Tuesday, June 05, 2007

What if the "worst-case scenario" happens?

When conducting war games a wise commander will ensure that he plans for the enemy's most-likely AND most-dangerous course of action. The purpose of war games is to include possible enemy actions in the planning process.

Our Army was forbidden to plan for the "worst-case scenario" in occupying Iraq. In fact, the Army was forbidden to plan for the most-likely scenario as well. Why? Because it showed the true cost of the Iraqi invasion at a time when the war was being sold as cheap and easy, a Desert-Storm II. The Army was ordered to assume that our likely enemies would instead welcome us. They are still welcoming us, every day, with bombs and bullets.

Are we planning properly today? It is hard to over-emphasize the danger of a "fighting withdrawal," (a "retrograde movement under enemy pressure") either when discussing the possible casualties, or the effect it will have on our foreign policy goals and objectives.

If we have to fight our way out of Iraq - and that possibility exists - then we need to do it as masterfully as the initial invasion in 2003. That takes planning, it takes preparation, and it takes training and equipment.

We are not preparing at all. And it gets scarier - what if, instead of fighting our way out of Iraq, we find ourselves under attack in Iraq - by Iran? Unlikely? No, it isn't. We are face-to-face with Iran and Bush is not backing down. During the Korean War we were face-to-face with the Communist Chinese, but everybody knew they would not dare attack us. Until, of course, they did just that.

If we find ourselves facing Iranian formations (most likely called "volunteers" similar to the Chinese "volunteers" we faced in the Korean War) we risk a repeat of the Chosin Reservoir debacle, except that this time we have no reserves left. There is a real possibility that we will find ourselves drafting young Americans and throwing them into combat with a bare minimum of training, just as we did in the Korean War only a few years after we had finished WWII with some of the best-equipped, best-trained, and toughest, most lethal soldiers in the world. Just a few short years later and we had Task Force Smith, and then the failure of our under-trained and unprofessional Army at Chosin. We have the same risks today.

While we debate whether to pull out of Iraq now or later, we are not discussing the very real and very possible risks our nation faces. Our Army and Marines are not as effective as they were in 2003 - not by half. They don't train for even mid-intensity combat anymore, much less train for high-intensity manuever warfare. We are so short-handed and so over-committed that we train our troops only for the low-intensity warfare they face in Iraq against irregular forces - and we don't even have the time to train them adequately for that, with units returning to Iraq with only a year to refit/re-equip/retrain after their last Iraqi tour. Thus our troops may know how to fight when they outnumber the untrained enemy in urban terrain - but what about a trained formation, that outnumbers our forces, when our supply lines are cut and our troops find that they are under determined attack for days, even weeks, at a time? Do we have a plan to deal with that possibility?

We are now vulnerable as hell. The truth is that we have pissed off the world, we are rattling the sabers again with Iran, and we have over 100,000 men pinned down and under fire today on the borders of Iran. That and we have no strategic or operational reserves left.

We were surprised when the Chinese "volunteers" poured into Korea and slammed us so hard. Later, historians wondered why the hell we were surprised.

And now we think the only possibility of a war with Iran is Bush deciding to start one. But what if they expect him to do so, and hit us first? The Chinese did just that. And only a few years after we had fought WWII, we found we had no trained troops to send to Korea, drafted kids and sent them to combat with only weeks of training. Some of our conscripts never qualified with their rifles before seeing combat. One tank battalion gathered together for the first time on board a ship enroute to Korea, and only six weeks after being formed they were in combat (no, they did not do very well). We pulled Sherman tanks out of museums and dropped engines in them and sent them to Korea. And we got our ass kicked, losing tens of thousands of men. And we were pushed out of North Korea with repurcussions that last to this day.

Guess what? In 2003 we had the most powerful force the world has ever seen. WE DON'T HAVE THAT FORCE ANYMORE. And now we may face Iranian formations attacking our troops. Are we prepared? Or are we just assuming that they wouldn't be that "crazy" and dare attack us? Well, they might, and we aren't as powerful as we were just four years ago. As I said, we are vulnerable. What are we doing to ensure the national security of the United States? Is the Army even being allowed to plan for such a possibility? Has the Army planned for how to withdraw from Iraq, on the assumption that it just may happen? Or is the Army forbidden to plan because planning a withdrawal, it is assumed, may somehow make it more likely to come to pass?

With that in mind, this from Medley Global Advisor's Policy Monitor. The article was written by Colonel W. Patrick Lang, US Army, Retired:

Iraq: Convoys under attack

While most of the media reporting and politics in Washington is focused on the flailing "surge strategy" in Baghdad and the Sunni "Triangle of Death" just south of the capital, well-placed US military sources report an ominous rise in the frequency and sophistication of Shia militia attacks on US supply convoys from Kuwait. The attacks on the convoys -- which are almost daily and can comprise up to 500 trucks at a time -- have in recent days led to fewer hot meals or fresh fruits and lettuce available to US troops.

An unclassified notice went out on Monday on "Theater-Wide Delay in Food Deliveries" warned that MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) will have to take the place of at least one hot meal a day. While in itself not an undue hardship, it does mark the first time
the US military was not able to maintain its supply lines since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, which is raising eyebrows among Army logistics planners working with troop levels already stretched.

More ominously, military intelligence in Baghdad believe the attacks are being orchestrated by Iranian-backed Shia militias, both as "live" training in tactics should the need arise in confronting the US military more directly, and as counter signal to Washington's naval exercises with battle carrier groups in the Persian Gulf.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Read My Mind

This veteran's words express my feelings exactly. This guy has been there, done that, got the t-shirt, came home, and now wants to know WTF the Democrats are thinking in backing down to President Bush. He was and is proud to be a soldier, he sees the Army and his reserve unit being ground down around him, and he wants something done.

