Monday, May 30, 2011

More Memorial Day Stories

( Video at link )

The woman walks toward the wall.

She presses a fingertip into the shiny, dark stone, traces it down the wall, left to right, left to right, name after carved name, a roster of the dead palpable against her skin...

Zwit knows this stretch of wall as well as he knows his scars, the pink welts that run from below his navel to his right nipple, the sinkhole of puckered skin where he once had ribs.

This is Panel 4W. The names of the eight men who died the night he earned his scars begin close to the bottom, at Line 123.

Robert. Jerry. Charles. Terry. Ronald. Rex. Paul. William.

Over the past four decades, Zwit has dedicated himself to finding their families so he could tell their mothers or fathers, their brothers or sisters or cousins, how they fought, how they died, and that they weren't alone.

He has tracked down relatives of all the men. All except one. William. William Ward. No matter how he searched, every clue went cold.

The woman drops onto a knee. Zwit walks over, kneels down next to her, rests a hand on her shoulder. He feels the rustle of a dormant hope.

"Can I help you find something?" he says.


Memorial Day 2011


I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,

Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.

In winter trenches, cowed and glum,

With crumps and lice and lack of rum,

He put a bullet through his brain.

No one spoke of him again.

You snug-faced crowds with kindling eye

Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you'll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go

--Suicide in the Trenches, Sigfried Sassoon

I woke up this morning,

and I just hated everything!

--Lara Croft: Tomb Raider


Another Memorial Day and another big picnic and day of shopping. But everyone -- both those who carried the burden and those who didn't -- should humbly and reverentially consider what underlies the day of leisure for so many.

It is difficult to discuss Memorial Day without discussing living veterans.
Veterans Day and Memorial day are two sides of the same coin; the continuum is brief, and we the living march to death much too quickly. It is but one breath or one bullet that separates the two.

All who served, whether volunteer or inductee, made the conscious decision to go forward and do what was required. Some of us were hurt or wounded, but all dedicated precious days in our young lives to a cause larger than ourselves. All of us relinquished our individual concerns to the greater good, which we believed was our duty as responsible citizens. We recognized that the rights of a free society were insured by the obligations of harsh duties.

Soldiers were not all born in the U.S.A. When speaking of immigrants today we forget that it was they who often carried America's wars. These immigrants, tempered by war, earned their rights to be called Americans, as was the case in Ranger's family.

As 1st and 2nd generation Americans, both Ranger's father and he served in wartime uniformed service, as did several of his cousins. (Ditto for male members of Lisa's maternal family.)
However, the present generation has seen fit not to serve, as the draft has not compelled them to do so. Neither of my nephews wore a uniform, though both of their fathers did. This is a common pattern now since we are content to say we have a professional class of warriors and service can be passed by as something someone else will do.

It is our national shame that we men have also passed this obligation onto a
female class of warriorettes, calling it business as usual. Contrary to the official p.c. version, combat is no place for a woman since they are incapable of the extreme hardships of the physical reality of ground combat. We accept women because we have not fought a real war since Vietnam, and what we now call combat is naught but a shadow of the reality.

Can anyone envision women in the defense of Corregidor, or on the Bataan Death March? What about the Battle of the Bulge or storming the heights of
Pointe du Hoc? How about the retrograde from the Chosin Reservoir? So why do we persist in the fiction that we can function as a combat entity? This is nothing but an official snow job. It's Ranger-simple: Defending the U.S. in combat is a man's job, despite any Lara Croftian hype to the contrary.

Ranger is thankful his fate never took him on a death march, before a wave of human attacks or to combat in frozen countries. The courage of those that carried those actions was so daunting that it is difficult to even weigh one's more recent service against the gravity of their campaigns.

It is unimaginable the indignities and sacrifices of our former POW's or the desperation of their service in far-flung battlefields. Whether opposed to or favorable towards our present wars, we must humbly bow our heads for those that have passed before in the inexorable march of history.

