Tuesday, October 12, 2010

When it comes to the Art of War... those in the Pentagon don't even have Crayons

Today I read two articles that are rather encouraging. People are beginning to wise up to the charade which is "our" bankrupting foreign policy. I've always enjoyed people who have the courage to tell it like it is... and today I find two on the same subject! I thought to myself... this has got to be a sign.

Several months ago I read a book lent to me by a friend and business associate. Boyd - the fighter pilot who changed the Art of War. I must say, I was impressed by the Colonel Boyd's backbone and ability to stand up to the powers that be within the Pentagon. There was certainly a reason he never got a star pinned on his collar. He didn't play the game. He passed on in 1998 after decades of rubbing the Pentagon brass' nose in their own stupidity. There was no official hero's tribute at his funeral. I had read the Art of War... but I read it again (it's only really a outline) and found a new understanding and even a greater contempt for those who call themselves "military leaders" these days.

The first article appears on retired CIA Chief Michael Scheurer's Non-Intervention Blog entitled Bob Woodward’s Obama: Holding office trumps U.S. lives and security Reading from Woodward's book he brings to light some disturbing reasonings as well as some rather ugly truths about our military command. "There is no doubt that this generation of U.S. generals is not the stuff from which legends — or victories — are made." He also goes on..."The generals peopling Woodward’s book appear as calculating civil servants and not soldiers, and, counter-intuitively, this is most true of generals who belong to the Special Forces or other elite military units. Indeed, these men — especially Petreaus and McChrystal — seem to have no real grasp on what they are doing; no real concern about what the enemy is doing, motivated by, or how many of them U.S. troops confront; and no idea of how idiotic it is to imagine an infidel occupier can win the hearts and minds of a conservative and tribal Islamic people. One lesson of Woodward’s book is that America’s elite soldiers are equipped with too much theory and social science; too little reality and history; and too much moral cowardice to lead American armies in the field." But what is even worse is the admission that our current and more than likely past President are pretty much the same...with their last concern being the lives or hardships of the soldiers or the safety of the American people.

The second appeared on AntiWar.com by retired Navy Commander Jeff Huber entitled "Long Warfare Theory." He explains very clearly "The single-mantra version of Sun Tzu’s philosophy is “charge downhill, not uphill.” You’d think that even cadets at West Point and Annapolis and Colorado Springs who graduate at the bottoms of their classes could retain such a short and sweet maxim and comprehend its gist. Yet the history of war is choked with case studies of generals who paid the consequences of attacking uphill when they had every opportunity in the world not to." Then goes on later "If, as prominent warmonger Lindsey Graham suggests, King David Petraeus is “our best hope,” our ship of state is already on a bow-first vector for the ocean floor. Lamentably, the state of American military wisdom is so pitiable that Petraeus may in fact be the sharpest utensil in a drawer otherwise inhabited by spoons." He then goes on to point out the corruption of the military's highest command has been more about the pursuit of money in programs and weapons programs than any coherent strategy and ends with "We have to give Lee credit for one thing: in charging uphill at Gettysburg, he was at least trying to gain a decisive victory because he knew his country didn’t have the strategic depth to fight a long war. Petraeus and his extended entourage in academia and defense think tank-dom not only want to charge straight up every hill they encounter, they want to make absolutely certain that their Long War lasts long enough to accomplish what Lee could not: the collapse of the Union"

I would like to make it clear that there is indeed hope. Although most of this retort is coming from retired military it must surely represent a growing number of leaders within that are seeing what is going on.

In 2009 retired General Paul Van Riper published an article in JFQ entitled "EBO There was no Baby in the Bathwater." He writes "The USJFCOM version of effects-based operations is a “non-idea” that survived far
too long. Not only did it undermine well founded conceptual ideas based on mission oriented command, but it also confused the U.S. military’s officer corps and diverted scarce resources and intellectual energies away from truly important issues, the most critical of which is studying insurgencies. The actual costs were significant; the opportunity costs were enormous." Van Riper was the retired General who commanded Red forces in one of the largest wargames ever commenced. Millennium Challenge 2002. In it, he demonstrated how all our technological whiz-bang gadgets and weapons can be defeated soundly with simplistic tactics and arcaic means... like using communications network comprised of hand written messages carried via motorcycle couriers. Just a note... the Pentagon's response to Millenium Challenge was to hit the reset button.

I think it's becoming very clear that in the military just like in the world most of us are part of, there are two groups. One that is who we perceive them to be, and those that hide within that group... but have nothing else in common. Unfortunately in both cases they are the leadership or mis-leadership as we may find out soon. There's probably a reason that today's politician has much more in common with psychopaths than the average American.

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