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U.S. Military -- Back to the Future!

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T.R. Fehrenbach wrote the following in his Korean War classic "THIS KIND OF WAR":

"You may fly over a land forever; you may bomb it, atomize it, pulverize it and wipe it clean of life, but if you desire to defend it, protect it, and keep it for civilization, you must do this on the ground, the way the Roman legions did, by putting your young men into the mud."
It is this enduring truth that is now being used by partisans of the US Army Brass and Democrats to beat up Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and the Bush Administration in the aftermath of the recent Iraqi War.

The argument is that the Bush Administration ignored the well-informed Brass, particularly Army Chief of Staff Gen. Shinseki's advise, on the need for thousands more troops in Iraq - that the Army is "executing a 12 division strategy with a 10-division Army" - especially in light of Iran and Syria sending in foreign fighters to the Sunni areas of Iraq to support the Ba'athist remnants.

Conservatives like Stanley Kurtz have been harping on the shortage of American combat troops here and here long before this.

I disagree with this analysis....

In terms of war fighting strength to conquer Iraq, Rumsfeld was right and Shinseki was wrong.

We did not need 250,000 combat troops to conquer Iraq. We did it on the ground with a third that number. This is a very important point. In the narrow field of professional evaluation of relative ground combat power, where Shinseki should have beaten Rumsfeld all hollow, the civilian Defense Secretary called it right.

It is the number and type of troops needed in the aftermath of our victory where Rumsfeld and Shinseki are both wrong.

The issue of American combat power and military "transformation" are irrelevant to the needs of "nation building." An article critical of Rumsfeld accidentally captures the essence of the issue:

Young Men in the Mud "In many ways, the contrast between war fighting and nation-building resembles the difference between productivity in the manufacturing and service industries. Businessmen have long known that you can rather easily substitute capital and technology for labor in manufacturing. Until very recently, however, it's been far more difficult to do so for the service industries. A similar principle applies to military affairs. In war fighting, everything ultimately comes down to sending a projectile downrange. How you send the bullet (or bomb) makes a difference--you can use an infantryman with a rifle, or a B-52 launching a cruise missile. But the effect at the far end is the same--the delivery of kinetic or explosive energy. Over the last 50 years, American strategy has made increasing use of effective technology, substituting machines for men, both to reduce casualties and to outrange our enemies. But this trading of capital for increased efficiency breaks down in the intensely human missions of peace enforcement and nation-building. American wealth can underwrite certain aspects of those missions: schools, roads, water purification plants, electric power. But it can't substitute machines or money in the human dimension--the need to place American soldiers (or police officers) on patrol to make the peace a reality."
Or to make the point another way, using this clip from a paid subscription article on heavy bombers in the Air Force Times:
Air Force Times June 16, 2003 Pg. 18 Think Bombers Are Bad Now? Just See What They Get Next By Lance M. Bacon, Times staff writer (snip) "Digital transmission systems are available on only four types of aircraft, according to the General Accounting Office, Congress' investigative arm. In it May report, "Lingering Training and Equipment Issues Hamper Air Support of Ground Forces," GAO stated that the Air Force "has installed this equipment on less than three-quarters of its active-duty F-16 fighter aircraft and has procured a limited number of portable systems for its B-52 bombers. The Marine Corps has installed similar equipment on roughly 95 percent of its AV-8Bs and on about 20 percent of its F/A-18s." Only the AV-8B Harrier "is fully capable of receiving digital transmissions from its own service controllers. However, none is capable of receiving such transmissions across service lines," the GAO said. Instead of using multiple means of communication, ground troops and aircrews in Afghanistan passed most target information by voice communication. Multiple modes of communication were said to cause confusion on the battlefield, the GAO found. The Defense Department says Link 16 is the solution. The digital data link went unfunded last year to the tune of nearly $233 million. It was one of 59 items cut when the Air Force's needs exceeded its $80.5 billion budget, which already carried an 11 percent spending increase from the previous year. But Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld wants to invest in the program, and asked for $50 million in 2003, nearly $59 million in 2004 and $190 million in 2005."
Please note two things in this article clip: First, the digital data link is the key to air-ground cooperation. That is why it is the first thing the USAF cuts, and also why 95% of Marine AV-8B Harriers have digital data link. Second, the key variable in future American military operations aren't platforms or precision guided munitions, but network bandwidth connecting intelligent people. The bigger and faster the sensor/shooter/C3I network, the nastier and deadlier it becomes. The really interesting thing to see is what happens when the 4th Mechanized (Mech.) Infantry Division's land combat data system comes into use and we then add "Land Warrior" infantry to it. We are talking a half an order of magnitude increase in combat network size compared to the heavily touted theater air power networks of the Iraq war from the 4th Mech's combat vehicles alone. Combat infantry added to that bumps it up to a full order of magnitude larger. The American Army's love affair with vehicle-mounted .50 Caliber M2-HB machine guns has made for very unfair close combat firefights between Americans and everyone else since 1944. Ask the Wehrmacht what the fifties mounted on 3rd Army M-8 Greyhound armored cars did during the pursuit after Falaise. The "Ma-Deuce" has been the U.S. Cavalry's version of the mounted lance for several generations now. Yet that was nothing compared to the kill ratios the 3rd Mech had in Iraq. The 3rd Mech went through the Iraqis like the Martians went though the British Army in H.G. Wells "The War of the Worlds." There are some good organizational reasons for this. Yet those reasons can be applied to every combat division. This begs the question just what is the fully networked 4th Mech going to be like in combat? In aerial combat, "situational awareness" is a great combat multiplier until you have to close the range to engage. AMRAAM missiles kill lots of bad guys at range but closing with Sidewinders is the only way to be decisive, especially in a politically/tactically constrained rules of engagement fight. Then it gets down to who has the initial advantage, with the best trained and experienced pilots, and with adequate equipment. What will these networked land combat units be like before they "go into the merge" of close combat firefights? Robotic micro-UAV "point men" 300 yards ahead and 50 yards above human point men are going to make for very "situationally aware" line platoons and extremely "unfair" close combat firefights. Add this to GPS-based fire support, loitering drones, airborne sensors, JDAMS, and modern body armor and our infantry is "...going to make Caesar's legions look like combat-ineffective girly-men," to use a quote from a friend of mine.

He also said, "We will literally be able to fight at ludicrous odds - not just outrageous odds - and triumph nearly bloodlessly," to which I have to agree.

I am of the opinion that this phenomenon is a logarithmic progression that the American military is only just beginning to climb. The reason we are light-years ahead the rest of the world in conventional military power is that we have invested enough in people and technology that we have gotten past an inflection point on the military effectiveness curve for the use of modern information systems. It is going to take very little more marginal investment on our part to obtain vastly increased and selective killing power.

This is a good thing because we are not going to be investing as much in combat forces as either Rumsfeld or the Brass hats think. The US Army senior brass lusts after more combat divisions the way the USAF Fighter Mafia lusts after the F/A22. Even supporters recognized this problem with the "Killer"-- AKA Armor, Infantry, and Artillery branch -- generals that run the U.S. Army. What we need for Iraq and elsewhere are American support troops, and lots of them.

There are a large number of people in multilateral non-governmental organizations (NGO's) that disagree with that.

"Five leading U.S. humanitarian organizations have clashed with the Bush administration in recent weeks over the Pentagon's role in the rebuilding of Iraq, saying military oversight jeopardizes their work and puts aid workers at risk.

"It is critical that we are seen as impartial and independent, especially when (the military is) an occupying power," said Mark Bartolini, Middle East director for the International Rescue Committee, or IRC."


"Kevin Henry, CARE's advocacy director, echoed Bartolini's concern, saying his organization turned down the offer to participate in the USAID initiative for fear of "losing our credibility and putting our staff at greater risk."

