Category Archives: iraq

The Revolt of the Generals

We’ve been unimpressed with the senior leadership appointed to four star rank by Obama, virtually without exception.

But civilian control of our military is one of the bedrock principles of our nation. As it should be. Senior officers get their orders, and execute them to the best of their ability.

But one other role, by custom and law, is for the senior leadership to provide to the Secretary of Defense and the Commander in Chief their best advice on how operations should be conducted.

Having given that advice to the CinC, and seeing it rejected, the generals are getting a might touchy. They have a vested interest in keeping the military going strong, both as a budget issue, and as an esteemed institution in the nation.

And so they’re pushing back against the White House.

Even as the President is telling anyone and everyone that there will be “no boots on the ground”* in our fight against ISIS, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, GEN Martin Dempsey, testified before Congress that he thought it should be a viable option. Such a clear break in policy positions between the White House and the CJCS is rare. And there’s not a lot that Obama can do about it. His options are either downplay the pushback (which is what he’s doing now), or fire Dempsey.

But Dempsey is hardly the only one that’s letting the rest of the government, and the people, know how the military feels about being tasked with a mission, but no reasonable means to accomplish it.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said Friday that ground forces remain an option for military planners.

“I did not say we need U.S. divisions and brigades on the ground to do this,” he said. But “if sometime, someday, that means U.S. forces [and] we think that’s the right thing, it might be something we recommend.”

So, that’s the two top guys in Army Blue.

He also acknowledged that Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander for the Middle East, had already recommended doing so in the case of at least one battle in Iraq, but was overruled.

Make that the three top guys in Army Blue.

That doesn’t even touch on GEN James Mattis’ testimony Thursday.

Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, who served under Obama until last year, became the latest high-profile skeptic on Thursday, telling the House Intelligence Committee that a blanket prohibition on ground combat was tying the military’s hands. “Half-hearted or tentative efforts, or airstrikes alone, can backfire on us and actually strengthen our foes’ credibility,” he said. “We may not wish to reassure our enemies in advance that they will not see American boots on the ground.”

Mattis is probably one of the most respected general officers around, even if he is retired.

Another recently retired senior leader, ADM James Stavridis weighed in:

“Without question we will see our young men and women engaged in combat. I don’t think they’ll be given a primary, direct, combat assignment initially, but I think it’s entirely possible that as events change and morph, the situation may ultimately require that,” said former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Adm. James Stavridis.
“If we’re going to be honest, we ought to start by saying we’ll send in troops and they’re going to advise, train, ,mentor, and they’ll stiffen the Iraqi security forces and they’ll stiffen the Peshmerga in the north, and we’ll do the bombing in the west and initially no combat mission,” he said.

Stavridis might not enjoy the personal popularity of Mattis, but he’s a deeply respected strategic thinker. Obama isn’t.

Coupled with Congressional skepticism over Obama’s response to ISIS, I don’t know how much, if any, effect this will have on policy going forward. I tend to think Obama’s “no boots” promise is like every other promise of his. It comes with an expiration date.

We’ll see.

But to my recollection, this is the loudest disagreement with a President that the uniform leadership has shown in a generation.

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Syria Chemical Weapons in the Hands of ISIS?

SCW

Stop me if you’ve heard this one…

From US News and World Report:

U.S. officials are concerned that secret stockpiles of chemical weapons remain within Bashar Assad’s arsenal despite international efforts to destroy them, and that they may have fallen into the hands of the Islamic State.

You don’t say.  Well, you shouldn’t be concerned in the least.  I mean, Bashir Assad is at least as trustworthy as Saddam Hussein.  And then there are the Russians supervising.  What could go wrong?  And besides, there is “no proof” that Assad would do such an underhanded thing.  And as of yet, no remaining stockpiles have been located.

The issue first caught international attention in early September when Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., suggested there may be gaps in the Assad regime’s accounting for its chemical weapons.

Some can be explained by the haste with which the Syrian government had to declare its stockpiles, said Holgate. But international observers must also consider “less benign” moves by the historically evasive Assad regime as well, she said, including purposefully hiding chemical agents and weapons.

