Saturday, October 3, 2009

Diana West Blog; new entry

This is a good analysis of the enemy and our increasing inability to see him and meet him on a field of battle of our choosing. US Political will for combat is non-existent at the moment. It is 1970 all over again. Blog "Losing" Our Way to Victory

Stars and Stripes Article.

The Stars and Stripes interview hit today.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

McChrystal's Folly

We have been listening to General McChrystal for some time now. His doctrine has become his mantra; integrate, integrate, integrate and, oh yeah protect the 'innocent' civilians - at all cost. The problem is the cost is the lives of the sons and daughters of the United States of America. I don't mean to sound like I am disregarding the contributions and sacrifices of other NATO Nations but frankly; they aren't our concern. The welfare of soldiers from other nations should be the concern of those nations whom they represent.

The General's premise is that there are factions that are easily identified as friend or foe and that we need to defend the defenseless innocents of Afghanistan - at all cost, to assure their willing cooperation in the future and, along the way, build a whole new infrastructure for them. This makes for nice dreams but is just that; a dream. He cannot point to a single instance of general support for a non-Islamic force, on Afghan territory in the entire history of Afghanistan. All one might be able to do is find isolated incidents of occasional support in some remote corners of the operation of the time.

The fact is that all parties within the borders of Afghanistan agree with one another on the only level that really matters here and that is religious ideology. They are all Islamic and while you can make the case that some are more loyal to the tenets of the faith than others, the fact remains that they have more in common with one another than they do with the 'Great Devil from the West'. When they do show support or at least cooperation it is a matter of convenience. All they understand is force. If you are the strong man in the back yard they will support you. If the Taliban has the upper hand (controls the battle space), they will support them.

The General's premise is at least naive if not irresponsible especially where he is more than prepared to test his theory with the lives of our sons and daughters. Sorry General; unacceptable!

Sometimes the best way to look at something is to compare it to an analogy. I have been in the woodworking trade for quite a number of years and the work we have engaged in and completed is varied. At the moment we are building a Timber Framed home. When you first look at the blank piece of paper that will eventually become the drawing and try to merge the desires of the customer with structural engineering requirements, it can be daunting. The truth is though that all properly detailed drawings and the buildings they eventually become, start with a single line. If you think the frame is complex, you should see all of the mechanicals that are required to heat, power and plumb the house and how they are impacted by the massive beam construction that is the hallmark of a Timber Frame. Even though there are complexities to the frame and the mechanicals that will require a great deal of thought and planning, they don't negate the importance of the greater element; the foundation. Without the foundation; the building, set on soil will eventually rot and fall.

Prosecuting a war within the borders of a country as complicated as Afghanistan is daunting to be sure. Trying to plan every element of the Operation as well as the individual responsibilities of all the resources necessary for a successful operation takes time, focus, experience, knowledge and tenacity. However; underlying all of the layers of complexity is the original mission, which is its foundation. The foundational mission in Afghanistan was given in the Prior Commander in Chief's mission statement as it was delivered to the American people eight years ago; confront and destroy Al Qaida, deny them training ground, battle space and bring to justice those who would offer them safe harbor and aid. Just like building a Timber Frame, there are many complex issues that must be addressed. True; those things which must be addressed on the battlefield are more complicated and prone to change but that is the nature of warfare. Even though there are challenges on the battlefield however, you cannot lose sight of the original mission and in this case it was clearly stated; to destroy Al Qaida and those who would harbor them.

The changes General McChrystal wants to institute change the very foundation of the operation from destruction of the forces that would do harm to the United States of America to one of safeguarding the Afghan civilian population at all cost. The General has become so mired in the complexities generated by the mission that he has forgotten mission itself. He said he no longer wants to concentrate on chasing and killing the enemy (kinetics), but instead wants to concentrate on building relationships with Afghan population?! Not only does this distract our forces from the core mission but it actually places at risk the possibility of success. The ROE issue is an example of how off track this operation now is. The ROE is intended to safeguard the population by limiting fire - all fire whether initiated by us or fired in our defense, if civilians are in the area. Close Air Support and Artillery are pretty much nonexistent for fear of collateral damage (dead and wounded civilians). The ROE in effect, further endangers our Warriors by allowing the enemy to command the battle space because they no longer have to fear reprisals. They hide among the civilian population and engage us with indemnity, endangering us and the civilians we are now suppose to be safeguarding. This self-destructive policy also allows the insurgents greater freedom to set IED's and ambushes because they are afforded greater freedom of movement. In essence we have turned over control of the battle space to the Taliban. The locals are not inclined to help us because they see the Taliban as the stronger force and the one they are likely to be stuck having to deal with long after the dust of this war has settled.

