Russia and The 1980’s

Things are going so badly for the Obama administration on foreign policy that it just might be time for another speech on Climate Change. This post has to be sarcastic in nature because of the fact that the reality is so devastating that it is hard to comprehend. Putin has shown the world how feckless Obama is on the world stage and has upstaged and outwitted Obama at every turn. The sight of John Francois Kerry standing next to his Russian counterpart yesterday speaking of “deconfliction” was an absolute embarrassment. In the foreign policy debate of the 2012 campaign, Mitt Romney correctly pointed out that Russia was our main geo political foe, a comment of which was met with ridicule from our Idiot in Chief, and the idiot is now confronted with that exact reality. Obama is no match for Putin, and Putin knows it. In fact the world knows it. The United States of America has been marginalized in the eyes of our allies, and mocked by our foes and that is hard to take for those of us who actually care about this country. The USA is presently in more danger than at any other time in it’s history and all you need to know about our political opponents is that they still consider Republicans to be more of a threat than any current external force. The Democrats and the Progressive media are more focused on the defunding of PP, the “right wing conspiracy” against Hillary, and immigration, than they are with the growing threat of ISIS, Russia, and Iran and that fact should alarm everyone. The deal that Obama just cut with Iran poses a monumental threat not just to the stability of the Middle East but to our national security. The single greatest national sponsor of terrorism is Iran, and thanks to Obama they now have the means and the confidence to expand their reach. Our political opponents are as dangerous to this country as any terrorist group could ever be, and we need to treat them as such. We should initiate impeachment proceedings immediately.

Turns Out We Can’t Beat the Russians

Anyone thinking that Obama might find his backbone and actually stand up to Putin’s imperialism better think again:

“Our question was: Would NATO be able to defend those countries {the Baltic states}?” Ochmanek recalls.

The results were dispiriting. Given the recent reductions in the defense budgets of NATO member countries and American pullback from the region, Ochmanek says the blue team was outnumbered 2-to-1 in terms of manpower, even if all the U.S. and NATO troops stationed in Europe were dispatched to the Baltics — including the 82nd Airborne, which is supposed to be ready to go on 24 hours’ notice and is based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

“We just don’t have those forces in Europe,” Ochmanek explains. Then there’s the fact that the Russians have the world’s best surface-to-air missiles and are not afraid to use heavy artillery.

After eight hours of gaming out various scenarios, the blue team went home depressed. “The conclusion,” Ochmanek says, “was that we are unable to defend the Baltics.”

The active Russian Army is stated at 395,000 – Poland, the closest nation with a large military force has 120,000 troops. Germany, next closest, has just under 61,000. The French army, a little further off, has 115,000. That works out to 99,000 less than the Russian army, when you combine them all together. Small wonder that even with the US Army in Europe augmented by the 82nd Airborne that we can’t get the job done – and this probably supposes that we could get the French and Germans to go along (getting the Poles to go along wouldn’t be difficult).

The thing about an army is that you just never know when you’re going to need one – which is why you’re supposed to keep a top-notch one in being at all times, even when it doesn’t seem particularly necessary. For decades now the Europeans have continually reduced the size of their military force – they got it into their heads that there would never be another major European war. Now we’ve got the Russian bear trying to rebuild the Russian Empire and no one has an army in being capable of stopping the Russians. The only way to actually stop Putin if, say, he decided to occupy Estonia is to declare war on Russia, build up a massive army, and then invade. This is not something which is going to recommend itself to European and American politicians.

Welcome back to the real world, folks. We’re in quite a pickle, right now. Not only does no one respect of fear us, but we simply do not have the military power to make anyone respect or fear us. On the other hand, our military is now almost perfectly politically correct – with only a few Marines still to be forced into line. Great, huh?

14 Years Post 9/11

This post is timed to appear on the blog at the same time the first plane struck the World Trade Center on that day.

It is hard to think of the day any longer – it is like it happened in a different nation. A different era.

But I still can recall my first knowledge of it – getting the phone call from the east coast, turning on the TV just in time to see the second plane hit. I can still see in my mind’s eye the buildings collapsing.

A lot of time has passed. The national unity we had is long gone. We’re not even really fighting the sort of people who commit acts like that – and who will commit them against us, again, just as soon as they are able.

I suggested back in the aftermath of 9/11 that the sort of war we got was a Thirty Years War…a multi-decade effort which would have all sorts of twists and turns. It certainly has had that. How it all ends remains to be seen – but I don’t suspect it’ll end within the next ten years.

