Sunday, April 29, 2007

The True Enemy

Annika posted her comments on the article "Wanted: Occupation Doctrine" by Lt. Col. Ralph Peters (ret.). After reading the article, she noted that Peters had a Machiavellian ("in a good way") theory about how an occupation should be pursued, noting:

It's obvious that Colonel Peters has a distinct pro-military, anti-Foggy Bottom bias.

In other words, the real enemy may not be the terrorists, but the State Department and other departments outside of the Department of Defense - those namby-pamby touchy-feely people who don't know how to occupy sumfin.

I followed the link to the article itself, and when I began reading it, I realized who Peter's real enemy is - and it's not the terrorists or the diplomats.

Together, the Army and Marines shoulder the combat duties in Iraq, supported by the other services. But the primary burden of occupation has been borne by the Army — as it always will be. Given the difficulty of overcoming the breathtaking range of errors committed by political ideologues during this occupation's early phases — when it wasn't even permissible to term it an "occupation" — and the uphill struggle to salvage the situation now, one of the last things the Army wants to contemplate is another occupation in the future....

If the Army does not demonstrate the foresight and character to write and print honest, comprehensive and adaptable occupation doctrine now, it will have itself to blame when next it's tasked to repair a broken country with inadequate support and confused lines of authority — while a politically charged environment bedevils the home front.

Army leaders have yet to grasp two vital points: First, the refusal to prepare for a given mission is not an effective means of avoiding the mission. Second, doctrine isn't just for the military's internal use — manuals can function as both a contract with and warning to inexperienced civilian leaders whose geopolitical ambitions are not always tethered to reality....

Imagine how different the situation in Iraq might be today had the Army possessed an up-to-date manual, "Occupation," that laid out the complexity and challenges involved prior to our move against Saddam Hussein's regime....

The absence of such doctrine grants madcap civilian theorists a license to fantasize about bloodless war followed by easy, self-financing occupations (or worse, the assumption that occupation won't be necessary). If the Army doesn't draw its lessons learned from Iraq (and previous occupations it conducted successfully) and forge those lessons into useful doctrine, the institution will have only itself to blame the next time we blunder headlong into a reality that doesn't match the merry expectations of policymakers for whom our military is merely a global janitorial service.

Army leaders have to be hardheaded about this: Formulate realistic doctrine — neither blithely optimistic nor so pessimistic it obviously was framed to discourage occupations. While our doctrine can help politicians make wise decisions by instructing them what their visions truly involve, it's also essential that the Army doesn't fall into the "can't do" trap in which it caught itself in the mid-1990s. This isn't a matter of the Army getting to choose its missions, but of giving decision-makers a sense of reality when unavoidable missions arise....

The first step in formulating usable doctrine is to sweep aside the politically correct myths that have appeared about occupations. Occupations are military activities. Period. An Army general must be in charge, at least until the security environment can be declared benign with full confidence. Historically, the occupations that worked — often brilliantly, as in the Philippines, Germany and Japan — were run by generals, not diplomats. This is another mission the Army doesn't want, but no other organization has the wherewithal to do it.

Yes, Peters has stinging indictments of civilian idiots, but you may notice that he doesn't assign the job to the military. He assigns the job to the Army. The Navy and Air Force aren't even mentioned, and the Marines only get a token mention.

And it's not just an afterthought. Peters is Army through and through, and dislikes anyone, including his former boss, who doesn't appear to recognize the obvious superiority of the Army to all other institutions:

"You look at Rumsfeld, and beyond all the rationale, spoken and unspoken, he just dislikes the Army. It’s just palpable....You always have to wonder if when Rumsfeld was a Navy lieutenant junior grade whether an Army officer stole his girlfriend,” said Ralph Peters, a former Army intelligence officer who writes on national security issues.

Warfare against the other services is an accepted part of life. While Chuck Yeager's autobiography included a number of negative comments against selected NACA/NASA civilians (such as Neil Armstrong), he also spent a good deal of time trashing the Navy. (Yeager, of course, was Air Force.)

Even with the reorganization of the services into a single Department of Defense (at least for Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines), these intra-defense battles continue, and perhaps they can't be avoided.

Incidentally, this is why the organization of the Department of Homeland Security is a big nothing. You can throw a bunch of small departments together and claim that they have a unified vision, but it's not going to happen; each little fiefdom will continue on its own path. Such is the nature of bureaucracy.

Double incidentally, this is why I'm not worried about Big Brother. Big Brother requires a great deal of cooperation between different agencies, but the agencies have no incentive to share information with each other, and thus give the other agencies (their "foes") any type of competitive advantage.

Triple incidentally, there are also problems at the agency level. I knew of two people, from the same agency but from different divisions, that were on a public committee. Because of the different goals of their two divisions, the two bureaucrats couldn't stop sniping at each other. Made for some interesting committee meetings.


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