This is all a ruse so that Obama can go to war in Syria.  Right?  I mean, there is NO EVIDENCE.  None.  Whatever intelligence there is regarding these weapons has likely been “cherry-picked” to justify Obama’s reckless “cowboy” foreign policy.  Sure.  See how utterly stupid such tripe sounds now?

At least old friend Ben Connable adds some common sense and perspective to the discussion.

Those who study the region agree that the Islamic State’s potential access to chemical weapons would achieve one of the fundamental goals of a terrorist group.

“The strength of chemical and biological weapons is the fear factor,” says Ben Connable, an intelligence analyst with the RAND Corporation and a retired Marine Corps intelligence officer. “That’s what really separates them apart from other munitions: There’s something inherently terrifying about chemical and biological and radiological weapons.”

“I’m not terrifically concerned about it,” he says, “except for the use in terror attacks.”

So NOW chemical weapons in the hands of Islamic terrorists, taken from hidden stockpiles of a brutal dictator, are a problem.  Unlike 2003, when another brutal dictator was looking to peddle them for hard currency.  Tsk.  Trusting the Russians?  Just icing on the cake.  Darned good thing we have secure borders.

Shame on those who shrieked, and continue to shriek, that Saddam didn’t have any chemical weapons.  And that some in Syria don’t have Iraqi origin.  More shame on those who willfully ignore the stockpiles since captured in Iraq by ISIS.  To what should be the surprise of nobody, a nearly identical scenario is now playing out in Syria, as the childish and naive stupidity of John Kerry and the Obama Administration has evaporated like the morning dew.

The Bush-hating far left began and perpetuated a pack of lies regarding Saddam Hussein’s chemical stockpile that didn’t pass the first blush of the test of common sense.  It was perpetuated incessantly by the beholden media and the liberal elite like a North Korean propaganda effort.  The litany was so pervasive that the unthinking masses began to parrot it back en masse.  Well, it was all a contrived lie, promulgated by any and every left-leaning entity whose hatred of George W. Bush trumped objective truth.  Those of you out there who continue to cling to such abject foolishness need to re-examine everything you have been told, and everything you have come to believe about the origins of the Iraq War.

As for the hypocrites who so virulently trumpeted the “Bush lied!” meme and now sound the alarm over ISIS, you are as intellectually dishonest as it gets.  And are not to be trusted with a thing you say.

Perhaps we can find the hidden Syrian chemical weapons.  I nominate John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Samantha Power, Susan Rice, Fareed Zakaria, Ed Schultz, Keith Olbermann, Barbara Boxer, Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Al Franken, and Sean Penn to go look for them.  Don’t come back until you find them.  And if ISIS finds you, perhaps we can send a rescue mission to save you from beheading.  Or not.

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Filed under Around the web, Defense, guns, history, iraq, islam, marines, obama, Politics, stupid, Uncategorized, war, weapons

H. R. McMaster in the news

Go hit CDR Salamander this morning.

LTG H. R. McMaster, arguably the best strategic mind in the Army right now, spoke recently  to the AUSA on the future of warfare.

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Sept. 10, 2014) — Americans and their leaders all too often wear rose-tinted glasses when it comes to assessing future warfare, said the deputy commander of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command for Futures and director, Army Capabilities Center.
Too often, people think battles can be won through engineering and technological advances: cyber, advanced weapons systems, robotics and so on, said Lt. Gen. Herbert R. McMaster Jr.
Big defense firms sell big-ticket systems that are supposed to win wars, he said. The firms use subtle and not-so-subtle advertising that you need this system for the sake of your children and grandchildren and if you don’t purchase it, “you’re heartless.” Congress usually obliges…

…Although the Army has dominated the battlefield technologically in the recent past, that’s no guarantee against an increasingly agile, adaptive foe. The enemy is becoming more adept at eluding firepower through dispersion into civilian areas, disrupting communications and adopting new technologies, he explained. And, non-state actors like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant are already fielding capabilities once the sole domain of states.
The “zero dark-thirty” myth is another, he said. This idea uses systems theory to explain warfare as a series of linked nodes. The idea is to selectively take out nodes that are critical to the enemy’s network.
In systems theory, the U.S. would simply conduct air strikes or a special operations raid of limited duration to disrupt the network, he said. The systems theory goes back to the Spanish-American War in 1898, when sea power was supposed to win the war, but it took boots on the ground, he said.

