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


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