June 29, 2005

An Open Letter to POTUS

Ex-Reagan aide and CIA hand Herbert Meyer (Hat Tip: RCP):

From what I see on television and read in the press, the Vice President, the Secretary of Defense and our top generals are convinced that the war in Iraq has turned decisively against the terrorists, and that they are doomed to military defeat. The numbers they provide on terrorists killed or captured are impressive, so what they say about our prospects for victory may well be true.

Unfortunately, these numbers aren’t the only ones that matter. In business, when a company has bet its future on a new product, it’s very common for the company’s sales force to be optimistic because they have the numbers to prove that this new product is steadily gaining market share. What the sales force doesn’t see – but what the CEO does – are the numbers which show that the company is hemorrhaging cash. So the question isn’t whether the new product will be a success, but whether this new product will succeed fast enough, before the company goes bust. In other words, it’s a race against time. As I’m sure you learned at Harvard Business School, in real life cash flow can dry up faster than it does in the spread-sheets and Power-Point presentations the company’s financial geniuses gin up for the securities analysts.

In war, public support is the equivalent of cash flow. So the question isn’t whether a war is going well, but whether a war is going well enough, and fast enough, to end in victory before public support gives out. And it’s obvious that public support for the war in Iraq has begun to erode, which means that from now on we are not only in a battle against our enemy overseas, but in a race against time here at home.

I don’t know how much time is left before public support for this war erodes to the point when victory will lie beyond our grasp. Your judgment will certainly be better than mine, because only you can combine the top-secret intelligence reports on your desk with your own superb “gut feel” for public opinion to estimate just when these two trend-lines will intersect. My only suggestion is that whatever projection you come up with – Three months? Nine months? Two years? – you cut it in half. History teaches that once public support for a war starts to erode – no matter what may be the actual, on-the-ground situation – it erodes at an accelerating rate. But what matters most isn’t so much the actual date you project for when the two lines will intersect. Rather, what matters most is that you recognize these two lines now are on a collision course, and that you understand what this means:

You have less time to win this war than you thought you had. So to win, you will need to fight harder.

Get Real with the Generals

First, you need to fight harder in Iraq. You keep saying that you are giving our generals all the troops they want. With all respect, sir, this couldn’t possibly be true. In the history of the world there has never been a general who thought he had enough troops. If your generals are telling you they have all the troops they want to finish the job in Iraq, either the generals are idiots – or they have gotten the word that asking for more troops will end their careers. Sit down with your generals privately – just you and them -- and find out how many troops they really think they need. If they still insist they don’t want more troops on the ground in Iraq, then get yourself a new bunch of generals. If they tell you they need another 250,000 soldiers and Marines – then fly them over from Korea, Germany or wherever they are stationed just as fast as possible. If we haven’t got them to send – then order a draft. One way or another, put enough troops on the ground in Iraq to secure that country -- fast. [emphasis added]

"Sit down with your generals privately – just you and them -- and find out how many troops they really think they need." Translation: Please don't invite Don to this little prospective pow-wow. Why are former Reagan hands writing this? Because they are hearing from the brass that Rummy has tied their hands...


Posted by Gregory at June 29, 2005 12:28 AM | TrackBack (8)
Comments

So the author is saying that GWB risks losing re-election if support for the war wanes? Did I miss something? When support dips to 30% he's going to pull out? Does that sound like the current president to you?

He has exactly until the end of his term to win the war.

Posted by: Ed at June 29, 2005 01:08 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

This is silly, there are not any more troops, and certainly not 250,000 more. If the generals tell the President that they need significantly more troops then the options are (1) withdraw; (2) institute a draft (but the time delay here would be significant) or (3) continue on the present course.

Posted by: CJ at June 29, 2005 01:20 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"If we haven’t got them to send – then order a draft."

Exactly.

If Iraq was worth invading, if it's worth staying for the long haul, then it's worth drafting young men and women to the service.

There's no other way to look at it.

We certainly can't pull troops out of Korea and other committments. We can't compromise our security that way can we?

It's time for all Americans to participate in our defense - not just the few who volunteered (and many before Iraq who were caught by stop loss). Afterall, we are all benefitting from the great boost to national security that the Iraq invasion has brought to us.

Posted by: avedis at June 29, 2005 02:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

*ahem*, CJ? That's not entirely true...

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/boots.htm

Posted by: Tommy G at June 29, 2005 02:53 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg,

It is an oversimplication to call for more troops. The current problem is not enough troops but not enough of the right kind of troops - not enough MP, Intelligence, Civil Affair, and PsyOps. It is not number of force, but economy of force.

The commander of Abu Ghraib during the period of the scandal was neither intelligence branch or military police branch, he was an artillery officer. The lack of qualified personnel is a serious problem in Iraq.

Posted by: Minh-Duc at June 29, 2005 03:00 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg,

I don't know your age or your military experience but you're way wrong on this one. Rummy and the G's are right.

You're wrong by projecting the Powell Doctrine you "probably" learned in your youth. That would have worked well on the German plains and possibly even in Vietnam with main force NVA support.

This is a true insurgent/terror war. The Brits in Malaya is a much better model imho.

Read a little history, boyo.

Posted by: RiverRat at June 29, 2005 03:08 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Minh-Duc: "The current problem is not enough troops but not enough of the right kind of troops - not enough MP, Intelligence, Civil Affair, and PsyOps. "

As the great and wise Donald Rumsfeld once said "You go to war with the military you have."

Your complaint should be directed towards the previous regime which fixated on its extinction level event with China rather than the realities of 4G warfare.

Transforming DoD is not going to happen overnight. Our brilliant use of the reserves specifically targetted the kinds of skills you've cited. We're in the process of doubling special ops and beefing up all the areas you've mentioned. That is all part of the transformation. It would have been nice of the imperial majesties at DoD had heeded this call ten years ago...but they did not. They were too busy reliving the glories of Desert Storm to pay any attention to Somalia.

So your response is to slam the guy who's actually making it happen?

That makes sense [roll eyes[.

Posted by: Blotto at June 29, 2005 03:40 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Minh-Duc: "The current problem is not enough troops but not enough of the right kind of troops - not enough MP, Intelligence, Civil Affair, and PsyOps. "

As the great and wise Donald Rumsfeld once said "You go to war with the military you have."

Your complaint should be directed towards the previous regime which fixated on its extinction level event with China rather than the realities of 4G warfare.

Transforming DoD is not going to happen overnight. Our brilliant use of the reserves specifically targetted the kinds of skills you've cited. We're in the process of doubling special ops and beefing up all the areas you've mentioned. That is all part of the transformation. It would have been nice of the imperial majesties at DoD had heeded this call ten years ago...but they did not. They were too busy reliving the glories of Desert Storm to pay any attention to Somalia.

So your response is to slam the guy who's actually making it happen?

That makes sense (roll eyes).

Posted by: Blotto at June 29, 2005 03:41 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sorry for the double post. got some kind of server error and didn't realize it went through.

That must've been Rummie's fault too....

When will these horrors ever end?

Posted by: Blotto at June 29, 2005 03:44 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"In the history of the world there has never been a general who thought he had enough troops. If your generals are telling you they have all the troops they want to finish the job in Iraq, either the generals are idiots – or they have gotten the word that asking for more troops will end their careers."

Nonsense. No competent planner ignores the effect his force's "footprint" has on the mission. In this particular case (where many Iraqis are understandably peeved about foreign troops occupying their country), the last thing we need is a massive influx of young culturally insensitive hard-chargers running roughshod over the populace. The best way forward is to let Iraqis take the lead whenever possible, and back them up as necessary. More combat power is indicated if and when we start losing battles . . . but so far that's not happening.

Good points above about CAs, MPs, PsyOps, etc. BTW, I note from Mr Meyer's biography that he has no military background. Can't say that was a surprise.

Posted by: Cecil Turner at June 29, 2005 04:13 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

CT, that sounds awfully like an ex post facto justification for force levels decided on for other reasons. Press accounts since May of operations in Anbar make clear how thinly the Marine units there are stretched, and how little a "light footprint" is getting us.

Greg, intentionally or not, puts a finger on the problem at the top of the command chain. Iraq is Rumsfeld's war. Bush is largely disengaged from the operational details, including those involving force levels. You may like Rumsfeld or not, and he might be expendable in another administration. He may not be expendable in this administration, however.

Posted by: JEB at June 29, 2005 04:40 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Why can Bush pick someone like Representative Duncan Hunter? He is a solid Conservative, a former Infantry officer, he has two sons who are serving (one in Iraq), and most important he is excellent as the chairman for the armed services commitee in the House.

Posted by: Minh-Duc at June 29, 2005 04:50 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

River Rat: "This is a true insurgent/terror war. The Brits in Malaya is a much better model imho."

Sir Robert Thompson's 1966 textbook (pp. 48-49) is useful here. He points out that the ratio of troops to insurgents is not important. What matters is the trend line. He also enunciates five basic principles of counter-insurgency drawn from the Malayan experience (pp. 50-58):

1) The government must have a clear political aim of a united, free, and independent country with a functioning administration.

2) The government must operate by the rule of law.

3) There must be an overall plan.

4) The government must give priority to defeating the political subversion, not the guerrillas.

5) In the guerrilla phase of an insurgency, the government must secure its base areas first.

By these standards, how would you evaluate our strategy and priorities?


Posted by: David at June 29, 2005 05:39 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

A few comments:

From a practical point of view, there are no more US troops. The Army is stretched very thin and we do need whatever very limited reserves we have left for other contingencies. And MD is right about the mix of troops being wrong.

Draft won't happen. Military hates the idea. So does the American public.

