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Thread: Tomorrow Morning

  1. #1
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Default Tomorrow Morning

    And this too shall pass.

    I've spent the last eight years engaged in conflict. The Iraq war is finally settling down. Eventually, Afghanistan will draw to a close.

    Does our intervention bring about a new peace?

    What happens next? How does this end?

    I'll be the first to plunge into any endeavor to kill bad guys and stop al Qaeda's expansion. Just give me the authority, the resources, and the men. I've been very clear on that point. I'll go wherever others are afraid.

    I just ask one question.

    Where does this end? At what point do I get to retire to a small farm in North Carolina, grow some organic veggies, prosper with the Green Age, and be a good neighbor? When do I get to concentrate on my local high school footballl and wrestling teams?

    What constitutes the peace?

    What does tomorrow morning bring?

    Yes, I've got a story to tell. My boys demand it, but I ain't headed to Washington. I refuse to be any man's puppet.
    Last edited by MikeF; 11-20-2009 at 01:52 AM.

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    Mike,
    I've kind of been wondering myself what happens when Iraq and AFG are over. What will we do then? How will we train? What will those conflicts' legacy be on the Army? Will they have a lasting effect on the Army...or will we go back to pre-9/11 training? Will it inspire me to stay or retire?

    And for me, it will be a farm in Kansas. And I'll be COACHING the high school football team.

    I have one son to be QB and one to catch his TD passes!
    Sir, what the hell are we doing?

  3. #3
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jkm_101_fso View Post
    Mike,
    I've kind of been wondering myself what happens when Iraq and AFG are over. What will we do then? How will we train? What will those conflicts' legacy be on the Army? Will they have a lasting effect on the Army...or will we go back to pre-9/11 training? Will it inspire me to stay or retire?

    And for me, it will be a farm in Kansas. And I'll be COACHING the high school football team.

    I have one son to be QB and one to catch his TD passes!
    Schmedlap(whoever he is) is very specific, "Schmedlap doesn't do strategy."

    Mike is just as clear. Mike doesn't do garrison.

    The only reason that I stayed in past my initial obligation from West Point is out of Duty. Jake, you watched me in combat. I'm good at what I do. There are few (no pun intended) to compare. Honestly, you'd follow me if I asked.

    The doctors are telling me not to deploy anymore b/c of all the concussions that I've had. I'm going give them some time, but I'm about to give them the finger and go back to serve my country.

    The only thing that I want to know is an endstate. As selfish as that may seem, I want to know where this ends.

    I just want to know that my deeds are worthy of the sacrifice.

    No one has answered that question thus far.

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    Mike,

    I am keeping several options on the table for my short-term (1 to 2 years) future endeavors. One of those options includes going back into the Army. My desire to return has zero to do with the payoff for our efforts in Iraq, A'Stan, or elsewhere. For me, it is due to two factors:
    1) I enjoyed working with other Soldiers far more than I think I will enjoy working with civilians.
    2) I found satisfaction in helping the indigenous people where I deployed. I don't mean that I helped them by being a cog in the machine that implements our military strategy. I mean that I could choose to treat people like "civilians on the battlefield" or I could treat them like I would want to be treated if our roles were reversed. I chose the latter and it was rewarding.

    I got out of the Army because I, like you, do not do garrison. It was not so much that I separated due to low job satisfaction so much as it was due to the fact that I did not see how I could perform at an acceptable level if I hated every minute of the job.

    By process of elimination, I do not do strategy or garrison, which means that I do field at the tactical or operational level. Well, I'll add this to the mix: I don't do operational either. That said, the civilian alternative is far, far less exciting. After seeing how mind-numbingly boring the alternative is, I'm open to the prospect of enduring the soul-crushing, thankless, often worthless, tedious existence of a staff officer if it means that I might, if I'm fortunate, get to command Soldiers for one year out of five. The stark comparison of civilian vs Soldier has helped me to appreciate that even a staff job isn't as bad as I thought it was. With this perspective, I think I might be able to perform it better, so I am considering a return.

