Friday, November 26, 2004
My Thanksgiving toast.
We do this every year, it's the price you pay for having Thanksgiving in the Delaplane house. We go around the table and everyone has to say what they are thankful for over the past year. Some years this means more than others, and this is one of those years when it means a great deal. This has been a year during which it's been easier to focus on the things we wish for rather than the things we are thankful for. So, I would like to tell you some of things I am thankful for.
First, I am thankful for this full house. Fourteen months ago when we arrived in Germany, we knew no one, not a soul, and over the last year, each of you has opened not only your homes but your hearts to us. I am thankful to call each of you a friend.
I am thankful for the courage that I have seen my wife demonstrate, not only over this past year, but through some very difficult times over the past several years. I am thankful for the strength that she has shared with me in the face of the difficult times that lay ahead of us. I couldn't do it without her.
Lastly, I am thankful for the hope and faith the I see here at our table. We have four different countries represented here today. Sixty years ago, these four countries were evenly divided in a bitter conflict. The idea of each of us giving thanks and sharing a meal together would have been unthinkable. Sixty years ago our own country was so bitterly divided in it's own prejudice and bigotry that I would never have sat at the same table and shared a meal with Jim, this person that I am thankful today to call one of my very dear friends.
I am thankful for the faith that all of you give me in mankind; faith that good and decent people truly yearn for peace and friendship, regardless of our birthplace, the language we speak, or the color of our skin.
I am thankful for the hope that this gives me that each of our children and grand-children may not have to face the same challenges that we do now.
So, I would like to raise my glass and say to each of you: Prost, Kum Pai, Slainte, and Cheers.
Sunday, November 21, 2004
I guess the only thing we can count on to reamin the same is that everything will keep changing. Looks like the dates are changing for pushing out of here, later rather than sooner, which I guess is better, but it throws a kink in things here. Not sure whether Pam will come back here with me after Christmas, or if she will just stay with Mollie and Max.
On one hand, we don't won't to make a 12 month separation any longer than it has to be, but we also don't want to be spending a lot of money on tickets for a short period of time during which I will probably be working a great deal. So...more to follow.
Got tagged as an Article 32 investigating officer for a an incident that happened in one of our unit's barracks a week ago. Interesting assignment, but it's taking me away from a lot of other things that need to be getting done.
Friday, November 12, 2004
Well, not that the election is over, I guess we can get back to discussing reality as it exists for us at the lower level of the food chain.
I spent the last week in training exercises at Grafenwoeher, a lovely Bavarian resort area about 50k from the Czech Republic border. Of course that's only if your idea of a resort is an open bay barracks with 30 or 40 snoring soldiers and a common bathroom 150 yards from the front door, heat and eat meals made for a thousand with the consistency of rubber and Elmer's glue. Other than that, very much like any other resort.
I remember growing up in the army and listening to the stories of all the guys that had come from our heavy units in Germany and their training exercises in Graf. I always had this mental image of some cold, desolate, God-forsaken place where it always rained and snowed. Turns out I had that one spot-on.
We did get to spend 12 hours a day in secured buildings working through a command post exercise which gave us a pretty good look at hour our staff works and interacts with the staffs of our sister and higher units.
On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to go through a live fire convoy exercise. This is something that has been mandated recently for all of our troops going downrange. It riding in a convoy down a designated course and firing all of the unit's weapons systems, 50 cal, M249s, M16s, and M9s, at pop upu targets from both the halt and while moving. 16 years in the Army, I've never done something like this, so I know none of the other troops in the unit had either. Aside from the 20 degree weather and constant snow throughout the day, I guess it's as close as we're going to get to the downrange experience without acatually being there.
In any case, i was supposed to be going to Afghanistan today for about a week for an assesment, but that trip was cancelled, so we may go later, or we may just end up going in blind when we deploy.
Saturday, October 09, 2004
I haven't written anything about the presidential debates. I don't believe that there is going to be any true meaasure of who one or lost the debates other than at the polls on November 2nd so trying to analyze performance in a 90 minute question and answer period is academic at best. I honestly don't believe that there are enough "undecided" people in the voting population, to make a difference on that day.
