Religious Exemption To Mandatory Covid Vaccination

Herschel Smith · 24 Aug 2021 · 15 Comments

I authored this paper for an individual who wishes that the name be removed.  The name has been redacted from the copy provided here. In order to assist the reader with a framework for understanding this paper, it should first be emphasized that it is written from a very specific theological perspective.  The necessary presuppositions are outlined at the beginning. It could of course be objected that there may be other (what I am calling "committed Christians") who do not hold one or…… [read more]

Mutiny in Georgia

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 6 months ago

We have previously predicted a war between Russia and Georgia, or better described, a Russian invasion and rapid takeover of Georgia.  The casus belli will be political instability, or cross border shooting at each other, or some other absurd smoke screen.  The real issue will be the Russian bases in Armenia and inability to reach them without passage through Georgia.  That, combined with Russian hegemony in its near abroad, will be the impetus for renewed military action.  But the method in which is almost began is interesting.

Georgian police officers are seen in a truck body at a road outside Tbilisi today. Georgian troops staged a mutiny on the eve of NATO exercises in the ex-Soviet republic, which the government said it ended without violence but accused Russia of backing the rebels (Vano Shlamov / AFP / Getty Images).

Reporting from Moscow and Tbilisi, Georgia — Georgia’s president, a post-Soviet darling of the Bush administration, is already struggling with a buildup of Russian troops in breakaway territories and an angry opposition movement intent on driving him from power. Suddenly, the integrity of the armed forces is in doubt as well.

The short-lived mutiny of a tank battalion today was another reminder of the instability that has racked Georgia since it was defeated last summer in a war with Russia. President Mikheil Saakashvili rushed to negotiate with the mutineers. And he took to the airwaves to accuse Russia — whose leaders loathe him and are bitterly opposed to his hopes of joining NATO — of trying to organize a coup.

“What happened today is just a signal that the war has not ended yet,” said Alexander Rondeli, president of the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies.

The flare of insurrection was over in a few hours. The commander of the 500-member tank battalion was in custody, the base was calm, and the government had turned its attention to circulating a news release describing “the failed military mutiny.”

But the uprising further pressurized politics in the small republic in the volatile Caucasus region.

The government accused Russia of orchestrating the uprising in an effort to undermine NATO war games set to begin in Georgia on Wednesday.

Saakashvili called the uprising “a serious threat and a serious challenge,” but said it was isolated. He also said the mutineers had “connections with special forces in a specific country known to us.”

“I am asking and demanding from our northern neighbor to refrain from provocations,” Saakashvili said in a televised address.

This mutiny is thuggery, the actions of criminals.  It’s tailor-made and just perfect for Vladimir Putin and his lap dog Dmitri Medvedev.  Money has been pouring into Georgia to support the forces of unrest, and it’s quite the wonder that Georgia has held on as long as it has.  But while the U.S. is glad-handing, or hand-slapping, or fist-bumping, Russia, and hitting the rest button in our relations, Russia is flipping the U.S. the bird.  The Russian ambassador to the U.S. has given a stern warning on what the invasion in the August of 2008 really meant.

Russia deplores the NATO decision to hold military training in Georgia. It shows that the alliance did not draw right lesson from the developments in the Caucasus in August 2008, RIA Novosto quoted Russian ambassador the United States Sergey Kislyak a saying in New York.

Corporative Longbow 09 /Corporative Lancer 09 multinational training is expected to begin on May 6 and run through June 1 in Georgia. As many as 1,300 military men from 19 alliance member states and partners will participate.

“Differences between Russia and U.S. on a number of issues still persist. The most recent example is NATO maneuvers in Georgia. It disappoints us as it assures Georgian government that regardless of what it did towards Russia, it will gain NATO membership. Unfortunately, no lesson was drawn from August events,” Russian ambassador said at Carnegie Council in New York.

Lessons.  That was the point of the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008.  Apparently we (and Georgia) didn’t learn them the easy way, and with the fist-bumping and smiles being the order of the day, The Captain’s Journal wonders if Georgia regrets sending its sons to fight alongside U.S. troops in Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Some ally we turned out to be.

