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Old 10-27-2012   #21
Entropy
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show me American ground troops fighting against well-armed opposition and we'll see whether this ability to destroy isn't overcompensated by an inability to survive in face of such an opposition.
I understand American army troops pride themselves in their supposedly unique quality at shattering formations, but this self-image appears to found almost entirely on fighting demoralised and 1970's monkey-model-equipped Iraqis.
Yes, the American force in Desert Storm outclassed the Iraqi's. Still, I think the American forces did a lot better than most expected. The fact that more American troops were killed in accidents than in combat losses (115 total US combat KIA compared to ~25,000 Iraqis) tells me that one can't simply write off the success of that campaign as merely the product of superior resources and an incompetent enemy.

You're right, though, that the US hasn't fought a peer force for a long time. I, for one, hope that is a"test" we never have to take. Also, I suspect that any "peer force" we'd fight would love their radio comms as much as we do.
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Old 10-27-2012   #22
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Yes, the American force in Desert Storm outclassed the Iraqi's. Still, I think the American forces did a lot better than most expected. The fact that more American troops were killed in accidents than in combat losses (115 total US combat KIA compared to ~25,000 Iraqis) tells me that one can't simply write off the success of that campaign as merely the product of superior resources and an incompetent enemy.
Been there done that... and yes I agree.

Not sure who expected a lesser result? The smart people knew it was going to be a walk over (especially because of US control if the seas allowing safe and secure LoC).

That is the way the US knows how to fight... by applying overwhelming force to a lesser (in all respects) force. The key here is that at division and maybe brigade level is where the US operates best. Below that all bets are off - as seen by outsiders. US special forces are obviously world class and that offers a ray of hope. But the competence gap between small teams of SF and a convention bde or div is just too great in any form of insurgency war.
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Old 10-27-2012   #23
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"No competent and motivated opposition" did certainly kind of help.

I've got a standard example which I use to disrupt others' confidence in their nation's military - including my countries':

The Italians wiped the floor with the Abbessinians in 1936.
The British and ANZACs wiped the floor with said Italians in 1940.
The Germans wiped the floor with said British in 1941.

The invasion of Panama says about as much about the U.S. military's competence as the invasion of Denmark, and if you look very much at logistics, of Norway in 1940. The real test of competence for the German army was France, though. The U.S. military had no such test. Its major victories came to being with vastly superior, not about equal, resources.

For this reason I withhold final judgement of the U.S.ground forces' actual (relative) competence even for what's called conventional warfare. Their way of war and especially their love for gold plating and radio comms is dubious.

Bill; show me American ground troops fighting against well-armed opposition and we'll see whether this ability to destroy isn't overcompensated by an inability to survive in face of such an opposition.
I understand American army troops pride themselves in their supposedly unique quality at shattering formations, but this self-image appears to found almost entirely on fighting demoralised and 1970's monkey-model-equipped Iraqis.
Fuchs, historically the German military machine was indeed quite outstanding. Better you leave it there than to cherry pick examples to try to make your point. The end result of arrogant national politics and military strategy led to a crushing military defeat in the field of an increasingly outnumbered and logistically deprived army. German humiliation did not stop at the destruction of their once fine military but extended to the national humiliation of the rape of their women on an industrial scale (reminiscent of the middle ages).

This constant harping on about the lack or peer level opponents - meaning Germans - no longer has any meaning. The German military record is merely historical and will never be repeated. There are many valuable lessons that can be (and should be) learned from the German military history but this continuing innuendo about German military prowess - which is now long gone - serves no purpose today especially with the reported poor performance of German troops in Afghanistan.

The US remains vulnerable in terms of 'mass' coming from potentially China and to a lesser extent Russia. Other than that who could threaten a US force in conventional terms?

The US and all western armies remain vulnerable to insurgencies where the self imposed restrictions provide a level playing field for semi-trained insurgents armed with AK-47s and a few RPGs.

How to win against an insurgency? Read Edward Luttwak.
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Old 10-27-2012   #24
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There's always the possibility that one country comes close to a perfect storm and gets very much right in the art of war for some time.

Look at the early 18th century and the French will impress, 2nd half of the same century and the Prussians will impress, early 19th century French, late 19th century Prussians, early 20 century Germans, late 20th century supposedly Americans.
Now the question is about who's going to be next and why should we pay attention to who got it right in a paradigm long gone?