He writes:
Despite the fact that I signed on the dotted line and promised to defend America, chickenhawk conservatives would accuse me of being a communist and a bad Soldier. Never mind that I abhor Communism and earned several medals for my military service. To them, being a good Soldier meant agreeing with conservative policy and keeping your mouth shut. I always told them that if they thought I was doing such a bad job then they should enlist and take my place. Then I'd hear a million excuses as to why they don't want to sign up. And when I mentioned Bush's cuts to VA funding and the like, they'd just respond with "well Democrats did it during the 90's", as if that made it alright. It's not alright. I don't care what party is responsible. It's wrong!

This quote is priceless:
Where is your spine, Democrats? Why is it that you constantly cave to the conservatives as they destroy our country and military? What will it take for you to grow a pair and take charge? We gave you the keys to the country for a reason! Take charge, dammit!
The response to the State of the Union address by Sen. Webb should have set the tone. Either Bush backs down and lets the People change his policies, or we will show him the way - and the door.

For the sake of our troops, our nation, our freedom, and our children, write to your Congressperson and demand impeachment. Don't buy into the "oh, they don't have the votes and he would not be removed from office" crap. It isn't about that. It is about the impeachment trial that would finally force this president to answer questions that should have been asked and answered for years.

Impeach, dammit!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

I'm Back. How's our democracy doing?

After blogging on www.intel-dump.com for quite some time, I am back to posting on my own. I would like to thank Phil Carter for his generosity - both with allowing me to post and for serving in Iraq.

To start, a free press:

Freedom of the press in Venezuela(from the Economist)

The Price of Free Airwaves(NY Times)

The first tells of Hugo Chavez' decision to shut town a television station that was openly critical of his regime. Instead of shutting it down the old-fashioned way, with troops and arrests, he simply refused it permission to renew its broadcasting license.
Mr Chávez announced that RCTV's broadcasting licence would not be renewed when it expired on May 27th. The government's reasons are that the channel acted as an opposition mouthpiece, and that it backed a short-lived coup against Mr Chávez in April 2002.
The reason this is so terrible is that
Democracy is about much more than just elections—as the left itself has often argued. It is also about political freedoms, the rule of law and checks on executive power. Precious little of this still exists in Venezuela. With television and the press now pretty much under the government's thumb, how will anyone be able to call the next election free and fair?

In the bad old days in Latin America, military dictators simply sent troops to close down obstreperous broadcasters and newspapers. Mr Chávez is more subtle. He has preserved the forms of democracy while gradually, but inexorably, eviscerating it.
Then this editorial in today's NY Times, which says
America lets radio and TV broadcasters use public airwaves worth more than half a trillion dollars for free. In return, we require that broadcasters serve the public interest: devoting at least some airtime for worthy programs that inform voters, support local arts and culture and educate our children — in other words, that aspire to something beyond just minimizing costs and maximizing revenue.

Using the public airwaves is a privilege — a lucrative one — not a right, and I fear the F.C.C. has not done enough to stand up for the public interest.... Every eight years, broadcasters must prove that they have served the public interest in order to get license renewal....

The problem is that.... [d]enials on public interest grounds are extraordinarily rare.
Same technique exactly. The writer makes great points about how important it is that broadcasters serve in the public interest, and has some great ideas on how they could help our democracy, but his method - making license renewal tougher and more frequent (he suggests the license expire every 3 years instead of the current 8 years) - is a recipe for governmental, and thus partisan political, control of our nation's airwaves. Who could doubt in this time of the "Patriot Act" that the current administration would hesitate to use this power against broadcasters? My guess is that it DOES use this power, but wants more. Eight-year renewal periods means a president only gets one crack at a license denial - surely that can't be good, right? Hmmmm...

The writer claims good intentions and lists admirable goals, such as

• ensuring stations show programs on local civic affairs (apart from the nightly news), or set aside airtime for local community groups;

• ensuring they broadcast political conventions, and local as well as national candidate debates;

• In an era when owners may live thousands of miles from their stations, ensuring stations meet with local community leaders and the public to receive feedback;

• and making sure the station’s so-called children’s programming actually, in the view of experts, is educational.

The author says that "all of this information ought to be available on the Web so people can see how their airwaves are being used."

His proposals - making FCC renewal tougher and more frequent - will simply result in what Mr. Chavez has done. That is, government-imposed censorship and control of broadcasters. As for the people seeing how their airwaves are being used, it seems more important to see how our government is being used - and that requires as free and independent a press, including television broadcasters, as we can make it.

Something else I noticed in the Economist article:
Under Venezuelan law [denying a renewal license] is a matter for the regulator and the courts, not the president. Coincidentally, Mr Chávez has just merged the supposedly independent regulator with the Communications Ministry.
Unfortunately for us, the "independent" FCC has been in the hands of the executive branch for some time, and is now filled with loyal Republican appointees who hate the Children's program "Arthur." God help out-and-proud Spongebob Squarepants if they get their hands on him.

Again from the Economist:
in pulling the plug on RCTV Hugo Chávez's leftist government has taken another big step away from democracy.
Haven't we taken enough steps away ourselves in the past six years? I say shortening the renewal time from 8 years to 3 is a really, really bad idea. The price of free airwaves may be high, but the price of government-controlled airwaves is simply unacceptable. Give me liberty or give me death.