Pray for the repose of the souls who have died – those who died on 9/11 and those who had died since. Pray for those who stand up to defend us under arms. Pray for the conversion of the terrorists, that they may discover that peace and mercy are best.

Ending World War Two

August 6th was the 70th anniversary of the atomic attack on Hiroshima and there was a lot of the usual hand-wringing about the deed from the usual suspects – Arthur K over at Ace has a good round up of counter-arguments to that sentiment. Most notably the fact that those who complain about the bombing aren’t those soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who would have had to invade Japan in November of 1945 if the Bomb hadn’t done the trick. I admit to a bias in this area as one of the Marines who would have had to hit the Japanese beaches was my father. There is a high probability that I wouldn’t exist if the Bomb hadn’t been dropped.

People also tend to just not know how savage the Pacific War was. I recently for the first time watched Flags of Our Fathers. It was a bit of a disjointed movie and I won’t put it down as one of Eastwood’s best efforts, but there is a scene in there which moved me nearly to tears. It is when the son of one of the Marines who raise the flag on Suribachi is talking to his aged, now-dying father in the hospital. It reminded me terribly of the last few days I had my father with me. As the story goes, that son never really knew what his father had done in World War Two – he only really found out by going through his father’s things after he died. I never even got that much.

My father never told me about the war. The only thing I ever got out of him was, “it smelled like blood and shit”. His battle was Saipan. Nearly 14,000 American casualties, including more than 3,400 dead – in less than a month of fighting. Japanese dead ran above 50,000, including around 20,000 civilian dead, many of whom committed suicide rather than fall into our hands, because the Japanese military told them we’d murder them all if captured. That is more than 53,000 dead in less than a month in an area less than 45 square miles. Just try, for a moment, to imagine what the place looked like on July 9th, 1944 when the island was declared secure. There must have been bodies just everywhere – and as it was war, the bodies would have been in quite a horrible state. Even if dad didn’t have to engage in hand-to-hand fighting, what his 17 year old eyes must have seen had to have been grim beyond description. Six months prior he was a high school boy living the sheltered life of the United States. And he carried that with him for 65 years. I wondered why he was so distant at times. But I think, now, I understand.

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D-Day, Bergdahl and the End of American Warfare

Seventy years ago, today, of course. Allied forces landed at Normandy and after a hard fight, secured a lodgement upon the continent of Europe which ensured that, come what may, Hitler’s regime was doomed.  It was a bloody business, allied forces losing more than 4,000 dead on the first day, with the worst of it being a Omaha beach, which was a bloody shambles, redeemed only by the sublime courage of soldiers who even after everything went wrong, made the decision to press ahead against odds until the Germans were driven off the beach.

Many have made the observation that there does not seem to be that spirit alive in America any longer.  Our modern youth simply could not take on the sort of men who manned Hitler’s Atlantic Wall with any hope of success. There is a bit of truth in that – in the sense that some of America’s youth are so demoralized that they not only couldn’t wade under fire towards an enemy-held beach, but probably wouldn’t even be in the military, no matter what the stakes of the war were.  But there is also in America a large number of youth who would do it.  They are the men and women who are currently in our military today; and the several million who have passed through recently. We mobilized a bit more than 12 million personnel in World War Two and today, I think, even if we made it entirely voluntary, we could raise that amount for a putative World War Three – and keeping in mind that only about 10-20% of the WWII mobilized actually saw combat, that would be sufficient for us to crush any combination of enemies out there.

The big question becomes: would we actually desire to crush them?  That is where the Bergdahl case comes in.  We don’t know precisely what happened to him at this point – leave aside stories you might have heard, the bare-bones are that he was a US soldier who left his post.  Whether he left is post in a fit of pique, an abundance of folly or with malevolent design is entirely unknown. In brief, he is a deserter, but we don’t know much else about it.  But let us consider the war we had Bergdahl fight.  There is no demand for victory; no desire for victory; not much attention to the effort paid by the Commander in Chief; our enemies are free to use whatever tactics they think best while our troops are hemmed in by rules of engagement; and our enemies, if captured, are held in Gitmo – while our liberal friends paint that place as a house of horrors, it is really not all that bad a prison and it is absolutely clear that nothing bad will ever happen to the prisoners. Meanwhile, soldiers like Bergdahl can easily access websites which tell him – from American sources! – that our effort in Afghanistan is criminal and that we are the bad guys.  Small wonder that a soldier or two might get disillusioned and walk off.  The problem with Bergdahl is not that he deserted and its not even so much that five Taliban were released to get him back – the problem is that we aren’t fighting for victory and that there were five Taliban to be released.  Things used to be done a bit differently.