Bruce Wilkinson of WorldVision said Defense Department control in Iraq is of "concern to all NGO's (nongovernmental organizations). To maintain our independence and impartiality is the hallmark of our code of ethics."


"To have any semblance of order, you need to strengthen civil society. NGO's have a huge track record in getting societies back to normal," said Wilkinson of WorldVision. "You can't do that with contractors."

Let's face facts - the US Army has a far better track record than NGO's in reforming national cultures. American vital interests and the vital interests of the Wilsonian style multilateral non-government organizations, like the U.N., that make up much of the international system today are fundamentally at odds. One or the other will survive the War on Terrorism and America isn't going anywhere.

These international NGO leaders are going to force their replacement with American military draftees in the nation-building role. America can build lots of military police, signals, medical, quartermaster, civil engineering and civil affairs battalions for occupation duties very quickly, given the political will.

America is in the chaos elimination business because tyranny anywhere is a threat to Americans everywhere, even at home. That is the searing lesson of 9/11. There is no such thing as defense in this war - only the complete elimination of our enemies. This means killing terrorists and reforming at gun point the societies that breed them. This is why Democrats are dead and damned on issues of national security - the kind of naked military and cultural imperialism necessary to win is against the party's secular religious creed.

NGO's, on the other hand, are parasites. They thrive on the open wounds of chaos and disorder in the international system.

Rumsfeld is as blind here as the military's brass hats. He is far too concerned about transforming the fighting force and nowhere near enough concerned about anything else critical to national security. I am tempted here to say that war should no more be left up to a Secretary of Defense than to the Generals.

These are the truths we face.

1. We are burning out the National Guard and Army Reserve support troops from repeated deployments. Retention and recruiting for both are crashing.

2. Contracting out nation building to multinational NGO's or corporations like Brown & Root or Dynacorp won't work without a secure environment, something which only American troops can provide.

3. Military allies can't provide long-term security in occupied areas either because their interests and ours are too likely to diverge, though their forces can help immensely during and immediately after a given conquest.

4. If we must deploy large numbers of American occupation troops anyway, which can't be our existing, expensive and limited ground combat specialists who are needed for further operations, we must create a new force structure as cheaply as possible -- AKA draftees -- to provide the staying power we need for long-term nation building.

The policy impact of this last point has implications.

It has always been the American way to look for a technological solution to problems. The need to reduce military personnel costs will provide the market demand for low manpower, high tech, population control technologies, something to make the occupation/nation-building mission affordable in the long term. I have seen and reported on some of these population control technologies in a Capitol Hill Trip Report here on Winds:

A one point in my lobbying trip, I was within 20-25 feet of Secretary of State Colin Powell. I had crossed the street past a Limousine in front of the Dirkson Senate Office building. As I passed it to wait for the light and cross the street to the Russell Senate Office building, I heard someone behind me say something like "Way to go General!" I turned around and saw Powell moving briskly towards his limo and get in after waving back and giving a big smile. The security detail of "Men in Black" with their ballistic/laser proof eye wear surrounded the limo and withdrew with it.

Now I have been near State Department security before. When I previously been to the Hill, I had been standing on a corner next to the Rayburn House Office Building when a State Department convoy moving Egypt's "President for life" went by. You *know* when these people look at you. There is a real sense of controlled menace as they are visually evaluating you as a possible threat.

I did not get that from Powell's security detail and I was a great deal closer. That is when I realized that I had been "electronically frisked" in multiple sensor wave lengths before Powell actually left Dirkson, and that this had been passed to Powell's inner ring security detail before Powell exited the building. The whole of Capitol Hill is now a "Free Fire Zone" for the most advanced surveillance technologies the US government can afford.

If you go to the Capitol Hill, look for cameras and dome thingies (sensor radomes) on posts, government buildings and official vehicles both marked and unmarked. You are not going to see all of them, but how many you do see if you are looking for them will unnerve anyone, let alone Al-Qaeda.

Tom Holsinger also touched on this over on

Technological solutions to population control problems, notably "chipping" (pet ID's for people) with millimeter wave radar sensors and internet style data nets, are also emerging. Americans love technological solutions, especially when those involve vast expenditures of public funds which generous contractors share with deserving Congressmen.

The logic of empire, even one strictly for self-defense, does not come easily to either American politicians or the American people. The issue is more of a problem with a few, primarily Democratic, factions of the American political class than with the American people as a whole.

The American people of this generation will bear the burden of winning the War on Terrorism *and* will throw it off as soon as it is safe to do so. That was our history during the Cold War and I think it will be our "future history" in the War on Terrorism.


· Porphyrogenitus comments.
· Our readers also have lots of smart things to say, as usual. See the Comments section.

5 TrackBacks

Tracked: June 20, 2003 4:59 PM
Where We Go From Here from Sgt. Stryker's Daily Briefing
Excerpt: Trent Telenko has an excellent analysis of the US Military and transformation here: excerpt: America is in the chaos elimination business because tyranny anywhere is a threat to Americans everywhere, even at home. That is the searing lesson of 9/11. Th...
Tracked: June 20, 2003 9:15 PM
America's 21st Century Army from
Excerpt: I guess today is Comment on Winds of Change Posts Day here, because Trent Telenko has a good one. Sometimes you read someone's post and think "boy, I wish I'd written that!" - this is one of those posts. Two
Tracked: June 21, 2003 3:50 PM
WAR: Military Transformation from Baseball Crank
Excerpt: I don't have time here to analyze it, but Trent Telenko has a long and fascinating post on the transformation of the military's role in both war-fighting and nation-building. (Link via Sergeant Stryker)....
Tracked: June 23, 2003 12:08 PM
Excerpt: According to Toronto-based Froot LoopTM Naomi Klien, Bush has declared war on NGOs. Woo hoo. Good news on all fronts from the war on terror. The Bush administration has found its next target for pre-emptive war, but it's not Iran,...
Tracked: June 30, 2003 8:42 PM
Re-Thinking My Re-Thinking from
Excerpt: As with most such armchair military reorganizations, upon further reflection this post of mine is a mixture of insight and ignorance. The thing I want to get back to briefly is this: we probably need at least twice as many


Outstanding analysis.

One question on the forces needed to police after combat troops have cleared an area:

Would you have to liberally sprinkle seasoned combat troops in these new formations to get the quality needed?

Regardless of technological advances, I would like to see Army combat power increase to 12-14 divisions, instead of reduced to 8. The need to rotate troops, preventing burnout and increasing retention is critical.

Wow, nice piece there. Great article in Atlantic this month about the transforming military as well.


The point is that we don't need combat troops in Iraq now. We need lots of military police and other service and support troops.

If we had them, the 3rd ID would be home right now.

Doctrinally M.P.s are supposed to deal with anything up to a company sized parachute drop with attack helicopter support. The less than squad sized sniping and the terrorist training camp recently destroyed is very much in the M.P. doctrinal threat template.

Unfortunately many of the reserve M.P. brigades, engineer brigades and other support specialists we had in the Army Reserve and National Guard were disbanded after 1991.


Would you create separate formations of MPs, or increase the size/number of MP units organic to combat formations?

My guess would be separate formations-would they also have their own aviation/armor? Or just a few Bradley units?

The American military authority also ignors the use of locales in the process. Some of the heavy lifting can be filled locally. The old Roman concept of Auxillia or the French Foreign Legion, and even the American experience as seen in the use of Apache Scouts in the Southwest Indian campaigns or the mountain tribes of Vietnam, can provide the manpower right in the area where it is needed. The American forces are capable of providing cadre now. It's only the willingness to carry it out that deprives the force structure of the manpower. It's just not combat power. Several of the WWII Free Pole units, unable to return to Soviet occupied Poland, morphed into labor battalions in Germany after the hostilities.

