On War # 313: War of Exhaustion or War of Maneuver?

William S. Lind
25 August 2009

The war in Afghanistan appears to have settled into the category Delbrueck called “wars of exhaustion.” If it remains there, the U.S. cannot win. The American people will become exhausted long before the Pashtun do.

In this respect America’s situation is similar to that Germany faced in World War I. Germany knew she could not win a war of exhaustion. She therefore sought to turn it into a war of maneuver, successfully on the eastern front and almost successfully in the west in the spring of 1918 and also at sea with the U-boat campaign. The ultimate failure of the latter two efforts, an operational failure on land and, worse, a grand strategic failure at sea, meant the war of exhaustion continued. Exhaustion finally caused the home front to collapse in November, 1918.

Past is probably prologue for the U.S. in Afghanistan unless it can succeed where Germany failed. The U.S. must turn a war of exhaustion into a war of maneuver.

At first sight, such a prescription appears pointless. The granular nature of a Fourth Generation battlefield, a granularity that encompasses not only the military but also the political and moral aspects of the conflict, would appear to render any military maneuvers above the tactical level irrelevant. Great operational encirclements like those in which the German Army specialized become swords cutting through the air.

The fact that we cannot turn the Afghan war into a war of maneuver on the military level need not, however, be the end of the matter. Instead, it poses a new question: how might we turn this war of exhaustion into a war of maneuver on the political or moral levels? If we can succeed in doing either, or better both, we may still escape the certainty of defeat a continued war of exhaustion promises.

A short column cannot answer this new question; my purpose here is mainly to pose it. If, as I think it ought, it becomes the intellectual Schwerpunkt of the American high command, then I will have done my duty for one week, anyway.

But to explore a bit further, the very granularity of a Fourth Generation conflict that largely precludes maneuver on the military level may open the door to it on other levels. To see what opportunities may exist for maneuver on the political and moral levels, I think we must start by ceasing to define the enemy as “the Taliban.” That definition, while convenient for labeling Afghans we have killed or captured, may lead us astray by causing us to think of our opponents as a single, centrally-controlled entity. In a Fourth Generation conflict, the real picture is far more complex. Many Afghans who are fighting us are not doing so because of orders from Mullah Omar.

To draw a military analogy, this is not a war of continuous fronts. There are many gaps on the political and moral levels, gaps through which we may be able to maneuver if we can first identify them. Doing so may require a recasting of the questions the American leadership presents to its intelligence services.

Possibly of equal importance is a reconceptualization of our own “front.” We now appear to define that “front” on both the political and moral levels as the Afghan government. This is a fiction politically because there is a government but no state. Morally it is disastrous because the Afghan government is awash in corruption. The recent election will not affect either reality, regardless of its outcome. We seem unable to grasp the fact that in Afghanistan as in much of the world, election outcomes do not confer legitimacy.

The American senior leadership thus needs to undertake a serious and competent analysis of political and moral surfaces and gaps both in our opponent’s positions and in our own. Neither can be accomplished with blinders on. Both must be brutally honest.

It is just possible that such an analysis might offer a roadmap for political and moral maneuver, which is what we require if we are to escape the war of exhaustion. There is, of course, no guarantee; the complexity of a Fourth Generation environment may mean the task is beyond our ability. We may also discover that we can identify some surfaces and gaps yet lack the capability to exploit the gaps. This occurs not infrequently in purely military wars of maneuver.

I think nonetheless that this may be the most promising way forward. If it fails to identify political and moral gaps we can exploit with some hope of success, then logically it leads to the conclusion that we cannot escape a war of exhaustion and its inevitable outcome, our defeat. That too is useful, in that it should lead us to cut our losses and withdraw as soon as possible.

Is the American senior leadership, military and political, capable of undertaking an analysis of the Afghan war along these lines? I do not know. But I suspect that offering such a framework for analysis may be the most military theory can do for our forces now fighting a hopeless war of exhaustion.

William S. Lind, expressing his own personal opinion, is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation.

To interview Mr. Lind, please contact (no e-mail available):

Mr. William S. Lind
Free Congress Foundation
1423 Powhatan Street, # 2
Alexandria, Virginia 22314

Direct line: 703 837-0483

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Filed in Uncategorized | 35 responses so far

35 Responses to “On War # 313: War of Exhaustion or War of Maneuver?”

  1. jaylemeuxon 25 Aug 2009 at 2:31 pm 1

    Just got back from a 4-day visit to Kabul. I left the day before the elections.

    “we must start by ceasing to define the enemy as “the Taliban.””
    – Agreed. Similarly, I believe Lind is mistaken to speak of a war against the Pashtun. I spent my time in Kabul hanging out with Pashtun folks who were no fans of the Taliban. The Taliban do not speak for them.

    Further, it seems misguided to discuss “Many Afghans who are fighting us,” if by “us” one is referring to America (which I’m sure Lind is doing). It seems to be a war of the Taliban vs. the Afghan government, with lots of tribal and other parallel tensions playing out too.

