Greetings! You are reading an article from The Mudville Gazette. To reach the front page, with all the latest news and views, click the logo above or "main" below. Thanks for stopping by!
October 5, 2009
Victory through chairpowerBy Greyhawk
To me it seems like not much of a story - but it's clearly the story that will not die:
Deep down, national-security conservatives know President Obama will not wage a decisive war against America's enemies in Afghanistan. They also know that the young men and women we already have there are sitting ducks. Ralph Peters notes that our commanders, obsessed with avoiding civilian casualties, have imposed mind-boggling rules of engagement (ROE) on our forces, compelling them to retreat from contact with the enemy and denying them resort to overwhelming force -- including the denial of artillery and air cover when they are under siege.
That October 2nd National Review piece from Andrew McCarthy reflects the position of the anti-war right, who, like the anti war left, express concern primarily for the health and welfare of US troops, of course.
It could also be seen as the first attempt to merge two mutually exclusive narratives that have developed over the past month or so - General McChrystal as ambitious tool of his civilian masters, willing to sacrifice his troops on the altar of politically-correct ROE and General McChrystal as bold leader defending his troops from foolish, timid, and distant leadership on high. The newly merged and reconciled McCarthy McChrystal is another Obama underling struggling to avoid being "tossed under the bus".
From the other side, the left (and this view, somehow, seems to dominate the more traditional media) prefers McChrystal as guy who threatens national security by challenging his civilian leadership, and they haven't yet attempted their own merger of that with the ROE issue, preferring to dismiss the latter point as indicative of the fever-gripped, anti-Obama, racially-motivated, kill 'em all let God sort 'em out-right.
Those who can view war without consideration for politics and party talking points should realize that generals would like nothing more than to be among them.
McCarthy's point, it turns out, was ill-timed - published immediately before an intense firefight in Nuristan, wherein outnumbered coalition forces fought off insurgent/militia/Taliban (take your pick) attackers, with the aid of artillery and close air support.
"Artillery, helicopter gunships, surveillance drones and airstrikes inflicted "heavy enemy casualties," according to NATO. One estimate was 50 insurgents killed."
That should offer a bit of perspective to the ROE debate. But already there are those who would ask the "hard questions" regarding the contribution of overly-restrictive ROE to Saturday's battle. If anything, the anticipation that such support would be denied could have emboldened the attackers (and will in the future). If so in this case, in the end they realized they were mistaken.
For a more well-informed discussion on the topic of artillery and air support, there's a good (speculative - but from someone more qualified to speculate than most) look at some tactical aspects of the battle here. (Not limited to tactical; strategic and IO concerns are addressed as well.)
We'd do well to remember that by their nature ambush and surprise attacks are faster than response, that most casualties are suffered in the immediate onslaught, and that our "sitting ducks under siege" are a bit more dangerous than most water fowl. (And that by its nature, war is very much hell.)
And without expectation that it will do anything whatsoever to reduce claims of soldiers as "sitting ducks", here are the CENTAF Airpower Summaries for October 1st and 2nd - what they were doing while others were furiously typing away.
Posted by Greyhawk / October 5, 2009 2:25 PM | Permalink
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.
Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.
I like having visitors to my house. I hope you are entertained. I fight for your right to free speech, and am thrilled when you exercise said rights here. Comments and e-mails are welcome, but all such communication is to be assumed to be 1)the original work of any who initiate said communication and 2)the property of the Mudville Gazette, with free use granted thereto for publication in electronic or written form. If you do NOT wish to have your message posted, write "CONFIDENTIAL" in the subject line of your email.
Original content copyright © 2003 - 2011 by Greyhawk. Fair, not-for-profit use of said material by others is encouraged, as long as acknowledgement and credit is given, to include the url of the original source post. Other arrangements can be made as needed.
Contact: greyhawk at mudvillegazette dot com