    As for long-term, how does this end? I frankly think it is irrelevant. I think a more important question is: what are we defending? As I have watched the financial "disaster" unfold, and learn about just how widespread and pervasive the unethical, immoral, and flat-out illegal behavior was throughout all organizations involved (from the top to bottom); as I watch our response to it in the halls of government, with nothing but coldly-calculated moves by politicians to engage in CYA and ensure their own re-elections and enrich their contributors and future employers; and as I observe our society's continued slouch towards Gomorrah (don't read too much into me appropriating that book title), I really don't know what we are defending. Until I can answer that question, I can't see any relevance to the question of "to what end" or "how does it end" or anything similar. I am very pessimistic about our future - not due to economics or security, so much as due to the depravity of our society and the entrenchment of a class of people who have a lot of power and no morals.

    I've never considered myself to be selfish, so it seems weird to look at this selfishly. But if I were to look at it selflessly, I would need to ask whom I am serving and what for. I can't answer it. So I am left asking what line of work I will enjoy more. I like working with Soldiers and deploying with the line units. Long response short: I guess I don't care how it ends, so long as I can participate and execute my piece of the fight to the best of my ability. It beats a 9 to 5 job.

    Ugh. I didn't intend to type that much initially.

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    Default How does it end?

    MikeF:

    Just a dumb ass civilian, but here's the closest I get.

    I had an easy time of my decision to go to Iraq in 2007. I had been watching pictures of dead young soldiers in my morning Washington Post for a few years, and hearing the frustration with compounding mission or circumstance failures. What does a 50+ ex-tank commander have to do that could affect any of it?

    In May 2007, a Crocker cable was released were he was begging for actual civilian planners, managers and experts to jump in in Iraq (not just young foreign service officers or military/interagency in-fills). As I found out later, I was one of about 30 similar senior civilian experts (almost all long-ago veterans) who, for the first time, saw a way to use what they knew to make a difference. So, by November, we were all prepping to go, and the briefing from Ambassador Clark was blunt: Everything over there, on the civilian side, is completely screwed up. We need you to go and change things, trouble shoot, and don't accept "this is how we always do it." Fix it enough to get things moving.

    We all knew that our goal was not to create some dreamworld of Iraq, but just to get things going enough to justify and end---which we understood to be ending the list of pictures of dead young soldiers---a minimal enough excuse to come home. One thing Ambassador Crocker is not is delusional. He knows the end state in Iraq is decades from now (Strategic Patience), and not something that could be achieved by a surge.

    My partner and I joined up with MG Hertling's MND-North operation. He carried the pictures of every dead soldier in his pocket (I'm sure he still has them at Tradoc today), and we saw a lot more of them flowing through Spiecher for a while, but everybody was focused (military and civilian) in slowing the flow, and creating the minimal conditions for the US end. No bull####, no dreams...just enough.

    Whatever delusions people have about the "accomplishments" of the surge, I only see the one real goal and accomplishment---stop the flow of yound dead soldiers. And I know I played a little part in that with the minimal skills that I had. I hear others claim they did this or did that (opened clinics, etc...), but it was all bull#### and tangential. Stopping the flow was all.

    Just fix the minimum things that are broken enough to let these folks get on with their next chapters. If, after that, there was a next US mission, say to improve Iraq, I would be happy to help, but that is fluff.

    For the last year, I have enjoyed being home with my 16 year old and wife, but I see the same mess, and flow in Afghanistan. And friends calling and emailing about joining them there. But I am waiting....

    Three weeks ago, I attended an event where Kim Dozier moderated a group discussion with Bob Woodward, Tony Cordesman, etc. about Afghanistan. As clear as they could be, they demanded that the civilian effort in Afghanistan is a disaster, and needs to start new.

    The same yesterday at another event which Kim moderated on PRTs. There, the speakers wandered between a young wonk impressed with the little trinkets the PRTs were doing, and the much older and savier Bob Perito (USIP) who said the model's not right. (It ain't working).