The survival of the U.S. has been carried on the backs of Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors.
Hopefully some day war will be a memory of a fighterly species evolved.


[cross-posted @ RangerAgainstWar]

Opening Doors

Twenty-six years ago this October I spent a long half hour under some sort of Caribbean bush with a man about my age. We didn't have much to say. And he couldn't say much, anyway, being dead.

I didn't know, and never learned, who he was, or how he had come to that lonely little hole, under the roadside bush, to be killed defending his hardscrabble little island from the power and the glory of the United States of America. But there he was. Twenty-something years of diapers and lullabies, stories and tears and hugs, schoolbooks, scoldings, ideas and ideals, love and fear and hate and hope had come down to this; face-down in his scattered effluvia, eventually to be dragged away and tipped into a hole and covered up like trash.

His place at the table forever vacant, his memory slowly fading.

I'm here, today, with my wife and my children and my house safe around me. And a lot of that was because of the willingness of my people to fight - in the Revolution, against slavery, against fascism - and, yes, to die.

But I'll bet that if you could have asked him, he probably would have asked for nothing more.

And, as always:

"It seems to me that the VERY best thing for the majority of Americans would be to think of this Memorial Day not as time reserved for barbeques and softball in the park, but as the time it took a 19-year-old private to bleed out, alone amid the dying crowd in the grass before the wall at Fredricksburg.

The time it took a husband and father to convulse his way into death from typhus in the tent hospital outside Santiago de Cuba.

The time that the battalion runner, a former mill hand from Utica, New York, spent in a shell hole in the Argonne staring at the rest of his life drizzling out of his shattered legs.

The time it took for the jolting trip down the Apennines to the CCP, unfelt by the father of three because of the jagged rip in his gut wall that killed him that morning.

The time required to freeze a high school kid from Corvallis, Oregon, to the parched high ground above the Yalu River.

The time it took for the resupply bird to come for the plastic bag that contained what had been a young man from the Bronx who would never see the Walt Frazier he loved play again.

The time taken up by the last day in the life of a professional officer whose fiance' will never understand why she died in a "vehicular accident" in the middle of a street in Taji.

I'm satisfied with my Army service, and don't kid myself that there will be a day when the killer ape "studies war no more".

But the recent enthusiasm for war as video entertainment for the masses sickens me.

Every single fucking human being needs to have it driven into his or her forehead with a steel nail that every single day in every single war some person dies a stupid, meaningless death that snuffs out an entire world in a moment. That those empty eyes zipped inside a bag or covered by a bloody blanket were the windows to a universe that is forever lost.

That the price we pay for forging our national will is paid in the unlived futures of those we kill and those of us who die to make it so.

Maybe then we'd be sure of what we want to achieve before we reopen the doors of the Temple of Janus."

(cross-posted, as always this day, from GFT)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Wanted: Dead or Alive

Interesting sort-of contrast to the bin Laden raid; Bosnian Serb ex-commander and war criminal Ratko Mladic has been arrested by Serbian police agencies hiding in a relative's home in the little Serbian town of Lazarevo, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) northeast of Belgrade.

The guy was obviously well known in town. I love the quote from one of his fans; "They didn't even wake us up," said a resident who identified himself only as Zoran. "I'm furious. They arrested our hero."

You'll note that this didn't require an elite team of Belgian commandos, helicopters, cross-border insertions, or diplomatic furor. A little group of local coppers showed up at his door - undoubtedly with the help of the Serbian national intel agency as well as Euro intel types - handcuffed his ass, and drove him away. He even had a couple of hoglegs on him, but didn't manage to get a double tap through the head for his pains.

Now there's a LOT of dissimilarities between Ratko and Osama, the single biggest being the lack of ideological fervor in the Serbian community. But you'll also note the immense dissimilarity between the countries where they were hiding.

