Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Saveus Petraeus Again?
You start to become suspicious that our country, the USA, is blundering its way into a third-world status when its military heroes act like professors-- And that is what we have developed in General David Petraeus. This slouching toward mediocrity was apparent when the general was recently interviewed by NBC MEET THE PRESS, David Gregory.

Gregory like most US main stream media tends to grovel in interviews before military flag ranks. That is perhaps the reason most seem to be unable to ask follow-up question or press the flag officer for a reply when he avoids an answer. Pundits extoll Petraues because he exudes academic ooze that makes the press comfortable by identifying with its intellectual pomposity, Birds of a feather flock together."

My beef with professors who are put in high power positions outside academia is that they tend to try rabidly to prove pet theories they have developed; they also have the authority to implement them whether foolish or not. Sure there are exceptions, like Dr Harold Brown from CalTech that became a decent SEC DEF, but most prattle on as General Petraeus; the general desperately tries to promote his pet counter insurgency doctrine as a silver bullet to win colonial wars. In the Patreus case this not just an academic excursion--men die trying to implement his strategy and tactics.

Petraeus was assigned to command the the ARMY COMMAND AND GENRAL STAFF SCHOOL where he was put out to pasture, reassigned from a training command in Iraq over some difficulties over an accurate number of trained Iraqi security forces. He with the help of some USMC officers cooked up a field manual on counter insurgency--the tenets of doctrine were a rehash of everything the US tried and failed in Vietnam.. His policy, however, with massive bribes and 30,000 more troops-bought GWBush time in Iraq so he could pass the problem to the new administration to solve. It has not been solved until now by a long shot.

President Obama is learning slowly that his generals' advice is sometimes flawed--for certain they always need more money, more troops and more time. This is also a Petraeus refrain. Afghan leader Karzai is looking for separate peace with Taliban over the heads of the US NATO command.

Core to the US counterinsurgency doctrine is protection of the population, but the US/NATO command has a reputation of shooting first and asking questions later--that is according to Afghans all the way up to Karzai. So Petraeus 'snake oil may sell but not work. And the US will sink deeper into a costly Asian land war

DID you hear that recently relieved General Mc Chrystal will start to teach leadership at Yale University? Name of the course is HOW NOT TO FOLLOW THE LEADER. Perhaps there is a message there for the followers of General Saveus Petraeus--Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

USA & Iraq -The Long Good-bye Kiss

The latest US long good- bye kiss to Iraq was officially announced by
General Ordierno last Sunday on ABC TV. You can be certain these fraudulent farewells will continuue for years as the US attempts to justify its continued occupation of the broken country.. What makes the General's announcement more disingenious is that there has not been a legal central government for five months. And violence is now beginning to work itself into another bloody crescendo

General Ordierno along with Gerneral Abizaid were about the only top generals assigned to Iraq occupation that appeared to be concerned over martial integrity. Abizaid quietly retired as CENTOM commander when he was asked to prolong the losing war with the GWB surge'. He just faded away. Ordierno choose to remain; he was promoted with two stars more from his old 2-star days as division commander of the 4th Division. He was a "bash, mash and slash general. Nuances thankfully were never his thing.

While General Petreus was hopelessly trying to win hearts and minds as a division commander, Ordierno went about arresting any male Iraqi who could wear beard and who did not need a wheel chair or crutches to walk. He filled the POW cages wiith many innocents to include the prision at Abu Gahrib. He was criticized by the press for his brutal methods, but he captured Saddam Hussien with his tactics . Unlike politically correct Petraeus, he took the press hits, but got the job done..

Whether you agree with the war or not and I do not, you should be glad Ordierno fights for the US. So it is now especially vexing that he flaks for contniued US presence in Iraq by pretending Iraqi forces can prevent disintergration of the country especially without a central government.
Perhaps two more stars on his shoulder bring about a change in outlook and candor..

Ordierno should have concluded that there is serious skepticism on whether the Iraqi can manage anything politically or militarily seriously without a united central government. For example, when he turned over the high security prison Camp Cropper recently on July 15 2010, he had to retain about 50 prisioneers under US control.

A few days afterwards 4 Al Queda POWs escaped from the now Iraq facility.; the new warden and some guards fled with them. So general, please hold off on another "mission accomplished" celebration on Iraq. It was sappy enough when a large wood key was passed to the Iraqis at the ceremony when Cropper was transfered to them. Was that your female staffs contribution to the event ?.

