H.R. McMaster on Easy War

{This first ran as The Pipe Dream of Easy War here back in the Summer of 2013. It’s a pretty good indication of why our foreign policy suddenly looks like the adults are in charge again}

Michael Kamber for The New York Times

United States troops in Latafiya, Iraq, in 2007, marked the landing spot for a resupply helicopter with green smoke.

H. R. McMaster is an Army major general and the commanding officer at Fort Benning, Ga., who led the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment in Iraq as a colonel in 2005 and 2006.

That is, of course true but rather cryptic. H.R. McMaster is one of America’s rock star generals and he’s been on everybody’s list since 26 February 1991 when Captain McMaster’s Eagle troop of the 2d ACR (Armored Cavalry Regiment) (Toujours Prêt) charged on in, and took apart the Iraqi Tawakalna Division of the Republican Guard in the Battle of 73 Easting, an action that has been compared favorably with Joshua Chamberlain’s defense of Little Round Top at Gettysburg and Major John Howard’s capture and defense of Pegasus Bridge on D-Day. General McMaster knows all about seeing the elephant. And now he is National Security Advisor to President Trump.

FORT BENNING, Ga. — “A GREAT deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep,” the novelist Saul Bellow once wrote. We should keep that in mind when we consider the lessons from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — lessons of supreme importance as we plan the military of the future.

Our record of learning from previous experience is poor; one reason is that we apply history simplistically, or ignore it altogether, as a result of wishful thinking that makes the future appear easier and fundamentally different from the past.

We engaged in such thinking in the years before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001; many accepted the conceit that lightning victories could be achieved by small numbers of technologically sophisticated American forces capable of launching precision strikes against enemy targets from safe distances.

These defense theories, associated with the belief that new technology had ushered in a whole new era of war, were then applied to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; in both, they clouded our understanding of the conflicts and delayed the development of effective strategies.

Today, budget pressures and the desire to avoid new conflicts have resurrected arguments that emerging technologies — or geopolitical shifts — have ushered in a new era of warfare. Some defense theorists dismiss the difficulties we ran into in Afghanistan and Iraq as aberrations. But they were not aberrations. The best way to guard against a new version of wishful thinking is to understand three age-old truths about war and how our experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq validated their importance.

First, war is political. As the 19th-century Prussian philosopher of war Carl von Clausewitz said, “war should never be thought of as something autonomous, but always as an instrument of policy.”

In the years leading up to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, thinking about defense was driven by ideas that regarded successful military operations as ends in themselves, rather than just one instrument of power that must be coordinated with others to achieve, and sustain, political goals. Believers in the theory known as the “Revolution in Military Affairs” misinterpreted the American-led coalition’s lopsided victory in the 1991 gulf war and predicted that further advances in military technology would deliver dominance over any opponent. Potential adversaries, they suggested, would not dare to threaten vital American interests.

The theory was hubristic. Yet it became orthodoxy […]

Second, war is human. People fight today for the same fundamental reasons the Greek historian Thucydides identified nearly 2,500 years ago: fear, honor and interest. But in the years preceding our last two wars, thinking about defense undervalued the human as well as the political aspects of war. […]

The hard-learned lesson: Defense concepts must consider social, economic and historical factors that constitute the human dimension of war.

THIRD, war is uncertain, precisely because it is political and human. The dominant assumption of the “Revolution in Military Affairs” was that information would be the key to victory. Concepts of “network-centric warfare,” “rapid, decisive operations,” “shock and awe” and “full-spectrum dominance” suggested that near-perfect intelligence would enable precise military operations and point a straight line to success. But in Afghanistan and Iraq, planning did not account for adaptations and initiatives by the enemy. American forces, deployed initially in insufficient numbers to keep pace with the evolution of those conflicts, struggled to maintain security. The lesson: The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, like all wars, were contests of will that unleashed dynamics that made future events impossible to predict.

Fortunately, in Afghanistan and Iraq, American forces adapted. For example, in 2005, in western Nineveh Province, our enemies had pitted sectarian communities against one another in a bloody civil war. In the city of Tal Afar, our cavalry regiment first sought to understand the complex environment while building trust with local Iraqi security forces and a beleaguered population. Alongside United States Special Forces and Iraqi soldiers, our troops sought not only to fight the enemy, but also to build security for civilians and promote conflict resolution among competing groups. As Tal Afar’s mayor, Najim Abdullah Abid al-Jibouri, recalled, “Our city was the main base of operations for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi …Our people were barricaded in their homes out of fear; death awaited them around every corner.” But when the Americans came, he added, “With the skill and precision of surgeons they dealt with the terrorist cancers in the city without causing unnecessary damage.”

