Saturday, December 12, 2009

With Corrupt Vision; Warriors Perish

Eight years after terrorists flew four jetliners toward targets in the United States, we find ourselves embroiled in a war with two fronts. The first is the actual battle on the ground and the second is a battle over philosophy, strategy and a fundamental difference in understanding the enemy we are fighting. The one thing that ties this war with every other war ever fought is the presence of two protagonists on the battlefield. As in all other wars, each side is striving to understand his enemy so he can exploit any found weaknesses in order to gain a foothold and ultimately victory over the other. At least, that is what is suppose to be happening. What we have been watching defies explanation. On the one hand we have an enemy that has made clear his intention to destroy us while on the other we continue to seek ways to placate him in an effort to 'win him over'. We have been and are in the process of using every unconventional method toward that end. In the past several weeks we have been told we are paying them to stop fighting and/or switch sides and we are paying to provide jobs for those who choose to do so. We have also been told that the actual number of 'radicalized' Islamics number in the thousands. That should mean the war is actually over for we have certainly killed many times that in the past 8 years of combat both in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We are also told that the 'insurgency' is not home grown but from other countries. While there are most likely members of the Taliban that are from somewhere other than Afghanistan, it certainly doesn't prove to be true to our Warriors on the ground. In any case, trying to separate the enemy from his ideology fails to understand the enemy and his motivation. Yes they are actively involved in the drug trade. Yes they 'tax' local farmers who grow poppy plants (who grow it because the money is better than for convention crops). Yes they occasionally abuse villagers in various ways but no, there is no fundamental difference between them, the villagers, the ANA and AP and the government. At their core they all ascribe to the same ideology and that is where understanding needs to begin. A failure to understand the religious underpinnings of this culture guarantees a failed strategy because the strategy is based on a false understanding of the enemy.

What follows this failed strategy is what we are all talking about. Counter-Insurgency (COIN) doctrine assumes many things about all elements on the battlefield that in this case are far from reality. It assumes there is a majority of the population that is sympathetic to our cause. It also assumes that the Insurgency is an foreign, unwanted cancer that the 'friendly' population wants excised and that we are the holy warriors that will be greeted by throngs of chanting followers. In an effort to insure the worshipful tone does not subside, we show 'restraint'. This restraint is manifested in an incredibly tight ROE that seeks to eliminate civilian casualties (to garner support from the 'friendly' populace) while artificially increasing casualties for our Warriors. To further show our beneficent restraint, we then glean After Action Reports (AAR) looking for opportunities to prosecute and convict our own Warriors for 'crimes' against the friendly populace. The fact that none of this has ever, nor will ever prove to be successful in transforming the minds of the civilian population from their ideological hatred of us to one of genuine love and respect for us is disregarded. It is disregarded because of the narcissistic personalities that are making the decisions at this time in our history. Make no mistake about it; a failure to understand history and the truth of Islam is a core problem for the strategists but personal ego and personal interest are what drives this inexplicable strategy. No longer are greedy men satisfied to be powerful in their own back yard. We now have the internet and international conglomerates. There are seats of power waiting to be filled by 'men of vision'. The fact that these men of vision are spewing orders that are causing unnecessary casualties for their own countrymen is, apparently, a price they are willing to pay. The fact that honorable men are being prosecuted and personally destroyed for appearance sake is a small thing. You have to keep your eye on the ball you know.

With permission I am including a piece written by three senior Officers which speaks to this and the immoral handling of this nation's finest Warriors. This piece nor this Blog entry or the myriad of other written examples of how horribly we have treated our Warriors is going to change any of this. What we are expecting is for the readers of these things to take action:

1. Get educated on the subject
2. Make sure to educate your family, friends and co-workers
3. Let your elected officials know their collective butts are on the line
4. Support our Warriors

Semper FIdelis;

John Bernard

Stand by our Warriors in Battle

Colonel Andy O’Meara (US Army, Ret)
LTG Thomas McInerney (US Air Force, Ret)
MG Paul Vallely (US Army, Ret)

Men have fought wars throughout the annals of history. Americans have known wars since the birth of the nation with aspirations that set our people apart from all others. These lofty aspirations have tested our people in wars to preserve our freedom with decades of domestic strife to make good our claims to the cause of human freedom. Within the brief span of two centuries, Americans have fought wars to fulfill a destiny defined by our Founding Fathers. Each conflict has tested our courage while shaping our identity which stands apart from the Western Civilization that is our heritage. The struggle to endure and preserve our ideals – the love of freedom and the dedication to self-government – has made us unique and has made America an example that inspires mankind.

