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 strategypage.com:
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.
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