As CDR Sal alludes, sometimes the medium IS the message. This wasn’t an OpEd piece in a military journal or a newspaper. This was on the army.mil domain. That makes it, if not official policy, then official enough.

There’s a lively discussion in the comments at Sal’s, which has a greater depth and grasp of history than any coming from the White House about our operations against ISIS.

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Thoughts on the War on ISIS…

John Kerry, the Secretary of State, tells us the War on ISIS isn’t a war.

“What we are doing is engaging in a very significant counter-terrorism operation,” Kerry said. “If somebody wants to think about it as being a war with ISIL they can do so, but the fact is it’s a major counter-terrorism operation.”

“I don’t think people need to get into a war fever on this,” the secretary of state added.

President Obama ran his 2008 campaign  almost entirely on the premise of withdrawing the US from Iraq. Secretary Kerry was a staunch opponent of the war, at least after he voted to authorize it.

And in 2011, President Obama used the Bush administration’s planned withdrawal of forces, a signed agreement, as the reason for the complete withdrawal of all US forces from Iraq.

But even while the Bush administration had a signed agreement for the withdrawal, they were also negotiating and arguing for a continued US presence in Iraq.  Rather than having US Brigade Combat Teams conducting operations, the US wanted BCTs configured as “Advise and Assist” BCTs to support Iraqi Army operations.

As then President Bush stated in 2007:

“To begin withdrawing before our commanders tell us we are ready would be dangerous for Iraq, for the region and for the United States,” Bush cautioned.

He then ticked off a string of predictions about what would happen if the U.S. left too early.

“It would mean surrendering the future of Iraq to Al Qaeda.

“It would mean that we’d be risking mass killings on a horrific scale.

“It would mean we allow the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan.

“It would mean we’d be increasing the probability that American troops would have to return at some later date to confront an enemy that is even more dangerous.”

Forward to 2009, and the new Obama administration half  heartedly continued the negotiations with Baghdad for a continued US presence.  Arguing that an unsatisfactory Status of Forces Agreement could not be reached with the Iraqi government, the Obama administration allowed the talks to collapse, and in 2011 executed the complete withdrawal of US forces from Iraq. The administration not only allowed this, they praised it as a political triumph. They demanded (and received, politically) credit for this state of affairs.  

The important thing was, just as Obama had promised, the US was out of Iraq. Iraq became a political and diplomatic non-entity.  Obama was quick to tout the end of the war in Iraq in his campaign of 2012.

But the war in Iraq wasn’t over. Just the US influence in the war.

While Iraq was remarkably stable at the time of the US departure, and our forces had generally achieved their objectives, serious people knew that the underlying civil society was not so stable as to preclude a descent back into chaos.

The goal of the desire US A&A BCTs would have been two-fold. First, the most obvious- to assist the Iraqi Army in defeating attempts at destabilizing the recognized Iraqi government.

The second, less visible, but arguably more important role, was to serve as both carrot and stick for that Iraqi government. Nouri Al-Maliki, a Shia, led a shaky coalition government that purported to represent both Shia and Sunni. But Maliki tended, not surprisingly, to favor Shia elements, at the expense of the Sunni population.  US A&A BCTs, and other forms of US power, such as funding of reconstruction projects, could be granted or withheld as needed to influence Maliki to treat both Shia and Sunni somewhat equitably. Maliki could be convinced to listen to legitimate Sunni issues as long as he knew US assistance would be available to confront illegitimate Sunni factions.

But the absence of any US backing meant Maliki could only turn to his political base, the Shia population. And not surprisingly, in doing so, he invited increasingly effective Sunni attacks upon the Baghdad government. And that led to a spiral of ever greater repression of Sunni elements, which in turn fueled every greater sectarian Sunni violence.

This isn’t particularly deep analysis here. This is exactly what almost everyone predicted would happen with the total US capitulation of any role or influence in Iraq.