Today, we find ourselves in a difficult and new kind of war. It is a war that we did not start nor can we end without destroying those who have declared war upon us. Unique to our experience, we find ourselves attacked by assailants who wear no uniform and claim allegiance to no sovereign state and follow a barbaric ideology that takes no prisoners. Our assailants aspire to world domination and wage war to destroy the very aspirations of freedom and democracy. The terrorists conceal themselves within civil populations that provide human shields to these radical zealots that follow a barbaric ideology that takes no prisoners. Their mode of conflict strikes at the values we hold sacred, while they use our aspirations and self-restraint to conceal and protect their assassins. It is a war that tests our men and women in combat more severely than any conflict we have waged before. We have attempted to keep the faith and honor our traditions as well as our noble culture of freedom. In this time of bitter war, the Armed Forces impose strict rules of engagement upon our soldiers as they confront the barbarism of the radical Islamists who exercise absolutely no restraint. No crime is too heinous and no act of treachery too despicable to deter their quest of victory and ultimately world conquest.

In former times, our soldiers have fought on even terms against foes who in many ways shared our commitment to international law and the Geneva Conventions. Such conflict recognized basic human rights and sought to punish those who violated the “Law of Land Warfare”. Such conflicts saw humane treatment of prisoners as the rule and atrocities were the exception. Yet in the bitterest struggles of World War II, the “greatest generation” resorted to retaliation for unprovoked air attacks upon British civilians that resulted in massive bombing attacks of civilian targets in the Third Reich.

Were we to use such tactics today to obliterate the sanctuaries of the enemies, as we did in World War II, the cry of the international media and the United Nations would be filled with outrage at the American combatants? And the United Nations, which we formed at the end of World War II to preserve peace, would side with our enemies openly declaring the American combatants as war criminals. It is fair to say that we live with double standards today that are ignored by the international media and nation-states that support international terrorism. Americans are trained and expected to conduct themselves with the utmost restraint complying with the most humane rules of engagement, standards of conduct that are simply ignored by our enemies. We are asking a lot of our people. They must fight the enemy with great restraint and even the appearances of transgression of the rules of engagement by Americans are punished most severely by our own military courts.

A recent case of apparent transgression of the rules of engagement occurred in Afghanistan that has resulted in the courts martial of one of our finest young warriors who discovered that their Afghan comrades were enemy agents providing valuable intelligence to the enemy. The results of the enemy agents sequestered in the base of an American company resulted in a series of ambushes that killed and wounded numerous soldiers of the 101st Air Assault Division. The Company Commander, Captain Roger Hill, detained the suspected agents and requested they be evacuated by his higher headquarters which request was denied. Given the limited time detainees are allowed to be held without charges and the lack of support from his superiors, Captain Hill and his subordinates interrogated the detainees. While no detainee was physically injured during the interrogations, Captain Hill was charged with violation of the rules of engagement for making verbal threats during his interrogations. He was called before the equivalent of a grand jury and criminal charges were pressed against him, which could have resulted in the loss of his commission, a dishonorable discharge and a prison sentence. His defense attorney was advised that if he pleaded guilty to the charges that no courts martial would be conducted and Captain Hill agreed to accept the plea bargain. He was fined by his commander and ordered to be “discharged” from the Army under other than honorable conditions – a harsh sentence for a fine professional officer operating under duress in a harsh environment the enemy had successfully infiltrated. Our hope is that the Secretary of the Army will authorize an honorable discharge for Captain Roger Hill or keep his career in tack as a professional Army Officer. This is not too much to ask since they decided to downgrade everything to an Article 15 and allowed him to resign his commission (a way to subtly oust him from the Army). He deserves all Veteran benefits after 4 years at West Point and nine years of honorable service, including two wars. His highest personal decoration is the Bronze Star.

Given the uneven playing field upon which our combatants are waging war and the barbaric attacks our soldiers are subjected to, it is time for a public debate regarding the double standards that bind our hands in battle, but impose absolutely no restraint upon the enemy.

The bottom line is we must support our valiant American fighting men and women. They are fighting under the most difficult conditions and they are being second guessed by military lawyers (JAGs) and bureaucrats holding down desk jobs secure in the rear areas. Our generation will never succeed in protecting our sacred freedoms unless we are prepared to back our men and women on the battlefield. Stand behind our men in battle or kiss our democracy and freedoms goodbye. We must do all we can as to restore the honorable status of Captain Hill and others like him. Our Armed Forces deserve better.