That said, I was sadly disappointed in the President's performance during the first debate. The substance of the material being debated clearly favored the President, but the style and presentation weighed heavily in favor of Senator Kerry. I see this as a microcosm of the entire campaign. Senator Kerry is certainly the more polished politician. He presents what he thinks the audience of the moment wants to hear in the most pleasing manner in which he can present it. Conversely, the president, presents his position, reinforces it, makes no apologies for it, and does not try to pander to the audience by trying to spin it.
After being immersed in Kerry style politics for as many years as we can remember, we are unprepared for and consequently blindsided by the honesty of the President. Are we so innundated by politicians patronizing us that that we are unprepared for a leader who unhesitatingly makes clear, moral decisions and stands by them? I suppose those who are unprepared for this will interpret this as disegenuous, I take this as exactly the opposite. Honesty is not always good news, but it's what we need to hear and what a leader has the responsibility to tell us.
The second debate is starting now, I'm sure there will be more to follow.
Friday, October 08, 2004
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
I have been attending the Army's Command and General Staff College for the past several weeks and my spare time has been extremly limited at best. I will be reporting to my new unit tomorrow and assuming the Battalion XO duties as we prepare for the 6th rotation of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
After having my nose buried in Field Manuals and Student Texts for the past 2 weeks, I finally got the chance to go back and catch up on the news only to find that I hadn't missed anything. The president is still solidly ahead in the polls, Kerry still hasn't found a message and Florida is still getting pounded by a hurricane.
One thing I did notice though is how stonily silent the Democratic party has remained after the arrest of the Iraqi National Guard General suspected of collaborating with the insurgents. After the President and Secretary Rumsfield were soundly criticized for not using former Iraqi Army and Baath party officials in the Iraqi National Guard, it turns out there is a reason all these guys can't be trusted....Hmmm, turns out that oxygen makes it easier to breathe too.
Thursday, September 09, 2004
When I tell people that I support President Bush for re-election I receive a wide range of reactions but invariably I am always asked why. How do you answer this in only a few sentences? Here is how I get a handle on that question. I imagaine that this election has come to a situation where mine is the deciding vote, and the world knows it. After all the milions, after all the attacks ads and accusations, after all the 527s and surrogate media, it comes to me sitting in front of an interviewer explaining why George W. Bush will continue to lead this nation for the next 4 years.
1. Leadership Vs. Followership - There is a scene in the movie Braveheart in which William Wallace tells Robert the Bruce "There is courage in you , I can see it and others see it and they would follow you if you would only lead them." It is true that the basis of a representative form of government is to elect people who's ideals and opinions most closely resemble yours and therefore represent you, but in the end we are casting our ballots for leaders. We desire a person who will take bold and decisive action when required, who sets moral and noble objectives and relentlessly pursues them, a person who may be fallible but never for a lack of effort or desire. This is leadership and this is what is embodied by President Bush. The person who always concerns himself with the political connotations of his actions, who always worries about how he is perceived, the person who tailors not just the style, but the content of his message to the audience he is addressing, waiting to see which way the people will go so he can lead them, this is a follwer and this is what is embodied by Senator Kerry. I choose leadership.
2. We are known by the company we keep - If I had the time right now, I would go back and re-read the Ayn Rand novel Atlas Shrugged. The protaganist of this novel seeks to surround herself with those who achieve greatness through their own actions but finds that those who truly exceled have either gone into hiding or have been destroyed by a society led by those who don't reward achivement but rather live as parasites off the achievement getting wealthy destroying it in the process. Michael Moore epitomizes this parasitic nature by taking divisive and controversial issues and wraps them slantedly, biased, out of context, or simply fabricated in the shell of a documentary then reaps millions through the spread of this disinformation with reckless disregard for any journalistic integrity whatsoever. There are those who achieve greatness and there are those like Moore who siphon greatness while trying to destroy it for a personal agenda. He is given a seat of honor at the Democratic National Convention. Bill Mahre incites violence and rioting at the Republican National Convention and wraps it in the guise of comedy. If the only thing I had seen through the entire campaign had been the demonstrations in Manhattan, my feet would have ben firmly planted with the Republican agenda if only to distance myself from the borderline psychotic behavior witnessed in the streets that week.
At the end of the day, it's a simple choice. We have a leader in the Whitehouse who surrounds himself with those who are intent on great achievements for this nation and an opposition who offers nothing but a change to the revisionist history he has written and personal gain for himself and band of parasites.
