Monday, February 15, 2010

Hegemon's Dilemma

"As his troubles waxed, he became increasingly authoritarian and unapproachable, content to be set apart. (American general X) was not the only one who had difficulty making an appointment. Officials waited weeks to see him... By keeping rivals off balance through a technique of "fear and favor"...he appeared strong and indispensable, but he did not know how to make a government...his mind was narrow and his education limited.""His most serious handicap was the lack of competent government servants. He never allowed a really able man to reach an important post lest he become too strong. Because he made loyalty rather than ability the criterion of service he was surrounded by mediocrities.""The (ruling coalition) never succeeded in really uniting the country. Aware that the past had left too many pockets of doubtful loyalty, (he) could not trust all his armies. The opportunity for social change passed him by. Dependent more than ever on the (warlords)...he could not afford to antagonize them by reform measures. He governed by survival and ignored what he wanted to ignore. As a chief of a system without an exit he was, as (American general X) wrote, "in a hell of a fix.""The (U.S.) President could see no alternative to support for the (foreign leader). Fearing a vacuum after the defeat of (the enemy power) and repeatedly advised that only (foreign leader) could hold (the country) together, he gave him support in the form of a blank check. He was continually warned by (the country's) friends, who from sincere or self-interested motives wanted to get aid to (the country), that any slackening of support would lead to the collapse of the (capital city) government.""In a typical alarm of this kind, Dr. (conservative leader) of the (large conservative political organization), informed the President that (the country's) morale was "deteriorating rapidly", the "defeatist element was gaining support" and "danger grows of (the leader's) losing power and of a compromise between the (foreign country) and (the enemy power)."

So...is this Rajiv Chandrasekaran writing about Hamid Karzai and the Marjeh Offensive, 2010, or Barbara Tuchman writing about Chiang Kai-shek and the fall of Burma, 1942?

(Cross-posted from GFT)

36 comments:

  1. First one I thought of was Stalin.


    Chief, et. al., here's an interesting article on civilian control of the military:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/15/opinion/15miller.html?emc=eta1

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  2. McChrystal doesn't have a country to throw against the wall to prove he's serious, so he'll have to settle for the Masada of Marjeh.

    Victory is just a press release away.

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  3. Chief,

    Superb. All of this has happened before....

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  4. "The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
    Moves on; nor all your Piety nor Wit
    Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
    Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it."

    -- The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

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  5. wourm: The NYT article was interesting not for what itwanted to say but what it proved by counterexample: that the fledgeling U.S. government was preserved, not by the American people's or the American Army's love for and respect of the principle of democracy but by the machinations of a single, principled man. Had Washington not been Washington but instead Gates or Arnold our history might be a very different story...

    srv: SSDD. I doubt whether the Battle of the Marjah Bulge will mean anything to anyone except the dead.

    SP: Historical parallels are dangerous, but I couldn't help pulling my chin as I read Tuchman's assessment of the Generalissimo and the structural problems that made his eventual defeat nearly unavoidable.

    I should add that I do NOT think that Karzai is Chiang. For one thing, CKS had a legitimate fascist political organization behind him - Karzai is merely the figurehead for the warlords, looters, opportunists and partisans that constitute the "government" in Kabul. Karzai's luck is that his enemies seem to lack the ruthless vision of Chou en-Lai, Mao and the Taliban isn't the 8th Route Army.

    But as we've said again and again...the entire notion of COIN falls apart if there's no real legitimate local government. And there Chiang and Hamid have many of the same problems...

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  6. Karzai and Chiang do have one thing in common - they both reflect the corrupt political cliques that respectively installed him/allowed for his rise.