Of course the Generals would love to have had more troops in Iraq. Rumsfeld has been pushing down the troop levels from the start (including -- unintentionally -- allied troop levels!) Of course a decent Phase IV plan would have been even better.

The counterinsurgency (COIN) defense of troop levels doesn't carry much credibility because our current Army has no clue how to conduct COIN ops (outside of SOF). Our current Army was trained for Major Combat Ops only. If we deployed and operated like a COIN force, then you could use that as a rationale for lower troop numbers.

Blotto, that means I partially agree on our current force being shaped for MCO, but Rumsfeld was as China focused and MCO focused as anyone prior to Iraq. Only the experience of the last 3 years in SW Asia has convinced the building that 4G warfare is the way to go. Ridiculous to blame this on the previous regime, which took low intensity/STABOPS MUCH more seriously that the incoming Rumsfeld team.

Duncan Hunter is as dumb as a gravity bomb. His main legacy as Chairman of the HASC is to annoy the crap out of his colleagues, the defense industry, and the Pentagon with his insane trade protectionism attempts (that always fail).

Posted by: POTUS B at June 29, 2005 06:32 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I don't think U.S. public support is going to be the major obstacle in the absence of a draft. If a draft is neccessary to win U.S. public opinion becomes a giant giant problem; otherwise--not really.

If there's a window in public opinion closing it's closing in Iraq. It may actually already be closed, but I don't think we know it's closed, so...

Posted by: Katherine at June 29, 2005 07:06 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

David,

"By these standards, how would you evaluate our strategy and priorities?"

After we figured out what a clusterf**k we got into by Franks going in without the 4ID in the north, about 85 out of 100. A solid "B"

What think you?

Posted by: RiverRat at June 29, 2005 09:32 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

As an anti-war peacenik, I'd be more than happy for military realists to have a greater say in POTUS's policy decisions.

Posted by: mp at June 29, 2005 09:56 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

This is silly, there are not any more troops, and certainly not 250,000 more. If the generals tell the President that they need significantly more troops then the options are (1) withdraw; (2) institute a draft (but the time delay here would be significant) or (3) continue on the present course.

you forgot a third option --- the President could devote considerable time and effort and political capital urging his supporters to enlist.

close to sixty million Americans voted for George W. Bush.... the idea that Bush could not (or will not) go on a "60 stops in 60 days" recruitment tour in those areas that constitute his political base and come up with a couple of hundred thousand new recruits is rather alarming. Bush needs to tell his supporters that this war is not just imporatant enough to send other people to fight and die in, he needs to tell them that its important enough for them to make sacrifices.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at June 29, 2005 11:44 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Just a couple of points/questions:

1. In Malaysia, We (the Brits) were considerably helped by the fact that the vast majority of insurgents were ethnic chinese, not malay. This helped on a variety of levels.

2. Iraq: the war was lost/made immeasurably more difficult through having considerably too few troops in country in the period March - October 2003 when Iraq essentially fell apart. Whilst no-one at the DoD predicted that the country would be so comprehensively looted, some at State and in some NGOs did. They were ignored. It would have been better to flooded the country in the short term with an unsustainable number of troops - say 250 - 300K - including most of the Marine Corps. This may have had the effect of stabilisation with the effect of encouraging allies to send troops - say S.Korea, India, Malaysia.

However, hindsight is a wonderful thing.

3. Where we are now. Everything hangs on how well Iraqi forces shape up over the next six months. I am not sure how long the US can maintain over 100,000 troops in Iraq without serious morale, effectiveness problems.

4. The US needs to improve how it trains its rank and file. I may be wrong here but after much reading and watching the US doesn't seem to have the equivalent of the 'The Strategic Corporal' that the British forces have. Simply put a British Army Corporal can perfrom the tasks a Second or First Lt does. He thinks and acts for himself. The basic educational standards of your average US recruit need to be improved.

5. US Military shape - militaries are often faced with fighting the next war with the last wars methods and kit. This is unlikely to change. If it goes all out for 4G but then hasd only two heavy divisions to send to Taiwan in say 2010 then clearly it will have made the wrong choice. Balance is everything in war as in life.

The British Army is trying, on a shoe string to do both.

Regards

Neil W

Posted by: Neil W at June 29, 2005 12:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You are right, p.Lukasiak.

Enough Americans voted for Bush; they get it.

Greg voted for Bush. He gets it.

I can't believe that public support would wane if there was a draft. Americans are always willing to do whatever it takes to defend freedom.

It's not like this war was about scapegoating an ineffectual has been dictator for the actions of al qaeda. Nor is it about oil and permanent bases from which the oil can be protected.

No! Saddam would have turned our civic centers - right here at home - into smoldering unihabitable fields of death.

So we had to stop him by invading. And by invading we are drawing terrorists out of very democratic and very friendly regimes like Saudi Arabia. Now we can kill them in Iraq instead of in Manahattan.

Americans know that the war was necessary. It was us or them; just like WW2. So Americans will be happy to do their duty and be drafted; just like WW2. They probably have not been rushing down to the recruiting centers because they were told that troop levels were sufficient and they didn't want to overburden the military with the need to requisition more boots.

We are the land of the free and the home of the brave. Freedom is on the march! Who's afraid of a little draft?


Posted by: avedis at June 29, 2005 12:21 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Who's afraid of a little draft?

Well, the military, for one thing. Draftees make good cannon fodder, but terrible professional soldiers.

Posted by: R C Dean at June 29, 2005 12:29 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

4. The US needs to improve how it trains its rank and file. I may be wrong here but after much reading and watching the US doesn't seem to have the equivalent of the 'The Strategic Corporal' that the British forces have. Simply put a British Army Corporal can perfrom the tasks a Second or First Lt does. He thinks and acts for himself. [...]
-Neil W

Ah, that's because in the British army, a Lance Corporal is an NCO. In the US military, it's not- yet another example where Americans and Brits use the same word to mean something quite different.

I would really prefer not to get into the "things would work better if you did things more like we do" routine. The thread would never end.

Posted by: rosignol at June 29, 2005 01:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

1. Er, Bush DID make a recruitment appeal on last nights speech. Of course that went to ALL Ameicans, not Bush supporters only. Do we want a "Republican only" army? I sure dont. You can take this chicken hawk meme only so far.

2. The military doesnt want a draft. You cant make the kind of soldiers they want in a 24 month period.

3. The fact that we would have been better off with more troops inIraq in May of 2003 does NOT mean we would be better off with more now. We might be, but its not the same thing

4. I dont know what the generals are really asking for. Maybe they do want more - but it would hardly be wise to sack the ones who dont - there are real considerations both ways. Ultimately Anbar province as well must be secured the Iraqis, not by us. Supposing we can lock Anbar down with another 50,000 American troops? Does that really advance the political process in Iraq? Does it speed up the training of Iraqi troops? Does what you get match the cost?

5. The "lack of resources" is NOT only a matter of troops, and I fear the focus on that debate (with its opportunity to spear the obnoxious Rumsfeld) distracts from other more important things. Do we have enough State Department personnel in Iraq, and the right ones? Ive heard thats a real problem, and lots of FSO's dont want to go there, and we've used contractors instead. Is AID pursuing the right strategy? Cordesmann has a lot of interesting things to say on that - not enough focus on key items like electricity, to much focus on inputs, etc.

Posted by: liberalhawk at June 29, 2005 02:27 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

So, sit the generals down, ask them to tell you what they really need, and if they don't tell you what you want to hear, how you want to hear it, fire them.

Are you sure that this is the message you want delivered?

Posted by: Mitch H. at June 29, 2005 02:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

POTUS B: " And MD is right about the mix of troops being wrong"

Too bad they didn't start adjusting the mix in 2002, in preparation for this kind of situation. As they really ought to have.

liberalhawk: "1. Er, Bush DID make a recruitment appeal on last nights speech. "

Only a very, very weak one. A few moderately inspiring words to people on the fence. But he didn't say "your country needs you to enlist", which I think is what needs to be said. What he said was in line with the current recruiting message, which plays more to self-interest than to national service - it plays up bonuses, money for college, skills gained, adventure, and, frankly, warrior fantasies. (For example, the National Guard ads where they show a teacher, but no! He's also a commando!)

Incidentally, a big problem with a draft in 2005, which wasn't a factor in earlier wars, is the high level of debt carried by most people eligible for the draft. All of a sudden, people with big credit card and college loan payments will be in a situation where they cannot afford them.

I also wonder if earlier draftees had an easier time getting out of their housing arrangements (leases, etc).

Posted by: Jon H at June 29, 2005 03:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

liberalhawk writes: "2. The military doesnt want a draft. You cant make the kind of soldiers they want in a 24 month period."

Then why are so many National Guard troops over there?

I find it difficult to believe that draftees would be all that much worse than soldiers who were in for "one weekend a month and two weeks a year".

Posted by: Jon H at June 29, 2005 03:24 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I see comments from the left-wing Brer Rabbits up there happily urging the President to call for a draft. Like the "chickenhawk" arguments, it always seems like these suggestions are offered in the hopes that they can really annoy rightwingers, rather than any sincerity.

If the idea is to maintain support for the war until we win it, then this draft idea is a non-starter. There is a lag time between getting the troops drafted and into the field (where, since the troops are probably flung in with hurried training, they promptly become cannon fodder). Meanwhile, as the war touches more and more families -- people who are disinclined to put much effort into winning this War or thinking much about it -- are touched, and in a way that stokes their ire, not their patriotism. A draft will bring support of the war to 20% in no time flat.

I think the CIA gentleman has his finger on a problem, but no solutions to the perhaps unsolvable problem Bush has given himself.

Posted by: Appalled Moderate at June 29, 2005 03:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Since the Republican President says we have enough troops - and the Democratic opposition says we don't - why doesn't Ted Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi appeal to their base to enlist?

