Monday, April 26, 2010

Theory versus Reality

There is a major disconnect in the school of strategic theory. While the students may have a great time considering what 'might be', it must be tested by two things; history and current events on the ground where they 'test' their theories. It seems that when all else fails, they revert to the wondrous theories and writings of the great men of stature rather than the Lt Col's and LCpl's as well as, in this case, the writings of the Islamic Scholars and present sitting Clerics et al. Just because something looks good on a gaming table and in a well written thesis, doesn't mean it is going to work on the ground. As we have mentioned before, there are three human terrain elements that must cooperate with the theory of Counter Insurgency (and it is a theory); the government, the civilian population and the 'insurgency/rebel force'. The problem for the theorist is their seeming inability to understand the 'game pieces' on this board have active minds, creative thinking, an undying loyalty to Islam and familial ties with the other two elements - going back hundreds of years.

Why is it no one questions why it took such a short period of time to take control 8 years ago and yet we can't trust Haji to cooperate in an effort that the theorists are convinced is in his best interest? Maybe he doesn't believe it is in his best interest. Maybe his ties to his Uncle Taliban is closer than he will ever be to the Demon Crusader trying to convince him to turn on his Uncle. Maybe, just maybe, 1400 years of ideological training trumps it all.

The one big problem none of these tactical gurus seems to have included in the equation is that while they are gaming and theorizing, our Warriors are paying the price. They are testing theories on what is painfully obvious, unknown terrain and using our Warriors as rats. By the way; did you know that our government and the Pentagon use the Muslim Brotherhood for their cultural packages and insert that tripe into the 'equation'? Apparently they have never heard of the doctrine of 'Taqiyya'(deception with infidels; 3:28). Just one more wrinkle in the carefully woven tapestry of an improbable theory and even more so in the midst of Islam. Yes I know; Iraq was a success and it was. The problem is they are attributing the wrong thing to the success and because they are attributing the wrong thing to success they will plan our complete draw down based on that assumption and the country will, will crumble. We are all watching the advance of Iranian influence there and the violence is increasing.

Andy Bostom sent me a reminder in the form of a quote from the past; 1968, Curtis Lemay. His comments in this short piece summarize part of the problem; that it is far more important to sound like you know what you doing than to actually know. It reminds me of a great axiom; 'If you can't dazzle them with brilliance; baffle them with BS'. As follows:

Lemay on The Witch Doctors of Self-Inflicted Death: Defense “Intellectuals”

Another relevant observation from Curtis LeMay, circa 1968 (from “America is in Danger,” 1968, Introduction, p. xii), about the source of recent past, as prologue to present afflictions of the military “mindset”:

Like witch doctors, defense intellectuals have created jargon which tends to becloud understanding. I submit that military strategy and subsequent national defense policies are understandable if clearly presented. Moreover, the average citizen must be familiar with these subjects because, through his franchise, he makes the most fundamental and far-reaching defense decisions.

Gobbledygook has become the union card of defense intellectuals. At a White House meeting with President John F. Kennedy in 1962, I recall being lectured by an articulate defense intellectual who had served briefly in World War II as a bombardier, but whose background was essentially legal and journalistic. For the listening President’s benefit he told me how “provocative” Strategic Air Command bombers were, how their “first strike” characteristics were “destabilizing” and liable to result in a “miscalculated” or “spasm” war. He proposed to “burn” these horrible air weapons to achieve one-for-one ratio with Soviet bombers.

After this dramatic and erudite discourse, which left me almost speechless, I began to wonder if my military education had been complete. A lifetime of study and practice of the military art had not prepared me for the pretentious language of the new breed of military philosophers. And they [emphasis in original] were and are the people who have the most influence on our national military policy.

In the end all of this theorizing is academic and only the future will truly define success vs failure and whether the proponents of COIN were geniuses or deluded. At some point though, we will have to come to the realization that our national security truly trumps the safety and well-being of a people who would just as soon Uncle Taliban and Daddy Al Qaida eradicate us. If they don't; I can predict the end game with a great deal more accuracy than they can the outcome of the coming hand-holding ceremony in Khandahar; we will end up revisiting 1975.

Semper Fidelis;

John Bernard

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