Using Water As A Weapon Of War

Herschel Smith · 03 Aug 2014 · 11 Comments

Next City: In a war, anything can be a weapon. In a particularly ruthless war, such as the conflict that has been raging in Syria for more than three years, those weapons are often turned against civilians, making any semblance of normal life impossible. Such is the case, experts say, with the way the nation’s water supply is being manipulated to inflict suffering on the population. According to an article posted by Chatham House, a London-based independent policy institute, water…… [read more]

The Debate over Diminished Force Projection

BY Herschel Smith
8 years, 2 months ago

Using e-mail, Google Analytics and comment information, I can tell that many of my repeat readers are professional military.  Many of my posts are rather simple in import and depth from time to time, and I suspect that some of my readers wonder, “Does he not understand that there is a more nuanced debate over force projection than he has given credit?”

Now, let me post a challenge to my readers.  If I am proven wrong, I will announce it in a post specifically showing my error, and if the reader wants, I will put his identity along with the post so that he can brag about showing this rookie and amateur a thing or two (and if the reader wants to stay anomymous, that’s okay too).

Here is the challenge.  I posted recently on Small Wars.  From the Small Wars Manual, can anyone give me anything even roughly analagous to the following:

“Killing an enemy combatant, especially a popular or loved one, will only cause the emboldening and empowering of his colleagues and the increase in the size of the enemy forces.  Therefore, it is better in certain circumstances to allow the enemy to shoot at you without returning fire.”

That’s the challenge for those of you who favor “minimum” force projection.  Go find such a set of statements in the Small Wars Manual.

To continue the discussion, let’s use Pakistan as a starting example.  Reuters is reporting that:

QUETTA, Pakistan – Hundreds of rioters angered by the killing of a rebel tribal leader rampaged through a southwestern Pakistani city Sunday, burning dozens of shops, banks and police vehicles.

Police arrested hundreds on the second day of violent protests against the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti, 79, in a raid on his mountain hideout.

An alliance of four Baluch nationalist groups announced a 15-day mourning period over Bugti’s death and vowed to continue protests throughout the region. A strike of businesses and public transportation was planned for Monday.

“The government has pushed Baluchistan into a never-ending war,? said Hasil Bizinjo, a senior figure with the group Baluch Solidarity.

It all sounds pretty ominous, with this talk of a “never-ending” war.  Why has the Pakistani government gone after Bugti?

Government forces killed the silver-bearded Bugti, one of Pakistan’s most prominent fugitives, and at least 24 of his supporters during a raid Saturday on his cave hide-out in the Kohlu area, about 140 miles east of Quetta. Bugti went into hiding in late 2005 after tribal militants made an attempt on the Pakistani president’s life.

The salient question here is this: has the Pakinstani reaction, i.e., robust force projection and destruction of the enemy, caused an emboldened insurgency, or has this reaction diminished the problem?  The Reuters piece continues:

In December, militants fired rockets that landed about 300 yards from President Gen. Pervez Musharraf while he was visiting Kohlu.

In recent months, however, the government has said scores of fighters loyal to Bugti have laid down their weapons and surrendered to authorities as it stepped up attacks against the tribal chief.

Pakinstan’s Musharraf, while a Muslim, at least in name, has always had the perspective that Egypt’s Mubarak has: the only real threat is the one that has me as its target.  Everything else is unimportant — a secondary or tertiary concern.

They have both been able to make this work in their respective countries, and neither one has engaged in hand-wringing over the “disenfranchised” in their country, worrying that force is likely to cause their numbers to grow.  Force, in fact, has diminished any hint of rebellion or change of any sort in Egypt, and Musharraf has managed marshall the loyal following of the armed forces in Pakistan.  I am not giving a moral blessing to either one of them, nor is it the case that the U.S. should be entirely happy with the slow pace of change in the regions adjoining the border with Afghanistan.  The point that I am making is that these two men, if nothng else, are entirely pragmatic and would not implement a strategy that was doomed to failure, since the failure would mean the end of not only their tenure, but probably their lives as well.  Both men have a long track record of survival.

Perhaps there is a lesson to learn from this.  But there is another voice being heard loud and clear in Iraq today, and this voice is promoting minimal force projection.  The Washington Post has a very informative article from July 23, 2006, entitled “In Iraq, Military Forgot Lessons of Vietnam.”

The real war in Iraq — the one to determine the future of the country — began on Aug. 7, 2003, when a car bomb exploded outside the Jordanian Embassy, killing 11 and wounding more than 50.

That bombing came almost exactly four months after the U.S. military thought it had prevailed in Iraq, and it launched the insurgency, the bloody and protracted struggle with guerrilla fighters that has tied the United States down to this day.

There is some evidence that Saddam Hussein’s government knew it couldn’t win a conventional war, and some captured documents indicate that it may have intended some sort of rear-guard campaign of subversion against occupation. The stockpiling of weapons, distribution of arms caches, the revolutionary roots of the Baathist Party, and the movement of money and people to Syria either before or during the war all indicate some planning for an insurgency.

But there is also strong evidence, based on a review of thousands of military documents and hundreds of interviews with military personnel, that the U.S. approach to pacifying Iraq in the months after the collapse of Hussein helped spur the insurgency and made it bigger and stronger than it might have been.

