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Tuesday, September 23, 2003
Fmr. Sen. Cleland to the White House:
"Welcome to Vietnam, Mr. President. Sorry you didn't go when you had the chance."

TAPPED drew my attention today to a column by former-Senator Max Cleland which ran in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about Iraq. At first glance, some might call this a facile comparison of Iraq to Vietnam. They would be wrong. A deeper look first reveals that Cleland has the credibility to say everything in this piece. He is a decorated Vietnam veteran who was grievously wounded in combat, and who rose to serve as administrator of the Veterans Administration. Cleland knows what war is all about, and he knows the human cost of war all too well. He also knows the strategic side of war, from his service in the U.S. Senate and current service on the independent 9/11 Commission. Suffice to say, Cleland has the c.v. to back up what he writes. And this essay doesn't read like your typical critique of the White House. Cleland takes on the White House, point by point, and explains why our policy in Iraq has run aground:
Unfortunately, the people who drove the engine to get into the war in Iraq never served in Vietnam. Not the president. Not the vice president. Not the secretary of defense. Not the deputy secretary of defense. Too bad. They could have learned some lessons:

• Don't underestimate the enemy. The enemy always has one option you cannot control. He always has the option to die. This is especially true if you are dealing with true believers and guerillas fighting for their version of reality, whether political or religious. They are what Tom Friedman of The New York Times calls the "non-deterrables." If those non-deterrables are already in their country, they will be able to wait you out until you go home.

• If the enemy adopts a "hit-and-run" strategy designed to inflict maximum casualties on you, you may win every battle, but (as Walter Lippman once said about Vietnam) you can't win the war.

• If you adopt a strategy of not just pre-emptive strike but also pre-emptive war, you own the aftermath. You better plan for it. You better have an exit strategy because you cannot stay there indefinitely unless you make it the 51st state.

If you do stay an extended period of time, you then become an occupier, not a liberator. That feeds the enemy against you.

• If you adopt the strategy of pre-emptive war, your intelligence must be not just "darn good," as the president has said; it must be "bulletproof," as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claimed the administration's was against Saddam Hussein. Anything short of that saps credibility.

• If you want to know what is really going on in the war, ask the troops on the ground, not the policy-makers in Washington.

• In a democracy, instead of truth being the first casualty in war, it should be the first cause of war. It is the only way the Congress and the American people can cope with getting through it. As credibility is strained, support for the war and support for the troops go downhill. Continued loss of credibility drains troop morale, the media become more suspicious, the public becomes more incredulous and Congress is reduced to hearings and investigations.

Instead of learning the lessons of Vietnam, where all of the above happened, the president, the vice president, the secretary of defense and the deputy secretary of defense have gotten this country into a disaster in the desert.
Strong words from a strong-minded American who's been there, done that, and gotten the scars to prove it. I don't think that military service should be a prerequisite to political leadership. (For the record, the President served in the Texas Air National Guard and the SecDef served as a naval aviator on active duty and in the reserves.) But I do see a paucity of such experience in the White House and its command team -- as well as a lack of appreciation for the kinds of lessons that such experience brings. Sure, you can read about war and learn its impact from textbooks at the Kennedy School or Hoover Institute. But as one military historian wrote, the study of war by the uninitiated through books is like the study of sex by virgins with only pornography as their guide.

Much has been made in recent months about national service, and the extent to which our elites avoid national service -- particularly uniformed service. While I do not support conscription, I do think we need to do better as a society at voluntarily spreading the burden of military service. Our working class and middle class already do their part. The elite class does not. While doing some reading the other day, I came across this letter written by a general to a congressman during WWII about a conscript having adjustment problems. (Thanks to Andrew Olmsted) I think it expresses my point quite well.
27th Infantry Division
Office of the Commanding General
Fort Ord, California

27 February 1942

The Honorable Clinton P. Anderson, M.C.
House of Representatives

Dear Mr. Anderson:

. . . If doctors in the future are to have the privilege of practicing their profession, if archeologists are to investigate antiquity, if students are to have the privilege of taking degrees, and professors the privilege of teaching in their own way, somebody must march and fight and bleed and die and I know no reason why students, doctors, professors, and archeologists shouldn't do their share of it.

You say, "It strikes me as too bad to take that type of education and bury it in a rifle squad," as though there were something low or mean or servile being a member of a rifle squad and only morons and ditch diggers should be given such duty. I know of no place red blooded men of intelligence and initiative are more needed than in the rifle or weapons squad.

In this capacity, full recognition is given to the placing of men so that they may do the work most beneficial to the unit of which they are a part. Whenever men are needed for a particular duty, the record of all men having the required skills and qualifications are considered. I have examined the records of Private Lister and it is fairly complete. I know he holds the 100- yard dash and broad jump records in the Border Conference; that he was president of his fraternity; that his mother was born in Alabama and his father in Michigan; that his father lives at the Burlington Hotel in Washington and I suspect asked you to do what you could to get his son on other duty.

It is desirable that all men, regardless of their specialty, shall learn by doing; how hard it is to march with a pack for 20 miles; how to hold their own in bayonet combat; and how to respect the man who really takes it, namely the private in the rifle squad. . . .

Sincerely yours,

Brig Gen, USA
Sen. Cleland certainly understands what it means to be a private in a rifle squad. So do Wes Clark, Colin Powell, Richard Armitage, and Anthony Principi. American foreign policy might look a little wiser if we had more men like these in high office.

Second military servicemember detained for Gitmo security violations

The AP reports (via the NY Times) that military officials have taken an Air Force serviceperson into custody for allegedly misusing classified information in connection with Guantanamo Bay. Details are very sketchy at this point, as they are in CPT Yee's case.
The man is being held in California on security-related matters, one Pentagon official said. Neither of two officials who spoke about the matter on condition of anonymity would say whether the Air Force investigation was linked to the arrest earlier this month of the Muslim military chaplain at the prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The military has classified many details about the prison camp and the detainees and has not identified any of the men being held there. Military officials have said the fight against terrorism could be hampered if terrorist groups got such information.
More to follow . . .

Update I: The AP adds some more details to its story (via the New York Times) about this second individual, who was actually arrested before CPT Yee. It's unclear whether the two men were working together, although it seems awfully coincidental if they weren't.
Senior Airman Ahmad I. al-Halabi is being held at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, facing 32 criminal charges, spokesman Maj. Michael Shavers said.

Al-Halabi worked as an Arabic language translator at the prison camp for al-Qaida and Taliban suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Shavers said. The Air Force enlisted man knew the Muslim chaplain at the prison arrested earlier this month, but it's unclear if the two arrests are linked, Shavers said.

The translator was arrested more than six weeks before the chaplain, Shavers said.

Al-Halabi is charged with nine counts related to espionage, three counts of aiding the enemy, 11 counts of disobeying a lawful order, and nine counts of making a false official statement.
Notes on the charges: Once again, espionage and aiding the enemy are capital offenses under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The penalties for disobeying a lawful order and making a false official statement are comparitively light, but these sentences are cumulative in nature. I can only make a SWAG as to how these charges were chosen. The espionage and aiding the enemy counts go towards the overall plan. Each of the disobeying-an-order counts probably relates to a specific instance where the defendant did something wrong with a classified document. And if the defendant was required to sign some sort of log or register saying he had logged in documents, every signature would constitute a false official statement. A fact pattern like that could easily add up to the charges listed.

CPT Yee's last interview

This morning's Miami Herald carries excerpts from a 30 Jul 03 interview with CPT Youssef Yee conducted at the Guantanamo Bay base where more than 600 detainees are currently being held by the American military. These statements don't seem as defensive as those made in CPT Yee's article in "The Wire", but they are nonetheless odd for an American military officer.
''As the chaplain, what I do is focus on what the person is doing here and now in the present, rather than what a person was fighting for in order to get here,'' Capt. Youseff Yee said in a July 30 interview at the base where the Army is holding about 660 terrorism suspects from 42 countries. "What I try to do is improve a person's situation or help them with their quality of life -- what can I do to help them deal with the situation that they're dealing with?''
* * *
In his interview with The Herald at the hut that served as a mosque for the handful of Muslim soldiers at the base, Yee declined to answer questions about his feelings toward the accused members of the Taliban and al Qaeda.

''It's not my job here to brand someone as guilty or innocent,'' he said. "I look at my role as to try to help that person in any way I can deal with the difficulties thy are experiencing. This is the purpose of the chaplain.''