What we learned: American forces must cope with the political and human dynamics of war in complex, uncertain environments. Wars like those in Afghanistan and Iraq cannot be waged remotely.

Budget pressures and persistent fascination with technology have led some to declare an end to war as we know it. While emerging technologies are essential for military effectiveness, concepts that rely only on those technologies,[…]

Although the defense budget is under pressure, clear thinking about war costs nothing. What we can afford least is to define the problem of future war as we would like it to be, and by doing so introduce into our defense vulnerabilities based on self-delusion.

Do go and read it all I truncated sections rather severely,and the reasoning is far more clear with the detail,  The Pipe Dream of Easy War – NYTimes.com.

Essentially the lesson is the old one, War is serious business, not to be undertaken for light and transient reasons, and never should it be separated from national policy. Clausewitz said it best.

“War is merely a continuation of politics by other means.”

It’s fine to substitute policy or Politik at will for politics, the original German is unclear and various translations have made it clear as mud.

 

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Media Companies Spin Off Newspapers, to Uncertain Futures – NYTimes.com

English: Headline of the New York Times June-2...

English: Headline of the New York Times June-29-1914 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is quite interesting, in a ‘I told you so’ sort of way. It seems that the big media companies are finding it quite difficult to make a profit printing newspapers. from the New York Times

A year ago last week, it seemed as if print newspapers might be on the verge of a comeback, or at least on the brink of, well, survival.

Jeff Bezos, an avatar of digital innovation as the founder of Amazon, came out of nowhere and plunked down $250 million for The Washington Post. His vote of confidence in the future of print and serious news was seen by some — including me — as a sign that an era of “optimism or potential” for the industry was getting underway.
Turns out, not so much — quite the opposite, really. The Washington Post seems fine, but recently, in just over a week, three of the biggest players in American newspapers — Gannett, Tribune Company and E. W. Scripps, companies built on print franchises that expanded into television — dumped those properties like yesterday’s news in a series of spinoffs.
The recent flurry of divestitures scanned as one of those movies about global warming where icebergs calve huge chunks into churning waters.
The persistent financial demands of Wall Street have trumped the informational needs of Main Street. For decades, investors wanted newspaper companies to become bigger and diversify, so they bought more newspapers and developed television divisions. Now print is too much of a drag on earnings, so media companies are dividing back up and print is

being kicked to the curb.

Media Companies Spin Off Newspapers, to Uncertain Futures – NYTimes.com.

Well, yeah, I don’t doubt much of what he says here, and American companies are far too focused on the quarterly bottom line. But they brought the problems on themselves, in large measure.

First, their product is horrendously overpriced-even the Wall Street Journal, which I grew up reading has priced itself out of what I think it to be worth, and it was always a premium product. The main problem is that the print media has become the twenty-first century version of the buggy whip–they’ve been rendered obsolete, mostly by the internet, and its various news service. Not entirely, of course, when I travel, I’ll often buy a print version of the Journal, if I don’t have wi-fi available. I’m glad it’s there but I won’t mourn when it too goes away. Progress, you know.

It also strikes me that if a paper was to provide something other than a conventional liberal slant (on the news pages) it might do better. I, and I suspect others, would spend the time to read the news, as opposed to the Democratic Party propaganda line of the day. To lend point to that, how many of us now read the online Daily Telegraph, or should I say The Torygraph, in preference to all domestic papers? Yeah, that’s what I thought. There’s that funny old term that conservative rant about, and have ever since Adam Smith wrote the book called the market.

Competition–It’s what’s for dinner

In addition, the media’s relentless pursuit of progressive education is starting to bite it on the backside, if people can’t read effectively, they’re unlikely to buy a newspaper, unless, I suppose, they need a lining for their birdcage.

And so, to use terms the NYT is familiar with, “Nothing to see here, move along”.

