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Saturday, September 20, 2014

US Generals Joint Chiefs have dismal war records - they can't defeat ISIS with US military alone

"...almost every measure, the American soldiers and marines who went into Iraq and Afghanistan were grossly unprepared for their missions, and the officers who led them were often negligent."...Filkins

There's an enlightening article by Dexter Filkins in the December 17, 2012 "The New Yorker" titled "General Principles". In the crib notes summary, the article explains how US generals, like David Petraeus and others, have a dismal record when it comes to winning wars. Americans have not won a war since General Eisenhower commanded Allied troops in Europe.

Therefore, when Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey opens the door to putting US "troops on the ground" to defeat the evil ISIS terrorists in Iraq and Syria, this high level military opinion has no evidence of being any more successful than past failed efforts to win wars. In other words, General Dempsey's advice doesn't carry much credibility.

Here is what Filkins wrote about the successes of our US generals, including General David Petraeus:

Nowadays, most general officers, at least most American ones, do not see combat. They don’t fire their weapons, and they don’t get killed; for the most part, they don’t even smoke (Eisenhower smoked 4 packs of cigarettes a day during World War II). 

In wars without front lines, American generals tend to stay inside fortified bases, where they plan missions and brief political leaders via secure video teleconferences. (Since Filkins published this article, Major General Harry Green was assassinated in Afghanistan).  Their credentials are measured as much by their graduate degrees as by the medals on their dress uniforms. They are, for the most part, deeply conventional men, who rose to the top of the military hierarchy by following orders and suppressing subversive thoughts.

In recent years, the most esteemed officer in America—the very model of the modern general—was David Petraeus, whose public image combined the theorizing of the new school with a patina of old-fashioned toughness and rectitude. Before a sex scandal forced him to step down as the director of the C.I.A., a few weeks ago, he was widely regarded by politicians and journalists as a brilliant thinker and leader, the man who saved America in Iraq and might work a similar miracle in Afghanistan. Roger Ailes suggested, perhaps less than half in jest, that Petraeus run for President. Now many of the same people are calling into question not just his ethics but his basic ideas and achievements. History often forgives military leaders for small scandals, if they are successful enough. Eisenhower’s long-alleged affair with Kay Summersby has not much tarnished his reputation as an officer; even Hood, whose late campaigns were disastrous, is remembered as a paragon of bravery, if not of good planning. Will Petraeus be thought of, in time, as a hero guilty of no more than a distracting foible? Or as the general most responsible for two disastrous wars?

In Iraq and Afghanistan, most of the criticism has centered on the political leaders—Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld—who ordered the invasions and grossly mismanaged the occupations that followed. Less criticism has focussed on the soldiers and the generals who led them. This is understandable: the military didn’t start these wars, and the relatively small number of Americans who fought in them—after a decade, less than one per cent of the population—bore the burden for the rest of the country. In all those “Support Our Troops” bumper stickers and campaign applause lines, it has not been difficult to discern a sense of collective guilt.

But, by almost every measure, the American soldiers and marines who went into Iraq and Afghanistan were grossly unprepared for their missions, and the officers who led them were often negligent. In the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq, many American military units traveled to the National Training Center, a sprawling patch of California desert. There they took part in enormous mock tank battles against a phony enemy, called the Kraznovians, that was meant to stand in for the Iraqi Army but had in fact been modeled on the Soviet military in an imaginary invasion of Western Europe. When the real invasion got under way, in March, 2003, American soldiers came under attack from a hidden enemy that was wearing no uniform at all. There had been plenty of warnings that an anti-American insurgency might spring up, and none were heeded. The generals were unprepared.

How the Army got to such a point is the subject of Thomas Ricks’s “The Generals,’’ a series of vivid biographical sketches of American commanders from the Second World War to Afghanistan. In Ricks’s view, their quality, with a few exceptions, has steadily declined. His poster boy for the terrible early period of the Iraq war is Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, whom he accurately portrays as a decent man but an incompetent commander. Sanchez’s worst decision was signing off on harsh interrogations of Iraqi detainees—which, when the photographs leaked from Abu Ghraib, resulted in one of the war’s signal disasters. But his real sin was neglect. Stupefied as the insurgency spread around him, and paralyzed by Washington’s insistence that everything was under control (for months, Rumsfeld forbade American officers to use the word “insurgency”), Sanchez effectively delegated the strategy for the war to the lower-ranking generals beneath him.

General Dempsey can't articulate a strategy to win a war against ISIS.  This is a covert war where the armies with the most sophisticated access to efficient technologies will have the upper hand. Therefore, the use of drones, strategic air strikes, covert raids like the success of the capture of Osama Bin Laden, and counter "social media" campaigns like the C.I.A. is conducting against ISIS, are modern warfare weapons.  Obviously, access to nuclear weapons is the darkest weapon, but it must never be used.
Therefore, General Dempsey must prove to the American people how he plans to win a war against ISIS by putting US military at risk for capture and hostage taking.  It's impossible to put American troops on the ground in Iraq again, because they will become hostages. ISIS will pay any amount of money to incompetetent Iraqi military personnel to lure US military into a trap and create a huge hostage crises.  

As a modern weaponry alternative, Mother Jones reports on a US State Department campaign to overtly attack ISIS social media communications. A "Think again turn away" campaign is pointing out the terrorist lies and deceit in real time in an effort to create doubt among potential recruits.  For example, the State Department recently tweeted at a Muslim woman who praised ISIS for its free transportation, her profile displaying pink text and black ISIS flags. The department's retort: "ISIS will be charitable…if they decide not to kill you #Thugs #thinkagainturnaway."

This social media campaign hasn't deterred ISIS support among Muslim extremists. Nevertheless, it's probably receiving a lot of visibility among social networking Muslims. More than likely, it's no more or less effective than "Tokyo Rose", when the Japanese tried to demoralize American G.I.'s during World War II in the Pacific.
ISIS and Arab extremism must be destroyed. Unfortunately, putting American troops on the ground to win a war that Muslims must fight among themselves is a doomed strategy. Destroying ISIS will require sophisticated technology, stealth weaponry, efficient ammunition, excellent intelligence and smart tactics, all of which can be developed without putting American troops on the ground.
American Generals must learn to win the War on Terrorism and destroy ISIS without putting troops on the ground.
Muslims must fight their own enemies by putting their own troops on the ground.

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