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Tuesday, June 10, 2003
Rumsfeld selects retired general to lead the Army

Fox News reports that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has tapped retired-Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker to be the next Chief of Staff of the Army. The appointment is suprising for a few reasons. First, Schoomaker is retired, which is an altogether unusual thing for someone who's about to lead the largest military service. Second, he's a "snake eater". Schoomaker is a long-time member of the military's secretive special operations community. (Rumsfeld's a big fan of special ops) Presumably, the President has already blessed this appointment; now it heads to the Senate for an advice & consent vote.

The AP confirms the story, and adds some more background & detail about Gen. Schoomaker:
The Army has suffered an unusual amount of turbulence in leadership positions this year.

In April, Rumsfeld fired Army Secretary Thomas White and picked John Roche, currently the Air Force secretary, to replace him as the top Army civilian official. Roche has not yet been confirmed by the Senate, so the undersecretary of the Army, Les Brownlee, is the acting Army secretary.

Schoomaker, 57, began his Army career in 1969 as a second lieutenant. His first field assignment was in 1970 as a reconnaissance platoon leader at Fort Campbell, Ky. He was trained as an armor officer but switched to the secretive world of special operations in the late 1970s.

Born in Michigan, he graduated from the University of Wyoming, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in education administration and was a star football player.

From 1975-76, he attended the Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare School at Quantico, Va., and in February 1978 he became commander of the Army's 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment, the highly secretive Delta Force that specializes in counterterrorism missions. He held that command until 1981.

While with Delta Force, he participated in the failed attempt in April 1980 to rescue the American hostages in Tehran. He later was commander of the Army Special Operations Command and the Joint Special Operations Command, both at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Analysis: I think this sends a very loud message from the Eisenhower Corridor (where Rumsfeld's office sits in the Pentagon) to the Army's leadership. The SecDef couldn't find his man in the Army, so he had to reach into the pool of retired officers for his man. Not only that, he didn't like any of the "establishment" Army generals from the infantry or armor branches, so he chose one from the special operations community -- the antithesis of an "establishment" general. It'll be interesting to see how this works out. More to follow...

Pentagon moves forward with major troop redeployments

Greg Jaffe reports in today's Wall Street Journal (subscription required) that the Defense Department has started to execute plans which would move most of American forces out of Western Europe and into "hub" and "lilypad" bases elsewhere. Specifically, the new bases would be located in Eastern Europe, Africa and Central Asia, preferably near key strategic locations (like the Red Sea) or near major port facilities. These plans fit into Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's larger plan to transform the American military for the 21st century, making it lighter, faster, more mobile, and more lethal.
The moves come in the wake of Germany's opposition to the war in Iraq and are likely to be interpreted as a rebuke of Berlin. Pentagon officials, however, said the moves aren't related to Germany's antiwar stance and noted that the Germans didn't place any major restrictions on the U.S. troops operating from that country during the war to topple Saddam Hussein.

Indeed the Pentagon is reluctant to cut the size of its force in Europe too much out of concern that it might lose its leading status within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. "Retaining our leadership of NATO is very important. We need to have a number [of troops] in Europe that gives us that status," Gen. Charles Wald, deputy commander of U.S. European Command, said.
* * *
One big strike against the German bases is that they are landlocked. The Pentagon is especially keen on shifting U.S. ground forces toward ports, where they can quickly be loaded onto fast-moving ships. U.S. officials also complain that environmental regulations at large German training ranges have made it difficult for forces to conduct realistic exercises. One of those ranges, for instance, has been reclassified as a European Union environmental-protection zone to protect rare plants and animals.

Despite the restrictions, some German facilities have proved so useful that they will be retained. In particular, military officials say that Ramstein Air Base, in southern Germany, will remain a critical air hub. The U.S. European Command, based in Stuttgart, also isn't likely to move. Key air hubs in Italy and Spain are also unlikely to be downsized.

In Africa, virtually all of the facilities where the U.S. is looking at establishing a presence will require infrastructure improvements. In North Africa, Pentagon officials are looking at establishing semipermanent bases in Algeria, Morocco and possibly Tunisia. The U.S. expects to keep a small number of troops at these facilities and then rotate through a larger force.

It is considering smaller, more-austere bases in Senegal, Ghana, Mali and Kenya. U.S. officials said that a key mission for U.S. forces would be to ensure that Nigeria's oil fields, which in the future could account for as much as 25% of all U.S. oil imports, are secure.
Analysis: In theory, this may be a good idea. Deploying forces overseas from the United States is very costly and very time-consuming. Getting an invasion force to Iraq took months, and cost billions of dollars. A lot of that flows from the inefficiencies of having troops in landlocked locations (like Fort Hood, Texas) or from not having enough pre-positioned equipment. From a pure systems-analysis perspective, reducing cost and time expenditures and smoothing bottlenecks in the deployment system is a good idea. Having a number of "lilypad" bases to deploy from around the world, along with lots more pre-positioned equipment, might make this work a lot better.

That said, this move entails significant risk at the tactical, operational and strategic levels.
- Tactically, it's very difficult to secure bases overseas, and especially when they're in less-than-friendly places like Africa. Our terrorist enemies have sworn to hit American targets wherever possible, and they have shown a predilection to hitting us in "their world" rather than in Germany or the United States.
- Operationally, it's not entirely clear that we can predict how we will fight the next war, much less where or when. As we saw with Turkey's refusal to let 4ID attack through their country into Iraq, the decisions about where you put your forces often shape the battle plan you can execute on the ground. If we commit forces to a "hub" and "lilypad" system, we may constrain our future warfighting options.
- Strategically, the risk is quite large. Establishing a base network in the Third World will be seen as tantamount to an establishment of a new American empire abroad. The deployment of U.S. forces to fixed places like Korea and Europe represented a fixed commitment to the security and stability of certain places. In geopolitical terms, I think it was easier to sell that to the world. These deployments, particularly to places that cannot equitably bargain with the United States, will be seen in a completely different light.

Bottom Line: The U.S. military needs to shed some weight; to become more flexible and rapidly deployable. But there are lots of ways to unscrew that coconut. For one, the U.S. may consider investing in more strategic lift assets, like cargo ships and airplanes. These are the bread and butter of rapid deployment, yet they're not bought in high numbers because they're not sexy and they don't kill things. Notwithstanding those facts, they are the simplest and most cost-effective answer to making our military ready for the next war.

More on the redeployment in Korea

Fred Kaplan has this good piece in Slate regarding the redeployment of American forces in Korea. He opines, as I did a few days ago, that it's not entirely clear what signal this move will send to the North Koreans -- except that U.S. soldiers don't intend to be a speedbump en route to Seoul anymore. Kaplan also explores the possibility -- remote though it may be -- that this move foreshadows a more aggressive, pre-emptive stance against North Korea from the Bush Administration.
If Bush is contemplating a pre-emptive airstrike—on North Korea's nuclear facilities or a wider strike against a range of military targets—he would have to worry about the possibility of retaliation from thousands of North Korean artillery tubes, including 500 long-range tubes within range of Seoul. Therefore, he might want to get U.S. troops outside of that range.

The official U.S. war plan for Korea—called OPLAN 5027—envisions this possibility and explicitly discusses pre-emptive options. Earlier incarnations of this plan called for holding a defensive line as close to the DMZ as possible and, once U.S. reinforcements arrived, pushing the invaders back across the border. However, in 1998, with a revision called OPLAN 5027-98, the plan started to emphasize offensive operations into North Korean territory. It explicitly notes that if intelligence detected any signs of war preparations by Pyongyang, the United States would launch pre-emptive airstrikes against North Korean military bases and long-range artillery. U.S. commanders were directed to identify relevant targets and to assign weapons for destroying them.

This revision was prompted by the 1994 crisis (quite similar to the crisis brewing now), in which North Korea threatened to reprocess its nuclear fuel rods and build nuclear weapons. (The crisis was resolved diplomatically, but tensions were far from alleviated.) Another motivator was intelligence data that Pyongyang was fitting some of its long-range artillery with chemical weapons and nerve agents. The notion that a pre-emptive strike, in some cases, might be necessary to avoid catastrophe—in this case, the killing of hundreds of thousands of South Koreans—did not originate with the Bush administration.

A revision last year, OPLAN 5027-02, contained plans for striking North Korea's weapons of mass destruction. The latest version, OPLAN 5027-04, which was discussed at a conference just last month, adopts lessons from Gulf War II, especially the use of unmanned drones to find and attack key targets.

None of this indicates that Bush is actively planning such a strike, even if Kim might believe otherwise. The troop redeployment will not go into full effect for at least a couple of years. As far as immediate plans go, the fleet of additional combat planes that Bush sent to Guam and South Korea as a warning gesture last March—12 B-52s, 12 B-1s, 20 F-15s, and six F-117s—had all flown back to the United States by the end of May.

