent Pakistanis, Yemenis, etc as the attacks of 9/11 brought to innocent Americans. Just because a true AQ terrorist is having dinner at the home of some family who knows he is a terrorist, it does not give us the right to kill that family with a missile through their front door. We have a strategy that conflates the problem to better hammer it, when we need to segregate the problem to better get at the true evil that needs to be cut out. Our CT strategy and terrorist organization lists enable this poor behavior and shape our poor performance. Yet we cheer every tactical success as we ignore the accompanying strategic set-back. We are better than this. Morally, professionally, culturally. We are better than this.

    We make logical decisions that are strategic disasters because we simply do not understand the nature of the problem and do not design, implement and assess our actions within a proper, strategic context.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  13. #93
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    155

    Default My apologies, Ken

    Ken - you wrote (and I've searched the thread a couple times and don't see it right now but it was there, it's there I tell you! ) that Pakistan looks after their interest just as the US does.

    The words you used and the way you put them together created an equivalency it seemed to me but I'm not entirely fair on this subject around here. (Doesn't help when I scan a thread and can't find the quotes now does it? Maybe I'm just nuts....)

    Anyway, I apologize for assuming an intent that wasn't there.

    I read the use of words like "merely" and "rightfully so" (Pakistan looks after its own interests, rightfully so) as approval or at least a "benign understanding".

    At any rate, there is no point engaging me on this topic because I've got knee jerk qualities, major knee jerk, on the subject. The emotional well is poisoned on this subject, I'm not fair on it, it's better to ignore me.

    During the Cold War, and as a younger person, it was painful, personally painful, to watch many people forget the US' anti-colonial and revolutionary history and to lose all feeling for a people struggling toward something other than colonialism simply because it was outside a Western context and because their choices with regard to the Soviet Union were, IMO, often foolish.

    The well is emotionally poisoned and it won't be unpoisoned. It's not your fault, it's not anyone's fault, it's just what happened.

    And I loathed the Soviet Union. My book shelves have plenty of Soviet dissident books on them. To read about those camps or the security states and what it did to the people!

    But other people mattered, too. I agree with everything Bob says about self-representation.

    Anyway, I apologize. You are experienced enough and savvy enough people to know what is happening. You've worked with various diaspora and other nationals. You know sometimes it's all uphill because of trust issues.

    I am sorry.

  14. #94
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    155

    Default As to the main issue

    The US military is an awesome, almost too amazing to contemplate, instrument when used appropriately.

    It's also a wasteful overly bureaucratic and weirdly managed (within and without) machine.

    Both are true at the same time. It's possible for both to be true and that complicates discussion.

    I was studying for my medical specialty boards when 9-11 occurred. I never gave a thought to the military in any way in my entire life up to that point. I had cut off my cable television in order to study and never saw any images contemporaneously. Never, until years and years later. Just never wanted to watch or look. I heard everything on radio.

    Prior to toppling the Taliban, there was a huge argument, that the US would get bogged down. But what people meant is that we would never initially topple the Taliban. I remember those articles and pundits talking on the radio like yesterday because I happened also to be intensely studying and it all stuck, the genodermatoses and quotes of various officials and military, all in my magpie brain.

    The initial removal of the Taliban did shock and amaze, it happened so quickly. To say otherwise is to rewrite history. To completely rewrite it.

    But what happened afterwards? That's a group effort, Iraq, complacency, NATO and ISAF and the US military and governance and public opinion, American and otherwise, and the whole messy lot of it.

    All that the "international system" had built up intellectually after world war II came out in the desire to re-wire an entire society, it came out from the UN and aid agencies and Brussels and DC and various international capitals....

    Like I said, a different kind of Marshall Plan.

    So, used appropriately, you are beyond gifted as a military. The trick is to do it properly.

    Fuchs makes a good point about "tricking" bureaucracies and this is where the whole disruptive thinkers debate comes in and my comments about lobbies are not entirely inappropriate.

    But how?
    Last edited by Madhu; 11-01-2012 at 01:08 PM. Reason: added a bunch of stuff

  15. #95
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    155

    Default Thanks for the reading suggestions

    @ Ganulv, Steve Blair and others. I'll try and check them out. That is exactly what I wanted.

    Carl - A Col. Tunnell's article is making its way across the web, on Michael Yon's website and on zenpundit's. There are people who spoke up behind scenes, it appears. That letter won't make you entirely happy though, because he appears skeptical of the way we did things with our ISAF Karzai Pakistan NATO everyone else alliance pop-COIN-iess (er, not comments on policy, but on the way this affects day to day tactics. I think. My lack of military knowledge hurts me in interpreting things).

    No one is really in charge, it seems from my outsider viewpoint.

