Archive for the 'Department of Defense' Category



Destruction Of Expended Cartridge Brass

BY Herschel Smith
1 year ago

David Codrea hasn’t let this issue go, and that’s a good thing.  Like a bulldog with a bone.  First, read his predecessor article.  Next, read the followup article.  He has a DoD memorandum, and apparently without even going for a FOIA request.  At any rate, the Department of Defense claims that they will continue to make expended brass cartridges available for public sale, and then there is this (for me) money quote.

The memorandum includes an “Implementing Guidance” attachment stating “DoD will dispose of ESACC as quickly and effectively as practical, and in compliance with applicable laws, regulations and DoD guidance.”

A PAO developed this response to David, and the memorandum was developed by a JAG.  It has legalese all over it.  The problem is that this isn’t what the law says.  It doesn’t require the DoD to continue to make expended brass available.  It requires that no money be spent on its destruction.  None.

Furthermore, the bit about compliance with regulations and guidance is obfuscatory pandering.  Rehearse for a moment, shall we?  Laws are passed by Congress.  Regulations are written by armies of lawyers sitting inside the beltway who are tasked with applying the laws.  Regulations are not laws.  Regulations in fact are challenged, often successfully.  Guidance is even farther down the food chain than regulations.

Congress passed a law that requires that no monies be used for destruction of expended brass.  What regulations and guidance have to say about the law is irrelevant.

Read it all at Examiner and come to your own conclusions.  But here is the final word for me.  I don’t want to hear another damn thing about how police in America cannot find ammunition.  I don’t care if they ever have another round to carry.

Leon Panetta On Firearms

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 3 months ago

Leon Panetta:

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta joined the gun control debate on Thursday when he told troops at a military base in Italy that only soldiers needed armor-piercing bullets or assault weapons.

Asked by a soldier what President Barack Obama would do to protect school children from gun violence without infringing Americans’ right to own guns, Panetta said action was needed after the attack on a Connecticut school in December in which a gunman killed 20 children and six adults.

He told members of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team at Vicenza that there were areas where steps could be taken,

“I mean who the hell needs armor-piercing bullets except you guys in battle?”

Well, anyone who wants to protect themselves against a multi-man home invasion may decide that he needs “assault weapons.”  But one would think that the secretary of defense would have more important things to worry with, like the fact that we’re losing the campaign in Afghanistan.

But remember that this is the very same Leon Panetta who retains the services of body guards.  So here’s the deal, Leon.  Disarm your body guards or tell us that you’re a liar – that you really don’t believe what you say – that you know people need protection, but that you don’t care about that except for the really important people like you.

Then you’ll say in public what we all know to be true.  You’re a sniveling lackey just like Stanley McChrystal.

More Benghazi Excuses

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 5 months ago

We’ve discussed the excuses for the failure to respond to the assault on the consulate (or “special mission,” as the Ambassador called it).

  1. The only other assets immediately available were F-16 fighter jets based at Aviano, Italy. These aircraft might have reached Benghazi while the fight at the Annex was still going on, but they would have had difficulty pinpointing hostile mortar positions or distinguishing between friendly and hostile militias in the midst of a confused firefight in a densely populated residential area where there would have been a high likelihood of civilian casualties.
  2. There was no AC-130 within a continent’s range of Benghazi.
  3. “We didn’t have forewarning of this tragic event in Benghazi,” Little said. “The entire U.S. government was starting from a cold start.”
  4. We were preparing for a hostage situation.

We can now add to list of excuses this one.

Sources who have debriefed the team that was at the CIA annex the night of the attack in Benghazi say that the CIA operators from the Global Response Staff, or GRS, were equipped with Mark 48 machine guns and had two types of laser capability. Each weapon had both a “passive” as well as a “visible” laser that could be used against the Libyan attackers.

The presence of laser capability on the roof of the CIA annex confirms what Fox News sources that night in Benghazi originally said, which is that they had laser capability and for 5 hours and 15 minutes were wondering where the usual overhead air support was, especially since, according to this source, they radioed from the annex beginning as early as midnight asking for it.

The presence of lasers raises more questions about why air support was not sent to Benghazi even protectively once it became clear that the fighting had followed the CIA rescue team back to the annex.

U.S. military officials say they “thought the fighting was over” after the team left the consulate and that there was a lull in the fighting.

[ ... ]

A source present the night of the attack says that the GRS team that was defending the annex asked where the air support was at midnight. Former SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed 5 hours and 15 minutes later.

Forget for a moment the inherent contradiction in these excuses (see prior articles).  They didn’t have the assets, but even if they did, they were prepared for something else (i.e., a hostage situation), but even so, we were all caught with our pants down, but even with our pants down, we had moved assets to the area, but then, F-16 fighters in Europe were not on alert (I could be wrong about this, but deployed fighter pilots are able to be reached, just like SEALs are within pager distance), and so on.  It’s the leaky bucket problem, and ten of them still leak even when used together.

Thought the fighting was over.”  There you have it.  What reason could there possibly be for concluding anything whatsoever at this point?  How could military and national security professionals concoct such strange, bizarre tales?