Winning a war is easy, winning a peace is hard. We clearly didn't require such massive numbers of troops to take Iraq as Rumsfeld's critics have suggested. We won. The question we having face us, though, is "Now what?" Nation building requires a scalpel, not a bandsaw. The types of troops used in fighting a war are great for fighting a war. But what about policing a nation?

During the Los Angeles riots a friend of mine in the Army was stationed down here to help put it down. One thing that he was told by his CO was that they would be working with local police forces, and they would have to react differently than they were trained for. When a police officer asks for cover he's usually asking that somebody watch his back and fire if a threat appears. Ask a soldier for cover and he tends to lay down suppressing fire.

Though we still need actual combat troops in Iraq, as has been made clear by recent attacks and operations to clear out remaining Baathists, it needs police forces as well. You can't win a peace by having men trained in how to do nothing but kill (and yes, I know that is a gross oversimplification). We need a hell of a lot more MP's and support personnel over there than we currently have and we need it now.

Granted, many are already over there, and headway is being made to bring the local police forces in line with our philosophies. NPR recently had a report on MP's training local police on how to walk a beat in Baghdad. As one MP put it, they need to be retrained to not think that it's acceptable to get a confession from a prisoner by hanging him upside down in his jail cell. It's a slow process, but the longer it takes the more difficult it gets.

Thirty years ago my brother-in-law made an important observation ... "The US has got to decide whether we are going to be an imperial power, and if the answer is yes, we'd damned well better get good at it."

History has forced us into a quasi-imperialism by default, the secular-socialist nations being financially unable to act effectively against the bad guys that their world-view refuses to admit exist.

The Jeffersonian isolationist response, while probably tenable for the US for a few generations would almost certainly prove disastrous for the rest of the world, even, perhaps, generating greater anti-Americanism than is now the case --- the gulf between America and The Others having widened substantially.

Unfortunately, two specific US administrations -- one post-VietNam and the other post-Gulf War -- drastically (and intentionally) undermined three of the most important elements of effective imperialism: security, intel, and covert/special ops.

Effective imperialism does not require that you be liked, only feared and respected. 'Liking' is a very volatile, temporary, and highly unreliable emotion, nearly useless in international relationships. It is here that the Left has gone so very wrong.

Fear and/or respect, however, are much more durable motivators. I think we've been altogether too "nice" in the past generation or so, for little benefit and much grief.

Effective imperialist nation-building (and that is what we are attempting in Iraq) probably requires niceness backed up by fear and respect. I suspect that our lack of MPs, combined with weak intel and overstretched special ops, is going to make the task in Iraq rather more difficult than it might otherwise have been.

Just as we had to delay the Iraq Campaign while we restocked on ALCMs and JDAMs -- to say nothing of basic spare parts -- we have some serious staffing, training, and retention challenges ahead of us before we can effectively carry the Terror War to some of the places (Libya, Sudan, etc) that it needs to go. That will take another 4 to 12 years under an administration dedicated to getting the job done.

Even so, the task is daunting. In the end we have to sanitize and reform a culture with no theology of suffering other than revenge, and which has translated fewer books into Arabic in the last 1000 years than Spain translates into Spanish in a single year.

Order first. Then law. Not easy, but not impossible. And we'd had indeed better get good at it, because the alternatives to our present default-imperialism are not at all pleasant to contemplate.

A much needed review. Outstanding stuff. I forwarded this to Den Beste and Kaus.


The Military police were supposed to handle the "Rear Battle" under the old Cold War doctrine. That included the full range of Spetnaz and paratroop assaults of up to a dismounted company in size. The divisional M.P.s handled the division rear area and seperate M.P. battalions and brigades handled Corps and Army group rear areas.

Ther mission in Iraq calls for more than just MPs. Iraq can eat the entire active and reserve civil affairs force structure full time by itself.

We need Signals units to reestablish basic telecommunication infrastructure and to over see contractors in the long haul.

Medical units will be needed to evaluate and establish goals for Iraqi medical needs.

Military civil engineering will be required everywhere because Military engineers can take care of themselves in uncertain security situations over the long haul in a way contractors will not.

Quartermasters will be needed to supply all of this and transportation units will be needed for those uncertainly secured area transportation.

Shinseki kept pushing for more combat troops when what we really needed was "Tail" and not more combat animal "Teeth."

Rumsfeld rightly ignored him.

We don't need "Supertroopers" in Iraq.

We need "Garri-troopers."

Rumsfelds malign influence in Iraq is his resistance to establishing a McArthur-like "Shoganate" that is directly responsible to the President.This is what we did with both Japan and Germany.

These "Governors-General" were overseen by the Joint Chiefs for day-to-day policy and operations questions.

Rumsfeld's problem is that he does not trust the Joint Chiefs to do this job and won't let anyone else do it.

This issue can only be resolved by President Bush.

Bush should appoint a Governor-General answerable to him and establish an oversight board made up of Jim Baker as chair , VP Cheney, one or more retired generals Rummie trusts, and a senior level State Department official Collen Powell trusts.

This would answer Bush's problems of getting them mission done without to much impact on his limited span of control.

The first two-thirds of your article is great, Trent. The last third is on shakier ground, because there are far more political considerations in the mix. For one thing, it won't help to bash Democrats, even though what you said is true. Some truths can't be handled yet.

The problems you discuss have deep roots. The "killer hardware" and the troops that use it have a great attraction to the military brass, because it's what they professionally grew up with, and is usually the path of career advancement. Except Artillery, which is a semi-poor relation to the flashy stuff. These are also the things the politicians on both side of the question like for photo ops.

Assuming accelerated technical advancement, which I think is reasonable, the biggest problem is that the military is being unintentionally transformed into something that nobody quite grasps. It will be a bigger disparity than Maxim guns vs spears. I wouldn't compare it, yet, to "Martians vs. British Army", but more like the scene in "Robocop" where he strolls through the drug lab.

The only physical constraint on these transformations will be a constantly-shrinking military budget. The intellectual constraint comes from not recognizing what the changes mean, and how to capitalize on them.

Japan could do it, but there is no will. Europe certainly could, but they've rejected the process. China most certainly wants a similar transformation, but it is questionable whether they can pull it off with the overall backwardness of most of their society, and the criminal greed of their princelings.

What are the chances of being able to recruit Afghan troops as peacekeepers? It would give us more manpower, and alleviate the Afghans' problem of too many ex-soldiers with nothing to do.

If you gave them the equivalent of a GI bill that promised schooling at local universities, they'd probably jump at it.

Pardon my rambling - lost of thoughts here. I'll probably sharpen this up as a post over on later.

I don't see the "chaos in Iraq" problem as Rummy's fault.

The no occupation force policy is not the result of Rummy not trusting the JCS - the problem is that we went into Iraq as liberators, not conquerors.

Except we had to conquer it, not liberate it, because it was an internal, not external power.

The US is accused of imperialism - and we are assuredly NOT an empire - so we have to prove that we aren't. So we aren't occupying Afghanistan and Iraq. That comes from the President. So yes, he's the only person that could make that call. But let Dean or Kerry get a hold of that. "I thought we were liberators, not conquerors!"

As for how many troops it takes to do stuff, the size of our military is capped by law. The Congress would have to change the size of the military, and choose to fund it. The inclination to do either of these is non-existent - even among those who say our troops are overstretched or those who say we need a draft.

The Army has not been in the occupation business for about 50 years. It is simply not organized to do it. After WWII, we had to change organizations from combat commands to occupation commands. We won't be doing it for Iraq, so we have the combat organizations to work with. Large support troop organizations outside of the divisions are largely notional and populated by reserve and guard units - we have some 70,000 folks on active duty from guard and reserve now - are we willing to activate another 100 or 200k?