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  7. Chief,
    I ,as always ,hope that i'm not ot.
    The pic of the machine gunner is a nice slice of how our soldiers are trained to fight.
    Who would ever place a mg in such an exposed position with no cover at all.Surely the gunner is better trained than this,and if not he'll pay the price eventually.
    I know that your art is frying bigger fish, but my infy eye was offended by this pic.
    Of course our Active Duty types will defend this as an aberration.
    This art had a deft touch to it.Congrats.
    jim

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  8. seydlitz: In Chiang's case, he at least was thrown up by a corrupt DOMESTIC process. Karzai suffers from the additional perception that he was the occupier's sock puppet. See Chalabi, Achmed.

    jim: One hopes that there's something off to the right we don't see providing cover for this guy. Otherwise you're right - it's pretty ugly. But there's a whole bunch of this stuff I see from A-stan; guys skylining, just wandering around in open fields. And the "presence patrol" excuse won't wash - this is supposed to be a deliberate assault. WTF?

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  9. FD Chief,
    The vast majority of the photos that i see have errors in them.
    Another point is that the gunner has a higher than needed profile.Lower is better.
    jim

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  10. Considering that two people in civilian clothes are standing close to the gunner, just watching, it's likely that this is a training picture, or just a staged photo.

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  11. The us soldier on the ground is not a machine gunner, he is a SAW man, and his thunder stick shoots 5.56 mm varmint killer rounds.

    Nothing seems to be amiss, since the kids are idling in the background, right next to the exterior wall of a compound (which would provide him cover, should intense fire come from the direction he is facing).

    His Lt. is probably either Pow Wowing with an elder, talking to a female embed, or fruitlessly waiting to marry up with the ANA, or ANP for a joint operation/Operation.

    Every time a road bound presence patrol halts, this seems to be the drill.....sometimes there is no cover. Since the Talibwogs seem to prefer longer distance fire engagements, it would be easy to take a stance like the gunner, or just to take a knee.....that is until a dedicated sniper snaps you out of your cheap shit.

    just guessing!

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  12. Fasteddiez,
    Let's split hairs.
    The SAW IS A MG
    There is always cover-you must seek it out.The world is filled with dead spaces.
    jim

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  13. This comment goes out to Jim and FDChief.

    This picture of an Army Soldier, armed with the M249SAW(Squad Automatic Weapon), is a perfect depiction of the differences between the Army and the Marine Corps.

    Not only is he not behind cover(that we see), he is not even in a position where he looks ready to fire. Take notice at his low and loose grip on the trigger assembly. Look at his left hand, if he was firing, his chin and right cheek would be pushing up against his left hand for stability, and that's if he was ready to fire. Maybe there was no immediate threat.

    Where is his ammo man? Where is the guy providing security to his 6 o'clock? Maybe it would be different if the picture were from farther back.

    The Army is full of retards and incompetent soldiers, leading the unwilling, to do what the Marines should be doing instead.

    Sergeant/USMC/Infantry Squad Leader

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  14. Squad leader,
    The only thing that Marines can do better than the Army -cut into chow lines.
    I'm glad to see you at this site.
    jim

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  15. USMC: I have no idea what your 2-1 has on it, but if you think that way about the Army you are in the wrong profession. The USA has been the primary instrument of U.S. land warfare since 1775. Marines are nice, but as far as heavy conventional war they're like a feather on the end of a french tickler; showy and sexy but not mission-essential.

    Before you post here again, you should consider that;

    - most of the posters and commenters here have 20+ years of military or intelligence experience,
    - many of them long-term service in combat theatres of operations such as the RVN.

    So we here are fully aware of the problems this troop shows in the picture.

    We're also fully aware that the 3rd ID on the Marne, 101st at Bastogne, the 1st Cav in the A Shau were not "full of retards and incompetent soldiers". If that is the extent of your military knowledge I'm sure you will be happier over at Blackfive, where the level of discussion is a lot more like that.

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  16. Chief,
    I hardily second that emotion.
    My family has served the Navy/USMC since WW2, and i'm the first doggie,but i don't hold it against them since they were immigrants and didn't know any better. A grat Uncle was killed on Saipan as a Marine.
    I'd like to extend your cmt and state that a number of our milpub fraternity are former Marines,and are quite jolly fellows.
    jim

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  17. Jim and FTChief,

    Would like to apologize for the 'full of retards' comment. There is a HUGE significance to my emotion about the Army. My unit lost a great Marine due to a conflict of Army policy in regards to medevac procedures.

