Category Archives: National Security

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.

 

Quick, While the LIVs Are Distracted…..

While the LIV’s focus is on obamacare, Putin, Gwenyth Paltro’s split, the missing flight and other nonsense, CIA’s Libyan station chief put’s to rest that the Obama administration’s talking point that the whole thing started as a protest.

The chief stated at hearings there was no protest and a result of terrorist attacks on the embassy.

What difference does it make at this point in time? -thanks Hillary.

http://p.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/mar/31/cia-ignored-station-chief-in-libya-when-creating-t/

UPDATE:

While the LIVs are distracted Democrats scramble for damage control. Pro Gun Control Democrat State Senator Leland Yee Arrested for GUN TRAFFICKING among other corrupt acts, for campaign contributions.

Charges include:

  • Clandestine meetings with an undercover agent to secure as much as $2 million in high-power weaponry in exchange for payments to Yee and his political campaign. In one of those meetings, Yee assures the agent, who holds himself out to be East Coast Mafia, “Do I think we can make some money? I think we can make some money.”
  • Deals with an agent posing as an Atlanta businessman backing a fictitious software company called Well-Tech, seeking Yee’s help, including an attempt to secure a contract with the state Department of Public Health in exchange for a $10,000 check for the secretary of state campaign,
  • Offering to help an agent posing as an Arizona medical marijuana industry insider looking to expand into California. Yee, again in exchange for campaign contributions, introduced the undercover agent to unidentified legislators and promised political support, particularly if elected to statewide office.
  • An agreement, at the urging of the undercover agent through Jackson, for Yee to honor the Ghee Kung Tong, the organization of suspected Chinese crime kingpin Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, with a proclamation, despite the senator’s worries about Chow being a “gangster.” Yee signed the proclamation in exchange for a campaign check from the agent.

http://www.mercurynews.com/crime-courts/ci_25453464/leland-yee-corruption-case-state-senator-faces-uphill

Little mention in the media.  Meanwhile, HE STILL GETS PAID WHILE SUSPENDED.  It is interesting to note that his bail was HALF that of the so-called creator of the video that “caused the protests in Benghazi”…. only in California.

Putin Lives in the Real World

By the time Japan ran up the white flag in August of 1945, the United States had produced nearly 61,000 tanks, 285,000 air craft, 147 capital ships, 41,000 cannon and more than 12 million rifles.  Using this material, we had killed or captured more than a million enemy soldiers and dropped well more than two million tons of explosives on Germany and Japan (not counting the atomic bombs) and killed somewhere in the range of two million German and Japanese civilians.  Our enemies were cratered wastelands entirely at our mercy.  Peering up from the rubble, the world drew a very vital lesson:  you don’t want to fight the United States of America.

This lesson was tested, of course.  First in Korea – where potential enemies learned that you could draw the United States into a war and not suffer complete destruction – but you had to be willing to absorb immense casualties at the hands of American forces disposing of more firepower than anyone could possibly imagine (in return for the privilege of killing at bit more than 33,000 Americans, the North Koreans and Chinese exchanged at least 400,000 military deaths and 1.5 million civilian deaths).  It was re-tested in Vietnam and finally confirmed – as long as you were willing to lose your people at a fantastic rate, eventually the Americans will get tired and leave, as long as the United States, itself, wasn’t at risk.  But, still,  those piles of smoking rubble in Germany and Japan kept the world entirely unwilling to tangle with the United States in a fight to the death.  And, so, no general wars since 1945.

But such a state of affairs only lasts as long as the world is convinced that fighting the United States is something to take into consideration.  Small scale = can be done, at enormous cost.  Large scale = national suicide.  But what if it comes to pass that you don’t have to worry either about large scale or small scale war with the United States?  Then you get the invasion of Crimea.