Take a look at the Defense Departments ( listing of the fallen since July 1st 2009 and know that the vast majority of those combat deaths can be directly attributed to the ROE and the change in the focus of effort away from a 'chase and kill' strategy to one of protecting the populace. For those of you who want an explanation that is simpler, here it is: We were fighting a war to destroy the enemy that has made it clear they want to destroy us. We are now engaged in nation building and social engineering that assumes the beneficiaries even want what we are offering. They have had hundreds, if not thousands of years to improve their lot in life and have not seen fit to do so. Inserting ourselves in their personal and governmental affairs is both arrogant and incredibly naive. We need to get back to the business of taking care of this country's security affairs regardless of the hypotheses of this current crop of politicians and their appointees. By the way; let us remember that our Warriors are exactly that; Warriors - not peace keepers. If we need peace keepers then let the UN provide them.

This war is going to be lost on one front and one front only; at home. It is going to be lost at home because the American people are going to lose all confidence in our government's ability to prosecute this war. This is not a military problem; it is a political problem. The daydream that we are engaged in right now is just that; a daydream. It is an experiment in social engineering with a population of people who hate us ideologically and who don't want what we have. We MUST get back to the original mission as stated, to locate Al Qaida and kill them, deny them training ground, battle space and to hold those who aid them in their attempts to train and export violence accountable.

Sounds simple enough to me. Now all we have to do is remind our elected officials what they swore to protect and defend...

Semper Fidelis;
John Bernard, 1stSgt, ret

Monday, September 28, 2009

From the Sergeant Major

Once again, 1st Sgt Bernard hits the nail directly on the head. His mission is not “anti-war” nor is his aim bellicose. His position is sane.

There have been some phony arguments put forth for another “surge” in Afghanistan. We need not a surge of troops, we merely need to let our forces there do what needs to be done – kill the enemy.

There is this misconception of Afghanistan in particular (and Islam in general) that somehow we can bring Central Asia (and the rest of the Islamic world) kicking and screaming into the 21st Century through good will. This is simply not the case. There is no amount of money to spend, infrastructure to build, schools to provide, hospitals to heal, or good will that Americans can display toward the Afghan people that will produce a lasting effect. I was once told by an accomplished Afghan intelligence analyst that, “you can rent an Afghan, but you can’t buy him.”

The hard fact is that the “hearts and minds” of the Afghan “people” are not for sale! The descendants of “The Great Khan” and their tribal cousins have no interest in being Westernized in any way. And, the human sewers that serve as their political leadership can only be rented. Americans are interlopers in a land where interlopers generally have their heads lopped off.

Nobody read their Kipling. (I know, “who or what was Kipling?” Look it up.) Americans do not know their OWN history (except the spun trash that passes for “social studies” in our heavily socialistic high schools) much less the history of Afghanistan. And, this includes our political leadership! Ask an American on the street – or a congressman in the House – to point to Afghanistan on a map, and they will probably start with their finger cautiously orbiting somewhere over Rhode Island.

This writer spent thirty years listening to and deciphering military acronyms and idiotic jargon. The catch phrase today is “COIN” – Counterinsurgency doctrine. Our political and military leadership act like this is some sort of secret knowledge – Gnostic esoteric knowledge – that is now coming to light. That is crap. There is nothing new here.

Counterinsurgency predates Rome. In modern times, the first COIN doctrine called Small Wars Manual was written by the U.S. Marine Corps in 1935 with the final edition being published in 1940. The first few decades of the 20th Century saw Marines intervening as “State Department Troops” from Central America and Hispaniola to China and the Philippines. The Small Wars Manual is a compilation of information describing nation building, establishing “constabularies”, civil affairs, infrastructure repair, election management, donkey packing and inspiration, river crossing, intelligence gathering, psychology and ethnicity of native peoples, disarmament of the populace, force composition, supply and logistics chains, public image (both in the target nation and in the United States), and everything else it takes to drag a Third-World backwash into the current day and age. There is even a section on inspecting the feet of native troops for bunions, corns, and severe trichophytosis (athlete’s foot).

The manual is also full of contradictions. If one were to summarize in a sentence or two the center of conflicting mass, one might say, “Try to be nice, but if they don’t go along with the program manipulate them. If that doesn’t’ work, kill them – every one of them.” It reminds one of a quip from Vietnam that went, “Let us win your hearts and minds or we’ll burn your damn huts down.”

It seems our current crop of political and military geniuses think that COIN can be conducted in a sanitary manner. This belief is insane. The “small wars” of the 20th Century were every bit as dirty and brutal as any conventional war ever fought.

Legendary Marine Corps hero and two time Medal of Honor recipient Major General Smedley Butler wrote of his “COIN” experience a short tome titled “War is a Racket”. It spelled out the misuse of American forces and the waste of American lives during the first three decades of the 20th Century. General Butler was an unlikely critic of the use of military force – the more reason to heed his caveats.

