Obama is an empty suit…

July 18, 2008

…who’s judgement Changes based on the convenience.

Hand Salute:  tdaxp.

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The Nature of the War

November 19, 2007

I started this post as a comment to HS’s post over at Captain’s Journal. I couldn’t really pare the comment down, so I expanded on it as a full post here.

Some dead German once wrote that the key to a successful campaign is to understand the nature of the war you are fighting.

It seems to me that the British and Americans both prove this.

It seems to me that HS’s contention is that large kinetic operations are generally required as a precursor to a successful counterinsurgency campaign. I’m not convinced of this (in all cases). I think that kinetics are required in cases where the population is violently resisting the government’s legitimate authority. And even then, kinetics aren’t always required everywhere in a region that is resisting authority. (I was stationed in Hit, Anbar, IZ. Hit, to my knowledge, never really had a large kinetic aspect. However, kinetic operations did take place in other parts of Anbar.)

It seems that kinetics are required not to destroy the enemy, but to demonstrate that the state is willing to exercise its monopoly of force. Since the object of kinetics isn’t to kill, but to demonstrate (create a psychological/social effect), such kinetic campaigns aren’t required everywhere in that is under insurrection. They are only required in areas where a principal group is undertaking violent insurgency. In Anbar the principal group would be certain Sunni tribes. A demonstration of violence was thus required against those groups, which is what Fallujah II and Operation Steel Curtain were all about. This is known as escalation.

If If the insurgency is not violent, security patrols combined with provision of government services and co-option of local leaders is key. This is known as de-escalation.

If you escalate when you should de-escalate, you will inflame the insurgency. If you de-escalate when you should escalate, you will be beaten politically. In either case, being wrong will sap legitimacy.

Now, on to Basra, and the meat of HS’s post.

It seems to me that the British completely misunderstood the nature of the fight they were in. They de-escalated when they should have escalated. When they retreated to their compounds, they showed they do not have the will to enforce the government’s position. They should have become very kinetic at that point.

Also, recall the Marines, in the wake of OIF I–the invasion, were assigned an occupation sector that corresponded with the more recent British area of responsibility. The Marines were highly de-escalatory in the wake of the hyper-kinetic invasion.

It ultimately comes down to knowing the nature of the fight you’re in. Are you fighting in a situation that requires violent escalation or not? If you’re wrong in either case, the result is the same: The loss of legitimacy. If you’re right, you can at least get some breathing space to start enforcing the government position.


Military Professionalism and Politics of Wanting It Both Ways

November 4, 2006

I will now address the concept of military professionalism.

Professor Cole writes:

The entire Third Infantry Division, some 20,000 soldiers, seems set to return to Iraq for a third tour in 2007.

The comments in this article by Gen. Rick Lynch alleging that the guerrillas in Iraq are trying to influence the US elections strike me as inappropriate for a serving officer, insofar as they are themselves a form of intervention in the election.

I disagree.

The Officer Corps has two obligations: To the Constitution, and to itself. The former is the external obligation of the Officer Corps, and it’s reason for existence. The latter is internal, and relates to self-maintenance of the ethical/moral aspects of military leadership, educational development, upkeep of professional standards of excellence, etc. This does not prevent officers from engaging in politics as they relate to warfighting. Indeed, Clausewitz recognized that war is an inherently political act. At the upper levels of command, military and political action become more and more intertwined. Furthermore, insurgency/guerrilla warfare, is perhaps the most political of all forms of warfare. To be removed for politics in such a war is to negate your own objective, which, of course, is antithetical to the political nature of warfare itself. Soldiers are political and military beings at once.

Another incongruency is that Professor Cole denies our military’s authority to state the obvious in terms of what the enemy is trying to do within the context of the American political process. Yet he has nothing to say of the insurgent’s authority do engage in American politics.

The left wants it both ways. They want to deny the soldier is a professional when he speaks on political matters, yet were they castigating GEN Shinseki when he was giving professional advice on necessary troop strengths in Iraq? Of course not! Shinseki is being a good soldier. But MG Lynch is engaging in politics in wartime! The horror! There are other examples too numerous to mention. Nonethless, the left believes the generals are military professionals so long as their opinions are in alignment with liberal dictums or are at least against the conservative line of reasoning.