Posts Tagged Military
WHO OR WHAT ARE WE FIGHTING IN THE MIDDLE EAST? WHY? WHAT DO WE HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH? AND WHEN WILL WE KNOW IF OR WHEN ITS OVER?
The First Rule of Warfare is to “Know Your Enemy!” But, after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, George W. Bush declared a Global War on Terror. So, what does that mean? Have we been fighting a tactic: Terrorism? Are we fighting for Good, versus Evil? What exactly is IT? Also, is the fight, against this uncertain opponent, limited to the Middle East, or might it be global in scope? Unfortunately, as the “Coalition” was gearing-up to invade, George Bush waved the red flag—citing the Crusades. How damn ignorant can one man have been?
Ever since those terrorist attacks, many in Washington have attempted to assign the role of our new invisible adversary to Islam. Why didn’t Bush confront the Saudis, since 15 of the 19 terrorists were Saudi nationals? By falsely accusing Global Islam to be our new Enemy, the Administration had enabled our real enemy to gain more strength, while America tilted at windmills!
Many of us in the more secular West have trouble understanding the role of Religion in other cultures. Until approximately 1500 AD, Western Europe was considered to be somewhat of a cultural backwater, as compared go the Great Empires of the world. The source of all power was universally thought to be the King, Caliph, Bishop, etc, who was believed to have received it from God.
Eventually, however, Europeans began to question the role of the Kings, as well as the Pope, as they also began to doubt that the Earth was the center of the universe. As people began to think for themselves, an Intelligentsia evolved, which explored science, philosophy, geography, economics, etc.
As that transition occurred, Western Europe jumped ahead of the rest of the world in knowledge, in adventure, and in understanding how things worked. So, while Europe had become more secular, the importance of Religion, however, had not changed among the other great civilizations of the world!
Muslims seem to have maintained a feeling of commonality with one another, around the world. For instance, many of those who fought in Bosnia, Chechnya, and Croatia, toward the end of the Twentieth Century, have answered the call to Jihad in the Middle East. Similarly, Muslims from Asia, Australia, Europe and North America, joined-in as well. Accordingly, how do we fight something that we cannot define, nor do we even understand?
We hoist our arrogance on our Military; but, two major powers have not faced-off in battle since the middle of the last century. Frankly, American GI’s are: too weighed-down by all of the high-tech firepower that they carry on their backs; the sometimes unreliable air cover; conflicting command structures; and the lack of loyalty, by local soldiers, for the general that we propped-up to head the country. Meanwhile, the enemy can travel light, knows he has little that can disappoint him, and he can blend in with the populace; BUT…he is also fighting for a cause!
Rather than funding a large invading army, with firepower out the gazoo, we should focus a sizable portion of the State Department budget on devising vital parts of the cultural infrastructure, which is so lacking. By helping build that missing support structure, out in the villages, America can eliminate the environment in which terrorist groups and religious extremists thrive.
For instance, three or four decades ago, much of South and Southeast Asia had been in a situation similar to that of the current Middle East. Poverty and illiteracy were rampant! Also, that part of Asia has considerably more Muslims than does the Middle East. Through the transformation, perhaps following Japan’s lead, the local infrastructures began to change. Education, industry, viable health care, a functioning economy, and the standard of living began to rise. A better lifestyle goes a long way in combatting terrorism and extremism. Also, preventing war is more cost-effective than waging it, and it saves lives!
NOTE: For a much more in-depth explanation of how western Europe transformed, here is the comment on my Books That I Recommend tab: A great historical and scientific explanation of Who we are, Where we came from, and How we got here. The obvious idea is to understand our past in order to contemplate our future. Namely, what We, as a Species, will become in the future?
DO THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF PLAY ANY ROLE IN THE PLANNING AND IMPLEMENTATION OF TRUMP’S MILITARY POLICY? DOES HE EVEN HAVE A PLAN?
Sure, this question might seem counter-intuitive, since Donald Trump has three generals (two retired and one active) in his Cabinet! In fact, that might be a major cause of the problem! But, let me take you through my scenario.
Donald relies on a very small group of trusted loyalists, basically his children, and his son-in-law. Others seem to move into his orbit—like Steve Bannon, Paul Manafort, KellyAnne Conway, Jeff Sessions, etc.,—and then, just as quickly, they’re gone!