After all - they support the war right? The believe we "have to stay and win" right? And they think we need more troops.

Whats the problem there...unless they really don't support us being there?

Posted by: Pogue Mahone at June 29, 2005 03:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

NG

1. I'll let folks who no more speak to the state of NG training

2. Lots of NG are ex-actives, IIUC. Or have specialized skills.

3. In any case, NG are a more or less seperate entity from active forces (despite talk about an integrated force) A draft means that 2 year conscripts would now fill the broad ranks of the regular army. I think youre confusing "what would be good to get us over the hump of the next 6 months" and what we want for the army medium term and longer. National Guard as currently constituted are NOT the ideal way to fill out the force, as compared to recruiting enough for the regular army and USMC. They SHOULD be used for short service, emergencies, etc. BUT they were quickly available when needed. Whereas a draft would NOT be a stop gap, but would transform the force.

Posted by: liberalhawk at June 29, 2005 03:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If the idea is to win the war before the public is completely soured on it, the draft -- which will actually touch people who are unwilling to serve and the familes of draft age adults who are unwilling to have their family members serve -- is the wrongest possible way to go. The public will be soured well before the new troops are ready to fight.

I'm sorry, when I see avedis and Jon H lining up behind a draft, I think of Brer Rabbit and the tar baby. Though the response to a draft would definitely gratify your political impulses, gentlemen, you really should not encourage worse policies by bad policymakers just so that our current leadership cannot escape its richly deserved comeuppance.

Posted by: Appalled Moderate at June 29, 2005 03:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Appalled Moderate: "There is a lag time between getting the troops drafted and into the field (where, since the troops are probably flung in with hurried training, they promptly become cannon fodder)"

How about having the draft start by drafting the ex-soldiers working as military contractors in Iraq? Then, they'd be experienced, and they'd already be over there.

liberalhawk writes: "A draft means that 2 year conscripts would now fill the broad ranks of the regular army."

Then have draftees enter the National Guard, rather than the regular army.

Posted by: Jon H at June 29, 2005 03:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"How about having the draft start by drafting the ex-soldiers working as military contractors in Iraq? Then, they'd be experienced, and they'd already be over there."


Thats a real good way to encourage folks to be contractors, now isnt it.

liberalhawk writes: "A draft means that 2 year conscripts would now fill the broad ranks of the regular army."

Thats a possibility. I support the idea of a national service, which could be fulfilled in numerous ways, INCLUDING the NG, the military, or the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, etc.

But to do it now, just to fix the problems in the NG?

Im not sure the NG being "broken" is enough of a problem to justify the consequences in support for the war of doing this. Its the potential of the regular Army being broken thats worrisome, not the NG shortages. And I still dont understand why we focus on the draft, and not on raising military pay, ending the dont ask dont tell policy, and other better approaches. Unless the goal here is simply to create opposition to the war.

Posted by: liberalhawk at June 29, 2005 04:21 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

liberalhawk writes: "And I still dont understand why we focus on the draft, and not on raising military pay, ending the dont ask dont tell policy, and other better approaches."

Frankly, I don't think pay raises will be enough to get people to enlist. At this point, I think the military has to appeal to higher values, not mere self-interest.

I would certainly agree that, before considering a draft, the military and the President need to come right out and say they *need* Americans to enlist, now, leaving out any mention of money or benefits. A pure appeal to patriotism. Uncle Sam "I WANT YOU" posters, and everything.

That really hasn't been done yet.


Posted by: Jon H at June 29, 2005 04:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Liberalhawk nails it--the purpose of much of this commentary is simply to create opposition to the war. Not problem-solving at all. You know that schools train people to criticize but not to solve problems, and that's just what we're getting. Journalists are best at it, but any idiot can do it. But you gotta pretend that you really care a fig.

Posted by: Bonny at June 29, 2005 04:45 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

liberalhawk writes: "Thats a real good way to encourage folks to be contractors, now isnt it."

Well, they have already talked about "special skills drafts" of people with technical skills, medical skills, etc.

I don't see why one of the "special skills" in question shouldn't be "US Military experience", especially if it's special forces experience.

Companies operating in Iraq can always replace them with mercenaries from the UK, Australia, South Africa, or elsewhere if they speak English well enough.

It doesn't make much sense for the US to spend all that money training these people, then to lose them to the highest bidder when they're needed most.

Incidentally, ex-military ex-contractor conscript would probably make good leaders for regular conscript units, should a broader draft be necessary. The contractors, having experience in Iraq, might be better than green officers.

Posted by: Jon H at June 29, 2005 05:02 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Spot on Bonny - because Jon DOESNT care a fig for the people of Iraq

His desire is to be proven right

Only a Vietnam redux will achieve this goal

That millions might again perish matters not a whit - only being right

Posted by: Pogue Mahone at June 29, 2005 05:03 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"It doesn't make much sense for the US to spend all that money training these people, then to lose them to the highest bidder when they're needed most."

So you are in favor of expanding Stop Loss?

Posted by: monkeyboy at June 29, 2005 05:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"So you are in favor of expanding Stop Loss?"

Not at the moment. If we're considering a draft, perhaps, though the effected soldiers ought to get a nice long leave beforehand.

Posted by: Jon H at June 29, 2005 05:39 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Regarding stop-loss, I'm not terribly concerned about a soldier who is prevented by stop-loss from staying in the combat zone for a while to make a lot of money.

I'm more concerned about the soldiers who are counting the days to get home to their wife and kids, and safety, and wouldn't stay for any amount of money.

The military contractors have already established that they're content to stay in Iraq, we're just negotiating over price.

Posted by: Jon H at June 29, 2005 05:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"they *need* Americans to enlist,"

USMC has always emphasized the patriot in their recruiting, and IIUC Army has too, recently.

It sounds like you want them to say "We're desperate, we NEED people to join up, cause the army is on the point of breaking, so you should support the presidents policy (which causeed this clusterf*ck) and sign up now. Again the purpose not being to increase the number of recruits, but to make a political point.

During the American Revolution money (and land) was used as an inducement to enlist. Why should things be different now?

Posted by: liberalhawk at June 29, 2005 05:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"liberalhawk writes: "Thats a real good way to encourage folks to be contractors, now isnt it."

Well, they have already talked about "special skills drafts" of people with technical skills, medical skills, etc."

1. Cite please

2. Even if so, its not the same. Folks who have medical skills arent going to lose them all of a sudden. Folks who are military contractors can leave to avoid a military contractor draft. Besides, if theyre IN Iraq, why should they be drafted? Sounds like youre just resentful of the money that these guys get.

Posted by: liberalhawk at June 29, 2005 06:00 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"USMC has always emphasized the patriot in their recruiting, and IIUC Army has too, recently."

The USMC has also used the warrior fantasy approach. For example, I recall a commercial with a chessboard, and a knight, who turns into a Marine in dress blues, etc.

"Army of One" doesn't really speak to the patriot, I don't think.

I may have missed more recent ads.

I think they have to say they "NEED" people to enlist, because I can't think of anything else that would persuade comfortable, well-off people to enlist. (And by well-off, I mean people who make enough that enlisting would be a sacrifice, even with bonuses. That isn't actually all that much money.)

Without getting into the "chickenhawk" thing, one should ask, what could the military do to get a comfortably well-off, very hawkish Young Republican college grad to walk away from a good job, put the career on hold, and enlist?

(I mention a Republican *only* because they should be even easier to persuade than an anti-war Democrat or libertarian, right? They should be the low-hanging fruit. Other candidates would be even harder.)

Money isn't going to do it, is it?

Posted by: Jon H at June 29, 2005 06:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Jon H:

If there were a true WWII style appeal to patriotism (which would include an implication that those who did not enlist were unpatriotic), the left who so-loves the modified chickenhawk argument you are trotting out would be upset that those who refused to enlist were being tarred as unpatriotic.

The folks most likely to enlist in the armed forces are those who will benefit from it -- by learning a new skill, by getting out of the slums or the impoverished rural South, by avoiding a jail term, by getting the right to boss people around. The best way to get motivated soldiers is to increase the benefits. This is how volunteer armies have been built since Roman days. Armies provide social mobility to the poor, because the well-off are generally not so inspired by love of country that they want to die for it.

I know you not to be serious on this issue, but it is fun to get the right to admit that there's a bit more of a cost to war than they were thinking. Nonetheless, arguments that have the air of disingenuousness don't tend to attract followers or influence people.

Posted by: Appalled Moderate at June 29, 2005 06:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I wholeheartedly support Bush making noise about a draft. First, because the draft wouldn't happen and second because the tidal wave of public opinion would ensure neocons wouldn't be able to poke their heads out of their homes for decades.

Posted by: carpeicthus at June 29, 2005 07:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

By the way, I actually agree that making army recruitment more financially attractive (not sure if AppalledModerate or liberalhawk said that above) might be more useful than setting up a draft. As far as political feasibility, I'm not sure -- are policymakers willing to generate the revenues necessary to make these expenditures?

Posted by: Guy at June 29, 2005 08:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The leftists here would do well to...to... aw, the hell with it. Come on now: They haven't the slightest interest in a successful war effort anyhow - who's kidding who.

So let's get back to basics.

The current Commander in Chief, his SecDef and his General's are all in sych.

Say what you will about recruiting and retention: the math doesn't bear out your (pretended) concerns,

We have 43 Class A and 38 Class B Combat Brigades, and that's just the Army. Only 10 and 3 in Iraq and 2 and 1 in Afghanistan.

Over-stretched? Crisis? Cite up or shut up.