Prior:

So What Were The Assets Available For Benghazi, Part II?

So What Were The Assets Available For Benghazi?

Benghazi Inconsistencies

False Military Doctrine And The Benghazi Assault

So What Were The Assets Available For Benghazi, Part II?

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 5 months ago

Prior: So What Were The Assets Available For Benghazi?

The Pentagon has responded to the question of assets available to respond to the debacle at Benghazi.

Among the units ordered by Panetta on the night of the attack to Sicily,  which is less than 500 miles from Libya,were two special operations teams that were moved to  Sigonella.

As previously reported, one of the units came from a U.S. military base in “Central Europe.” And Little disclosed that Panetta also ordered another team from the United States to head to Sigonella.   Little refused to describe what kind of unit was sent from the U.S., though it was presumably a special operations team trained for hostage rescues.

Little said both the units “did not arrive until after the entire sequence of events was complete. … They were in Sigonella many hours after the attacks.”

The Pentagon spokesman said that it can take hours for troops to be organized and transported to where they might be used.  He added that at the time they were ordered to move, policy makers  ”did not know when the attacks would end.”  Little said that, in theory, a hostage situation in Benghazi could have lasted for days.

“We didn’t have forewarning of this tragic event in Benghazi,” Little said. “The entire U.S. government was starting from a cold start.”

[ ... ]

Little reaffirmed that no other American aircraft were involved over Libya the night of the attack beyond the unarmed surveillance drone that arrived 90 minutes into the attack.  As for reports that an AC-130 gunship could have been dispatched over Libya at the time of the attack,  Little was clear that “there was no AC-130 within a continent’s range of Benghazi” that night.

Yet astute commenter Šťoural (Jan Špaček, Czechoslovakia) gives this summary of assets via e-mail.

1) NAS Sigonella: NAS Sigonella supports a rotational VP squadron, an HC squadron, C-2, C-9, and C-130 detachments, shore-based fleet aircraft, transient NATO aircraft and U.S. Air Force transient aircraft.  Look at Google Earth Photo 17th March 2011-four P3C Orion, 37°24’27.89″N,14°54’49.81″E

CTF-67 is a subordinate command to Commander, U.S. SIXTH Fleet and maintains tactical control of deployed maritime patrol and reconnaissance squadrons. When assigned to CTF-67, P-3C Orion aircraft provide the Fleet with essential information in the European and African Areas of Responsibility.  The Mediterranean maritime patrol force for these operations included ten P-3Cs, five of the AIP variant, and 14 crews from Patrol Squadrons 1, 4, 5 and 10 from Naval Air Stations Whidbey Island, Barbers Point, Jacksonville, and Brunswick, respectively.

2) P-3C AIP Orion capabilities, Orion is much better then drone Predator and Reaper.

The P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) Hunting terrorists in the peaks of the Hindu Kush? Spotting for special operations troops in Iraq? Not the stereotypical MPA missions.

Not only has the Navy’s front-line MPA been venturing far inland; it has been an indispensable surveillance platform in the global war on terrorism, a sensor and weapon platform that has impressed operational commanders with its high degree of utility and versatility.

3) CIF,probably C-company, 1st Bn, 10thSFG at least be able to make CASEVAC and NEO-non-combatant evacuation operation from Benghazi Airport.

Example operation CIF

I had also mentioned that Marine Force Recon should have been available at Sigonella.  And all of this brings up an important point.  I think I have made a mistake in framing the question so broadly, i.e., what assets were available to the DoD to assist at Benghazi?  One important but easily overlooked exigency in the DoD rebuttal above is this idea of a hostage situation.  It is mentioned at least twice in the ABC News article.

The Department of Defense rebuttal answers nothing, but adds to the list of problems.  The proper way to frame this discussion is this: What assets existed at Sigonella that night (Delta Force, SEAL Teams, Marine Force Recon, MPs, cooks, administrative staff, etc.)?  This report leads to more questions, such as did the National Security Counsel or Pentagon war game this scenario in such a manner that precluded the consideration of assets available at Sigonella because they weren’t specifically related to the scenario being gamed (e.g., a hostage situation)?  Why weren’t forces of any kind sent to relieve the poor souls in Benghazi?

On to the recent and very important Fox News report from the ground in Benghazi.

As details emerge of serious security issues before the attack on Sept. 11, Fox News is also beginning to hear more frustration from sources both on the ground in Benghazi and in the U.S. Multiple British and American sources insist there were other capabilities in the region and are mystified why none were used. Fox News was told there were not only armed drones that monitor Libyan chemical weapon sites in the area, but also F-18′s, AC-130 aircraft and even helicopters that could have been dispatched in a timely fashion.

British intelligence sources said that unarmed drones routinely flew over Benghazi every night in flight patterns and that armed drones which fly over chemical sites, some a short flight from Benghazi, “were always said to be on call.” American sources confirmed this and questioned “why was a drone armed only with a camera dispatched?”

Another source added, “Why would they put a ragtag team together in Tripoli as first responders? This is not even what they do for a living. We had a first responder air base in Italy almost the same distance away.” Despite the team arriving from Tripoli that night, sources said sufficient American back-up never came.