Yee said he had spoken to every detainee over the course of the past year, but declined to address what he termed the ''justice aspect'' or reveal what detainees told him about their indefinite detention without charges.
* * *
''I'm there as a chaplain to listen with a sympathetic ear to any concerns they may have,'' Yee said. "In terms of indefiniteness, not looking at a specific complaint in general, I would encourage any detainee to be as patient as possible with his situation. Patience is a general encouragement of the Koran.''

In ministering to the needs of the detainees, Yee said his duties included meeting with any enemy combatant who requested time to talk with him in order to pass on a complaint or a need. Guards would enter the chaplain's request in a computer system that would generate a daily printout for him. He said typical requests included talking about issues, getting religious books or a different translation of the Koran, or getting prayer beads, prayer oils or a prayer cap from a stock he kept to distribute.

One of the improvements to detainee life he said he initiated was getting prepackaged meals to be given to detainees who wanted to fast so they could eat before sunrise and after sundown.
Legal note: As a matter of law, nearly all this evidence may be excluded from the trial as irrelevant, or as inadmissable character evidence. (See Rules 403 and 404 respectively in the Military Rules of Evidence, found in part III of the Manual for Courts Martial.) All this character evidence may not be relevant at all to the issues before the military jury in CPT Yee's case. And even if it is relevant, the risk of prejudice or confusion may be too great, thus warranting its exclusion. Unless CPT Yee puts his character at issue, it will be a tough fight to get this stuff in evidence. The military prosecutors will need to show, just as they would in federal court, that this evidence is somehow relevant to CPT Yee's intent or state of mind, and that its probative value outweighs its prejudice. That will be a very tough case to make.

Ex-spinster joins CNN to provide spin analysis

Victoria Clarke, widely regarded as one of the better Pentagon press secretaries in recent years, has accepted a position with CNN that may put her across the airwaves from her former colleagues. (See NYT report here) In addition to managing the press after Sept. 11, Clarke is credited with helping to craft and stage-manage the public persona of Don Rumsfeld, as well as developing the "embedding" program for journalists in the second Gulf War.

Analysis of CPT Yee and the potential for a treason charge

Matt at Stop the Bleating has done substantial research into the history of America's treason law (uniquely codified in our Constitution), and has some thoughts today on how that law might apply to CPT Yee's case. As of yet, treason has not been listed in any story as a charge that CPT Yee may face. Nonetheless, I think the issues Matt identifies may be applicable to the other charges (e.g. espionage, aiding the enemy) that CPT Yee has been held over on.

Monday, September 22, 2003
About face!
Hackworth gives green light to Wes Clark's campaign

Col. David Hackworth once called Gen. Wesley Clark a "perfumed prince", a derogatory term for a senior officer more concerned with appearances and politics than with muddy boots soldiering. In a column today, Col. Hackworth reverses course abruptly, giving Clark a pretty strong endorsement as the kind of general you'd want to have as Commander-in-Chief.
No doubt he’s made his share of enemies. He doesn’t suffer fools easily and wouldn’t have allowed the dilettantes who convinced Dubya to do Iraq to even cut the White House lawn. So he should prepare for a fair amount of dart-throwing from detractors he’s ripped into during the past three decades.

Hey, I am one of those: I took a swing at Clark during the Kosovo campaign when I thought he screwed up the operation, and I called him a “Perfumed Prince.” Only years later did I discover from his book and other research that I was wrong – the blame should have been worn by British timidity and William Cohen, U.S. SecDef at the time.

At the interview, Clark came along without the standard platoon of handlers and treated the little folks who poured the coffee and served the bacon and eggs with exactly the same respect and consideration he gave the biggies in the dining room like my colleague Larry King and Bob Tisch, the Regency Hotel’s owner. An appealing common touch.

But if he wins the election, don’t expect an Andrew Jackson field-soldier type. Clark’s an intellectual, and his military career is more like Ike’s – that of a staff guy and a brilliant high-level commander. Can he make tough decisions? Bet on it. Just like Ike did during his eight hard but prosperous years as president.
Analysis: Hack's an "opinion leader" in the military community, to use a phrase I learned in college. His weekly column gets circulated widely by e-mail, and often gets picked up by major newspapers. Hack is a bona fide war hero from Korea and Vietnam -- and his three books have earned him a great deal of prestige among soldiers and veterans. A lot of folks may see this as a signal to embrace Clark as the best pro-military candidate for 2004 -- to include the incumbent. This endorsement is very, very important for a man who hopes to sell himself as a veteran to the American public.

On the other than, this endorsement may provoke even more hostility towards Clark among military establishment types. Clark already has the reputation as an iconclastic intellectual who left others in his dust on the way to the top. Hack provokes a pretty violent reaction from many in the defense community, and his endorsement of Clark may make Clark seem like a more threatening candidate; someone who might really shake things up in the Pentagon. If that's the case, we can expect to see a barrage of character attacks on Gen. Clark in the near future. More to follow.

Panel releases report on US Air Force Academy scandal

The New York Times reports that an independent panel has issued its report on the sexual assault scandal which has rocked the U.S. Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs. The verdict isn't good for the youngest service academy, which comes as no surprise to those who have watched this case. (The full text of the report is available here from the Pentagon.) The most serious allegations concern the leadership of the Air Force Academy and the Air Force, who may have disregarded reports of sexual abuse at the academy for quite some time.
The commission also said that in an attempt "to shield Air Force Headquarters from public criticism," the Air Force's general counsel had largely ignored this history of official neglect when he reported on rape at the academy earlier this year.

The blistering report released here by the commission, led by former Representative Tillie Fowler, the Florida Republican, said sexual assault had been a problem at the Air Force Academy throughout the last decade, and possibly since women were first admitted in 1976.

The findings came as something of a surprise to victims' advocates, many of whom had initially criticized the panel's makeup as biased against women in the military, prompting the resignation of one member and the former director even before the panel began its work. Its members were appointed by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

Citing repeated warnings from the Air Force surgeon general and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, as well as the Senate Armed Services Committee, the commission concluded that, "Since at least 1993, the highest levels of Air Force leadership have known of serious sexual misconduct problems at the academy," but failed to take effective action. Instead, it made fitful and limited attempts to investigate the issue, but quickly dropped them, the commission's report said.
Quick prediction: This report will torpedo the pending nomination of James Roche to be the Secretary of the Army. He was tapped to take over the Army after Secretary Rumsfeld fired former-Army Sec. Tom White. But now, it looks like his nomination will get wrapped around the axle of this issue. Why? For starters, a fair number of Congressmen have a bone to pick with the Pentagon on other issues, and this nomination will provide a convenient battleground. But more importantly, the buck has to stop somewhere for this Air Force Academy scandal, and the Secretary of the Air Force seems like the appropriate civilian official to hold accountable.

Wes Clark meets the press
Can this soldier crawl through the mud that's about to be thrown his way?

After declaring his candidacy last week for President, retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark has begun the long, hard, punishing campaign which may ultimately take him to the White House. Scores of profiles have surfaced of Wes Clark in the last few days, including stories in the NY Times, Washington Post (including this one and this one), LA Times, Newsweek, Slate, and the Atlantic Monthly. Most of these stories say essentially the same thing: Wes Clark was a brilliant "water walker" who shot to the top of the military (with some resentment from peers and superiors), and who ably led the war in Kosovo despite disagreements with just about everyone involved at the senior levels of NATO and the U.S. government. Consider this excerpt from Vernon Loeb's story in The Post.
Supporters and detractors agree on this much: The retired general is immensely talented, possessed of a keen strategic sensibility and the kind of gold-plated military credentials that could make him a formidable candidate in the Democratic race for president.

Clark's intense, emotional personality and his aggressive -- some say abrasive -- command style are likely to be the focus of intense scrutiny as he takes on the biggest challenge of a peripatetic career almost defined by the pursuit of challenge -- a run for the presidency in which his national security credentials will figure large in his potential appeal.
* * *
But Clark's hard-charging style, his penchant for dealing directly with the White House and his ceaseless agitation for ground forces during the Kosovo conflict -- over the wishes of Defense Secretary William S. Cohen -- caught up with him a month after the end of the war. In July 2000, while dining with the president of Lithuania in London, Clark was called by Gen. Henry H. Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who curtly informed him that Cohen had decided to ease him out of his NATO command. The call stunned Clark. It meant he would have to leave his NATO post three months earlier than scheduled and without a year's extension, which he had expected.

Clark had clashes outside the administration as well. In the war's immediate aftermath, when a contingent of Russian troops moved quickly into Kosovo and occupied the airfield at Pristina, the provincial capital, a British officer, Lt. Gen. Michael Jackson, refused a direct order from Clark to block the runway so the Russians could not fly in reinforcements.