It's a professional obligation of military leaders to strive for being "the next". I doubt that the NATO powers got what it takes to excel beyond what you'd expect of them due to their budgets.
People are way too content, and disappointments in small wars merely push them to the edge where they reaffirm their belief that they'd get it right if it was only about a great war.

Too bad, history tells me that many people have been wrong in such a belief already. Take Prussia after Valmy, for example.
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Old 10-27-2012   #25
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The fact that more American troops were killed in accidents than in combat losses (115 total US combat KIA compared to ~25,000 Iraqis) tells me that one can't simply write off the success of that campaign as merely the product of superior resources and an incompetent enemy.
How might things have looked had the U.S. been allowed five weeks rather than five months for the buildup?
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Old 10-27-2012   #26
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Not sure who expected a lesser result? The smart people knew it was going to be a walk over (especially because of US control if the seas allowing safe and secure LoC).
Yes, I agree the smart people knew we would soundly defeat the Iraqis (I was in college at the time and ignorant on military topics, so I certainly wasn't one of the smart ones). My point is one of degree - I don't think many of those smart people thought the defeat would be as decisive as it turned out to be. I think this is reflected in the casualty numbers. The degree to which we bested the Iraqis says something about our competence at that time (I think a lot of that competence is gone thanks to ten years of fighting insurgents).

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How might things have looked had the U.S. been allowed five weeks rather than five months for the buildup?
I'm sure we could come up with a multitude of "what-ifs" and counter-factuals, but in this case I wonder where a five-week limitation would come from?

There certainly was a danger that Iraqi forces could have pressed into Saudi when there were only the Saudis and (if I remember correctly), the 82nd and some aircraft there to stop them.
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Old 10-27-2012   #27
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That is the way the US knows how to fight... by applying overwhelming force to a lesser (in all respects) force. The key here is that at division and maybe brigade level is where the US operates best. Below that all bets are off - as seen by outsiders. US special forces are obviously world class and that offers a ray of hope. But the competence gap between small teams of SF and a convention bde or div is just too great in any form of insurgency war.
While you are absolutely correct in the main, that isn't totally true; there are varied and changing units (due to the vagaries of personnel rotations) that operate competently. There are just far too few of them and the pattern of change and competence is essentially unpredictable.

While that variance has always been true to an extent -- and will always be -- the percentage of less competent units is now several orders of magnitude larger than it has historically been. That is due almost totally to the terribly flawed BTMS -- Task, condition and Standard -- individual training model. The troops learn to do some tasks quite well but other important tasks are not well taught (many due to having a low initial pass rate, thus making the trainers look bad) and the troops do not learn how to integrate and combine those tasks for combat. A flawed and excessive rotation of individuals dependent personnel system does not help -- though it does provide jobs for a lot of personnel folks...

There are Officer and NCO competence problems as well but they mostly result from the same training process flaw with an added unintended consequence of a personnel system that for them significantly over emphasizes 'fairness' and 'objectivity' in selection criteria and that seems to believe all people of like rank are equally competent. That is not true, never has been and never will be.

It should also be noted that until the early 1980s, movement of Officers and and NCOs between conventional and SOF units was quite common. As the 'new' training system took hold, the SOF guys very quickly insulated (isolated ? ) themselves in order to achieve and maintain a little 'purity.' Equally noteworthy is that they are not forced to use that flawed training model and that attempts to export elements of their training process to the broader Army in the past few years have been stoutly resisted -- by both communities...

We have major systemic flaws; little will change until the entire 'system' is revamped. Tom Ricks is right for a change, the Generals are a big part of the problem, no question -- but they are far from solely responsible; who, after all, approves their selection...
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Old 10-27-2012   #28
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The Rolling Stones -- Doom And Gloom (Lyric Video), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPFGWVKXxm0


...the mechanics of the global kill chain continues to evolve and although Mars may take a breather or change weapons from time to time, he isn't going anywhere...

SAC, ICBM, Trident , and...

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Old 10-27-2012   #29
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Default Use of tactical competence to offset major operational and strategic errors.

Contrary to some assertions here, we have a history of doing just that -- the Pols and the Generals screw it up and the Kids pull their fat out of the fire. That was true in times past, that was true in WWI and WW II, in Korea, in Viet Nam, in DS/DS and in Afghanistan and Iraq. We ain't great; we are adequate.
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The degree to which we bested the Iraqis says something about our competence at that time (I think a lot of that competence is gone thanks to ten years of fighting insurgents).
True dat...
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I'm sure we could come up with a multitude of "what-ifs" and counter-factuals, but in this case I wonder where a five-week limitation would come from?