British sources on the ground in Benghazi said they are extremely frustrated by the attack and are still wondering why they weren’t called for help. “We have more people on the ground here than the Americans and I just don’t know why we didn’t get the call?” one said.

Both American and British sources said, at the very least, the security situation on the ground and the lack of proper response were the result of “complete incompetence.” The covert team that came in from Tripoli was held up at the Benghazi airport for more than three hours by Libyan officials. Sources said the team notified officials in Washington that they were being delayed within 30 minutes of their arrival.

They also point out that these questions “don’t even address the military capabilities of our United Nations ally Turkey, who (has) forces available a similarly short flight away.” Fox News has learned that Turkey had a number of embassy staff in town the night of the attack and that the Turkish consul general met with Ambassador Stevens in Benghazi the night he and the three other Americans were killed.

One source asked, “Were the Turks not warned? What forces were available from our ally Turkey? Especially since they had officials there in Benghazi also and had to be concerned … and where was the U.N. in all of this?”

The Pentagon answers don’t even approach closure on this issue.  Their responses have only raised more questions, and much more work needs to be done on this.

Prior: So What Were The Assets Available For Benghazi?

See also: John Jay

False Military Doctrine And The Benghazi Assault

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 5 months ago

This Washington Times blog post adds yet another wrinkle to the assault by enemy military forces on our consulate in Benghazi.  Take careful note of what is apparently official, and also what is not.

Is an American General losing his job for trying to save the Americans besieged in Benghazi? This is the latest potential wrinkle in the growing scandal surrounding the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack that left four men dead and President Obama scrambling for a coherent explanation.

On October 18, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta appeared unexpectedly at an otherwise unrelated briefing on “Efforts to Enhance the Financial Health of the Force.” News organizations and CSPAN were told beforehand there was no news value to the event and gave it scant coverage. In his brief remarks Mr. Panetta said, “Today I am very pleased to announce that President Obama will nominate General David Rodriguez to succeed General Carter Ham as commander of U.S. Africa Command.” This came as a surprise to many, since General Ham had only been in the position for a year and a half. The General is a very well regarded officer who made AFRICOM into a true Combatant Command after the ineffective leadership of his predecessor, General William E. “Kip” Ward. Later, word circulated informally that General Ham was scheduled to rotate out in March 2013 anyway, but according to Joint doctrine, ”the tour length for combatant commanders and Defense agency directors is three years.” Some assumed that he was leaving for unspecified personal reasons.

However on October 26, “Ambassador” posted the following RUMINT on TigerDroppings (h/t Jim Hoft):

I heard a story today from someone inside the military that I trust entirely. The story was in reference to General Ham that Panetta referenced in the quote below.

quote:


“(The) basic principle is that you don’t deploy forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s going on; without having some real-time information about what’s taking place,” Panetta told Pentagon reporters. “And as a result of not having that kind of information, the commander who was on the ground in that area, Gen. Ham, Gen. Dempsey and I felt very strongly that we could not put forces at risk in that situation.”


The information I heard today was that General Ham as head of Africom received the same e-mails the White House received requesting help/support as the attack was taking place. General Ham immediately had a rapid response unit ready and communicated to the Pentagon that he had a unit ready.

General Ham then received the order to stand down. His response was to screw it, he was going to help anyhow. Within 30 seconds to a minute after making the move to respond, his second in command apprehended General Ham and told him that he was now relieved of his command.

The story continues that now General Rodiguez would take General Ham’s place as the head of Africom.

This version of events contradicts Mr. Panetta’s October 25 statement that General Ham advised against intervention. But so far there is nothing solid to back it up. Maybe Ham attempted to send a reaction force against orders, or maybe he simply said the wrong thing to the wrong people. Perhaps he gave whomever he was talking to up the chain a piece of his mind about leaving Americans to die when there was a chance of saving them. At the very least U.S. forces might have made those who killed our people pay while they were still on the scene. The Obama White House is famously vindictive against perceived disloyalty – the administration would not let Ham get away with scolding them for failing to show the leadership necessary to save American lives. The Army’s ethos is to leave no man behind, but that is not shared by a president accustomed to leading from that location.

First of all, recall that General Rodriguez is the one whom I called out almost five years ago for spewing the silly propaganda that the Taliban were too weakened to launch a spring offensive, and also the one who wanted to micromanage a Marine Air Ground Task Force in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan.  Less than six hours before Marines commenced a major helicopter-borne assault in the town of Marjah, Rodriguez’s headquarters issued an order requiring that his operations center clear any airstrike that was on a housing compound in the area but not sought in self-defense.  This is rules of engagement of the flavor Rodriguez.

If General Rodriguez is in fact taking over the Africa command, I’m not impressed with Panetta’s decision.  Then again, I think Panetta is a weasel and his excuse-making cowardly, so I’m not surprised by the decision.

The notion that we don’t send our forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s going on is patently absurd and false.  Simply said, it’s a lie.  We deploy Army Rangers to take control of air fields and landing zones in potentially hostile environments, for which we do not know all of the desired information; we deploy Marine infantry into situations of potentially unknown threats all of the time all over the globe; each and every time a patrol left the outpost at the Korengal in Afghanistan, they were deploying into potentially deadly situations without specific and detailed knowledge of the situation.