Clark, who believed additional Russian troops could have led to a confrontation with NATO and possibly jeopardized the nascent allied peacekeeping mission, insisted. But Jackson stood firm, believing the Russians were isolated at the airfield and did not represent a threat. "Sir, I'm not starting World War III for you," Jackson replied.
* * *
Clark's many supporters inside and outside the military dispute the contention voiced by critics that his ambition and drive to come out on top made him untrustworthy in the eyes of his peers.

"I have watched him at close range for 35 years, in which I have looked at the allegation, and I found it totally unsupported," said retired Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, who taught with Clark at West Point in the 1970s. "That's not to say he isn't ambitious and quick. He is probably among the top five most talented I've met in my life. I think he is a national treasure who has a lot to offer the country."

McCaffrey acknowledges that Clark was not the most popular four-star general in the Army leadership. "This is no insult to Army culture, a culture I love and admire," McCaffrey said, "but he was way too bright, way too articulate, way too good looking and perceived to be way too wired to fit in with our culture. He was not one of the good ol' boys."
Pundits on the left and right, such as Paul Glastris and William Safire, have also jumped into the fray. The pundits see this candidacy in strategic terms, opining on what this move means for the Democratic party and larger body politic. The consensus seems to be that this will only help the Democratic party, especially if it sparks some serious debate over national security issues in that party's primary.

My prediction: Before Wes Clark reaches the White House, he'll have to low crawl through about 3,000 miles of mud. The military establishment will leak every negative detail of Clark's military performance to the press that's there to leak -- and some that aren't. These will include: his tendency towards personal tirades, his micromanagement of subordinates and abusive behavior towards subordinates, his precise job performance at key positions where he was under scrutiny, and anything else that can be spun by Clark's opponents. At some point, Clark will have to deal with that Ratko Mladic incident from the mid-1990s. (For the record, Clark met with him before his indictment for war crimes, just as he met with Slobodan Milosevic before his indictment. In both cases, these meetings produced tangible results for American foreign policy.) Democrats will fire HEAT rounds at Gen. Clark for his moderate views that may not sell well to key Democrat constituencies. Clark will respond with his wonkish side, and he will quickly formulate policies on all the important issues, but it may be too late by that point. And the press will soon stop swooning over Clark like a first date.

At that point, which I will call the "decisive point" of the campaign, Clark will have to retain the ability to raise money and raise issues. If he can, he has a chance; if he doesn't, he's toast. It's still too early to tell whether Clark will make it through this mud run, and I'll reserve judgment for now. But this will be the toughest fight of Clark's long and impressive career.

More facts emerge about CPT Yee's case

Rowan Scarborough reports in this morning's Washington Times about the specific documents held by CPT Yee at the time of his arrest, and why the government was so concerned. At first glance, this looks like more than a technical violation of classified-documents rules.
A law-enforcement source said yesterday those papers included a list of detainees and the names of U.S. prison personnel at Guantanamo.

If al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden's terror network, were to learn the detainees' identities, it would provide valuable information on the whereabouts of operators who are missing. This information could then allow al Qaeda to change operating methods for fear the detainee provided such information to his American captors, the law- enforcement official said.

The Pentagon has refused news media requests to release the names of the 660 detainees for that very reason.

A list of American personnel at the base in the hands of terrorists could put them and their families in danger, the source told The Times. The source said there was a debate within the administration on whether to arrest Capt. Yee or keep him under surveillance.

The source declined to say which agency advocated the Sept. 10 arrest, but said the order came from "the highest levels."

"If the list of detainees got out, then you have a whole lot of al Qaeda cells go to ground," a senior Bush administration official said yesterday. This source said the Pentagon pushed to make the arrest and said the White House was involved in the decision.

The official said one document in Capt. Yee's possession was a drawing showing where certain prisoners and American personnel were located.
Analysis: There's another issue lurking in this story that I haven't seen any of the intelligence sources say in any of the major newspaper stories on CPT Yee. If this man sympathized with the enemy, and he counseled these detainees while they were going through the interrogation process, it's very likely that he hindered the interrogations in a substantial way. Interrogations depend on control, and a sense of total isolation on the part of the detainee. Any outside contact, particularly from someone with authority (as a military officer) and moral authority (as a Muslim cleric) would threaten the methods used by most military interrogators.

Consider this excerpt from the Declaration of U.S. Navy Commander Donald D. Woolfolk, given in the case of Yaser Hamdi to substantiate the government's case for holding him as an enemy combatant.
(FOUO) . . . When done effectively, interrogation provides information that likely could not be gleaned from any other source. Loss of this tool, in any respect, would undermine our nation’s intelligence gathering efforts, thus crippling the national security of the United States. The United States does not employ any corporal means of coercion to gain information from persons being interrogated. Rather, the United States has adopted a humane approach to interrogation that relies upon creating an atmosphere of dependency and trust between detainees and the intelligence gathering staff assigned to that detainee. Over time, information is learned. The United States is now engaged in a robust program of interrogating individuals who have been identified as enemy combatants in the global War on Terrorism. This is because it is recognized that they unquestionably hold critical information that is crucial to our national security. A prime example of the effectiveness of this method of interrogation through dependency and trust can be found in the announcement this week of the U.S. Government’s disruption and detention of a U.S. citizen working in coordination with al Qaida to detonate a “dirty bomb” in the United States. Knowledge and disruption of this plot may not have occurred absent effective intelligence gathered through interrogation. [emphasis added]

(FOUO) Interrogation leading to the development of meaningful and useable intelligence is not static. The collection of intelligence is active and ongoing. As new intelligence information is derived from any source, the opportunity to learn additional information through interrogation is presented. We are now living in an age where our nation is engaged in international armed conflict, we face a foe that knows no borders and perceives all Americans, wherever they may be, as targets of opportunity. Under such circumstances the need to maintain the tightly controlled environment, which has been established to create dependency and trust by the detainee with his interrogator, is of paramount importance. Disruption of the interrogation environment, such as through access to a detainee by counsel, undermines this interrogation dynamic. Should this occur, a critical resource may be lost, resulting in a direct threat to national security. [emphasis added]
This statement was made to justify the seclusion of a detainee at the same brig that now holds CPT Yee, and to specifically prevent Hamdi from having access to legal counsel. The reasoning is the same. Allowing access to legal counsel would disturb the isolation and dependency necessary for successful interrogation -- interrogation which can yield details of plans to kill Americans. (Let's not forget what's at stake here) A sympathetic chaplain can also frustrate such interrogation efforts, and impede the collection of human intelligence from the detainees. That's not a good thing. We have allowed the detainees access to a Muslim chaplain out of humanity, and compliance with the Third Geneva Convention. But we cannot allow our chaplain -- an American military officer -- to impede the collection of intelligence because of his uncertain loyalties.

CPT Yee was in a critical position; he had unsupervised, unblocked, personal access to the detainees at a time when their isolation and dependency was critical. Knowingly or unknowingly, he may have given these detainees the will to fight our interrogators, to hold onto information a little longer that might be used to save American lives. If the facts are as alleged, then CPT Yee had about as large of an effect on the war on terrorism as can be imagined. While not as spectacular or bloody as the betrayal allegedly committed by SGT Hasan Akbar against his officers in the 101st, this betrayal is probably more deadly for all of us.

Economic slump helps military recruiting

The New York Times reports this morning that the Army is poised to meet or exceed its recruiting goals for this fiscal, largely thanks to a depressed economy and other factors that help sell the military opportunity to young Americans.
All the armed services say they will meet or exceed their recruiting goals for the fiscal year ending on Sept. 30.

But many military personnel experts say the Army's efforts are most vulnerable over time because the Army recruits more active-duty and Reserve troops than all the other services combined — 73,800 active-duty and 26,400 Reserve soldiers this year — and it is now fielding about 90 percent of the 180,000 troops in Iraq and Kuwait.

"That's the driver, the economy," said Maj. Gen. Michael D. Rochelle, the head of the Army Recruiting Command here, adding that the chaotic conditions in Iraq have yet to hurt recruiting.

Army recruiters have always offered educational benefits, job security and training skills to prospective soldiers. But recently they have been armed with more logistical support and a growing arsenal of financial incentives that look even more enticing in a down market.

The Army has raised signing bonuses to as much as $20,000 for badly needed positions like intelligence analysts. It has also increased college aid. And it has nearly doubled its advertising budget, to $227 million, in the last four years, shelving its 20-year-old "Be All You Can Be" slogan in favor of the "Army of One" campaign, aimed at Generation Y youths. It has ramped up a cyberrecruiting operation, with daily online chat rooms in English and Spanish. Next month it is rolling out a 15-month enlistment option (the current minimum length for a tour is two years) aimed at college students, an increasingly important target group.
This is good news. First, the all-volunteer military (and by extension, American society) depends on a steady stream of young Americans who are willing to step into the breach. Without such volunteers, the current force structure will fail, and America will have to resort to more coercive means (read: draft) to populate its military. As recent operations from Baghdad to Belgrade show, our professional military is worth keeping around.