Still, two main points emerge from this review. First, the United States no longer needs to keep tens of thousands of troops poised on the DMZ, either to deter a North Korean invasion or to beat one back in its unlikely event. Second, a more likely cause of war, in the next few years, is the crumbling of Pyongyang's increasingly impoverished and isolated regime, which could intensify Kim's long-standing paranoia, to the point where he unleashes a tear-it-all-down spasm of destructiveness.
Some thoughts... I agree with Mr. Kaplan that this is a wise move, and one that should've taken place a while back. It will give us more flexibility in Korea, and make our forces there more survivable and effective no matter what may happen (war, North Korean implosion, etc). However, we should ensure our moves are taken the right way in Pyongyang -- not just the right way in Washington and Seoul. The North Korean government tends to look at some things in a way that defy logic. Worse yet, there are few diplomatic channels open to tell them our side of the story. We must work through all of those channels, particularly China, to make sure we send the right message to the heavily armed and dangerously fanatical Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Friday, June 06, 2003
Infantry combat changes little in Gulf War II

Donald Sensing has some really good analysis of the trends in infantry combat over the last several decades, and how the recent war with Iraq was fought by the grunts on the ground. Contrary to popular wisdom, American infantry have not seen a fundamental shift in the application of their art, except for the ways they're able to rely on technologically advanced airpower and artillery. At the tip of the spear, where the rubber sole meets the sand, little has changed since WWI:
During the recent Iraq campaign, US Marine riflemen were interviewed about their experiences by after-action interviewers.

Almost all interviewed stated all firefight engagements conducted with small arms (5.56mm guns) occurred in the twenty to thirty (20-30) meter range. Shots over 100m were rare. The maximum range was less than 300m. Of those interviewed, most sniper shots were taken at distances well under 300m, only one greater than 300m (608m during the day). After talking to the leadership from various sniper platoons and individuals, there was not enough confidence in the optical gear (Simrad or AN/PVS-10) to take a night shot under the given conditions at ranges over 300m. Most Marines agreed they would “push” a max range of 200m only.

Believe it or not, those ranges were almost exactly the same as in World War I, according to General of the Army Omar Bradley, reported in his autobiography, A General's Life. As commanding general of the 82d Infantry Division early in World War II, Bradley invited Medal of Honor recipient Alvin York to visit his troops. (The 82d was not yet an airborne division at that point.) York was a legendary Tennessee marksman who had earned the only Medal of Honor awarded to an 82d Division soldier in the Great War. Bradley hosted York in his own quarters.

I queried him closely on his experiences in France. One important fact emerged from these talks: most of his effective shooting had been done at a very short range - twenty-five to fifty yards.
More... Mr. Sensing also refines his thoughts, after some e-mails that he had ignored the influence of "rules of engagement" on American infantry in Iraq. I've written on ROE in the past, and I agree with his analysis here. The fact that our troops had restrictive ROE reinforced the fact that they fought at close range, since they were forced to positively identify targets before engaging them.
...infantry couldn't do recon by fire in Iraq, at least very much, because the potential for civilian deaths was too great. So Iraqi defenders retained the initiative of when to begin the firefight. As far as I can tell from my readings, firefights began at close range. That meant that half the advantage of machine guns, their longer accurate range, was usually obviated.

Still, though, I find it pretty interesting that whether the rules of engagement were restrictive or permissive, the typical engagement ranges for rifle fire in combat have remained virtually unchanged since World War I.

Thursday, June 05, 2003
U.S. officially announces troop realignment in Korea

The Washington Post and others report tonight that American officials have officially announced their decision to radically alter the United States military footprint in South Korea. Currently, the American 2nd Infantry Division sits astride and below the border with North Korea, in a position that's quite vulnerable to a North Korean first strike. American forces are also dispersed among several small camps, in an extremely inefficient arrangement. This redeployment would move America's main combat force in Korea to two, consolidated "hub bases" south of Seoul from where they could mount a response to any North Korean aggression.
A joint statement by U.S. and South Korean officials said American troops will be pulled back to positions at least 75 miles from the DMZ, and will abandon a large base they occupy in downtown Seoul. The move from the DMZ will free about 18,000 U.S. troops to be more mobile, and they will be replaced by soldiers in a modernized South Korean army, officials said.

No precise schedule has been announced for the change, although U.S. officials have said the new deployment may begin this year. The South Korean government is seeking a delay until current tensions over North Korea's nuclear program are eased.

Officials said the move would not immediately reduce the 37,000 U.S. troops posted in South Korea.

The statement said the redeployment would "enhance security" and would be done "taking careful account of the political, economic and security situation on the peninsula and in Northeast Asia."
* * *
The two-mile wide, 155-mile-long DMZ has become a de facto border between North Korea and South Korea, which never signed a peace treaty and still are technically at war. The DMZ often is called the most heavily guarded border in the world. During a 1993 visit, then-President Bill Clinton referred to it as "a stark line between safety and danger."

U.S. and South Korean troops face North Koreans just feet from each other at the Joint Security Area on the DMZ, where periodic negotiations are held. The hostility there is palpable. Two U.S. soldiers were killed there in a fight with North Koreans in 1976.

But the bulk of patrols along the DMZ already are conducted by South Korean troops, part of a well-equipped, well-regarded 650,000-member military force. U.S. troops will continue to train with them at positions near the border, today's statement said.

In fact, deterrence along the border long has relied on the U.S. ability to call in overwhelming air attacks and firepower -- and ultimately on a nuclear threat. U.S. troops have been called a "tripwire" -- a force whose sacrifice in case of an invasion by the million-man North Korean army would guarantee U.S. retaliation.
Analysis: As The Post says, this was not a surprise. Leaks made their way into the Los Angeles Times earlier this week about this move, and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz presumably made his trip to Korea this week to confirm the details of the new arrangement. Also, the Bush Administration appears to be pursuing a policy of coercive engagement with Korea, and this move signals a de-escalation of military tensions on the peninsula which have persisted since the North Korean announcement that they had nuclear materials (and possibly nuclear weapons).

This move has larger implications for the rest of America's forces in the Pacific, and the world. First, it seems likely that we will pull other forces in Korea back from the war footing they sit on today. This makes sense tactically, because we're hopelessly exposed to North Korean attacks in these positions. It also makes sense strategically. In theory, a redeployed and consolidated 2nd Infantry Division could deploy its forces elsewhere in the Pacific theater when necessary, without remaining tied down in Korea. If unrest broke out in Indonesia, or we needed more combat troops in the Philippines, the 2ID soldiers could deploy from Korea to those locations.

Today's news may also represent a paradigm shift in the way the Army mans its Korea garrison. Currently, the Army uses an "individual replacement system" to send soldiers to and from Korea for 1-year unaccompanied "hardship" tours. This is a horrendously inefficient system that creates real problems for unit discipline, morale and cohesion -- to say nothing about soldiers' domestic relations. A number of forward-thinking officers have proposed adopting a unit-based manning model for the Army, and possibly a unit-rotation model for Korea like that used today for Bosnia and Kosovo. Moving America's forces to these new bases might support that plan if the new bases are designed as temporary way stations, rather than permanent garrisons like Camp Casey north of Seoul. More to follow...

More on Korea... At least one reader disagrees with my assessment that this move represents a signal of de-escalation to North Korea. Instead, this represents a consolidation and reorganization of American forces in preparation for imminent hostilities with the north. That's certainly one way to look at it, and a plausible one as well. American forces will certainly be made more efficient by this move. If greater efficiency frees up more resources (time, money, maintenance dollars, etc) for combat training, then American forces will also become more lethal and combat-ready. (This assumes that the Pentagon does not rob Korea to pay for Iraq.) In theory, American forces could also coil south of Seoul for an attack on the north, with the ability to assemble into combat formations outside the range of North Korean artillery.

However, I disagree with this net assessment. American and South Korean forces live on a hair trigger right now. One incident could escalate rapidly because of these forces' proximity to each other. I think that proximity has a deterrent effect, since U.S. casualties would probably have the effect of bringing us into a massive war that the North has already lost once. But the proximity is also dangerous. Having that many young soldiers, weapons and ammunition in such close proximity is a dangerous way to keep the peace. Pulling our soldiers back to a position south of Seoul may be a way to reduce the chances of something occurring there. At least, that's my gut feeling from my time there in the 2nd Infantry Division.

More on Korea II... What's the most likely scenario though for North Korea? I don't think it's for a North Korean invasion of South Korea, circa 1950. I think the most likely scenario is that North Korea collapses, sparking one of the largest humanitarian crises in history. If you think Iraq and Afghanistan were hard to rebuild, wait until you see North Korea. This is a country that, when night comes and satellites fly over the region, appears almost entirely dark from a lack of electricity. South Korea has even started to build hospitals and infrastructure near the DMZ in order to bear the brunt of the rebuilding effort, although I don't think it's enough. Given the problems we're having in Iraq right now with nation-building, I hope someone's thought long & hard in the Pentagon about how we'd do it in Korea -- especially if we had to do the two missions at the same time.

Pentagon briefing on al-Tuwaitha nuclear facility

Say what you will about the Pentagon's press office, they're pretty good about posting full transcripts of major briefings given to press inside the building. Today's briefing concerned the IAEA visit to the al-Tuwaitha nuclear facility, which was famously ransacked in the days following America's victory in Iraq. Speaking on background, three senior defense officials had a few interesting things to say. Here's a sampling:
Q: One of the concerns that has been expressed here is that radiological material may have been stolen from the site, dispersed in a way that could wind up in the hands of terrorists or other people. Is there any evidence that you have that that may have happened? Is that a possibility?

Senior Defense Official: General, on the factual question, are you able to answer the question whether we can at this point tell if any material has, in fact, been removed from the site?