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/boots.htm

Oops here comes the double-post

Posted by: Tommy G at June 29, 2005 08:44 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

River Rat,

I am only a civilian with some training in history, so please take my observations on our strategy in Iraq with those limitations in mind. But to answer your question, Sir Robert Thompson goes on to give four stages in which to execute his five principles of counter-insurgency: clearing, holding, winning, and won. The first two are obviously vital.

The trend in ratio of troops to insurgents (as far as I know) is flat if we are to judge by the ratio of casualties. We need to make sure that as the number of combat-effective Iraqi troops rises, the number of insurgents doesn't continue to rise with it and at some point begins to fall. But that doesn't have to happen right now.

What must begin to happen now is that we clear areas and hold them. When a ring of such places has been secured, then the critical ground transportation corridors and electric transmission lines that interconnect these places inside the ring need to be secured. Adjacent areas then need to be added like a jigsaw puzzle.

Once the government has secured the bulk of the population and lines of supply outside the Sunni triangle, then the cities and towns in the triangle can be cleared and held one by one. Our goal must be to bring the civilian population under permanent control so that people can choose which side to be on without fear that the government will be there one day and gone the next.

Obviously, for this to work the Sunni Arab population must be included in the government. There are encouraging signs that a large number of Sunnis want to participate in the next round of elections. If it is true that Iraqi politicians have agreed to represent people by territory rather than by turnout, then it won't be necessary for as many Sunni Arabs to risk their lives trying to vote in unsecured areas in order to be proportionally represented.

The aggregate number of troops deployed in the abstract is not important, nor at this stage is the ratio of troops to insurgents. Nor is the composition of the troops; we don't need more civil affairs and military police. What we need is to have the troops (ours and Iraq's) that are necessary to create a few permanently secured areas. Then we need to add to these areas one by one. Progress is possible only if every territorial gain we make is irreversible.

As we gain and hold more and more territory, the Iraqis will gain more and more confidence, and they will take more and more responsibility because there will be something to take responsibility over. We shouldn't try to secure the entire country all at once. But we must begin to clear and hold some places permanently and then we must expand this permanent area. That is the true metric of this war. It is the only metric I see that will reassure Congress and the American people that we are making steady progress.

Posted by: David at June 29, 2005 09:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Appalled Moderate,

You are an ass. If you have ever a) been in, or b) worked with the military you owe whoever you worked with an apology. There are plenty of young men and women joining the military due to patriotism and who do feel that national service is honorable. My experience is that criminals are not taken in, high-school graduation is required, and that these young people are no so stupid as to not know there are far easier ways to get out of their towns or earn college money. I've taught introductory courses as a TA in college and can compare that to teaching young military personnel, and let me tell you, the yound civilian kids would get their ass handed to them in comparison.

Yep, Jon H, those hilarious warrier commercials--which as far as I've seen, all Marines love and love to mock, do have a point--reminding potential signers joining is about a lot more than merely job skills or college money. Trivializing an honorable decision by making it all an economic necessity is insulting.

But again, constant reminders that all of you are out of touch with that section of America. Below is another link--detailing recruiting for fiscal 2005, to put all this nonsense about a draft in perspective.

http://www.dod.gov/releases/2005/nr20050610-3621.html

Hmm, no problems with Marine recruiting, and with many who will be sent to Anbar province, by the way. The recruiting problems for the Army and Army National Guard are real--the number requirements are far,far higher--but I have no doubt the necessary steps, whether it be even better enlistment bonuses,
or varying service contract times, will bring in the necessary numbers. Mixed in with that incompetent management everyone seems to think the military has are many fine leaders.

Note that the retention rates for all the services are quite good. I wonder how that could be--they must not read the news.

Posted by: Steve Wood at June 29, 2005 09:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

How will we know when we have won?

I ask in all seriousness, because the American people are willing to bear any burden, pay any price (etc etc) in a cause that is worth doing. A significant part of that is knowing what victory looks like. Look at the big wars--it was clear then and it is clear now what victory was. In the little wars, it didn't matter so much, as long as they stayed little.

But the little wars that didn't stay little, that was a different matter. Why was the Korean War the Forgotten War for so long? Because after saving South Korea we fought for three more years for not very much result. Philippine insurgency? Or that other land war in Asia?

People started asking what are we doing there, and not finding much of an answer. Looks like that's happening now.

So if you like this war, and you want the political support to keep it going, you ought to have an answer for what victory looks like. It wouldn't hurt if it was succinct enough to fit on a bumper sticker.

Posted by: Doug at June 29, 2005 09:44 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Doug,
The fight against Islamic Facism will likely last at least as long as the Cold War - say 40 years as a guess

I hope it doesnt cost as many US lives ( 100,000 ) as the Cold War did

I can't think of any bumper sticker to help you out

Posted by: Pogue Mahone at June 29, 2005 09:55 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Mr. Wood:

*sigh* Misunderstood again. Well...

My brother probably figures I owe him an apology for a lot of things, so one more won't make a difference. He believes deeply in this country, and is also quite grateful that the navy paid for his medical education. As for my friend now on his way to Iraq, he was also deeply grateful for training in communication he received, which allowed him to get a real nice civilian job at NATO a couple of years ago. Since he stayed in the National Guard after his enlistment was up, he's now been taken from that job (and children) and returned to Iraq. He feels it's necessary and does not resent the call up. But he wasn't going to volunteer to go to Iraq, either.

People -- when able to act voluntarily -- generally act to better themselves, gratify themselves or fufill themselves. (And responding to a call of duty is a form of fufillment). I do not deny for a moment the sincerity of the patriotism or commitment of our troops. But that's because -- in part -- the military and the country has been pretty good to our troops. (The 60s/70s are an exception) This country has done pretty well by our armed forces, and the armed forces have done pretty well by the rest of us.

Oh. Are there easier ways to advance to someone from a socially/economically disadvantaged region to advance, if they are not quite scholarship material? Really? Then someone stop telling recruiters and those nasty advertisers to stop emphasizing the on-the-job training you get in the forces.

Posted by: Appalled Moderate at June 29, 2005 10:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Appalled Moderate,

Was your brother's medical training the decisive factor, or merely a nice bonus--he would best use his skills in that area since he was going to join anyway? That was my point, many people may benefit from military service, be it the GI Bill or technical skills, but if they were going to join anyway, any benefits were icing on the cake, not primary inducements. The tenor of your earlier post suggested to me that economic reasons were the primary reasons people joined, or perhaps "the joy of bossing people around", not quite so care-free when you are responsible for their lives. I actually do try to keep comments civil, but when reasons are offered that are far from what I have directly observed and tend to trivialize service choices, I get concerned.

On the last point--we agree in a fashion. I believe the drop in recruitment is precisely because the people only interested in the military for job skills are not signing up--they realize that the military is not merely a big job skills program after all, people will die in the line of duty. I think this self-filtering out of those serious about national service from those thinking about the military as a job training program or college loan program would occur in any war for any reason--I don't think there is anything unique about Bush's 'evil Iraq war' in this regard, and hence my disagreement about reasons people join, and all the snarky recruiting concerns I'm suddenly seeing. Is everyone joining the infantry interested in civilian job skills? I think recruitment efforts can and will change in this new environment, hence I hear calls for a draft as being cynical.

Posted by: Steve Wood at June 29, 2005 10:55 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

first off, if the "two year" commitment is the problem, then extend the commitment....

But the problem isn't the two-year commitment; right now, the Army is considering (if it hasn't already implemented) enlistments that require only a 15 month active duty commitment.

And in fact, two years is more than enough time...you spend six months training somebody to do "peacekeeping" in Iraq, send them to Iraq for 18 months, and let them out. No biggie.

(I mean, how long would it take to train someone to patrol the Iraq/Syria border? That's not exactly rocket science. 90,000 College Republicans is all that would be needed to put one soldier every 21 yards on the 360 mile Syria/Iraq border for an eight hour shift each day. They could spend the other 16 hours of each day playing beach volleyball and holding keggers....)

But a draft is a bad idea for lots of other reasons -- especially the fact that giving Bushco unlimited access to more warm bodies to fight its optional wars would doubtless result in even more stupidly conceived conflicts.

The solution remains for Bush to use his political capital and support to get more people to sign up for the Army. Why doesn't Bush do a "60 stops in 60 days" military recruitment drive? What is more important to him than the viability of our all-volunteer army?

Posted by: p.lukasiak at June 30, 2005 12:42 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

On the last point--we agree in a fashion. I believe the drop in recruitment is precisely because the people only interested in the military for job skills are not signing up--they realize that the military is not merely a big job skills program after all, people will die in the line of duty. I think this self-filtering out of those serious about national service from those thinking about the military as a job training program or college loan program would occur in any war for any reason--I don't think there is anything unique about Bush's 'evil Iraq war' in this regard, and hence my disagreement about reasons people join, and all the snarky recruiting concerns I'm suddenly seeing. Is everyone joining the infantry interested in civilian job skills? I think recruitment efforts can and will change in this new environment, hence I hear calls for a draft as being cynical.

although I hate to rely on anecdotal evidence, one guy I know told me that he signed up for the National Guard in the wake of 9-11 out of a sense of duty and patriotism, knowing full well that it might be being deployed to fight terrorism at some point. And he is extremely pissed off that his unit is now in Iraq (he was able to avoid deployment with his unit because of "hardship"), because he (and, according to him, most of the guys in his unit) did not sign up to for this "optional" war that had no connection to the war on terror or America's national defense needs.

I think its a grievous insult to those who are in our military to suggest that they joined up only for economic reasons --- they take a great deal of pride in their service, and their role in maintaining America's defenses. Recruitment is down not merely because signing up means increased risk, but because of the perception that the risk is not related to America's National Security interests.