Prior:

Obama, Russia and the Future of Georgia

It’s Time to Engage the Caucasus

Rapidly Collapsing U.S. Foreign Policy

Will Russian-Afghan Logistics Dictate Foreign Policy?

Karzai Must Approve of U.S. Military Operations?

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 6 months ago

Glenn Reynolds recently posted a link to a interesting report from an embed by Joe Pappalardo with Popular Mechanics.  The reader should take the several minutes required to read the report, and assuming that this obtains, I won’t rehearse the report here, except for one part that jumped off of the page at me because I have followed it.

More information comes in and planning is done on the fly around the horseshoe table: 10th Mountain division troops are en route. They will find and secure a landing zone for the Chinooks. To get a jump on the process, the choppers with the Special Operations troops will predeploy at another Forward Operating Base closer to the target mountain. It’s a good plan, but it needs to be backed with maps and permission from a brigadier general in Bagram Air Base, where the brass keeps an eye on operations and seeks stamps of approval for them from Afghan president Hamid Karzai’s personal staff.

Okay, I want to know exactly what this paragraph means?  Hamid Karzai had previously wanted a Status of Forces Agreement with the U.S. similar to the Iraq SOFA, a plan I called a Blunder of Colossal Proportions if it happened.  Karzai has requested operational, strategic and tactical control over U.S. troops, an eventuality that would essentially mean that it’s best simply to stand down and deploy back to the states.  Campaign over.

Remember that Karzai is the one who said to Mullah Omar that “A few days ago I pleaded with the leader of the Taliban, telling him ‘My brother, my dear, come back to your homeland. Come back and work for peace, for the good of the Afghan people. Stop this business of brothers killing brothers’.”

Are we seeking approval for specific military operations from Hamid Karzai or his staff?  If so, under what legal framework?  Why are we doing this?  Has this caused any lethargy to enter the campaign because [a] this permission was delayed, or [b] this permission was not forthcoming?  Who has sought this approval – NATO forces, U.S. forces under the control of NATO, or U.S. forces only under the command of CENTCOM?  Who, very specifically, has ordered that the U.S. seek permission for military operations from Karzai’s office?

We need answers to these and more questions concerning this troubling revelation.

Palestine v. Nuclear Iran: Quid Pro Quo for Israel?

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 7 months ago

Rahm Emanuel’s ego is writing checks that our bank account can’t cash.

Thwarting Iran’s nuclear program is conditional on progress in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, according to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

Israeli TV reports said Monday that Emanuel made the comments in a closed-door meeting the previous day with 300 major AIPAC donors.

Last month, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Israel that it risks losing Arab support for combating threats from Iran if it rejects peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

Clinton said Arab nations had conditioned helping Israel counter Iran on Jerusalem’s commitment to the peace process.

We’ve been through this before.  The Palestinians don’t want a state.  When they discuss “the occupation,” they mean the very existence of Israel.  Progress on “peace negotiations” is an impossible goal with one party seeking the destruction of the other.

So Israel is supposed to show progress, the Arab nations are supposed to pressure Iran, and Iran suddenly decides to relinquish its nuclear program?  This is their plan?  That’s it?  This, after recent news of the continuing obfuscation of issues surrounding the nuclear program?  This plan has no chance of succeeding.  Amir Taheri has outlined the most recent instances of Iranian hegemony, weaving together a tapestry of an ideology bent on domination.

For all who believe that the existence of Israeli nuclear weapons and the prospect of mutually assured destruction is a deterrent to Iranian nuclear ambitions, Norman Podhoretz slammed the door on that by explaining why, from a geographical standpoint, the situation in Israel has no analogue to any other region of the world.

… even Ahmadinejad’s predecessor as president and the current Speaker of the Assembly of Experts, the Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, known far and wide as a “moderate,” has declared that his country would not be deterred by the fear of retaliation: “If the day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in its possession . . . application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel, but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world.”