Sunday, September 05, 2004
Sen. Kerry unleashed a vicous counter attack on the Vice-President saying:
"The Vice-President called me unfit for office last night," Mr Kerry told the rally in Springfield, Ohio, with his running mate, John Edwards, beside him. "I'm going to leave it up to the voters to decide whether five deferments [obtained by Mr Cheney over Vietnam] make someone more qualified than two tours of duty."
There are a couple of problems however:
1. Kerry tried to get a deferment himself so he could study in Paris after graduating from Yale and was turned down by the draft board. It begs the question of how many deferments he would have taken if he could have gotten them.
2. Kerry's DD214 (discharge certificate) posted on his own website shows total military service of 3 years, 18 days. 1 tour, not 2.
Saturday, September 04, 2004
Friday, September 03, 2004
Thursday, September 02, 2004
Although Newsweek has apparently given up any pretex of unbiased jouranlism (even USA Today has the common sense to put a disclaimer at the bottom of Moore's column), this is actually a pretty good article regarding the employment issue though it probably wasn't intended that way. While it is inclusive of a quote from the Brookings Institute that the outsourcing of jobs overseas issue is greatly exaggerated , it claims ignorance to the faster than expected increase in productivity productivity rates which explain a slowdown in job creation.
An increase in productivity rate is a normal part of the business cycle.
X number of employees are producing Y number of goods (Z number of goods per employee)
Market declines, layoffs occur, company not willing to reduce output
X-1 employees produce Y number of goods at rate of Z+1 per employee
The productivity increase is actually a function of the declining market. As alluded in the article, companies are unwilling to hire new employees until they know that the market will support the increased production. Due to the increased productivity, the market for the products will have to be better than it was before the decline in order to justify the hiring of additional employees which also helps to explain why employment figures are lagging indicators of the economy.
All this makes me wonder why all the democratic furor over tax breaks for corporations. It is mainly when a company is profitable that they will hire employees which is why coporate profitability is also included as an economic indicator.
This is certainly a rather simplistic model and not all inclusive by any means. There are obviously other forces such as technological advances at work here too, but the big question is how much effect does the president really have on this cycle? Disregarding the fact that it is congress that actually sets fiscal policy in this country, not the president, and that good corporations will always find ways to be profitable, one might argue that Kerry and the President arguing over the economy is like two fleas arguing over which direction the dog is walking. They might be able to bite him on the ass every now and then to get him to jump, but at the end of the day, they're just along for the ride.
It appears that in the Democratic mind, Economy = Employment. For the record, economy is defined as “The system or range of economic activity in a country, region, or community.” Employment is but one indicator of the overall economy, and it is a lagging indicator at that. This means that the employment rate is one of the things that will lend insight to where the economy was 3 – 12 months in the past.
When this is applied to the unemployment figures provided by the Bureau of Labor statistics it means that the start point of the current administration is not the 3.9% unemployment rate reported in Dec. 2000, but rather somewhere between the 4.3% rate in Mar 01 and the 5.7% rate in Dec 01. (This is also a pretty clear indicator of which direction the economy was headed before president Bush took office.) Given that the current unemployment rate is 5.5% and has been declining for the past 15 reported months, it is indicative that the economy has been improving for the past 18 months. Coincidentally, the 5.5% rate is the same average unemployment rate from 1995-96 under the Clinton administration which has been universally touted by the Democratic party, as the best in American history.
Someone will have to explain to me where Sen. Kerry is getting 3 million…I mean 2.5 million…I mean 2 million…I mean 1.8 million lost jobs figure that is recited every time he attempts to describe the economy over the past 4 years. I don’t mean this facetiously. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the employment level in Jan 2001 at 137.8 million and 139.6 million in July 2004. This is a 1.8 million increase in jobs but it is footnoted that “Data affected by changes in population controls in January 2000, January 2003 and January 2004.” Without knowing what those changes are, it’s impossible to use this data with any accuracy. What is the source of the lost jobs count?
So much for the Unemployment debate.
As for the other 37 indicators, leading, lagging, and coincidental that are used to describe the entire economy, the Conference Board interprets them as:
The leading index fell in July, the second consecutive decline, and the weakness in the last two months was widespread. Although it is too soon to conclude that these declines end the upward trend in the leading index underway since March 2003, this weakness has slowed the growth rate of the leading index into the range of 1.0 to 2.0 percent (annual rate).