    Even further, since the Taliban, etc. don’t really see us as their primary enemy, it seems questionable whether we can really describe our involvement in Afghanistan as a war.

    I think a more useful focus is to ask whether we are helping the Afghan people live lives of peace and security. The Afghans I met didn’t seem particularly interested in Walmart or democracy, or even developing a modern economy really. But they do want their kids to grow up in a safe environment. They are tired of war.

  2. amagion 25 Aug 2009 at 3:18 pm 2

    And so we have counterinsurgency guidance issued by the commander of ISAF forces in Afghanistan, August 2009, in full, here:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/19075680/COMISAF-COIN-GUIDANCE

    No guarantee of success, of course, but I would like to think that Mr. Lind approves the sentiments expressed within this document.

  3. Sven Ortmannon 25 Aug 2009 at 8:03 pm 3

    Mr. Lind seems to have some strange opinions about WWI.

    (1) The Germans began Verdun 1916 in an attempt to defeat the French by attrition.

    (2) The German “home front” did not fail decisively, for the decision happened in August 1918 on the Western Front.
    The German army was exhausted, it lacked aggressive young soldiers for effective counter-attacks. Tactical defence rarely works satisfactorily without counter-attacks. The Western front barely avoided total collapse, Luddendorf understood that the war was militarily lost between August 8th and 14th.
    Only later came the high-profile unrest at home.

  4. senor tomason 25 Aug 2009 at 9:22 pm 4

    “The American people will become exhausted long before the Pashtun do.”

    The analagous situation happened to the Soviet Union – a totalitarian state whose armed forces had conscription and brutal rules of engagement. So much less chance of success have we – a republic whose armed forces have an all-volunteer recruiting system and restrictive rules of engagement.

  5. Jeffrey Ron 25 Aug 2009 at 10:08 pm 5

    Mr. Lind, as usual, raises some interesting points but, the most important is we are in a “hopeless war of exhaustion.”

    Are we really? Perhaps we are in a war of coprorations/ war suppliers make money with no real expectation of “victory.” The military is given no mission with clarity. The soldiers are killed and wounded with little or no consequence – after all they volunteered didn’t they? This is the real tragedy of this war, senseless death of our soldiers and for them no hope for “victory.” That kind of job has to really suck.

    We don’t know much about those fighting the “war” as the corporate media fails to report their “war.” The very same media (owned by the war supplier corporations) declare our policies worked in Iraq as dozens are killed each day in bombings.

    As for military and political “brutally honest analysis” that would be very unusual. Don’t they retire and demote those who are “brutally honest?” Has anyone noticed any such analysis at a command level in Iraq or Afghanastan? Not much of that at a political level either.

    In the end, and I think Mr. Lind seems to hint at this, the best we can hope for is an exit sooner rather than later. A grim picture, but from a military analysis, can it be anything else?

  6. rmhitchenson 26 Aug 2009 at 12:12 pm 6

    Very good analysis, & it should be blatantly obvious that even a certified 4GW counterinsurgency-tailored military strategy does not go far enough. To achieve our objectives we need to deploy a militarized Peace Corps — several construction brigades — to undertake basic infrastructure repair and expansion, with multilateral security operations tailored to safeguard these efforts.

  7. loggie20on 29 Aug 2009 at 5:59 am 7

    Sven,

    I agree, in 1918 the Germans, Austria Hungary was already exhausted, could not win a war of attrition, particularly once the American Expeditionary Force began proving its mettle.

    The new faces on the Western Front were from Des Moines and Boston, and they were coming in 7 figures.

    While the Europeans had already drafted their 18 year olds and the next “class” was not as well educated nor fed as the “class” of 1914.

    The Americans also brought a flair to maneuver, Pershing saw the Western Front as another Petersburg, where a flank could be turned and open the war to maneuver. On a much grander scale than 1865.

    As Napolean noted “in war the moral is to the physical as three is to one.”

  8. loggie20on 29 Aug 2009 at 6:04 am 8

    Jeffrey R,

    Right on. There is huge disinformation.

    The war is good for war profiteers. No one else.

    The US cannot give them peace, they, whomsoever they are, must take it themselves.

    Giving them security is like giving them fish and not expecting them to fish.

    This war is based on wonder weapons, arcanely defined by the salesmen as wonder weapons (testers and taxpayers may say they are cash sinks) sending the US treasury to the war profiteers and nothing else happens.

  9. Maxon 30 Aug 2009 at 9:52 am 9

    “we need to deploy a militarized Peace Corps — several construction brigades — to undertake basic infrastructure repair and expansion, with multilateral security operations tailored to safeguard these efforts.”

    Gee, that’s a great idea, really great, I presume
    you mean the crumbling roads and infrastucture of
    the CONUS ?

    And at what cost is hundereds of billions, if not trillions
    of dollars could we anticipate ?

    Be reminded the accumulated agrigate Government, Corporate,
    and consumer debt of the United States is now pushing
    60 trillion dollars.