There are few Cabinet Officers who have any key staffers—Presidential Appointees—since only a few Deputy and Assistant Secretaries, throughout the entire Regime, have been Confirmed by the Senate. Is there a hearing backlog or, perhaps, qualified people just don’t wish to Pledge their Loyalty to Trump? Isn’t Country and the Constitution sufficient? So, who can the Secretaries delegate responsibility to, or leave in charge when they’re away?
When President John F. Kennedy took the Presidential Oath of Office, in January of 1961, he brought-in a younger, highly educated group of key advisors—which he deemed the New Frontier—perhaps as compared to President Eisenhower’s Old Guard. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, working with the bureaucracy of the Pentagon, and bogged-down in their intra-service rivalries, could not respond to Kennedy’s requests for ideas and plans as quickly as his analytically minded Cabinet cronies could!
In time, President Kennedy replaced the Old Guard at the JCS; however, the new, younger group of Chiefs had the same problems in providing the advice and planning, which the President had wanted. Kennedy pal, Secretary of Defense, Robert S, McNamara became the intermediary, between the President and the Chiefs. Eventually, however, McNamara pushed the Chiefs off into irrelevance. Then, when JFK re-activated retired general Maxwell Taylor, to be his Special Military Advisor, the Joint Chiefs were truly no longer even a consideration, other than for occasional public display.
After President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, in-coming President Lyndon B. Johnson, who was kept mostly in the dark on most policy issues as Vice President, maintained JFK’s Cabinet, and his small advisory braintrust. The Joint Chiefs were again primarily just asked to identify potential targets in Vietnam, rather than to participate in any military planning. In fact, President Johnson was so involved with the 1964 Election, and his signature Great Society Legislation, that he appeared to wish that Vietnam would just go away.
The small group, who advised both Presidents JFK and LBJ were mostly academics and intellectuals. They could grasp comprehensive problems, and possessed all of the necessary tools to arrive at viable solutions. Donald Trump, on the other hand, has seemed to prefer loyalty, rather than competence and, unfortunately, they seem to have lacked the critical thinking, and analytical skills for their jobs.
Additionally, Donald Trump lacks the necessary management skills required to make timely, and relevant executive decisions. Just leaving the general administration to the apparatchiks, has merely led to disruption, and mixed communications. Confusion has been evident, in regard to both domestic and foreign policy!
Why did he tap Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to threaten North Korea with a pre-emptive attack, rather than National Security Advisor (and active General) H. R. McMaster or Secretary of Defense James Mattis? Similarly, why were neither of them present when he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, last week at the G-20 Summit?
Since Donald Trump seems to prefer his loyal group of trusted advisors, and appears to lacks any management skills in assigning tasks among his Cabinet Advisors, I doubt that the Joint Chiefs of Staff will ever have much, if any, input into his Military Agenda. By having generals in his Cabinet, that gives the appearance of JCS involvement; but, that might be an incorrect assumption! In fact, does Donald Trump even have a realistic Plan for any of the four wars currently going on in the Middle East?
Once Mattis and McMaster took the positions of Secretary and Advisor, respectively, in the Trump Cabinet, they began working at the pleasure of the President. The soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen are no longer their constituency—but, that of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But, shouldn’t they still be represented too?
NOTE: Welcome to our readers in the Dominican Republic and Serbia!
Throughout America’s history, the U. S. Army had been composed of Citizen-Soldiers—at Concord and Lexington, Bull Run and Gettysburg, as well as Normandy Beach and Okinawa—but, that changed after Vietnam. That endless, mindless war caused the American people to regret ever hearing the word, Vietnam, and the impact of that rebuke spread throughout the Army.
I do not use the term Army to suggest our overall Military. The Army’s problems did not spread to the smaller, more focused Marine Corps, and it certainly did not tarnish the more technological Navy and Air Force. It was due to the Army’s more labor-intensive military brand, that it bore the brunt of the Vietnam expansion–from the initial handful of Special Forces (“Green Berets”) Advisors, to 3,500 Marines in 1965, to the 500,000 man Military in 1967, when I arrived “In Country”.
As public sentiment waned, the enlisted men primarily felt used and forgotten, as the war dragged on! Disrespect for authority, and following orders, were no longer an acceptable way of life for many GIs. And, perhaps it worsened after the Tet Offensive of 1968, before which Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara refused to believe communications intercepts that enemy forces were building-up, all around the country. Also, there were instances of “fragging”, live (safety pin pulled) fragmentation grenades being rolled into officers’ tents—killing some.