The coincident index increased in July following no change in June, and growth continues to be widespread. At the same time, real GDP growth slowed to a 3.0 percent annual rate in the second quarter of 2004, down from a 5.0 percent average rate over the preceding four quarters.
The average growth rate of the leading index since 1959 has been about 1.5 percent (annual rate) versus a 3.5 percent average growth rate of real GDP. The slower growth of the leading index so far this year is consistent with a moderate rate of real GDP growth in the near term.
If a growing economy over the past 18 months of this administration following a tech bubble burst and terrorist induced / assisted recession can somehow be construed as a bad thing, someone will have to explain it to me, neither my economics degree or MBA program covered that.
Since the facts don’t bear out the doom and gloom of the economy that the Kerry campaign spews forth at every opportunity, is this not a blatant attempt to create unfounded fear and translate that fear into votes? Is this not the same thing that the Kerry campaign accuses the Bush administration of doing with terrorism?
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
Al Franken, (comedian turned "serious" reporter) covering the RNC for the liberal talk radio "Air America", was asked what he thought of Governor Shwarzenegger's speech.
"Oh, I thought it was disgusting."
When asked why he felt that way, he said Arnold "missed the point about the "two Americas theme" and questioned why Arnold said we have to believe in the economy.
"I don't know what that means." Franken said, "do you have to believe that there is an economy, but that does that mean you think it's good?"
Yes..it's called consumer confidence, one of the basic tenements of economic theory. Recessions don't end as a function of time passing, they end through spending. When people spend money, they buy products, when produccts are purchased, companies make money, when companies make money, the hire more people and pay them money. When people are paid they spend money. Return to beginning of paragraph.
Oh, by the way, tax cuts that put money into the pocket of the consumer give the impetus for this process to begin. Case in point. When Sen. Kerry seeks to de-bunk the Swift Boat ads, he claims that they are backed by the President's campaign and says that the President has to resort to these tactics because he can't talk about his record including 1.8 million jobs lost. Problem is that when this diatribe was started in March, the party line was "3 million jobs lost". Now I'm not a math genius, but I see that as a 1.2 million increase in jobs over the past 6 months and considering that employment is a lagging indicator of the economy, it is indicative of the economic policies put into place over the past several years and I'm even disregarding the fact that over 1 million of these jobs were lost as a direct result of 9/11 not presidential economic policy.
There's a lot of furor over Republican delegates wearing bandaids with small purple hearts on them at the RNC. I've heard the critics vehemently decry this as a slap in the face and disrespectful to the millions of veterans who have received this award by virtue of injuries sustained in combat.
A person who would wear these medals without earning them does far more direspect to these people than a little bandaid stunt ever could. If the medal wasn't earned and then held up as a sign of bravery and heroism, it cheapens the award and calls into question the actions of all who earned it justly. The actions of the delegates, while not proper, was merely indicative of the perception Senator Kerry has now brought upon these awards.
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
This is worth a look about the inner working of Michael Moore's twisted mind
The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not “insurgents” or “terrorists” or “The Enemy.” They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow -- and they will win -Michael Moore
There are now links on the internet (which I won't point to due to their graphic nature) showing the execution of 12 Nepalese hostages by Moore's "Minutemen". For the record, Nepal is not a member of the coalition, they were just people trying to work and make Iraq a little better in the process.
As a National Guardsman, I was represented by the Minuteman insignia. I see any correlation between Minutemen and these terrorists, as a direct affront to not only my honor, but all who have worn the uniform.
This is in response to my good friend Jim's contention that Dick Cheney oversaw the largest cut in military manpower in US history for personal gain through outsourcing to Halliburton. I'm am not a fan of contractors on the battlefield, but I see this as fiscal responsibility and allowing private industry to fill the gaps left by very difficult choices mandated by a pork barrel congress.