The very setup of the U.S. presence in Iraq undercut the mission. The chain of command was hazy, with no one individual in charge of the overall American effort in Iraq, a structure that led to frequent clashes between military and civilian officials.

On May 16, 2003, L. Paul Bremer III, the chief of the Coalition Provisional Authority, the U.S.-run occupation agency, had issued his first order, “De-Baathification of Iraq Society.” The CIA station chief in Baghdad had argued vehemently against the radical move, contending: “By nightfall, you’ll have driven 30,000 to 50,000 Baathists underground. And in six months, you’ll really regret this.”

He was proved correct, as Bremer’s order, along with a second that dissolved the Iraqi military and national police, created a new class of disenfranchised, threatened leaders.

Exacerbating the effect of this decision were the U.S. Army’s interactions with the civilian population. Based on its experience in Bosnia and Kosovo, the Army thought it could prevail through “presence” — that is, soldiers demonstrating to Iraqis that they are in the area, mainly by patrolling.

“We’ve got that habit that carries over from the Balkans,” one Army general said. Back then, patrols were conducted so frequently that some officers called the mission there “DAB”-ing, for “driving around Bosnia.”

The U.S. military jargon for this was “boots on the ground,” or, more officially, the presence mission. There was no formal doctrinal basis for this in the Army manuals and training that prepare the military for its operations, but the notion crept into the vocabularies of senior officers.

For example, a briefing by the 1st Armored Division’s engineering brigade stated that one of its major missions would be “presence patrols.” And then-Maj. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, then the commander of that division, ordered one of his brigade commanders to “flood your zone, get out there, and figure it out.” Sitting in a dusty command tent outside a palace in the Green Zone in May 2003, he added: “Your business is to ensure that the presence of the American soldier is felt, and it’s not just Americans zipping by.”

The flaw in this approach, Lt. Col. Christopher Holshek, a civil affairs officer, later noted, was that after Iraqi public opinion began to turn against the Americans and see them as occupiers, “then the presence of troops . . . becomes counterproductive.” 

[ ... ]

“When you’re facing a counterinsurgency war, if you get the strategy right, you can get the tactics wrong, and eventually you’ll get the tactics right,” said retired Army Col. Robert Killebrew, a veteran of Special Forces in the Vietnam War. “If you get the strategy wrong and the tactics right at the start, you can refine the tactics forever, but you still lose the war. That’s basically what we did in Vietnam.”

For the first 20 months or more of the American occupation in Iraq, it was what the U.S. military would do there as well.

“What you are seeing here is an unconventional war fought conventionally,” a Special Forces lieutenant colonel remarked gloomily one day in Baghdad as the violence intensified. The tactics that the regular troops used, he added, sometimes subverted American goals.

The article goes on to (correctly) outline the intelligence failures of the U.S. effort.  The debate on force projection is put into a nutshell for us in the following section, even if only simplistically and for non-professionals:

“A soldier fired upon in conventional war who does not fire back with every available weapon would be guilty of a dereliction of his duty,” he wrote, adding that “the reverse would be the case in counterinsurgency warfare, where the rule is to apply the minimum of fire.”

The U.S. military took a different approach in Iraq. It wasn’t indiscriminate in its use of firepower, but it tended to look upon it as good, especially during the big counteroffensive in the fall of 2003, and in the two battles in Fallujah the following year.

One reason for that different approach was the muddled strategy of U.S. commanders in Iraq. As civil affairs officers found to their dismay, Army leaders tended to see the Iraqi people as the playing field on which a contest was played against insurgents. In Galula’s view, the people are the prize.

“The population . . . becomes the objective for the counterinsurgent as it was for his enemy,” he wrote.

From that observation flows an entirely different way of dealing with civilians in the midst of a guerrilla war. “Since antagonizing the population will not help, it is imperative that hardships for it and rash actions on the part of the forces be kept to a minimum,” Galula wrote.

I must go on record and say that I favor the approach used in Fallujah.  But without going into too much detail in my analysis, I would suggest that the argument above is logically flawed in one major way: categories.  Remember?  That stuff that Aristotle taught us about genus and species?

There are three categories of enemy in Iraq.  Jihadists (al Qaida and all of the subdivided sets of terrorists), Shai militia, and Sunni insurgents.  Each have a different agenda, but they dovetail together in the goal of driving the U.S. from Iraq.  These three categories of enemy are an avowed and devoted enemy.  They are dedicated to our destruction.  Al Sadr, for instance, leader of the sect that fields the Mahdi army, instigated pro-Hezbollah rallies, intitiated military action against the U.S. troops twice, and has gone on record demanding the ouster of U.S. troops.  There is no question but that al Sadr will be a proxy for Shia influence in Iraq after the departure of the U.S.  In fact, by leaving him unmolested, we should consider what kind of Iraq we will be leaving behind.  An Iraq ready to be an ally of Iran?

The hearts of devoted enemies cannot be won by any amount of money, any amount of good will, or any amount of wishful thinking.  See a good piece today at the Counterterrorism Blog, entitled “The Axis of Jihadism.”  It is helpful to remember just how much our enemy hates us and is devoted to our destruction.