I just added Andrew J. Bocevich’s “Breach of Trust” to my Books That I Recommend Tab. Bacevich, a West Point Grad who spent 22 years in the Army, is a Professor of History and International Studies at Boston University. His book provides an excellent analysis of how the Army, went about reacting to the Vietnam situation; but, it just made matters worse. In fact, Breach of Trust is quite reminiscent of President Dwight D. Eisenhower—the General who led the Normandy Invasion in World War II—and his warning about the Military Industrial Complex, during his Farewell Address.
The Citizen-Soldier Army, of America’s first 175 years, was transformed into a Professional Warrior Class Army. Whereas, up through Vietnam, the Army was of the People, and literally every American had skin in the game. If your husband, son(s), or (now) daughter wasn’t in uniform, you knew someone who was. Prior to Vietnam, wars were only waged when necessary, winnable and only for a reasonable duration. But, as the U. S. sunk deeper, and deeper into that quagmire, the American People failed to Act.
And now, we have a Professional Army, which is no longer of the People, and no longer for the People. After disbanding the Conscription, or Draft Concept, soldiers’ wages were raised by a fair amount. In prior years, a small group of professional soldiers kept the Army functioning in Peacetime, and the Draft enabled it to expand when necessary and, then it would contract again, once the danger had passed.
But, once America formed a larger Army, composed solely of higher-paid volunteers, the Pentagon needed to justify the higher expenses of a large Peacetime Army? Just like any organization—public or private—duties must be contrived, operations must be planned and missions need to be created. Solution…Permanent Warfare!
Here’s where Ike’s Military-Industrial Complex Admonition comes into perspective. In fact, President Eisenhower wanted to dub it the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex, during his televised Farewell Address; but, he dropped the “Congress” from the final version. When his brother, Milton, asked him why, “General Eisenhower” (as he preferred to be called) replied: “It was more than enough to take on the military and private industry. I couldn’t take on the Congress as well.”
Only one percent of America has any involvement in the wars now Longer wars, however, raise the stature of the professional warrior class, and enable the generals and admirals (”flag officers”) to earn more stars and promotions. The Defense Industry profits from supplying the Toys of War, which the Pentagon now needs in greater quantities, in its never-ending WarfareStrategy. Besides the industry’s substantial campaign contributions, they are willing to spread the manufacture of weapons among a number of Congressional Districts—at reduced efficiency, but the added costs are just passed on to the Taxpayer.
In June of 2012, I wrote a post on this blog “Re-enact the Military Draft”, which is one of my most read posts. We need to get the American People back engaged; because, the death and destruction, caused in our name, surely doesn’t reflect positively on America. Focus on the important, necessary wars and require Congress to provide the civilian oversight that was written into our Constitution, some 240 years ago. Otherwise, we will just continue to spread mass death and destruction overseas, as we squander our resources—both our Treasury and our Future Generations!
NOTE: Welcome to our readers in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Costa Rica!
DONALD, WITH FOUR WARS WITHOUT END, ALREADY GOING ON IN THE MIDDLE EAST, WE SURELY DON’T NEED YOU TO HELP START ANOTHER IN QATAR!
Does Donald Trump ever think before he opens his mouth, or fires-up his Tweeter?
We are already involved with four local wars in the Middle East, and now he is taking sides in a disagreement, between Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the Emirates, on one side, against Qatar on the other, for sponsoring terrorism. The Saudis had delivered an ultimatum with 13 demands, to be complied with in ten days, before a blockade would be imposed
Donald Trump immediately conveyed his wholehearted support for the blockade. Why? In May, the Saudis had feted Trump, and lavished great praise on him; but, that surely couldn’t justify his taking sides in this disagreement! Consider as well what else has changed since Donald’s trip to Riyadh, just 35 days ago.
Within the past week, Saudi King Salman al-Saud, who has failing health, named his 31 year-old son Salman bin-Abdulaziz al-Saud to be the new Crown Prince, and heir-to-the-throne. Previously, Prince Salman had been the bellicose defense minister, who sent the Military to attack Yemen, resulting in numerous Yemeni civilian deaths.