There certainly was a danger that Iraqi forces could have pressed into Saudi when there were only the Saudis and (if I remember correctly), the 82nd and some aircraft there to stop them.
As one thoroughly involved at the time, admittedly personally all stateside, DS/DS would've been a bit more difficult, we would've had a few more casualties and it would have taken a bit longer but the result would've been pretty much the same.

As is and has often been the case, we're far from perfect -- but our opponents historically and over 200 plus years -- have always been either militarily or politically even less competent. It is no particular accident that our own Civil War was one of our longer wars and produced more casualties and losses than any others.
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Old 10-28-2012   #30
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America is a nation with many competitors. In fact, arguably everything not American, be it state or non-state, is in competition with the US. That is as it should be. Competing with powerful states possessed with a sense of "right" and "righteousness" to rule or dominate wide areas beyond their borders is how America herself rose to power. When our competitors stubbornly clung to obsolete positions and expended their waning strength in the process it served to accelerate our rise.

Today it is America clinging to obsolete positions, and it is America that expends its waning (relative) strength in the process. We have grown so used to the idea that competitors can be "contained" or simply directed (backed by the force of our wealth and military power) to act in the manner we deem appropriate that we appear to find it beneath us to simply roll up our sleeves once again and compete.

To blame the military for "losing" wars that are not truly wars (we easily won the war parts, it was the subsequent policy aspects of clinging to old policies and refusal to recognize change, while employing the military to somehow enforce such inappropriate positions to work that challenged our forces. The largest failing of the military was their dog-like loyalty to continue to play, to continue to chase that ball, until they collapsed in exhaustion. Good dogs don't tell their masters to stop throwing the ball, and good masters don't need to be told.

What are the existential threats to the US today and into the foreseeable future?? By and large, these are not military problems. We need to reframe how we see ourselves and how we see the world. We need to stop resisting the resistance, and decide once again to compete.

But first we must tone down the ideological mantra that shapes our current policies and that hinders the ability of US citizens, companies, as well as our official policies, to compete effectively in the current environment. This not all that hard, after all, it is primarily a return to what got us where we are, and an abandonment of what we have adopted to stay there. The ideas and motivations that fueled our rise are far superior to those that we have applied to stifle the competition of others to stay on top.

The principle of the right of self-determination of governance for all is far superior to the belief that all should embrace some form of US-like democracy.

Appreciate that values are rooted in history and culture, and that while the US history an culture is not evil, to push the values born of it too aggressively onto others certainly is.

Look hard at corruption laws that drive US business to either stay home or simply abandon the US altogether to avoid harsh rules and penalties that no other nation emposes upon their citizens that dare to go out and seek international opportunities. (Watch an episode of "Jungle Gold" about the raw world of gold mining in Ghana for a glimpse at just one aspect of this as armed Chinese operations dominate the scene)

We are in a confused place as a nation. Just listening to the rhetoric of the current Presidential contest gives clear evidence of that. One candidate calling for a doubling down on the perceived successful approaches of a past that no longer exists, while the other recognizes change must happen, but has yet to map out for anyone what our approach to that might actually look like. In the mean time we rely heavily on CT, sanctions and excessive military postures to attempt to slow the change until we figure things out.

To frame this as our military "losing two wars" is far too narrow and symptomatic of a viewpoint to help us truly fix what ails us.
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"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)

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Old 10-28-2012   #31
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...hang on....

Creative destruction, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_destruction

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Creative destruction, sometimes known as Schumpeter's gale, is a term in economics which has since the 1950s become most readily identified with the Austrian American economist Joseph Schumpeter,[1] who adapted it from the work of Karl Marx and popularized it as a theory of economic innovation and the business cycle. The term is derived from Marxist economic theory, where it refers to the linked processes of the accumulation and annihilation of wealth under capitalism. These processes were first described in The Communist Manifesto (Marx and Engels, 1848)[2] and were expanded in Marx's Grundrisse (1857)[3] and "Volume IV" (1863) of Das Kapital.[4]

At its most basic, "creative destruction" (German: schpferische Zerstrung) describes the way in which capitalist economic development arises out of the destruction of some prior economic order, and this is largely the sense implied by the German Marxist sociologist Werner Sombart who has been credited[1] with the first use of these terms in his work Krieg und Kapitalismus ("War and Capitalism", 1913).[5] In the earlier work of Marx, however, the idea of creative destruction or annihilation (German: Vernichtung) implies not only that capitalism destroys and reconfigures previous economic orders, but also that it must ceaselessly devalue existing wealth (whether through war, dereliction, or regular and periodic economic crises) in order to clear the ground for the creation of new wealth.[2][3][4]
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In philosophical terms, the concept of "creative destruction" is close to Hegels concept of sublation. In German economic discourse it was taken up from Marx's writings by Werner Sombart, particularly in his 1913 text Krieg und Kapitalismus:[14]

Again, however, from destruction a new spirit of creation arises; the scarcity of wood and the needs of everyday life... forced the discovery or invention of substitutes for wood, forced the use of coal for heating, forced the invention of coke for the production of iron.