The counterinsurgency and state-building doctrine that has taken possession of the very souls of our military elite states unequivocally that our forces should be willing to sustain risk – of a potentially unknown quantity and quality – in order to protect the population.  But when it comes to protecting our own forces such as those deployed in Benghazi, the excuse is made that we didn’t have enough intelligence.

Finally, as the final nail in the coffin of this ridiculous prevarication, we deploy Marine Scout Snipers and Force Recon all of the time into situations of completely unknown risk, danger and hazard in order to gather intelligence and lay the groundwork for the Marine infantry.  If we really needed more information on Benghazi, we could have deployed reconnaissance forces.

Thus has one general been given his walking papers, a system apparatchik been promoted, and yet another lie been woven into the horrible web of lies concerning Benghazi.  This is false doctrine being willingly preached by the Secretary of Defense as an attempt to cover the administration.  Make no mistake about it.  Is there any level to which they will not stoop?

UPDATE #1: Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the attention!

UPDATE #2: At NRO’s Corner, David French observes:

His “basic principle” is simply false. We deploy forces all the time in our theaters of war without good real-time information. All. The. Time. If we didn’t, far more men would die. The fog of war never fully clears, and our solution has been to typically go in with sufficient force to deal with virtually any reasonable contingency. But the truly revealing part of the response is here: “General Ham, General Dempsey and I felt very strongly that we could not put forces at risk in that situation.” To military ears those are not the words of a man who made a decision; those are the words of a man who made a recommendation. A decision-maker follows his strong feeling with an order: to stand down or decline the request for help. A recommender passes his feeling up the chain of command — in this case, to the president of the United States.

The State Department answered the call with what force it had. The military did not. Either we did not have assets to answer (and that would be a different kind of scandal) or someone made the decision to — in effect — hang up on the 3:00 a.m. caller. Who made that call and why? The military already knows.  So should the American people.

UPDATE #3: CJCS denies:

The top U.S. military officer is denying reports that Army Gen. Carter Ham’s planned departure as head of U.S. Africa Command is linked to the Sept. 11 attack in Libya.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey issued a written statement Monday calling speculation about the reasons for Ham’s move “absolutely false.”

Well, Mr. Dempsey, I don’t believe you.  It’s sad that it has come to that, no?  As for something being absolutely false, Panetta’s claim (see above) remains so.

Prior:

White House Informed Of Militant Claim Two Hours After Benghazi Attack

What’s The Problem With Obama’s Response To Benghazi?

The Collected Wisdom of Fools: Defense Department and ANA Infiltration

BY Glen Tschirgi
1 year, 6 months ago

I keep telling myself to forswear any more posts about Afghanistan.  It is beyond merely beating a dead horse.  It is akin to saddling the horse up.

Still, this article in The Hill (hat tip to Instapundit), while dealing with the problem of enemy infiltration of the ANA, is really about the complete and utter cluelessness of the Department of Defense, its leadership and the lack of direction in U.S. policy in general.

Here is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff– the highest ranking member of the military, the one responsible for advising the President on military matters:

U.S. and coalition commanders are no closer to knowing how deep the Taliban has penetrated Afghanistan’s security forces despite increased efforts to flush out infiltrators who are carrying out attacks against Americans.

“As for what percentage of the insider threat is related to infiltration or radicalization, I mean, it’s really difficult to determine,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said Thursday.

“I’m sure a certain percentage of it is. And we’re treating it … as a threat,” he told reporters during a briefing at the Pentagon.

Taliban double agents, posing as members of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), are responsible for executing some of the deadly “insider” attacks that have killed 51 coalition troops, mostly from the United States.

Really, General Dempsey?  It is “really difficult to determine” what percentage of the ANA is infiltrated by the Taliban?   But you are sure that “a certain percentage of it is.”   That’s just swell.  From purely a public relations perspective, you need to fire whomever is advising you, General.   There is absolutely no need to have the JCS Chairman get up in front of a bunch of reporters and say idiotic things like this.   Isn’t White House spokesman Jay Carney available for this kind of thing?  At least he gets lots of practice.

I am not interested here in examining the problems and solutions to infiltration of government forces by an insurgency.   There were certainly comparable problems with this in the Iraq Campaign.  But notice that in Iraq the approach of U.S. forces to the problem was commonsense:  don’t trust any of the Iraqis units being mentored.   There was not the same air of desperation in Iraq to train up security forces by a date certain as there clearly is in Afghanistan.   This is just one of the many evils unleashed by El Presidente’s foolish 2014 withdrawal date.   My interest here, however, is in the depths of inanity to which otherwise sane and presumably rational men will sink in obedience to the political dictates of the Child President.

Continuing on in this same article, lest anyone think that General Dempsey has a monopoly on foolishness, here is Leon Panetta, the Secretary of Defense, no less:

But as Washington continues to eye the finish line in Afghanistan, the spate of insider attacks — no matter who is carrying them out — will likely continue all the way through the final withdrawal in 2014.