Trump’s unfettered support for the blockade of Qatar appears to have prompted Secretary of State James Mattis to rush to Doha, in order for him to confirm our support for the Persian Gulf nation, and to sign a $12 billion arms deal with the Qataris. The
U. S. Air Force provides air support for our actions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen, from al-Udeid air force base, just west of Doha. We also have the Headquarters of both the U. S. Central Command and the Central Air Force Command, at that same Qatar location. Why didn’t Donald Trump consider all this before he Tweeted-off this?
Secretary of State Rex Tellerson warned the Saudis, and their allies, to make sure that the demands on Qatar are “reasonable and actionable”. National Security experts confirm that it is not uncommon for State and/or Defense to be on different sides on some issues, from the White House; but, in this case, it is quite peculiar. In fact, Donald Trump appears to be out of the loop, and there appears not to be any coherent rational policy.
Congress, which has the sole authority to Declare War has certainly shirked its duty in the Middle East! Out of the four nations in which we are using military force, War Powers (Act) Resolutions have only been issued for Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003), and those are grossly outdated, and should definitely be revoked immediately. The American People should demand more from our Congress, especially with a hands-off President, than to accede to open-ended military actions, without having a defined mission and end-date!
1. The attached article from The Guardian (UK) provides a more in-depth description pop the Trump meddling in the Saudi-Qatar controversy.
2. This recent post provides additional detail on our overall mismanagement of the military in the Middle East.
CAN DONALD TRUMP BE TRUSTED IN THE VIRTUAL MINEFIELD THAT GEORGE W. BUSH LAID IN THE MIDDLE EAST, BACK IN 2003?
First, let me point-out that the Congress, which has sole Constitutional Authority to Declare War (Article I, Section 8), has not done so since December of 1941. It has ceded such powers to the Administrative Branch ever since. And, the War Powers Act, by which Congress supposedly maintains control over the Military, has been used primarily, as an excuse by Presidents, to usurp the authority of the Legislative Branch.
Donald J. Trump, has demonstrated, time and time again, that he is not a hands-on President. He recently delegated the responsibility for sending an additional 4,000 troops into Afghanistan, to Secretary of Defense James Mattis. The WPA resolution, which supposedly authorizes that additional force; however, has not been updated since 2001, when it was first approved.
Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) recently said that “When I voted in 2001 to authorize military force against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks, I had no idea I would be authorizing armed conflict for more than 15 years and counting,” Congress has, in effect, abrogated its responsibility as the only Branch of Government able to Declare War. Clear guidelines must be required, including: a specific mission objective; an anticipated completion date; and the required troop and equipment requirements.
We still maintain several thousand American GIs in Iraq, which remains under a 2003 WPA resolution. Quite recently, with the fall of Raqqa—ISIS’s assumed headquarters—there have been rumors afloat, about sending more military advisors, and even some ground forces into Syria. So far, there has never been a WPA resolution, whereby Congress has authorized Military Action in Syria. Keep in mind that, such action could put us face-to-face, with both Russia and Iran.
There have been other minor military interventions, such as in Yemen, eight days after Trump’s Inauguration. When Secretary Mattis was confirmed, on January 20, a special waiver was granted to enable him to serve as the Secretary of Defense. Generally, a nominee for that office must wait seven years, following their separation from active military serve, and Mattis had only retired three years before. By providing Mattis with the responsibility to decide on any increase in troop levels in Afghanistan, Trump has disregarded the intent of the Civilian Oversight of the Military!
Just recently, Saudi King Salman al-Saud appointed his 31 year-old son, Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, as the Crown Prince, and Heir-Apparent. Prince Salman had been the Defense Minister, and the driving force behind the Invasion of Yemen, which has caused a significant number of civilian Yemeni deaths. With King Salman reportedly in ill-health, Donald and the Crown Prince might be a much too dangerous pair!
Just consider the local wars in which we are already engaged—Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and perhaps Iran-Saudi Arabia, if that erupts. Also, Palestine—with Israel’s nukes— would certainly get dragged into any such regional conflict! Our two primary adversaries are still China and Russia. So, let’s not squander our Treasury, lose too many good young men and women, and cause the American People to tire of war—just before the one(s) really matter(s) might commence!
This whole situation makes me think of a bunch of fearless firefighters attacking a wildfire. In this case, if they acted like Donald’s Pentagon, they would be putting-out individual trees, while losing the forest!