The problem Obama has – and its common throughout the leadership elite  of the Western World – is that they have convinced themselves that it wasn’t American power which kept the peace.  Indeed, they have convinced themselves that more than anything else, American power has been the threat to peace (and they use things like Korea, Vietnam and Iraq as proof – never mind that in none of these cases did the United States just blindly go in for aggressive action…right or wrong, in all of these cases a threat was perceived prior to American action). To an Obama, the world is kept at peace by international law; by the United Nations; by NGO’s; by conferences at swank, European resorts.  Everyone agrees to be nice – and see how well it works!  But, here’s the thing, it only worked because at the back of it all were the smoking piles of rubble in Germany and Japan circa 1945 and a worry that really challenging the post-war settlement would mean a new World War with the United States.  But Obama and his like don’t see it like that.  Putin, however, does.

With the decline of American power and the global perception that the United States simply lacks the grit to carry out a long, grinding fight to a victorious finish we have returned to the world of 1938 – precisely when the world held American power at a discount figuring that we probably wouldn’t fight, to begin with, and that if we did, we wouldn’t stick it out (it really cannot be stressed enough that the leaders of both Germany and Japan figured the American people simply lacked guts…that we were too soft to fight it out like men in desperate battle).  Putin isn’t doing anything but living in the real world – and the real world of 2014 is the international anarchy of 1914, prior to the application of overwhelming American power to the globe 1941-45.  In this real world, you grab what you think you can get away with – you know you won’t have to fight even a small, expensive (but ultimately victorious) war against an America which just gets tired and neither will you risk a World War which would bring all of America’s might to bear until your country is reduced to a pile of smoking rubble.

It is an open question as to whether this will work out badly for the world – we simply don’t know.  Perhaps if we hadn’t intervened in World War One things would have been better in the long run?  Maybe if we had dodged the World War Two bullet then having the Japanese Empire run Asia would not be as bad as China attempting to run Asia?  A revived Russian Empire might put a definite check on Turkish and Iranian ambitions, after all.  But while we don’t know how this will come out, there’s no sense getting mad a Putin or acting like he’s not behaving rationally.  He’s doing what he thinks is best – that we think it wrong is immaterial.  Unless we want to declare war on Russia, there’s not much we can do, after all.

But here is the risk – without fear of America’s overwhelming power (and it still is overwhelming – it still could take on, for instance, Russia and China at the same time and beat them into the ground), things could get a bit dangerous out in the world.  It could be that as nations take the lid off and start competing for territory, resources and prestige that one or more of them decides to challenge us directly, thinking that we can be cowed – or, if not cowed, then easily beaten.  It would be much better, I think, that once having won overwhelming global dominance that we had maintained it – we have let the scepter slip from our hands, however, and there’s no getting it back without war.  The world is now at genuine risk of World War Three.

This is not just Obama’s fault – though he has put the final touches on it.  This stretches back to the immediate post-WWII era, when we didn’t firmly put Russia in her place…and when we failed to pick up the real challenge in Korea and take out China and Russia.  It is the result of thinking that the world is governed by something other than force; that sweet reasonableness and treaties make the world safe.  They don’t.  Power and the willingness to apply it is what makes the world safe – or, as safe as it can be.  Putin is living in the real world.  So is China.  So is Iran.  The sooner we join them there the sooner we can start to rationally think about what we want – and where we’ll draw a line and tell them, “thus far and no further”.

Spying, What is it Good For?

Mostly absolutely nothing.  In light of recent revelations that we have spied on the leaders of friendly foreign States, I’d like to put my two cents in:

We should never spy on anyone except when vital, national security interests of the United States or our allies are at stake.  Given this, we should never spy on any friendly nation as they never threaten our vital interests.  And we should be wary of spying on any nation unless we really have to.  We have, right now, a vital interest in spying in Syria, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, China and a few other nations – either the nations, themselves, threaten us or what is going on in them threatens to become a serious problem for the United States.  We need to know what is going on behind the scenes.  But, Germany?  What could Germany possibly be hiding from us that is a threat to our existence?   Germany is a United States ally.  If they wish to keep something secret from us, then simple decency should compel us to respect that.  Do you pry in to your friend’s affairs uninvited?  No, you don’t – because that is indecent.  Well, morality applies to States as well as individuals.