    Chet could explain this number better, but I’ll try anyway,

    That’s 60 times, 1000, times 1 Billion.
    Dollars !

    $ 10,000 is considered by most pepole as a fair chunk
    of change in their day to day personel dealings.

    Then picture going the local beach and start counting grains of sand, estimated by volume of square meter.

    Or estimate the total number of stars combined inn the 100 nearest
    galaxies.

    Chet ?

    MaX

  10. Rob Pon 02 Sep 2009 at 11:41 pm 10

    Been wondering about the idea of the American people being exhausted before our enemies in Afghanistan (or Iraq for that matter) are. I’m not so sure. The US military is largely professional, all volunteer, and the average person is not rationing anything to support the troops unlike WWI or WWII. This allow a strategic “rolling dervish” if I remember the term correctly, where we continue to rotate units through combat zones and wear down the residents resistance while our forces are fresh by comparison. In other words, we create a situation where it is better to join us than to fight us.

    Maybe this creates opportunities and problems, namely frequent chances to get 4GW conflict at the tactical level right or wrong over a 7 month deployment, but the overall effort pushes the local population closer to us if they want stability and eventually peace with freedom, as opposed to slavery, which is peace without freedom or genocide which is peace with certain death over a period of time.

    Problem is this solution takes time. Think about it, how long did it take for the US to stabilize the region around Germany, Japan, or Korea well enough to leave? I don’t know and neither to you, we’re still there. We may claim the “mission” changed that justifies our existance there, but it still revolves around theater stability and regional enemies. Do we have to stay in Iraq or Afghanistan for a long time to achieve success; I would say yes and anyone who didn’t think about that before we started this should have studied WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. Our success depends on our continued deployment to regions around the world.

    [CR: Interesting point. I was in ROTC in the 1960s and saw the country’s mood change as casualties mounted and draftees — and their families — protested in greater and greater numbers. One common thread is the inability of the administrations involved to explain to a majority of the voting public why we we’re spending lives in far away countries. On the one hand, we were spending a couple of orders of magnitude more lives in Vietnam than we are in Iraq or Afghanistan. On the other, the big drop in public support came after the 1968 Tet Offensive, which, while a tactical debacle for the Communists, was a grand strategic disaster for Johnson. So the question to ponder might be whether the continuing roster of casualties (although small by comparison with 1968-72 or so), combined with weak rationale by the administration, is setting us up for another big surprise.

    Comments?]

  11. Maxon 04 Sep 2009 at 5:47 pm 11

    “the average person is not rationing anything”

    The annual US Federal budget deficit has risen,
    that’s means there’s a substantial
    inequity between what the government spends,
    year by year, month to month, to what it brings in
    from all sources of revenue and taxation.

    http://tinyurl.com/mpxulh
    [Open in new window]

    That is 1.6 x 1000 x 1 billion $

    As a conciquence the purchasing power and value
    of the US currency is dropping, with US dollars
    becoming incrementaly less valuable
    in exchange for goods, and services.

    How many families now have BOTH parents working,
    and fulltime, in an effort to support their lifestyles ?

    That means that the standard of living for average Americans,
    particularly, those NOT employed or otherwise living off
    the MICC, among other Government institutions, is in decline.

    http://tinyurl.com/kpz4ny
    [Open in new window]

    You may not recognise that as “rationing” but in effect,
    that’s exactly what it is, doing with less, or being able
    to afford less, and also working harder, and longer for it.

    Now, let’s take a quick look at the accumulated national debt,
    as a result of compounded deficits, year, after
    year,

    http://www.brillig.com/debt_clock/
    “The estimated population of the United States is 306,860,843
    so each citizen’s share of this debt is $38,424.60.”

    Let’s take a look at the total debt as a function of
    historical record, and since the height and aftermath
    of WW2.

    http://zfacts.com/p/318.html

    Let’s now take a look at the total debt, Federal,
    Corporate, personel, and private debt owed
    in the United States of America.

    http://mwhodges.home.att.net/nat-debt/debt-nat.htm

    That would be almost 60 x 1000 x $ 1 billion

    http://www.investortrip.com/is-usa-national-debt-out-of-control/

    Even factoring out the unfunded liabilites of Scocial Security,
    medicare etc, it’s still a disturbing trend.

    No wonder many are winching at the prospect of another measly
    $ 1 trillion tacked on for universal public health care.

    BTW;
    The total annual GDP of the entire world is somewhere
    on the order of $ 54 trillion.

    Finally to whom is this money owed ? It’s increasingly
    not entirely owed to Americans themselves.

    We are now at the stage of being at the mercy of forgien
    investors and countries such as China, propping up
    the US dollar, in order to protect their investments.

    It becomes a little like working for free, so you’re
    employer or customers won’t go broke,
    it’s simply not sustainable.