Creative destruction at its finest

The West Lacks One Essential Tool to Defeat ISIS

tumblr_m2qaxvmgvF1rpyyq4o1_500As I read about IS (whom we all pray will soon be WASWAS) I often think something is missing, especially from our governments. And there is, Elizabeth Scalia The Anchoress, has named it accurately, and well, as usual. Our elites have come to have faith only in themselves, in essence they have become gods in their own minds. And they are false gods worse than useless.

We all, I hope, know the old adage “Nothing can not stand against anything“. That is the position our politicians have put our countries in. We, the people, who generally know better, may fight and fight well, but we will at best hold our own, with God’s help.

Here’s The Anchoress

In an article covering President Obama’s reluctant decision to begin limited airstrikes against the so-called Islamic State IS, New York Times writer Peter Baker quoted Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who affirmed US national security interests and added “This is evil incarnate.”

Few would disagree. Do not click here if you do not wish to see Horrific images of beheaded children, or videos of young men being led into trenches and summarily executed, but their existence — along with news that there are no more Christians in the Nineveh Plains and that genocide awaits ancient peoples — all serve to confirm Crocker’s assessment. Yes, this is evil; this is hell on earth. As I wrote back in July, “The evil of ISIS [sic] is not simply a ‘Muslim evil’. . . It is the same cursed anti-Christ that has raised its head in history before, and been beaten back, only to slither away and arise from a new location.”

The well-funded IS may not yet be equal to the Third Reich in troop size, but the evil that drives it is of a similar scope, ambition and thrust. That being the case, we know that air strikes will likely not suffice. President Obama, in a brief press conference held as he was leaving for a vacation no one should begrudge, given what we face, acknowledged that our involvement will be long, but promised it would be limited in nature.

He is perhaps willfully, even understandably, deluding himself because no one wants to see more war; Americans are tired of war, and in general the West, like Bartleby the Scrivener, would prefer not to.

Unfortunately, just as half-doses of chemo will not defeat a cancer, half-measures against “evil incarnate” can never defeat it.

via The West Lacks One Essential Tool to Defeat ISIS.

We should be aware that Martin Luther had this to say on the Turk:

If however, the antagonist is your equal, your inferior, or of a foreign government, you should first offer him justice and peace, as Moses taught the children of Israel. If he refuses, then — mindful of what is best for you — defend yourself against force by force, as Moses so well described it in Deuteronomy 20 [:10-12]. But in doing this you must not consider your personal interests and how you may remain lord, but those of your subjects to whom you owe help and protection, that such action may proceed in love. Since your entire land is in peril you must make the venture, so that with God’s help all may not be lost. If you cannot prevent some from becoming widows and orphans as a consequence, you must at least see that not everything goes to ruin until there is nothing left except widows and orphans.

This has troubled me for quite a few years as I have watched our country drift further and further into secular humanism. We have commented occasionally on how our young people are searching for something, sometimes it is revealed in an almost religious display of patriotism. I yield to no one my love of America but, you know, as do I, America is not God, we may be the ‘City on the Hill’ but we are still a country of men, and we have lost our way.

We will be on our way to victory when we can again sing without irony, as our grandparents did.

New And Improved Obamacare: Brooks’ Law

pacecarHere is part of the reason that Obamacare is failing and is very unlikely to get better anytime soon. You’re not fooling me, you knew there was a law about this didn’t you? Here it is: “Adding manpower to a late project makes it later.” — Brooks’ Law (first coined in The Mythical Man-Month by Frederick P. Brooks, Jr., back in 1975:

(N²(2)-N)/2 changes to ((N+M)²-N+M)/2

where ‘M’ is the number of new people added

This, of course, is something that anybody with any real managerial experience instinctively knows, which is one of the things that separates the private sector from the government. When you throw new people at a project, especially as the project matures, in order to get any value at all out of the new people, you spend an inordinate amount of time getting the new people up to speed. It is completely unavoidable. If the people you have on a fairly large project are going to need say 15 days to finish it up, adding another group of people will not speed it up, they will slow it down, often considerably, and the more complicated it is, the more it will slow down.

If in addition to that, the project is completely untested, you can expect nothing but chaos, and you’ll get chaos only if you’re extraordinarily lucky. Because by now with the reinforcements you’ve sent in, you have people irritated and not talking to each other, because you haven’t a clue. Murphy is having a field day, and the first corollary to Murphy’s law is in full effect. You know this statement:

Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong, at the worst possible moment.