Serbia desperately wants into the EU; it wants a piece of the lovely lolly that comes from being a First World nation and having all that economic development n' stuff. Despite there being a solid core of "fuck-the-Euros" Serbian irredentists, the government and much of the population of Serbia wants shut of the bad old days of Pan-Serbian war and atrocity. Generally speaking, the goals and objectives of most Serbs are fairly close to most other nations and peoples in the EU.

The disparity between the goals and objectives of Pakistan and the United States could hardly be greater. They barely share a common interest. Pakistan is treated as a battleground by the U.S., its government and people seen as objects or targets or, at best, pawns to be manipulated. Is it any surprise that the U.S. government couldn't trust the ISI and the local Abbotabad coppers to knock on Osama's door and whisk him off to an appointment with the ICC?

I'm not going to go back to second-guessing the OBL raid. I'm just observing; given the differences visible between Serbia and Pakistan that makes treating a war criminal like a war criminal possible in one but not the it any wonder we have a scalpel available in Serbia but nothing but a hammer in Pakistan? Or that it looks like the West is likely to get a favorable-ish resolution to the Balkan morass but seem unlikely - barring an imperial-level commitment of troops, time, and money - to get one from southwest Asia?

Monday, May 23, 2011

"The fate of the Empire rests on the outcome of this battle. Let each man do his utmost"

This month's "decisive battle": Tsushima Strait, 1905.The Game of Thrones, Far Eastern style - now with more battleships!

A Clausewitzian bombshell . . .

On May 16th, I commented:

As to Al Qaida, it seems obvious to me that we have to rethink our assumptions on that one. My comment as to "resuscitation" saw AQ as providing a useful prop for US policy, linking AQ/Islamofabulism with the Arab Spring would be in the best interests of the Washington Rules and of course our (remaining) autocratic proxies in the ME. To this we must now add the reality - which is hard to dispute imo - that AQ/OBL was essentially a state-sponsored entity. OBL would have never lasted as long as he did nor would have felt as secure as he obviously did were that not the case. The open question at this point is which other states, besides Pakistan, were its sponsers . . . ?

So consider that . . .

Now a metaphor . . . consider a Prussian Army Corps Headquarters circa 1916 in Russia - officers and staff non-commissioned officers roaming about on an open field. Suddenly KA-BOOOOOM!

Dazed faces, smoke, men stumbling about, nobody's hurt but everyone's a bit singed ... what happened? One of our basic assumptions about the current complexus of US military conflicts essentially imploded. OBL/Al Qaida was state-sponsored, probably all along, which is why it has lasted as long as it has, was able to be so quickly resuscitated after the advent of the Arab Spring.

The first question is since OBL/Al Qaida is a state-sponsored entity, which countries are behind Al Qaida in addition to Pakistan? This one is followed by countless more . . . We are in a new war from a Clausewitzian strategic theory perspective . . .

One of the basic assumptions of the Global War on Terror is gone. Any person wishing to seriously discuss strategy, strategic theory, or our own US military history since 2001, will have to deal with that fact, from now on.

Update, September 15, 2011:

Some more possible pieces have been added to the puzzle which support my view.

FB Ali of SST has an interesting piece up which starts with this scenario:

It begins with the CIA station chief in one of the Gulf states receiving an unexpected visitor with a fascinating tale. He was a recently retired senior officer of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, and he wanted to talk about Osama bin Laden. Some years ago, he said, the Saudi intelligence chief approached the ISI with the request to provide sanctuary to bin Laden within Pakistan. The Saudis said that bin Laden was prepared to come down from the hills where he was hiding, provided sufficient assurances were available about his security. In return, he would ensure that al Qaeda would not target Pakistan, and he would also limit his own involvement in its operations. . .

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Nation of Men

Noted in passing: today is the "60th day" since the formal announcement that U.S. armed forces were involved in the civil war in Libya. Other than a handful of GOP senators neither the Congress nor the White House appears to be concerned about missing the deadline for a Congressional approval of the escapade required under 50 U.S.C. 1541-1548.