That is why we are working on freeing up our European and Asian commitments (and Saudi as well). If we take these static requirements off the table, we handle it demand-side, not supply-side.


Trent's point about Rumsfeld is that his empire-building is perpetuating disorder in Iraq, and delaying its reconstruction, not that Rumsfeld is responsible for creating the disorder. Iraq caused the disorder.

We need one man in charge to speed the recovery. Rumsfeld and just about every other faction don't want one man in charge unless it's their guy and they own him, i.e., they don't want one guy in charge. This is how power games work, and it isn't intentional.

President Franklin Roosevelt had the same problem with the economy/military production in World War Two, and things just muddled through until FDR finally put one of his best and most trusted operatives, Jimmy Byrnes, in charge.

An alternative is to use someone with less actual independent power (though apparent total idependent power) who is subject to close supervision by a trusted committee. Trent notes that this was done in Japan after World War Two, and named potential members of such a committee for Iraq.

Both should work, but both require President Bush to make a command decision here, and he don'wanna. The person to blame is him.

I think Rumsfeld is resistant to turnover to someone who is going to eff it all up. His Department won a great victory - he is not interested in watching the Arabists in States throw it away.

Bremer comes out of State, but Rumsfeld supports him. Why? Because he won't lose it the way Bodine would have.

And Rummy doesn't oppose a Shogunate - I bet he would prefer to have Abizaid in one of Saddam's palaces than wht we are doing now.

But again, that's the President's call. And he is constrained by way more than not wanting to make the call. I bet he'd rather see Abizaid there, too.

We will continue to see this issue come up. We have to be prepared for Iran, because when it falls, it will have partly been because we pushed. And we won't have divisions there.

This nation-to-nation stuff is rightly the purview of State, but State will hose it. (Not because Powell is a squish, but because basically State is full of Commies still.)

That is what needs to get fixed.

Trent makes a great case here for some kind of parallel force structure for occupational duties. The strange thing, to me at least, is that an occupational division would be much more manpower-heavy than an equivalent "assault" division. All the gee-whiz stuff streaming out of various DARPA and other projects - Land Warrior, assorted exoskeletons, UCAV, "brilliant" weapons - reduces the number of soldiers required to destroy hostile organized forces.

Still, occupation and pacification remains time-consuming, dangerous, and requires well-trained humans to do properly.

This is a brainfull, and I'm not sure it all makes sense, but I can see the Army splitting into "Assault" and "Occupation" formations in the future, maybe combined with the Air Force splitting up into a number of function-based services or losing functions like CAS.

Plenty to think about.

With respect to the role the MP's, there has been much debate over where the MP's will fit into the modern Army. In order to save the existence of MP's in the regular army, they took on the role of Force protection. This has over stretched the limited resources of the MP's in the army limiting their effectiveness in Nation building operations. Furthermore, MP's in Reserve elements are stretched thin fulfilling the US's obligations in Bosnia. What is need is a specialized detachment of MP's that are trained to deal specifically Nation Building operations. The Combat elements, however, are not willing to take back the role of force protection nor the MP's willing to give up that role in fear that budget will be cut.

We need more troops, definitely, but I don't think we need a draft to get them. A serious recruiting campaign--with the President and other leaders making speeches at high schools and colleges--would turn out a lot more recruits than are coming in now. Failing that we can enlist non-citizens, but I wouldn't want to take anyone from the occupation zones--they have too many connections to the existing factions. If we go to the countries providing our current immigration and promise citizenship after a five-year hitch we'd get plenty of volunteers. The Army probably has enough Spanish-speakers already to provide cadre for a division at least.

A nitpick first. Its inflection point, not deflection point. An inflection point is where the curve changes from concex to concave or vice-a-versa.

As for the draft....why? It isn't necessarily cheaper. While you only pay them a pitience you have opportunity costs (i.e. not they are working at whatever you are forcing them to work at, which you clearly value less than whatever else they could be working at...and making more money at).

There is not really any savings in the draft except in a limited and narrow accounting sense.

Draft would probably do far more harm than good. Draft was appropriate in the era of massed firepower and massed troops (2nd generation warfare) but is totally unsuited to the type of 4th generation conflict now current.

We need more special ops people, and the primary criterion for success is motivation. With draftees motivation drops off the table and the snivel factor goes through the roof.

Besides, what do you do with them? Most of 'em you can't train to do anything important in the two years you've got 'em. And most 18-year olds don't have any skills that matter when they come in.

There was a serious re-enlistment problem during the whole eight years we didn't have a commander in chief, and we're now paying the price of that era's drawdowns in ugly deployment schedules that burn our best people out.

I think there's a quiet crisis out there at the E-5 and E-6 level, and if we don't address that crisis it's gonna bit us in the ass. Odds are that a draft would make things a lot worse.

Very thoughtful post on the whole. I had just a couple quibbles, which I posted here:

Perhaps the "nation building" force should be paramilitary in nature rather than Army. Build on military retirees, ex-police, ex-firefighters, construction workers, etc. with refresher training through advanced infantry tactics.

That's a good thought, Robin, but "Occupation" work would also be difficult and dangerous, as evidenced by the fighting still going on in Iraq.

Like the MPs Trent describes above, "Occupation" troops would have to be capable of fighting pitched battles on a company scale. They would have to be well trained and motivated - more than a refresher course would be required, I think.

Another thing to bear in mind would be making sure that the reputation and prestige of any "Occupation" formations remained high, and that they would not be viewed as stepchildren to the more glamorous, respected "Assault" formations to the point the "Occupation" troops became starved for recruits. Making "Occupation" duty attractive would be quite the tough sell.

It's interesting that "Rear Battle" doctrine comes up in the comments here. I don't think the Army has updated the primary Field Manual from the one that was in use when I got out of the National Guard in 1992. But the basic framework seemed sound, and the heavy lifting was mostly to be done by Engineer and MP units. Maybe they need to form brigades of primarily MPs and Engineers to pull occupation duty. I was an Engineer officer, so of course that sounds kind of cool to me. They could have formed these from Reserve Component units at one time, but as someone observed above, many of those are gone now. It would have been most unpopular, anyway. I don't quite see why a draft would be an advantage over recruiting for them, although it would be expensive in either case. Maybe some Foreign Legion-type entity is called for.

The current US leadership seems pretty good at toppling unfriendly regimes with a minimum of damage, but p***-poor at nation-building. They're not all that effective at domestic anti-terror measures, either.

We need lots of people who can do things like fix power plants, phone systems, and rail networks. Contractors are fine for big, long-term efforts, but they aren't the right way to go for rapid response under insecure conditions. Perhaps a major increase in the size and mission definition of the Army Engineers would be the best approach.

We also need to give troop commanders more financial resources in working with and supporting civilian neighborhoods. Glenn Reynolds has a post up about some very laudable initiatives that a unit is trying to carry out; however, they can't get the small amount of $ that the need to be really effective.

Excellent article! The bottomline is "a different capability is required for nation building, peace keeping type roles". Fortunately, this type of force does not need expensive "killer" training (though they need training with respect to dealing with hostile civilians, armed resistance, etc. Do what the American private sector does!

Outsource to offshore "contractors"!! Not literally, but see what is happening in the IT and some manufacturing industries. What we need is large number of trained men. Draft is NOT cheap and is counter-productive for various reasons. Ask (and pay) several 3rd world, neutral countries to contribute forces. In the case of Iraq, it is better to go with Muslim countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malasia, and even Afghan as another comment suggested. US can pay these soldiers their native wages (much cheaper than American salaries) and hardship allowance or something. They have the men and we have the resources & leadership. Sometimes it works better if the UN is the label on their uniforms, but this is the best option to pursue.