One note on the economic opportunity aspect. I think that Mr. Schmitt overreported that story here, in a way that almost panders to people like Rep. Charlie Rangel who argue that the military disproportionately "targets" low-income youth and presses them into service as a form of indentured servitude. I think that argument gets it absolutely wrong. Giving economic opportunities to low-income communities should be a good thing for government to do. It seems ironic that some would criticize the military for providing that opportunity when they chastise other departments for failing to. Young Americans are joining the military to take advantage of the professional, personal, patriotic -- and economic -- opportunity. This is a good news story.

Unfortunately, the news is not all good. Later in his story, Mr. Schmitt reports that the Army Reserve and Army National Guard are having less success with their recruiting efforts.
Recruiting part-time Army National Guard and Army Reserve troops, who are typically older and have civilian jobs, presents mounting challenges. Military experts warn that recruiting and retaining these citizen soldiers will get more difficult as they are repeatedly called up to serve extended tours in Iraq or Afghanistan as military police, civil affairs specialists, water-purification experts and other jobs.

"How long people will continue to be deployed will ultimately have some effect on retention," said Frank Shaffery, deputy director of Army recruiting operations here. "We're concerned about it."

Those concerns grew this month when the Army announced that 20,000 Reserve and National Guard soldiers would stay in Iraq or Kuwait for as long as 12 months, extending their tours on the ground by several months.

Army National Guard officials said this week that the Guard would probably fall short of its goal of recruiting 62,000 soldiers this year. But because fewer Guard forces will leave this year than had been anticipated, the Guard still expects to maintain its overall troop level at 350,000.
There are lots of reasons why the reserves are struggling. For starters, the benefits packages aren't as good, so they don't have the same buying power in the market for young men and women. Second, the new enlistment options (2 years) are much more attractive to someone who's not fully sold on the military, but wants the benefits that active service brings. Third, joining the reserves today is an incredibly risky and uncertain proposition. In the old days, soldiers in the reserves wondered if they would be called up. Today, soldiers in the reserves wonder when they'll be called up -- and how many times, and if their employers will take them back (notwithstanding the USERRA), and whether their families will be there when they return.

Sunday, September 21, 2003
Captain Yee -- the author?

Timothy Goddard at The Flag of the World passes on a link to something that CPT Yee wrote for "The Wire" an in-house newsletter published for the Joint Task Force servicemembers and civilians at Guantanamo Bay. I think that Mr. Goddard's summary is on target: "For the most part, is no different from most of the "There's nothing to fear from true Islam, just that nutty stuff" articles that have come out so often in the past two years. This one, however, seems a good deal more defensive than most--not to the point that you'd notice anything weird about it unless you knew that he'd just been arrested for espionage, though." Here's an excerpt from what CPT Yee wrote:
September 11th, the pending war on Iraq, and our own day to day experiences of the Joint Task Force Guantanamo mission have all contributed to the picture many of us as Americans have painted about Islam and Muslims. And now, this universal religion of more than one billion followers worldwide is scrutinized by a population that has little knowledge of its basic tenets and practices. It is with a fearful eye that Islam and its worshippers are now being examined with the notion that they have become our nation's greatest enemy. However, a truly objective look makes it quite clear that Islam is really nothing to be afraid of at all. [emphasis added]
* * *
Yes, another terrorist attack or the possibility of hidden Iraqi weapons of mass destruction are enough to strike fear in the American people. But in reality, the majority of Muslims around the world from Indonesia to America are God-loving people. So why has it been so difficult for most in our society to distinguish these millions from the extreme fanatical minority? Why are we still afraid of Islam, the religion? Answer: lack of knowledge and unfamiliarity with Islam and Muslims. In most cases, people have limited personal experiences with Muslims and know Islam only through references made towards Muslim extremism.
Analysis: Putting theological and political debates aside for a second, this is really interesting language to be coming from a U.S. Army chaplain -- regardless of faith. He may have legitimate points to make about Americans' attitudes towards Muslims, and the effect of our ignorance on our tactics and strategy. However, it appears odd to me that an Army chaplain would be the guy to make those arguments. He's part of the team, and not supposed to play the devil's advocate (in any sense).

I will put forth a theory now about why CPT Yee may have felt persecuted down at Gitmo, and why he may have written this article. This is a "SWAG" (military jargon for "super wild a**ed guess"), and not based on any independent reporting, but rather on my experience as an Military Police platoon leader and staff officer.

Guantanamo Bay is a prison. The soldiers there think of themselves as "us", and the detainees as "them". Nearly all of the detainees are Muslim. There is a natural tendency in situations like this to dehumanize the "them" population. That tendency is probably exacerbated by the nature of our war on terrorism, and the religious overtones of this conflict. It's even possible that commanders are encouraging such attitudes towards the detainees, and that such aggression has spilled over into open displays of animus, hatred, and anti-Muslim behavior. To the extent that CPT Yee represents the Muslim community in the military, he may be duty bound to speak up against such hostility, within the bounds of the command. He also may be obliged under DoD equal opportunity policy to take a leadership role in stopping such behavior. If that's the case, this article appears to be one effort towards that end.

That's just a guess. It certainly doesn't excuse the criminal acts he's accused of. But it might explain some of the things CPT Yee has been accused of, from speaking up on behalf of detainees to publishing this article. More to follow.

Saturday, September 20, 2003
Army chaplain arrested for espionage -- update & analysis

Giving credit where credit is due, The Washington Times is the paper that came through with the scoop on Captain Yee; I picked up on the AP version of the story that originally ran on their pages. I pulled up the Washington Times story, written by veteran Pentagon reporter Rowan Scarborough, to find the details as originally reported. Mr. Scarborough didn't disappoint -- he has a report tonight on the precise charges that Captain Yee is facing.
The Army has charged Capt. Yee with five offenses: sedition, aiding the enemy, spying, espionage and failure to obey a general order. The Army may also charge him later with the more serious charge of treason, which under the Uniform Code of Military Justice could be punished by a maximum sentence of life.
* * *
Capt. Yee had almost unlimited private access to detainees as part of the Defense Department's program to provide the prisoners with religious counseling, as well as clothing and Islamic-approved meals. The law-enforcement source declined to say how much damage Capt. Yee may have inflicted on the U.S. war against Osama bin Laden's global terror network.

The source said the "highest levels" of government made the decision to arrest Capt. Yee, who had been kept under surveillance for some time.

The military's "convening authority" — the officer who would authorize criminal proceedings — is the commander of U.S. Southern Command in Miami, which oversees the prison at Guantanamo.
Analysis: Now I have some more facts on which to base my analysis. First, if you're interested in this case, I recommend reading a primer on the military justice system. The National Institute of Military Justice has a few good primers on its site, and I would also recommend this piece I wrote on the system from last year. Also, the Manual for Courts Martial that Captain Yee will be tried under is a good reference to have for this case. Finally, the actual articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice are codified in Title 10, and are good to have as references too.

Here are some general notes and points of analysis, in no particular order:

(1) The penalty for the crimes charged is death, according to the text of the articles under which Captain Yee is charged according to the Washington Times story. The Times reports that the maximum penalty as life, but they're wrong according to what the UCMJ says. These articles include: sedition, aiding the enemy, spying, espionage and failure to obey a general order. No military court has imposed the death penalty for these charges since Private Slovik's case at the end of WWII. But I would not say that is an impossibility in this case, if the facts are as alleged.

(2) One legal question to be asked is whether these offenses were committed in wartime or not. If they were committed in wartime, the available penalties increase dramatically. It's fairly certain that we are currently in a state of armed conflict, if not a state of declared war, but this is a legal question that will certainly be asked in this case. The government will certainly argue that we are at war, and thus the higher penalties are available. Indeed, it's hard to see how you could have "aiding the enemy" if one were not at war. But again, this is a question of law for the military judge to resolve, and one that will probably be appealed to the intermediate appellate court and the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.

(3) Captain Yee will undoubtedly be pressured to plead guilty, in a quid pro quo where he gives information to the government in exchange for a life sentence. I imagine that he has already refused to plead guilty at this juncture, given the way the government is proceeding in this case.