It has been argued that Sombart's formulation of the concept was influenced by Eastern mysticism, specifically the image of the Hindu god Shiva, who is presented in the paradoxical aspect of simultaneous destroyer and creator.[1] Conceivably this influence passed from Johann Gottfried Herder, who brought Hindu thought to German philosophy in his Philosophy of Human History (Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschheit) (Herder 179092), specifically volume III, pp. 4164.[1] via Arthur Schopenhauer and the Orientalist Friedrich Maier through Friedrich Nietzsches writings. Nietzsche represented the creative destruction of modernity through the mythical figure of Dionysus, a figure whom he saw as at one and the same time "destructively creative" and "creatively destructive".[15]
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Old 10-28-2012   #32
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America is a nation with many competitors. In fact, arguably everything not American, be it state or non-state, is in competition with the US.
I'll tell him once I meet the next farmer from Malawi.


Seriously, you added a lot to the more usual US-centric view here.
Your statement would be trivial if true, for it could then just as well be said that everything not Turkish is in competition with Turkey.
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Old 10-28-2012   #33
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I'll tell him once I meet the next farmer from Malawi.


Seriously, you added a lot to the more usual US-centric view here.
Your statement would be trivial if true, for it could then just as well be said that everything not Turkish is in competition with Turkey.
Fuchs,

Somehow I doubt you spend much time chatting with farmers anywhere, yet alone in Malawi. But you miss my point. It is not that everyone is out the get the US, it is that everyone everywhere is in competition with each other. We are part of that competition.

The US didn't shed any tears for the UK when we nudged past them during WWII, nor would the UK shed any tears for the US if the situation were reversed. This is not about "allies" and "enemies," or "friends" and "threats." It is about competition. Those in power tend to set up systems to suppress the competition of others and to provide advantages to themselves. Spain did this, France did this, the UK did this, and the US has done this in its own way as well. Just as an example. Same applies to all nations. Increasingly their are major players who are not nations at all, and who have a flexibility of loyalty that is particularly frustrating to an American approach to foreign policy that is so emotional rather than pragmatic.

My point is that we need to stop whining and lashing out at those seeking their own best futures in ways that circumvent, by-pass or ignore our carefully crafted systems of obstacles that have been rendered as obsolete and irrelevant as the Maginot line by the emerging global geo-economic / political reality. Instead we need to put on our big boy pants and come up with a new understanding and new approaches for competing more effectively in the world as it is, not as we wish it was.
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"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)

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Old 10-28-2012   #34
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Posted by Bob's World

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Today it is America clinging to obsolete positions, and it is America that expends its waning (relative) strength in the process.
Some are, but it seems most of our national policy statements address the significant strategic level geopolitical changes taking place beneath our feet, but perhaps they fail in describing how we should adapt to them? The author of the article that starting this thread pushed for a U.S. military capability to conduct "population-centric" COIN, which in my view equates to your comment:

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Appreciate that values are rooted in history and culture, and that while the US history an culture is not evil, to push the values born of it too aggressively onto others certainly is.
Of course we can't see past ourselves so we don't understand why there are so many strong antibodies against us pushing our values. Yet when the communists, many of them sincere in their belief they had the best system, pushed and often imposed their system upon others we clearly saw that as an evil that needed to be fought.

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What are the existential threats to the US today and into the foreseeable future?? By and large, these are not military problems. We need to reframe how we see ourselves and how we see the world. We need to stop resisting the resistance, and decide once again to compete.
There is some truth to this, and I think that is the way we're drifting towards. OEF-A and OIF were aberrations that took off this path (at least the way we conducted them), which is why I'm strongly opposed to transforming the military to fight these types of wars. The return on investment is negative to the extreme.

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But first we must tone down the ideological mantra that shapes our current policies and that hinders the ability of US citizens, companies, as well as our official policies, to compete effectively in the current environment.
What ideological policies prevent us from competing at the business level? The only one I can think of is our outdated policy concerning Cuba. The ban on doing business with Iran is not ideological, but defensive in nature. There are a number of ideological policies that prevent us from competing effectively for influence at the government level.