The US Army is taking 2-year enlistees because it is short of bodies. We are 3/4 of the way towards a draft right now. They haven't cut standards such that they are taking more catagory IV troopers...yet.

Please also remember that the British carefully retrain their combat forces before a peace keeping rotation and then retrain them again back to the combat role afterwards. A draftee garrison/occupation force would be only trained once.

The issue is how long to keep in the draftees in their term of service (at least 3 years, IMO) and how large a cadre of long service professional officers and NCOs would be used to create it.

A standing 150,000 man Iraq occupation force means 450,000 total people based on rotation or troops in and out of theater.

The current active duty US Army strength is 480,000 men. The 1980's Cold War strength peak was 780,000. Totaling 480,000 and 450,000 pushes us into the one million man army range.

I see no alternative to the draft, if only to lower personnel costs to managable proportions.

The best is the enemy of the good enough and we do not have the time to train up enough long service professionals for the mission.

Training up this occupation force will defacto cut our combat forces from ten division to eight simply from the cadre we need from the standing forces to fill out the draftee formation's leadership slots.

The answer to the overstretch of our combat forces is to withdraw from South Korea. We are not wanted there and with the defacto collapse of the North Korean state means we are no longer needed either.

Honestly, what country is good at nation building? I can't imagine doing what needs to be done under the glare of the supercritial media.

obviously the lack of support troops is a very big problem, but the draft is now a good answer. the cost of making the draft work for us would outpace any benefit from having support troops in the first place. while you have written a very good overview of our current military situation, its important to recognize when you simply dont have an answer for a question yet and to not make leaps with your writing that will diminish the value of the rest of what you have said.

i honestly do not yet know what the best choice for dealing with our military support problem would be. i have heard a few shreds of ideas in various places that could turn into something, but i just dont think weve found a solution yet.

i agree with you that rumsfelds approach to iraq is missing a few pieces to hammer the victory home, but i also think you shouldnt jump to the conclusion that iraq wont work out on its own better than we currently think. if we end up lucky enough for iraq to work without those support troops we are all talking about, we might just be able to come up with a better solution by the next time we need one.

one question i havent seen answered fully is just what happens to all those troops we now use for combat if we keep achieving orders of magnitude of higher combat effectiveness with fewer and fewer troops... why wouldnt we simply be able to shift future training for the large number of former combat troops into victory and post victory support roles?

also, i think you overestimate how many places our extended military presense will be needed on a large scale. we are pulling out of saudi arabia, reorganizing in europe and east asia, and must be in an endgame with north korea for our sake as well as everyone elses. if north korea collapses, american occupation will not be needed. the south will be our support troops while we coordinate. something very close to the same could be said for iran if the theocracy is overthrown from within. in iran, unlike in iraq, their own population would be more likely to rise to the challenge of forming their own new government. if we succeed in north korea, iran, afghanistan (which will take some more than we are doing now.. but not a whole lot), and iraq, just what locations do you expect such massive numbers of support troops being needed that it would make you think for even a moment of instituting a draft?

of course the second i posted the above i saw a typo that i really should have caught.

"but the draft is now a good answer."

that should obviously say "the draft is not a good answer"


The Land warrior system interfaced/networked with facial identification programs, arabic-english translation programs, low level UAVs and modern passive millimeter wave sensors for hidden gun/RPG detection holds great promise for reducing the number of bodies needed for population control missions.

"Americans love the technological solution."


The inflection/deflection nit has been picked.


The planning was to use the Turks as a part of the post-war Iraq occupation force. That failed miserably.

Remember this contracting out to 3rd world/european militaries idea was tried in Somalia with less than stellar results. The Pakistanis were incompetent and the Italians were passing intelligence to Aideed. That is why we brought in the Rangers in the first place.

So if we can't trust the 3rd worlders or Europeans, who is left?

The Brits and Aussies are in leaker boats than we are in terms of force structure.


I don't see the Iranian Mullahs falling without an outside American military push, even if only symbolic or "black."

The War on Terrorism will not end with the current axis of evil. Syria, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are all on the "to do" list.

There are 150 million Pakistanis that the Indian Army wants no part of any more than the Turks did 2 million Iraqi Kurds.

The analysis of the overall force structure is a fascinating topic and I agree that Trent has done a great job of laying out the issues even if I don't completely agree with him on his conclusions --- which is not surprising given how complex the issue is in total

For now though, I just want to suggest that in the process of coming to conclusions about what is going on in Iraq, we need to avoid "jumping to them." Even though many of us have made acerbic, though quite valid in my opinion, comments about how quickly the press has over-reacted to individual incidents in Iraq, I think that in this age of nearly instantaneous communication we are all often guilty of the same thing. Iraq is quite large, and reasonably populous. It's by no means clear to me that things would be moving significantly better and/or faster even IF we could commit another 100,000 line of communications troops at this time. They may very well still be needed, and it would be much better if we had them available, but even another 100,000 troops would be a small number in comparision with the population.

If we committed much larger resources right now, I personally doubt that they would be effective since we're still really fully defining the problems. Anyone who has ever worked on a large engineering project (even one far smaller that the scale of what's required to deal with Iraq) is aware of how important it is to fully define the problem if you are to be effective. That's not to say that you can't start "muddling in the right direction" and refine things as you go along, but you need to be careful that the things that you are doing are not actually making the problem worse.

At this stage of the game, I think that the questions about how effective we're being are very valid and appropriate, but I DO NOT believe that we know enough to really come to conclusions yet.

Think of the sheer difficulty one would face if one had to restore the water supply system in New York City if it were not working after a war, or natural disaster, and you were starting out as unfamiliar with the system as we must inherently be with the systems in Iraq. Simply figuring out what needed to be done is a MAJOR task.

The fairly large number of reports, even though not particularly highlighted in the press, showing significant portions of Iraq are already in better condition than they were BEFORE the
war suggest to me that we're really not doing such a bad job right now. Remember, it's just barely over two months since the "statue fell."

Saddam had 30 years to screw up Iraq; we can't make it "right" in 30 weeks. (though, of course, we want to get as close to that as we can.)

I really suspect that things were at least as screwed up in Germany and Japan 60 days after their surrender and there were far greater resourcees available at the time.

By this I'm not meaning to suggest that we should be questioning how we can "do it better," but just pointing out that we need to include a LARGE "grain of salt" in our confidence in our own conclusions at this time. We need to remember that our conclusions are very definitely "PRELIMINARY" and will be for some time yet.

Thanks for the GREAT commentaries.


A lot of our problems in Iraq are caused by enemy action - the enemies being principally Saudi and Iranian theocrats. W and company need further education, at the expense of our troops and Iraqi civilians, concerning the former.

I think you are missing something; whether we are perceived as an empire depends on what we leave behind us. Will Iraq become a friend and a trading partner or a captive after the occupation? I am betting on the former.

In the meantime, we have a mess; how do we inculcate freedom, independence, competence and self discipline in a country where those values were systematically denigrated? There are hopeful signs: local self government is popping up in Baghdad in response to the civil disorder. The local groups are supposed to have a city wide meeting in July. Out of this could come legitimate government. It is far better that the Iraqi's do this themselves than for us to impose it by force.

Next, we don't need a draft. What we need is an effective Iraqi army (and police force) to leave behind us. Arabs don't have ineffective fighting forces because they are cowards; they have them because they are improperly lead. All their incentives are wrong. Arabs are good soldiers in our army. There are between 300 and 400 thousand soldiers out of work. Very few of them were Ba'athists and those can be eliminated. Volunteer Iraqi soldiers staffed with American NCO's and officers would be very effective at quelling rebellion and would be popular with the citizenry. If we intend to leave behind us a democracy, it must be able to defend itself. The sooner we build an army loyal to Iraq, and its friend and ally America, the better.


