Did these "top U.S. generals" honestly think the rest of us hadn't noticed that?
From the Guardian:
In Vietnam, the US was eventually defeated by a well-armed, closely directed and highly militarised society that had tanks, armoured vehicles and sources of both military production and outside procurement. What is more devastating now is that the world's only superpower is in danger of being driven back by a few tens of thousands of lightly armed irregulars, who have developed tactics capable of destroying multimillion-dollar vehicles and aircraft.
One three-star general at the conference told the Guardian that "Iraq and Afghanistan are sucking up resources at a faster rate than we planned for."
That kind of razor's edge analysis is the reason those three-stars make the big bucks.
The same three-star also said, "America's warriors need the latest technology to defeat an enemy who is smart, agile and cunning--things we did not expect of the Soviets."
The Guardian article doesn't identify this three-star (of course), but it doesn't matter. If guys like him are making three-stars in the U.S. Army, it's little wonder the U.S. Army is getting its chin socked by numerically and technically inferior force.
The U.S. Army already has the latest technology--at least the latest technology that has been fielded. If an Army three-star thinks mo' better technology will make up for lack of smarts and agility, well, we may as well disband the Army.
Bullets versus Arrows
We developed our World War II and Cold War military to counter adversaries who had significant and organized air, land and sea forces.
Technological advances aside, the basic components of today's U.S. military are the same as the force we had in the latter portion of the 20th century: armor, artillery infantry, special forces, aircraft carriers, surface combatant ships, submarines, fighter and bomber aircraft, air and amphibious assault.
The adversaries we're fighting today don't have any of those things, and they're kicking our cans up and down the sidewalk at will.
High tech, mobile forces are designed and trained to defeat other high tech, mobile forces. Insurgencies, they don't do so well at. In multi-sided Hobbesian conflicts like the one we're witnessing in Iraq, they positively suck. The U.S. Army hasn't been worth a spit shine at fighting asymmetrical, counter-insurgency style wars since it won the west from the Indians.
Planning for Failure
General David Petraeus, the new U.S. commander in Iraq, will attempt to execute the Army's new counterinsurgency doctrine (which he played a large part in formulating) in that country, but even he reportedly gives the "surge" plan only a one in four chance of succeeding.
How are things going? This from Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post :
Soon after arriving in Iraq, [NBC News anchor] Brian Williams was listening to an Army colonel describe how much safer Ramadi had gotten when another soldier shouted that it was too dangerous to stand there and hustled them inside the military outpost.
Days later at the Baghdad airport, Williams and his team heard five explosions, saw smoke rising near the taxiway in front of them, and were relieved to board the Fokker jet that carried them out of the country.
I wasn't at all surprised to read in the Los Angeles Times that…
American military planners have begun plotting a fallback strategy for Iraq that includes a gradual withdrawal of forces and a renewed emphasis on training Iraqi fighters in case the current troop buildup fails…
If the man in charge says there's a 75 percent chance of failure, it's a good idea to plan on him being right.
A senior Pentagon official told the LA Times "This part of the world has an allergy against foreign presence," and that the chances of the surge's success may be diminishing. "You have a window of opportunity that is relatively short. Your ability to influence this with a large U.S. force eventually gets to the point that it is self-defeating."
It's too bad we didn’t think about that "allergy against foreign presence" thing before we decided to become the presence that caused the allergy. And it's entirely tragic that we committed our "best-trained, best equipped" force into a situation where it was all but guaranteed to defeat itself.
It's sadder still that after spending itself into the sand on a low odds escalation strategy, our land forces will adopt a periphery redeployment posture sometime in 2008 that resembles what Congressman Jack Murtha (D-PA) proposed in November of 2005.
Time flies when you're having fun, doesn't it?
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.