If We Are Going to War, Let’s At Least Do It Right


The latest bombing in Manchester England only reinforces how increasingly dangerous our world is. These terrorists are going to continue what they have been doing in recent years and, I fear, with increasing regularity. It is only a matter of time before such a tragedy strikes the United States, again. Remember the Boston Bombing. The United States is a lot of things, but security against such attacks is, unfortunately, unreliable. I do not say that our law enforcement people will not do their utmost to defend against such an eventuality, they will. What I am saying is that there is just so much they can do and a committed terrorist, such as just struck in Manchester England, is virtually impossible to protect against.

My liberal friends, and even my conservative ones, might find it surprising for me to make the following statement but I feel it is one which must be said. The United States needs to increase its ability to fight a land war. But as we stand now, we are woefully unprepared to do so.

According to the Heritage Foundation, the U.S. Army will be at a strength of 460,000 by year’s end, the navy will have 272 ships which falls short of the 308-ship battle force it needs. The Marine corps will have 182,000 active personnel. Finally, the Air Force a little over 5,000 air craft of all types. It has 76 B-52H aircraft, 62 B-1s, 20- B-2s, almost 600 F-15s of, a little over 950 F-16s, and 182 F-22s. The last B-52H, the latest model, was delivered in 1962 giving the average age of that aircraft over 55 years old. The B-52 is the only long range heavy bomber in our arsenal, a key component to any strategic fleet. The average age of its F-15 fleet, the backbone of its fighters, is approaching 30 years. Equally as bad is that the majority of the Air Force’s long range refueling aircraft, the KC-135, a Boeing 707 variant, is also over 50 years. It does have much newer KC-10s but only purchased 59 of this aircraft.

The Heritage Institute, which studies military preparedness, rates the Army’s and Navy’s preparedness at “weak to marginal,” the Air Force was rated “marginal” in 3 out of 4 categories, only in “capacity” did it score “very strong.” The Marine Corps was rated “marginal” in 3 of 4 categories, and “weak” in capacity. What can we derive from all this? The United States Military forces are overextended, overtaxed, and under strength.

It is likely we will soon be engaged in another protracted land-war. Given the various terrorist organizations and the state of the middle-east, it seems almost inevitable. But it is a sin to send our troops into modern battle in antique aircraft, sparse support organizations, and an overtaxed cadre of men.

The signs of battle fatigue were first noted in WW1, more so in WW2 and by the time the Vietnam war was over, medical science had come up with a name for it, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD is worse now than ever. How can we tell? The rate of suicide in the military is at an all-time high per capita. I was a Vietnam era vet and the promise made to us, and kept, was that if we were put into a war zone, such duty would be required of us one time only. And the Defense Department kept its word on that point. Still, the horrors of war proved too much for some.

Today, it is common practice to send soldiers into a war zone 3 times or more. The reason? We simply do not have a large enough force to guarantee the soldier that one war zone tour my generation was granted.

A mentally tired soldier is a soldier more susceptible to being killed or wounded than one with top mental acuity. The answer is a simple, albeit expensive, one. We need to increase the size of our active and reserve forces first. Then we must put our airmen in the most modern aircraft we can build. Such an action will easily cost trillions of dollars, but sending men up in aircraft that should only be seen in museums is nothing short of criminal.

We face an enemy who seems impervious to our high-tech warfare. Why? He is spread out in small units which can move on a moment’s notice. He can outsmart the smart bomb simply by moving from one place to the next. As advanced as we are in the art of war, we still do not have an adequate replacement for the infantryman, and this is not likely to change anytime soon. Simply put, we need to reactive many infantry divisions which have been retired over the years. The 5th ID, 7th ID, 24th ID, 26th ID and 2nd Armored Division. This would add as many as 90,000 infantrymen and tankers and greatly bolster our troops.

What this is going to take, more than money, is our politicians finding the courage to face facts and then be truthful with the American public. The public in general will probably not like the news, but properly presented, they will accept it. It is in all our best interest that we stop pretending we can fight a war with just the men and equipment we now have. We cannot.

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Dealing With ISIS


The terrorist attack on Paris is despicable, to say the least. The group that calls itself ISIS claims responsibility. Those are all the facts, there are no more. Politician in this country, and probably all others, debate what sort of response should be taken. The responses I have heard from politicians in this country have been anywhere from measured to outrageous.

The good thing about this country is we get to say whatever we believe and the government cannot restrict that. That works well until you enter the national and international arena. Once you find yourself on the national stage this wise response is always the measured response. Many of the Republican presidential candidates have made the decision that the best and only response the U.S. can make to terrorist attacks is by sending in the army. Such remarks are not only ill-considered but irresponsible.