“I expect that there will be more of these high-profile attacks,” Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told reporters Thursday. “The enemy will do whatever they can to try and break our will using this kind of tactic. That will not happen.”

Oh.  I see, Leon.  So you’re not scared of those big, bad Taliban.   Let them keep infiltrating the ANA in order to kill more U.S. service members.   No matter how high the toll, the United States is determined to stand by its commitment to the Afghan people and to fight the forces of evil to the bitter end.   All the way up to, er….2014.   That would be another 15 months or so.  The Taliban can be forgiven if they are not as intimidated as Leon would like.   The bad guys may not be taking window measurements at the presidential residence in Kabul just yet, but is there anyone who cannot see the utter chaos in the Pentagon that has left our most senior leaders grasping at rhetorical fig leaves like this?

Let there be no mistake about the source of this folly.  The Pentagon has been given a completely untenable mission in Afghanistan– beat down a home-grown insurgency using less than half the necessary forces with half their collective arms tied in R.O.E. red tape behind their backs; training an Afghan national army heavily infiltrated by the enemy and on a timeline for surrender known to everyone.   El Presidente Obama is squarely to blame for the bloody and expensive failure unfolding in Afghanistan.  (There’s that dead horse).

Nonetheless, in more heroic and patriotic times, I would hope that there would be military officers who would rather resign than play the Fool.

Leon Panetta Jumps Off The Deep End

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 11 months ago

Well, I never agreed with his advocacy for troops cutbacks, I don’t like his positions on Iraq or Afghanistan, and I couldn’t have gotten along with Mr. Obama long enough to have every been in his shoes.  But this time Panetta has really jumped off the deep end.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta declared global warming a national security threat yesterday during a speech before an environmentalist group in Washington, D.C.

“The area of climate change has a dramatic impact on national security,” Panetta told the Environmental Defense Fund last night. “Rising sea levels, severe droughts, the melting of the polar caps, the more frequent and devastating natural disasters all raise demand for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.”

I had been wondering about Panetta’s position on the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, or the F-22 versus the (what will be ill-fated) F-35, maintaining the same number of carrier groups in the future (which I support – actually, I support increasing the number), and so on.

Instead, we find out that his thoughts as Secretary of Defense are running to anthropogenic global warming and the soon-to-be-manifest disasters.  Sigh.  It’s sort of like finding out that that man down the street with whom you talk from time to time believes that the U.S. destroyed the world trade center, right after aliens kidnapped him and held him hostage for ten years on the planet Lazon II.

Marines In Afghanistan Told To Disarm Prior To Panetta Speech

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 1 month ago

From MSNBC:

In an unusual move, around 200 U.S. Marines were asked to leave their weapons outside the tent where U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was set to speak during his trip to Afghanistan on Wednesday.

Although the military said the order was not given in response to the Sunday’s shooting of 16 Afghan civilians allegedly by an American soldier, it possibly underlined how high tensions were running after the incident.

Major General Mark Gurganus told reporters at Camp Leatherneck that he had given the order because the two dozen Afghan soldiers also there were unarmed and he did not want to treat them differently.

“You’ve got one of the most important people in the world in the room,” he told reporters, dismissing concerns related to the shooting. “This is not a big deal.”

“All I know is I was told to get the weapons out,” Sergeant Major Brandon Hall told The New York Times. Asked why, he replied, “Somebody got itchy, that’s all I’ve got to say. Somebody got itchy; we just adjust.”

Panetta’s visit comes after Sunday’s shooting that left 16 Afghan civilians dead, including nine children. Some of the bodies were reportedly burned. The suspect, who hasn’t been named, is in U.S. custody.

According to the newspaper, the Marines, who were waiting to hear Panetta’s speech, were abruptly told by their commander to get up, leave their weapons, including M16 and M-4 automatic rifles and 9 mm pistols, outside and return unarmed. Hall said he was acting on orders from superiors, the Times reported.

Disarming in this way was noteworthy, according to NBC News’ chief Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski.

He told NBC’s Chuck Todd that the move was “highly unusual” and that Marines in a combat zone are always supposed to have weapons within their reach.

Without going into too much detail, what the Marines were told to do violates everything about Marine Corps doctrine, from top to bottom, concerning not only self protection but protection and security that Marines provide to other Marines.  It runs counter to what they are taught in Boot Camp, School of Infantry, and as a fleet Marine.  And to have 200 Marines completely disarmed in a combat zone is worse than just stolid or ignorant.  It is immoral.

But as for Panetta, let’s be clear.  If his plane were to crash on the way back to the states, requiring us to find a new Secretary of Defense, the world would not come to an end.  Time moves on, as does daily events and decisions.  This is true of me, readers, and even “one of the most important people (sic) in the world.”  But doctrine is for little people. While the Marines were armed Panetta was in one of the safest places on earth – i.e., around 200 armed Marines.  With the Marines disarmed, Panetta unwittingly placed himself and his entourage in mortal danger.