    Under the command of CJTF-76, a medevac was denied for the Marine strictly due to the fact we were still receiving enemy direct and in-direct fire. In the Marines, we deploy medevacs regardless, at least with Cobras to provide security for it.

    He only had an hour to live and if they would have sent the medevac right once we requested it, he would have lived. RIP Valdez

    Just disgruntled with the situation, not the entire Army. I'm sure you understand what I mean. I look up to your era of soldiers and marines. The things you guys went through gives me motivation. I have had my fair share of combat experience and am very proud of what my unit was able to accomplish during our deployment.

    Thank you all for your service and dedication to duty.

    Sergeant/USMC/Infantry Squad Leader

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  18. USMC,SL,
    Let's put this ball in the proper fucking court.
    Don't blame the Army for your medevac problems,and NO i wasn't there but i know what i speak of. I didn't have to be there.
    Read my posts on Lang Vei and know that the Marines didn't do much to help the USSF until the camp was overrun-more than 1 SF dude died that day.1 earned a posthumous MOH.While hearing your qualified apology-do you hear us old farts calling Marines retards. We have our memories also and ours like yours will never go away.
    This is not about Marines or soldiers but about leadership-hell you guys were fighting and you are Marines and as such have a fire support umbrella-WHERE IN THE FUCK WERE YOUR ORGANIC HELOS? Were there no Blackhawks available?
    The scenario you describe is a lick on your chain of cmd-immediate chain. DON'T BLAME THE ARMY-a Navy 4 star is calling the big time shots and any policy in theater rests on his Navy Stars.
    In the RVN scenario every body would've been shamed not to hit a hot lz with a death call medevac. It happened but wasn't policy,and if it was it sure was ignored.
    Your leaders were fuck ups.At every level and since you used jtf as a designator -there were Marines in the staff and cmd structure.
    Lose your hatred.
    jim
    jim

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  19. Jim,
    I was next to our radio operator when the 9-line medevac was requested. I heard the response, "are you guys still recieving fire?" higher asked. We answered with "fuck ya," and they had us stand by. They got back on the horn and said, "your request for medevac has been denied, call back when you stop receiving fire."

    CJTF-76 is an Army command. I know there is more to the command above it, however due to some scared fucks, or something like that, a great marine died. Wish I could tell you where the hell the helos were, unfortunately, that is to high above me.

    Sergeant/USMC/Infantry Squad Leader

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  20. Anon,SL,
    Where in the heck were your O's?
    A SL and a RTO need back up when necessary.
    I'm sorry to inform you ,but JTF means joint task force which is just that JOINT -that means that all services are represented.
    If Marine O's didn't intervene it's in the USMC court-imo,and i wasn't there.
    It's a sad day when a good man on either side dies needlessly.
    The 1st thing i ever plan is my evacuation plan-that's my backward planning consideration of utmost importance. That's why they put a bar on my collar and a tab on my sleeve.
    jim

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  21. Jim,

    Combined Forces Command Afghanistan commander Army Lt. Gen. David W. Barno passed the colors to Army Maj. Gen. Jason K. Kamiya, who assumed command of Combined Joint Task Force 76 during a transfer of authority ceremony at Afghanistans Bagram Airfield on March 15.

    The OIC of our small fire base, at Camp Blessing, was 1st Lt. He is an amazing Marine. He did what he could to get the medevac for us, after the first denial of medevac.

    I know what JTF stands for as well as CTJF. However, I am sorry to inform you that the OIC of CJTF-76 was in fact an Army officer. He had overall command over the forces under that task force. That officer was implenting policy from his branch and we, as Marines under that command, were subject to Army SOP and policy. One example, patrols were required to have at least an E-6 or above on patrol with us at all times, or an officer, according to Army SOP. Most squad leaders in the Army are E-6, however, squad leaders in the Marine infantry could even be an E-3 if they demonstrated the knowledge, ability, and leadership. As lance corporal, I led a few patrols in afghanistan, eventually picking up corporal in theatre. As a leader of a marine squad it became almost an insult to my ability to have my platoon sergeant, or platoon commander on patrol with my squad sized element plus attachments.