(4) Military commissions v. military courts martial. I do not think we will see Captain Yee's case transferred to a military commission. For one, he is statutorily entitled to a general court martial on these charges as an American serviceman, and it would be very hard to overcome that in court. Second, the military system already has all the safeguards the Pentagon wants in a court -- protection of classified evidence, a jury of military officers, a secure setting, and defense attorneys with security clearances. I don't see any added value in a military commission here. Moreover, a high-profile trial (as this will be) will showcase the military justice system, which is generally regarded by experts as a fairer system than the federal criminal system.

(5) Unlawful command influence will be an issue in this case. Note this quote from the Washington Times story: "The source said the "highest levels" of government made the decision to arrest Capt. Yee, who had been kept under surveillance for some time." That means the decision to arrest Captain Yee came from 1600 Penn. Ave and the E-Ring of the Pentagon, and that prosecutorial decisions will likely have to be vetted in both places as well. Unfortunately, the UCMJ expressly prohibits command influence on the actual trial, and the actual decision to bring charges. The Commander of SouthCom will have to do his best to resist pressure from the President and SecDef here if he wants his verdict to stand. I guarantee that Captain Yee's defense counsel will raise this issue on appeal.

I plan to follow this story as it develops. More to follow...

See also the sites hosted by Donald Sensing and Winds of Change for some interesting commentary and links regarding Captain Yee. As I find more good links on the subject, I'll post them. I imagine we'll see a lot more reporting on this case than those of enemy combatants Jose Padilla and Yaser Hamdi, because the depth of the betrayal is so great in Captain Yee's case (assuming the facts are as alleged).

And also check out Jeff Quinton's notes at Backcountry Conservative, which includes some really good research into CPT Yee and various other issues in this case. Among other things, Quinton has a State Department story on CPT Yee, a Seattle Post-Intelligencer profile of CPT Yee, and a DoD press release discussing the Muslim clerics currently serving as American military chaplains.

U.S. Army Muslim chaplain in custody in connection with Gitmo

The AP reports that the American military has taken one of its own chaplains -- a Muslim -- into custody in connection with an investigation involving the men detained at Guantanamo Bay. Very few details are available at this time. No charges appear to have been filed, nor has there been an Art. 32 hearing, analogous to a grand jury hearing. It's not clear whether the military plans to press charges, or if federal prosecutors will do so, or even if Captain Yee is suspected of things he could be charged with.
Captain Crosson said Captain Yee was taken into custody at a naval station in Jacksonville. But he said he did not know where the chaplain was being held.

A senior law enforcement official, said that F.B.I. agents had confiscated classified documents Captain Yee was carrying and questioned him before he was handed over to the military.

Captain Yee is a Muslim chaplain who was assigned to the naval base at Guantanamo Bay in November 2002 as the Islamic adviser to the Joint Task Force commander, Captain Crosson said.

The base, in eastern Cuba, is overseen by the Southern Command, which is based in Miami. About 650 men from 43 countries are being held there, all of them accused of having links to the Qaeda terrorist network or Afghanistan's fallen Taliban regime.

Captain Yee, a Chinese-American who graduated from West Point in 1990, converted to Islam in college and became a chaplain after spending several years in the Army.
Wow... this has the potential to be a really big story. My first reaction is that "first reports are always wrong." I really need to see more information -- from official sources -- to understand what's going on here. If I had to guess, it would be that Captain Yee committed some infraction such as failing to properly secure classified documents, and that investigators picked him up for that fact alone. I'm very skeptical that this man -- a West Point grad and experienced Army officer -- would actually do what's implied here: give documents to a member of Al Qaeda interned at Gitmo. But anything's possible.

Update: Unfortunately, it looks like my earlier skepticism may have been misplaced. According to CNN, Captain Yee is alleged to have done a lot more than misplacing classified documents. If these allegations are true, he may indeed me guilty of treason or espionage -- depending on how you construe the elements of those crimes in the context of our undeclared war on terrorism.
. . . the documents included "diagrams of the cells and the facilities at Guantanamo [Bay, Cuba]" where about 600 al Qaeda and other "enemy combatants" are being held by the military.

Yee also was carrying lists of detainees being held there as well as lists of their interrogators, the source said.

In addition to the classified documents, Yee is "believed to have ties to [radical Muslims in the U.S.] that are now under investigation," the source said. He said he could not elaborate on the basis for that belief.

Although no charges have been filed, the U.S. military is "investigating whether [Yee] may have [been involved in] espionage or treason," the official said.

Lawsuit filed to challenge military recruiting at law schools

On the day the Supreme Court decided Lawrence v. Texas, I predicted that we would see a wave of challenges to the law precluding gays from openly serving in the military. The first of these appeared in U.S. District Court a few months ago, and was a direct challenge to one soldier's discharge. The second appeared yesterday, in a federal court in Newark, where a coalition of law professors has sued the Defense Department over its practice of recruiting on law school campuses. Specifically, the group argues that their First Amendment rights are being unduly burdened by the law which threatens schools with a withdrawal of federal funding if they refuse access to the military.
The suit says that every accredited American law school has adopted policies that bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and that the schools have sought to apply these policies without making any exception for what the suit describes as "the military and its discriminatory policy regarding sexual orientation."

Some law schools barred military recruiters from entering their campuses. Others allowed them entry while arranging visits under conditions that set them apart from recruiters representing law firms and corporations whose practices the law schools do not consider discriminatory.

In 1995, Congress passed the Solomon amendment, named for its sponsor, Representative Gerald B. H. Solomon of New York, barring disbursement of money from the Departments of Defense, Transportation, Health and Human Services, Education and some other federal agencies to any college or university that obstructed campus recruiting by the military.

The suit filed yesterday argues that the Solomon amendment violates law schools' First Amendment rights to academic freedom.

"The plaintiffs are seeking to prohibit enforcement of the Solomon amendment," said Michael Chagares, chief of the civil division of the United States attorney's office in Newark. "We will contend that the Solomon amendment is constitutional and will seek to prohibit any limitation on its enforcement."
Analysis: I'm writing a longer piece on this, so I will reserve the bulk of my analysis for that piece. However, I think this lawsuit will fail because the Solomon Amendment itself and the law against gays in the military are two separate legal things. In theory, the Solomon Amendment would still exist without the policy on gays in the ranks, to combat general animus against the military on campuses. If some university kicked the military off because it just didn't like the service, or because it was opposed to the war in Iraq, the Solomon Amendment would still be triggered. Moreover, as a general rule, Congress can condition the funding it gives out for various purposes, even if those conditions place a burden on speech.

Ultimately, I think this case will lose. I started reporting on a story about this shortly after the Lawrence decision, and I talked with three universities' general counsel about the issue. Their feeling was that a challenge to the Solomon Amendment would fail because it would be impossible to argue that Lawrence somehow changed the constitutionality of the law -- they're separate issues. Also, the universities have mostly achieved an uneasy peace with respect to military recruiting on campus, and they're unwilling to disturb that. Finally, almost everyone recognizes the value of military recruiting for students -- particularly those with financial need (like me) who can use an ROTC scholarship or GI Bill funding to further their educational aspirations. If this lawsuit is successful, it will hurt students like me who took advantage of one of the greatest opportunities in American society: military service.

JetBlue criticized for giving passenger information to defense contractor

The New York Times reports this morning that JetBlue, one of America's newest and most successful airlines, is in hot water for giving information about its passengers to a defense contractor working on a security system. The system itself is probably classified, and details are short in the story. But it appears to be a base-defense system, not an aviation security system, made by Torch Concepts. My best guess is that this information was used to run a program that looked for non-obvious relationships between passengers based on their names, addresses and social security numbers, among other data. Understandably, a number of passengers and civil liberties groups are upset by the disclosure.
JetBlue, a three-year-old discount airline, sent an e-mail message to passengers this week, conceding that it had made a mistake in providing the records last year to Torch Concepts, an Army contractor in Huntsville, Ala., for a research project on "airline passenger risk assessment."

"This was a mistake on our part and I know you and many of our customers feel betrayed by it," said David Neeleman, JetBlue's chief executive, in an e-mail message that the airline, based in New York, said was sent to about 150 passengers who had written in so far to complain.

Mr. Neeleman, the founder of JetBlue, which has been a rare success in the airline industry and has prospered because of its reputation for low fares and consumer friendliness, insisted that none of the passenger information was shared with the government. "The sole set of data in Torch's possession has been destroyed," he wrote. "No government agency ever had access to it."

Privacy rights groups expressed astonishment that JetBlue had shared so much passenger information with a contractor, describing the privacy breach as among the most serious reported by any American company in recent years.

JetBlue's announcement comes at a time when many civil liberties groups are warning that privacy rights are becoming victims of the government's struggle against terrorism and the desire of law enforcement and intelligence agencies for quick access to customer information that has traditionally been closely held by corporations.