    As I quoted elsewhere, “things that can’t go on,
    won’t.”

    http://www.rense.com/general84/dofk2nd.htm

    *”Do you get what I’m saying !”
    *John Boyd USAF (Dec>

    Maximillian

  12. Maxon 06 Sep 2009 at 5:35 am 12

    “This allow a strategic “rolling dervish” if I remember the term correctly, where we continue to rotate units through combat zones and wear down the residents resistance while our forces are fresh by comparison”

    Good one,

    Kindly elaborate, just how “fresh” are they in being diverted from extended and repeted tours in Iraq ?

    And their families back home, just how “fresh” are they ?

    M

  13. Maxon 06 Sep 2009 at 5:51 am 13

    “the idea of the American people being exhausted before our enemies in Afghanistan (or Iraq for that matter) are. I’m not so sure. The US military is largely professional, all volunteer,

    Good Point !
    I’m with you on this one (sarc)

    &^% Em ! They volunteered !*

    *Chuck Spinney (Why we fight)

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7426875.stm

    “The US army has said the number of suicides in the military last year was the highest since records began, with 115 recorded.”

  14. loggie20on 06 Sep 2009 at 8:38 am 14

    “if they want stability and eventually peace with freedom, as opposed to slavery, which is peace without freedom or genocide which is peace with certain death over a period of time.”

    I have been thinking of the possibility of the US giving people peace and freedom since “Tet I” when I was a senior in high school. At the time I was a hawk.

    I have come to believe the US cannot give someone something they cannot, or will not take for themselves.

    In the past 7 years the allies have not taught the Afghans to fish or fight.

    It is highly unlikely the Afghans will stand on their own; they either don’t care, like getting it done for them or would prefer the local form to some US puppet form of slavery.

    As to Japan, and Germany US presence is more “forward deployment” against non existent boogey men, than making them US like.

    Korea is the same however, the local industrailist fascists are not liberal democrats.

    Karzai is not as ruthless or powerful as any of the puppets the US used in the post WW II environment to counter the Red menace.

    And there is no Red Menace to excuse permanent occupation any more than perpetual mobilization.

  15. Rob Pon 07 Sep 2009 at 6:04 am 15

    Got a few minutes to jot down some thoughts:

    Rationing is government imposed, like when Gov “Gray Out” Davis refused to let the individual citizen decide what price he will pay for power, resulting in rolling black outs when the Governor decided that the state will only pay for so much power but the citizens tried to use more. Lifestyle choices are still choices even if you don’t like the options much, such as deciding to have both adults work in the house vice cut cell phone, internet, TV, or other luxuries. The working poor are a very small part of the population and usually move out of that catagory. See Dr Sowell’s “Basic Economics” for starters.

    How “fresh” are the troops? Good question. In my 11 man MTT team, three of us are heavy deployers, that is, we have approx 1:2 deploy to dwell ratio over our careers (mine is 3.5 years over 10, for example), 3 of us are on our first deployment (2 Lt’s and a Sergeant), and 5 are less than 1:2, with last deployments reaching back to the invasion in 2003. These are not all combat deployments and include 3 years in Oki with dependends, MEU, UDP to Oki or Guam, or ship time for the Doc.

    My last Company, which I had until I was assigned here in Feb 09, had about the same ratio among the Sgts and above, the vast majority of Cpl and below had one deployment or less. The LCpls and below were nearly all from MOS school. That sounds pretty fresh actually. Yeah, some people will deploy heavy over a three year period, then they either get out or go to a B billet for a couple of years, then rotate back into the Fleet. Remember as late as 2006 the Commandant of the Marine Corps admitted that 1/3 of the Marine Corps (60,000 troops) haven’t been to OIF or OEF yet.

    Not sure why the sarcasm on the mostly professional and all volunteer force? I don’t use “&^% Em ! They volunteered !*” I use “Follow me.” It’s more motivating.

    I’ll address the other interesting issues here as I get time.

    [CR: Thanks — be careful over there and best wishes to you and your unit.

    The notion that the “free market” caused energy rationing in California is one of those urban legends that lives on despite mounds of documentation to the contrary. For what really caused the California blackouts — including manipulation by the late Enron Corporation and collusion by the Bush Administration, go read, or watch The Smartest Guys in the Room. If you have any sources that the working poor are a “very small part of the population,” I’d like to see it. How do they “move out of that category”? Fact is that average wages have been falling for more than a generation, and household incomes have been flat only because more spouses are working. Doesn’t sound to me like they’re putting their kids in whatever kind of day care they can find just so they can both have cellphones. On the other side of the equation, the top 10% of the population are doing quite well, thank you. They have nearly 50% of the national income, an even larger share than they had at the height of the “guilded age” (which peaked in 1927). For data, see Saez 2009.]

  16. Maxon 07 Sep 2009 at 7:56 pm 16

    “Fact is that average wages have been falling for more than a generation, and household incomes have been flat only because more spouses are working. ”

    “the top 10% of the population are doing quite well, thank you. They have nearly 50% of the national income, ”

    I come to the same conclusions in my own independent study
    and empherical experience.