Another factor of course is the fact that, even though people recognize that failure in Iraq may represents a serious threat to American national security, there is simply no reason to have confidence that by joining up you will be contributing to success in Iraq. Bush lied America into Iraq and won't acknowledge it and apologize. And Bush ignored those who were providing sage and informed advice regarding the implications of an occupation of Iraq, but won't acknowledge that and apologize.

No one in their right mind is going to put their life on the line when leadership is so clearly craven and incompetent..... which is why the solution to the recruitment crisis is to appeal to Bush supporters to join up.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at June 30, 2005 12:57 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

liberalhawk,

The technically-oriented special skills draft has been mentioned in the press. It's in the "something we (the draft board) could do if necessary, in lieu of a full draft" stage, not something that's necessarily scheduled to occur.

Here's a story from last year, in the SF Gate.

It's also been mentioned elsewhere, including the Washington Post.

Posted by: Jon H at June 30, 2005 02:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

liberalhawk writes: "Folks who are military contractors can leave to avoid a military contractor draft. Besides, if theyre IN Iraq, why should they be drafted? Sounds like youre just resentful of the money that these guys get."

I mean the ex-military contractors in Iraq, working security for KBR, or other business and political interests. I don't mean contractors working directly for the US government.

These roles can be filled by former members of other militaries. There's nothing about these roles that requires they be filled by US citizens.

If it comes to the point of conscription, they are pretty much the definition of "low-hanging fruit". Experienced soldiers, already in the combat zone.

It hardly makes sense to be considering the conscription of the Bush twins and the Hilton sisters, while a bunch of experienced warriors are already there.

You'd kinda hope the military would have the sense to bring in trained people as much as possible, before they resort to complete newbie conscripts.

Posted by: Jon H at June 30, 2005 02:28 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If you look at shortage per MOS, combat arms 11 series fill their quota nicely. None of the line unit I saw in Iraq were understrength. Now if the war is so unpopular, you would figure that the MOS that bore the burden of combat would be severely understrength.

It further does not explain that the Marine Corp which had the highest percentile in casualties had no problem meeting the recruiting quota. I have no data but it is my speculation that a good economy is the real culprit.

Posted by: Minh-Duc at June 30, 2005 03:27 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Let's not pretend you care, Jon. You called enlistees "suckers", did you not?

Posted by: Tommy G at June 30, 2005 03:39 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

David,

You are talking about holding territory. It is absolutely meaningless. We are holding the territory - every square inch of Iraq. I have been to Iraq, insurgents are often in plain sight, except that we do not know that they are insurgents.

That is why the soft units such as Civil Affairs, PsyOps, and Intelligence are so important. The first two build confidence and trust with the population and the last element exploit the trust and confidence to help identifying the enemies.

Posted by: Minh-Duc at June 30, 2005 04:05 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

David,

You are talking about holding territory. It is absolutely meaningless. We are holding the territory - every square inch of Iraq. I have been to Iraq, insurgents are often in plain sight, except that we do not know that they are insurgents.

That is why the soft units such as Civil Affairs, PsyOps, and Intelligence are so important. The first two build confidence and trust with the population and the last element exploit the trust and confidence to help identifying the enemies.

Posted by: Minh-Duc at June 30, 2005 04:06 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Tommy G writes: "Let's not pretend you care, Jon. You called enlistees "suckers", did you not?"

I did not call them "suckers". I used the word, but I did not express that I consider enlistees to be suckers.

My implication was that people like Dick Cheney, who "had other priorities" during Vietnam, must have thought of enlistees and draftees as "suckers".

I have to think that the current College Republicans, whose idea of fighting the war is to run for class president and listen to Hannity between keg stands and revival meetings, believe at heart that the people who enlist are suckers. These College Republicans believe themselves to be too good to serve, too precious to be risked, no matter how dire the threat to Western Civilization.

Posted by: Jon H at June 30, 2005 06:06 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Tommy G writes: "Let's not pretend you care, Jon. You called enlistees "suckers", did you not?"

I did not call them "suckers". I used the word, but I did not express that I consider enlistees to be suckers.

My implication was that people like Dick Cheney, who "had other priorities" during Vietnam, must have thought of enlistees and draftees as "suckers".

I have to think that the current College Republicans, whose idea of fighting the war is to run for class president and listen to Hannity between keg stands and revival meetings, believe at heart that the people who enlist are suckers. These College Republicans believe themselves to be too good to serve, too precious to be risked, no matter how dire the threat to Western Civilization.

Perhaps these people don't literally consider enlistees to be suckers. But they certainly hold them in contempt.

Posted by: Jon H at June 30, 2005 06:08 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sorry for the dupe. I even checked in another tab!

The second version is the correct one.

Posted by: Jon H at June 30, 2005 06:10 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If it comes to the point of conscription, they are pretty much the definition of "low-hanging fruit". Experienced soldiers, already in the combat zone.


If the idea behind conscription is to increase the # of people avaliable for counterinsurgent operations in Iraq, it is obvious that 'drafting' people already in Iraq would accomplish nothing at all.

I submit that this person is not arguing in good faith, and should be ignored.

Posted by: rosignol at June 30, 2005 07:45 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Interesting discussion.....
For those who say that the "good economy" (wherever it is) is drawing young men and women away from the service, I say you're wrong and insulting.

Wages and employment are not that good, but that's not the real issue. People will join up to fight when they perceive the nation is threatened, they join up out of pride, they join up out of a true desire to simply serve.

As to the idea that draftees make bad soldiers, I say BS. Draftess have served bravely and successfully in wars throughout our nation's history - and that includes Vietnam.

Furthermore, this idea that a "modern military" means personnel can't be sufficiently trained within a two year time period, is just more rubish.

First, why a two year time frame? It could be two years active duty (or three years) and two years reserve. Hell, it could be two years active and then reserve all through adulthood. This is done in several countries, even some of those effete brie eating Euro-pansies.

Consider the toughest training there is - the Marine Corps.

Allow about four months for boot (or the Basic School at Quantico for OCS).

Then another three months to become competent at an MOS.

Then another three months to become proficient at the MOS and for full integration into assigned unit.

So that's ten months, less than a year from raw recruit to going out on a float (embarking with the fleet as a member of a MEF or MAU).

I'm not being sarcastic about the draft, as someone suggested up thread.

I am all for defense of the country. I am a patriot.

I think invading Iraq was a deliberate blunder of gargantuan proportions, but I wholly supported Afghanistan (though I think that the prosecution of that effort was also a massive blunder).

I am just saying that if I am wrong and Iraq really does play a vital role in the defense of this nation then we should absolutely have no hesitation whatsoever to call up the necessary resources, from additional tax dollars to personnel.

That is what America does, always has done, in times of war and national emergency. And citizens have always risen to the occasion.

Brie eating Euro trash can participate in compulsory service, but tough Americans cannot, interesting.......

And yes, I do think that instituting the draft will separate the foreign policy wheat from the foreign policy chaff.

Americans will fight when the country needs them, when the world needs them. But they will not fight long when they see no obvious necessity.

When you are against the draft you are tacitly admitting that Iraq was not a national emergency, a serious threat, nor a nessecity. You are admitting that you do not like the draft because, by involving the citizens, generally, in wars of choice based on the designs of the rich and well positioned and the theories of their cynical ivory tower hand-maidens, that you might get have a rebellion.

Folks, this is our country, not Bush's. Invest the citizens and they'll make the right choices.


Posted by: avedis at June 30, 2005 11:57 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

This thread may have gotten a touch hijacked, but since this has turned into an interesting (and reasonably civil discussion), I expect the proprietor shouldn't mind.

The decision to joint the forces is generally a complex one. In the case of my brother, it was indeed primarily influenced by getting his medical school paid for. He had always dreamed of being a doctor, and this was how to accomplish his dream. The fact he was serving his country while doing so was the bonus in this case. As for my friend in Iraq -- I can't speak to his motive. But I do know he is a very patriotic man. And that he hated his small town in Nevada and had no connections or family outside that town. Did he join the army because he was a patriot? Or did he join it as a way of getting away? Probably both reasons.

But the fact that the human animal is a complex one does not take away from the loyalty and patriotism from the men who serve. But, if we are dealing with an enlistment problem, we should recognize there is a problem, and recognize that a love of America is not enough to get enough people to serve.

The fact that Iraq looks like an unecessary war to many many people is a problem for enlistments. And Bush's statements that we need to finish the job because, otherwise, Iraq becomes Osama's next Afghanistan, gets us only partly to where we need to be. Because there are no WMDs, because Bush expressed the threat of Iraq in apocalyptic terms, because of the botched planning (surrounded by confident if untrue predictions of the insurgency's imminent demise) and because there is a miasma of exaggeration (if not outright falsehood) in so much of what Bush has said about Iraq, Bush has no credibility, even when he speaks the truth. I don't think Bush gets where he needs to go until he acknowledges his mistakes on Iraq; in the same way I don't think the left gets very far with its criticisms until they acknowledge that, like it or not, nobody else is going to come into Iraq to help out if the US washes its hands and goes home.

Posted by: Appalled moderate at June 30, 2005 01:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Jon

"I used the word, but I did not express that I consider enlistees to be suckers."

Really?

Then what is this:

"...where "sacrifice" means buying an SUV at 0% interest. Where the pain is felt only by the suckers who signed up.

Now is the time for all good men, etc, etc, etc."

Posted by: Jon H at June 27, 2005 03:18 PM | Permalink to this comment

Liar, or idiot? Which is it, Jon?

Posted by: Tommy G at June 30, 2005 02:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I don't think Bush gets where he needs to go until he acknowledges his mistakes on Iraq; in the same way I don't think the left gets very far with its criticisms until they acknowledge that, like it or not, nobody else is going to come into Iraq to help out if the US washes its hands and goes home.