Senior Military Official: We have no evidence here that any of the material has been moved from the site. We saw -- we found a small quantity of yellow cake outside the building, on the ground, but we recovered that and put it back under safe conditions. And so we have no evidence that anything has been stolen at this point.

Senior Defense Official: So in answer to the questioning, part of the reason for wanting to get through the survey and go through the inventories and so forth is to find out what we may have started with and where we are now. I am fearful, however -- if you recall, the general said that there's more stuff inside the place than they expected to find. An interesting question will be, is there more stuff there than the IAEA would have expected to find; and if there is, what does it mean? And that's all part of what we're going to have to go through here over the next period of time. Pam?
* * *
Q: Richard Sisk, New York Daily News. The yellow cake -- what is it? Why is it a matter of concern? And what do you now do with it?

Senior Military Official: Well, I'm not a scientist, but I'll tell you my definition of it. "Yellow cake" is a common term that's used in the industry for one of the refined products of uranium ore, as it goes through the refining process. And this is what's left at one of the lower levels of refinement. It's about the consistency of yellow cornmeal, more or less. It is a heavy metal, but it looks like -- something like -- yellow cornmeal. And a 55-gallon drum of it would weigh about 500 pounds, is what I'm told.
* * *
Q: This is Will Dunham with Reuters. You can't rule out the possibility that radiological material, and potentially in large amounts, has been stolen from the site, can you?

And also, what is the concern about the IAEA having a robust role inside Iraq to help the search and to lend expertise? I mean, they are experts in this area.

Senior Defense Official: I can't, I think, at this moment say anything more than I have already said to you, which is we came on the site on the 7th, found it in the condition that it's in and have taken the measures that we've taken to secure it as we found it. Part of what's going to take place here is the IAEA will do its survey, they will match it over against their 2002 review results, and we'll get an answer to your question at that point. I can't rule in -- out. I can only tell you what I told you: We found it in the condition on the 7th, we've secured it, they'll come in and they'll do the inventory and we'll get an answer to your question. I think that's the way -- the thing to wait for. It would be a mistake, in my opinion, to speculate on this subject until we get more facts. And that's where we're headed.
Analysis: Some of this seems to contradict the MSNBC reports from a few weeks ago, which indicated that American forces had arrived at al-Tuwaitha and abandoned it soon thereafter. Those reports also indicated that the facility looked as if it had been looted when American forces returned. Of course, the worst possible scenario is that terrorists or Saddam loyalists absconded with nuclear materials after the regime fell, and that they used the ensuing chaos to mask their heist. I think the IAEA visit will help assess whether that happened or not, but it's still too early to tell.

Rumsfeld runs into Congressional opposition

Esther Schrader reports in today's Los Angeles Times that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's plan to transform Pentagon personnel systems has run into staunch opposition on both sides of the aisle in Congress. In a Senate Governmental Affairs Committee meeting yesterday, senators such as Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Carl Levin (D-Mich) grilled the SecDef on the issue, asking him why he should be granted such sweeping powers over hiring, firing and other employment decisions for the largest employer in America.
Lawmakers said Rumsfeld's plan, which would affect more than a quarter of the entire federal civilian workforce, would amount to a damaging shift of power to the executive branch. Senators said they are crafting an alternative aimed at preserving worker rights.

"I've got to ask you, what's the rush?" Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, asked Rumsfeld at the hearing. "These are sweeping changes."

Ohio Republican Sen. George Voinovich said bluntly: "Some of the provisions in the current proposal go too far."

Carl Levin of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, joined with Governmental Affairs Chairwoman Susan Collins (R-Maine) in introducing an alternative proposal this week that Collins said attempts "to strike the right balance between promoting a flexible system and protecting employee rights." For example, it would offer stronger provisions for collective bargaining and appealing disciplinary actions.

"The Defense Department proposal would give the secretary of Defense extraordinarily broad license to hire and fire employees and to set employee compensation virtually without legislated restrictions or constraints," Levin said. "This would not only be the greatest shift of power to the executive branch in memory, it would also put us at risk of a return to some of the abuses of the past."

Rumsfeld said, as he has repeatedly in the past, that the plan would help him move civilians into thousands of desk jobs now handled by uniformed military personnel, freeing resources for the armed services to respond more quickly to threats around the world, and lessening the growing burden on National Guard and Reserve units to handle support jobs.
Analysis: The Pentagon's personnel systems for military and civilian employees are indeed quite Byzantine. I remember trying to chapter soldiers out of my unit at Fort Hood; doing so seemed to take an act of God. (I have heard that discharging a civilian employee is even harder.) Some change is needed, both to streamline the system and make it more responsive to the needs of America.

However, I'm not sure that Rumsfeld's proposal is the right prescription for the patient. First, it's far too broad. Though he likens this proposal to the powers vested in the new Homeland Security Department, I disagree. I reviewed that bill for my class on Law & Terrorism, and I think the proposed DoD powers are substantially more broad. The final version of the Homeland Security Act did not contain the broad sweeping powers sought by the SecDef. Indeed, Sen. Lieberman and others stalled the bill during the Summer of 2002 on precisely this issue, holding up the bill until Nov. 2002 when a compromise could be worked out.

Second, I don't think these are the most essential reforms. America's military is trying to transform, but it's focusing right now on the hardware -- not the people. Transforming the Pentagon's personnel system is not the most important thing we have to do. We must first focus on the people on the front-lines -- those junior officers, sergeants and soldiers -- who actually look the enemy in the eye. The Army is starting to move towards this goal by adopting a unit-based system of manning, instead of its current individual-replacement system. Don Vandergriff and others (like former-SecArmy Tom White and retiring Gen. Eric Shinseki) are pushing this hard, but it's taking a long time to make this happen.

Bottom Line: Secretary Rumseld has a finite amount of political capital to spend right now, in the wake of our success in Iraq. That capital ought to be invested in the causes most worthy. In my opinion, transforming the personnel system at the top is less important than building personnel systems that set our platoons, companies and battalions up for success.

One of the toughest jobs in the world

Today's Wall Street Journal has an interesting front-page story (subscription required) on the challenges facing ORHA, the American agency led by L. Paul Bremer III which has the mission of rebuilding Iraq. The article paints a picture of an understaffed, underequipped, and undercapitalized agency trying desperately to impose order on a nation the size of California.
Few government agencies have ever tackled a task so daunting: rebuilding a foreign country ravaged by a brutal dictator and a war. Now, after some poor prewar planning and early stumbles, ORHA (pronounced ore-hah) is beginning to grapple with everything from security to traffic jams in Baghdad.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, formerly the top American civil administrator in Iraq and head of ORHA, says his first surprise came when the agency found that the humanitarian needs it had focused on in planning before the war were quickly superseded by other demands.

"I thought the first 30 days were going to be all food, water and medicines. But the war went so fast, we started with reconstruction, and reconstruction is not an instant thing," says the 65-year-old Gen. Garner, who was replaced in early May when L. Paul Bremer was named administrator of the Office of the Coalition Provisional Authority, which sits organizationally above ORHA.

Much of Baghdad doesn't have normal electricity levels, enough clean drinking water or regular garbage collection. Thugs roam the streets at night, while dozens of police stations and courts remain shuttered. A more-dangerous security situation than expected has forced ORHA staffers to limit their movements around the city and has kept them largely removed from the capital's day-to-day problems.
* * *
There are signs that ORHA is making progress. U.S. officials expect Baghdad's electricity to be back to prewar levels and the worst of a crippling gasoline shortage to be over by mid-June. Baghdad now has 1,300 megawatts of electricity, compared with just 800 two weeks ago. Prewar levels in Baghdad ranged from about 1,600 to 2,000. Gasoline prices have already dropped sharply, indicating that the fuel crunch is easing. Army trucks haul off 20 loads a day of weapons ranging from mortars to missiles that still litter the capital's streets from the war.

ORHA had only two months to prepare for the aftermath of the war. Referring to the European Recovery Program after World War II named for then-Secretary of State George C. Marshall, Gen. Garner said, "You know, Marshall had two years to plan for Germany. ... I got two months."

The challenges for ORHA were all the greater because the U.S. military did an effective job of wiping out essential facilities, including telephone and media facilities as well as key government ministries and parts of the power grid. On the other hand, a shortage of military police, who are charged with maintaining order, meant that U.S. forces did a poor job of controlling postwar looting, which is largely responsible for the fact that only seven of the government's 23 ministerial buildings in Baghdad are usable. The first prison that recently reopened since the war had no desk for the warden.
Some thoughts... It appears from all accounts that ORHA is putting 110% of its effort into the job. I have no doubt that Bremer's staff is putting in 18-20 hour days and working as hard as humanly possible. However, the problems may be such that even such heroic efforts can't get the job done. If it's true that ORHA is underresourced, no amount of staff or command work can make up that shortfall. Without sufficient troops for security, money for contracts, contractors for projects, or other key resources, ORHA cannot meet the mission's requirements.