    Particuarly the increasing concentration of wealth should be a concern
    for any thinking individual, if left unchecked, and alowed to continue to it’s logical extream, there’s plenty of historical
    precisedence for where that can lead, and it’s all very, very, bloody.

    But, what I’m really worried about, and was talking about,
    and hoped to impress on certian pepole who may read
    this blog, and particularly those who profit or otherwize are gamefully employed by the heavily US tax payer subsidised MICC.
    Is the very pecarious position and status of the US dollar vis-a-vie “depreciation.”

    http://tinyurl.com/mnv9oq
    [Open in new window]

    I’m not going to spell it out yet again though, but I suspect that
    by now, Boyd, would probably swear, and storm out of the room.

    MaX

  17. senor tomason 07 Sep 2009 at 11:00 pm 17

    “So the question to ponder might be whether the continuing roster of casualties (although small by comparison with 1968-72 or so), combined with weak rationale by the administration, is setting us up for another big surprise. Comments?]”

    I don’t think so. Because the all-volunteer recruiting system gives most Americans no direct stake in the war. The draftees and their families are not out there protesting because there are no draftees. An administration has much more leeway for manipulation with a force of volunteers than with a force of conscripts.

    [CR: That’s a good point — Rob P’s made it, too. And I don’t know the answer. I still worry, though, about what happens if a dramatic event makes it obvious that there’s a big disconnect between what the administration’s telling the public and what’s really happening on the ground.]

  18. Rob Pon 07 Sep 2009 at 11:59 pm 18

    Chet, I happened to be on watch when you posted you response so I grabbed my Sony e-book reader and took a look. With what I have here, Dr. Sowell’s “Basic Economics” is what I’ll cite although I think the chapter “Aha Statics” from his book “The Vision of the Anointed” will cover wage issues also. The pages I refer to is in Chapter 9 under the sub-heading Income “Distribution” (Pg 392). There isn’t a money line in this book to specifically reference but Dr Sowell goes into great detail about how “Americans who were in the bottom 20% in income in 1975 were also in the top 40% at some point in the next 16 years” (Pg 394) and then he compares this to other countries which show the same thing. He also addresses the working poor issue issue over a lifetime on pg 395, “A study in New Zealand found that the degree of income inequality over a working lifetime was less than the degree of inequality in any given year over those lifetimes.” He also continues with references to amount of working people in households and comparisons to individual vs household income as well as the upward mobility of people as demonstrated by the changing names in Forbes 400 most rich lists. In short, working poor usually refers to either how much someone or a household is working (Pg 399) or if they are just entering the job force which is a double whammy because this person gets starters wages and has not had time to accumulate wealth, like property, IRA, savings, etc. Since I am using an e-book, the pages might not be exact, but they should be real close.

    We 1/2 agree on the Cali power outages. It was not the free market that caused the outages, it was Gov Davis’ and his State House passing and enforcement of an energy price cap that caused it. Power was available, just not at the price the State House or Cali would let their citizens pay. Problem was, to generate the amount of power Cali wanted during a hot summer required turning on generators that were idle and not using them to capacity; which means the users of that power will pay more $$ per kilowatt/hour since the power company is allowing a gen to “wetstack” vice provide 90+% capacity, which is ideal. In other words, the gen was only providing 50% of its power to users but the operations costs is as if it is providing 90+% of its power. That means the consumer pays the difference (double the energy cost per hour) or the company loses money. This is only the tip of the issue; back-up generators are the older, inefficient ones and if a new gen was being used that means it was off its maintenance cycle, which will incur deferred maint costs or a lot of overtime to get the maint done in a compressed timeline. I used to work for PSE&G, not the gen side, but I studied the issue b/c I wanted to lat move into gen for a while.

    [CR: Thanks. I would point out that Sowell’s data is a little out of date. Check out the latest numbers from Saez. One might also consider that Sowell is on the staff of the Hoover Institution and so can be expected to give his analysis a conservative slant.

    I stick with my case about the California power outages. Too many Enron people were caught on tape ordering power plants that they owned temporarily shut down. Enron eventually agreed to a $1.5 BN settlement, but went out of business before it was paid.]

  19. Maxon 09 Sep 2009 at 7:41 am 19

    We’re digressing off on somewhat of a tangent.

    Getting back to the subject.

    Wether intentionaly or not, Rob as an insider, has made a compelling argument and painted a picture that illustrates that the goal in the conduct of perpetual limited and contained warfare against low risk and threat opposition is for the USA, to make it all as safe, easy, sustainable, and profitable for those involved as possible.

    And so we have “Limited warfare for fun and profit.”

    It’s a bussiness, not unlike coal mining not without hazard, but
    in managing those, and the PR, it can be very profitable, and sustainable.

    I have to give those involved credit, regardless of the ethics
    or lack thereof infered.

    MaX

  20. Rob Pon 16 Sep 2009 at 11:38 am 20

    Chet specifically asked what it would take to sour the American mood on Afghanistan.