This summer General Ordierno is slated to depart Iraq coincidental with the draw-down of US forces to around 50,000 troops. His replacement is as of now slated to be LTG L. Austin. Ordeirno is to take command of a Joint Forces command, so expect him to be around for awhile. Meanwhile General Petraeus, Commander of NATO/US in Afghanistan, has started to launch a campaign to win the hearts and minds of the American people to support the Afghan war. It begins to get creepy when generals promote their own wars. It certainly did not work for General Westmorland in the Vietnam war.

It is a certainty that the US will do what it can to continue maintain control over Iraq. US troops will morph into US mercenary forces funded by the US. The mercenaries will hold some airfieds and bases for reinsertion of US forces when required. The other certainty is that no major road or boulevard in Iraq will be named after GW Bush--Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

US Army Leadership in Distress

No matter where you come out on the recent WIKILEAKs illegal release of 90,000 documents on the Afghan war, you have to agree that it is just another indication of sloppy US Army comand and of control of its resources. As it boils down the document roll out confirms the the exasperating foolishness of the war, but most Americans already knew this--it just makes it harder to ignor. The release certainly did not deter congress from voting 37.1 billions more for the war a few days after the documents were published in the NYT, Guardian and Der Spiegal newspapers.

This release by WIKILEAKS was preceeded by another recent contraband item of US Army gunship camera photos with sound tending to confirm soldiers complcit in US gunships mowing down civilians on the streets of Baghdad

It not my purpose here to judge the muderous actions of war. War always involves murder with extenuating circumstances. I was in RVN at Americal Division headquareters at the investigation of the Mai Lai Massacre by the US Army , but ln the the end the only one convicted was the platoon leader Lt Calley who was later pardoned by President Nixon. In the recent cases of WIKILEAKS expect the Army to pursue vigorously the soldiers who provided the source material, but those who committed alledged war crimes will be investigated and most likely exonerated. Fog of war aguments will be apply as usual.

These leaks are just one indication of the failure of the current army leadership who had to be asleep to permit such a security violation.

Both the Iraq war and now obviously Afghanistan are lost wars. In Iraq the winner of the last election was quoted:

"Right now, if you ask any Iraqi: What do you think of democracy? They will say it's blood, stagnation, unemployment, refugees, cheating," Allawi said. "If democracy does not succeed in Iraq and tyranny is replaced by another tyranny, there will be no legacy"

This verse and song is not what the chirpy General Petraeus has been feeding the American people and congress.

Cracks in the US Army leadeship are at this stage are systemic. Suicide rates are the highest; coruption is over the top with around 9 billion missing in Iraq; contractor fraud and abuse, commericial and military, is almost unrestraned in both theaters; Ft Hood massaces have been been investigated ad nausem, but no one on the general officer level has been relieved; Except for the sisterhood, no one seriously believes women in the Army has been a success; now Obama wants to introduce gays into the Army and the military leadership is agreeing albiet relucntantly.

Perhap the biggest self-destructive policy the US Army has been buying into hook line and sinker is private mercenary forces in the combat theaters--over half the fighting forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are private. For example, the State Department is now building a private contractor force to include 16 gunships to defend its Geen Zone mega US embassy in Baghdad once the US combat forces depart.

Army generall staff had opportunities under GWB to curb this development by insisting on the expansion of the Army if the mission was expanding to surpass army capabilities. It chose to back the Republican policy to use private corporations to augment its forces.. Retired officers lobbyed for this policy--some took jobs in the firms furnishing the forces. Congress played its part to vote funds to pay the mercenaries--both Republicans and Democratic congress members voted for the funds.. To this day these mercenary forces constitute a unity of command problem in both the Iraq and Afghan theaters.

At this stage the US Army and to a lesser extent the USAF and Navy train the special operation forces that are the nucleus of the mercenary forces. With the lucretive offers by private contractors, it becomes more difficult to retain these members. Long term, the corporations have a force that can challenge the US goverment. Power of the corporations has been recently flexed by BP in the Gulf Spill--President Obama backed down shamelessly on damage control operations and that was with a foeign corporation.So erosion of USG authority is already happening.

Who is to blame for the US Army's failures ? It is the West Point leadership cadres that run the Army--except for operations in Grenada and Panama, these fellas have not won a war since WWII--a War in which their leadership deserves credit for winning. What happened ? The Long Grey Line followed itself itself into the abyss. General McChrystal was the last to tumble over There was plenty of advance notice to his incapacities, yet he was given the marshal's baton by his classmates.

At this historical moment, the US Army's bete noire is WIKILEAKS and ROLLING STONE magazine--one is based on massive internal security violations and the other on betrayal , naivete and foolish trust...indeed a sad commentary--Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret Ret