Recently, a sub-contractor for the National Security Agency, in Georgia, posted a classified document on social media, and she is now under arrest for disclosing classified information. Edward Snowden, who stole voluminous information, on multiple laptop computers, a few years ago, was also a NSA sub-contractor—employed by an outside corporation, working on behalf of the intelligence agency.
Journalists often overlook key points, especially when reporting on specific technical topics, such as: monetary policy; the Iran Nuclear Agreement; Constitutional Law; or National Security. For instance, several years ago, it was reported that retired General David Petreus had provided his biographer, a former Army officer, with numerous classified documents. I recall, at least one reporter, suggesting that the biographer had a security clearance, since she had been a military officer. Nonsense!
When someone acquires a security clearance, they go through a short “briefing”, which is little more than signing a form, by which he or she affirms (something to the effect) that they will neither divulge any classified information, nor provide any documents, to anyone, except in the normal course of their job. Also, when they leave the agency or department, they are de-briefed, which again is little more than signing a form whereby they acknowledge that their clearance has been revoked, they no longer have access to classified information, and the same basic provisions still apply.
Now, there are three primary points to keep in mind as your listen to media accounts regarding classified information:
1. Having had a clearance does not carry any rights, with regard to future classified information. So, a former colleague, biographer, or employee is/was not entitled to classified information, in any way, shape or form. If called upon, say in case of a national emergency, normal briefing and de-briefing procedures would apply.
2. Clearances do not come in a one-size-fits-all package. There are the three basic ones: “CONFIDENTIAL”; “SECRET” and “TOP SECRET”, which signify the level of sensitivity. When I worked at the Army Security Agency (which has a “dotted line” to NSA), any of those clearances wouldn’t have gotten someone past the MPs’ Desk at the Front Door. There are special “Clearances” required for access to certain information, which require a more in-depth understanding of the specific type of intelligence.
3. And, on top of that, access to any specific information whatsoever, also requires a “Need to Know”. For instance, someone who has all of the clearances and accesses for a type of intelligence, but is not involved in a particular operation, has no reason to have access to information—classified or not—regarding that operation. Basically, Intelligence is compartmentalized, in order to reduce the number of persons with access to specific information. That compartmentalization reduces the risk of unauthorized disclosure.
NOTE: The de-briefing forms will be linked to my next pos!
DONALD! ON YOUR FIRST TRIP OVERSEAS—ESPECIALLY MEETING WITH ALLIES IN EUROPE—YOUR PERFORMANCE WAS TRULY DISGRACEFUL
Let me break it down for you:
1. Remember that comment about Germany selling cars here? Well, BMW, Mercedes and Volkswagen all have auto plants in the U. S., and they employee American workers. As a self-proclaimed “Businessman”, you ought to realize that it is more cost-effective to manufacture the Supply, when it comes to heavy industry, near where the Demand is!
2. There should absolutely not be any pushing and shoving—as you did to the President of Montenegro—in getting to your pre-assigned photo-op places. I realize that you always like to be “In-Front”; but, in this case, everyone was also a Head of State. So, be civil next time!
3. Surely, a number of the NATO Allies have not adequately been funding their respective Defense Budgets, at two percent of GDP, as agreed upon! But, you have to stop lying that they owe it to the American People. Donald, with your various absurd health care proposals, you have already shown how much YOU care for the American People. HA! When a Nation underfunds its own budget, regardless as to whether it was Defense or not—it would only be underfunding itself! And thus, they would owe nothing to America, or its people!
4. I wish that there was such as thing as “The European Union—for Idiots”; because, I would be happy to send you a copy! When you meet a group—in this case, it was members of the European Union—it is just common sense to, at least, know something about them—and how they function. By the way, it certainly was foolish on your part to attack Germany for its Trade Surplus; because, the E. U. negotiates trade policy as one unified bloc–even with the U. S! (In fact, there has already been some discussion, within the E. U., about Germany’s trade surplus with its European neighbors.)
5. Lastly, Donald, you showed no tact whatsoever, when you spoke at a NATO Memorial, for those who died in the 9/11 Attacks on the U. S., and you specifically harped on the underfunding of NATO Defense Budgets. That, Donald, was neither the time, nor the place!
Frankly, Donald, I feel very embarrassed every time I see you on TV; but, it was certainly even more horrendous, watching you act like a boorish clod, while you were traveling overseas, this past week.
NOTE: Welcome to my readers in Cote d’Ivoire and Kenya.