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September 9, 2009
Let's play war gamesBy Greyhawk
This is what war is, and a reminder that "embedded" does not mean safe.
And like any story from a war zone - be it a bombing raid, exchange of gunfire, or other violent event, early reports are to be greeted with skepticism, at best. This one raises several questions, all of which have no doubt already been asked by those on the scene, most of which will be answered, many of which will be rightfully classified, some of which will be obvious, and few (if any) of which will be resolved to the satisfaction of all.
This we know: four Marines died. Perhaps that fact renders it easy for outsiders to accept this quote as fact, too:
U.S. commanders, citing new rules to avoid civilian casualties, rejected repeated calls to unleash artillery rounds at attackers dug into the slopes and tree lines -- despite being told repeatedly that they weren't near the village.
Outrageous! At least if we pretend for a moment that two things actually preventing anyone from making a reasonable comment about this are true:
1. We know everything about the Rules of Engagement - which are actually both variable (to a degree) and classified (beyond vague publicly released terms). In this case we must further assume that the targets were "legitimate" within those ROE, as implied by the quote above.
2. Everything else in the above quote is accurate.
Number two is more likely, but neither of those requirements are satisfied here. For a moment, however, we will pretend they are.
If so, then the above is a description of the mis-application of the Rules of Engagement, something that in spite of efforts to the contrary is as inevitable (and regrettable and unfortunate and unacceptable) as the use of force that (after the heat of battle) is determined to exceed those limits. In neither case are the Rules of Engagement therefore "bad". There is no case to be made to the contrary here.
I'd rather not go deeper into that discussion, as at this point (I repeat) a larger truth overwhelms the small details - we distant observers don't know if the case is as described and we don't know the ROE. In short: we don't know enough. But I suppose I could restate it this way: if you absolutely insist on jumping to a conclusion based only on the insufficient data points available, at least jump to the conclusion supported by those insufficient data points, not one they refute.
Better still, wait for additional details. Even better: remember that the guys on the ground, who will ultimately resolve the situation (see second paragraph in this discussion) are actually there, and might even be more interested in their own well being than you are.
More: War Games (II)
Posted by Greyhawk / September 9, 2009 10:47 AM | Permalink
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"...only those who will admit defeat can be defeated. . . . Or, conversely, when the populace admits defeat, the forces in the field might just as well surrender or withdraw."Ancient history, that. Hardly news by any definition. ***** General Dave Petr... Read More
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"Report: Army denied aid to team under fire" reads the headline in the Marine Corps Times.Nearly two hours after the initial call for help, helicopter air support arrived -- but not before the unit took heavy casualties. The delay occurred because Army... Read More
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
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