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We are in a confused place as a nation. Just listening to the rhetoric of the current Presidential contest gives clear evidence of that. One candidate calling for a doubling down on the perceived successful approaches of a past that no longer exists, while the other recognizes change must happen, but has yet to map out for anyone what our approach to that might actually look like. In the mean time we rely heavily on CT, sanctions and excessive military postures to attempt to slow the change until we figure things out.
Generally agree, but this also ties into Surferbeetle's comment on creative destruction. We are a strong and resilient nation, and in some ways that can be negative because most realize we need to change, but because we're so strong we don't have to change. It may come down to either a soft landing (if we effectively get in front of the needed change and direct it), or a hard landing if wait until the current system fails.
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Old 10-28-2012   #35
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The example of a value-based law that absolutely cripples the ability of US business to compete overseas is the anti-corruption laws. The rules are incredibly vague and impossible to ensure compliance with, and the penalties are so severe as to risk a death penalty on a business found out of compliance.

State Department has a zero tolerance position on "corruption." Very well intended, but as a successful business owner pointed out in a discussion with State officials I attended last year "that in many places corruption is how many places do taxation where formal taxation does not exist." He also pointed out that "I don't see US business people when I go overseas. I see them from every other country, but by and large US capital is too fearful of being nailed for corruption to even participate at all." Unsaid, of course, was that to strike a deal in many places, what is seen as corruption under US law is simply seen as a standard business practice by many others.

When US entrepreneurs outmaneuvered the UK for rights to develop Saudi oil there were no such constraints in place. Today more pragmatic countries are cutting deals and moving forward, while US capital is either fleeing or to too scared to be employed.

We need to get off of our moral high-horse and stop expecting everyone else to play by rules designed by us, for us. They are playing by their own rules now, and the only ones being truly hurt by our rules now are ourselves.
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"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)
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Old 10-28-2012   #36
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To blame the military for "losing" wars that are not truly wars (we easily won the war parts, it was the subsequent policy aspects of clinging to old policies and refusal to recognize change, while employing the military to somehow enforce such inappropriate positions to work that challenged our forces. The largest failing of the military was their dog-like loyalty to continue to play, to continue to chase that ball, until they collapsed in exhaustion. Good dogs don't tell their masters to stop throwing the ball, and good masters don't need to be told.
Yes, these losing wars claims are quite provocative hence my comment to the author that he should not run to mommy if he gets an aggressive response when he posts this sort of nonsense.

So where in your opinion does moral courage or the lack thereof play a part in all this?
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Old 10-28-2012   #37
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We need to get off of our moral high-horse and stop expecting everyone else to play by rules designed by us, for us. They are playing by their own rules now, and the only ones being truly hurt by our rules now are ourselves.
Come on Bob this is silly.

The US had its chance force moral conditions on the world when the Soviet Union collapsed but failed.

The rapacious greed of US corporations needed to be tamed and to the credit of the US it has done well in that regard. But leaving the back door open for the scum of the earth to enter was not smart. You had your chance and you blew it.
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Old 10-28-2012   #38
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Moral Courage is a hard thing to define, but we all know it when we see it.

Have many senior leaders opted to "go along to get along"? Absolutely. Actually that is prevalent across the ranks. But one has to temper that with the realization that as an institution our military really just does not understand the nature of this type of conflict. We are far too blinded by the inertia of what the force was actually trained, organized and equipped to do; an inability to adapt the lessons learned from historic conflicts that were similar in nature to the realities of our own current mission, interests and the world we live in today; and the complete subjugation of military leadership to civil authorities (there are a great number of brilliant civilians working in the Pentagon, but few have a foundation as trained, experienced military professionals).

When I listen to smart, successful military leaders justify the "success" of heavy CT approaches, or "Clear-Hold-Build," or Nation Building, etc: I don't think they are being dishonest, I think they are in large part truly baffled by why these programs are not producing the promised results. They can look at their tactical metrics and see success piled upon success, but they can look out their window and see that reality is anything but success. We focus on the wrong things. As a wise man once said, "things that count most cannot be counted, and the things one can count do not count." We love things we can count. The same wise man said "people love chopping wood, as the results are immediately evident." The military in particular loves chopping wood, and our promotion system loves wood choppers.