The airline said it had provided Torch Concepts with records on about five million individual itineraries, reflecting the travels of about 1.1 million passengers in 2001 and 2002. The records, it said, would have included the passengers' names, addresses and phone numbers but not credit card numbers or government identification numbers commonly collected from travelers like passport numbers.

A lawyer for Torch Concepts, Richard Marsden, said that the passenger records provided by JetBlue were destroyed by the contractor earlier this week after the existence of the project was reported by Wired News, a technology-news Web site. "It's all been destroyed in the last 24 hours," he said in a telephone interview.
Analysis: It would be all too easy to lump this in with the other actions of the Bush Administration in the war on terrorism, and to say that this is just one more example of our civil liberties being abused. Unfortunately, I don't think that's what's going on here. I think this is something far more subtle, and conversely, something far less threatening to our civil liberties. Moreover, it's happening every day. If you don't think that your credit card company, your bank, your lenders, and others are using data about you to make risk decisions, you're wrong. They're sharing information all the time, often without your explicit knowledge. That itself may be a bad thing. But I think it's unfair to single JetBlue out for something that's common industry practice.

I think it's a little odd that this information would be used for a base defense system instead of an aviation security experiment. But the value of the research appears to be quite high, if you take the findings of Torch Concepts at face value. And in the larger context of the war on terrorism, I think studies like this need to be conducted, if we are to learn how to look for non-obvious relationships in large patterns of data. Programs like Total Information Awareness and CAPPS (Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System) do require us to give information to private and public officials who will then use that information. But, these programs may make us physically more secure if they can find the relevant pieces of information to help intelligence analysts put together the dots to find terrorists. I, for one, am willing to make the trade of information security for physical security, particularly when I've already given this data to my credit card companies and the government.

Congratulations to Mickey Kaus for this flattering profile in today's Los Angeles Times. The writer liked KausFiles so much, he even imitated Mickey's style for the article, writing in short punchy paragraphs with bolded headlines.

Query: What is it about the Westside of Los Angeles that spawns so many high-profile bloggers? Mickey, Virginia Postrel, Mark Kleiman, ArmedLiberal (Winds of Change), Eugene Volokh, this author, and others all live or work in this part of L.A. My knee-jerk answer is that it's the heart of liberal intelligentsia on the West Coast, but that can't be the answer because we're not all liberals.

Which came first -- the expert or the blog?

Congratulations to bloggers Eugene Volokh and Howard Bashman for their appearances in today's lead New York Times article titled "Experts Say Court Panel Is Less Likely to Delay California Vote". Of course, both are brilliant legal thinkers in their own right, and their expertise came long before their weblogs. Eugene is one of America's leading First Amendment law scholars, and he's uniquely qualified to comment on the recall as a Constitutional Law professor and someone who's clerked for Judge Alex Kozinski (on the 11-judge panel) and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (who may ultimately decide the case). Howard is also uniquely qualified, as an experienced appellate lawyer who's also clerked for the 3rd Circuit. So at least in these two bloggers' case, the expert came before the weblog.

Friday, September 19, 2003
A few good books

Over the next several months, we will start to see a stunning array of books arrive on the shelves from journalists who were embedded with units in the second Gulf War. This was a foreseeable result of putting so many ambitious reporters in the thick of the action with an exclusive view of their part of the war. One of the first books already looks like something I'm going to read: The March Up: Taking Baghdad With The 1st Marine Division, by F.J. "Bing" West and Ray L. Smith. The Washington Post's review of the book was enough to pique my interest:
Sixteen years after an infamous televised exchange between Peter Jennings and Mike Wallace over whether or not it would be acceptable for a journalist to warn soldiers from his own country about an imminent ambush, Smith and West were simply and flatly covering their own guys: They were Marines, reporting on Marines. The result doesn't look the way journalism tends to look. Having extensive combat experience, Smith and West -- but especially Smith -- didn't hesitate to shout orders and give tactical advice to the Marines they were covering. At one point, Smith intervened in an argument between officers who were planning a defensive position, offering a calming gesture so they could focus and continue. Smith also offered to stand watch in a combat zone so the Marines could get some sleep, an exchange that opens the book. After the pair spotted a heavy weapon in a village during a flyover in a military helicopter, Smith carried back the coordinates to a Marine commander so the weapon could be destroyed. And so on: There apparently is, in fact, no such thing as a former Marine.

And yet for all the transparent lack of objectivity, for all their refusals to strike a journalist's blank face and neutral pose, Smith and West deliver a balanced and unblinking account that will certainly become one of the standard texts on the second Gulf War. They approached the Marines with clear and open respect but didn't hesitate to write critically; they saw combat and the terrain over which it occurs with trained and experienced eyes, and wrote sharply observed accounts of what they saw. They were not "objective" -- merely knowledgeable, intellectually curious and rigorously honest.

Being accepted on the battlefield as Marines among Marines, Smith and West were given rare access -- and a great deal of very direct help -- in observing different units and battles. They borrowed military radios and night-vision goggles, were simply given an SUV captured from an Iraqi general, and were granted armed escorts when they needed to travel through dangerous terrain. As a result, this book is a sort of microscope-telescope hybrid, moving seamlessly through many levels: Here is the division commander's view of the fight, the regiment commander's view, the battalion commander's view, the company commander's view -- and the corporal's view, slugging it out on the ground at the head of a fire team.
In addition to this book, look for one from Army Times reporter Sean Naylor on Operation Anaconda, which should come out later this year. Sean won a major journalism award for his reporting from Afghanistan, and I imagine his book will be even better. Also look for something from Evan Wright, who traveled with a Marine Corps reconnaissance platoon and wrote an outstanding 3-part series on the ordeal for Rolling Stone.

Signs of a thaw between Washington and the world

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder has an op-ed in today's New York Times which effectively reverses his country's opposition to American operations in Iraq -- and pledges German support for the nation-building mission there. The move comes in anticipation of a UN General Assembly meeting in New York, where Schroder is expected to meet with President Bush. One official described the warmer statements from Washington and Berlin towards each other as a "mating dance" in anticipation of that meeting. Still, the promise of German troops and support for the Iraq mission is incredible.
It is true that Germany and the United States disagreed on how best to deal with Saddam Hussein's regime. There is no point in continuing this debate. We should now look toward the future. We must work together to win the peace. The United Nations must play a central role. The international community has a key interest in ensuring that stability and democracy are established as quickly as possible in Iraq. The international mission needs greater legitimacy in order to accelerate the process leading to a government acting on its own authority in Iraq.

In addition to its current military involvement in Afghanistan, the Balkans and elsewhere, Germany is willing to provide humanitarian aid, to assist in the civilian and economic reconstruction of Iraq and to train Iraqi security forces.

When we gather in New York next week for the United Nations General Assembly, we will underline that Germany and the United States are linked by a profound friendship based on common experiences and values. For Germans, the 2003 general assembly is very special. It was exactly 30 years ago that Germany was admitted to the United Nations, a milestone in our postwar history. Back then, Germans were still forced to live in two states, divided by a wall and a dangerous border. Today, Germany is united.

We Germans will not forget how the United States helped and supported us in rebuilding and reuniting our country. That Germany is living today in a peaceful, prosperous and secure Europe is thanks in no small measure to America's friendship, farsightedness and political determination.
Analysis: Clearly, Chancellor Schroder is pulling President Bush's schnitzel out of the fire. He's also making a major power play on the world stage, and I think he's going to be successful in establishing himself as a pragmatist who's willing to put differences aside to do the right thing. On the tactical and operational level, this contribution will make a huge difference. America's own Army (as well as the Congressional Budget Office and General Accounting Office) admits that it cannot sustain the mission in Iraq beyond 2004 without external support. Generals from Barry McCaffrey to Wes Clark have all said that doing so would break the force, and create another hollow Army like that of the post-Vietnam 1970s. In essence, German troops are coming to save the American army too. But that's what allies are for, and we should be grateful.

(One footnote: European armies tend to be very good at this kind of thing, and we should welcome NATO forces whenever we have a peacekeeping/nation-building mission)

Across town on another op-ed page, Secretary of State Colin Powell writes in the Wall Street Journal that we still stay in Iraq as long as it takes to get the job done. Secretary Powell's essay comes on the heels of a visit he made to Iraq, and of all the President's men, I think he has the most credibility to make the arguments he does. This is exactly the argument the White House needs to make on Iraq, and I think that Secretary Powell is the right man to make this case to the American people and the world.
Iraq has come very far, but serious problems remain, starting with security. American commanders and troops told me of the many threats they face--from leftover loyalists who want to return Iraq to the dark days of Saddam, from criminals who were set loose on Iraqi society when Saddam emptied the jails and, increasingly, from outside terrorists who have come to Iraq to open a new front in their campaign against the civilized world. But our commanders also briefed me on their plan for meeting these security threats, and it is a good one.