Quite literally, a first strike in Israel in or around Tel Aviv and several other major population centers would end Israel as we know it.  The Muslim world can withstand a strike from Israel if there is anything left with which to strike, because there are more Muslims and they live in a larger surface area – so we are told by the Iranian authorities.

Rahm Emanuel has no business claiming that he or the Arab states can accomplish anything with Iran, and the Israelis have no business listening to him.  There are other options such as pressing for regime change from within, but even the democracy programs within the State Department have fallen victim to disinterest.  Most Israelis support direct military action with or without the endorsement of the U.S.  This is good, because they are likely to go it alone, sooner or later.

Continuing Use of Sand Berms in Counterinsurgency

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 7 months ago

In Sand Berms Around Haditha, we discussed instances of the use of sand berms over two years ago to isolate Haditha from insurgents coming across the border from Syria.  The strategy in Haditha also relied on a strong police chief, but the berms were a necessary element that allowed the Marines and police chief to control traffic into and out of Haditha.  Now as Regimental Combat Team 5 comes home, we learn of the continuing use of sand berms in counterinsurgency.

Securing the area involved building large sand berms around cities that would otherwise be easy to approach from any direction in the desert. Doing this limited the number of insurgent strikes and allowed the Iraqis to control the flow of population in their own cities, Malay said.

This, combined with intelligence gathering and cooperation with tribal leaders and Iraqi police forces, helped limit the number of attacks on Marines during the team’s 13-month tour in Iraq. Malay said attacks diminished from 16 a week when the unit arrived to less than two a week when it returned last month.

This tactic has been necessary for cities nearest to the Syrian border.  RCT-5 has been active in the West of Anbar, in and around Rawah, and Rutbah.  Rawah is close to the Syrian border.

Rutbah is close to not only the Syrian border, but the Jordanian border as well.  Whether it is gated communities and biometrics to prevent the flow of insurgents through the city, or the simpler use of sand berms surrounding a city, interdiction of the flow of insurgents through physical terrain has been a key tactic in counterinsurgency as practiced by the Marines in Anbar.

On Patrol in Kunar

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 7 months ago

U.S. and Afghan soldiers on patrol in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, April 2009.

Classified Afghanistan Metrics

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 7 months ago

The administration is taking a troubling stand on metrics for the campaign in Afghanistan.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton wants to keep things secret that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton found it expedient to politicize.

The Obama administration wants to keep its metrics of progress for the war in Afghanistan under wraps. Secretary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told the Senate Appropriations Committee last week that the executive branch, not Congress, should craft the Afghan benchmarks, many of which will be classified. Times certainly have changed – two years ago, then-Sen. Clinton demanded benchmarks be included in the May 2007 Iraq war supplemental appropriation.

Mr. Obama promised a benchmarked war effort in March when he announced his Afghanistan strategy. He rejected “blindly staying the course,” a tart reference to one of Mr. Bush’s pet phrases, and promised instead that there would be “clear metrics to measure progress and hold ourselves accountable.” Perhaps the president could explain how accountability can function if Congress and the public do not know what the clear metrics are.

Mrs. Clinton stated that the government is “going to be measuring from every perspective,” but more metrics are not necessarily better. Once this multitude of measures is set in place, they can calcify thinking and destroy the spirit of innovation that is critical in waging unconventional war. Benchmarks are not a substitute for strategy, but pursuit of them can wind up driving the war effort when they should be a trailing indicator. We saw that in Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara’s metric-mad approach to fighting the war in Vietnam. A clever enemy will use publicly published metrics to focus its efforts on the things the U.S. government deems to be important, seeking to shape perceptions of failure and defeat by the bureaucracy’s own definition. It is unwise to hand the enemy the ability to create meaningful strategic effects by our own criteria.