    Kim was nice enough to join a few of us PRT Iraq SME vets in talking about what's wrong with the Afghan civilian program and surge. Throwing CERP/US AID money at local economies until everything is corruption and inflation. Plan and execute from Washington. They know what media spin needs to occur. Drill enough wells to draw down the regional water table. Let Mikey (the American) do it; the Iraqis/Afghans just don't understand what we need to achieve and when. (Note: My crew didn't do any of that in Iraq; never spent a dime of US funds; just helped Iraqis do their own things (despite the US))

    Today, I read the transcript about Secreatry Clinton's "meet and greet" in Kabul. She gushed about smart power, and all the smart folks around her at the Embassy doing smart things in Afghanistan. Oh, what joy! Oh, what accomplishments!

    Is she just crazy??????

    Just reminded me of those stupid weekly PRT reporting requirements for "Good News" stories. The message was that Washington only wanted bull####, and that's what they got through those weekly reports more often than not.

    When I finally read that Obama has read the riot act on the civilian catastrophy in Afghanistan, and appoints someone fresh who is ready to get serious. I will be anxious to get there, and make a difference. But, just like Iraq, the goal just can't be delusional Nation-Building, or trinkets of schools and health clinics. It has to be about stopping the flow of bodies.

    (Anti-Hoh. If it is broken, and young soldiers and native civilians are dying, we have an obligation to do what we can to stop it. Not run away.)

    I hope the time will rapidly come where some sanity and focus penetrates the civilian mission in Afghanistan, but I don't see it. I believe the President, based on his recent personal exposures to the body flow, is getting near to the "bottom" from which clarity emerges (fingers crossed), but the rest of these folks are still lost balls in tall grass.

    As with Iraq, fluffy stuff is nice after the body flow stops.

    My best friend called today to ask me to come to Afghanistan, and that triggered my deep consideration (once again). But as a Senior troubleshooter, I know there is still not much reason to go until somebody recognizes that there is genuine trouble that needs shooting. The Clinton speech left me with continuing doubts that it is really just a bunch of folks from Washington patting themselves on the back about bull#### while young PFC from Iowa are being shipped home in a box.

    Do I go soon, knowing that the #### will hit the fan very soon, but be ready for when it does, or wait until it did so I can do my "troubleshooter" thing then?

    In some ways, its even more frustrating that I know what is going on in Afghanistan, but it seldom makes the news (even in the Wash Post). Folks here just don't seem to care anymore... Maybe we are to close to see the forest????

    Where does it end? Where do we engage that can make a difference?

    Got no answers but struggling with the same issue.

    Learned in grad school: Knowledge is transferable but wisdom is not!

    Sometimes, it is not about anything more than what it's about.

    Steve

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    Default Ps

    As a soldier, I would fight for my buddies.

    As an old civilian, I will fight for peace, and put myself on the line when it is necessary. But not for bureaucratic delusions.

    Steve

    PS- Keep going back and forth about a book, but in my planning world, books don't make you rich and famous. You just try to help your fellow professionals by recording what you saw/learned. (Planning has a very small readership).

  7. #7
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Boys, this isn't about me. It's about you.

    1/4 of the men think, he's too crazy
    The other 3/4's of the men think, I follow him anywhere.

    Before I go forward with Mike's boys, I just ask for an endstate.

    I'm not going to retire to a Washington think-tank. I refuse to live off how my boys bleed.

    How does this end? My voice is pure.

  8. #8
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Tim Karcher on the US Army

    Mike F,

    taken from Col. Tim Karcher's regular email updates on Caringbridge and may affect your thoughts:
    One of the things that I have always loved about the Army is the people; I really believe that this profession causes a person to care more about others than they do themselves. The people are what keeps me in the Army, and I really think that I will stay in the Army until I die or they kick me out. It is such an honor to serve with these men and women. Some of you think that sounds a little sappy, but for those of you who have served or are serving, you know exactly what I mean.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 11-20-2009 at 12:01 PM.
    davidbfpo

  9. #9
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Default H & mp

    Many years ago back in my early teens, I read Heinlein's Starship Troopers. What resonated with me in that book (and, BTW, I HATED the movie), was the discussions in History and Moral Philosophy. For me, the crucial questions asked in it were:

    1. To whom do we owe an obligation?
    2. What is that obligation?, and
    3. Why do we owe it?

    As I grew older and got more heavily involved in politics, I added other questions to that list:

    1. Do we still owe obligations if their effect is to destroy something else to which we owe an obligation?
    2. What is the current and ideal balance of rights and responsibilities (duties)?
    3. What is the time range necessary to consider both the balance of rights and responsibilities and second order effects of obligations?

