Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Friday, December 10, 2004

Rumsfeld is an idiot.
Written by: Goemagog

He assumes that unhappy soldiers don't know what they're talking about when they ask him about the equipment they've got and he hasn't looked at. then there was this bit.

win the test of wills

Expecting the country that developed the "short attention span" concept to have more "will" than a society that holds grudges for thousands of years, how fucking inane is that? We'd do better if we just killed them.

About the armor.

“You go to war with the Army you have,” Rumsfeld replied, “not the Army you might want or wish to have.”

That's the thing though, the army has been in "transformation" for a while, before we went into Iraq, before the WTC attacks. We have plenty of armor, but we're not sending it. Soldiers are being sent on patrols driving around in HMMWVs. This is one of the many purposes of the HMMWV, but the point of a patrol like that is to look for the enemy, not engage them. That is what we have cavalry units for, and they do not patrol in HMMWVs, but in armored fighting vehicles, such as the Bradley and Abrahms. The units that best trained and equipped to do the missions being performed in Iraq are not the ones being used. This is partly due to the troop rotation requiring other units to fill in, but mostly because of "transformation".

Back in the Second World War, there wasn't a battlefield capacity we didn't have. For hundreds of years, armies consisted of the same basic branches. Cavalry, infantry, artillery, communications, and logistics. In the past hundred we've seen the replacement of traditional cavalry with mechanized armor and the introduction of air power. Guys with tanks spent most of their training time training on how to fight in a tank, not how to fight dismounted or loading supply trucks. Infantrymen were never taught how to work a tank, but spent their time learning to fight dismounted. Each specialized because there are too many soldiering skills for any soldier to be good at all of them, and we wanted a good army to win the war.

When the war ended, things didn't change much. During Korea, it became apparent that the infantry couldn't always keep up with the armor, so we made mechanized infantry. They were taught a blend of skills between armor and infantry, because we wanted them to be good and they couldn't be good at everything. "Train as you'd fight, fight as you've trained." The men and equipment changed, but this was how our army was structured until "transformation".

"Transformation" is the magic word now for the pentagon. Any idea, request, approval or denial can be justified as part of it. But what exactly is it? It's the dissolution of the traditional army structure. While soldiers continue to train in semi-specialized areas, they will not be permitted to fight that way.

Every vehicle, soldier, and gadget requires parts and power. If there's an actual fight, they may have to be replaced. This is why the traditional army structure has a logistics branch. The more complex your army and it's equipment, the bigger the logistics branch is, and the more complex the supply train it runs. Pressure was put on the Pentagon to cut it's logistics costs, so it developed "transformation", which I still haven't really explained.

"Transformation" is the abolition of specialities. Every unit will be expected to function as any other unit in ANY capacity. By keeping the supply train as generic as possible, the logistics train is kept simple, and by keeping the appearance of branches, the Pentagon can claim that it's training standards are the best in the world. The problem is that the soldiers are neither equipped nor trained for what they're actually being asked to do. This isn't an occassional occurence of soldiers being asked to do something in a pinch, but standing army policy. Rather than make more units into cavalry units so that they are trained and equipped for the primary mission in Iraq (driving around waiting to get shot at so they can locate and kill the bastards), the Pentagon has decreed that they are defacto cavalry units even though their equipment and training are not up to the task. Since "transformation" is one of the things Rumsfeld is most proud of, this problem will not be corrected while he is the Secretary of Defense.

Intended Consequences

Everybody saw the pictures of Iraqi prisoners being mistreated at Abu Ghraib. Why was nobody punished for this?

I don't mean that nobody was punished for mistreating prisoners, they were arrested several months BEFORE the pictures were leaked. If they hadn't already been arrested, then it'd be a whistleblower, but they were, so why the leak? The mistreatment caused some problems, but those were being addressed already, the leak created a whole new set of problems and probably cost the lives of american soldiers and marines. The only possible reason for the pictures being leaked when they were was to make us look bad and encourage our enemies. The leaking was done by Rumsfeld's department, and what has he done about it? NOTHING. Rumsfeld's staff is generating propaganda for our enemies and he sees nothing wrong with it at all. He doesn't see anything wrong with anything.