The U.S. right has always scorned the "War Powers Resolution". Now the circle is complete, and the U.S. "left" (whatever there is of it represented in the corridors of power) shows its disregard that the People in Congress have any business interfering in foreign military policy.

What was that? A nation of laws?

Where ever did you hear THAT nonsense..?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

It's not you. Really. It's me.

It seems like we spent much of the months of March and April talking here about Libya.

And then, as with almost everything except male enhancement products and Paris Hilton, the entire Libya pottage dropped off the news cycle.

Well, a small article on the Beeb yesterday noted that one Mr. Mahmoud Jibril, described as the "deputy leader of the Benghazi-based National Transitional Council (NTC)" met with several U.S. suits at the White House on Friday. These included the U.S. National Security Adviser Tom Donilan. Among the things the TNC asked for, apparently, was recognition from the U.S. as the "government of Libya".

The U.S. officially said; no.
"White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Thursday that such a step would be "premature". The US has said it is up to the Libyans to decide their government, not foreign powers."
And yet...just a couple of months ago U.S.-taxpayer-funded ordinance was flying all about Libya in an orgiastic foreign-power-y feu-de-joie of...ummm...helping the "Libyans decide their government". The U.S. and its allies have been pasting the Libyan capital with projos in apparent hope that Mister Gaddafi will walk under a 1,000-pound bill of impeachment, or something. We've frozen his assets, trash-talked his regime, for all I know we've even offered candy to his Virgin Bodyguard.Our policy towards Libya, whilst not as vigorous as seydlitz might have preferred, seems to be decidedly tilted towards one side of this nasty little scuffle.

But we won't jump all the way in the bed with our BFFs the TNC.


Call me simple.

I don't get it.

During the Bush years I would often read editorials, especially in Middle Eastern publications like Al Jazeera, complaining that our foreign policy towards that troubled region not only made no sense but was actively confusing. We would say one thing while doing another...that actively undermined or contradicted what we were saying. That we were either being hypocritical, or simply duplicitous, in pretending to want "democracy" and "freedom" while bankrolling the usual crew of loathsome dictators, tyrants, oligarchs, and thugs.

And I would have to admit...what else could we do?

To allow popular sovereignty in most Middle Eastern countries would be to accept a much higher risk of war between them and our real BFF, Israel. Which would have been risky in a global sense because Israel, backs to the sea, might have used its nukes and sent the entire eastern Levant, and perhaps half the globe, up in flames.

But...that's a done deal, now. The dominoes - Egypt, Tunisia - have fallen or - Yemen, Syria, Libya - may be falling. The Arab publics have seen their pharoahs overthrown; we can hardly rebuild those pyramids now.And here, especially, it seems to me like a nearly perfect situation for us to do well while doing good. Libya is not a real player in the Arab-Israeli Great Game. A TNC-Libya will probably be more "Islamic" than the late-Gaddafi Libya, but then, that was almost inevitable. Until the Arab world undergoes its own Enlightenment political islam will always be a factor there.

Here was the opportunity for a supposedly post-Bush U.S. to walk the walk, to formally ally with an Arab "democracy" - to, in my cynical view, force an Arab government to willingly and publicly take the U.S. hand in alliance, putting the lie to the "arab street" and its contention that Arab rulers only side with the United States because of greed and cowardice.

And yet on Friday it was..."premature" pal up with an Arab government that is only greedy for survival and only afraid of the nutjob that it's rebelling against?

I'm not going to pretend that these TNC characters are adorable, fluffy, democracy-loving peacemongers. Surely they'll bring in trouble enough in time.

But we're helping bomb their enemies!Wouldn't it make some kind of sense to give 'em a hug today?

Sometimes I think I have absolutely no understanding of foreign policy at all.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Murder, Inc.

Well I'm hot blooded, check it and see
I got a fever of a hundred and three

Come on baby, do you do more than dance?