We also need to complete the renewal of Iraq's electrical grid, its water treatment facilities and its other infrastructure, which were run down and destroyed during the years of Saddam's misrule. Here, too, we are making progress. Electric generation now averages 75% of prewar levels, and that figure is rising. Telephone service is being restored to hundreds of thousands of customers. Dilapidated water and sewage treatment facilities are being modernized. But it will take time and money to finish the job.

Indeed, that's Iraq in a nutshell. With our support, the Iraqis have made great progress. But it will take time and money to finish the job. President Bush has asked Congress for $20 billion to help rebuild Iraq's infrastructure. Next month, the international community will meet in Madrid to pledge additional assistance for Iraqi reconstruction. With these funds, and our continued help, I know the Iraqis will take great strides in rebuilding their battered country.

How long will we stay in Iraq? We will stay as long as it takes to turn full responsibility for governing Iraq over to a capable and democratically elected Iraqi administration. Only a government elected under a democratic constitution can take full responsibility and enjoy full legitimacy in the eyes of the Iraqi people and the world.

Thursday, September 18, 2003
Can you hear me now?

It's not just a bad cell phone commercial anymore -- it's the mantra of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq under L. Paul Bremer III, according to Fred Kaplan at Slate. The inability to communicate, caused by problems with rebuilding the phone infrastructure and building the cell phone infrastructure, has American officials in Baghdad at their wits' end. On top of the normal problems you'd expect with this effort, add in some serious disconnects with the way the contracts were awarded, including separate contracts for a Coalition Provisional Authority system and an Army system -- that don't talk to each other. In the end, you have a recipe for pure chaos, as Mr. Kaplan aptly points out.
According to a Defense Department official, if someone working for the U.S. occupation authority needed to talk with a battalion commander, there was no way to make direct contact. He or she had to call a desk officer back in the Pentagon, who would jot down the message and call the commander himself. If the commander wanted to reply to the message, the same desk officer would jot down the response and call back the occupation authority.

This, some officers say, is why the U.S. authorities in Baghdad so often look like they don't know what they're doing—because they don't. Many of them are smart, talented, and eager. But they can't talk with the Army about security, they can't talk with Iraqi specialists about civil needs—in short, they can't find out what they need to find out—so, for far too much of their time, they sit, paralyzed and helpless.

The blame here cannot be laid on some interagency squabble between, say, the State Department and the Pentagon. Keep in mind: Bremer's office is a division of the Pentagon; he reports to Donald Rumsfeld. No, this particular foul-up falls in the same category of neglect as failing to send in military police, failing to secure power stations, failing to imagine that things might not go as planned.
Analysis: There are so many ways to frame this story; I'll just pick two. Wouldn't you think that communications would be a part of the plan for post-war Iraq? It's certainly a part of any war plan. Communications gets its own annex in an operations plan by Army doctrine, and every major staff from battalion to CENTCOM has a special section devoted to communications. When I deployed, our signal officers always had a plan for acquiring commercial cell phones, because they provided a convenient and useful non-secure mode of commo on the ground. I'm shocked we didn't have a good plan to do this for Iraq. So as Mr. Kaplan says, we clearly had a planning breakdown here -- just as we had a number of other planning breakdowns in Iraq.

There's another story here though. America's military has run on a peacetime budget since the end of the Cold War, with some minor hiccups for the Gulf War and supplemental funding that went to specific operations like Bosnia and Kosovo. Procurement budgets have been cut; R&D budgets have been cut; institutional bases have been cut -- nearly everything up to and including the fighting force has been trimmed. In peacetime, that's okay. You can manage a peacetime Army by the eaches, budgeting money and spare parts for each company-sized unit in order to keep the entire Army in the black. I clearly remember trying to buy spare tires for my HMMWVs as a young MP platoon leader and being told the money wasn't in the budget -- we'd just have to requisition them as we blew them.

War is different. You need excess parts at the lower levels of command to absorb the unexpected things that happen to equipment. Moreover, you can't allocate usage to vehicles and equipment the way you can in peacetime. In peacetime, a Bradley Fighting Vehicle is allocated 800 miles of driving per year -- to include all ranges, training exercises, and motor pool driving. That figure is chosen because of the cost associated with each mile driven, which translates into spare parts the Army must buy for every mile driven. The Army has Y number of Bradleys, and it can only afford to pay for the parts that 800 miles x Y Bradleys equals. Our Bradleys in Iraq have driven thousands of miles, literally ripping the Army's cost projections to shreds along with their tracks which now need replacement in record numbers. And that costs money. A lot of money.

Unfortunately, our defense industry has consolidated and reorganized during the last decade since the end of the Cold War. It can't efficiently rise to the occasion to produce large quantities of Bradley tracks in a hurry -- or HMMWV tires, or BA-5590 batteries, or anything else that the military needs quickly for Iraq. The defense industry can produce these things with time, and it can create new production lines, but it will cost a lot to do so. (The Economist had a great survey on the defence industry a few months ago, but I can't remember the exact cite) A major portion of the President's $87 billion funding request is set aside to pay for current operations needs like these. The Army Materiel Command is flat broke -- it can't come up with any more parts, or any more spares, to keep the Army in Iraq going. Any surplus capacity that remained in the force has been used up in Iraq.

So what does this have to do with cell phones? Not much. But there is a myth out there that America's military has everything it needs; that it operates with state-of-the-art equipment in every way; that it is overfunded in some way. Certainly, some elements (e.g. Special Forces) have the latest and coolest gadgets -- and they should. But the average unit in the active Army does more with less every day, and they don't get what they need when they need it until it's often too late. The reserves and National Guard do their jobs with even less. (My National Guard unit had FM communications systems that were older than me, and could not talk to their active duty counterparts.)

When the FY2005 National Defense Authorization Act comes to Congress, I think it's high time we asked tough questions about where the Pentagon is putting its money. Do we really need to spend all this money on future transformation right now, with so much of our force stuck in Iraq? Shouldn't we put more money into current operations, considering that we already have a 1-generation technology edge on our allies (e.g. Britain), let alone our enemies? $400 billion is a lot of money for defense, but it goes quickly when you spend $10 billion here and there for big programs like missile defense. I think we ought to spend more on our soldiers, sergeants and lieutenants, where the rubber meets the road.

DOJ reveals number of times it's used Sec. 215 of the Patriot Act: 0

In what must be a stunning blow to the ACLU's publicity campaign against the USA Patriot Act, the Washington Post reported today that Sec. 215 of the Act has been used 0 times to obtain an order to search through "quote". This section of the act, which was signed into law on Oct. 26, 2001, has become the focal point of criticism from civil liberties advocates who say the Bush Administration has gone too far in pursuing security at the expense of liberty. The section has even provoked a strong response from America's librarians, who have gone so far as to destroy library records lest they fall into the Justice Department's hands.
"The number of times [the provision] has been used to date is zero," Ashcroft said in the memo, which was obtained by The Washington Post.

The disclosure is the latest volley in an escalating war of words between Ashcroft and his critics, which include civil liberties groups and some Democratic presidential candidates, who have condemned the Patriot Act as an attack on individual rights. Ashcroft is in the midst of a cross-country speaking tour aimed at shoring up support for the law, which has been the focus of more than 160 protest resolutions across the country.

Section 215 of the Patriot Act, a law approved six weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, expands the government's power to obtain records from a wide range of businesses as part of a counterterrorism investigation, without notifying the subjects of the probe. The potential use of the provision in libraries has generated some of the strongest objections to the law.

In reversing his position, Ashcroft told Mueller that the value of disclosing the information outweighs the potential harm to national security. Justice officials have long resisted releasing the information, saying the threat of the provision's use poses a deterrent to potential terrorists.

"To date we have not been able to counter the troubling amount of public distortion and misinformation in connection with Section 215," Ashcroft wrote. "Consequently, I have determined that it is in the public interest and the best interest of law enforcement to declassify this information."

Ashcroft's disclosure does not address how investigators have used other parts of the sprawling Patriot legislation. Justice officials have indicated in previous responses to Congress that top-secret National Security Letters used by the FBI are a "more appropriate tool" for obtaining business records in many cases. Scores of such letters have been used since the Sept. 11 attacks, sources have said.
Analysis: First, let me state my skepticism up front. This may be a "leaked memo" in the great tradition of leaked Washington memoranda. The Justice Department is waging a campaign now to bolster the credibility of the Patriot Act, complete with a roadshow by AG John Ashcroft. It's possible -- even probable -- that this memo was leaked by DOJ in order to shape the debate on the issue. I don't think that DOJ would actually fabricate such a memo, but without reading it to evaluate its precise terms, I can't make a good evaluation of its authenticity, veracity, or credibility.