Bottom line is that many factors contribute to why powerful nations stumble in this way. If it is any consolation, history books are full of very similar tales.
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"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)
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Old 10-29-2012   #39
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When I listen to smart, successful military leaders justify the "success" of heavy CT approaches, or "Clear-Hold-Build," or Nation Building, etc: I don't think they are being dishonest, I think they are in large part truly baffled by why these programs are not producing the promised results. They can look at their tactical metrics and see success piled upon success, but they can look out their window and see that reality is anything but success. We focus on the wrong things. As a wise man once said, "things that count most cannot be counted, and the things one can count do not count." We love things we can count. The same wise man said "people love chopping wood, as the results are immediately evident." The military in particular loves chopping wood, and our promotion system loves wood choppers.
Let's return to first principles and seek some clarity?

When we truly observe, it is done by focusing on deeds, not rhetoric. Einstein was not swayed by empty rhetoric, nor Charles Darwin, etc. These folks and other observers understand that nature is ruthless, efficient, and red in tooth and claw...

Afghanistan - I can read a map, but you should be able to do a better job on this one than I can...

Iraq - Saddam, his sons, and many of his gang no longer walk the earth....blood has been spilled to atone for what was taken from us. Oil production is back up to what it was before Saddam took power ~ 3 million bbl/day. Internet penetration has gone from something close to zero to what appeared to be more than 50% in urban areas by my observation.

Iran - The economy is in shambles. The Syrian connection/pass thru supply route is fractured. Velayat-e faqih has a viable competitor in Najaf. Saudi Arabia & GCC, Turkey and Israel circle, scheme, and smell weakness...

Arab Spring - The world's largest youth bulge has a better chance to find employment and apply it's energy to productive efforts than previously.

US Army - Many of the weak remaining from the '92 purge have been run off. The SOF model is validated and has earned resourcing...GPF will be cut; unless the 2 trillion mentioned in the campaign is needed to bring a proud and headstrong country to heel (the 12th Iman will not get his chance to come home for a while yet)...and if so GPF will gain a reprieve for a time.

Foreign Corrupt Practices Act - Continues to gain in strength, governments need money to pay bills. Banking will be brought to heel. Shadow banking will be brought to heel. Commodities trading will be brought to heel. Rule of Law will continue to spread...

As to the lost wars, lost way narrative...BS
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Old 10-29-2012   #40
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The US had its chance force moral conditions on the world when the Soviet Union collapsed but failed.
I'm not sure the US has ever had an opportunity to "force moral conditions on the world", and that sounds like the kind of Quixotic quest that ends with inevitable exhaustion and failure. The world is a large place with a very low standard of morality and no particular inclination to follow American instructions. The fastest route to the collapse of American power would be to waste it in a futile effort to police the world.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JMA View Post
The rapacious greed of US corporations needed to be tamed and to the credit of the US it has done well in that regard. But leaving the back door open for the scum of the earth to enter was not smart. You had your chance and you blew it.
Some would say the rapacious greed of American corporations was simply redirected to domestic financial dealings. Of course American corporations are as greedy and as profitable as they ever were. They've just found ways to make money under changing conditions.

The reluctance of American companies to make long-term deals in politically unstable areas has as much to do with risk tolerance as with corruption regulations. In objective terms the Chinese (for example) are doing the oil-consuming world a favor by pumping oil in places where other companies won't go. If they didn't pump it that oil would probably not come to market at all.

It will be interesting to see what happens when a government that has made long-term deals with the Chinese is faced by an insurgency that wants to change those deals. Will they write it off, or will they jump in and try to "do COIN"?

But back to the original question...

Quote:
(...) President Obama has described our military as “the strongest military the world has ever known.”

There’s just one problem with this...

That military just lost two wars in a row.(...)

If our military is so great, why have the last fifty years been so disastrous? (...)
I don't see any inconsistency there. The US by any objective standard does have "the strongest military" in the world and in the history of the world. That doesn't mean it will always succeed, especially if it's used in pursuit of objectives that cannot be achieved through the use of military strength. Driving a screw with a hammer is likely to fail, but that doesn't mean you have a lousy hammer.

Fuchs' point that the US military hasn't been proven in equal contest against a peer opponent is true, but irrelevant, since "strongest in the world" is a relative measure, not an absolute measure, and the potential peer competitors have even less experience of peer conflict and far less evidence of capacity.

In theory Russia or China could threaten the US with mass, but does either have the capacity (or, really, the incentive) to deploy and support that kind of mass outside their borders in a situation where the US would be forced into a full military confrontation?
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