    Funny story though, the first time my platoon sergeant came on patrol with me, he said he didn't want to 'step on my toes' being the patrol leader, so he told me to embed him into it wherever I felt necessary, so I put him as point man. :) Needless to say, he didn't come on many more patrols with my squad.

    Sergeant/USMC/Infantry Squad Leader

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  22. SL
    I roger,but as a jtf it's a joint cmd regardless of the branch of the senior man. It's a major point b/c of cmd relationships.
    Will any of the o6's out there pls correct me if i'm wrong AND if things have changed since my day.
    As an afterthought which is always in my SF inventory-WHY DIDN'T YOU ALL LIE ABOUT THE INCOMING?
    jim
    jim

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  23. Jim,
    Would have been a good idea to tell them that we weren't receiving fire. Shortly after the denial of medevac, there was not much we could do for the Marine. He was bleeding too much, mortar shrapnel to the neck, and the travel time from Jalalabad Air Field to Camp Blessing and then to the nearest suitable aid station was approximately 40 mins. The Marine bled to death within the hour he had to get the medical attention needed.

    There was definately a lesson learned from that experience. Also, the only air support available for medevacs, and other air support, in our AO was from the Army Air Wing units. We didn't have a marine Airwing to support us, but the Army came when they could. Just not when we needed it most.

    Sergeant/USMC/Squad Leader

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  24. USMC,SL,
    Funny that you say this opn was a success when in fact it sounds like a real cluster fuck to me.All services included in my statement.
    When Higher assigns combat missions and wounded cannot be extracted and a suitable med facility is 40 minutes into eternity then this meets my definition of fuck uppedness.
    In SF this would be acceptable for Strategic recon and special missions but you guys were conventional ops.
    jim

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  25. Jim,

    Our unit was SOC(special operations capable) qualified during our 31st MEU deployment. Was approximately 5 months long with final exercises, in combined arms training. The SOC qualification training started when my unit, 2/3 was deployed to Okinawa. Through that training, and the 31st MEU deployment on a West-Pac Float, our conventional ops were more than conventional. Being deployed to such a region so far away was due to our training and SOC qualification. It may be looked at as fucked up, and some would agree, but that was why our unit got deployed to that region.

    Our fire base in that region used to be occupied by Army Rangers. A few times the rangers encountered fierce resistance where OPs were overrun and all troops had to exfil back to base to prevent the COC from being taken over. The rangers, after being pushed back to one last building on base, fought til every last insurgent was killed or withdrew.

    Hope that clarifies that we were conducting 'special force' type missions due to our capabilities.

    The situation explained above, about marine with mortar shrapnel to neck, was not an operation but an ambush on our firebase. Eventually, A-10 Warthogs were called in and they blanketed the mountain top with 30mm machine gun rounds and a couple 500lb bombs, taking out 8 insurgents armed with RPGs, 107mm rockets, and 82mm mortars.

    Those A-10s really fuck some shit up out there. The rate of fire on those bad boys is so high that it must be in a dive so it wont stall out while firing. Thought that was pretty cool. :)

    Sergeant/USMC/Squad Leader

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  26. USMC SL: Here's something to think about.

    Tony Herbert in his book Soldier talks about going down to the LZ and finding one of the aircav pilots staring at the tail boom of his gunship. There are two arrows sticking out of it.

    "What the fuck, sir?" The W/O says, "How the hell do these people think they can beat us fighting modern aircraft with bows and arrows."

    Herbert looks at the arrows and looks at the chief and says "Think about it this way, chief. How you gonna beat somebody with the stones to fight a modern aircraft with a bow and arrow?"

    Same shit, different day.

    We can bomb and strafe these fuckers back...no, wait - they're ALREADY in the Bronze Age. We just spent - how much? - to send those Hogs, all their support, fuel, ammo, the time and money to train their pilots, the cost of all your bag and baggage...to take out 8 raggedy-ass muj and a straggle of old rockets and clapped-out tubes they probably stole from the Russians.