I'm hot blooded, I'm hot blooded

--Hot Blooded
, Foreigner

--Why'd you do it? Why did you kill him?

--He had bad breath

--Murder, Inc. (1960)

When Smith attacked Mr. Clutter

he was under a mental eclipse,

deep inside a schizophrenic darkness

--In Cold Blood, Truman Capote


February 1, 1968, B. G. Loan, Chief of the Vietnamese National Police, executed what was a guerrilla, Vietcong soldier or terrorist (take your pick, as this designation is irrelevant to this discussion.) Whichever, the recipient of General Loan's attention was shot dead on a Saigon street corner.

This was called field adjudication at the time, and in a perverse way this shooting was understandable and strangely appropriate. The killing was done in hot blood during a period of extensive combat.

However, this photo was a galvanizing moment which enabled the U.S. to pivot against the war.
From 1 Feb 68, there was not a fart's chance in a windstorm for the U.S. to win the war in Vietnam. Even though the execution was explained as a consequence of guerrilla activity and war crimes and due to a pervading wartime mentality -- despite any possibly legitimization of the act -- the pure violence was a turn-off to the American public.

The stark reality of the brutality was the final straw which broke the American voter's backs. That one death symbolized the futility of the shooting match in a black-and-white manner, in a way that no amount of debate could achieve. Gen. Loan's photographed action was the beginning of the end.

That was 43 years ago, and now
we allow a U.S. president to issue a death warrant without anyone blinking an eye. In 1968 the U.S. public recoiled from the sight of a naked street-corner execution; in 2011, we exult at a presidentially-ordered murder of a thug in cold blood, no better or worse than a VC member on some Saigon street corner.

Why the recoil then, the approval now? The only difference is that Loan had the stones to pull the trigger himself in broad daylight. Why do we glorify a once and future president when both are akin to cold-blooded killers, something we once found so repugnant in the not-so-distant past?

Are we so disconnected from our national policies that we accept this violence in passing as business-as-usual? What does it mean to be an American today vis-a-vis war and assassination?

The lesson from Loan's/Obama's assassination is that any government with a tenuous hold on a situation will resort to desperate acts. Though the South Vietnamese restored short-term order via brutal tactics, NOTE: Saigon no longer exists.

When regimes execute people on street corners the end in nigh. Gang-style executions are symptomatic of bankrupt policies. If the U.S. was being successful, it would not have to resort to such activities.

[cross-posted @ rangeragainstwar]

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Revenge of Pussy Galore

As usual, the dog gets all the press whilst the cat does all the work. A helmet-cam video still as a SEAL team cat uses his superior cat-stealth technology to take out one of bin-Laden's bodyguards prior to the May 2 raid.I'd say it's time to lift the "Don't Ask, Don't Meow" ban on war cats, wouldn't you?(h/t, amazingly, to Slate!)


Sorry, jim......but this may be the ultimate 21st Century comment of the End of the World's Most Infamous Saudi.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Manning Overboard

When the people are being beaten
with a stick, they are not much happier
if it is called "the People's Stick
--Statism and Anarchy (1873) Bakunin

And if you can take a man's life
for the thoughts that's in his head
Then won't you sit back in that chair
and think it over judge one more time
--Johnny 99, Bruce Springsteen

Are you gonna pull those pistols
or whistle Dixie?
--Outlaw Josie Wales (1976)

Why is Bradley Manning being held in punitive and vengeful Federal custody? What is his crime, or alleged crime?

It cannot be espionage or treason. It is even hard to call it spying, so what is it, exactly? If Manning is such a threat, why hasn't WikiLeaks, founder Julian Assange or anyone else associated with this incident been indicted as co-conspirators? Why is Manning the only one in Federal prison? Why were none of his superiors charged with failure to secure classified data?

Manning was recently transferred to Ft. Leavenworth Correctional Facility, a Federal prison. Not only was Manning held in isolation for five months in the Marine Corps brig in Quantico where he was subjected to possible human rights violations and certainly held without recourse to a speedy trial, he is now being imprisoned without having been adjudicated guilty by any court, not even a kangaroo one.