Now just for some extra fun, decide that you’ll have about 75,000 customers per day and then have a couple million drop in everyday.

The Onion has found out about the new iteration of Obamacare, and they bring you the news, gotta love our cutting edge government technology

New, Improved Obamacare Program Released On 35 Floppy Disks | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

New, Improved Obamacare Program Released On 35 Floppy Disks | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source.

Then there is this, go and apply

My friend Giliar over at the Hump Day Report has been following this world class “FUBAR” far more closely than I have been and she shared these reports yesterday:

NYT:  ObamaCare Website Only the Tip of the Iceberg of Disaster  We’ve had plenty of evidence that the Healthcare.gov website issues go well beyond coding problems on the front end, where Americans create accounts before gaining access to the actual insurance-plan marketplace. The New York Times reports today that the marketplaces themselves are just as buggy — and that it might take weeks or months to get all the issues fixed.

Kathleen Sebelius Admits ObamaCare Website Wasn’t Tested  After two weeks of review, the HHS secretary concluded, “We didn’t have enough testing, specifically for high volumes, for a very complicated project.”  The online insurance marketplace needed five years of construction and a year of testing, she said: “We had two years and almost no testing.”

Obamacare Seeks to Segregate Doctors, Patients by Race  If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor under Obamacare — if you both belong to the same race.  Obamacare’s spectacular flop of a rollout distracts from its crude calculus that encourages the allocation of healthcare resources along racial lines and a doctor-patient system splintered into ethnicities.  While the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s language on diversity sounds innocuous, a review of the frankly separatist thinking of the law’s ardent supporters indicates Obamacare is aiming for a health care system that puts political correctness above the struggle against illness and death.

And incredibly even more.

President Sham-Wow also told us yesterday that if we were not comfortable on the web site, we could use our bag phones and call the hot-line. Here’s the number

1-800-F1U-CKYO

Yes that really is the number. I hear though that all they can do is try the same website for you, presumably they can also mail you an application packet, which will probably be a bit problematic for shopping your options, but hey you can be using your computer for something else for the several weeks while you’re waiting for your snail-mail.

Oh and by the way, if it all works the way its supposed to, you’re new unaffordable healthcare with a deductible that would buy you a decent used car every year, will cut the number of uninsured from (democratic lie estimate) about 40 Million to about 30 million at best, while pretty much destroying the American healthcare system. No worries, it’s only one sixth of the economy. But hey, you can keep your doctor if you like him, unless he decides to move to India or someplace where he can make enough to pay his student loans or something.

One thing you have to say for President Sham-Wow: He makes no small plans.

Oh, and do remember when you’re giving the site all of your personal information from your Social security number to your financial information and your medical information, that you have absolutely no expectation of privacy and it will be used for any and all uses including enforcement.

Hi nice IRS lady! 🙂

and her SWAT team

One more from Gilia

ps. I have no idea, and don’t think anybody else does either, how you can spend $650 billion on a broken website.

 

The Pipe Dream of Easy War

{This looks like it could develop into a short series on the theory of conflict, if so, it most likely will be at irregular intervals as I run across appropriate material. In any case: Enjoy!}

Michael Kamber for The New York Times

United States troops in Latafiya, Iraq, in 2007, marked the landing spot for a resupply helicopter with green smoke.

H. R. McMaster is an Army major general and the commanding officer at Fort Benning, Ga., who led the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment in Iraq as a colonel in 2005 and 2006.

That is, of course true but rather cryptic. H.R. McMaster is one of America’s rock star generals and he’s been on everybody’s list since 26 February 1991 when Captain McMaster’s Eagle troop of the 2d ACR (Armored Cavalry Regiment) (Toujours Prêt) charged on in, and took apart the Iraqi Tawakalna Division of the Republican Guard in the Battle of 73 Easting, an action that has been compared favorably with Joshua Chamberlin’s defense of Little Round Top at Gettysburg and Major John Howard’s capture and defense of Pegasus Bridge on D-Day. General McMaster knows all about seeing the elephant.

FORT BENNING, Ga. — “A GREAT deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep,” the novelist Saul Bellow once wrote. We should keep that in mind when we consider the lessons from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — lessons of supreme importance as we plan the military of the future.