Public metrics also can create political problems, as Mrs. Clinton well knows. In September 2007, the Government Accountability Office reported that Baghdad had “met 3, partially met 4, and did not meet 11” of the 18 benchmarks Congress had established the previous May. Opponents of the surge strategy, such as Mrs. Clinton and then-Sen. Obama, seized on the report to declare the surge a failure. But the war was, in fact, being won. Had the United States been guided by congressional politics rather than sound military thinking, we would have withdrawn from Iraq last year and marked it as a defeat (editorial comment, italics mine).

Some learning has occurred over the past two years. The Obama administration does not want to face the kinds of political problems that some of its leading members created for their predecessors. We applaud the administration’s newfound respect for secrecy in warfare and only wish it had dawned on these officials sooner.

Take note of the sophisticated nuance in the editorial above, for while it maintains the appearance of patriotism and support for the campaign, it falls into the trap laid by the administration.  Mr. Obama promised clear metrics to hold ourselves accountable.  Ms. Clinton later promises that the government is going to be “measuring from every perspective.”  But be aware that handing the enemy knowledge of what you think is important tells them where to focus their energies, so many of the metrics used by the government will remain classified, or so we’re told by Ms. Clinton.

This argument is a pig in a poke.  The administration is counting on the unthinking population buying into the notion of the campaign in Afghanistan being similar to, say, the war in the South Pacific with Japan, or D-Day, or the Battle of Inchon, where troop movements, timing of operations and so forth, are operational security, and divulging them to the enemy causes loss of lives and irreparable harm to our own battle plans.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  General deployment plans such as the 10th Mountain Division to the area around Kabul in order to stabilize the ring of security around the central government are well known and laid out for us by not only open source information but official military sources as well.

Counterinsurgency has its moments (such as troop movements and intelligence-driven raids) that fall into the OPSEC category, but comprehensive battle space metrics is not one of them.  In fact, note the very specific data given to us in the most recent report on Iraq by the DoD.

Note that the title of this report is Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq: March 2009 Report to Congress.  Very specific metrics indeed, collected and collated by the executive branch and presented to the legislative branch, and for very good reason.  The legislative branch controls the money.

We have made it an obvious priority to train and stand up the Afghan forces, a strategy that the Bush administration pursued in Iraq.  It didn’t work in Iraq until force projection by the U.S. forces provided security for the population, and so concerns like drug use by the Afghan police and army are serious issues that must be tracked and communicated to planners and legislators; that rate of casualties, trust in government, and fidelity of internal governmental systems are important metrics to be studied and communicated to the voters.  The voters get the final say.

A communist system controls the flow, rate, quality, quantity and target of information.  In the free market of ideas, the U.S. stands alone as the nation most willing to let the people themselves judge the rightness or wrongness of things.

What the administration doesn’t like is not the potential operational security concerns associated with metrics in the Afghanistan campaign.  That’s a pitifully crafted argument that can be dismissed rather quickly by most thinking men and women.  They fear that there are forces out there who might use the metrics in the same dark and ill-intentioned manner that those in this current administration used them to undercut and under-resource the campaign in Iraq.

For the record, The Captain’s Journal isn’t among those detractors who would undercut the campaign because we weren’t meeting targets.  We would propose funding and resourcing the forces better so that we could meet those targets, while also analyzing the reasons for failure.  It would appear that this administration doesn’t hold to similar thinking.

Arguments Over the EFV and V-22

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 7 months ago

In Gates Reshapes DoD Budget Plans we observed that the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) had gotten off unscathed.  It’s budget dollars remained intact, or so it seemed.  It’s a little more murky now with Marine Corps Commandant Conway publicly arguing for the EFV.

U.S. Marines must be able to storm enemy shores in amphibious vehicles such as those being built by General Dynamics Corp, the top Marine said, defending a $13.2 billion program called into question by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

General Dynamics’ Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, or EFV, “is inextricably linked to that capability and an absolutely critical requirement for us,” General James Conway, the Marine Corps commandant, told reporters at a Pentagon briefing on Wednesday.

“And, by the way, China has already fielded a similar vehicle and is building more,” he said.