Why this pre-trail confinement, which appears as open-ended as the Middle East campaigns? Further, why hasn't Manning's legal team filed a
writ of habeas corpus? Manning's condition is similar to that of the Guantanamo Bay detainees -- try them or release them; there is no middle ground. Manning is a U.S. citizen, and if he can be jacked around by the legal system, so too can anyone.

We owe to the rule of law to try Manning or release him -- if murderers can get a speedy trial, so can Manning. Our system of jurisprudence demands this small token of respect for U.S. legal thought, traditions and practice.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Chronicle of a Death Foretold

As sheerah noted, the Diabolical Mastermind of 9/11 sleeps with the fishes.I've been turning this over in my mind, and just wanted to jot down my thoughts in no particular order.

1. The eternal 14-year-old who lives in the top bunk inside my head is doing a manic little happy dance shouting "Ha! Last taps! Gotcha last, motherfucker! (I was a rude boy even at fourteen) How do you like that, bitch! Who's your daddy now, asshole?"

2. The Army sergeant down the hall hears the commotion but just shrugs, albeit with a certain grim satisfaction. While it's satisfying that the author of the current troubles bides safe in a ditch, after ten years and a mountain of corpses he seems...well, kind of an asterisk. Just another fucking body. Another day at the office. Oh, well.

3. The guy who thinks about geopolitics and strategy (a pipe-smokingish sort of pseudo-intellectual who occupies the flat below the other two and bangs irritably on the ceiling when they get loud up there) enjoys a certain moment of pleasure in the pure professionalism of the USN takedown team. In a decade of highly publicized gaffes and blunders this op went off like water off a cat's ass. Nice work, SEALS.

And he feels like wagging his professorial finger in the face of the neo-cons and the liberal interventionsts; THIS is how you do it, dumbfucks. John Paul Vann told you decades ago but you didn't want to listen. No drone strikes, no invasions, no smart bombs. A double-tap to the skull.

But then he thinks (because he's just that sort of a dick) that in a REALLY slick op ol' Osama would have been lured into the bed of a Karachi he-whore and found, shall we say, not leaving his boy's behind? The only long-term way to discredit a guru's teachings is to discredit the Guru. The Baghwan Rajneesh looks like an idiot today because he lived long enough to outlive his legend. J. Edgar Hoover isn't a laughingstock because he broke all kinds of domestic laws but because he's got a rep for prancing around in a dress.

This way the mook has what he wanted; martyrdom, with the entry wounds in the front, dying in the midst of the chaos he wanted to foment by a U.S. bullet. Seventy-virgins, here I come, baby!Instead of in bed shouting "drill, baby, drill!" with just one Pakistani man-whore.

And the other thought that occurs to him is that the location of the final day of OBL's life says something, and not anything particularly positive, about the so-called "Global War on Terror". Abbotabad is a Pakistani army cantonment, very close to the capital. It is impossible to believe that either the Army, or ISI, or both (and by inference the military players in Pakistani politics) didn't know the SOB was there. This kind of reinforces the theme that there really isn't much of a "global" war here, especially in the hunting grounds of SW Asia, but rather a JUSWOSKT: a "just-U.S.-war-on-some-kinds-of-terrorism".

And his other-other thought is; what does it say about our national mindset that we're all "USA! USA!" about this...that nobody (yet, at least) has publicly regretted that the fucker wasn't snatched to stand up in front of the ICC or a U.S. court with the rest of the dog-rapers? That by giving him a fully metal-jacketed 5.56 all-area pass to Hell means that the radio is playing his song, not ours; that this is a "war", that he was a "soldier" instead of a skeevy little bitch who struck from behind and never faced a U.S. troop in anger. Well, now he has and, yeah, this ain't the Special Olympics and there's no second prize. But, still...