    Costs and benefits, man. Costs and benefits.

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  27. And don't get me wrong: you're there, the muj aren't, you did your job. That's why you get the big money (inside Army joke, man...).

    I'm MY job as a U.S. citizen to ask my government, hey, lights on in your head, dumbass! We just spent HOW much to waste 8 locals who from diaper to dirt-nap cost, what, about $200 bucks on the open market? And who probably had a 50/50 chance of being some local jackhole who was just pissed off because the gringos were in his yard and had nothing to do with old Osama except maybe having a bin Laden pin-up inside his walllocker? WTF?

    Understand that we're not Small Wars Journal or Abu Muquwama here - we don't talk a lot of tactics. Most of us have been there, done that, and figured that a range card is a range card, whether your LP/OP is in Helmand or Ia Drang.

    We're civilians now, most of us, and our input is on the national policy side.

    You're doing your job there. It's up to us here to make sure our country puts you where that work can do the most good for the buck.

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  28. Chief and USMC SL
    One of you just doesn't get it,and that ain't Chief.
    OK ,so as Chief says -you whacked 8,10 or a 100 moles.So what! You left a dead Marines soul on that shit hole hill, in a shithole country.The exchange was meaningless.Let me say that again-MEANINGLESS. If you kill them all, they're still gonna be there when you're long gone.
    Now i know the fire works display may make your pecker hard and be cool as shit-just ask a Marine named Valdez.
    Shot out.
    jim

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  29. Jim: Do you remember when you were a young troop?

    SL's doing what young troopers do, and us chipping at him won't make his job easier. How long did it take us to realize that our government was sending us overseas to stomp cockroaches one by one while the fat rats sat back in D.C. eating our cheese?

    It's not his job to make smart foreign policy. It's ours, to make sure his hard work doesn't get wasted.

    And I remember needing something pecker-hardening to help me when I was marching on my chinstrap. Let's remember that once we were where he is now, shot over?

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  30. Chief,
    This guy is NOT on active duty.
    He is now a civilian.
    I have a policy not to disturb active troopers.
    jim

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  31. Oh, check and roj. My bad, then. What I got from the guy's posts was that he was talking about something that happened just recently.

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  32. Jim and Chief,

    We didn't leave the Marine on a shit hole hill/country. The Army made the loss of his life meaningless, due to their lack of balls to fly while under fire. Any marine pilot would have been sent on that medevac mission, regardless of receiving fire or not.

    Sergeant/USMC/Squad Leader

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  33. Anon,
    I didn't say that you left a Marine on that hill.
    I said that you left his soul on that hill. There's a difference.
    It's a sad state of the world that everybody is not a Marine.
    It'd make everything so much easier.
    jim

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  34. To all,
    I must clarify a cmt that i made that bothers me.
    I have become callous and want to say that any mans death is a tragedy and must be seen as such.
    Marine Valdez is an example to point-the action that he fought in was meaningless in many senses of the word,BUT his death is the end of a universe.His universe, and this is meaningful.
    I write b/c i oppose such dying and killing.
    I apologise if if anybody thought that i meant otherwise.
    Too many good men die for useless causes. On both sides of the firing line. The sad part is that the wrong people always die.
    jim

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  35. Jim,

    I know we share different opinions on the meaning and purpose of the war in Afghanistan. I value the freedom of speech/opinion we all have and am glad to hear people speak their opinions as long as they understand that their own opinion is no different than their own beliefs, and we all should respect that.

    Marine Valdez, and his family, believed in the cause and the fight he gave his life for. We should all respect him for standing up for his beliefs, even though it may be different than others.

    Me, and Valdez's family, believe he died serving his country and the good people of Afghanistan. I know you believe otherwise. Valdez's legacy will live on in the story of his dedication to duty and country in the face of the danger of his own life being at risk. He was a good Marine and we all miss him, however, he died doing a job many couldn't do and don't believe in. That just goes to show his character; in the face of martyrdom he did his job with no hesitation and without regret.

    RIP Valdez

    Sergeant/USMC/Squad Leader

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