Going it alone is not the answer. America has no monopoly on nation-building or reconstruction experience. Our NATO allies, the United Nations, and various NGOs are extremely good at this too. One reason that the UN, civilian contractors, and NGOs have been reticent to deploy to Iraq thus far is the security situation there. It may pay dividends for the U.S. to focus singularly on securing the nation of Iraq, so that others may come in to do the soft work of nation-building. This would play to our military strength, and it would also set the conditions for the influx of 3rd party nations. We need to get these neutral parties into Iraq as fast as possible, largely for political reasons. The Iraqis need to see that we're a benevolent occupier, and that we have the support of the world. Sure, Halliburton and Bechtel can deliver medical services. But it would probably make the Iraqis feel less threatened if they got medical care from Medicins San Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders).

Tuesday, June 03, 2003
Weblogs worth your time

I've been derelict in adding new blogs to my link list on the left, and also in plugging other blogs. I'd like to remedy that now by sending my readers to some excellent weblogs I've discovered over the last couple of months, either by chance or e-mail.

- ChicagoBoyz. The pictures of famous U.Chicago professors on the top of the page gives away the ideological and intellectual character of this page immediately. I've found the page to have lots of great ideas on topics ranging from foreign policy to economics. Not surprisingly, those are some of the things U.Chicago minds are known for.

- Brad DeLong. He's an economics professor at UC Berkeley. As you'd expect from an economist, he's got one of the more rational minds out there on a lot of issues. More importantly, though, for an academic economist he writes with great clarity on a wide range of issues.

- Samizdata. An interesting weblog on "globalization and economics." The posts offer more than that though; worth a look.

- Archidamus. Run by a graduate student in history at U.Va., this blog focuses on military history and the Los Angeles Dodgers, among other things. I've been startled by the depth and thought in some of Wayne's posts -- he provides a perspective that you won't find elsewhere on a lot of stuff.

Wolfowitz tries to reassure South Korean on U.S. redeployments

Today's Los Angeles Times reports that Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz is trying his best to reassure the South Koreans that America will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them in defense of their nation from the North Korean hordes. His efforts come in response to reports in the Los Angeles Times and other papers that America was considering a major redeployment of forces in the Pacific theater -- possibly involving the movement of ground troops out of Korea, or at least down from the DMZ. American soldiers have remained in Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953, and their presence has often been likened to a "tripwire" that would bring the U.S. into any second Korean conflict.
President Bush dispatched Wolfowitz on a five-day tour of Asia in part to keep a promise to President Roh Moo Hyun to explain to skeptical South Koreans the U.S. military's plans for a global realignment of forces.

In South Korea, U.S. forces are frozen in Cold War-era positions that the Pentagon says don't take advantage of the American technological revolution in warfare and make it harder to address new security threats.

But some South Koreans fear the proposed changes on the peninsula would leave them more vulnerable to North Korean attack. Others think the changes would make it easier for U.S. forces to launch a direct preemptive attack on Pyongyang, the North's capital — perhaps without consulting Seoul.

The Pentagon says it wants to pull its troops out of the Yongsan base in central Seoul, a move that had been agreed to 12 years ago but was never implemented. It would also like to move the 14,000 troops of the 2nd Infantry Division, now scattered in heavily populated areas between the South Korean capital and the Demilitarized Zone, to two new hubs south of the Han River, which runs through Seoul.

The idea is to consolidate air power in a hub of bases in the Osan-Pyongtaek area to the west, and create a sea hub in the east coast area of Chinhae-Taegu, a defense official said Monday.

Paradoxically, U.S. officials say, pulling U.S. forces away from the front lines would make them a more effective deterrent to North Korea. In their current bases along the DMZ, 2nd Infantry troops are in easy range of North Korean artillery. To fight an invasion from the Communist North, they would have to retreat under fire south to Seoul and regroup before moving north.

"Our present posture sacrifices a good deal of military capability for the symbolism of having some American soldiers up on the DMZ," a defense official said Monday. "That means that if North Korea were to attack, we would spend a lot of the first period of time reorganizing and regrouping in order to start hitting back."

If redeployed around the two southern hubs, U.S. forces could still be hit by North Korean missiles, but not by its artillery, another defense official said. The 2nd Infantry could bypass a bloody confrontation in the DMZ and strike inside North Korea with the kind of high-tech, fast-moving force the U.S. used so effectively in Afghanistan and Iraq, the official said.
Analysis: The unnamed official is right on the money. I've served in the 2nd Infantry Division ; I'm roughly familiar with the tactical and operational scenario along the border with North Korea. It remains the most dangerous place on Earth. The situation is not necessarily improved by Americans' proximity to the DMZ. Way back when, American soldiers actually shared in the border security, conducting patrols in and around the DMZ. Today, only a tiny fraction of the U.S. Army actually patrols the DMZ. The vast majority today are garrisoned roughly 5-35 km from the border, training for the war they hope never comes.

My fellow lieutenants and I all thought our initial chances of survival were pretty low. This fatalism owed to our proximity to the thousands of artillery pieces in the North and the thousands of North Korean special forces already thought to be in the south. Working together, they could fire enough artillery in the first few minutes so as to massacre the American soldiers stationed north of Seoul -- and lay Seoul itself to ruins. Moving American forces south of Seoul would make a tremendous difference, because it would put them out of the range of North Korea's deadly blanket of artillery. That would give American units the critical hours they need to alert, assemble, upload and deploy to battle positions -- and survive to fight as something else than a speed bump.

The problem is that America's deployment north of Seoul is highly symbolic. Strategically, these garrisons represent a blood wager in the high-stakes game of poker with North Korea. If the North comes across, they will necessarily kill enough Americans to bring us into the war. That fact has tremendous deterrent effect, and is often credited with stopping a second Korean War over the last 50 years. South Koreans know this fact too, and they are especially reticent to allow any redeployment of American troops which may reduce the blood wager. Ultimately, redeploying American forces is right for us and it's right for Korea. But I'm not sure the South Koreans can be so easily persuaded. They may protest our presence in the streets, but when the chips are down, they still want us there.

Tension continues between Army and SecDef

Dave Moniz of USA Today reported today that former-Secretary of the Army Tom White has spoken out against his former bosses -- in a big way. Speaking from his position as a former 1-star general and former-boss of the Army, White predicted that American soldiers would have to occupy Iraq for some time to come, and that Secretary Rumsfeld (and his staff) failed to say so in public before the war.
Former Army secretary Thomas White said in an interview that senior Defense officials "are unwilling to come to grips" with the scale of the postwar U.S. obligation in Iraq. The Pentagon has about 150,000 troops in Iraq and recently announced that the Army's 3rd Infantry Division's stay there has been extended indefinitely.

"This is not what they were selling (before the war)," White said, describing how senior Defense officials downplayed the need for a large occupation force. "It's almost a question of people not wanting to 'fess up to the notion that we will be there a long time and they might have to set up a rotation and sustain it for the long term."
* * *
Last month, Rumsfeld said the United States would remain in Iraq as "long as it takes." But the Defense chief was not specific about the size of the force.

The Pentagon declined to respond to White's comments, but a senior official said it was too early to draw conclusions about the size or length of the U.S. troops' commitment in Iraq.

White said it is reasonable to assume the Pentagon will need more than 100,000 U.S. troops in Iraq to provide stability for at least the next year. Pentagon officials envisioned having about 100,000 troops there immediately after the war, but they hoped that number would be quickly drawn down.
Analysis: There are a lot of pieces at work here. First, there is a dismal relationship between the Department of the Army and the Office of the Secretary of Defense -- two organizations which are supposed to work together in a parent-subsidiary relationship. The ouster of Secretary White, problems replacing outgoing-Chief of Staff of the Army Eric Shinseki (who retires on 11 June), and difficulty managing Army transformation efforts are all signs of dischord between the two shops. Suffice to say, this animosity is not good for America or its common defense.

Second, there are some real policy disagreements at work between the OSD and Army staffs. I wrote about some of this in the Washington Monthly, but I think the disagreements run even deeper than I believed. This morning, I talked with a senior Army official who shed some light on the high-level discussions in the Pentagon. It appears that the Rumsfeld camp and White/Shinseki camp were operating on completely separate assumptions about the nature of warfare and nation-building. Fortunately, Rumsfeld's predictions came true with respect to the war -- less troops could win. Unfortunately, White and Shinseki's analyses were far more accurate about the peace.

The problem today is that we built a nation-building plan with insufficient flexibility to react to a changing situation on the ground. America has no more "9-1-1" force it can rush to Iraq to add combat power on the ground. Fully 50 percent of the Army's combat power is already devoted to Iraq. Add in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Korea, and other missions, and you soon have an Army stretched to the limit. We do have reserve formations capable of nation-building. However, those troops require extensive time to mobilize and deploy -- on the order of 3-6 months. We needed to call these troops up months ago to make a difference today. The right plan would have called these soldiers up as a contingency force, just in case. I realize that would have meant hardship for thousands of reservists like me. But it would've been the prudent strategy for America to pursue.

Enough diagnosis... what's the prescription? (1) Mobilize National Guard divisions immediately for the job. We're going to be in Iraq for the foreseeable future, and we can't stay in denial any longer about what this mission will take. If we call these citizen-soldiers up today, they may be ready by Christmas to deploy. By then, the 4th Infantry Division and others will be ready to rotate out anyway. (2) Invite NATO to help with the mission, either with their rapid-reaction force or other assets. They may come with political headaches -- and maybe even an agenda. But they also bring a wealth of experience for this mission, and they bring boots that we don't have the capacity to put on the ground right now. (3) Tell the truth to the American people -- we're going to be in Iraq for a while. The President must make the case that this mission is worth it. He must make the case that we have a direct interest in creating a stabile and prosperous Iraq; that a well-governed Iraq will not provide a haven to terrorists; that a friendly Iraq is worth the cost we have already paid. Calling up National Guard soldiers requires tremendous political capital, since it means taking men and women from every part of America. To accept this challenge, the American people must know their cause and believe in it.