What you are talking about is what the American Army did in the Philipines with the Filipino Scouts. I had a great uncle in them when the Japanese invaded in 1941 and he died in Japanese hands.

The problem with that solution is the same objection some have made to a draft army, the over stretch of our mid-level NCO and officer corps. To which I will add the problem of exactly how many American NCOs and junior officers speak Arabic?

Great article on many levels. Maybe I should put Bottom Line Up Front; we need more people in uniform voluntarily. It is a shame that so few of our leaders have spent time in uniform, because I firmly believe that if politicians who were veterans, as well as other prominent public figures who are veterans, were to make personal ads calling our youth to uniformed service, it would make more of an impact. I train new soldiers, most of them enlisted because they weren't sure what they wanted to do, but they saw that there was a need for them in the military, so they went where they were needed. More people need to have that need expressed to them, cool commercials aren't enough.

We may not need more divisions, but we need more subordinate elements within those divisions. In the 80's, each division had 3 infantry/armor Brigades (plus a reserve "round-out brigade", each brigade had 3-5 battalions, and 3-5 line companies in each. This was pared down, after the Cold War ended, to far fewer personnel at each echelon, so that we not only cut out divisions, but we cut the number of personnel within those divisions as well.(Many reserve elements were also eliminated, further diminshing the pool of reinforcements in times of need.) If we had kept the unit manning of the '80's throughout the constant deployment '90's the impact would be far less. It is no stretch of truth that many servicemembers are now rotating form one hot spot long enough to do their laundry and kiss their spouse and kids before getting on a plane to another hot spot.

As for MP's and other support personnel, they were cut in equal measure, or shifted to the reserves, no one thought we'd need so many on active duty, another short sighted expenditure. This impact the civilain world as more police, fire , EMT, health care, and other professionals are called to extended service away from their community. The answer is not a "Peacekeeping Division" however; any place that needs peacekeepers in the first place needs warriors able to fight to maintain peace if necessary. Look at how many civilian aid workers are killed in countries without a friendly military presence.

Civilians already support the military in great numbers, the key point is, few civilians will willingly go into harm's way to provide those services in a combat environment.

I think Iraq needs (at this time) both combat troops and MP/engineer types.

Reduce the combat troops to a rapid reaction airmobile unit, with a squadron of Warthogs and Puffs on call, maybe a few armor units on the side, and vastly increase MP/engineer formations.

re: Arabic speakeing NCOs-Time to get cracking on that Universal Translator gadget.

Seriously, have contractor/native interpreters while the NCOs/JR officers undergo intensive language training?

I don't think the draft is the way to go. You may wind up with a two level military- the volunteer combat troops, who look down on the "draftees", while the draftees look up in resentment.

What really makes our military strong is teamwork. Anything that damages the team spirit may/will have disasterous(sp?) consequences.

As a veteran who grew up in the 60's (and would have strongly supported the war in Vietnam if LBJ had actually been trying to win), I think the draft is simply too socially divisive, except for wars that require pretty near all the healthy young men in the country. In WWII, the draft was fairly popular because it was almost universal and the need was obvious. In Vietnam, a lot fewer men were needed, the selection process that picked a few percent for service in Nam seemed grossly unfair, and the necessity of fighting at all was arguable. Draft-dodging was dead easy if you had any money or connections at all. All it took was a cooperative doctor or psychologist, not to mention that the manpower pool was so larger the army could even reject kids for obesity that basic training itself would have solved, so more than half the kids were failing the physical. It led to a whole lot of craziness back home - I think led mainly by middle class draft-dodgers with guilty consciences. And the present nuttiness of the entire Democratic half of the political establishment is at least partly lingering effects of the Vietnam era...

I'd definitely support going after more volunteer manpower to fill the "nation-building" military slots, increasing the pay and benefits if needed. If there are any sane Democrats left, they should too. Military service was a road out of poverty for millions of Americans, but a tiny elite combat force reaches a lot less men and doesn't need to accept the more disadvantaged recruits. MP's, engineers, medics, etc., would need a lot of training, but generally cost far less per capita than well-equipped modern combat troops. Much of that training would be transferable to civilian jobs.

Job training isn't the most valuable part of military service. In the last decade, I've seen many young men from welfare families that lack even the basic idea that to hold a job, you've got to get up every morning and get to the job on time. I wish I could get them into boot camp even for just a week, with a screaming drill sergeant overturning their bunks at 5 AM... Beyond that, all servicemen learn teamwork, following both oral and written instructions, and functioning within a heirarchy. That doesn't mean blind obedience (once you make it through the training), but paying attention to what you are supposed to do, doing it if possible, and knowing when and how to tell the boss that his plan needs some changes.

"I don't see the Iranian Mullahs falling without an outside American military push, even if only symbolic or "black."

The War on Terrorism will not end with the current axis of evil. Syria, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are all on the "to do" list."

trent, i never said i thought our problems would end with the current axis of evil. i dont know why you assumed that.

you were talking specifically about massive numbers of support troops. i dont see the need for them in pakistan, saudi arabia, or syria.

i think dealing with iraq, iran, afghanistan, and the israeli conflict (dismantling hamas, etc) could go a very long way to changing the calculus for syria, saudi arabia, and pakistan... as well as for the rest of our world.

on the iran note, we may or may not need to have special ops or black ops involvement, but again i dont see the need for the draft rationalizing massive number of support troops you were invisioning in your post.


MP and other support troops were cut disproportionately because the politics of the National Guard meant that Army Reserve units, where more of the units were support compared the Guard, took the hit.


I was told by e-mail that we should be aiming for 2-3 COSCOMs (Corps Support Commands) and a TAACOM (Theater Army Area Command). A COSCOM is a roughly division sized force of support units and a TAACOM has several COSCOMs under it with additional support units of its own.

This is the ending text of a series of e-mails:

"That's right. The mix of logistics, medical, administrative and MP units that would support combat-arms forces of corps size (or theater army level) could also serve, sans combattants, as a ready-made, tailorable relief force (with the field combat units still occupying able to more fully utilize their own COSCOMs and TAACOM without hardships to our own combat troops)."


Events drive policy and the path to empire we are on was created by the attack on 9/11/2001.

The attacks on our troops in Iraq are supported by Syria and Iran who are acting as sanctuaries for jihadists. This will drive us to over run both, and then leave us vulnerable to the same sorts of attacks from Lebanon and Pakistan.

The jihadists we chase out of Iran and Syria will destabilized the Saudis. The end result of our controlling Iraqi and Iranian oil means we will detach the Saudi oil rich but now non-producing, mainly Shia provinces from the failed Saudi Arabian state.

All of this means we are going to need those support and population control troops and we are going to need them on a speed and scale that only a draft can provide. Whatever the political fall out from that need are.


I was with you up to the point where you suggested bringing back the draft to staff an army big enough to do peacekeeping. It takes no less training to do peacekeeping than to do combat. It just takes different training. Heck, I'd say it takes even more training to do peacekeeping because basically the peacekeepers need to know how to do police work, understand cultural differences, and know a local language. It also takes the kinds of skills that security types have who do bodyguard work. Gotta spot that nut in the crowd who wants to blow up a bunch of people.

All of that is really beyond the ability of a 19 year old to do well. He lacks the maturity, knowledge, and experience. You'll spend most of his two years training him. Even three years is not long enough. Then he'll be in the field for several months inadequately trained and then shipped home to get out once he has developed some experience.

The only way that we could get a big, well-trained, and yet cheap force would be to create a foreign legion. We could recruit our own Gurkhas. Have them serve for 10 or 15 years with a big pay-out at the end to take with them back to India. They could be trained in Arabic and other relevant languages.