    Still later, I added in a whole series of questions about the relationship of people to institutions and ideologies, such as:

    1. What is the practical limit of organization?
    2. What is the practical limit of ideological adoption?

    Right now, I'm reading Tom Kratman's Carnifex, which deals with a lot of these issues. After more years than I like to think about, I still have no answers that I am happy with, only more questions.

    At times, I find myself reflecting on the nihilistic poetry of Ginsberg or Yeats but, like Yeats, I find that I cannot accept that nihilism as inevitable; a dip into the lake of despair is often enough to make me mad enough to say "Right, let's get on with it".

    Mike asked
    The only thing that I want to know is an endstate. As selfish as that may seem, I want to know where this ends.
    To which I can only reply, there is no end state - our actions change the flow of life, but life goes on. All we can do is try to help move it in a direction of enhanced civility, individual opportunity, and individual responsibility - anything else we do will destroy us both as individuals and as societies.
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
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    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

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    The world is, was, and always shall be, an undying fire. Kindled in measures and extinguished in measures.

    (that's my mangled version of a quote from Heraclitus).

    There is no endstate. But I do hope that the powers that be use good men like you in good causes. Best of luck.

  11. #11
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
    Before I go forward with Mike's boys, I just ask for an endstate.
    There are know endstates there are only Targets and Exit points.

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    Council Member IntelTrooper's Avatar
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    I don't know how this ends but I suddenly feel really depressed.
    "The status quo is not sustainable. All of DoD needs to be placed in a large bag and thoroughly shaken. Bureaucracy and micromanagement kill."
    -- Ken White


    "With a plan this complex, nothing can go wrong." -- Schmedlap

    "We are unlikely to usefully replicate the insights those unencumbered by a military staff college education might actually have." -- William F. Owen

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    I'm wondering at the remarkable level of depression in this thread.

    The overall strategic situation is not that bad, certainly far better than it was in, say, 2006-2007. Afghanistan doesn't look very good, but Iraq in 2006 was far worse.

    The U.S. economic situation is ugly, but considering how much worse it could have been I think we can count ourselves quite lucky.

    I mean, do you guys watch cable news or something? If so, you really should stop.

  14. #14
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    I mean, do you guys watch cable news or something? If so, you really should stop.
    LOL - yup, that's what's doing it! Well, that and the days getting a LOT longer .
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  15. #15
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default That's true but I'm with Tequila

    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    There are know endstates there are only Targets and Exit points.
    Life's good and the world's been in much worse shape on every count...

    Ponies abound!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Life's good and the world's been in much worse shape on every count...

    Ponies abound!
    Dammit, I wanted a unicorn.
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


  17. #17
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Next Barn

    or maybe the second over...

    I know there's one somewhere.

  18. #18
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Life's good and the world's been in much worse shape on every count...

    Ponies abound!
    Ken, your missing the point everyone is depressed because Oprah announced she is quitting her show next year.

    PS you doing OK haven't seen you around in awhile?

  19. #19
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Who's Oprah?

    Yep, Okay for all practical purposes -- just been a little busy and like all old folks, have good days and bad days. In true Pony rustler mode, I have more good ones than bad ones...

  20. #20
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Yep, Okay for all practical purposes -- just been a little busy and like all old folks, have good days and bad days. In true Pony rustler mode, I have more good ones than bad ones...
    This type of thread is what happens when I think too much. I gotta put down the books on metaphysics, grab some salt tablets, and go PT (Ken's rules).

    Mike

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