    Bill just wrote that the “Taliban’s Air Force” could do it because at the moral level we’re not winning. I’m not sure about that, but repeats of this story could:

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/staff/jonathan_landay/story/75036.html

    Upshot of this story is that 4 Marine Military Transition Team (MTT) members were killed conducting operations with the Afghan military. They conducted the op with the understanding that close air (CAS) was 5 min away. The US commander in the rear, citing new ROEs designed to limit civilian casualties, refused the air support.

    This story is a double whammy. US forces defeated in battle because of borderline criminal negligence by rear area commanders and a President who can’t understand why we are there, what happened, or can’t articulate it at any rate. This is really bad because if anyone asks if ROEs are designed to protect service members (No, they are designed to protect Generals and Presidents), the President will have to come up with an answer, and I doubt he can. That will destroy any popular support for the war, or more, specifically the people’s belief that the President can win it.

    Oh, yeah, think I’ll ever serve on an Afghan MTT now? I’d go to the brig first.

  21. Rob Pon 16 Sep 2009 at 11:53 am 21

    Max,

    Been thinking about your comments and I’m surprized you didn’t realize this sooner. We’ve turned war into a commercial enterprise since WWII, really. Over the last 29 years, the personnel have caught up with the commercial aspect of equipping military personnel. Now, not only can we equip our personnel to a standand not matched anywhere in the world, we turned war into “tours of duty” and figured out how to beat the burn-out factor that plagued military men during Vietnam.

    I’m not sure how we did it, but I know that by the time I’m ready to punch out, there will be someone to replace me, either someone who once worked for me or someone who had 6 years of non-deployable billets while I deployed 5 times in six years. Either way, the war continues. We’re not the “Best and Brightest”, they run Apple, Inc. but we are professional.

  22. Maxon 21 Sep 2009 at 8:43 pm 22

    “Bill just wrote that the “Taliban’s Air Force” could do it because at the moral level we’re not winning.”

    Humm, given the track record, as you make the point since
    WW-2, scuze the explative but the American pepole don’t
    give a &^% about any moral aspect, nor the casualties among you who volenteered, just so long as it dosn’t rain
    tonight on the barbeque in the back yard.

    The ROW is another story.

    This hypocracy is another dimention of what I find most
    offensive, all the hyped BS about Americans being here , there,
    everywhere “to Help others and help ourselves.”

    Call what it is you do, what it is, exactly, a ‘bussiness.’
    Nothing more. Again the coal mining, or winter time
    fishing off the coast of Alaska analogy.

    “I’m surprized you didn’t realize this sooner.”

    As you guessed, I’m a little slow, but when I do finaly
    catch on, I generally go on to achieve a far greater depth of understanding and appreciation than most.

    “We’re not the “Best and Brightest”,”

    No comment, other than by your candor, it could
    be you individualy distiguish yourself otherwize, and
    have earned my respect in that posting more than anything else.
    I’ve ever heard from you.

    Take care.

    M

  23. Maxon 23 Sep 2009 at 9:52 am 23

    “we continue to rotate units through combat zones and wear down the residents resistance while our forces are fresh by comparison”

    “I use “Follow me.” It’s more motivating.”

    I stare up at the ceiling, and whistle dixie.
    M

    Please explain;

    http://www.govexec.com/story_page.cfm?articleid=43635&sid=60

    “The VA estimates there are as many as 6,400 suicides annually among all veterans.”

  24. Maxon 28 Sep 2009 at 8:04 pm 24

    We’re not the “Best and Brightest”,

    You said it., and also not at all that well connected to reality either, very much like your bosses.

    I don’t think you’re up to the job, frankly.

    M

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090928/ap_on_go_ot/us_census_income_gap

    y HOPE YEN, Associated Press Writer Hope Yen, Associated Press Writer – Mon Sep 28, 3:46 pm ET

    WASHINGTON – The recession has hit middle-income and poor families hardest, widening the economic gap between the richest and poorest Americans as rippling job layoffs ravaged household budgets.

    The wealthiest 10 percent of Americans — those making more than $138,000 each year — earned 11.4 times the roughly $12,000 made by those living near or below the poverty line in 2008, according to newly released census figures. That ratio was an increase from 11.2 in 2007 and the previous high of 11.22 in 2003.

    Household income declined across all groups, but at sharper percentage levels for middle-income and poor Americans. Median income fell last year from $52,163 to $50,303, wiping out a decade’s worth of gains to hit the lowest level since 1997.

  25. Rob Pon 30 Sep 2009 at 12:17 am 25

    Max,

    Did you consider your military service coal mining or off shore Alaska fishing? If not, then why is your time in service different than mine?

    [CR: I’m not sure, exactly, where this thread is going, but I’m counting on both of you guys to keep it professional.]

  26. Maxon 30 Sep 2009 at 3:39 pm 26

    [CR: I’m not sure, exactly, where this thread is going, but I’m counting on both of you guys to keep it professional.]