D Day was  pretty much a straight-up fight between professional armies – but even so many thousands of French civilians were killed.  By aerial bombardment, artillery, cross-fire – and I’ll bet because of horrific mistakes.  A squad of US soldiers hears a sound coming from a basement and tosses in a grenade or lights up the place with a flame thrower…only afterwards discovering that it was mom, dad and three kids hiding in there.  It happens.  It is horrible.  But these days it would be classed as a crime by our liberal elites, the MSM would go nuts and the soldiers would be lucky to get off with dishonorable discharges.  War is a nasty business.  It is best not to fight them – but once  you’re in a war then you are, indeed, in a war.  People will be killed.

But even in World War Two, there were irregular combats, and combatants. Later, after D-Day, a German mission was to put their troops in US uniforms and send them behind our lines to sow confusion and panic.  Some of these German troops were captured, in US uniform. Three of the German troops were captured on December 17th, 1944. They were given a court martial on December 21st, 1944.  They were sentenced to death.  The death sentence was carried out by firing squad on December 23rd, 1944. Six days from capture to firing squad, boys and girls.  That is war.  That is what you do with irregular forces who are captured.  The five Taliban we gave up for Bergdahl should have been dead years ago – and dead per the Geneva Convention, as those captured Germans were dead per the Geneva Convention (liberals love to throw the Geneva Convention out there – but I wonder if any of them have actually looked at the Convention in relation to irregular forces? I doubt it very much).

I’m reminded of a scene in the movie Breaker Morant – about a trio of Australian soldiers being tried for murder during the Boer War.  One of the accused explains how things work in this short scene:

The movie is great and I highly recommend it, because it points out the absurdity of trying to apply civil court procedures and rules of evidence to a war.  A war is by its nature an extraordinary thing.  It is bound by rules and some of these rules are iron-hard – but the purpose of your military in a war is to destroy the enemy.  Have many thought about that of late?  Destroy.  Wipe out.  Render incapable of any further resistance.  That is what is being sought – and you can’t do that by being gentle with terrorists, nor bringing your own soldiers up on charges because they did something in the heat of battle which you, safe and dry at home, feel was distasteful.

Soldiers are to be brave.  They are to defend the weak and oppose the strong. A good soldier will lay down his life for his comrades – and for women and children…but a good soldier might also shoot an enemy out of hand, or toss that grenade into the cellar, thinking it’s the enemy down there, when it later turns out it wasn’t.  Commanders in war are to seek victory – victory at all costs.  Since the end of World War Two, we haven’t sought victory at all costs…and over time we have told soldiers to be less and less like soldiers and act more and more like social workers with guns. But our enemies haven’t changed.  They want victory – and they are willing to give all they have to get it.  It is small wonder that we lost in Korea, lost in Vietnam…and will now lose in Afghanistan.  Small wonder, also, that some US soldiers get confused and walk off their posts.

We need a national debate about this – 2016 would be a good time for it.  The Presidential candidates should be asked just what does it mean to be at war.  They are seeking to be Commander in Chief, after all, so let us get some idea of what they think of the job.  Will they put on trial a soldier who urinates on a dead enemy?  Who kills civilians in a cross-fire?  Will they keep terrorists alive and well fed for years, or shoot them within 6 days of capture?  If we go to war, will it be for absolute victory, or just something to do to keep the poll numbers up until after the next election, and then flush the whole business down the toilet?  It is important to have this because it is important, also, that we, the people, consider what we want.  Do we even want to have an armed forces?  Do we understand what armed forces do?  Are we willing to send men and women into unimaginable horror with unclear orders and civilians second-guessing every move?  Or will we send them into that horror with orders to kill and to win?  The answers will go far to determine if, indeed, we could stomach another D-Day – whether we can ever win another war.

A Retired Admiral’s Take on Benghazi

The following is a letter that was re-printed in a military newsletter I get from a retired navy admiral to Bill O’Reilly regarding the entire Benghazi affair.  I originally posted this at the end of the recent Benghazi thread.