Among the second category in Iraq is the broader Sunni population, some of which have fled and the remainder of which relish the U.S. presence because we are their defense.  The third category is the broader Shia population that is not devoted to our destruction.  The second and third categories can be won over.  The enemy cannot.

Even if the U.S. used ham-handed techniques with the broader population in the past months and years of the occupation, this can be corrected, and hopefully it will be.  But to confuse the enemy with those “whose hearts can be won” is to make a tragic and fatal error in judgment.

I had seen this coming, and posted on the expectation that we should not expect Ramadi to be another Fallujah.  The last post I made on Ramadi was “Ramadi, Iraq: A Mess.”  The three comments on this post — all military (remember, I get to see all e-mails and other information) — all essentially say the same thing.  We have failed to take the fight to the enemy in Ramadi.  In fact, in some of my previous posts on Ramadi, it has been documented that the initial U.S. troops went into Ramadi, set up defenses by digging holes, and then took bets on when they would be attacked (to which I wanted to know ‘what the hell kind of strategy that was?’).  The insurgency in Ramadi since then has been extremely active.  The Jihadists and Sunni insurgents who remained in Fallujah died.  The ones who fled went to Ramadi.

So there you have it.  Fallujah versus Ramadi, the debate goes.  For the time being, Ramadi has won, and we are doing minimum force projection, filling sand bags (in the words of one Marine, the “only thing I will remember about this deployment is filling sand bags”), digging holes, and attempting to protect the leadership in Ramadi — that is, the ones left alive after the sniper fire.

So my postion is this.  Shmooze the people, smoke tobacco with them, tell them how much you admire them, give them money, help with the hospitals, protect the power grid so that they have power, and keep the trash off of the streets.  Use the tactics of “Small Wars” to effect change on the ground.

But as for the enemy, you will never be able to develop a compelling enough argument for me to believe that it is actually beneficial for us to go slowly or delicately with them.  Their hearts cannot be won.  They must be killed or rendered incapacitated by effecting their surrender.  The faster the better, and it will occur faster with increased force projection.  The population will get over it, especially for a little bit of money and help with the hospitals and power grid.

The concept of Small Wars requires us to think and be circumspect.  It does not require us to go on the defensive filling sand bags and cowering in holes.

Note: Edited due to verbiage being spam trap.

Iraq-Iran Border Still Problematic

BY Herschel Smith
8 years, 2 months ago

Courtesy of Global Security:

A senior U.S. military spokesman says Iranian forces have infiltrated Iraq to provide training, money and equipment to Shi’ite extremists and fuel their insurgency. The officer went farther than others have in detailing Iran’s alleged role in Iraq’s violence.

U.S. officials frequently criticize Iran for supporting Iraqi Shi’ite extremists. But in the past they have declined to say whether that support includes infiltration by Iranian forces. At a news conference Wednesday, Brigadier General Michael Barbero made that direct connection.

“I have seen reports of their involvement and presence there as trainers to train these terrorists and extremist groups,” he said.

General Barbero, an operations officer on the staff of the top U.S. generals, also says Iran is providing technology to help Iraqi insurgents build more effective bombs, what the military calls Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs.

“I think it’s irrefutable that Iran is responsible for training, funding and equipping some of the [Shi'ite] extremist groups, and also providing advanced IED technology to them,” he said. “And there’s clear evidence of that.”

The bombs are the insurgents’ most effective weapons, accounting for more than half of the more than 2,500 U.S. military deaths in Iraq, and thousands of Iraqi civilian casualties.

General Barbero says coalition troops have not directly encountered any of the Iranian forces he says have been inside Iraq, and he would not provide any details on the number or specific duties of the Iranians.

Asked what the U.S. military is doing to fight the Iranian influence in Iraq, he said it is mainly a political challenge, but there is at least one thing the military can do.

“Militarily, in the execution of this operation to neutralize the [Shi'ite] extremist groups, we’ll go a long way to removing their direct influence into the affairs of the sovereign country of Iraq,” noted General Barbero. 

This information (General Barbero’s announcement) has been available for several days, but I wanted this to mature and ripen.  I wanted to think about it for a couple of days.

The information about Iran and the support (technological, training and financial) of the IED threat in Iraq has been known for many months.  The link here shows that this information is at least five months old, and this is simply the quickest link I could dig up.  Further, in my post Iran the Terror Master, I cite Michael Rubin at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, entitled Bad Neighbor.  It was posted on April 16, 2004, more than two years ago.  The whole piece is so jaw-unhinging that much of it bears repeating here:

By January, the anti-U.S. Badr Corps, trained and financed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, had established a large office on Nasiriya’s riverfront promenade. Below murals of Khomeini and the late Ayatollah Mohammad Bakr Al Hakim hung banners declaring, no to America, no to Israel, no to occupation. Two blocks away in the central market, vendors sold posters not of moderate Iraqi Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani, but of Supreme Leader Khomeini. By January 2004, Zainab Al Suwaij, the granddaughter of Basra’s leading religious figure, was reporting that Hezbollah, which has close ties to the Revolutionary Guards, was operating openly in southern towns like Nasiriya and Basra, helping to stir up violence. The next day, at his daily press briefing, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, “No, I don’t know anything about Hamas and Hezbollah in Iraq. … We’ll stop them if we can get them.” Coincidentally, I visited Basra on January 14 without informing the local CPA coordinator. One block from the main market, Sciri and Hezbollah had established a joint office. A large Lebanese Hezbollah flag fluttered in the wind.