Governor Christie has said he would send in the troops. Trump, Rubio and Bush have said as much. It is this kind of thinking that gets the United States into trouble over and over.

The military of the United States, and of any country, is an extension of that country’s political system. The two prime reasons for having a military is first to defend your country against those who attack you and second, to take the battle to those countries which present a real and present danger to your well-being. A secondary reason is going to an ally’s aid and defense.

That ISIS presents a real and present danger in the world is unarguable. ISIS, however, it not presently claimed by any country in particular nor has any country come out in support of ISIS. It is my belief that there is not a country in the middle-east, North Africa, southeastern Europe, the Balkans and probably all of central Asia which does not have a contingent of ISIS living within its borders. This makes attacking ISIS problematic, at the least, because of where it exists. For example, ISIS probably exists substantially in Lebanon and Lebanon borders Syria. Right now, neither of those countries have invited the U.S. inside its borders.

Former President Bush used the pretense of weapons of mass destruction the attack Iraq. We now know for fact that we were fed half-truths and absolute lies when the real motivation was to remove Saddam Hussein from power. I only mention that to pre-empt the idea of entering Syria to eradicate ISIS, and oh by the way, we remove Assad from power.

Right now the only nation that has an iron clad reason to attack ISIS with troops on the ground is France, and so far they have shown no desire to do such. Why? Because they probably realize that their chances of successfully destroying the entire central leadership of ISIS with infantry is minimal at best. And even if France were to decide to use ground troops, I think anything beyond existing NATO agreements and UN agreements is unwise. And anything beyond logistical support would be going too far. And that logistical support would exist only in Iraq in the Middle East.

The greatest threat ISIS is to the world now is mostly peace of mind. It is obvious that Europe has got to figure out a way, quickly, to secure its borders. The U.S. is already doubling down on its security, really the only thing we can do. The next right step the leadership of the world has to figure out is how to contain ISIS. For all the Middle Eastern countries this means they will have to use a combination of civil policing and military actions within their borders. For the U.S. this means we are going to have to secure the borders of both Afghanistan and Iraq. That may require additional infantry troops. Neither country is strong enough by itself to provide for its own security against the likes of ISIS.

The United States has a lot of experience in attempting to deal with an unseen enemy such as ISIS. That enemy was called the Viet Cong and the war, of course, was Vietnam. We failed miserably trying to root out the Vietcong with conventional military. ISIS is no different.

The bottom line is simple: we are already stronger than ISIS, we just need to be smarter than them to defeat them.

 

The Trials At Guantanamo Bay


I just watched a segment of the CBS program “60 Minutes” which talked almost exclusively about the legalities of trying the “detainees” at Guantanamo Bay.  But the show failed to even ask one extremely important question on which the entire show hinges, “Is Guantanamo Bay” U.S. soil.  The reason for asking that is simple, the US Constitution only applies, and can only apply, to people located on US soil.  As someone who has lived on foreign soil, and while in the US Army, I was always cautioned that the law of the host nation was always primary and the Uniform Code of Military Justice second.  Even though we were on US bases, it did not afford us the protections of the Constitution enjoyed in the US.  To wit, we could be arrested on the US base, jailed and prosecuted by the host country without any guarantee of due process, legal representation, unreasonable search and seizure, etc.   It is my belief that the detainees in Cuba do not enjoy any rights of our Constitution as they were arrested and have been held outside the legal boundaries of our Constitution.

I think any sort of torture regardless of the reason is evil.  It is also well-known, and long known, that a tortured person will admit to anything his torturers desire to hear just to stop the torture. It is for this reason, among others, that torture has long  be specifically illegal in the US.  But for however a horrible act it is, it is an offense either where it was committed, or at a world court tribunal.

The terrorists about to be tried own both the acts committed by them, the fact that they knowingly conducted a non-traditional act of war, they were not a part of any regular military, and that any justice they can expect is comparable their own world-view.  That is, they are not prisoners of war and cannot expect to be treated as such.  Each was captured as an individual acting upon his own will, and denying agency of any particular nation.  Consider, no country, not even the one they call home, has come to their defense.  Their acts are considered by the world in general as horrendous and indefensible.

The terrorists own lawyers, though well-versed in the US Constitution, were wont to offer any specific portion of the Constitution which protects these people and any rights, whether real or perceived.  Their arguments, while good on US soil, truly have no standing in a courtroom outside the borders of the United States.