The DoD budget faced Cheney with his most immediate and pressing problem when he came to the Pentagon. President Bush had already said publicly that the proposed FY 1990 Defense budget of more than $300 billion had to be cut immediately by $6.3 billion, and soon after Cheney began work the president increased the amount to $10 billion. Cheney recognized the necessity of cutting the budget and downsizing the military establishment, but he favored a cautious approach. In making decisions on the FY 1990 budget, the secretary had to confront the wish list of each of the services. The Air Force wanted to buy 312 B-2 stealth bombers at over $500 million each; the Marine Corps wanted 12 V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor helicopters, $136 million each; the Army wanted some $240 million in FY 1990 to move toward production of the LHX, a new reconnaissance and attack helicopter, to cost $33 billion eventually; and the Navy wanted 5 Aegis guided-missile destroyers, at a cost of $3.6 billion. What direction to go with ballistic missiles also posed difficult choices. One option was to build 50 more MX missiles to join the 50 already on hand, at a cost of about $10 billion. A decision had to be made on how to base the MX-whether on railroad cars or in some other mode. Another option was to build 500 single-warhead Midgetman missiles, still in the development stage, at an estimated cost of $24 billion...
In subsequent years under Cheney the budgets proposed and the final outcomes followed patterns similar to the FY 1990 budget experience. Early in 1991 the secretary unveiled a plan to reduce military strength by the mid-1990s to 1.6 million, compared to 2.2 million when he entered office. In his budget proposal for FY 1993, his last one, Cheney asked for termination of the B-2 program at 20 aircraft, cancellation of the Midgetman, and limitations on advanced cruise missile purchases to those already authorized. When introducing this budget, Cheney complained that Congress had directed Defense to buy weapons it did not want, including the V-22, M-1 tanks, and F-14 and F-16 aircraft, and required it to maintain some unneeded reserve forces. His plan outlined about $50 billion less in budget authority over the next 5 years than the Bush administration had proposed in 1991. Sen. Sam Nunn of the Senate Armed Services Committee said that the 5-year cuts ought to be $85 billion, and Rep. Les Aspin of the House Armed Services Committee put the figure at $91 billion.
The prevailing message from the Democrats is now that the world is a more dangerous due to the war in Iraq, that the war has generated more hatred towards the US rather than less. Does anyone East of Hollywood with an IQ greater than 42 actually believe that the hatred we see exhibited in the streets of Baghdad today did not exist to an even greater extent 5 years ago?, Ten years ago.
Hatred and intolerance by Muslim extremists (and I emphasize extremists) is not a product of the US it has been there for thousands of years veiled by totalitarian governments. Maybe the Democrats are right. Maybe we should go back to the status quo, aid in the installation of ruthless dictators who would simply obliterate anyone they thought posed a threat to their hold on power and turn a blind eye to it.
When these states begin to harbor and support terrorists, we can ignore them until we are actually attacked in our streets, lob a few cruise missles in their direction, pat ourselves on the back for our decisive action then blame the incumbant party for allowing us to be attacked and demand compensation for everything that has ever gone bad in our lives, while we stick our head as far back into the sand as we can get it.
This story probably wouldn't matter that much if the Senator from Mass. hadn't made his war record one of the central points of his qualifications to be president. Well, he succeeded. Unfortunately for him, his war record points more to his character than his accomplishments.
For all the talk of President Bush's unilateral policy regarding the war in Iraq, I find it most revealing that we in uniform are far better received in Germany than Republicans are in NYC. Democrats can hold fast to the faulty notion the the US is not supported by Europeans in the war effort if they like, but the truth of the matter is even though the German government has distanced themselves from the war (they have dealt with terrorism much longer than we have), the German people work very hard day in and day out to support our efforts.
Yesterday I wanted to distance myself from the presidential campaign. I wanted to take a couple of days and not even think about it regardless of the convention. I wanted to do this because I didn't want to develop a hatred towards Democrats and Liberals. I can't help but think that the overall idiocy of the demonstrations in NYC will ultimately drive more undecideds towards the Republican agenda. The hatred these people are displaying towards Republican delegates and Republicans in general is sickening. I can take all the taunting of delegates in Times Square, the harrassing of delegates until 5 A.M., and the picture taking of delegates in strip clubs, these are nothing more than a bunch of idiots giving the Democratic party and their agenda a horrible image.
What I can't take though is the thought process of the Democratic party leadership. Here the party pollsters admit a Bush gain in the polls and blame it on the "..Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads (attacking Kerry's Vietnam service) have had an impact on the race," according to the Democracy Corps memo.
Those attacks combined with the Summer Olympics have combined to "shift the focus away from Iraq..."