The Iranian government has not limited its support to a single faction or party. Rather, Tehran’s strategy appears to be to support both the radicals seeking immediate confrontation with the U.S. occupation and Islamist political parties like Sciri and Ibrahim Jafari’s Dawah Party, which are willing to sit on the U.S.-backed Iraqi Governing Council and engage with Washington, at least in the short term. The Iranian journalist Nurizadeh wrote in April 2003, “[President Mohammed] Khatami [and other Iranian political leaders] … were surprised by the decision issued above their heads to send into Iraq more than 2,000 fighters, clerics, and students [to] the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and al-Dawah Party.” My own experience backed up his claims. This February, I spoke with a local governor from southern Iraq who wanted to meet me after he learned that I lived and worked outside CPA headquarters. The governor complained that the CPA was doing little to stop the influx of Iranian money to district councilmen and prominent tribal and religious officials. The money, he said, was distributed through Dawah offices established after a meeting between Jafari and Iranian security officials.

Twice in the last twelve years, large-scale Iranian destabilization efforts have confronted U.S. military interventions. In Bosnia, after significant internal debate, George H.W. Bush’s administration chose to block Iranian infiltration, risking revenge attacks against the United States by Iranian-linked terrorists. In September 1992, Tehran attempted to ship 4,000 guns, one million rounds of ammunition, and several dozen fighters to Bosnia. An Iranian Boeing 747 landed in Zagreb, where, in response to U.S. pressure, the Croatian military impounded the weapons and expelled the jihadis. Today, there is little threat of radical anti-U.S. Islamism in Bosnia.
 
Almost a decade later, the current Bush administration identified an Iranian challenge in Afghanistan. Speaking before the American-Iranian Council on March 13, 2002, Zalmay Khalilzad, senior National Security Council adviser for the Middle East and Southwest Asia, declared, “The Iranian regime has sent some Qods forces associated with its Revolutionary Guards to parts of Afghanistan. . . . Iranian officials have provided military and financial support to regional parties without the knowledge and consent of the Afghan Interim Authority.” Rather than combat this Iranian challenge, the Bush administration chose diplomacy. “Notwithstanding our criticism of Iranian policy, the U.S. remains open to dialogue,” Khalilzad continued. Today, visitors to Herat, a main city in western Afghanistan, consider Iranian influence there to be extremely strong.

In the wake of Sadr’s uprising, Washington is faced with the same choice: End Iran’s infiltration through forceful action, or wish it away. How long can we afford to keep choosing the latter?

The Army Corps of Engineers has constructed border forts in order to help secure the border.  Smuggling operations have been ongoing for years, and Iraqi General Nazim stated in June of 2005 that:

“We captured three men and there is proof they blew up oil pipelines near Nuft Khaneh under the orders of Iranian intelligence officers,” he said. “They had people working with them in Baquba too.”

It was known in October of 2004 that the border was porous, and that exchange of vehicular traffic between Iraq and Iran was a routine occurrence with demanding duties of the border guards.

When asked what the U.S. is doing about the Iranian influence, General Barbero stated that this was “mainly a political challenge.”

I hate to be a detractor, but I feel that it is my duty to be one of a red-flag-raisers from time to time, so I continue to run the flag up the pole.  Under what circumstances is the actions of the enemy “mainly a political challenge?”  What would cause such a state of affairs that a General looks to politics to address a country that has produced the IED technology that has caused half of the U.S. troop deaths in Iraq?

What proof is there that this issue could not be addressed militarily?  Is it not possible to stop the flow of personnel, money and equipment across the border?  Why would we not patrol the border with drones and other aircraft, unleashing air-to-ground ordnance upon anyone who crossed the border?  Why is it necessary for anyone to cross the border?

These questions should be addressed.  As it stands at the present, the General looks weak, Iran goes unhindered in their influence in Iraq, the border is porous, and the U.S. looks to politics with the enemy to change conditions in a war on the ground.

It is truly a bizarre set of circumstances.

Lying, Christian Ethics and Islamic “Conversions”

BY Herschel Smith
8 years, 2 months ago

Michelle Malkin is following the story of Steve Cintanni who was captured and then later released after his (and his colleague’s) “conversion” to Islam.  I posted earlier on his conversion at gunpoint.  Michelle is also blogging the issue of Cintanni’s conversion making him a target for future assassination attempts if he repudiates his conversion.  Finally, Michelle links to a great post by La Shawn Barber on the question “What would you do?” in “Gunpoint Conversions and Martyrdom.”  Let’s turn the microscope up a few notches and look at this question of Christian ethics in more detail.

First of all, let’s dispense with this silly and adolescent notion that all lying is immoral.  I know, this strikes you as a rather odd statement to make, whether you are a Christian or not, right?  Well, let’s revisit the story of Rahab.  In the book of Joshua, Rahab takes in the spies.  In Joshua 2 we read:

Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.  The king of Jericho was told, “Look! Some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.”  So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.”  But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from.  At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, the men left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.”  (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.)   So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut.  Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof   and said to them, “I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you.  We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed.  When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.  Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and that you will save us from death.”  ”Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the LORD gives us the land.”