Take the cause of the mini-mutiny a month or two ago. The soldiers involved were punished mildly because the problem was attributed to incompetent local leaders. Some of those leaders were replaced. Why weren't they replaced earlier? Leadership problems don't crop up overnight.

They were kept in place because the Rumsfeld and the DOD think every problem is caused by a few bad soldiers, the ones at the bottom of the pile who haven't risen up the system because they're bad soldiers. They believe that anyone with brass is beyond reproach, that any person in a position to create a plan, idea, or policy is infallible. The general who was in command at Abu Ghraib claimed that nothing was done that violated policy. She was partially correct. It wasn't policy to mistreat prisoners, but it was policy to pretend that nothing was happening. Nobody was told to stop until arrests were made. "Transformation" keeps the soldiers ill-equipped and mis-trained, and poor leadership is giving them no guidance.

A tad more on "Transformation"

Winds of Change falls for the standard pentagon line for "transformation".

Back in the 1980s, the primary mission of the US armed forces was challenging, but straightforward: prepare to repel a Soviet invasion of Western Europe.

Simply put, that's bullshit. The 10th Mountain, our other light infantry divisions, airbone divisions, and special forces would have had little role to play in that. It would have been mostly armor, mechanized infantry, and aircraft. We had them anyways because while a soviet invasion of western europe would have caused the bigger war, it was not the biggest threat. There was nothing wrong with the force structure then. All of the heavier units we had then would be ideally suited for fighting in Iraq (yes, Iraq has cities with urban fighting, but there are cities in western europe too, not a big difference), and the other lighter units would be well-suited to fighting in Afghanistan. All of the needs would be met, and we wouldn't be having stupid debates over how much armor is enough for a HMMWV.

The first two critiques they have of "transformation" are valid.

* The 'tail' of support units found itself exposed to combat as much as – sometimes more than – the 'tooth' of assault forces. Many were units drawn from the reserve force, short on appropriate training and equipment, more vulnerable to casualties from IEDs and guerilla fighters.

* As the campaign turned to occupation, civil affairs, military policy, PSYOP, and other civilian facing functions became vital, and here their concentration in the reserve force became a real problem. Many of the individuals affected had already been activated for duty in Bosnia and other peacekeeping missions, and now were being asked to do one, two, or eventually more rotations to Iraq. Many had signed up with the assumption that their exposure was monthly drills and a call to active duty only in extremis. Those affected did their duty ably, but an ultimate impact on reserve force retention seems inevitable.

The third is not.

The nature of combat and the mix of skills also shifted. On the northern German plains, the focus was on operations. A Soviet tank army on the move is hard to hide. Counterinsurgency in Iraq and elsewhere is about intelligence; finding and fixing the enemy is harder than destroying him. The concentration of intelligence functions in the reserve force again proved a problem, as did the general lack of experience with the Arabic language and culture.

The strategy on the "northern german plains" was to out maneuver the enemy. The point of this was to not be in front of them because they outnumbered us. The front was not to be a solid line, but have a depth of five or so miles. The fowardmost units marked the FEBA (forward edge of battle area) and anybody who got too close to that could expect a fight. This is not counterinsurgency, but to make this work, each small unit had to be able to function in a completely hostile battlefield environment. If you can fight well surrounded by enemies, or unsure of where they are, you can fight well when you know right where the enemy is. The point was to have units on both sides fighting a small unit war in the battle area, something the soviets were not trained to do, so that our training would beat their numbers. This creates a guerilla environment, which is not that far off from what we're facing in Iraq. The battle area is larger, but the tactics of the units in the battle area are exactly the same as they would be fighting back soviet hordes in europe.

and i will add more about Appel and Beebe later, i promise!

Goe, bumping this cause of the comments

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