I agree with Brad Hall about the need for more special forces. But special forces will never be sufficient enough in number to be usable as a large occupying police force.

You can't have an empire on the cheap unless you are willing to have a foreign legion. We need more skilled peacekeepers just as we need more skilled fighters.

The current active duty US Army strength is 480,000 men. The 1980's Cold War strength peak was 780,000. Totaling 480,000 and 450,000 pushes us into the one million man army range.

I see no alternative to the draft, if only to lower personnel costs to managable proportions.

What is it with the love of command-and-control as a way to reduce costs? The Soveit Union did this on a massive scale and look at the mess they had at the end.

The costs "savings" you are talking about are only accounting savings. Here is the deal

You have Bob. You want Bob to do this military duty for you. Bob also has the option of earning $30,000 (plus benefits)/year out in the job market. But hiring Bob (and people like him) at $30,000 (plus benefits)/year would cost way too much. So you insitute a draft and pay Bob $15,000(plus benefits)/year. Sure on the accounting books you have saved $15,000/year for each "Bob" you hire.

The problem is that you have also taken $15,000/year per "Bob" out of the economy! Bob can't be doing his military service and working in the job market (even part time).

So in the end, you haven't really saved anything (at best....government is notoriously shitty at keeping bureaucratic costs down).

This applies in many instances not just the draft. Nixon tried it with wage and price controls and that was pretty much a fiasco. Now instead of paying a higher price at the pump, you paid a higher prices in terms of waiting and having to forgoe consumption.

The same thing applies here, IMO. There really ain't no such thing as a free lunch. With these types of schemes you are merely moving the costs around and making them less observable, the costs will still be there.


I agree with your view that time is of the essence in raising the new formations, but will a draft really be the quickest? How long would it take Congress to revive the draft? (Or am I missing something- can the President use an executive order??)

It looks like, whatever we do, we should be mobilizing the Guard and Reserves ASAP. This would be the fastest way to get trained boots on the ground. We would then have to ramp up recruitment (draft and/or volunteers) to replace the Guards and Reserves quickly.

As long as destabilizing forces have a refuge (Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc), they will be difficult to defeat. We can, and will, continue to bloody their noses, as they inflict casualties on our forces, but the wicked problem is-how do we deal with the refuges with our current forces in place?

"Events drive policy and the path to empire we are on was created by the attack on 9/11/2001."

people drive both events and policy, trent.

you seem to be taking a very static and determinate view of what will happen, rather than recognizing what is beyond the realm of your total understanding. there is knowledge of what will happen that you simply dont have. knowledge of our own futures none of us can have. while our american actions are the most important ones in this global dance, we are not the only players. we may have more freedom to choose what we will do, rather than simply reacting to circumstance like many of our opponents are forced to do, and rightfully so, but that does not mean you have enough information to sustain some of the assertions you are making.

whether what we are pursuing is "empire" or simple common sense is up for argument. of course i agree that sept 11th called for all that we have done, and more. but it does not follow that simply because this is true, that you happen to automatically be right about everything else.

while i completely agree that we must hold nothing back if we are to win this fight, you must also remember what it is we are fighting for. otherwise we have lost anyway. a static, unsustainable, draft enforced military support mega-force would not be good for our nation and would do nothing to help us win this very important fight we are in.


Drafting recent immigrants who have the proper language skills and training them in the military is going to do more for our language skills gap than anything else I can think of.

Using the Special Forces to create the equivalent of the "Indian Scouts" the US Army used in the Old West comes in as a close second.

After that, hiring english speaking Kuwaits for administrative translation services in Iraq comes in third.


The Reserves have been burned out and early signs of their collapse are now appearing.

The intent of the reserves is to fill in the gap until the country mobilizes its resources for protracted conflict.

The Bush Adminsitration is making mistakes on the mobilization front that look too much like that of the LBJ Administration, with the Reserves and the draftees switching roles.


>you seem to be taking a very static and
>determinate view of what will happen, rather
>than recognizing what is beyond the realm of
>your total understanding.

Question: Would the Bush Administration have invaded and occupied Iraq without the events of 9/11/2001.

The answer is NO.

The Bush Administration and the political class has to deal with the American people who will not tolerate attacks in America. That is the 800 pound gorilla in the room that everyone of a is desperately trying to ignore(Democrat)/placate(Republican).

Some stuff from this link for you to consider:

The World's Coming Encounter With Andrew Jackson
by Tom Holsinger
November 28, 2002

The American people won’t tolerate being attacked at home by foreign terrorists. This is THE dominant factor in the war against terror. Americans' definition of victory here is security from attack at home, which even the Democratic Party does not understand, let alone foreigners. This war began when we were attacked at home and will end when further danger of that has passed. We’re fighting for our security at home, not to create a better world elsewhere, but the latter is all the Democratic Party proposes.

The Democrats banished their national security faction long ago, and feel military policy is merely a variant of domestic policy - either pork-barrel spending or armed social work among ungrateful foreigners. Every problem looks like a nail if your only tool is a hammer. Democrats are unable to accept the existence of evil or the necessity of winning in war. This resulted in collapse of public confidence in the Democrats' ability and willingness to protect the American people, even if many Democratic internationalist proposals have merit.


Which brings us back to the American people. Failure to defeat terrorism means further attacks at home, so lack of resolve is not an issue. Ditto for ability. Americans in general, particularly their Jacksonian element, tend to believe in using all available force when involved in a serious war, and being attacked at home qualifies as one. Walter Russell Mead said in Special Providence: "The only reason Jacksonian opinion has ever accepted not to use nuclear weapons is the prospect of retaliation.”

The United States will use whatever means are necessary to win the war against terror, up to and including genocide against whole countries and peoples. See the Autumn 1997 article by Polmar & Allen in Military History Quarterly for what would have happened to Japan had it not surrendered in 1945. The American people, unlike those of Europe and Israel, have a very tribal attitude towards enemy civilian casualties in a major war. Those concerned about fanaticism by foreign peoples are ignorant of American history and power. Japan was fanatical. A clash of civilizations involving the United States would be short, brutal and totally one-sided - significant portions of Asia and North Africa might be reduced to subsisdence-level agriculture and population levels.

That America is capable of genocide doesn’t mean it will happen. Its people made great adjustments and sacrifices to win the Cold War, and showed amazing patience, flexibility and inventiveness. America’s ability to teach a horse to sing should not be underestimated, but the differences between the war on terror and the Cold War should likewise be kept in mind. The U.S. was not constantly involved in military hostilities during the Cold War, and was never attacked at home. There may be a limit on American patience with prolonged military hostilities in the war against terror, though that prospect is unlikely and remote.

The Army had 785,000 folks in it in 1989, prior to the invasion of Kuwait (actually, I think we were overstrength at 800k or so, and had Kuwait not happened and stop-loss gone into effect, the Army would have had to kick out 20 or 30 thousand people on October 1. Conspiracy theorists discuss. Somewhere else.) The Army at that point was a volunteer service, had crappy pay in comparison to the "real world," had long duty hours and the expectation that you might have to go somewhere and get killed all rolled into it. The outside economy was going like gangbusters up until then.

Also, IIRC, 1989 was the year that the Army was able to meet its recruiting goals without letting in any CAT IV's, and there were no non-HS graduates allowed in. It was a good thing it didn't take no GED, because it didn't help you.

What happened between then and now? A lot.

But if we needed to add another 200k or 300k troops, it wouldn't need a draft.

It needs what I constantly point out - an increase in the statutory size of the service and cocommitant increase in the budget.

Until we do those things, everything else is just talk.

I agree with your comment to Radall 100%, but imagine the howling from the Left if you limit the draft to Arabic speakers.