R. J. Rushdoony (in Institutes of Biblical Law) comments:

“Rahab clearly lied, but her lie represented a moral choice as against sending two godly men to death, and for this she became an ancestress of Jesus Christ (Mat 1:5).?

Concerning R. C. Sproul’s position:

While commenting on this passage Dr. Sproul posed the question, “Is there a time to tell a lie? And them he answered it by saying, yes, you must always tell the truth to whom the truth is due and you must always tell the truth to whom justice requires, the truth was not due in this case.?

However, it might be that Cintanni is not a Christian.  If not, then this issue does not apply to him.  Further, while Rahab clearly had reason to lie (saving the spies), saving yourself by denying your savior is clearly not in the same category.  There is no need for me to continue to live, for example, but if someone was in pursuit of a family member, I would lie to protect them.

If someone does in fact deny Christ, it does not mean that they lose their salvation.  La Shawn Barber is on point with this (she calls it once saved, always saved, while the more theological definition is “eternal security” or “perseverance of the saints”).  But should I actually be in the position that Cintanni was in (and being a Christian), my hope is that I would not use Peter as an example (who denied Christ three times just befor the crucifixion — and who later repented, of course).

I do not know, but hope, that I would have the courage to pray an imprecatory prayer against my captor (something like “Oh Lord, since he is your sworn enemy, please allow him to be on the receiving end of a missle from an A-10, and failing that, please allow a U.S. Marine with an M249 to put nine rounds into him.  God is great, and Jesus is my savior”).

Just then, boom goes my brains all over the floor.  So my captor gets a missile, I get to meet my savior now instead of later, and my family gets all of my insurance money.  And thus the story has a happy ending.

I like happy endings.

Lying, Christian Ethics and Islamic “Conversions”

BY Herschel Smith
8 years, 2 months ago

Michelle Malkin is following the story of Steve Cintanni who was captured and then later released after his (and his colleague’s) “conversion” to Islam.  I posted earlier on his conversion at gunpoint.  Michelle is also blogging the issue of Cintanni’s conversion making him a target for future assassination attempts if he repudiates his conversion.  Finally, Michelle links to a great post by La Shawn Barber on the question “What would you do?” in “Gunpoint Conversions and Martyrdom.”  Let’s turn the microscope up a few notches and look at this question of Christian ethics in more detail.

First of all, let’s dispense with this silly and adolescent notion that all lying is immoral.  I know, this strikes you as a rather odd statement to make, whether you are a Christian or not, right?  Well, let’s revisit the story of Rahab.  In the book of Joshua, Rahab takes in the spies.  In Joshua 2 we read:

Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.  The king of Jericho was told, “Look! Some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.”  So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.”  But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from.  At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, the men left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.”  (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.)   So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut.  Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof   and said to them, “I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you.  We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed.  When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.  Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and that you will save us from death.”  ”Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the LORD gives us the land.”

R. J. Rushdoony (in Institutes of Biblical Law) comments:

“Rahab clearly lied, but her lie represented a moral choice as against sending two godly men to death, and for this she became an ancestress of Jesus Christ (Mat 1:5).?

Concerning R. C. Sproul’s position:

While commenting on this passage Dr. Sproul posed the question, “Is there a time to tell a lie? And them he answered it by saying, yes, you must always tell the truth to whom the truth is due and you must always tell the truth to whom justice requires, the truth was not due in this case.?

However, it might be that Cintanni is not a Christian.  If not, then this issue does not apply to him.  Further, while Rahab clearly had reason to lie (saving the spies), saving yourself by denying your savior is clearly not in the same category.  There is no need for me to continue to live, for example, but if someone was in pursuit of a family member, I would lie to protect them.

If someone does in fact deny Christ, it does not mean that they lose their salvation.  La Shawn Barber is on point with this (she calls it once saved, always saved, while the more theological definition is “eternal security” or “perseverance of the saints”).  But should I actually be in the position that Cintanni was in (and being a Christian), my hope is that I would not use Peter as an example (who denied Christ three times just befor the crucifixion — and who later repented, of course).

I do not know, but hope, that I would have the courage to pray an imprecatory prayer against my captor (something like “Oh Lord, since he is your sworn enemy, please allow him to be on the receiving end of a missle from an A-10, and failing that, please allow a U.S. Marine with an M249 to put nine rounds into him.  God is great, and Jesus is my savior”).

Just then, boom goes my brains all over the floor.  So my captor gets a missile, I get to meet my savior now instead of later, and my family gets all of my insurance money.  And thus the story has a happy ending.

I like happy endings.

