Tuesday, January 23, 2007

In it to win it

Front Page magazine has an excellent piece by Lt. Colonel Gordon Cucullu, a former Green Beret, that explains how we should be fighting the wars we are currently involved in - and likely to be involved in in the future. Essentially, Cucullu argues that if we are going to defeat our enemies we need to stop trying to fight them in conventional ways using conventional forces that are bound by - well - conventions. The way to go is to use special forces backed when necessary with irregular, local forces.

Special operations forces are able to think more creatively, operate more freely, and use more flexibility than conventional forces that are tied to legalistic, unrealistic, and often self-defeating rules of engagement drawn up by Pentagon JAG lawyers.

The most important point is that this “War for the Free World” is not a conventional war. This war, other than for brief interludes in which set-piece battles were fought and won as during the early weeks of Operation Iraqi Freedom, is a dark, shadowy war. It must be fought against an enemy adept at using a mixed-strategy of ideology, propaganda, terrorism, money-laundering, non-state combatants, rogue state sponsors, and irregular, conscience-less brutality to conduct operations against America.

As Cucullu points out, there are times when conventional "set-piece battles" will be fought and when these take place we need to have the conventional forces - air, land and sea - to fight them. But when faced with the sort of "insurgency" that permeates through Iraq and, to a lesser extent, Afghanistan then that requires a different kind of approach. Cucullu's final paragraph sums it up brilliantly.

By restricting ourselves to artificial, bureaucratic geographical division of responsibility, by thinking only in terms of conventional battlefields, and by relying on gentle, media-friendly tactics we are trying to fight our sworn enemies with unacceptable – indeed potentially fatal - mental and physical constraints. If victory is our objective then we must fight the war to win, using forces specially configured and trained to employ an effective strategy to defeat this terrible an enemy. Those forces are found in the special operations community and the sooner we call on them to take charge the better chance we have of winning this war.


xoggoth said...

Return of the Chindits?

RoseCovered Glasses said...

Your post has some excellent points. Here's some additional data:

The Department of Defense, headquartered in the Pentagon, is one of the most massive organizations on the planet, with net annual operating costs of $635 billion, assets worth $1.3 trillion, liabilities of $1.9 trillion and more thatn 2.9 million military and civilian personnel as of fiscal year 2005.

I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.

It is difficult to convey the complexity of the way DOD works to someone who has not experienced it. This is a massive machine with so many departments and so much beaurocracy that no president, including Bush totally understands it.

Presidents, Congressmen, Cabinet Members and Appointees project a knowledgeable demeanor but they are spouting what they are told by career people who never go away and who train their replacements carefully. These are military and civil servants with enormous collective power, armed with the Federal Acquisition Regulation, Defense Industrial Security Manuals, compartmentalized classification structures and "Rice Bowls" which are never mixed.

Our society has slowly given this power structure its momentum which is constant and extraordinarily tough to bend. The cost to the average American is exhorbitant in terms of real dollars and bad decisions. Every major power structure member in the Pentagon's many Washington Offices and Field locations in the US and Overseas has a counterpart in Defense Industry Corporate America. That collective body has undergone major consolidation in the last 10 years.

What used to be a broad base of competitive firms is now a few huge monoliths, such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Boeing.

Government oversight committees are carefully stroked. Sam Nunn and others who were around for years in military and policy oversight roles have been cajoled, given into on occasion but kept in the dark about the real status of things until it is too late to do anything but what the establishment wants. This still continues - with increasing high technology and potential for abuse.

Please examine the following link to testimony given by Franklin C. Spinney before Congress in 2002. It provides very specific information from a whistle blower who is still blowing his whistle (Look him up in your browser and you get lots of feedback) Frank spent the same amount of time as I did in the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) but in government quarters. His job in government was a similar role to mine in defense companies. Frank's emphasis in this testimony is on the money the machine costs us. It is compelling and it is noteworthy that he was still a staff analyst at the Pentagon when he gave this speech. I still can't figure out how he got his superior's permission to say such blunt things. He was extremely highly respected and is now retired.


The brick wall I often refer to is the Pentagon's own arrogance. It will implode by it's own volition, go broke, or so drastically let down the American people that it will fall in shambles. Rest assured the day of the implosion is coming. The machine is out of control.

If you are interested in a view of the inside of the Pentagon procurement process from Vietnam to Iraq please check the posting on this blog entitled, "Odyssey of Armaments"


On the same subject, you may also be interested in the following sites from the "Project On Government Oversight", observing it's 25th Anniversary and "Defense In the National Interest", insired by Franklin Spinney and contributed to by active/reserve, former, or retired military personnel.



youdontknowme said...

Sounds similar to what Brimstone said in his column on the BNP site and I agree with it.

Stan said...


Thanks for you comments. I haven't had a look at the links yet, but I will do. As far as US Defence is concerned - it would be good to have a broad based competitive defence industry, but to be honest, you shuold be thankful you have as many monoliths as you do. We don't even have any miniliths! We don't even make bullets anymore and our soldiers end up having to scrounge them off Canadians in the battlefield!!!


Could you post a link to Brimstones article? It just strikes me as common sense that you can not fight unconventional wars with conventional forces.


Maybe not the Chindits, but we could certainly use a few Wingates in the military command. They seem to run out of ideas pretty quickly these days (too politicised in my opinion). Where are the sort of minds that produced the Chindits, Commandos, LRDG and SAS? Where are the minds that gave us the SOE that organised and trained local resistance groups? Where is the innovation that produced X-craft, dambuster bombs and a mobile harbour?

Gone. All gone.