How about an enlistment bonus targeted at the people we want/need?

trent, i dont know if you are doing this on purpose because you simply dont have the ability to respond or if you simply dont realize it, but you are totally ignoring my point and saying stuff i agree with as if it was a response.


"Question: Would the Bush Administration have invaded and occupied Iraq without the events of 9/11/2001.

The answer is NO.

The Bush Administration and the political class has to deal with the American people who will not tolerate attacks in America. That is the 800 pound gorilla in the room that everyone of a is desperately trying to ignore(Democrat)/placate(Republican)."

i am one of those americans who will not tolerate attacks against america or the willfully ignorant democrats and placating republicans who would do less than enough to prevent them.

where exactly did i say our invasion of iraq wasnt preconditioned or made politically feasable by the events of sept 11th? what keeps giving you the impression that i dont recognize the impact of the 11th? i was downtown on that day and missed being right at the trade center only by (thankfully) sleeping just a little bit late. i fully support the military actions in iraq and afghanistan, am strongly in favor of the dismantlement of hamas and the rest of the palestinian infrastructure of terror, want aggresive policies with saudi arabia and syria, would be totally in favor of increased action on iran, dont trust pakistan in the least bit, etc.

where you get the impression that im discounting the importance of sept 11th or am advocating a less aggresive response to the obvious threats we face in our world is beyond me.

what i am specifically taking issue with in your writing is your assertion that a) we need massive numbers of static support troops and b) that we need a draft to do it.

i agree that we need support troops. i dont agree with your projections on what will happen over the next few years. it is in your assesment of future conflict and deployement that i see a leap that is not substantiated by anything other than assumption on your part. it strikes me as useful for conversation but ultimately stale thinking.

the exact same is true with your belief that a draft would be a positive solution for the military problems we have. again, let me be very clear here: we do have military support problems. we do have problems with recruitment, retention, and rotation. we do have a larger gap between the number of troops with skills we need and the number we have, than those of us who recognize the difficulties we face in the world would like. but that does not automatically mean a draft is the answer.

just because a draft is the only solution that you can think of, that does not make it the winning choice. the hard truth of this situation is that we dont yet have an answer for the military support problems we face.

now it has already been mentioned by others in these comments that you seem to have a soft spot for a pull-em-up-to-the-top command and control type of approach. the problem with this is that the strength in our military, as in our nation, is in pushing autonomy to the end points as much as possible. just exactly how do you propose training and motivating these draftees to do the job required of them without excessive amounts of hand holding? are we going to have an enforced draft that requires 5-10 years of heavy training? since when does turning military service into a prison sentence make this nation any better than the ones we are fighting against? why not increase the incentive and compensation for joining the military voluntarily at a time where the need is so obvious, instead of forcing a social control solution on our own population? if its a question of time, it would be so many years before your draft is in place and our young draftees are ready for the job required of them that your point of urgency is moot anyway.

what you are advocating in a draft is the creation of a military dependancy. this would not be a military asset. it would be a weakness. the military cost of a draft exceeds its speculative benefit.

the sooner we face up to reality on this and admit to ourselves that we both have a military support problem and that we dont have an answer for it yet, the better our prospects will be for finding a real solution that doesnt leave us worse off than where we started.

I have a questions. I hear a lot about MP's but I don't know much about them. Do they ever engage in firefights? If so, how do they perform and what is there purpose in a combat mode? I thought they just write traffic tickets on bases.

The whole "nation-building' mission has already been given to somebody: the Special Forces. The entire "Civil Affairs" is filled [by design] with SF guys [with bad knee profiles from too many hard landings in DZ Normandy]. The problem is that there is only one CA Brdigade in the force structure - and we need at least three.

We had no trouble fielding an 18-division volunteer army back in the days of Reagan the Great, so why bring back the draft? I got in the Army at the tail end of that social phenomenon and I assure you that I will cut my wrists before I try to command a bunch of yahoos like that again! I will gladly take an entire battalion of gay & lesbian volunteers [they fight like woverines if offended and and they look very spiffy at all times] over a whole division of draftees. And don't give me any guff about the glorious days of WWII - the draft was widely used as a means of organizing the flow of incoming troops, so many volunteers were told to "wait for your number to come up" - they were NOT unwilling conscripts dragged of to war!

Recuiting, training and retaining the right-sized Army is going to take a lot of money, several years and some major paradigm shifts. A prime candidate for enlistment can make twice what the military pays in a mediocre civilian job. In WWII, being a paratrooper in combat had the effect of raising a private's salary by 400% - today it is more like 25%.

Instead of carrying them off to be unwilling janissaries [slave-soldiers], why not try paying competitive wages? How about out-sourcing every single REMF [Rear Echelon Insert Rugged Military Expression Here] job to retirees who want to keep playing soldier [like me!] and getting the 60% of the miltary that is stuck stateside into the ranks of the deployable fighters. Bringing back the draft makes as much sense as calling up the milita with their muskets or sending word to the four corners of the Riddermark to call forth the Riders of Rohan - stirring images of days gone by that are worse than useless on the deadly, digitized, Live-on-FoxNews battlefields of the 21st Century.


First, we don't have several years. We need it quickly because Iran and particularly Syria are going sooner than that. After both we face the prospect of dealing with Pakistan. That means bodies, a lot of them and soon.

Second, we don't need a larger highly trained fighting force. The one we have right now is large enough to defeat any conventional armed force we face. What we need is a constabulary, administrators and support force...Peace keepers, not peace makers, for post-war operations. The skills sets are different and the draft will get the necessary bodies sooner for less.

Third, your numbers are way off. We need 250,000 to effectively administer Iraq given the foriegn fighters being fed in by Iran and Syria. We have ~150,000 with two divisions worth of Europeans and other allies headed for Iraq right now.

We cannot let our combat forces be pinned down in the garrision role in Iraq. We need them free for other campaigns in the war.

So if we have a force of 250,000 in Iraq just for garrision. Just how large a force structure are you going to need for mission there? The ratio of two units preparing for or coming back from a peacekeeping assignment means an on-going commitment to Iraq will require 750,000 troops in the force structure and they are not combat troops.

The US Army is ~480,000 men while the USMC is ~ 160,000 men total.

Add 750,000 to 480,000 and that gets 1,230,000.

It is going to take a draft.

A very interesting analysis and discussion, although the political implications of the last third are a bit arguable.The analysis of the US warfighting potential seems very clear, and I'd broadly agree.

The peacekeeping/nation building stuff is MUCH less well founded.

Firstly (speaking as a non-American) I don't think many people realise how disliked the US in many parts of the world - for a variety of reasons, some 'good' (envy, etc.) and some 'bad' (US record in Central America, etc). This gives the US a serious uphill struggle in peace keeping/ nation building, where the ability to kill lots of people isn't enough.

The US SEEMS to have a very shortsighted view to things like this. The Iranian Theocracy is a direct result of US intervention to prop up the Shah. You prop up a corrupt dictator, he gets overthrown - THEN you arm their enemy (Sadaam) in a huge war that cost millions of dead. what do you expect? Peace & Love? The simple fact is that military power is not enough to enable the rule of a country by a disliked leader (hints of American war of Independence....?) and by allying the US with these people, you just dirty the US name.

There's also an issue about staying power - Afganistan is going back to the Taliban.

Whether reconstruction work is done by NGOs (who have a much better record than such laugable efforts as USAID, which seems to exist to send unwanted american produce to the developing world - like the textbooks on plastic surgery I saw in an Afican Hospital) or the US army, doesn't seem to make much difference, but development work is slow, expensive and frustrating. That might be why politicians don't want to get involved.

Just seeing the green community in action makes me confident of the future! Think of how far green building products have come and how far they will go in the future!

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