Small Wars

BY Herschel Smith
8 years, 2 months ago

Global Guerrillas has a very interesting piece up entitled “Playing with War.”  In it John Robb argues that:

The western way of war in the 21st century is a pale shadow of the warfare it waged in the 20th. The reason is simple: for western societies war is no longer existential. Instead, it’s increasingly about smoothing market flows and tertiary moral concerns/threats. As a result of this diminishment of motivation, western warfare is now afflicted with the following: 

John continues with a complete description of what I will include as an outline listing (for editorial and space reasons):

  • Operations of low lethality
  • Marginal placement within national priorities
  • Muddled objectives

The upshot according to John is that wars will become increasingly difficult to win, because:

  • Asymmetric motivation (of the enemy)
  • New methods of warfare
  • Proliferation of opposition

Finally, the following points are outlined as a summary for learning to live within the constraints imposed by this new breed of warfare (I will quote completely).  We should learn to avoid:

  • Nation-building as a global social policy. Historically, counter-insurgency against an established enemy has almost never worked (and when it has, it usually involves bloody exterminations). Any attempt to build a nation will likely, particularly in the current environment of globalization, yield an opponent that will be impossible to defeat through limited means. Further, the durations of these conflicts will exceed the capacity of the western states to maintain a cohesive set of objectives — they will shift with opinion polls and political winds.
  • Collapsing rogue states. In almost all instances, despite how easy it is to collapse a weak state with modern weapons, those wars launched to collapse rogue states will not yield positive results. The collapse will necessitate calls for revival (see item one). Unless states are willing to live with partial collapse without resolution, they should not undertake the action in the first place.
  • Escalation of tension. Given an inability to resolve conflicts through nation-building and state collapse, western states should endeavor to deescalate conflicts rather than ignite them. Escalation is a false God that promises a return of the motivational clarity found in the wars of the 20th Century. It cannot deliver this. The only thing it provides is a widening and deepening of the conflict through the proliferation of opposition. 

Mr. Robb probably knows about one thousand times as much about the current subject as I do.  So it is with all due respect that I say that I think that his characterization of the problem(s) is incomplete.

Having a son in the Marines, I study everything I can get my hands on pertaining to his training, the history of the Marines, the nature of the current conflict, and what he will likely be doing in several months.

One of the more interesting things that I have learned is the concept of “small wars.”  I highly recommend reading the Small Wars Manual, and I especially recommend visiting the Marine Corps Small Wars web site and another site called Small Wars Journal.  I make a daily visit to these sites (and sometimes more).

What Mr. Robb describes has already been described in detail in the Small Wars Manual.  In fact, the Marines have known this not since the publication of the manual in the early ’40s, but essentially since the birthday of the Marines, 10 November 1775.

Since their birthday, the Marines have been engaged in small, low intensity conflicts at the behest of the President, oftentimes without the support of the public, without a declaration of war, and without clear goals or orders, while battling both regular forces and insurgencies and while also having to deal with more pedestrian issues such as electrical power and the restoration of government.  Such engagements have often relied upon rapid, mobile and robust force projection.

The above paragraph is not an advertisement.  The Small Wars Manual is as salient today as it was when it was first published.  It is an admonition for the Army to consider its future.  The Marines have had to adapt, modify, adjust and make-do based on the changing conditions of the over three hundred low intensity engagements in its history.  The Army will do the same, or it will become irrelevant to the twenty first century.

If this type of warfare is not new, then what has changed?  My contention is that politics has changed.

Politics and failure to act decisively allowed Bin Laden and many in Al Qaida leadership to escape Tora Bora.  Politics failed to execute a warrant for al Sadr’s arrest during Paul Bremer’s watch in Iraq (I recently saw an interview with Bremer on FNC in which he attributed this failure to a military decision, saying that he was in favor of al Sad’r arrest.  I know nothing of the decision making or line of authority concerning this matter, but if the military made this decision, then the one who actually approved of letting al Sadr escape arrest should be on the receiving end of a courts martial).  Politics has caused us to cease hostilities on Ramadan.  Politics has caused us to refuse to fire upon Mosques (until very recently).  Politics has caused problems for Gitmo.  Politics has dragged generals in front of congressional inquiries to be battered by those seeking to stake out a position for the upcoming elections in November.

There is a deep division in America, with one side being not just anti-military, but rather, socialistic and anti-American to a large extent, and this is a failure of American society, not American military strategy or might.  Even though the Marines have engaged in conflicts before in which the public was unsupportive (or unaware), the difference now seems to be politics in the highest ranks of the military brass.  The military establishment seems less willing to insulate the decision-makers from politics, and potentially risky decisions are avoided due to their being seen as potentially career-ending decisions.  To summarize, my contention is that the main difference today is the deference being paid to politics by the military brass (and senior leadership, including the Secretary or Defense and even the President).

When properly posed, I believe the question to be “do we have the political will to win?”  The tactics, strategy, manpower, know-how, equipment and patriotism are already in place.

It is not a question of warfare.  It is a question of politics.

 

Postscript: Even if I am right, this post doesn’t address the other issues raised in the GG post such as nation-building.  I will post on this at a later time.

Weekend of Violence in Baghdad

BY Herschel Smith
8 years, 2 months ago

I have posted several times on the battle for Baghdad, begging for rapid and intense offensive action.  The only boundaries on our offensive action should be the limits of intelligence.  Our intelligence network should be large, deep and well-paid enough by now to be able to decipher where the insurgents are, who the bomb-makers are, and where they are located.  Al-Sadr’s militia, the so-called Mahdi army, continues to be a problem, and Iraqi PM Maliki will not decisively act against him:

Diwaniyah, 80 miles south of Baghdad, is a Shiite-dominated city where the influence of Mahdi Army has been gradually increasing. It already runs a virtual parallel government in Sadr City, a slum in eastern Baghdad.