    No worries, we’re just two lawyers having it out,
    like the final scenes in the movie “Cape Fear.”

    M

  27. Maxon 17 Oct 2009 at 2:58 am 27

    Rob P

    Max,

    “Been thinking about your comments and I’m surprized you didn’t realize this sooner. ”

    http://dnipogo.org/2008/01/17/americas-global-problems/

    Jan.17.2008
    7:40 pm
    by dni

  28. Maxon 17 Oct 2009 at 7:06 am 28

    Rob P
    on 30 Sep 2009 at 12:17 am
    25Max,

    Did you consider your military service coal mining or off shore Alaska fishing? If not, then why is your time in service different than mine?

    [CR: I’m not sure, exactly, where this thread is going, but I’m counting on both of you guys to keep it professional.]

    Here’s one element of the problem I have with the current
    scenario, that is to say, “limited and protracted low risk war” treated as a sustainable albeit somewhat risky at the individual level, but still perfectly viable bussiness model.

    One that as a thinking man, I presume with a concience, might one day slap you in the face, looking into your own eyes in a mirror
    while shaving one morning.

    The civilian casualty factor from the subjective moral perspective,
    is not complementary to US stratigic doctrine, and the track record
    in 4GW conflict. Even discounting this information rightly or wrongly,
    as from the extream left, To sustain such, indefinately, and still expect to prevail, is not rational, or realistic. That much has become obvious, even among those who advocate sustaining and excallating the scenario.

    M

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=15665

    Media Distortion: Killing Innocent Afghan Civilians to “Save Our Troops”
    Eight Years of Horror Perpetrated agaisnt the people of Afghanistan

    Meanwhile;

    Backing up an observation made right here recently by a participant.

    http://news.antiwar.com/2009/10/16/officials-gen-mcchrystal-now-seeking-80000-additional-troops-for-afghanistan/

    Officials: Gen. McChrystal Now Seeking 80,000 Additional Troops for Afghanistan
    Military Doesn’t Have Remotely That Many Available

  29. Rob Pon 23 Oct 2009 at 12:57 pm 29

    Max,

    The military is not a business model for the simple reason it is not profitable except insofar as “how much is your freedom worth.” I’m not waving a flag here and telling you get in line there patriot; what I mean is freedom to pursue American interests overseas comes at a price and that price is always debated and the debate is resolved in the amount of money the government throws to the military every year.

    We could save a lot of federal money and only secure our borders by having a very small military. We would lose a lot of international credibility because we could never wage war and our enemies and current allies would know it. Or we could “go large” and make our military 10x larger than it is now and just poorly equip our troops. Instead we went for a solution of putting 1.6 million volunteers in our military (out of 300,000,000 people) and equip them really well.

    This isn’t a trill ride for me, or anyone else I know in the military over the age of 21. You just train well, get the best equipment and intel you can, kill them before they kill you if you have to, and get your men home alive. And when you get tired of it, you leave. Kinda that “slap you in the face moment” you mention, just less dramatic. It is “sustainable” and the cost if human lives (civilian and military) is less than what we had in any war previously.

    Rob

    [CR: “We would lose a lot of international credibility because we could never wage war and our enemies and current allies would know it.” How many more American lives is “international credibility” worth? How many more trillions of dollars? And now that we’re on the subject, how much “international credibility” do we have, still bogged down 8 years into a war against an opponent who doesn’t even have an army? Is it necessary that we play ObL’s game?

    And who is this we’re going to “wage war” against? Our nuclear deterrent is still strong, and we face no conventional threat to the United States itself. Which means that if we’re going to “wage war” against somebody, we’re going to have to take it to them. Whom do you want to invade next?]

  30. Rob Pon 28 Oct 2009 at 1:11 pm 30

    Chet, you wrote “How many more American lives is “international credibility” worth?”

    Short answer: Depends on how smart the commanders are, enemy and friendly. See below for long answer.

    The long answer lies in COA Analysis (I knew MCPP would come in handy).

    OK, reduce the US military to a national guard similar to most of the rest of the world without the ability to credibly protect our allies if they come under attack. How long does Israel last and will the people’s fate be just a transfer of power where they pay taxes to Islamic Arabs or will they pushed into the sea and see how many can swim for Crete? Given the love between Hamas and Israel, I believe we’ll get to fish Jews out of the water if they cannot count on our implied threat of force to keep Israel’s enemies at bay. We can also repeat some variation of regional chaos in Africa, South America, Southeast Asia, and Pakistan and India if we choose to eliminate our ability to do anything but defend our homeland and nuke anyone who tries to nuke us. So I guess we could compare lives lost fighting now vs how many people would die due to our inaction? Given what we know of those times we didn’t get involved (USSR, China, Cambodia, Vietnam after our retreat) it will be in the millions.

    How much “international credibility” do we have? Good question. France and Germany dumped their socialist heads of state and the British conservative party is standing by to destroy Gordon Brown (Tony Blair may have been Labour Party, but his security views were more conservative than liberal). The European nations, esp eastern, are moving towards Pres Bush’s positions rather than Obama’s.