4. The wanna-be comedian living in the cardboard box in the alley out back (hey, comedy doesn't pay all that well for most of its practitioners...) wishes he'd thought of jim's "long-form-death-certificate" joke; it definitely wins the prize for best comment. Because you KNOW that this will show up on FOX as "Bush's long-time goal finally attained!". Because among the Limbaugh/Beck Right the Kenyan Usurper will never get credit for his Great Commander-in-Chiefyness. Because...well, he's just a foreign Negro.So adios, Osama. I wish I thought your death would be the game-changer we thought it'd be when we were trying to slot you ten years ago. But right now, you just seem like one more dead guy reaped from a place which grows dead guys like a cash crop.

Update 5/2 p.m.: This article in the New Yorker makes a good point:
"The initial circumstantial evidence suggests that...bin Laden was effectively being housed under Pakistani state control. Pakistan will deny this, it seems safe to predict, and perhaps no convincing evidence will ever surface to prove the case. Outside the Justice Department, other sections of the United States government will probably underplay any evidence of culpability by the Pakistani state or sections of the state, such as its intelligence service, I.S.I., in sheltering bin Laden. As ever, there are many other fish to fry in Islamabad and at the Army headquarters, in nearby Rawalpindi: an exit strategy from Afghanistan, which requires the greatest possible degree of coöperation from Pakistan that can be attained at a reasonable price; nuclear stability; and so on."
Which sums up pretty concisely why U.S. policy in the Middle East is so tortuous. The friends of our enemies are our "friends"...or, at least, people and places we need for other, often more compelling reasons.

The Middle East has been a cockpit - and a snakepit - since the days when Ramses marched up out of the Nile Valley to Kadesh. The inhabitants cannot change their skies, but for outsiders like the U.S., it would seem that the way to win the Game of Thrones in this place is not to play.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

He's dead, may the SOB rot in hell!

Osama Bin Laden is dead.

The Quartering of Military Forces

Southwest US border, 1916

Quartering of troops is one of three essential elements of military campaigns, the others being operations and logistics. Quartering of troops: with this concept I wish to encompass everything from orders for military deployment to employment, which operations would control but be at the same time supported further by logistics, and quartering itself.

How do we deal with the subject of quartering US troops today in our various campaigns?

Funny that there is hardly any comment among all the various strategic thinkers on this very important aspect, but then in reality, not soooo funny at all.

Still, it has unsurprisingly a long history.

Colmar von der Goltz wrote about it . . .

A question inseparable from the consideration of marches and transport is that of quarters. The soldier who, after a fatiguing march, finds good quarters, rapidly recruits himself, and gains strength for the following day; whilst, if bivouacked in the open field, exposed to wind and weather, he would, perhaps, have become incapable of continuing his march. A prudent regard paid to the quartering of the troops is the best means of counteracting the chance of casualties on the march. We have now arrived at a pitch of civilization which permits us no longer to regard the wood as our night quarters and the moon as our sun.
If the troops, immediately on the outbreak of hostilities, were to be collected in camps, they would soon be decimated without a single battle. Let us only reflect how much our troops suffered during the first rainy days of August, 1870. These experiences have led to the reintroduction of light tents, which afford some shelter against the weather, without encumbering the baggage column.

The Nation in Arms, 1906, pp 147-8

The (re)birth of the shelter half?

But just as with Mitt Romney's father, we have lost what little sense of our own history we ever had: command neither that recent nor deep in the past.

For instance our own Declaration of Independence lists in its 14 6 15th paragraphs of British Crown offenses the following:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states.

Pretty heavy. Yet, where is the strategic theory discussion today, especially given that the quartering of troops in Iraq is such a hot, but hidden, political topic . . . ? This only but one of our current military campaigns all of which include this topic. Still Iraq is unique, considering that it is the war that officially we are attempting to leave . . . ?

Need we ask? . . . and by asking we actually define ourselves which is the greater part indeed . . .