If ISIS hadn’t been the one to march on Iraq, it would have been some other group.

But the Obama administration refused to even consider such an eventuality. The talking point was that Obama would end the war in Iraq, and so it must be.  There was a steadfast refusal to see any possible outcome other than a campaign trail soundbite. The important thing was to move opinion polls, not advance America’s interests.

And since Obama ended the war in Iraq, there can be no further war in Iraq. No matter how many US troops find themselves there, no matter how much ISIS insists it is at war with the US, the proclamation is that there is no war. A major counter-terrorism operation sounds more a police matter, not a war.

Which is cold comfort to the American serviceman facing the nation’s enemy. An enemy whose cruelty and wanton violence has shocked the conscience. We dare not work ourselves to war fever on his behalf.

As an old friend of ours was fond of saying, it is to weep.

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Hellfire!

Apaches provide close support with 30mm cannon and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles against a building holding anti-coalition forces.

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…The More They Stay The Same.

kipsmile_5

Brad’s excellent piece about the weak-minded simps on the far-left being anti-Israel, and openly sympathetic to Hamas, can be corroborated around most any college campus on either coast.  Leftist Progressive “intellectuals” of all ages rail against Israel and the Jews so vehemently that it would make Julius Streicher blush.  They are too dogmatic and stupid to figure out that Hamas would perpetrate on Israeli men, women, and children precisely what ISIS did this week, when it massacred some 1,500 young Iraqi men (filming much of it) in scenes reminiscent of SS Einsatzgruppen on the Eastern Front.  All Hamas lacks is the means.  Which leftists in this country (which include Mssrs Kerry and Obama) seem ever so willing to give them.  To those who would recoil at such a comparison, I would ask, just what do you think “destruction of the Zionist Jews” means?   Hamas is also supported wholeheartedly with weapons and money (so much the more since sanctions were lifted) by our old friend Iran.  (Whom we are told we should trust not to build a nuclear weapon.  They don’t mean what they say about annihilating Israel, either.)

This willful blindness is, however, not a new paradigm.  Obama’s, and the American media’s, pandering to Muslims and outright sympathy for Hamas and its soulless butchers in Gaza, have a familiar ring to them.  Who else but the incomparable Kipling tells us of such a precedent?

Boh Da Thone was a warrior bold:
His sword and his rifle were bossed with gold,

And the Peacock Banner his henchmen bore
Was stiff with bullion, but stiffer with gore.

He shot at the strong and he slashed at the weak
From the Salween scrub to the Chindwin teak:

He crucified noble, he scarified mean,
He filled old ladies with kerosene:

While over the water the papers cried,
“The patriot fights for his countryside!”

So there you have it.  That said, rather than seeing members of Hamas squashed by a fat railroad employee, I would be ever so happy to see some fuel-air explosive dropped on one of their parades.   Same with ISIS.   Too bad Obama, the media, and the far-left are so sympathetic to the former and indifferent about the latter.   T’ain’t much new under the sun.

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President Takes Decisive Action in Iraq

In a stunning reversal of his previous equivocation regarding US involvement in the worsening security situation in Iraq, President Obama stated that the US is prepared to act with strength and decisiveness to help defeat the ISIS radical jihadist forces that have engulfed several major cities and killed many thousands of Iraqis.

MIchelle hashtag iraq

There.  That’ll show ‘em.  Worked like a charm with Boko Haram in Nigeria, too.   They certainly have mended their ways.    Administration officials speculate that the Islamic Extremist fighters that have invaded Iraq have little chance of resisting the pressure of tweets and re-tweets that show support for the Iraqi people, and will be forced to withdraw.  On the outside chance that somehow ISIS can withstand such an onslaught of social media, the President is prepared to conjure his best “I’m not kidding” expression and talk about “consequences”, possibly even “dire consequences”.   No word yet on whether or not Secretary of State Kerry will scold ISIS for “behaving in a 7th Century fashion”.   New White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was quoted as saying, “The President is making the best of a situation left him by the previous Administration, which is responsible for declaring the war over and abandoning Iraq to its fate.  Wait, ….what?  That was us?  You sure?  No more questions!”

Gawd, we are so screwed.

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