The only analogue I can think of is new gun owners.  If they cannot bring themselves to become trained and practice and trust in their muzzle and trigger discipline, then perhaps they shouldn’t own guns.  If the Secretary of Defense is nervous about being around firearms, perhaps he should have just stayed home and avoided this photo-event.  It would have been better for him and the Marines.

Concerning Declarations Of War And Tech Ninjas

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 2 months ago

For more than a decade now we have been engaged in what we have called a global war on terror, which is an awful name for it since we cannot war against a tactic.  We have actually been engaged in a war with militant Islam, but since we don’t want to speak truth, we make up slogans that hide the truth.

Congress voted in both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom to give the President the authority to use force to effect our desired ends in those campaigns.  Call it what you will, these were declarations of war, albeit against a country in one case, and against a transnational religious insurgency in another case.  Actually, since Salafists of various stripes and other Islamic religious fanatics crossed the Jordanian and Syrian border to fight the U.S. in Iraq, at some 80 – 100 per month at the height of it, we have fought a transnational religious insurgency in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  In both cases the use of force was authorized by Congress.

But in any case, I have repeatedly called on the reader to study the first chapter of Robert Kaplan’s book Imperial Grunts, the chapter being entitled “Injun Country.”  It might disavow the reader of the notion that America was conceived or raised in military isolationism.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I have also pointed out that from the very inception of the U.S. Marine Corps, before the effective date of the declaration of independence, the continental congress knew exactly what they were doing.  The model they followed was the British Marines, and the British Marines functioned as an imperial force.  This design was intentional from the beginning, whether the colonists (or readers today) knew it or not.

Daniel Trombly writing at Slouching Towards Columbia, does an outstanding job of filling in the details for us.  His post will be repeated at length.

The Constitution is not explicit that any kind of warfare must be validated by a Congressional declaration of war. Madison was quite clear that in a case where the United States was defending itself from attack, no declaration of war was necessary. This has been a decision constantly reaffirmed throughout American history, and the debates surrounding the drafting of that portion of the Constitution clearly reveal that the founders saw a distinction between declaring and making war, and explicitly did not require a Congressional declaration for America to make war, only to begin one where no hostile act had initiated it. In other words, beyond continued Congressional approval for whatever financing of the war effort is necessary, there is no requirement for a formal declaration of war for the United States to prosecute one should the war occur in reaction to the commencement of war by a hostile force.

The notion that drones are responsible for the “short-circuiting” of America’s process for going to war is illusory – particularly when the idealized version of warfare Singer describes was never the historical norm for the United States. Very few American wars have been fought with a formal declaration of war, including two of America’s earliest overseas conflicts.

Indeed, America’s flirtation with undeclared wars with broad Congressional mandates is obvious from the very historical existence of the phrase “Quasi-War,” describing US hostilities with France under the Adams administration. There, the US found it sufficient to pass a Congressional measure authorizing naval action against French ships. Lest anyone chalk this up to a mere outlying tendency in US politics, Adams’s political foe, Jefferson, continued and indeed expanded the trend significantly under his own administration.

Thomas Jefferson was eager to prosecute a war against the Barbary pirates, which had amorphous links to recognized political authorities. Yet Jefferson did not seek and Congress did not require a formal declaration of war against an enemy considered to be both hostis humani generis (hostile to all mankind, as most seafaring nations considered pirates) and engaged already in persistent hostilities against American civilian vessels. Congress passed a relatively broad mandate for military force, and Thomas Jefferson’s military proceeded to wage an undeclared war with amorphous boundaries against Islamic unconventional actors, along with the help of private mercenary armies. One can make arguments about why America should not prosecute undeclared wars, fight non-state actors alone, or use privately contracted military forces, but any appeal to the founding fathers is unconvincing at best and a cynical ploy at worst.

To blame drones for the trend of undeclared wars that has existed since America’s earliest years is grossly historically inaccurate. Not only does it completely fail to explain America’s participation in the Quasi-War, Barbary Wars, Indian Wars, and the several formally undeclared wars of the 20th century after World War II, it also fails to explain the conflicts which the United States has begun since drones existed. It is quite difficult to say there are any ongoing military campaigns which began or persist solely because of “risk free” drones. The broad authorization for use of military force which began the War on Terror and its “undeclared” nature has very little to do with drone technology, and more to do with the fact that the United States has never formally declared war on a non-state actor in its history. Even in areas frequently identified with drone warfare, such as the Horn of Africa, Yemen, and Pakistan, non-drone US interference has occurred at varying levels of frequency during the War on Terror.

[ ... ]

As uncomfortable as it might make foreign policy commentators (sometimes myself included), the founders always recognized a difference between military operations involving sustained use of land forces and those involving a primarily maritime or over-the-horizon force. This distinction is quite evident in the American Constitution, which as any sea power booster will tell you, stipulates that while an army should only be raised temporarily, Congress must provide and maintain a navy. This distinction has carried throughout American history (Even in the case of the Posse Comitatus Act, only the US Army and Air Force are specifically excluded from intervening in domestic affairs. The United States Navy and Marine Corps are actually only excluded under an internal Department of Defense directive). The American imperative to keep sea lanes flowing freely and protect the sovereign rights of American vessels and citizens overseas has been a much stronger push for American military involvement than drones have been or ever will be.