I have to disagree with the latter statement. The rest of the world recognizes that "Iraq in chaos" would be a very bad thing indeed. The primary reason that they are not supporting the US in Iraq is George W. Bush --- simply put, with very good reason they doubt his intentions, his integrity, and his competence.

In other words, as long as American troops are in Iraq under Bush's "leadership", the rest of the world is quite content to sit back and watch America bleed. Bush has insulted, bullied, and lied to the rest of the world far too often for them to do him any favors --- and the fact that Bush would claim vindication if international efforts to deal with the Iraq crisis were successful only makes international co-operation far less likely. Add to that the prospect of further military adventures from Bushco if American troops are freed up from Iraq, and there is no way the world will "step up" in Iraq as long as Bush is calling the shots.

But if the US were to announce a firm withdrawal date, the international community would have no choice but to step into the breach..... we might not like the results of that, but that's the way the cookie crumbles when someone like Bush lies and bullies his way into a war.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at June 30, 2005 03:00 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Avedis,

Sick and confused, as always.

"Iraq was a blunder"
So you're not for the compulsion of nation-states that fail to live up to their treaty obligations.

But you wish compulsory military service as an obligation of our citizens -apparently because you're such a patriot?

Fair enough. Demonstrate that you have any idea what your talking about.

Considering what it is they are obligated, as a professional class, to do, why is it, do you suppose, that the military leadership of this, and, mind you, most western european nations (where were you getting *that* from?) is oppossed to have compulsory military service imposed on their nations?

Posted by: Tommy G at June 30, 2005 03:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Now now Tommy - the use of Jon's actual statements in proving that he said something is really unkind

You should allow him to flip-flop around and deny his actual opinions in the effort to pretend he cares about the United States, the American people and the fate of the people of Iraq and the wider middle east

Posted by: Pogue Mahone at June 30, 2005 03:29 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Minh Duc,

"You are talking about holding territory. It is absolutely meaningless. We are holding the territory - every square inch of Iraq. I have been to Iraq, insurgents are often in plain sight, except that we do not know that they are insurgents."

I was specifically referring to the kind of holding territory advocated by Sir Robert Thompson in his book, Defeating Communist Insurgency (Praeger, 1966). This involves a number of specific measures to control the population and isolate the guerrilla. I would recommend that you read the book if you can find it for a very concise overview of the principles of counter-insurgency. The book has lost none of its relevance.

"That is why the soft units such as Civil Affairs, PsyOps, and Intelligence are so important. The first two build confidence and trust with the population and the last element exploit the trust and confidence to help identifying the enemies."

These kinds of units are a vital part of a larger holding force. The argument being made right now is that we need less infantry and more of these specialists. I don't think that kind of trade-off would work. We need both kinds of troops.

Posted by: David at June 30, 2005 03:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"You are talking about holding territory. It is absolutely meaningless. We are holding the territory - every square inch of Iraq."

What he said. Also concur with the "soft unit" requirements. It's worth noting that the CA and PsyOps forces are almost entirely reserves, and not really set up for the current conflict (a force organized and trained to mobilize over a long period of time . . . achieving wartime preparedness after mobilization), and that this isn't a new problem. I suspect the much-needed restructuring will probably have to wait until the end of the current conflict.

Back on numbers of combat troops, Gen Peter Pace was on point in his CJCS confirmation hearing yesterday:

Pace told the committee that he has struggled with the number of troops in Iraq. He said there has to be a balance between security needs in the country and having "too heavy a hand and you become an oppressor." The general said every single request for troops from the commanders in U.S. Central Command has been approved. He said he agrees with the numbers currently in Iraq - about 138,000 - and promised the committee that if theater commanders determine they need more troops, they will get them.
Hmmm, guess we better fire him.

Posted by: Cecil Turner at June 30, 2005 03:45 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Avedis,
The economy has ALWAYS had an effect on recruitment, and retention for those already in the service. It is hardly an insult to say someone is using an economic metric to decide whether to join the military or leave the military. That's just a fact of life.

THe equivalent to the leftists here who claim that conservatives/supporters of OIF should be more willing to enlist would be someone on the right saying that "everyone on the left should be willing to teach in inner-city schools, since they support the public school system and are against changing the policies. There is a significant need in inner city schools right now. If you or your kids don't start teaching there, then you have no right to support the current public school system, or to discuss it." See how stupid that sounds?

Posted by: exhelodrvr at June 30, 2005 04:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

rosignol writes: "If the idea behind conscription is to increase the # of people avaliable for counterinsurgent operations in Iraq, it is obvious that 'drafting' people already in Iraq would accomplish nothing at all."

They aren't involved in counterinsurgent operations. They're involved in "protect the KBR fatcat" operations.

They can be replaced by non-American private security personnel.

Posted by: Jon H at June 30, 2005 04:13 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

exhelodrvr, it's not the same.

The hawks are saying that this war is in defense of our very civilization. That's quite a bit more urgent than staffing problems in inner-city schools, is it not?

Your analogy would be better if left-leaning people were claiming that staffing problems in inner-city schools would lead to the downfall of Western civlization or the nuking of Seattle and Houston.

But that isn't the case. The two problems are of entirely different magnitudes.

Posted by: Jon H at June 30, 2005 04:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Here is the basic dilemma I feel we face from a strategic prespective with regard to troop numbers. First of all I think we should try to set all our arguements in the present tense. So forget about how many troops should have invaded Iraq and forget about how we supposedly needed 300,000 troops to seal off the border etc. I am amused at how people throw numbers like 300,000 around, I dont know what would have been enough to seal the border. We need to focus on what the political situation is on the ground right now.


We have 138,000 troops patrolling an area roughly the size of CA. I can argue that one reason for the troop deployment as is would be for a much smaller foot print on the ground. The troop levels are where they are simply to show that we not an occupying permanent force. At this point if we were to send more troops it would A) make it look like we are building permamnent bases and B) would make us look like more of an occupying force and C) completely de-moralize the Iraqi troops we are trying to train. That would appear to the situation right now.

One of the things that annoys me about liberals is that they complain about things that happened 4-5 years ago instead of dealing with now. Liberals live on bumper sticker slogan instead of reality. We can run circles all day about Iraq and WMD, why the whole planet thought he had weapons and he didnt. Although something doesnt smell right about that at all. The fact is we arein Iraq and now we have to win.


Also again let me repeat my prior opinions about those who claim you cant support the war if you arent elisted or inferring you should enlist:

We sit her an expouse on politics and the like, but how many of us here will ever hold public office at any level. I plan to run for something someday but heck it might be School Commitee and if so then so be it. What if we made a rule where the only time you could breathe red hot rhetoric is if you put your money where your mouth is (or in somecases ass). That argument about enlistment always falls apart. Normally though liberals dont stop yelling at you long enough for you to tell them that though. They just make it personal and the conversation ends.

Posted by: Christian Noel at June 30, 2005 04:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"One of the things that annoys me about liberals is that they complain about things that happened 4-5 years ago instead of dealing with now."

And conservatives are still obsessed with the Clintons, based on long-ago events, many of which never actually happened.

Posted by: Jon H at June 30, 2005 04:38 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Well I don't much like to harp on things from 4-5 years ago that never happened - but one does irk me

The "optional" war against Islamic facism that Bill Clinton should have begun in 1998 or 2000 when it was quite clear that OBL was attacking us abroad and had plans to attack us at home

Yep - that would have been a good move

Posted by: Pogue Mahone at June 30, 2005 05:06 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

One of the things that annoys me about liberals is that they complain about things that happened 4-5 years ago instead of dealing with now.

I guess Mr. Noel has never heard of George Santayana...

Dealing with "now" means understanding why "now" looks like it does. Basically, Bush is in the drivers seat, telling us to "trust him and stay the course", and the Democrats are in the back seat saying "this sure as hell isn't where you said we would be when you started driving on this trip. And you lied about why we had to take the trip -- so we can't even trust you when you tell us where you want the car to wind up. And you were wrong about how long the trip would take, and what we would pass on the way to our destination. And you won't even tell us what the "course" is that you want us to stay on now. So lets turn around, or find another way....or come up with something that we check in six months time to make sure that you actually know where you are headed --- and are not just your typical male driver who gets losts and refuses to ask for directions."

Now, without explaining to the American people WHY it makes sense to turn around, or change directions, or insist upon "benchmarks" for progress, why would anyone want to change course when the driver is so confident? The Democrats aren't harping on the past just to make Bush look bad for political purposes, they are doing so because understanding the past is key to understanding why they are now recommending changes.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at June 30, 2005 06:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

John H,

Obvious your suggestion is seriously flaw. It offers absolutely no solution, rather political grandstanding.

(1) How do think the "chicken-hawk" argument would work against a war supporter like myself who went to Iraq and will go back there?

(2) The whole contractors conscription idea is absolute nonsense. It shows that you have not been to Iraq and you are clueless. KBR do not have armed security and a very small percentile of contractors are security personnels. The majority of the private security are already foreigners. The Gurkhas are the largest group, next come the South Africans. The highest percentile of the contractors are overweight-out-of-shap truck drivers who deliver food, fuel, and supplies. They add nothing to the combat capability.

Posted by: Minh-Duc at June 30, 2005 07:55 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"trust him and stay the course",

In the speech he gave on tuesday thats NOT what he said. He said we need to stay the course, and heres why. And he did say what staying the course meant, right to details of the training of Iraqi troops.


Now if someone wants to suggest that we should follow another course, like setting a date for withdrawl, and if Bush cites his own trustworthiness as a reason not to, then that would be worthy of discussion. But thats not what I hear for the most part. I hear people who actually advocate the exact same policies that Bush does, trying to change the subject to the past. Or people who do advocate withdrawl, but who dont want to discuss what actually happens in Iraq when that withdrawl takes place.