Mr. O’Reilly,

I am mad as hell because the truth about how combatant commanders and the department of state can and should protect embassies is not being clearly explained. The fact is that there are policies, precedent, resources and procedures that could and should have prevented the embassy in Benghazi from coming under attack, or defended it if it did come under attack, or vacated it if the threat was too high. The ongoing discussion on your show and elsewhere that centers on the video and subsequent cover up is necessary as is the discussion about whether or not we should have responded during the attack. But those discussions have not brought to light the fact that none of this should have happened in the first place.

Fact: The combatant commanders, in this case AFRICOM, have access to our national inventory of intelligence community resources as well as international resources in order to thoroughly understand the risks and threats in any part of their Area of Responsibility (AOR). The complete picture of what was happening in Libya should have been known by AFRICOM leaders and this should have been briefed up the chain daily.

Fact: The first two cornerstones of AFRICOM’s mission are (1) Deter and defeat transnational threats posed by al-Qa’ida and other extremist organizations and (2) Protect U.S. security interests by ensuring the safety of Americans and American interests from transnational threats… In other words it is the mission of AFRICOM to prevent exactly what happened at the embassy in Benghazi.

Fact: The policy is for AFRICOM leaders to work in-conjunction with the state department’s Regional Security Officer (RSO) to establish the threat and then work with the Joint Staff and inter-agency to quickly provide plans and resources to deny that threat.

Fact: There are units specifically designed to bolster security in embassies. The USMC has three companies of Fleet Antiterrorism Security Teams (FAST) and one of these companies (or units from it) could have been deployed to FASTEUR in Rota, Spain, as the risk materialized. Each company has six platoons of 50 men each.

Fact: In July 2003 when I was the J3 at European command (AFRICOM had not been created yet) we had a similar situation develop in Liberia whereby two warring factions were threatening the embassy in Monrovia. The EUCOM team began planning for embassy support PRIOR to Ambassador Blaney’s request. When he did ask for help, we responded immediately, worked with his staff and received SECDEF approval to deploy a single FAST team platoon from Rota to the embassy to provide security. We worked with the Joint Staff and created the mission and structure for Joint Task Force Liberia, an anti-terrorism force based upon USS Iwo Jima and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).

Fact: Elements from the MEU arrived and relieved the FAST platoon. The warring parties signed a cease fire, the embassy in Monrovia was secured, no Americans were hurt.

So, the questions are:

1. What was the assessed level of threat in Libya prior to the September attack?

2. If it was not considered high then what were the intelligence failures that lead to that wrong conclusion?

3. If the threat was considered high then why wasn’t a FAST team or other resource deployed?

4. What did Ambassador Stephen’s see as his threat and what did he ask for? If he asked for help and was not provided it, that is inconceivable to me. My two bosses at EUCOM, General Chuck Wald (USAF) and General James L. Jones (USMC) would have bent over backwards to provide anything the ambassador asked for and more. They would have leaned on the Joint Staff to provide the authority to deploy and, in fact, during the Liberian situation described above, they were pushing me every day to provide solutions for the Joint Staff to approve. And should anyone forget, this was July of 2003. We were already in Afghanistan and had invaded Iraq just four months before. We were busy but not preoccupied.

Very Respectfully,
Hamlin Tallent
RADM, USN, retired

The admiral raises a lot of good points.  I guess we’ll see where this goes.  At least the right guy is chairing the select committee.  If Congressman Goudy doesn’t have the cajones to get to the whole truth in this matter, then I doubt that anyone can.




Leading From Behind – The “What Difference Does It Make” Version

Leave it to the foreign press to actually do the heavy lifting of investigative journalism in regards to this current Administration. A Citizens Commission on Benghazi comprised of top military officers and CIA insiders has recently released a report on their findings that are strangely absent from our MSM, and their findings are interesting to say the least:

‘The United States switched sides in the war on terror with what we did in Libya, knowingly facilitating the provision of weapons to known al-Qaeda militias and figures,’ Clare Lopez, a member of the commission and a former CIA officer, told MailOnline.

So our government knowingly allowed arm shipments to come in to the country and instead going to the Gaddafi government as intended, they were allowed to fall into the hands of the Islamist opposition. And now these weapons have found their way to Syria. Has anyone ever read this account before? In addition, Gaddafi was reportedly willing to broker a peace deal and abdicate power, but evidently our “Nobel Peace Prize” winning President chose not to pursue any deal. Again, has that ever been reported by our press?

The report goes on to state that military help for our Ambassador was just an hour away in Italy  – another account that I don’t remember reading in our press. The failure at Benghazi is epic, it needs to be more responsibly investigated, and it should preclude Hillary from ever being POTUS. When that 3 am call came in, she was AWOL.