As conceived by the Marine Corps, the EFV is to be able to transport up to 18 combat-ready Marines at high speeds on both land and sea. It would have advanced communications capabilities, provide increased armored protection against rocket-propelled grenades and improvised explosive devices, and deliver lethal firepower up to 2,000 meters (2,200 yards).

Part of the argument is based on the intent of the Navy and its reluctance to engage and support near the coastline.

Conway said he believes strongly the military needs the forcible entry capability provided by the EFV, particularly as the Navy plans to operate at least 25 miles from the shoreline.

“That’s a 25-mile bridge that has to be managed somehow and you’re not going to do it with our current set of vehicles,” the four-star general said. “We think the best way to do that is with a vehicle that can do it in a couple of hours, not in a day. And that’s what it would virtually take with our existing fleet” of amphibious assault vehicles.

But Secretary Gates apparently is still considering what to do with the program.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who has announced major changes to many of the military’s largest development and procurement projects, has put off making a decision on the EFV, a program with a troubled history, until the completion of the Quadrennial Defense Review next year. Costs on the General Dynamics program have soared 43 percent to an estimated $13 billion while the Marine Corps has been trying over the last two years to correct reliability problems.

“We have to take a hard look at where it would be necessary or sensible to launch another major amphibious action again,” Gates said during an April 17 visit to the Naval War College in Newport, R.I. “In the 21st century, how much amphibious capability do we need?” But Conway said he believes the EFV is essential not just for a major amphibious assault, which the Marine Corps has not done since 1950, but also for humanitarian assistance and evacuation operations. “It really runs the whole gamut from peacetime sort of engagement all the way up to forcible entry,” he said. “And we think that that’s what the nation really needs.”

We also get some news on the V-22 Osprey.

Conway said he expects the Marine Corps to deploy a squadron of MV-22 Osprey helicopters to Afghanistan before the end of the year. The next deployment for the Osprey, which was first used operationally in Iraq in 2007, will be aboard a ship to test the aircraft’s “seaworthiness,” Conway said.

But then a squadron will head to Afghanistan. “We have had issues with our current medium-lift capability” in Afghanistan, Conway said. “The old CH-46 has run up against age and altitude and environment and is not doing the job that we need for our medium lift squadrons to do.”

The CH-46 will be in service for a long time to come, and is currently the only platform from which Marines can fastrope.  As Colonel Desens put it, “I think the last 46 pilot may have been born, but not yet commissioned.”  On the whole the Osprey has performed well in Iraq, but it will be the true test of its worthiness to test it both at sea in a maritime environment and in the high plains, deserts and mountains of Afghanistan.

Analysis & Commentary

Humanitarian assistance is an absolutely horrible misuse of U.S. Marines.  It’s like driving a corvette on a speedway to deliver pizza.  The Marine expeditionary concept is a good one, with all needed billets and specializations embedded with and assigned to the force.  The expeditionary, quick strike, rapid deployment concept is a good use of the Corps, as long as this use doesn’t detract from the essential deployments in support of the long war, and in the current case, Operation Enduring Freedom.

We have been moderately to strongly supportive of the Osprey V-22 program, but dismissing the helicopter fleet too soon is a monumental error.  In fact, the question necessarily arises “do we need two means of forcible entry – air and sea?”  If we continue support of the V-22 program as well as maintain the existing fleet of helicopters, along with commissioning a new fleet soon, is this a better expenditure of money than the EFV would be?  Note that we aren’t questioning the expeditionary concept or the need for forcible entry.  The question is by what means.

Finally, the Navy must be pressed to strategically engage in 21st century warfare.  The horizon – 25 miles – is a pointless distance given the increasingly available missile technology.  The Navy must find a way to counter this threat and shoulder some of the burden.

In summary, we recommend continued viability of the Amphibious Assault Docks, maintaining the existing helicopter fleet, commissioning a new helicopter fleet, continuation of testing of the Osprey V-22, and high intensity warfare and quick strike use of the Corps (as opposed to humanitarian assistance).  We remain skeptical of the EFV.


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