Daniel focuses on the use of UAVs in his article, and I am completely uninterested in UAVs.  But his prose is on point concerning the use of military power throughout the nation’s history.  More specifically concerning drones, the policy makers and strategists seem to be under the magical spell of the tech ninja warriors who believe that we can engage in push-button war and win.

Drones were useful when engaging non-state actors who had little financing or technology.  As we have seen recently with Iran, nominal technology can shoot drones out of the air.  Pilots will always be needed to fly fighters, warriors will always need to put boots on the ground, and ships will always need to support troops closer than the 20 mile “beyond the horizon” that they want to avoid.  There is no answer to the costliness of war, and gutting defense spending to pay for entitlements won’t supply either with enough funding.  The cost for war-making won’t go away, and the appetite for entitlements only grows with more spending like an obscene addiction.

I have pointed out before that progressives have always wanted to make war differently, that they claim to support equality of the genders (in the face of biological evidence to the contrary), and that they claim to be neo-isolationist concerning the use of American military power.  But progressives don’t tell you everything.  They’re lying in most, if not all cases.

They also want to increase the size of special operations, and it is well known that the SEALs, Rangers, Delta and Force Recon don’t accept females – and for good reason.  But that doesn’t stop the progressives.  They want more of the same, they just want war to be clinical, rapid and clean.  It’s good enough to ensure that females are in the general purpose forces so that they progressives can claim to be morally superior.  The reality of females carrying a 120 pound kit like Marine infantry or Rangers isn’t discussed.  Since special operations is always under a cloak of secrecy, word of their work doesn’t usually get out.  The progressives like it that way.  They want to engage in war, they just don’t want the public to know about it, or Congress to get involved other than funding the war-making.  OPSEC and all of that, you know.  Shhhh …

This has always been true.  It is true now, and we see that the size of special operations is going to increase while the size of the so-called general purpose forces will decrease by some 15%.  In fact, they want virtual permanent deployment for some special operations.

The Pentagon is rushing to send a large floating base for commando teams to the Middle East as tensions rise with Iran, al-Qaeda in Yemen and Somali pirates, among other threats.

In response to requests from U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East, the Navy is converting an aging warship it had planned to decommission into a makeshift staging base for the commandos. Unofficially dubbed a “mothership,” the floating base could accommodate smaller high-speed boats and helicopters commonly used by Navy SEALs, procurement documents show.

Special Operations forces are a key part of the Obama administration’s strategy to make the military leaner and more agile as the Pentagon confronts at least $487 billion in spending cuts over the next decade.

Lt. Cmdr. Mike Kafka, a spokesman for the Navy’s Fleet Forces Command, declined to elaborate on the floating base’s purpose or to say where, exactly, it will be deployed in the Middle East. Other Navy officials acknowledged that they were moving with unusual haste to complete the conversion and send the mothership to the region by early summer.

They have even taken one of the assets of the U.S. Marine Corps, an amphibious assault dock.  All the while, as the Marines continue to imagine that they will ever do a large scale, sea-based forcible entry again, they sink deeper into complete irrelevance in the twenty first century.  Visions of Iwo Jima dance in the heads of Marine Corps planners, while the real fight – the one the Marines should be leading – goes to what has effectively become another (secretive) branch of the service, SOCOM.

American history is replete with examples of warfighting without a formal declaration of war.  But the main focus has usually been the U.S. Marine Corps.  The strategic planners of the Marine Corps have lost their way, and continue to send Force Recon Marines into SOCOM rather than develop and enhance their own capabilities to conduct such operations.  They have even retired the only remaining asset in their air fleet that is capable of inserting Marines by fast-roping.  The V-22 cannot do that.  But when the final story is told, we will not be safer for creating another branch of the service, or for gutting military spending in favor of the tech ninja paradigm.  We will regret it.

Prior:

Expeditionary Warfare Category

Abolish SOCOM

“Stoopid” Talk About Cutting Defense Spending

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 3 months ago

In Herschel Smith’s recent post, “What Defense Cuts Can and Can’t Accomplish,” he noted in response to President Obama’s announced cuts to Defense that such cuts were cover to make room for ruinous entitlements spending and ensured a future military that will not be prepared to meet America’s defense needs.

To tag team on that post somewhat, I would like to address two, typical fallacies indulged in by those calling for cuts to Defense spending.   The first is the idea that the Pentagon budget is so massive and so stuffed with waste and fraud that any budget increase would almost be immoral.   The second notion is that Defense spending is indistinguishable from any, other Federal spending and, so, sacrifices must be made.   I offer this in the context of the ongoing Republican nomination season where an amazing number of candidates are espousing the same kind of cuts.   Furthermore, I am amazed as I travel the internet and read comments by alleged conservatives that call for deep-sixing much of the Pentagon budget.  So, to all those would-be candidates and fellow conservatives who are tempted by the low-hanging Pentagon budget, I say, “No good can come of it.”

And here’s why:

No Federal function will ever be free of waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement.   Live with it.

