Rantings of a Drunken Vet: Winning the War on Terror

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Say what you will about the lack of connection between Iraq and 9/11, let me start by saying that if you think Iraq has nothing to do with Islamic terrorism, you are a RETARD. Iraq is no doubt a battle front in the War on Terror.

That being said, I want to comment on the troop surge President Bush had proposed. I support it, because my opinion is that it is a huge step in the right direction. There's a war going on there, and the more troops we have in country, the better. It doesn't take a math major to figure out a simple concept like strength in numbers.

However, I don't think that will be enough. We need a change in strategy. Well, for that matter, we need a strategy to start with.

Years ago, in a military history class, I was taught that there are three strategies in war: annihilation, attrition, and exhaustion. Look them up...I lack the intelligence to properly articulate the concepts. I recommend the writings of John Keegan and Colonel Harry Summers.

SO...Which one have we been pursuing in Iraq and Afghanistan?

"Winning the hearts and minds" is an extremely new concept in warfare. So let me ask: Can anyone name one historical example of when this has worked?

To an extent, America tried it in Vietnam, with little result. We're trying it again in the War on Terror. I pray and hope it doesn't turn into failed experiment number 2. I would rather stick to the three strategies that have been proven successful.

You could make an argument that the Roman Empire successfully won hearts and minds, but my response is that they only pursued this after accomplishing annihilation on the battlefield.

A personal story to shed some light on my perspective...

In the spring of '05, my platoon raided a village in the Andar district of Afghanistan. We didn't take action against any people, because the people in this particular village were compliant with us. BUT, raiding is a still a very intrusive process. Even when there is no forceful opposition, it involves kicking in (or blowing up, if a boot isn't good enough) a few doors, among other things.

We got done with that village and we set up our RON site (new name for patrol base) nearby so we could keep observation on the village. That's when the village elders came out and started whining. "You broke this and that and this, whaaaaaaa!" the interpreter translated.

That's when CA went into action. CA, or civil affairs, is the branch of the Army the rest of us love to hate. Their entire job is to make friends with the enemy. Our CA guys started unloading from their truck full of food, clothing, blankets, school supplies, you name it.

One CA guy had the nerve to apologize to the elder in front of us..."We're sorry we broke your stuff."

I heard him say it and I was fuming, but before I could explode, my squad leader, a stocky Staff Sergeant wise beyond his years, spoke up, "I'M NOT F@#$ING SORRY!" I don't know if the translator passed it on, but I shut my mouth because everything I had to say had been said, better than I could have said it.

We had fed and clothed the enemy, trying the win their hearts and minds. That was our policy. The very people who wanted us dead were having a nice dinner on us that night.

And trust me, a nice dinner wasn't going to change their mind about wanting to kill us.

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6 Comments

This excellent post distills out the real reason the GOP lost the last election: People are saying, what kind of war is this our country is fighting? Thank you, N.R.

jacob said:

Those in the Levant treat such nonsense as a sign of weakness. The proper action for their whing was not to give them toys. Oh well. When trhe west finally figures out this is a clash civilizations I only hope we are NOT too late.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

how would the old strategies work in this war? Used to be you marched into the capital and that was it, the enemy surrendered and the war was over. We used those old strategies in Iraq, called it "shock and awe," but when we marched into Baghdad it was just the beginning. The insurgents don't capitals. Their base of operations is wherever we aren't. And it's impossible for us to be everywhere at once. that's why we need hearts and minds, I think.

What if you had gone ahead and shot the village elder, and anyone else who had a problem with that. Do you think that'd be more effective?

I also wonder if you think this surge is enough? I mean, if it's the clash of civilizations that it's been billed as, why aren't we going all out? We were talking about playing politics with the war in the other thread, it seems like Bush is only doing as much as he can without asking anything form Americans. We're closing factories, not converting them to tank plants. We're cutting taxes, not raising them to pay for the cost of freedom. Where are the sugar rations? where is the draft? What is this?

It makes me think that even the people in charge who wanted this war don't take it seriously. And blaming the left for everything is a cop out, you still have to ask: does it make sense to start a war if the political climate is only going to allow us to half-ass it?

so the war's become a tactical disaster, a strategic setback, and a political pariah, and no one wants to admit it because 3500 Americans are dead now. the best we get is, "we're going to bring the # of troops back up to where it was at the beginning of last year" what the hell?

No Relation said:

"How would the old strategies work in this war?"

The same way they have for thousands of years. Right now the enemy can replenish his manpower and supplies faster than we can take them away. We haven't been aggressive enough.

I don't think you understand the concept of strategy vs. tactics, if you think "shock and awe" and capture the flag are forms of strategy.

Shot the elder? There was no need for that. I just had a problem with feeding him and his village that wanted us dead.

Refer to paragraph three to answer your question about if the surge will be enough.

As far as blaming the far left...does it make sense to shift the political climate in order to half-ass a war?

stay puft marshmallow man said:

hey,

I don't think the climate shifted. People were uneasy about this war from the get go. That's why they had to sell the war the way they did ('they' refers to the bush admin, Jacob, which happens to be full of neo-cons dun dun dun).

A majority of the country somehow got the impression that Saddam had personally ordered the 9/11 attacks, for everyone else, they sold them the "slam dunk, it'll pay for itself, we'll finished in a couple of months" line.

with the "shock and awe," what I meant was that we tried the attrition thing in the beginning, and we drove the Iraqi Army back. But we aren't fighting the Iraqi Army now, we've got a bunch of guerillas sneaking around in civilian clothes and everything. The old school attrition stuff failed in viet nam for the same reason.

Rome wasn't out to spread democracy, they wanted to conquer the world. They would have crusified the village elder with a sign nailed above his head reading "Romani uber alis" or something. I don't think America has the heart (or lack thereof) to win this with attrition.

When I said "Strategic setback" I meant more in geopolitical terms. I haven't studied military strategy so I'm not an expert, but I'll read up on John Keegan and Colonel Harry Summers. how would you use attrition in the current situation?

No Relation said:

Sorry, I was away for the weekend. Here's what I think...

The climate HAS definitely shifted. Polls were in the 80% support range during the initial invasion. Where is the support now? The resolution to authorize Bush to use force in Iraq passed 296-133 in the House and 77-23 in the Senate. Where does Congress stand now?

I don't recall the Bush administration ever using the Saddam/9-11 connection to support the Iraq war.

Your point about Rome is the same as mine. I never said anything about Rome and democracy. I said they didn't go after "hearts and minds" until they had annihilated their enemies.

As for the current situation, I wouldn't use attrition, I would use annihilation.

I'll bring that argument to the main board.

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