Once again, IF we withdraw now, AQ and its local allies will likely take control of Iraq, which will be a very bad thing for the US. As far as what we should do now, rehashing the cost - benefit on the decision to go to war does not make sense. We are where we are. Personally I think we should have provided air support to the Shiite and Kurdish rebels in 1991, which would have led to a post-Saddam Iraq in far better circumstances, and would have changed the course of recent history for the better. But thats not relevant to current discussions.

Now you can deny that Zarqawi was in Iraq prior to March 2003 is you wish (though King Abdullah of Jordan said he was there, and that Iraq refused to extradite him) but the fact is, he is there NOW, and imposing a withdrawl timetable to spite Bush is NOT good policy.


It would be like voting against Lendlease to the USSR in 1943, cause you thought FDR lied about going to war, about neutrality patrols, and was incompetent in the defense of the PI and Pearl Harbor. True or not, it would be an absurd discussion to have in lieu of a discussion of the impacts of lendlease.

Posted by: liberalhawk at June 30, 2005 07:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Now you can deny that Zarqawi was in Iraq prior to March 2003 is you wish (though King Abdullah of Jordan said he was there, and that Iraq refused to extradite him) but the fact is, he is there NOW, and imposing a withdrawl timetable to spite Bush is NOT good policy."

Oh, he was there, in the northern Kurdish area, the no-fly zone.

Out of Saddam's reach as much as the Kurds were.

But suffered to thrive by President Bush.

And since we were already bombing the no-fly zones regularly, there's no good argument that we couldn't have done something about Zarqawi if Bush were serious about fighting Al Qaeda.

Posted by: Jon H at June 30, 2005 08:00 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Minh-Duc writes: "How do think the "chicken-hawk" argument would work against a war supporter like myself who went to Iraq and will go back there?"

Er, it's not directed at people like yourself, at all.

Posted by: Jon H at June 30, 2005 08:02 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Jon H:

Let's accept the pass we are at is entirely Bush's fault. Let's also accept that we are not about to see armies of Young Republicans working to seal the Syrian border.

What do you suggest we do?

Posted by: Appalled Moderate at June 30, 2005 08:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Thanks, Pogue, but your kind contribution doesn't really answer my question: How will we know when we have won?

It'd probably be simpler to answer this question for Iraq, but feel free to take a stab at it for the larger conflict you're talking about if you're so inclined.

I'd also be interested in any pre-invasion remarks by top-level US officials (I'm thinking GWB, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, but I'm not closed-minded on the subject) making what appears to be your argument: We're invading Iraq as part of a fight against Islamic Fascism that we expect to be a forty-year struggle.

I don't remember any such, which leads me to think that the whole bait-and-switch approach to invading Iraq is a big part of the problem. The reasons we are there are not the reasons we were told before we went there, and we don't know what getting the job done really means. A recipe for popular support of a key policy in a democracy this is not.

I was serious about the bumper sticker, too. As a distillation of policy, it's tough to beat, and you can't write a good one unless you really know the essence of what you want. I think Bush had his early on, but we're past that stage now.

Posted by: Doug at June 30, 2005 08:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Out of Saddam's reach as much as the Kurds were."

then why does King Abdullah report that Iraq made no response to the request for extradition?

as for bombing, we've all learned how useful THAT is to get a particular individual.

Posted by: liberalhawk at June 30, 2005 08:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

'"But our demands that the former regime hand him over were in vain,” Abdullah said.

“We had information that he entered Iraq from a neighbouring country, where he lived and what he was doing. We informed the Iraqi authorities about all this detailed information we had, but they didn’t respond,” the king said. '

Posted by: liberalhawk at June 30, 2005 09:01 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Jon H,

If the argument can not be used against all debating opponents; it should not be used at all. Should an argument make sense regardless who it direct at.

Posted by: Minh-Duc at June 30, 2005 09:03 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

For the record I will source my info from here on in. I am basing my remarks on what I understand the facts to be. I go by what I read and see, I do not however in this case have the luxury of seeking out links for you. Lots of this stuff is snippets I see as quotes on the news etc. I am not a blogger so I dont always have time to link everything. Suffice it to say this is what I have been hearing., which is what we all base our opinions on. I do recall various members of the armed services and adminstration considering Saddam a threat for reasons other than WMD. The WMD arguement was the engine in the car, so to speak. The other reasons for going to war were the violated resolutions and the cease fire. It is also well known that Saddam funded suicide bombers in the Palestinian Territories and also various terror cells which operated in Northern Iraq. Here http://www.husseinandterror.com/ This I know was brought before the war, buuut the most important item on the table was the WMD so that is what we led with. Also Iraq had met with North Korea via Syria just prior to the war with the purpose of buying an off the shelf missile system. Saddam was a menace. His goal also was to wait out the U.N. sanctions till people lost interest. Then he would restart his bio-program and rebuild his army and Air Force. So one could make the arguement that one way or another we would eventually have to go back to Iraq and deal with them.

Let me be perhaps the first Republican to say he does not really care about what happened 4-5 years ago with regard to the Clinton Adminstration and bin laden etc. What's done is done. The only question I would like to pose to by friends on the left is this.... In the summer months of 1998 when Bin Laden made his way to Afghanastan was it your assesment at the time that Afghanastan was a threat? And if so would you have been happy with a pre-emptivs strike and invasion of that country to get bin laden? Even in 1998 if you ask average Joe American who was more of a viable threat to the U.S. Iraq or the Afghans. Most people would have said Iraq. I will not rip the Clintons for not invading at that time. It was politically unpalatable and from a military perspective given what happened to the Soviets perhaps a bad idea at that time.

What we have here on the one hand is Right-wing Hawks ripping the former president for not going to Afghan in 1998 and then Left-wingers bashing the current president for not going in 2000 or early 2001. However, prior to 9/11 I am not sure pre-emptive strikes would have been understood by the American public.

The point is this. We are where we are and we are what we are. We can wallow in our own petty idealogical igloos oooor we can stick together and see this through. I want my grandkids to read a history book and when they read about the modern middle east circa 2047 I want them to see the beautiful Euphrates River and read about how democracy was brought to a people who had known only tyrants and autocrats for generations. So many times in the past we have let people down in the name of "stability" Whether it was the Pols after WW2, the Hungarians back in the 50's, the Afgahans after the defeat of the Soviets (thanks to the CIA). Even after the Gulf war there was a brief uprising in Iraq which was brutally put down by the former regime there. The people had thought the Allies were coming and we did not. I often hear people tell me that the Middle East has no tradition of democracy. Well once upon a time Europe didnt either, nor did Asia or South America. Not every country will be like America or even Europe. But people deserve the right to choose, it is the responsibility of the powerful nations to export these ideals. Whether it is by cultural exchange or in some cases overthrow of a despot either from within or without. In any case the outcome now will impact our future for at least 2 generations.

Posted by: Christian Noel at June 30, 2005 10:27 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

liberalhawk writes: "“We had information that he entered Iraq from a neighbouring country, where he lived and what he was doing. We informed the Iraqi authorities about all this detailed information we had, but they didn’t respond,” the king said. '"

a) Why should they?
b) What aren't you getting about "outside Saddam's reach"?

If something's outside your reach, can you get it if I ask you to? No.

If Saddam *did* send some troops up to collect Zarqawi, it would be misinterpreted as an attack against the Kurds in the area. And they'd probably be be blown up.

Posted by: Jon H at June 30, 2005 11:06 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"If the argument can not be used against all debating opponents; it should not be used at all. Should an argument make sense regardless who it direct at."

The argument is about young, hawkish people who are *unwilling* to serve and have not. You are *ready and willing* to serve, and you have. You are the model of what the pro-war hawks should be.

You're not a member of the set of people being criticized. The critique self-evidently doesn't apply to you.

What's the point of a critique which must apply to things that both have the flaw in question, *and* things which do not have the flaw in question?

Posted by: Jon H at June 30, 2005 11:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Appalled Moderate writes: "What do you suggest we do?"

Well, either we'll have a draft, or we'll fail after an extended, bloody stalemate.

Posted by: Jon H at June 30, 2005 11:16 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

So you are simply going to let it stand that any country run as such by Saddam's regime can have a "see no evil hear no evil" policy. Where as any country with terrorists operating within it can refuse to aknowledge the existence of said entity and therefore cleanse themselves of the obligation to pursue, detain and otherwise prosecute said offenders. That sets a very dangerous precident. Am also appalled by the seeming excuse making for the harboring of those types of people in any country. Nothing within Iraq was out of Saddam's reach. Just ask the Kurds who had been massacured or those in the south. Given the proper "inspiration" (such as the wrong end of a cruise missle strike) I imagine we could have gotten Saddam to make something happen or at the very least poke him with a stick until he at least aknowledged on the record that there were elements in his country.

I can see the point of the concern that may have been felt by the Kurds for any Iraqi expedtionary force into Northern Iraq to find terror organizations. However, the idea that somehow silence obsolves Saddamm of responsibility is just outrageous. Nothing happened within Iraq's borders which did not somehow help or aid Saddam in some way. Which is why it is relatively safe to assume that there was at least cursory contact between various terror cells and the Saddam regime. Notice I said regime and not neccessrily even Saddam himself. The burden of proof in all matters should be the regime and not the man.

I disgree strongly with the need for a draft. In todays armed forces it would be difficult to train a huge number of soldiers quickly and effectively in such a short period of time. The Armed Forces at this point is as much specialized as anything else. Its not like 50 years ago you train a guy for 8 weeks give him a rifle and away you go.

Again what is this thing liberals have about you cant support an action without serving.