Though published in 1940, the intervening years of conventional war (World War II and Korea) saw the Small Wars Manual fade into disuse.

The formation of the U.S. Army Special Forces in the 1960s led to an attempt to bring COIN doctrine to Vietnam. While this effort met with some success against the Viet Cong, the introduction of North Vietnamese Army (NVA) forces diminished the strategic effectiveness of the Special Forces effort. Further, as the NVA entered the fray and the war progressed, the Viet Cong themselves, although diminished by the Special Forces effort, became more sophisticated with regard to their remaining cell structures, logistics, and weapons employment.

There are several things to consider:

1. With the exception of Malaysia, there have historically been very few – if any – real, long lasting counterinsurgency success stories.
2. Wars are like fingerprints and snowflakes – no two are alike
3. The sophistication of the insurgency with respect to tactics, weapons, as well as ethnic loyalties to and from the populace, can negate COIN efforts.
4. The subtleties and grace of Tae Kwon Do are nice, but there’s nothing like a good punch in the mouth.

COIN may be a legitimate strategy in a limited sense when the “insurgents” are seen as outsiders – or at least trouble makers with a foreign ideology – by the native population in a fixed geographic region. However, the insurgency we face is not limited to Afghanistan. It is a global movement. Civilian casualties must be avoided whenever possible – not at all costs. There is no excuse for the wanton slaughter of innocents. However, if a COIN strategy is to succeed, our political and military leadership must demonstrate the willingness to adjust the tactics used in the battlespace in order to allow our troops to kill the enemy.

When The Great Khan rode through Central Asia in the early 13th Century, he did not take into consideration public opinion. He had lands to conquer, people to rule, and resources to exploit. He spread fear and misery across Persia and into Europe. Whether an Afghan is Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, or Turkmen, some – the real Afghan warriors – still have the spirit of the Mongol Horde in their blood.

That having been said, their blood has been thinned by time and centuries of misery. The current crop of Afghanistan’s “Warriors” is almost exclusive to the opposition. The true believers are fighters – cowards too, but fighters nonetheless. By contrast, the bulk of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP) are not fighters, nor are they “true believers”. They are simply cowards – frauds – corrupt to the core by any standard and an apostate to their own faith. They are slovenly, drug-addicted, dimwitted, and totally unreliable at any level. Like the Taliban, they are brutal to their own countrymen. They thrive on their petty powers and refuse to shoulder any burden or responsibility. Does this sound too harsh? Not for the Marines and Soldiers who have been killed by the treachery of ANA and ANP who have purposely led them into ambush.

According to the great military minds of our time, these ANA/ANP forces can be trained and formed to fight their own war. At what cost? How many American lives? How many taxpayer dollars? It would take decades if it were simply a matter of sophistication and military training. However, the obstacle is the way and philosophy of life in the Islamic world.

Iraq is a case study in deception. You have been told by the media and our politicians that the Iraqi Army is now capable of maintaining order in Iraq with limited U.S. support. Well, read the news. Iraq is still in chaos. As we withdraw it will become worse; Sunni v. Shitte, Kurd v. Sunni and/or Shitte. Arabs are as brutal as Central Asians. However, they are even worse soldiers, and bring new meaning to the term cowardly. An American colonel who tried to train an Iraqi brigade regularly quips that his greatest accomplishment in twelve months was to get the Iraqis to use the toilets. He was not exaggerating. Americans have no idea how screwed up the world is east of Greece. Iraq is not yet a success story. The insurgency is just laying low. The Muslim mind thinks in terms of years, decades, and centuries – not election cycles. You will hear optimistic talking heads speak otherwise. They will tell you of the great success in Iraq. You will even hear this occasionally from Soldiers, Marines, and “Operators” who have had good experiences with the Iraqi forces. However, their experience is the exception.

Americans have been conditioned and have become accustomed to tiptoeing about, fearing to offend anyone – even those who are offensive to the bulk of humanity. Thus, there is not an American politician or a media guru who will speak the truth clearly.

Although this writer has read extracts from the Koran, there is no claim from this quarter to any real Islamic theological scholarship. My understanding from Muslim acquaintances is that a true Muslim understands the Koran as literally as an Evangelical Protestant understands the Bible. Those who do not are apostates. Relying on the New Testament we believe that “By their fruits ye shall know them.” This is how we know them:

· Dismemberment of American soldiers in Somalia while Somali Muslims danced in glee – October 1993.
· The celebrations in “The Arab Streets” (include all of Islam from Gaza to Indonesia) after the bombings of the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and the downing of United Flight 93, animating Muslims throughout the world to joy and celebration – September 11, 2001 and the weeks following.
· Dismemberment of Americans from Blackwater in Fallujah complete with the hanging of burned bodies from a bridge to the delight of the Muslim crowd – March 31, 2004.
· Decapitations of Nick Berg, Daniel Pearl, Kenneth Bigley, and others at various times and places.