I take this to mean that the best thing that can happen in James Carville's twisted mind is for more soldiers and Marines to die in Iraq and Afghanistan so they can get the public focused less on Olympics, the NFL and NASCAR, and more on the death and destruction. "Sorry for those guys that got blownup by the IED, but they are a necessary casualty in the War of the polls. C'mon guys hurry up and get the casualty count to a thousand. If you could do it before the end of the RNC, that would be great."
These are my soldiers, my comrades, and my friends. Anyone who would use them as political fodder, deserves to be exposed for the unmitigated arrogance and detatched ignorance that they maintain.
Monday, August 30, 2004
Sunday, August 29, 2004
I guess you can tell from the past few posts that I am starting to take the elections a little personal. It should be personal, that is what representative government is all about. What I find most irritating though is that the majority of those who criticize the President don't seem to be as interested in their representation in Washington as they are with assigning blame for everything bad that has happened. Senator Kerry has capitalized on this by publicizing all the bad things that have happened since January 2001 and laying it at the feet of the current administration. What this results in though is more of an anti-Bush sentiment than a pro-Kerry one. The Senator hopes this will translate into votes. Whether they are "Yellow Dog" (where somone would vote for an old yellow dog before they voted for the incumbent) votes or people who actually believe that he can actually be a better president than Bush is irrelevant as long as he gets the vote.
Friday, August 20, 2004
It is time for the liberal left to acknowledge that the high moral ground they believe they occupy is nothing more than a soapbox from which to spout nonsensical anti-Bush rhetoric and one built on a very shaky foundation at that.This is the soapbox from which you hear that an unsubstantiated and non-specific statement that some Islamic radicals hated America was more than enough for the president to glean the unprecedented attacks of 9/11, but intelligence verified and supported by multiple agencies and countries was not enough to take action against Iraq. This is the same podium from which we hear of the president’s responsibility for the intelligence failure, but nothing of the Clinton administration’s systematic decimation of our human intelligence assets throughout the 1990s. This is where we hear of “obscene profits” by Halliburton, a company that reported a $820 million loss in 2003. It is from this soapbox that we have to endure a never-ending cavalcade of attacks on the president’s character but nothing about Kerry’s shameless use of the Navy’s “Thrice Wounded” policy to flee Vietnam after four months with wounds that required little treatment and no hospitalization.Spout what you will from this soapbox, but the leadership I desire for the military whose uniform I wear is not the one who says “I must find out where my people are going so I can lead them,” but the one who sets the clear, decisive, and moral course and says “Follow me.”
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
While there are certainly times for restraint, this is not one of them. If we are concerned with the preservation of American credibility, history would judge us far more harshly for holding Iraq at arms length for what some would term a lack of conclusive evidence (it is interesting how the meaning of conclusive evidence differs to the president’s detractors when discussing Iraq as opposed to September 11th). While it certainly would have been easier to lob a few cruise missiles into terrorist training camps and congratulate ourselves for our decisive response to terrorist attacks on our homeland, we would have been able to sit safe in our homes, at least for a while, not risk American soldiers overseas, and continue to enjoy the same warm hospitable relations we always did with France, Germany, the United Nations, and the Muslim world that we always did; for whatever that is worth. It is precisely that type of detached response coupled with our demonstrated tendency to cut and run when American blood is shed that crippled our credibility long before 9/11. We are reaping the fruits of what an isolationist mentality has sown and this is the beginning of a long, hard road back to credibility. We have seen chemical weapons in the streets of Iraq, there is irrefutable proof that Al Queda is operating there and even Mr. Sundin admits that it is terrorists who are arrayed against us. I can normally let Mr. Sundin’s bi-monthly ravings against the president go without comment, as they are normally unsubstantiated speculation, full of partisan criticism, absent any recommendation, and just a gleaning of history in an attempt to add credibility. His last column stumbled onto the truth though and it is worth the comment. It’s interesting that Mr. Sundin would draw a parallel between WWI and Iraq and then voice concern over our current actions causing the demise of US credibility. It was only after American intervention in WWI that the United States established as a world power and gained that credibility.
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
The Emergence of Global Revolutionary Warfare
The United States has effectively changed the methods of modern warfare by gaining an overwhelming technological advantage in conventional weapons. This advantage in conventional warfare has given rise or renewed emphasis to revolutionary warfare. For the purposes of this paper, revolutionary warfare is defined as the “application of irregular warfare methods to the propagation of an ideology or political system.” As elusive as the term is, revolutionary warfare maintains common characteristics which include the establishment of safe havens, dramatic engagements of the superior force, and protraction of the conflict.