Saturday, May 31, 2003
Global war on terror continues -- in the Philippines

Today's New York Times passes on this report that Al Qaeda operatives have began to train in the Philippines with their affiliate Jemaah Islamiyah. In the past, these two groups were loosely affiliated -- more like two baseball teams in the same league than two subsidiaries of the same corporation.
For the last six to nine months, recruits mostly from Indonesia and Malaysia, but also a few from as far off as Pakistan and the Middle East, have received training at inaccessible, rough-hewn sites — basically a few huts and some tents — in a marshy region on the island of Mindanao, officials said.

The training is similar to what their older colleagues in terrorism got in Afghanistan when that served as Al Qaeda's base, they added.

In Mindanao, though, the training appears to include more of a special emphasis on the use of sophisticated explosives, the officials said.

"We've closed the camps in Afghanistan, but they're still operating in the southern Philippines," said an Australian official in Canberra. More broadly, intelligence officials say there is a constant movement of international terrorists across an area that includes Mindanao, islands in the Sulu Sea, the Malaysian state of Sabah and northern Indonesia.
Analysis: Al Qaeda has purposefully built an organizational structure that is loose, networked, and able to respond to direct attacks on its leadership and infrastructure. The move to conduct operational training in the Pacific is significant, because it represents a major increase in the scope and importance of this relationship for Al Qaeda. Furthermore, it may represent the opening of a "second front" in the Pacific -- or at least a greater one than we've seen to date. Terrorists affiliated with Al Qaeda were responsible for the bombing in Bali last year which was purportedly targeted American interests through our proxies, the Australians. There has also been a significant, but low, level of terrorism in the PI, conducted by the Islamic terrorist groups MILF and Abu Sayyaf. We currently have American military and humanitarian aid to assist the Philippine government in fighting this war, but that may not be sufficient. If the Al Qaeda presence in the Pacific expands, and begins to threaten American interests, we may need to fight a campaign there similar to the one in Afghanistan.

Bottom Line: The war on terrorism is not over, and may only be marginally influenced by our success in Iraq. The real war on terrorism is still being fought by intelligence analysts, financial analysts, law enforcement officials, and soldiers, and it will continue in places like Sudan, the Philippines, Algeria, Indonesia, Pakistan, and everywhere else that Al Qaeda has spread.

Friday, May 30, 2003
U.S. to realign military footprint in Asia

Esther Schrader has this interesting report about the Pentagon's plans to alter its deployments in Asia. I'll write more on this later, but I think that Ms. Schrader has a real big scoop here. Asia has most of the emerging threats we will deal with in the next decade, and it is very significant that we are altering our footprint there. I think we will see a number of changes in the near future to respond to new and emerging threats, both of the conventional variety (e.g. China) and the unconventional variety (Indonesia and the Phillipines). More to follow...

American soldiers face increasing hostility in Iraq

I was not surprised to read this report in today's New York Times about increasing hostility towards American troops in Iraq. We have, in short, become an occupying army and one that appears to be there for the long haul. That's probably the right thing to do, given our imperatives to build lasting institutions in Iraq. But we must recognize this effect, and the increased risk it poses to our soldiers. It may necessitate the deployment of additional forces to manage the short-term security risk, either from the U.S. military or from our allies.
The complexity of postwar Iraq has led American forces into law enforcement tasks for which they are not well prepared. They are still searching for Mr. Hussein and his key officials. They are fighting hardened criminals freed from prison by an amnesty granted by Mr. Hussein late last year.

For many Iraqis, the shifting role of American troops has been a shock. Just eight weeks ago, they were rolling across the country passing out candy to children. Now they are kicking in doors and blocking traffic to seize the weapons that most Iraqis have for home defense.

In Hit, the change of perception about the American presence is palpable. "Having the Americans standing in the streets really provokes the people," said Qusay Yusef, a carpenter with four children.

For now, the Americans have withdrawn. Captain Watson said that the patrols and roadblocks would continue, but that his troops would still be "at pains" not to appear as "ugly Americans."
Coda: I first heard that phrase "ugly American" in Korea, when my colonel exhorted us to not act that way as MPs on patrol in Tongduchon. Like a lot of things in the military, though, it's easier said than done. I'm not sure how you can maintain law & order, maintain security, and also be the nice guy (or respected guy) on the block.

Light Blogging: I'm away from Los Angeles for work so I won't have much to say until Sunday when I get back. I hope to have a good dump on the weekend's news then for everyone.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003
How effective was "shock and awe"?

Slate's Fred Kaplan asks some pretty tough questions in his War Stories column today about the conduct of America's second war on Iraq. Specifically, he focuses on the recently released statistics by the Air Force on sorties flown, bombs dropped, targets hit, etc. The numbers will make even a seasoned analyst's head spin. But Kaplan does a good job of putting them together in a larger picture of what really happened. Here's a sampling:
How smart were the smart bombs? During the war, most analysts assumed the majority of bombs were smart bombs and the majority of smart bombs were the new, cheap Joint Defense Attack Munitions or JDAMs. The old smart bombs, the ones used in Desert Storm, were laser-guided. In other words, a crew member would shine a laser on the target; the bomb would follow the beam. However, the beam could be deflected by dust, smoke, rain, even humidity. And the laser-guided bombs were expensive—around $100,000 apiece. JDAMs are guided by Global Positioning Satellites. The pilot punches the target's coordinates into the bomb's GPS receiver andthe bomb homes in on the spot; environmental conditions aren't a factor. And they're cheap—a JDAM kit can be strapped onto an old-fashioned "dumb bomb" for $18,000.

However, it turns out that of the 19,948 smart munitions fired during Gulf War II, 8,716—two-fifths—were the '90s-era laser-guided bombs. Substantially fewer, 6,642, were JDAMs. The other 4,590 smart weapons were GPS-guided but much more expensive models than the JDAM.

More surprising, another 9,251 bombs—or one-third of all the bombs dropped during this war—were unguided, unmodified dumb bombs. It would be good to know where these dumb bombs—and the less-reliable laser-guided bombs—were dropped: on the battlefield, in cities? In other words, was "collateral damage" a greater problem than our vision of a JDAM-dominating war suggested?

In this regard, Operation Iraqi Freedom was still far different from Operation Desert Storm, when just 9 percent of the bombs were smart and none of those were guided by GPS. Still, the picture has not advanced quite as far as we had been led to assume.

Iraq -- the most likely place for Al Qaeda's next attack

The Associated Press and others report that two American soldiers died today in an attack on a U.S. Army checkpoint in Fallouja. Two Iraqis reportedly emerged from their cars, automatic weapons drawn, and started firing on American soldiers manning a checkpoint. They killed two and wounded nine. Also today, in Baghdad, a rocket-propelled grenade wounded two Army MP officers working out of a Baghdad police station. In describing the attacks, 3rd Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Buford Blount III said they were seeing "very small groups — one or two people — in isolated attacks against our soldiers." Yesterday, an American soldier died in a convoy ambush in Northern Iraq. On Sunday, Iraqi guerillas ambushed an American HMMWV driving in Baghdad, detonating it as the vehicle drove past. Two other incidents targeted American soldiers on Sunday, but inflicted no casualties. The New York Times reports that anti-American attitudes and violent tendencies have become commonplace among Iraq's young male population:
As American troops keep flowing into Iraq to provide greater security and departures of other troops are delayed to strengthen police functions, military commanders continue to express private concerns about whether they have sufficient forces to re-establish a stable postwar environment.

L. Paul Bremer III, the top civilian administrator of the occupation authority, said Monday that the allies would issue food ration cards on June 1 and restart the food distribution channels used by the Hussein government.

"In the long run, we would like to get out of the situation where 60 percent of the people are dependent on the government for their food," he said.

Tonight, Falluja remained tense as American troops stood guard in static positions in command posts protected by razor wire and Bradley fighting vehicles. Other troops positioned themselves at roadblocks.

"All the people are very happy with this operation," said one resident of the town, referring to the attack on the American soldiers. He identified himself as Barakal Jassim al-Zobai, a brigadier in the disbanded Iraqi Republican Guard.

"We want to revenge all of the martyrs that Falluja gave and we will not allow American forces to occupy Iraq," he said. Mr. Zobai said guerrilla teams had been formed to exact revenge on American forces.

The episodes of violence here have radicalized some residents who have vowed revenge, residents said.

"We are tribal people and we won't allow anyone to intrude in our lives," said a 27-year-old farmer who witnessed the attack early this morning. He refused to give his full name and called himself Abu Muhammad. "The Americans have really hurt us," he said. "They didn't come here to give us liberty, or free us. They came here to invade us."
Analysis: Clearly, we are seeing an upswing in the level of insurgent activity in Iraq. Without access to the raw intelligence I might have in the field, I can't do any kind of reasonable trend analysis or predictive analysis. However, I can read the tea leaves from here somewhat. American units are seeing what appear to be frequent, widespread, pre-planned, deadly acts of violence. It's more likely than not that these are coordinated attacks -- possibly part of a larger anti-American strategy. It's impossible to tell (without better intel) who might be behind these attacks, or why they might be happening. I can speculate that Shiite factions are instigating the attacks as a way of destabilizing the American presence and hastening our departure. I could also speculate that the attacks come from Saddam Hussein's loyalists who retained their weapons from their military service.