The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, has found it difficult to rein in al-Sadr, whose movement holds 30 of the 275 seats in parliament and five Cabinet posts.

Al-Sadr’s backing also helped al-Maliki win the top job during painstaking negotiations within the Shiite alliance that led to the ouster of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari.

Al-Sadr mounted two major uprisings against the American-led coalition in 2004 when U.S. authorities closed his newspaper and pushed an Iraqi judge to issue an arrest warrant against him.

But American forces have also been wary of confronting the Mahdi Army because of al-Sadr’s clout over the government and his large following among Shiites, who are in a majority in Iraq.

Nine U.S. troops died over the weekend, eight of which were from roadside bombs (IEDs) in and around Baghdad.

As I have suggested repeatedly, al-Sadr’s influence and power should make him a prime target.  The notion that because he is supported by the Shiite people the U.S. should be reluctant to engage him is, to me, analogous to saying that because Nasrallah is supported by some of the Islamicists in southern Lebanon, Israel should be reluctant to go after him.  This is manifestly absurd.

Finally, Baghdad is a restive city.  It has been said that the battle for Baghdad will be measured in months, not days.  But at the rate of nine U.S. troops per weekend, if this rate continues, we could be sustaining hundreds more U.S. deaths to IEDs before Baghdad is pacified.

This should be intollerable to both the brass and the U.S. public.  Not a single military spokesman has proferred a single reason why a broad, sweeping, aggressive, offensive action to clean out Baghdad, capture or kill al-Sadr, and kill the bomb-makers is not possible and in order.  If it is politics that is holding us back, then let’s bring our boys home now.

Politics loses, not wins, wars.  This is still a war, isn’t it?

Cintanni Forced to “Convert to Islam” at Gunpoint

BY Herschel Smith
8 years, 2 months ago

From My Way News:

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) – Militants freed two Fox News journalists on Sunday, ending a nearly two week hostage drama. One of the former captives said they were sometimes held face down in a dark garage, tied up in painful positions and forced at gunpoint to make videos and say they had converted to Islam.

I would like formally to thank the captors of Centanni for making my point for me better than I could have.  See my post “Does this help explain Jihad a little better?”

Here at the Captain’s Journal, we always appreciate it when others make us look smart at the expense of making themselves look stupid.

Cintanni Forced to “Convert to Islam” at Gunpoint

BY Herschel Smith
8 years, 2 months ago

From My Way News:

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) – Militants freed two Fox News journalists on Sunday, ending a nearly two week hostage drama. One of the former captives said they were sometimes held face down in a dark garage, tied up in painful positions and forced at gunpoint to make videos and say they had converted to Islam.

I would like formally to thank the captors of Centanni for making my point for me better than I could have.  See my post “Does this help explain Jihad a little better?”

Here at the Captain’s Journal, we always appreciate it when others make us look smart at the expense of making themselves look stupid.

Heat Stroke: the Soldier’s Enemy

BY Herschel Smith
8 years, 2 months ago

Haaretz has this:

A 17-year-old boy who died during tryouts for pilot training was apparently killed by heat stroke rather than dehydration, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The commander of the Israel Air Force, Major General Elyezer Shkedy, has ordered an investigation into the death of Itai Sharon of Zichron Ya’akov, who died on Wednesday.

A debriefing revealed that between 6:30 and 8:00 A.M. Wednesday, the group of teens involved in the tryout went on a six-kilometer march carrying weights. The IDF’s chief medical officer, Brigadier General Hezi Levy, said that the heat stress factor did not rule out such activities under army regulations. At 8:30 A.M., the heat stress factor became borderline in terms of the regulations governing strenuous physical activity, so the group was assigned activities that they could do sitting down.

An hour after the march, Sharon’s friends saw him sitting in the sun. When they summoned him into the shade, they noticed that he was confused and apathetic. After they made the commanders aware of Sharon’s condition, he was sent for medical treatment. He was found to have a high fever, given a transfusion and transferred to Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva, where he lost consciousness and died.

Heat stroke, in which the body is unable to discharge heat built up during strenuous activity, is a known risk in very hot weather. A number of IDF soldiers have died of heat stroke over the years.

In my post “Israel’s Might Army: Plan and Keep the Balance,” I said:

In my post “Israeli Army in Disarray During War,? I cited a news report that:

Israel’s largest paper, Yediot Ahronot, quoted one soldier as saying thirsty troops threw chlorine tablets into filthy water in sheep and cow troughs. Another said his unit took canteens from dead guerrillas.

This is very telling.  I get word from my son in the Marines frequently concerning his training, what he is going through at the time, and how he feels.  It doesn’t bother me that the Israeli army was without food for a while.  I should not go too far with the details of my son’s training (this is considered a ?no-no?).  But it is customary to go several days without sleep or food.  They must be capable of doing this while waging war and making battlefield decisions, since at times they will be doing exactly that while their lives are on the line.

And it may seem strange to lay hold of something as simple as water as a touchstone for the condition of the Israeli army, but I think it makes perfect sense.  An army that is without water is in seriousserious … trouble.  While I am certain that his superiors do an adequate job of training my son concerning the dangers of dehydration and overheating, I regularly (via phone) give my son a “safety brief? concerning these matters.