Through the garnering of such great military power the United States has, for most intents and purposes, rendered conventional warfare obsolete. The destructive power of the United States military is so great that even a force of similar power would avoid engaging it due to the vastness of the mutual destruction. It would appear that we are approaching on conventional terms what was achieved only through nuclear weapons in the past. “One school of thought argues that revolutionary war has flourished in the nuclear age precisely because new weapons have made was between great military powers impossible or too dangerous. Corollary arguments are that the great powers, ponderously armed for a big war have left themselves vulnerable to the tactics of revolutionary war.”  Referring to the Viet-Minh in the French-Indochina war, French Air Force general said “One could ask the question whether – by depriving them of an air force and by allotting them miserly amounts of artillery, heavy weapons, and ammunition – the masters of the Communist world did not want to force the (Viet-Minh) to discover and practice warfare methods which are capable of stalemating the most modern Western armaments short of mass destruction weapons.” While the overwhelming display of firepower and technology of Desert Storm did much to enhance the bravado of the US military, it taught potential adversaries that in order to achieve any type of success against a major conventional force, as many of these advantages as possible must be denied. Subsequent military actions in Somalia, Bosnia, and Kosovo showed not only that modern technology can be marginalized in urban and austere environments, but more importantly US tolerance for casualties was remarkably small without overwhelming public support.
It has also been stated that “Revolution” in its simplest terms, is the “…seizure of political power by the use of armed force.”  While the United States did not hold specific political power in Afghanistan, Somalia, Bosnia, or Iraq, by virtue its status as the sole remaining superpower and the willingness and ability of the US to project it’s military power, it can be argued to be the de facto political power which must be defeated in order to seize or retain power in any of it’s areas of influence around the world. This being the case, the United States must be drawn into conflict so as to be firmly established as the political power in public opinion before engaging in revolutionary warfare. Contrary to the common view of revolutionary war, the desired end state is not the seizure of political power but rather the limiting of the United States ability to project power. Military force is only as powerful as the political power to project it.
These conflicts, as well as others around the world such as Chechnya, were the embryonic stage of the emerging/re-emerging the revolutionary warfare doctrine. It has been stated that “revolutionary war is also distinguished by what it is not. It is not “war” in the generally understood sense of the word, not international war or war between nations…”, but the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001 signaled its shift to a global scale.
Safe havens were identified as a geopolitical requisite for successful revolution by Bernard Fall in his 1961 work of the French-Indochina war of the 1950s, Street Without Joy stating “Probably the most important such condition (for revolutionary war) is the existence…an active sanctuary. An active sanctuary is a territory contiguous to a rebellious area which though not ostensibly involved in the conflict, provides the rebel side with shelter, training, facilities, equipment, and if it can get away with it – troops.”
Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Osama Bin Laden led Al Queda organization was quickly pointed to as being responsible. It was widely known by US intelligence sources that Al Queda operated out of Afghanistan where the ruling Taliban provided the “active sanctuary” described by Fall. Here, the emerging doctrine separates itself from previous conventional theories of revolutionary warfare. Fall goes on to state that the active sanctuary came into being as a result of the Cold War for the simple reason that the nations providing such services to a rebellion could always count upon one (or even both) of the two superpowers to protect them from the direct reprisals that would have been their fate at almost any other moment of history. There would be no protection for the Taliban, and the response of the United States was as brutal and swift as it was predictable. It is possible that both the Taliban and Al Queda considered a full scale attack and ensuing occupation and regime change in Afghanistan by the United States as unlikely due to the limited US intelligence and logistical assets in the area. It is also possible that Al Queda and the Taliban did not expect the level of success achieved in the September 11 attacks and incorrectly calculated that the US would retaliate with cruise missile and air strikes as had been the precedent through most of the 1990s. It is most probable though that Bin Laden’s Al Queda was planning on the level of success achieved or more, and with the Taliban unaware of the plans, Bin Laden was willing to sacrifice the safe haven of Afghanistan (possibly in favor of Pakistan) in order to achieve his end which included eliciting a full scale US invasion.