    From my vantage point, I can't know what happened behind closed doors, who stood up for what, who protested, and how it went down.

    The better part of valor for me may be to do just what I said: wait for declassified materials and proper study at a distance.

    Not much help for today's issues but I won't be a help. "Stay out of it mostly" is not a message that resonates much outside places like this.
    Last edited by Madhu; 11-01-2012 at 01:08 PM. Reason: Bolded some stuff

  16. #96
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    8,060

    Default No problem. Any fault is mine, you reponded to my poor wording

    Quote Originally Posted by Madhu View Post
    Ken - you wrote (and I've searched the thread a couple times and don't see it right now but it was there, it's there I tell you! ) that Pakistan looks after their interest just as the US does.
    I meant that all nations look after their own interests; the US and Paksitan do not differ on that predilection even if their interests are vastly different and their methods are equally so.
    I read the use of words like "merely" and "rightfully so" (Pakistan looks after its own interests, rightfully so) as approval or at least a "benign understanding".
    No approval nor a benign understanding, simply acceptance that is reality. Accepting the fact that all Nations have a right, even a responsibility, to look after their own interests does not equate to nor imply approval of their interests or methods. I disagree with some of our interests and methods; I disagree with some of those of Paksitan. My disagreement does not change the fact that the governing powers in all nations are going to take care of themselves in the manner(s) they choose...
    At any rate, there is no point engaging me on this topic because I've got knee jerk qualities, major knee jerk, on the subject. The emotional well is poisoned on this subject, I'm not fair on it, it's better to ignore me.
    We all have our soft spots and you are far to sensible to be ignored.
    During the Cold War, and as a younger person, it was painful, personally painful, to watch many people forget the US' anti-colonial and revolutionary history and to lose all feeling for a people struggling toward something other than colonialism simply because it was outside a Western context and because their choices with regard to the Soviet Union were, IMO, often foolish.
    At that time and as an older person, I shared those emotions. That shortsighted approach was foolish and has done the US more harm than would adhering to our principles have done. That is one of my disagreements with our approach to protecting our national interests. The Puritans have a lot to answer for. City on a hill indeed...
    ...You know sometimes it's all uphill because of trust issues.
    Is that ever the truth...

    No apology was necessary, really -- sorry for my poor choice of words.

  17. #97
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Latitude 17° 5' 11N, Longitude 120° 54' 24E, altitude 1499m. Right where I want to be.
    Posts
    3,137

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    I meant that all nations look after their own interests; the US and Paksitan do not differ on that predilection even if their interests are vastly different and their methods are equally so.
    If nations had and looked after clearly defined interests, the world would be a simpler place than it is. Within any given nation at any given time there are multiple competing perceptions of national interest. Policy may oscillate among those perceptions depending on who's in power at any given moment, or there may be an effort to balance those perceptions, or the multiple parties involved may independently and simultaneously pursue their own perceptions of interest.

    It all gets very sloppy, and very unpredictable.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

  18. #98
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    2,706
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  19. #99
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    13,346

    Default

    Imagery Bob may be effective, I still think words win and slightly edited:
    it is entirely possible that a lot of our current generals stink for whatever reason.. but surely the key reason for our failings in recent military campaigning is that the policy being served is misconceived.
    Hat tip to David Betz on KoW, which refers to this topic via a review of Tom Ricks latest book:http://kingsofwar.org.uk/2012/11/oh-history-you-bitch/
    davidbfpo

  20. #100
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    3,189

    Default

    Ken, you blame a lot of problems on politicians and top brass, or the system.

    I'd like to throw some more into the ring; I suppose the U.S. military personnel is poor at learning, adapting and improving.

    My strongest supporting evidence is that the vast majority of those I got in contact with are amazingly thin-skinned and react allergic to criticism, direct approaches against inadequate state of affairs and the like.
    I have yet to find a professional group that's as defensive.


    I cannot imagine heavily armed or other bureaucracy that runs very well without its individuals being able to bear criticism unless it comes from a superior.

Similar Threads

  1. Connections 2010-2018 Wargaming Conferences
    By BayonetBrant in forum Training & Education
    Replies: 28
    Last Post: 09-21-2018, 10:44 AM
  2. Lost posts on Small Wars Council o/a Jan 8, 2011
    By SWCAdmin in forum Small Wars Council / Journal
    Replies: 13
    Last Post: 01-10-2011, 02:41 AM
  3. Specially Protected Persons in Combat Situations (new title)
    By Tukhachevskii in forum Global Issues & Threats
    Replies: 119
    Last Post: 10-11-2010, 07:26 PM
  4. Book Review: Airpower in Small Wars
    By SWJED in forum Training & Education
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 05-07-2006, 06:14 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •