Sage advice….which will be ignored

Lieutenant General (US Army Retired) Hal Moore, who commanded a battalion at the Battle of the Ia Drang, the first major battle between the U.S. Army and North Vietnamese regulars in 1965, and was immortalized in the film We Were Soldiers and book We Were Soldiers Once…and Young told West Point Cadets in 2005:

“The war in Iraq, I said, is not worth the life of even one American soldier. As for Secretary Rumsfeld, I told them, I never thought I would live long enough to see someone chosen to preside over the Pentagon who made Vietnam-era Defense Secretary Robert McNamara look good by comparison. The cadets sat in stunned silence; their professors were astonished. Some of these cadets would be leading young soldiers in combat in a matter of a few months. They deserved a straight answer.

The expensive lessons learned in Vietnam have been forgotten and a new generation of young American soldiers and Marines are paying the price today, following the orders of civilian political leaders as they are sworn to do. The soldiers and those who lead them will never fail to do their duty. They never have in our history. This is their burden. But there is another duty, another burden, that rests squarely on the shoulders of the American people. They should, by their vote, always choose a commander in chief who is wise, well read in history, thoughtful, and slow-exceedingly slow-to draw the sword and send young men and women out to fight and die for their country. We should not choose for so powerful an office someone who merely looks good on a television screen, speaks and thinks in sixty-second sound bites, and is adept at raising money for a campaign.

If we can’t get that part right then there will never be an end to the insanity that is war and the unending suffering that follows in war’s wake-and we must get it right if we are to survive and prosper as free Americans in this land a million Americans gave their lives to protect and defend.”

He was not invited back…….

I can’t remember where I saw and copied this from, so h/t to somebody. Apologies.

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The “Defeat” of ISIS

Simple question, especially for the Trump supporters who seem to think his Administration had some significant effect on the defeat of ISIS is Iraq:

What is the genesis for people thinking that we’ve been conducting ground combat operations in Iraq, to buttress the claim that the current POTUS ‘allowed’ them to obtain victory?

I know A LOT of Iraqi’s and Kurd’s who have some things to say about these nakedly partisan claims.

A Military Parade??

Reports are surfacing of POTUS directing the DoD to plan for a military parade later this year, allegedly inspired perhaps by Bastille Day celebrations.

When our Veterans Administration is underfunded and so many other economic issues to be paid for, what is the value added to yet again, adulate the military? Beyond the commercial benefits and discounts, Veterans and Independence Day extravaganza’s, hiring preferences and other State recognition of service, and the politically correct displays at nearly every sporting event….what is the value added of conducting this set of garish display?

It’s a politically correct appeal to emotion, directed by a man who likewise displays his authoritarian bent at every turn.

Let’s hope saner minds in the DoD can dissuade desires for this type of event.

How I Lost at Patriotism – And How We All Lose

Still feeling mixed feelings after another Memorial Day. Feelings about my own service, the loss of Brothers; the direction of our Republic and the fractious society within. Posting snippets of an article from The Angry Staff Officer:

Back again to the soft May sun of the Ohio day. The birds chirp in the background and now the veteran’s voice is rising, in strident tones, and I am shifting uncomfortably in my seat because his talk smacks of nationalism and jingoism. But the audience loves it. They love being told that there is a divide between true patriots and the rest of the country. They love hearing that this is the greatest nation in the world that can do no wrong. They love being able to heap admiration and praise onto the 1% of those who’ve served without having to take the time to deeply analyze why those young men were bleeding in Vietnam in the first place. Because this version is simple. Because this definition of patriotism is black and white, or, I suppose, red, white, and blue. They know where the lines are, and they can say that they support the true patriots.

It is a very seductive way of thinking, as I know, since I once viewed service and conflict along those same lines.

Patriotism and love of country are noble things. They inspire civic virtue, that which our Republic requires to survive. But love of country does not mean accepting the United States at face value; it means always working towards making the country match its ideals of freedom, justice, and equality. Sometimes that means standing up and saying that things are wrong or disordered, which can be unpopular.

Source: How I Lost at Patriotism – And How We All Lose

And the money shot: In the end, “patriot” becomes yet another label we use to define our world view, which cheapens both the word and its meaning.

Words Matter, Mr. President

Leaving aside the inane use of adjectives and qualifiers [both verbally and tweet based], one would think that by now, POTUS would either have a grasp or keep somebody close at hand, to avoid making empty, false or confusing statements.

Donald Trump said he has given the military “total authorization.” That may sound great, but “total authorization” has no meaning. The military’s dictionary, (yes, it has its very own) includes “diplomatic authorization” and “letters of authorization,” but does not include “total authorization.” Perhaps Mr. Trump chose a non-existent term when he actually meant to say that he, as the commander in chief, had issued an order giving the military specific authorization to conduct operations limited in time and space.

Alternatively, perhaps Mr. Trump simply wanted Americans to know that he will exercise less oversight and control of the U.S. military as compared to his predecessors. Without clarification, we cannot be sure. There are at least fifteen different types of orders that the President, Secretary of Defense and military commanders can issue to those under their charge. They cannot, however, issue “total authorization.”

In the same vein, Mr. Trump’s characterization of recent military operations as “so successful” reveals that he has little idea what military success looks like. Trump’s crowing over a single missile strike against Syria or the use of the “Mother of All Bombs” in Afghanistan suggests that he equates action and aggression with success. As history has made clear, nothing could be further from the truth.

President Trump owes the nation – and the world – more careful language. Trump’s empty words may thrill his supporters, but they will not defeat the Islamic State or bring peace to a troubled region. If the American public is to trust him and intelligently support his foreign policies, especially with lives on the line, he must communicate coherently. The president should weigh his words before he speaks, provide clear explanations for his actions and measured assessments of progress. In short, Trump’s words need to mean exactly what they seem to mean.

Why Trump’s Words Matter, RealClear Defense – http://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2017/04/20/why_trumps_words_matter_111211.html

The CNN-Trump Doctrine

The eminent Max Boot has weighed in on the Clintonian missile strike by our current POTUS, highlighting not only the limp ineffectiveness of the action, but also the rank hypocrisy of the ‘decider’.

The Trump Doctrine Was Written By CNN

Of all the reactions to President Donald Trump’s cruise missile strike on Thursday, the least convincing was the impulse by supporters such as Sen. Marco Rubio and John Bolton to label this a “decisive” act. Hardly. In fact, Trump’s strike was reminiscent of the kind of low-risk cruise missile attacks that Bill Clinton favored against Sudan, Iraq, and Afghanistan — and that Republicans mocked for their symbolic, ineffectual nature. After 9/11, you’ll recall, President George W. Bush vowed, in a swipe at his predecessor, “When I take action, I’m not going to fire a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt. It’s going to be decisive.”

Looks like we’re back to killing camels. Far from decisive, Trump’s decision to fire 59 cruise missiles against a single air base in Syria was considerably smaller than the action that President Barack Obama was considering to enforce his “red line” in 2013 before he lost his nerve. Obama was on the verge of approving an air campaign to destroy Bashar al-Assad’s air defenses and air force — what Secretary of State John Kerry described at the time as an “unbelievably small, limited kind of effort.” Trump, by contrast, merely took one air base out of operation for less than a day.

This is hardly the only reversal evident in this cruise missile strike — in fact, the psychological impact of this attack was greatly heightened because it was so unexpected. It was ordered, after all, by the same man who tweeted back in 2013: “AGAIN, TO OUR VERY FOOLISH LEADER, DO NOT ATTACK SYRIA – IF YOU DO MANY VERY BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN & FROM THAT FIGHT THE U.S. GETS NOTHING!” And the same man who, as recently as last October, warned that Hillary Clinton’s plans for greater involvement in Syria would “lead to World War III.” And the same man who has shown so little interest in the suffering of the Syrian people that he has attempted to issue an executive order ending all refugee admissions from that country. And the same man who ran on a quasi-isolationist, “America First” platform that disdained the use of military force for anything but the defense of American interests, narrowly defined.

The Myth of the Iraqi Surge

We are enduring the fallout today, of the myth that the Iraqi “Surge” was successful…along with the myths surrounding the withdrawal of US forces. These events, lived by the men and women on the ground….have become political memes, myths and talking points…without substance or experience from those who employ them. Having served 15 months in Baghdad during the Surge, I can attest to the sentiments of the author of this article…as well as the whitewashing that continues to this day.

CFR’s three guests — retired Gen. Raymond Odierno, former commander of Multinational Forces in Iraq and now a senior adviser to JPMorgan Chase; Meghan O’Sullivan, former deputy national security adviser under president George W. Bush; and Christopher Kojm, former senior adviser to the Iraq Study Group — had remarkably similar views.

No dissenting voices were included. All three had been enthusiastic promoters of the surge in 2006–2007 and continue to market the myth of its success. While recognizing the unmistakable failure of the post-surge American effort in Iraq, each still firmly believes in the inherent validity of that “strategy.”

I listened for more than an hour waiting for a single dissenting thought. The silence was deafening.

………………………….

In an orgy of killing in Baghdad and many other cities, the two main sects ethnically cleansed neighborhoods, expelling each other into a series of highly segregated enclaves. The capital, for instance, essentially became a Shiite city. In a sense, the civil war had, momentarily at least, run its course.

In addition, the U.S. military had successfully, though again only temporarily, convinced many previously rebellious Sunni tribes to switch sides in exchange for money, support and help in getting rid of the overly fundamentalist and brutal terror outfit, Al Qaeda in Iraq.

For the time being, AQI seemed to the tribal leaders like a bigger threat than the Shiites in Baghdad. For this, the Sunnis briefly bet on the United States without ever fully trusting or accepting Shiite-Baghdad’s suzerainty. Think of this as a tactical pause — not that the surge’s architects and supporters saw it that way.

America’s man in Baghdad, Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki, was already in the process of becoming a sectarian strongman, hell-bent on alienating the country’s Sunni and Kurdish minorities. Even 60,000 or 90,000 more American troops couldn’t have solved that problem because the surge was incapable of addressing, and barely pretended to face, the true conundrum of the invasion and occupation — any American-directed version of Iraqi “democracy” would invariably usher in Shia-majority dominance over a largely synthetic state.

The real question no surge cheerleaders publicly asked, or ask to this day, was whether an invading foreign entity was even capable of imposing an inclusive political settlement there. To assume that the United States could have done so smacks of a faith-based as opposed to reality-based worldview — another version of a deep and abiding belief in American exceptionalism.

From MAJ Danny Sjursen  at War is Boring