Let me ask this: In 1998 when we were in Bosnia, I did not see mass protests from the Left regarding that short lived conflict. Where by the way we still have a troop presence all these years later. Question: The left supported that action, in fact, I would imagine many people on party lines supported that war are the same people who dissapprove of this one. So did you join the Armed Services in 1998? I bet you didnt. Which as I noted is not criminal nor is it wrong. It just is. But lets not be hypocritical.

That being said I am not asking anyone to defend their not serving, that would be hypocritical of me. I am just pointing out an idea.

Posted by: Christian Noel at July 1, 2005 01:43 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Christian, learn some history, please?

Northern Iraq was not under Saddam's control. It was under Kurdish control, and they were thriving. And this was enforced by constant air patrols by the US and Britain, and maybe others.

The Kurds who were massacred were killed in the 1980s, before Zarqawi got there, before the no-fly zones and patrols were set up and enforced, before the region was made an effectively autonomous Kurdish-ruled province.

Just because that part was still named "Iraq", doesn't mean Saddam Hussein was in control of it.

Guantanamo Bay is still part of Cuba. Do you think Castro would try to send troops in to do something?

Posted by: Jon H at July 1, 2005 02:25 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Christian writes: "So did you join the Armed Services in 1998? I bet you didnt. Which as I noted is not criminal nor is it wrong. It just is. But lets not be hypocritical."

No I didn't sign up.

But then, there wasn't a troop shortage. And that war didn't stretch our resources at all. And it didn't kill 1700 Americans. And fighting didn't go on for years. And nobody was saying that we couldn't afford to lose it, nor that it was a battle of civilizations, or any such rhetoric.

Posted by: Jon H at July 1, 2005 02:28 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Christian writes: "I disgree strongly with the need for a draft. In todays armed forces it would be difficult to train a huge number of soldiers quickly and effectively in such a short period of time."

We're using lots and lots of National Guard troops over there right now. Some of them have spent time as regular Army, but many have not. Many were just "one weekend a month, two weeks a year" troops. Yet we've been relying on them, heavily.

I think we could give draftees enough training to match them.

The training argument would work better if we weren't relying so heavily on Guardsmen. We're using far more than we used in Vietnam.

Posted by: Jon H at July 1, 2005 02:32 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"The training argument would work better if we weren't relying so heavily on Guardsmen. We're using far more than we used in Vietnam."

Exactly, Jon H.

As I outlined above, well trained/mission ready Marines can be produced from raw recruits in ten months.

Such would be more fit and better trained than the typical guardsman (not knocking the guard - it is what it is, though its ranks be full of dedicated and brave troops).

When the people here - and republicans generally - speak against the draft it is because they realize that it would cause the entire citizenship of this country to become invested in policy making and that, being invested, more careful decision regarding the use of force would be made.

What those opposing the draft want is a mercenary class that will mindlessly "kick-ass" at their whim and bidding (and I say that having been a part of that mercenary class and having kicked-ass in Iraq the first time we were there and as one who has a son now joining that class).

Everyone should serve their country; especially in times of peril.

A professional only military has always been the tool of kings; not of the people.

Posted by: avedis at July 1, 2005 03:13 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The argument is about young, hawkish people who are *unwilling* to serve and have not.


No, Jon.

That's the argument you (and p.l, and a few others) want to have. It's also an argument you think you can win by attacking the character of the people you disagree with, without refuting- or even addressing- their ideas.

I suggest you do some research on 'logical fallicies'. Specifically, "argumentum ad hominem".

Posted by: rosignol at July 1, 2005 03:48 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The Quadrennial Defense Reviews of 1993 and 1997 set us on the course to placing over 50% of our combat arms in the Reserves and Natl Guard. To understand why this happened, you need look no further than the collapse of Communism and the Soviet Union. After the Soviet Union collapsed, the entire American military began a reduction in force to allow us to scale back the massive defense budgets we had used to crush Communism under the weight of its own sloth. George H.W. Bush began this reduction to an expected reasonable level, yet with an absence of knowledge on exactly where the Soviets would be, and who else would arise to challenge us. William J. Clinton's administration collapsed the size further because there was no visible serious threat in 1993 after Saddam's defeat in Gulf War I and he rightly had other priorities he could spend the money on. We weren't ignoring the threats. They just were no where near the size and danger levels of the Soviets.

The 1993 and 1997 QDRs enshrined over 50% of our combat arms, including artillery, special forces, and other combat support units were in the Reserve and Guard. Still about 60% of Armor and Infantry were active duty, but that means near 40% were part-timers. This is the military inherited in 2001. A conscious decision was made in the 90s to do this. We could not afford to pay those enormous amounts for defense without a public threat. (Where do you think the Clinton economy came from? Not Defense spending. Remember the Peace Dividend talk?)

So blaming stop loss and other shortages on Bush shows ignorance of the facts. It is the public's and Congress' fault for believing there was no threat despite the UBL edicts and North Koreans promising to turn LA into a "lake of fire". (Read your newspapers. The stories were there. I remember them. Everyone else seems to have been reading something else.)

Additionally, in 1989 the military recognized that the upcoming generation held insufficient male children to meet the usual recruiting percentages and maintain the Cold War sized military. All the Service Chiefs sent out messages to their people urging them to help out in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, parks, public forums, etc.. to ensure the military maintained a good image among the younger generation. Otherwise there wouldn't be enough kids of military age interested in maintaining even our all volunteer force at even these reduced levels. We are still in the middle of this crunch today.

No draft, no massive recruiting bonuses, --- nothing will fix this problem. We have the size military we can sustain, period. To suggest otherwise is to ignore the demographics. To fix this you needed to make lots more babies. Life would be different here now if that had happened. I don't remember when this baby bust will be over, but it won't be soon. I know. I was there. I saw the QDR reports. I had friends discussing this info. It was in the newspapers, and we were frequently talking about it. We were there. We didn't think it was smart, but we had no choice.

Again, in 1997, no one but your military was paying attention, but you couldn't get any more money to solve this in those years. Peace Dividend, you know! Now you've got the military you have today. The Reserves and Guard were intended to get called up for years if we went to war. Whataya know, it worked out that way. Too bad all our enemies are trying to gang up on us at once. Funny how it works out that way when you let down your guard.

So quit pontificating about trying to find a smarter way than people who get paid to solve these problems. You all assume they are stupid government servants who can't make a living elsewhere. They aren't. They are dedicated folks who do it to serve their country. They aren't in it for the money or the fame. And you guys acting like you are better and smarter than generals who have studied it, experienced it, led throughout it, is a silly proposition. They ain't perfect. But they are a hell of a lot smarter than us average Joe's are. And I'll follow Rumsfeld and the Generals on their worst day over you guys on your best.

Shame on you. Who died and made you CENTCOM?

Subsunk

Posted by: Subsunk at July 1, 2005 04:40 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

rosignol writes: "That's the argument you (and p.l, and a few others) want to have. It's also an argument you think you can win by attacking the character of the people you disagree with, without refuting- or even addressing- their ideas."

Their own actions refute their own ideas.

Their failure to enlist shows that they don't believe their own rhetoric.

Posted by: Jon H at July 1, 2005 05:32 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Minh Duc: "You are talking about holding territory. It is absolutely meaningless. We are holding the territory - every square inch of Iraq."

Cecil Turner: "What he said."

Sorry not to be more clear. The fact that we are trying to hold the entire territory is the problem if we do not have the troops to hold and properly control it all at the same time.

What Thompson argued was that counter-insurgency must begin by securing certain areas of the country first. We and the Iraqis may have enough troops to do that over a reasonable period of time. When these areas are under permanent control, new areas can be added, and that is how one would measure progress.

Rapidly pumping up the number of Iraqi troops in an effort to be everywhere at the same time seems much riskier to me given the experience of the last year or so and given the speed with which Iraqis can be brought up to full combat readiness. A better strategy (as far as I can judge these matters) would be to secure the country incrementally with troops available now and as additional troops become available. The key is to make sure that each increment of the country secured remains under a consistent level of control.

Posted by: David at July 1, 2005 07:44 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Their own actions refute their own ideas.


Which 'they' do you refer to? The right is no more monolithic than the left.


Their failure to enlist shows that they don't believe their own rhetoric.


What rhetoric would that be? Saying that the troops deployed to Iraq are sufficient to the task, and that the plan is to train Iraqis to do the job?

Posted by: rosignol at July 1, 2005 08:06 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Dear Friends, I think you will welcome this bigger comment posting window. Should I make it even bigger? What do you think?

The SCode feature helped a great deal to cut down on spam, but I heard that some people had problems with server errors. After sending the post the server returns an error but the post gets through. If something like this happens to you please let me know of the situation so I can fix it.

THX, Tom Eberle

Posted by: Tom Eberle at July 1, 2005 01:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Subsunk,
Excellent post!!

Posted by: exhelodrvr at July 1, 2005 04:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Tom Eberle writes: "After sending the post the server returns an error but the post gets through. If something like this happens to you please let me know of the situation so I can fix it."

I'm seeing this error.

Also, I find that when the cursor is in the URL field, tab takes the cursor to the security code field.

If I do that, then get the cursor to the comments box, sometimes it seems like the security code field gets messed up.

When I'm done composing my comment, I tab to the security code field, type in the code, and hit post. And the site tells me I got the security code wrong, which I didn't.

It seems like that first tab into the code field messes up some state.

Posted by: Jon H at July 2, 2005 04:35 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The fact is we are in Iraq and now we have to win.

"win"
Please define "win". I'm not referring to winning the GWOT/GWFF -- just this Iraq war. Do oil or permanent bases figure?

"have to"
Is the the GWOT/GWFF lost if we "lose" in Iraq or is the Iraq commitment non-optimal deployment in the GWOT/GWFF?

Posted by: AlanDownunder at July 3, 2005 02:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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