But I'd like to suggest a more sinister possibility that must at least be considered by America's security and intelligence communities: Al Qaeda action in Iraq. It appears from a number of reports that Al Qaeda has been hobbled to some degree. The global terror network retains the ability to operate, but it has been constrained by America's war in Afghanistan and efforts elsewhere. Our military, financial, law enforcement, and prosecutorial efforts may have crippled the network's ability to act inside the United States -- it's hard to tell (see this Newsweek report). But one place where we have barely made a dent is in Al Qaeda's ability to operate in the Arab world. This month's attack on the American housing complex in Saudi Arabia are the best evidence of this, along with recent reports indicating the presence of an Al Qaeda cell in Iran. This is an organization that retains the ability to move men, materiel and money around the Arab world, at least, and retains the ability to plan and execute terrorist operations. In short, Al Qaeda remains a potent threat.

Why do I think they'll hit us in Iraq? First, Al Qaeda's stated goal is to remove American soldiers from the Saudi peninsula, and by extension, the Arab world. Osama Bin Laden deeply resents America's influence on Islam, and especially our efforts to build rapport with secular, moderate and fundamentalist governments in the region. Their doctrine cannot allow us to maintain a presence in Iraq, and it cannot allow us to successfully install a Western-oriented government in Iraq that disdains Islamic law in favor of democracy, capitalism, and individual liberty. (It may be possible for these things to live together, but at least for now, no one has figured out how to do that.)

Second, Bin Laden deeply hates American military imperialism, which is almost certainly how he sees our attack on Iraq in this second Gulf War. He has deliberately targeted our military deployments before (e.g. Somalia and the USS Cole), and it makes sense that he will do it again. Al Qaeda stands against a lot of things, but few institutions have inflicted as much pain on Al Qaeda as the American military. I think that Bin Laden has a blood debt to settle with the American military after Afghanistan, and he will attack American soldiers wherever he can (Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan) to settle the score.

Third, the opportunities abound in Iraq for a terrorist -- particularly a terrorist who seeks to wage war through proxies. Large numbers of Iraqi soldiers melted away in the face of American firepower, and they took a lot of their weaponry with them. Those men would make great recruits for a terrorist sponsor. There's a lot of ordnance, weaponry, and stuff on the street in Iraq for a terrorist to buy. He wouldn't have to smuggle stuff in; he could probably buy it on the black market. On top of that, there's an abundance of American targets -- from well-protected American military bases to less-well protected contractors and relief organizations. Hitting Bechtel or Halliburton may not seem as sporting as hitting the 4th Infantry Division, but this enemy has never been one for chivalry.

The biggest reasons, however, are the large numbers of reporters inside Iraq and the amount of coverage that any such attack would receive. Nearly 30 years ago, terrorism expert Brian Jenkins wrote that "terrorism is theater." Without an audience, terrorism is mere violence perpetrated in the name of a cause -- but without an effect to justify the effort. The violent act is a mere precursor to the act's effect on society at large. Media coverage gives terrorism its audience, and most contemporary terrorism is scripted with the media in mind. It's possible that Al Qaeda might hit American soldiers in another part of the world -- the motive, means and opportunity certainly exist. But the presence of the media in Iraq all but guarantees that such an attack will happen there.

Monday, May 26, 2003
Gobble gobble

That's not the sound of a turkey -- it's the sound of large defense contractors gobbling up smaller tech firms and defense-related start-ups, according to this report in Monday's Washington Post. After a wave of consolidation during the 1990s in the defense industry, large conglomerate firms like Northrop-Grumman and General Dynamics have been semi-covertly buying up small firms that provide critical pieces of hardware and software for the large ships, tanks and planes they already build. The result is that the industry has become more consolidated than ever, with just a few large contractors (GD, Northrop-Grumman, Boeing) owning most of the business.
The buying spree is contributing to a fundamental change in the structure of the defense industry as the top players move away from their roles as mere weapons makers and increasingly cast themselves as "systems integrators" that produce high-tech networks for the battlefield. In the past three years, contractors have swept up about 180 small tech firms, mostly in Northern Virginia, a 25 percent increase from the previous three-year span.

In one recent high-profile case, General Dynamics Corp., which makes M1 tanks, bought Herndon-based Creative Technology Inc., which designs computer networks that transmit classified information.

The Pentagon has pushed in recent years for a more intensive role for war technology, but the pace has accelerated with the proven high-tech successes in Afghanistan and Iraq and the demands of fighting terrorism. The rush to grab the premier small companies is sparking bidding wars and redesigning the landscape of the local tech industry -- a cornerstone of the region's business community that blossomed in the shadow of the dot-com revolution.

Underlying the consolidation is the sharp competition among the big defense companies to secure a lucrative role in the transformation of the military envisioned by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and backed by a growing Pentagon budget. Some industry observers worry, however, that the absorption of the small tech firms into the giant contractors could crimp innovation in a field that thrives on swift advances.

The companies attracting attention often work quietly behind the scenes, producing the technology essential to the new ways of war. Among the firms recently acquired are Alexandria-based Adroit Systems Inc., which writes software that instructs hovering drones to transmit surveillance photos to fighter jets, ships and ground stations; Chantilly-based Integrated Data Systems Corp., which develops software that allows the Pentagon to share classified information with other agencies on a secure network; Premier Technology Group Inc., a Fairfax firm that analyzes and disseminates intelligence for the Army; and Conquest Inc. of Annapolis Junction, Md., which specializes in managing information networks for the intelligence community.

"Just 20 or 30 years ago, the airplane was the thing or the ship was the thing," said Stuart McCutchan, publisher of Defense Mergers & Acquisitions, an industry newsletter. "Now those things are just nodes in the network, and the network is the thing."
Analysis: I think the jury's still out as to whether this is a good or bad thing for America and its military. In theory, larger contractors can achieve economies of scale across the vertical and horizontal dimension. However, they can also act like a monopolist. Ultimately, I think what matters is getting the best rifle, ship, plane or tank into the hands of the warfighter. So far, they appear to be doing well, but it's hard to know whether a less consolidated industry might do better.

A chaplain's story of war

Chaplains play an important and unique role in the American military. Constrained by our First Amendment and tradition of separating church and state, they serve as part-adviser, part-chaplain, part-sage for battalions of soldiers in war and peace. John W. Brinsfield, who retired as a colonel in the Army's chaplain corps, has a thoughtful essay in Monday's New York Times on the meaning of war and remembrance -- from his perspective as a military chaplain.
In the 1991 Persian Gulf war, I was a senior chaplain assigned to the headquarters of Army Central Command in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. My mission was to help place 568 Army chaplains of all denominations throughout the combat zone so that our troops would always have one nearby. My ministry involved visiting hospitals, counseling the lonely and the fatigued, dodging Scud missiles, conducting worship services under the sky, and later, holding memorial services for the dead.
* * *
After months of waiting, combat came quickly in this war. At first, the operation seemed familiar — business as usual. But then came the dreaded urban warfare. No matter how much you've trained, you are never prepared for the sight of homes turned to rubble or the smell of burned flesh or the sound of a mother wailing among the debris, searching for her missing child. And of course, there's no military manual to prepare you for the pain of seeing your buddy die because you couldn't seal off his sucking chest wound, or the shock associated with having to fire on a civilian vehicle that would not stop for a checkpoint, or seeing two women, an old man and a child lying dead along the road.

And then there's the morning after a particularly fierce battle when the captain, just a few years out of West Point, told his troops to look for drums, containers, anything that looked like a weapon of mass destruction. You searched all day, but nothing turned up.

And now some of the troops are starting to come home, looking forward to much-needed sleep and dreaming of Big Macs and Taco Bell menus. They remember the guy who bled to death and wish like hell they had been able to stop the bleeding. They almost cry, but stop just in time. They think of the children with stumps for arms, or those lying face down in the dust in some village with no name. Was it an air strike that took them out, or was it me? Not knowing is the only salvation.

They'll talk of this only to other soldiers. Years later, at barbecue reunions with medals and overseas caps they'll hear of someone who was in the gulf, in Afghanistan, in Iraq. "Where were you?" is the first question. That means, if you were with me, in my unit, in the same fight, maybe, after a few beers, we'll talk.
Definitely worth a read... Ironically, the piece is juxtaposed in the same day's paper as this report from San Luis Obispo. There, it appears that fire department chaplains are making a bad name for themselves and their department, according to allegations of six firefighters who are suing over their quasi-official use of religion.
The middle-level officers brought the lawsuit earlier this year, saying that the chaplain's corps, run by an evangelical minister who is also a senior official of the department, was almost exclusively Christian and had improperly injected religious faith into a government organization.

The department created the corps two years ago, replacing a peer-counseling program that had existed for years. Of the first 52 people to join the chaplain's corps, all but two are Christians and wear crosses on their firefighting uniforms, according to the lawsuit. The program has since added a Buddhist and a Jew.