Lest we think that this barbarism is reserved for Westerners, Islam promotes:

· Honor killings of girls and women not only in Islamic nations, but right here in the good ‘ol USA.
· Child brides.
· Conversion killings of anyone even thinking about leaving the Islamic faith.
· Child abuse and indoctrination via children’s cartoons (Muppets no less!) that make sport of killing Americans and Jews and portray us as pigs and dogs. (You can find them on YouTube!)
· Punishing children for petty theft by having their arms broken beneath the wheel of a truck. (You can find this gem on YouTube as well!)
· Slavery in all its glory. Both for labor and sexual purposes. This is rampant in the Islamic world particularly among our Saudi “allies”. Victims are Indonesian, Sri Lankan, Filipino, Indian, and from any country where one could be lured with the promise of an escape from poverty. Some victims are from the West.
· Cruelty in all its forms to one and all.

Having spent the best part of five years in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Israel (Gaza/West Bank), I can tell you that I have personally seen an adult man take off his shoe and beat a toddler around the head and shoulders with its heel. The little boy was wearing only a dust soaked shirt that came up above his belly. Yet, not a tear fell on his dirt-smudged cherubic face. He fell down breaking his fall with his tiny hands, but would not – or could not cry. I have seen an adult man suddenly and repeatedly strike a burka-wearing woman with a stick when she tried to exit a compound through a gate without a male escort. I have seen a man beat a donkey on the legs and back with a club until the panicked, pleading, and bleeding animal fell to the ground.

Kabul has astounding traffic tie-ups. Road rage is limited because one never knows if the other guy may have a flamethrower in his vehicle, but the cursing and honking is legendary. In the spring of 2007, during a massive, two-hour traffic jam on Jalalabad Road, I watched as an Afghan driver and his assistant got out of their flat bed truck in an attempt to beat the heat by lying down in the shade under the tires. The truck was hauling two large containers of medical supplies marked with a Red Cross. The driver apparently forgot to put out the tire chalks, and the truck rolled over both men crushing their heads like peas. Nobody – nobody – lifted a finger to help them. Their bodies were simply pulled to the side and the honking and shouting went on as usual. Life means nothing.

Apologists will bring up the crimes of the West – especially the Crusades. The fact is that the Crusades were waged to counter the Seljuk advance on Byzantium and the atrocities inflicted on Christians and Jews in the Holy Land. The Crusades were waged during a period of time when life in general – not to mention war – was totally barbaric. That degree of barbarism is unimaginable to modern Western sensibilities, but still considered absolutely reasonable by Muslims. Had the Crusades not been waged; had the Habsburg Monarchy not turned back the Ottoman tide at the end of the 17th Century; had Isabel of Castile not driven the Moors from Grenada, you would not be reading this diatribe. You would be illiterate, ruled by a tyrant, and squatting on the dirt floor of a mud-brick shack picking your nose.

On September 24th, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the United Nations General Assembly. He basically put the world on notice. Israel will not tolerate any more nonsense from the Islamic world. In contrast to the incoherent rambling of Gadhafi, the rancorous rants of Ahmandinejad, and the lame political oration given by President Obama, Netanyahu made his points with force, conviction, and clarity. Speaking of Islam he stated:

“In the past thirty years, this fanaticism has swept the globe with a murderous violence and cold-blooded impartiality in its choice of victims. It has callously slaughtered Moslems and Christians, Jews and Hindus, and many others. Though it is comprised of different offshoots, the adherents of this unforgiving creed seek to return humanity to medieval times. Wherever they can, they impose a backward regimented society where women, minorities, gays or anyone not deemed to be a true believer is brutally subjugated. The struggle against this fanaticism does not pit faith against faith nor civilization against civilization. It pits civilization against barbarism, the 21st century against the 9th century, those who sanctify life against those who glorify death.”

With cessation of the draft in the early 1970s America cultivated a professional warrior class. For over thirty years we have trained and equipped the most lethal fighting force ever known to mankind. They have sworn an oath to our Constitution that they take seriously. The question is whether or not their political leadership takes their own oath seriously. Our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines are worthy of competent leadership that they can trust. Our president has demonstrated his contempt for America on foreign soil. In speeches around the world he has apologized for our history and failed to recognize our contributions. His personal history is littered with questionable personal friendships and professional associations. He has denied our Judeo-Christian heritage and stated that “Victory” is not in his vocabulary. We need to ask ourselves if he is worthy to be trusted with making policy that may mean the lives of our brave Warriors?

President Obama and General McCrystal need to review their history. When you treat the Afghans with kid gloves, they will bite off your hand.

Jim Sauer is a retired Marine Corps Sergeant Major and combat veteran with over thirty years of service. Since retiring he has worked in support of U.S. Government efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Israel.