Once the United States had committed forces, protraction of the conflict became the lynchpin to success for the revolutionary forces. It has now become a war of attrition, and this is revolutionary warfare in the classic sense. Marshal Tran Hung Dao, leader of the Vietnamese army at the time, wrote in 1278 “The enemy must fight his battles far from his home base for a long time…We must further weaken him by drawing him into protracted campaigns. Once his initial dash is broken, it will be easier to destroy him.”  Tran’s strategies relied on depriving attacking Mongol armies of food stores and supplies while stretching its logistical trail; problems which modern US forces surmount with technology and equipment. The US forces are highly dependent on political and public support for continued military operations though, and it is this supply that the application of Tran’s strategy by Al Queda hopes to exhaust through a protracted campaign.
In order to combat this doctrine, historical lessons for achieving success in revolutionary warfare must be learned and applied. “… there is only one way to eliminate (war) and that is to oppose war with war, to oppose counter-revolutionary war with revolutionary war...”. Prior to the invasion of Afghanistan, “[US Secretary of State, Colin] Powell had already told [President] Bush that whatever action he took, [in Afghanistan] it could not be done without Pakistan’s support. So the Pakistanis had to be put on notice.” This was an overt action to eliminate Pakistan as a safe haven.
Most importantly, it must be exceptionally clear that success in the conflict can not be achieved without popular support. “All this differs radically from the American emphasis on guerilla techniques alone and the almost total discounting of the primacy of the political factor in revolutionary warfare operations.” in that “…the overthrowing of a government established in a given country and it’s replacement by another regime…(must be accomplished) thanks to the active participation of the population, conquered physically and morally by simultaneously destructive and constructive processes, according to precisely-developed techniques.” We currently see this being enacted in Operation Iraqi Freedom where military commanders in the theater are briefing kilowatts of power, potable water, medical resources, and schools available to the public as metrics for gauging success. Only by providing a higher and sustainable quality of life than previously enjoyed, can the occupying force hope to gain the public opinion and the subsequent cooperation of the local population. The public opinion of the local population is the fulcrum upon which the success or failure of the entire campaign balances.
There are very few instances in recent military history which were decided by a conventional and definitive end to hostilities. With the proliferation of nuclear weapons among more and more nations, the days of unconditional surrenders and victory parades are likely gone forever. The future battlefield is in the cultures and economies of the world. The ability to overwhelm hostile forces must be coupled with both the ability and desire to project a thriving economy upon the vanquished nation in an exceptionally short period of time. The difficulty of this task is overwhelming, it is incumbent upon the attacker to not only defeat the military power of the enemy, but do it in a gentle enough way so the hostile forces may truly believe that defeat is actually in their best interest.
Thursday, May 06, 2004
I take issue with a man who served in an unpopular war 30 years ago leveraging that experience to tell for political gain and nothing else. For a man who claims to be a victim of failed foreign policy and touting his experience as a serviceman, he shows little understanding for the soldier, sailor, airman, and marine.
For all of Kerry’s condemnation of the President for taking us to war, I have heard nothing of an exit strategy from him, while the Presidents strategy is clear and well defined. Regardless of why we are in Iraq, for good reason or not, we are there, and we will be there in November, and next January. The end result of Kerry’s condemnation of the war is resulting in nothing more than creating divisiveness in the nation. As a veteran who served in an unpopular war, particularly one who espouses that service as a credential for leadership, he should know that this does nothing more than drain the morale of the troops, and make the job of the commanders on the ground that much more difficult. A soldier on the ground in a hostile foreign nation brings few support systems with him. Aside from the occasional letter from home, he has only the comrades beside him and the notion of a nation behind him. Divide the nation and the support goes away, the morale of the comrade and the unit as a whole diminishes. The unit becomes far less effective as individualism takes over and it becomes more an exercise in endurance than the enforcement of a righteous and just cause.
Unknowingly undermining the support of the nation for its service members out of firm moral conviction, ala Jane Fonda, is one thing, intentionally doing it for personal political gain is unforgivable and speaks directly to the character of Senator Kerry.
For me, the issue is not why we are at war. We are there, and we would be there regardless of who was in the White House on September 11, 2001. The issue is not how do get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan, that question has been answered. The issue is how we finish the job we came to do. Do we do it under the leadership of a man who has laid down the plans and taken the actions seen necessary for a more secure nation and world, or do we do it in spite of a man who has divided a nation behind our cause?