The complaining officers, who sardonically call themselves the Satanic Six, object to the chaplains' wearing religious insignia while on duty and say it is only a short step from counseling fellow firefighters to proselytizing them.

The plaintiffs include a Baptist, an Episcopalian, a Christian Scientist, a Jew and a self-described "rationalist agnostic."

Their suit asks that the official chaplain's corps be disbanded and replaced with a nonuniformed, volunteer group of religious counselors. It also asks that no state money be spent for the training or services of chaplains, and that no explicitly religious language be used at public ceremonies, like fire academy graduations.
I can't speak for how the chaplains behave in the San Luis Obispo fire department, nor can I really speak with any authority about this case since I'm just an acolyte to First Amendment law. This case in SLO is not unique. In recent months, lawsuits have challenged their ability to function, and the military's ability to include prayer and religion in certain aspects of life like the meals at the Naval Academy.

While I support the Constitution and its intent to separate church and state, I do think these movements can go too far. There are times in the military when a little religion can be helpful -- regardless of which faith it comes from. America's military certainly embraces Christianity more than Judaism, Islam, or any other religion, somewhat to the detriment to whose who serve (like me) from those other faiths. However, the military chaplains I knew were especially aware of this fact, and they did everything they could to take care of my needs too. Whether they're checking on soldier morale, helping to run the casualty collection point, or providing religious support, chaplains play a key role in our fighting units. Ultimately, I hope that judges balance the interests on both sides to find a Solomon-like answer to the problem of religion in the ranks.

A short note on the meaning of Memorial Day

Veterans Day was established after World War I on the day of the Treaty of Versailles. After World War II, Congress passed a resolution extending the holiday's meaning to honor the veterans of that war. After Korea, Congress passed a third resolution, this time extending the holiday to "honor American veterans of all wars." Over the years since, Congress has updated its resolutions on Veterans Day, made it a federal holiday, and pushed the states to accept it as a holiday too. Veterans Day is properly celebrated on Nov. 11, to mark the day the treaty ending WWI was signed, but is usually observed on the first or second Monday in November.

Memorial Day has an older lineage, which traces back to the Civil War. Unlike Veterans Day, which commemorates living veterans, Memorial Day is expressly intended as a day to memorialize the sacrifice of men and women who have given their lives in uniform. General John Logan, national commander of the Union Army, published an order in 1868 which established Memorial Day. His soldiers placed flowers on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery. New York recognized the holiday in 1873, and most northern states followed by 1890. Southern states were somewhat recalcitrant, and some even maintained a separate holiday to honor Confederate war dead. After WWI, Congress extended the holiday to honor American soldiers who died in all wars, not just the Civil War, and this tradition has endured until today. On Memorial Day, soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Regiment continue to place flowers on every grave in Arlington, honoring those who rest there.

It's not my goal to take anything away from the millions of Americans who celebrate this holiday more as a 3-day weekend and the start of summer. Our soldiers gave their lives in part for the American way of life, so such a tribute is fitting. However, we should all enjoy this holiday with the knowledge of what it's about, and at least take some time to think about those who have given their lives in our name.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003
Summer sabbatical
I'm now working full-time at a law firm in downtown Los Angeles, and thus unable to devote the time I had for Intel Dump during the academic year. (The life of a grad student is significantly less demanding than the life of an apprentice attorney.) Intel Dump will be updated 3-5 times a week, with lengthier posts on the weekend when I read the Sunday papers and newsmagazines. I hope you'll continue to read this site, as well as my colleagues who I've linked to on the left side of the page. Thanks!

Monday, May 19, 2003
Faux Pax Americana
The lesson from Iraq is that using fewer troops can win a war, but can't keep the peace.

The Washington Monthly just posted a piece that I wrote on military transformation and peacekeeping, in which I argue that America had enough boots on the ground (barely) to win the war in Iraq -- but not nearly enough manpower to do the jobs of post-war occupation or nation-building. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his advisers have pushed hard for a vision of America's military that is lighter, faster and more lethal -- but also more technology-centered and less people-centered. I disagree with this vision, and think that the full spectrum of operations like peacekeeping requires more soldiers than gadgets.
When victory arrived, we lacked the troops on the ground to prevent Baghdad--and most of the rest of the country--from collapsing into anarchy. We had tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles galore in the capital, but not nearly enough soldiers to guard such facilities as the key ministries, hospitals, and the National Museum. Ministries torched and looted during the first days are now unavailable to house the planned interim government. The plunder of hospitals set the stage for a still very possible humanitarian crisis. Looters who ransacked the National Museum stole many of the priceless historic artifacts that connected contemporary Iraq with its ancient roots, inflicting a mammoth public relations disaster upon the United States.

Things have not gotten much better over the following weeks. Lawlessness and chaos continue to reign. Women are raped, law-abiding citizens have their property stolen, those who have anything left don't go to work so they can guard what they still have. The prize the United States sacrificed so much to gain--freeing Iraq from Saddam and clearing the way for its democratic rebirth--is being squandered on the ground as ordinary Iraqis come to equate the American presence with violent lawlessness and immorality, and grasping mullahs rush into the vacuum created by our lack of troops. Mass grave sites, with no troops to secure them, have been unearthed by Iraqis desperate to find remnants of relatives killed by Saddam Hussein's regime, but those same Iraqis, digging quickly and roughly, may have inadvertently destroyed valuable evidence of human rights violations and crippled the ability of prosecutors to bring war criminals to justice. Perhaps worst of all, the prime objective of the entire invasion--to secure and eliminate Saddam's weapons of mass destruction capacity--has been dealt a serious blow. Even Iraq's publicly known nuclear sites had been thoroughly looted before American inspectors arrived, because, once more, not enough troops had been available to secure them. Radioactive material, perhaps enough to make several "dirty bombs," has now disappeared into anonymous Iraqi homes, perhaps awaiting purchase by terrorists. Critical records detailing the history and scope of the WMD program have themselves been looted from suspected weapons sites because too few soldiers were available to guard those places. "There aren't enough troops in the whole Army," said Col. Tim Madere, the officer overseeing the WMD effort in Iraq, in a recent interview with Newsweek. Farce vied with disaster when the inspectors' own headquarters were looted for lack of adequate security. Triumph on the battlefield has yielded to tragedy in the streets.

Belatedly recognizing their horrendous miscalculation, the Bush administration last month replaced the retired general in charge of Iraq's reconstruction, Jay Garner, with former diplomat L. Paul Bremer, who immediately called for 15,000 more troops to keep order. Even if he gets that many, however, Bremer will still be woefully short of the manpower he'll need to turn Iraq from anarchy to stable democracy.

The architects of the war might be forgiven for misgauging the number of troops required had the war come a dozen years ago, when the United States had little experience in modern nation-building. But over the course of the 1990s America gained some hard understanding, at no small cost. From Port-au-Prince to Mogadishu, every recent engagement taught the lesson we're now learning again in Iraq: America's high-tech, highly mobile military can scatter enemies which many times outnumber them, in ways beyond the wildest dreams of commanders just a generation ago. But it's not so easy to win the peace.
Coda: A couple of readers have e-mailed me to say this is all great, but could we have actually put more boots on the ground? From a logistics or manpower standpoint, did we have the capacity to do so? The answer is yes -- and no. America had the manpower in the active force to do so, and it surely had the manpower in the reserves. But for a variety of political, readiness and institutional reasons, those troops were not committed to the Iraq mission. Moreover, we were unable to tap into our NATO allies like France and Germany for peacekeeping support because of the animus between our countries. Still, the mission could have been accomplished with U.S. troops alone. We should have had the foresight -- in Oct. or Nov. 2002, when attacking Iraq became certain -- to mobilize enough of the National Guard to meet the post-war need. (Mobilizing these troops requires a long lead time)

Second, there's the issue of capacity. Could we have actually sent all these troops and their equipment to Iraq, and then staged them in Kuwait? The answer may be no. America has a finite amount of "strategic lift", defined as all the transportation stuff (ships and planes mostly) needed to move things in between theaters of operation (from the U.S. to Iraq). A lot of that finite lift capacity was used to move the existing force to Iraq, and subsequently to supply that force. The U.S. could have contracted for more shipping and aircraft support, but at a high cost. It's not clear that we had the political support in Congress to pay that bill.

Saturday, May 17, 2003
Three excellent pieces in the June issue of the Atlantic Monthly

The June issue of the Atlantic Monthly has a great collection of articles on topics ranging from the psychology of terrorism to the psychology of John F. Kennedy. Since subscribing a year ago, I've looked forward to reading the A.Monthly because of its writers' skill and editorial choice of subjects. This issue is probably the best I've read thus far. Here's a sampling of the pieces I liked:

The cover piece by Bruce Hoffman (not available online, unfortunately) dissects terrorism -- from the perspective of both sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I've read a lot on this subject, and this is one of the most brilliant essays I've read to date. According to Hoffman, terrorism is not an amorphous phenomenon for either side; it's a mechanical, institutionalized, planned and financed act that is countered by the Israelis in well-planned, rehearsed, well-financed, institutionalized ways. Hoffman's well qualified to write on this subject. He's the foremost expert on terrorism in the world, having studied it for more than 30 years -- well before it became the subject du jour for academics. Hoffman now directs the Washington DC office of the RAND Corporation, and wrote what I consider to be the seminal book on the subject -- Inside Terrorism -- in 1999. (Also see this online discussion with Hoffman on the magazine's site.)
Buses remain among the bombers' preferred targets. Winter and summer are the better seasons for bombing buses in Jerusalem, because the closed windows (for heat or air-conditioning) intensify the force of the blast, maximizing the bombs' killing potential. As a hail of shrapnel pieces flesh and breaks bones, the shock wave tears lungs and crushes other internal organs. When the bus's fuel tank expodes, a fireball causes burns, and smoke inhalation causes respiratory damage. All this is a significant return on a relatively modest investment. Two or three kilograms of explosive on a bus can kill as many people as twenty to thirty kilograms left on a street or in a mall or a restaurant. But as security on buses has improved, and passengers have become more alert, the bombers have been forced to seek other targets.