    Really, we’re paying a lot less now in lives to maintain “international credibility” as well as security than we have in the past, by a long shot. 50,000+ dead in Vietnam and we lost international credibility. We didn’t lose credibility b/c of lost lives, but because we let a third world dictatorship win.

    Got it; wars cost money. Frankly, I don’t see our politicians being good stewards of the people’s money just because world peace is declared; they’ll just waste the money on something else if not war just like they did in the 80s and 90s.

    This does play into War of Exhaustion vs Maneuver if we continue on this thread…

    Rob

    [CR: “Really, we’re paying a lot less now in lives to maintain “international credibility” as well as security than we have in the past, by a long shot. 50,000+ dead in Vietnam and we lost international credibility.”

    Actually, we didn’t lose international credibility because we finally recognized reality in Vietnam. Our period of greatest influence and prosperity, beginning in 1981 and continuing until 2004 or so — when our botching of both Afghanistan and Iraq became evident to all — began shortly after we withdrew from Vietnam.

    This idea that we have to keep doing something stupid because otherwise we’ll lose credibility floors me. ObL must think he’s won the jackpot. And will someone please explain why intervening with conventional forces in S. America, S. Asia or wherever is going to work better than it has in Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan?

    There’s no legitimate conventional threat that we (acting in conjunction with our allies) couldn’t handle with a DoD budget of $200 billion / year. What, for example, is Iran’s military budget?

    Your point on politicians is well taken. Whatever happened to the post-Cold War peace dividend?]

  31. Maxon 29 Oct 2009 at 11:17 am 31

    “The military is not a business model for the simple reason it is not profitable ”

    Perhaps, and sadly for you, you’re just on the wrong end of the stick.

    M

    http://washington.bizjournals.com/washington/stories/2009/08/17/daily62.\
    html

    “The highest paid CEOs in the D.C. area come from the defense and finance industries.”

    “Robert Stevens, CEO of Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT),
    topped the list again this year with a compensation package worth $26.52 million in 2008 — down from his 2007 package of $31 million.”

    [CR: As a veteran of both, I can assure our readers that there’s little in common between a military unit, particularly one at good maneuver warfare, and a member of the defense industry. Don’t let the name fool you.]

  32. Maxon 30 Oct 2009 at 8:42 am 32

    “there’s little in common between a military unit, particularly one at good maneuver warfare, and a member of the defense industry.”

    Thanks Chet,

    Exactly my point.

    Some, many are gamefully, and lucratively employed,
    while still others grow fabulously wealthy.

    We don’t call it the “Military Industrial Wellfare Complex”
    for nothing.

    \M

  33. senor tomason 30 Oct 2009 at 4:24 pm 33

    “ObL must think he’s won the jackpot.”

    ObL did win the jackpot – when George W. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq. Mr. Lind stated something to that effect in on of his columns a few years back. I recall Mr. Lind – in reference to the United States invasion of Iraq – wrote something like “Osama bin Laden must be laughing in his cave”.

  34. Maxon 02 Nov 2009 at 11:24 am 34

    “ObL did win the jackpot – ”

    I have no idea, what any of you are talking about,
    things are just great, couldn’t be better, except that
    the US needs to spend an awfull lot more on defence.

    M

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/CIT-files-for-Chapter-11-apf-1202955938.html?x=0&sec=topStories&pos=main&asset=&ccode=

    WASHINGTON (AP) — After struggling for months to avert bankruptcy, lender CIT Group has filed for Chapter 11 protection in an attempt to restructure its debt while trying to keep badly needed loans flowing to thousands of mid-sized and small businesses.

    [CR: Max — I think I accidentally deleted one of your comments. Sorry …]

  35. Rob Pon 02 Nov 2009 at 2:58 pm 35

    “ObL must think he’s won the jackpot.”

    I’ve seen that kind of backwards “If we lose here, here, and here we’ll really win” thinking in Arabia, except they ascribe it to FDR letting our Pacific Fleet sink to the bottom of Pearl Harbor so we could win WWII. They also have some pretty interesting ideas about 9/11.

    I’ll be interested to see how the next year shapes up in Afghanistan:

    http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2009/10/army_reintegration_102909w/

    Article is a bit lengthy, but it looks like the kind of “maneuver” you need when fighting a 4GW enemy. Wonder if we can pull it off…

    Rob

    [CR: You’re going to have to explain this to me:

    I’ve seen that kind of backwards “If we lose here, here, and here we’ll really win” thinking in Arabia, except they ascribe it to FDR letting our Pacific Fleet sink to the bottom of Pearl Harbor so we could win WWII. They also have some pretty interesting ideas about 9/11.

    If we were “winning” something in Afghanistan, you might have a point, depending on what it is and how much it cost. As it is, all “winning” there means is that anyone wanting to attack us will simply plan the attack from somewhere else, as 9/11 indeed was.]