Conservatives must take it as almost axiomatic that the military, being part of the federal government, is inherently inefficient, wasteful, bass-ackwards, and prone to all the wrong priorities.   Herschel’s post detailing the problems with various weapon systems is on point.

That said, the U.S. military is, nonetheless, widely recognized the world over as the best-functioning part of the national government we have.  It is, in many cases, the only thing that does, actually work even half the time.  When any, significant natural disaster occurs anywhere on the planet and rapid response is required to prevent massive loss of life, who is the one doing the heavy lifting in terms of humanitarian relief?  The U.S. military which has the advantage of being everywhere on the planet (or at least within carrier distance) and organized to deliver critical logistics in short order.  For all its many, many faults, the U.S. military still gets the job done in far less time and in far better fashion than any, other alternative known to mankind at this point.

Money will be wasted by the federal government just as a teenager will blow at least some part of that $20 bill you give them on a Big Mac and fries.  There is simply no way around it.  Yes, fraud/waste/abuse must be rooted out as far as possible and contracting must be improved blah blah blah, but there is no way this side of Paradise to put as many people in the field, all around the globe with as many types of weapons/units/vehicles et al without substantial waste.  I am sick of Obama or any GOP candidate who puffs and preens about reducing waste at the Pentagon as if that is going to solve our national spending addiction.  All of the waste and fraud at the Pentagon in a year is still a pittance compared to the entire, federal budget.   The problem is in the very budgeting and spending process.   Raging about government waste is performance art.   Worse, when it comes to government and waste, the two are too often synonymous.

Perhaps a better way of viewing Defense spending is to liken it to a huge pipeline.   The U.S. government is like a huge pipe with lots of spigots and also a bunch of holes, leaks and cracks: water is going to leak out all over the place.   Amazingly enough, however, due to the sheer volume and force, enough water will still manages to get through.   Tightening down the spigot called the U.S. military does not save any, actual water.   That water will just flow to other spigots like welfare, “green energy,” public employee unions, TSA harpies, bridges to nowhere and genius programs like “Fast and Furious.”   To actually save water in this illustration, the entire plumbing system has to be re-engineered.

Some Federal functions are more legitimate than others.  Prioritizing is key.

President Obama and the other Defense cutters act as if every federal undertaking is on an equal footing much as a family may decide to spend less on expensive orange juice and shift those dollars to cereal instead.   For those of us who continue to believe that we live in a constitutional republic, however, the U.S. military in one of the very few legitimate functions that the federal government performs under the U.S. Constitution.  Rather than starting the discussion about budget cuts with the one department that is actually in the U.S. Constitution, how about talking first about real, immediate cuts to the plethora of departments, agencies, programs and funding that are completely outside of any Constitutional mandate.  Entitlements are the place to start, not the military.

Like Obama, John Huntsman is particularly annoying in this regard.   Worse yet, to hear Huntsman talk about Defense spending, the U.S. can treat it like putting off a leaky roof:  we can put off needed spending for some period of time, hoping that the roof will not collapse, and someday get the repairs done.   As Herschel’s post pointed out, this has been done with shocking frequency since the 1930′s and has always ended in disaster and tragic losses of life.  As night follows day you can rest assured that a major violent international event will follow our budget cuts to defense.  That’s not scaremongering, it is just history.  Sure, we can try ramping up like we did all those other times, but history may be less forgiving this time around.

As this Heritage Foundation paper aptly states, quoting Secretary of Defense Robert Gates:

After each war-driven boom, the defense budget has experienced an extended period of decline. In May 2007, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates explained:

Five s to times over the past 90 years—after the First and Second World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and most recently after the Cold War— the United States has slashed defense spending or disarmed outright in the mistaken belief that the nature of man or the behavior of nations had changed with the end of each of the wars, or that somehow we would not face threatour homeland or would not need to take a leadership role abroad.[6]

Time and again, policymakers have tended to neglect defense absent immediate, manifest threats to U.S. interests, and Americans and their military personnel have repeatedly paid the price of being less prepared.

Common sense dictates that the Pentagon should take advantage of peacetime lulls to replace damaged or destroyed equipment, to modernize legacy systems, and to purchase next-generation replacements to avoid predictable shortfalls in future force structure. Yet most Administrations have failed to do so.

The Heritage Foundation paper is well worth reading in its entirety and provides valuable citations and data that emphasize the follies of U.S. Defense spending practices for the past 90 years.   The papers leads to the conclusion that the combat forces of the U.S. military are increasingly being hollowed out by decades of short-sighted cuts, binge spending and misallocations, with increasing shares of the budget going toward entitlement-like benefits and mushrooming bureaucracies.

Conclusion

The United States is playing not only with fire but a can of gasoline nearby.  Any one of a dozen international hot spots could ignite in the next years and the combat arms of the military are increasingly made to get by with aging equipment and insufficient numbers of soldiers and marines.   In a bitterly comic twist, Democrats like Obama, who only 3 short years ago were complaining that President Bush was wearing out the U.S. military, are now cutting funds needed to re-build it.   More shocking is that this defense-cutting contagion seems to have spread to conservatives.  We seem to be watching our leaders flinging lighted matches at the gas can with little, apparent alarm.


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