The terrorists are lethally flexible and inventive. A person wearing a bomb is far more dangerous and far more difficult to defend against than a timed device left to explode in a marketplace. This human weapons system can effect last-minute changes based on the ease of approach, the paucity or density of people, and the security mreasures in evidence...
* * *
The organizations behind the Palestinians' suicide terrorism have numerous components. Quartermasters obtain the explosives and the other materials (nuts, bolts, nails, and the like) that are combined to make a bomb. Now that bomb-making methods have been so widely disseminated throughout the West Bank and Gaza, a merely competent technician, rather than the skilled engineer once required, can build a bomb. Explosive material is packed into pockets sewn into a canvas or denim belt or vest and hooked up to a detonator -- usually involving a simple hand-operated plunger.
* * *
The success of the IDF's strategy is utterly dependent on regularly acquiring intelligence and rapidly disseminating it to operational units that can take appropriate action. Thus, the IDF must continue to occupy the West Bank's major population centers, so that Israeli intelligence agents can stay in close -- and relatively safe -- proximity to their information sources, and troops can act immediately either to round up suspects or to rescue the agent should an operation go awry...
* * *
The strategy -- at least in the short run -- is working. The dramatic decline in the number of suicide operations since last spring is proof enough. "Tactically, we are doin everythin we can," a senior officer involved in the framing of this policy told me, "and we have managed to prevent eighty percent of all attempts." Another officer said, "We are now bringing the war to them. We do it so that we fight the war in their homes rather than in our homes. We try to make certain that we fight on their ground, where we can have the maximum advantage." The goal of the IDF, though, is not simply to fight in a manner that plays to its strength; the goal is to actively shrink the time and space in which the suicide bombers and their operational commanders, logisticians, and handlers function -- to stop them before they can cross the Green Line, by threatening their personal safety and putting them on the defensive.
The next outstanding piece comes from James Fallows, one of America's leading journalists, on the shooting of Mohammed Al-Dura on the second day of the second Intifada. Many will remember the vivid images of 12-year-old Al-Dura's shooting -- allegedly by Israeli soldiers -- and his subsequent death in his father's arms. Since the incident, however, evidence has surfaced to add more than a reasonable doubt to this account. Unfortunately, most of the evidence has been buried, lost or destroyed, and no one trusts the outcome of any investigation run by the Israeli Defense Forces. Nonetheless, Fallows puts together a compelling account of the facts as he can best tell, and the story is worth a read.
Al-Dura was the twelve-year-old Palestinian boy shot and killed during an exchange of fire between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian demonstrators on September 30, 2000. The final few seconds of his life, when he crouched in terror behind his father, Jamal, and then slumped to the ground after bullets ripped through his torso, were captured by a television camera and broadcast around the world. Through repetition they have become as familiar and significant to Arab and Islamic viewers as photographs of bombed-out Hiroshima are to the people of Japan—or as footage of the crumbling World Trade Center is to Americans. Several Arab countries have issued postage stamps carrying a picture of the terrified boy. One of Baghdad's main streets was renamed The Martyr Mohammed Aldura Street. Morocco has an al-Dura Park. In one of the messages Osama bin Laden released after the September 11 attacks and the subsequent U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, he began a list of indictments against "American arrogance and Israeli violence" by saying, "In the epitome of his arrogance and the peak of his media campaign in which he boasts of 'enduring freedom,' Bush must not forget the image of Mohammed al-Dura and his fellow Muslims in Palestine and Iraq. If he has forgotten, then we will not forget, God willing."

But almost since the day of the episode evidence has been emerging in Israel, under controversial and intriguing circumstances, to indicate that the official version of the Mohammed al-Dura story is not true. It now appears that the boy cannot have died in the way reported by most of the world's media and fervently believed throughout the Islamic world. Whatever happened to him, he was not shot by the Israeli soldiers who were known to be involved in the day's fighting—or so I am convinced, after spending a week in Israel talking with those examining the case. The exculpatory evidence comes not from government or military officials in Israel, who have an obvious interest in claiming that their soldiers weren't responsible, but from other sources. In fact, the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF, seem to prefer to soft-pedal the findings rather than bring any more attention to this gruesome episode. The research has been done by a variety of academics, ex-soldiers, and Web-loggers who have become obsessed with the case, and the evidence can be cross-checked.

No "proof" that originates in Israel is likely to change minds in the Arab world. The longtime Palestinian spokesperson Hanan Ashrawi dismissed one early Israeli report on the topic as a "falsified version of reality [that] blames the victims." Late this spring Said Hamad, a spokesman at the PLO office in Washington, told me of the new Israeli studies, "It does not surprise me that these reports would come out from the same people who shot Mohammed al-Dura. He was shot of course by the Israeli army, and not by anybody else." Even if evidence that could revise the understanding of this particular death were widely accepted (so far it has been embraced by a few Jewish groups in Europe and North America), it would probably have no effect on the underlying hatred and ongoing violence in the region. Nor would evidence that clears Israeli soldiers necessarily support the overarching Likud policy of sending soldiers to occupy territories and protect settlements. The Israelis still looking into the al-Dura case do not all endorse Likud occupation policies. In fact, some strongly oppose them.

The truth about Mohammed al-Dura is important in its own right, because this episode is so raw and vivid in the Arab world and so hazy, if not invisible, in the West. Whatever the course of the occupation of Iraq, the United States has guaranteed an ample future supply of images of Arab suffering. The two explosions in Baghdad markets in the first weeks of the war, killing scores of civilians, offered an initial taste. Even as U.S. officials cautioned that it would take more time and study to determine whether U.S. or Iraqi ordnance had caused the blasts, the Arab media denounced the brutality that created these new martyrs. More of this lies ahead. The saga of Mohammed al-Dura illustrates the way the battles of wartime imagery may play themselves out.
The third piece I liked (also unavailable online) comes from Robert Dallek, a history professor who has written extensively on the American presidents of the mid-20th Century. It discusses the presidency of John F. Kennedy that might have been -- and derives in large part from his new 1-volume biography An Unfinished Life. The interesting parts to me were the discussions of JFK's rocky relationship with his military advisers, who, Dallek reports, Kennedy thought were either too audacious, too aggressive, or too dumb to give him good advice. Dallek speculates that Kennedy would have not "Americanized" the Vietnam War as LBJ did in 1965, and would have eventually pulled American advisers out before committing large units of ground forces.
A consideration of likely post-1963 Kennedy policies must begin with JFK's views on how political and military leaders should make decisions about armed action. Why England Slept, his Harvard senior thesis, which was published as a book in 1940, showed a healthy skepticism regarding the astuteness of both political and military officials in assessing foreign threats. He also doubted the effectiveness of a purely military approach to many political problems, especially in light of what he observed during his extensive travels to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia in the late 1930s and after World War II. "If one thing was borne into me as a result of my experiences in the Middle as well as the Far East," Kennedy said after a trip as a congressman in 1951," it is that communism cannot be met effectively by merely the force of arms." And his own military experience as a young man had convinced him that military chiefs were not necessarily the best judges of when and how to fight a war. As a junior naval officer in 1943 and 1944, he marveled at the incomptence of many of his superiors. In a letter to his parents from the South Pacific, where he was serving as a PT Board commander, he wrote that the Navy had "brought back a lot of old Captains and Commanders from retirement and... they give the impression of their brains being in their tails."
* * *
Paul Nitze, who in the 1950s worked with Secretary of State Dean Acheson on defense issues, and who served in the Kennedy Administration as Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara's assistant secretary for international security affairs, said in his oral history of the Administration that Kennedy was "always troubled with ... how do you obtain military advice; how do you check into it; how do you have an independent review as to its accuracy and relevance?" A tape of a 1962 conversation with Secretary of State Dean Rusk, National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy, and Undersecretary of State George Ball makes clear that Kennedy had a low opinion of many U.S. diplomats and Defense Department officials. He described career envoys as weak or spineless. "I just see an awful lot of fellows ... who don't seem to have cojones," [Kennedy] said. "[Whereas] the Defense Department looks as if that's all they've got. They haven't any brains ... I know you get all this sort of virility over at the Pentagon, and you get a lot of Arleigh Burkes [a reference to the Chief of Naval Operations]: admirable, nice figure, without any brains."
Unfortunately, two of these three pieces aren't available online -- even to subscribers. However, I don't think you'll be disappointed if you buy the June issue of this magazine.

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