Our record of learning from previous experience is poor; one reason is that we apply history simplistically, or ignore it altogether, as a result of wishful thinking that makes the future appear easier and fundamentally different from the past.

We engaged in such thinking in the years before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001; many accepted the conceit that lightning victories could be achieved by small numbers of technologically sophisticated American forces capable of launching precision strikes against enemy targets from safe distances.

These defense theories, associated with the belief that new technology had ushered in a whole new era of war, were then applied to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; in both, they clouded our understanding of the conflicts and delayed the development of effective strategies.

Today, budget pressures and the desire to avoid new conflicts have resurrected arguments that emerging technologies — or geopolitical shifts — have ushered in a new era of warfare. Some defense theorists dismiss the difficulties we ran into in Afghanistan and Iraq as aberrations. But they were not aberrations. The best way to guard against a new version of wishful thinking is to understand three age-old truths about war and how our experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq validated their importance.

First, war is political. As the 19th-century Prussian philosopher of war Carl von Clausewitz said, “war should never be thought of as something autonomous, but always as an instrument of policy.”

In the years leading up to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, thinking about defense was driven by ideas that regarded successful military operations as ends in themselves, rather than just one instrument of power that must be coordinated with others to achieve, and sustain, political goals. Believers in the theory known as the “Revolution in Military Affairs” misinterpreted the American-led coalition’s lopsided victory in the 1991 gulf war and predicted that further advances in military technology would deliver dominance over any opponent. Potential adversaries, they suggested, would not dare to threaten vital American interests.

The theory was hubristic. Yet it became orthodoxy […]

Second, war is human. People fight today for the same fundamental reasons the Greek historian Thucydides identified nearly 2,500 years ago: fear, honor and interest. But in the years preceding our last two wars, thinking about defense undervalued the human as well as the political aspects of war. […]

The hard-learned lesson: Defense concepts must consider social, economic and historical factors that constitute the human dimension of war.

THIRD, war is uncertain, precisely because it is political and human. The dominant assumption of the “Revolution in Military Affairs” was that information would be the key to victory. Concepts of “network-centric warfare,” “rapid, decisive operations,” “shock and awe” and “full-spectrum dominance” suggested that near-perfect intelligence would enable precise military operations and point a straight line to success. But in Afghanistan and Iraq, planning did not account for adaptations and initiatives by the enemy. American forces, deployed initially in insufficient numbers to keep pace with the evolution of those conflicts, struggled to maintain security. The lesson: The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, like all wars, were contests of will that unleashed dynamics that made future events impossible to predict.

Fortunately, in Afghanistan and Iraq, American forces adapted. For example, in 2005, in western Nineveh Province, our enemies had pitted sectarian communities against one another in a bloody civil war. In the city of Tal Afar, our cavalry regiment first sought to understand the complex environment while building trust with local Iraqi security forces and a beleaguered population. Alongside United States Special Forces and Iraqi soldiers, our troops sought not only to fight the enemy, but also to build security for civilians and promote conflict resolution among competing groups. As Tal Afar’s mayor, Najim Abdullah Abid al-Jibouri, recalled, “Our city was the main base of operations for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi …Our people were barricaded in their homes out of fear; death awaited them around every corner.” But when the Americans came, he added, “With the skill and precision of surgeons they dealt with the terrorist cancers in the city without causing unnecessary damage.”

What we learned: American forces must cope with the political and human dynamics of war in complex, uncertain environments. Wars like those in Afghanistan and Iraq cannot be waged remotely.

Budget pressures and persistent fascination with technology have led some to declare an end to war as we know it. While emerging technologies are essential for military effectiveness, concepts that rely only on those technologies,[…]

Although the defense budget is under pressure, clear thinking about war costs nothing. What we can afford least is to define the problem of future war as we would like it to be, and by doing so introduce into our defense vulnerabilities based on self-delusion.

Do go and read it all I truncated sections rather severely,and the reasoning is far more clear with the detail,  The Pipe Dream of Easy War – NYTimes.com.

Essentially the lesson is the old one, War is serious business, not to be undertaken for light and transient reasons, and never should it be separated from national policy. Clausewitz said it best.

“War is merely a continuation of politics by other means.”

It’s fine to substitute policy or Politik at will for politics, the original German is unclear and various translations have made it clear as mud.

 

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