Second, the AG acknowledges that "other tools" have been used in the fight against terrorism, and that there has been no real need for the use of Sec. 215. Some of those other tools, such as the use of "enemy combatant" status in plea bargain negotiations, are indeed heavy-handed. I think there remains some legitimate room for criticism of the Justice Department on these issues.

That said, this is a major blow for the ACLU's campaign if it's true. Sec. 215 was written with broad language, and it does give the Justice Department a lot of power. The ACLU and others have played on Americans' fear that this power might be abused by prosecutors with ulterior motives. If it's true that this power has not been used, let alone abused, then this may reassure the American public. Some Americans may even change their opinion of the Bush Administration on the issue of civil liberties, and once again trust the Justice Department on these issues.

One last note: If nothing else, this shows the value of open discussion of these issues for both sides. The Justice Department gains from full disclosure here because the disclosure of Sec. 215 order statistics shows that it has not abused this power. The public gains by having this knowledge of precisely what its government is doing with respect to its Constitutional rights. Even the ACLU gains, by winning a larger battle over public access to information.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003
Senior military officers push for withdrawal from Balkans
Does it make sense to take soldiers from Bosnia and Kosovo for Iraq?

The Financial Times of London reports today that a group of American military officers has made a concerted effort within the Pentagon to recommend an American exit from Bosnia and Kosovo. The move would free up some American combat power -- as well as "nation building" units like MPs and Civil Affairs -- for deployment to Iraq. But, FT reports that the move has run into tough opposition from those who see the Balkans as an American success story.
"The DoD [Department of Defense] wants out," said one former top Pentagon official. "It's driven by the joint staff and the army."

Although the army has made similar arguments in the past, officers are making headway. According to a senior Bush administration official, the current debate began as part of a thorough review of all US commitments abroad, which has gained more urgency as it became clear more than 100,000 US troops would remain in Iraq indefinitely.

"The Balkans have always been essentially a European challenge more than an American one," the administration official said. "Much of Europe seems bound and determined to leave Iraq as primarily an American challenge. Perhaps, therefore, a more clear-cut division of labour is in order."

A Pentagon spokesman declined to comment. But sources said opposition from some Pentagon civilians, as well as state department officials, centres on the diplomatic impact of withdrawing, as well as whether European allies - particularly the French and Germans - can successfully take over operations.
Analysis: There are a lot of interwoven issues here, and I'll address just a few. First, the number of American troops is a finite number, and the deployment game is a zero-sum game where deployments to one place take away from the troops available to deploy somewhere else. That said, the Balkans missions do not require as much force structure as they once did, and the withdrawal from this mission will have a neglible impact on the forces available for Iraq -- even including MPs and Civil Affairs units. The Army could get a lot more out of streamlining its training and doctrine command.

Whatever gains that may be gotten from this proposal will be vastly outweighed by the political consequences of an American withdrawal from the Balkans. Europe -- and the world -- sees our intervention there as a success story; a case of American might being used for right. If we think we have diplomatic issues now with Europe, just wait 'til we pull a stunt like this. It would be short-sighted in the extreme.

Finally, let's not forget that one major sponsor of partisan guerilla warfare in the Balkans was Al Qaeda. Let's not forget that fundamentalist Muslim guerillas used Bosnia and Kosovo as another battlefield for their jihad in the 1990s, along with Chechnya, Somalia, Sudan, and Afghanistan. To this day, the financial webs of Al Qaeda continue to include parts of the Balkans, and the channels for the movement of men, materiel and money continue to run through the Balkans. If we withdraw from the Balkans, we do so at our own peril.

DARPA faces the Congressional budget axe

After suffering the slings and arrows of Congressional oversight, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) appears to be headed for fiscal purgatory, according to Noah Shachtman at DefenseTech, and also in Wired News. Noah reports that the Senate's version of the Defense Authorization Act has serious cuts in store for DARPA, beyond even what was expected.
Some of the cuts to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency were expected: Lawmakers have been trying for the better part of a year to excise the notoriously far-reaching Terrorism Information Awareness database program.

But others seem to have come out of regulatory left field. Widely hailed research into using the brain to control robotic limbs, and training the mind to function on little or no sleep, will come to an end if the Senate's version of the Defense Department Appropriations bill becomes law.
Noah quotes from a source with the Federation of American Scientists that DARPA may be paying the price for its advocacy of programs like Total Information Awareness. I'm sure that's the case. But we all may pay the price if DARPA's budget is slashed. The overwhelming majority of DARPA projects go nowhere -- but they do stimulate research in basic science and applied science areas that would otherwise not be funded. To some extent, we all benefit from this kind of scientific research, just as we benefit from basic science research done on the MIT or Berkeley campuses. For decades, DARPA has been one of the most vibrant federal agencies in existence with respect to innovation and out-of-the-box thinking. It has also spurred development in universities and the private sector through its creative ideas and funding grants. We will all suffer if this agency takes a big hit.

Monday, September 15, 2003
The Citizen Soldier's Burden

Today's New York Times has an important story about the sacrifice being made by today's Army reservists in the war on terrorism. For some, that sacrifice has gotten to be too much, and they are contemplating the decision to leave the military altogether after their current mobilization ends.
. . . since the 9/11 attacks, Mr. Gorski, a staff sergeant with the 870th Military Police Company of the California National Guard, has spent 16 months away from home, first at an Army base in Tacoma, Wash., and most recently in the southern Iraqi city of Karbala. He is likely to spend eight more months in Iraq, and he has decided to leave the National Guard as soon as he can.

"It's just like being on active duty," he said in a telephone interview from Karbala, where 125 members of his company are stationed. "And there's a reason you get out of active duty. At the same time, you want to stay because of patriotism, so you join the National Guard or the reserves. All the guys are prepared for one deployment, especially in the wake of Sept. 11. But we've basically returned to active duty, and that's not what we're in for. It's too much to ask."

It is attitudes like Mr. Gorski's that have military officials deeply worried about an exodus from the state-based National Guards and the reserves of the nation's armed forces. Since 9/11, hundreds of thousands of citizen soldiers have been mobilized at a level thought to be the highest since World War II.

Those concerns grew last week when the Army announced that about 20,000 reservists and National Guard troops stationed in Iraq and Kuwait would likely have to serve a full year from the time they landed in those countries, extending their tours by several months.

"It's different from Desert Storm," said Maj. Gen. Paul D. Monroe Jr., the adjutant general, or commander, of the California National Guard, which has some 1,500 troops in Iraq. "Nobody was gone a year. Everyone went together and came home together. Now they have to think if they stay in, how many more times will they be mobilized? That's paramount on their minds, and that's never been paramount on their minds."

General Monroe, who was in Iraq over the weekend to see his troops there for the first time and spoke by telephone, added, "When I became adjutant general, I thought my biggest problem was going to be an earthquake. Nobody envisioned this."
Analysis: Having recently served in the California Army National Guard and the U.S. Army Reserve, I can testify to this problem from first-hand experience. Mobilizations are not just decimating (reducing by 10%) the personnel strength of these units -- these mobilizations are rendering units absolutely combat ineffective. One battalion I'm familiar with mobilized in October 2001 for a one-year homeland security mission. It returned in October 2002, only to lose more than half its personnel who refused to reenlist or even attend drills anymore. The only soldiers who remain in the reserves tend to fall into three categories:

(1) Soldiers who are so close to retirement that they have too much vested to get out. This tends to include senior sergeants and officers in the rank of Major and above;
(2) Soldiers who work in the civilian world for the government, and are relatively immune from the civilian-job consequences of back-to-back mobilizations;
(3) Soldiers who just joined and have yet to receive the educational benefits or other benefits they joined the military for, or cannot leave because they are still serving their initial enlistment.

Those three groups include roughly 30-40% of the reserve force. The rest will probably decide to get out after their current mobilization ends, or when their current enlistment ends. This portends a crisis of readiness for America's reserves, particularly if the war on terrorism will require their services in the near future for another conflict or another tour in Iraq. The overwhelming majority of "nation building" force structure (Civil Affairs, Military Police, Medical, Logistics, etc) resides in the reserve component. Bottom Line: If we see an exodus of reservists in the next several months, we will also see a corresponding decline in our readiness to conduct nation-building missions around the world.

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