Aside from the morality of it all, spying doesn’t really work very often.  To be sure, there have been a few intelligence coups which have been put to good use – the British breaking of the German naval codes in WWII is the prime example of this.  On the other hand, there wasn’t too much use in our breaking the Japanese codes pre-WWII as we still got caught with our pants down at Pearl Harbor (to be sure, that capability was put to good use at Midway in 1942 – but, think about it, the boneheads in charge only started properly using it after we had been wiped out in the most well-advertised “surprise” attack in human history).  Knowing the enemy’s plan ahead of time can be useful – but far more useful is for you to just be prepared for all contingencies.  If you’ve reviewed the possible threats and deployed your forces properly, then it doesn’t fundamentally matter what the enemy is going to do.  One need but consider McClellan and Grant in the Civil War.  McClellan at one point pretty much had Lee’s battle plan and still couldn’t beat him…because Lee was deployed for all contingencies.  Grant didn’t have Lee’s plan and, indeed, was put in a bad position by one of Lee’s adroit battlefield gambits…but he still beat Lee because Grant was ready for all contingencies.

To me, there is something nauseating in this whole spying business.  Cloak and dagger and dirty deals to get the goods.  I’d rather we had very little to do with it – and best of all, nothing to do with it.  If we are prepared for all contingencies and have let potential enemies know in advance that we’ll destroy them as soon as they look crossways at us, that would be better than all the spies in the world…especially all the peeping-Tom sorts of spying we do with electronic surveillance. I don’t necessarily want to know what nastiness the Mullahs of Iran are planning – I just want us to have the capability of putting Iran’s leaders six feet under at need and their clear understanding that this is precisely what we’ll do, if they challenge us, anywhere.

Leave off spying.  Build the right military force and be prepared to use it against all comers in all possible circumstances – that is the path to security and peace; not routing through someone’s private telephone conversations or picking through their trash for dirt.

Navy Yard Shooting

We don’t really know anything about it other than someone started shooting.  We’ll let the MSM tie themselves up in knots getting it wrong for a while and then see what the full details are.  But here’s my first take on it:

One or maybe two or three shooters shut down an entire US Navy base.  That is disgraceful regardless of whatever facts relate to this case.  Our enemies are now taking note:  if you want to go to war with the United States, you start with a few three-man commando teams attacking major US military bases – it will paralyze our military for hours, at least.

We need to change this – our bases have to be fully armed with people who know how to shoot to kill in an instant.  No US base should be shut down because of an attack – and no one should flee their post, nor should a “shelter in place” (translation: cower in fear) order be issued.  The strength of any military force is expressed by its instant readiness for war.  There are no rear areas for the military and there is no peace time.  Violent enemies are always out there, always seeking to kill…the military must always be ready.

UPDATE:  Seems that the killer is going to fall in to the “nut” category.  Here’s the bit of news which caught my eye this morning over at The Telegraph:

Exclusive: The Washington Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis played violent video games including Call of Duty for up to 16 hours at a time and friends believe it could have pushed him towards becoming a mass murderer.

Going through the whole article and seeing other things in the news about him, he appears to have been a dog’s breakfast of oddities.  There has emerged so far no hard center for the man – adrift on the tides, grasping some lifelines, but ultimately over the edge in to madness.  Naturally, most people will not blame what he saw and did prior to the attack.  Blame will be assigned in two ways:

1.  Anti-gun nuts will, as always, blame the gun.

2.  Rational people will almost all just blame the killer.

Me?  I blame the entire situation.  As I’ve said again and again and again these things used to never happen.  Now they do.  The dividing line is that school shooting in San Diego back in 1979.

It is everything that went in to the killer which caused him to kill – our broken morality, our glorification of violence, our attacks on masculine virtues (men not taught to be properly manly often wind up as brutes); all of this and more caused this to happen…and, yes, someone who plays violent video games for long periods of time is feeding in to his brain things which can come out in very bad ways.  As always in these situations, I’ll just point out that until we decide to change entirely, we’ll just get more and more of this.