You must remember the facts concerning water and body heat.  The body can discharge heat in several ways: convection cooling, radiation cooling, conductive cooling and evaporative cooling.  Of these, evaporative cooling is the most significant.  When you sweat, the idea is that the water is then able to evaporate, taking with it the heat necessary to change phases (this is called the latent heat of vaporization).  This change of phase takes with it from the body just under 1000 BTUs/lbm of water, and without it a man on the battlefield is in danger of not only heat exhaustion, but heat stroke and even death.  I regularly lecture my son on ensuring that his “camelback? is full of water, and that he hydrates regularly.

Regarding heat stroke, if the core body temperature increases to around 105 degrees F and stays for any length of time, the proteins in the brain begin to change form, and permanent brain damage occurs.  Of course, exhaustion, fatigue, medical problems and brain damage are not good things on the battlefield.  Finally, in conditions of dehydration, the blood thickens and less of it is sent to the brain.  This causes a loss of mental and cognitive capabilities.  Again, not a good thing on the battlefield.

The lack of basic provisions such as water (the most basic of all) shows that Israel was not — and is not — on a war footing.

The man on the battlefield who doesn’t understand the significance of water, exposure to radiant heat gain, and internal heat generation due to work has been poorly trained.  And the country that sends its boys into harm’s way without the provisions necessary to do the job has done something profoundly immoral.

Heat Stroke: the Soldier’s Enemy

BY Herschel Smith
8 years, 2 months ago

Haaretz has this:

A 17-year-old boy who died during tryouts for pilot training was apparently killed by heat stroke rather than dehydration, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The commander of the Israel Air Force, Major General Elyezer Shkedy, has ordered an investigation into the death of Itai Sharon of Zichron Ya’akov, who died on Wednesday.

A debriefing revealed that between 6:30 and 8:00 A.M. Wednesday, the group of teens involved in the tryout went on a six-kilometer march carrying weights. The IDF’s chief medical officer, Brigadier General Hezi Levy, said that the heat stress factor did not rule out such activities under army regulations. At 8:30 A.M., the heat stress factor became borderline in terms of the regulations governing strenuous physical activity, so the group was assigned activities that they could do sitting down.

An hour after the march, Sharon’s friends saw him sitting in the sun. When they summoned him into the shade, they noticed that he was confused and apathetic. After they made the commanders aware of Sharon’s condition, he was sent for medical treatment. He was found to have a high fever, given a transfusion and transferred to Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva, where he lost consciousness and died.

Heat stroke, in which the body is unable to discharge heat built up during strenuous activity, is a known risk in very hot weather. A number of IDF soldiers have died of heat stroke over the years.

In my post “Israel’s Might Army: Plan and Keep the Balance,” I said:

In my post “Israeli Army in Disarray During War,? I cited a news report that:

Israel’s largest paper, Yediot Ahronot, quoted one soldier as saying thirsty troops threw chlorine tablets into filthy water in sheep and cow troughs. Another said his unit took canteens from dead guerrillas.

This is very telling.  I get word from my son in the Marines frequently concerning his training, what he is going through at the time, and how he feels.  It doesn’t bother me that the Israeli army was without food for a while.  I should not go too far with the details of my son’s training (this is considered a ?no-no?).  But it is customary to go several days without sleep or food.  They must be capable of doing this while waging war and making battlefield decisions, since at times they will be doing exactly that while their lives are on the line.

And it may seem strange to lay hold of something as simple as water as a touchstone for the condition of the Israeli army, but I think it makes perfect sense.  An army that is without water is in seriousserious … trouble.  While I am certain that his superiors do an adequate job of training my son concerning the dangers of dehydration and overheating, I regularly (via phone) give my son a “safety brief? concerning these matters.

You must remember the facts concerning water and body heat.  The body can discharge heat in several ways: convection cooling, radiation cooling, conductive cooling and evaporative cooling.  Of these, evaporative cooling is the most significant.  When you sweat, the idea is that the water is then able to evaporate, taking with it the heat necessary to change phases (this is called the latent heat of vaporization).  This change of phase takes with it from the body just under 1000 BTUs/lbm of water, and without it a man on the battlefield is in danger of not only heat exhaustion, but heat stroke and even death.  I regularly lecture my son on ensuring that his “camelback? is full of water, and that he hydrates regularly.

Regarding heat stroke, if the core body temperature increases to around 105 degrees F and stays for any length of time, the proteins in the brain begin to change form, and permanent brain damage occurs.  Of course, exhaustion, fatigue, medical problems and brain damage are not good things on the battlefield.  Finally, in conditions of dehydration, the blood thickens and less of it is sent to the brain.  This causes a loss of mental and cognitive capabilities.  Again, not a good thing on the battlefield.

The lack of basic provisions such as water (the most basic of all) shows that Israel was not — and is not — on a war footing.

The man on the battlefield who doesn’t understand the significance of water, exposure to radiant heat gain, and internal heat generation due to work has been poorly trained.  And the country that sends its boys into harm’s way without the provisions necessary to do the job has done something profoundly immoral.


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