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Current Topic: Military

Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in Iraq [PDF]
Topic: Military 2:31 am EDT, Jun 19, 2004

For 50 years, the United States has had ill-fated experiences in effectively fighting insurgencies. In counterinsurgency terms, Vietnam and Iraq form two legs of a historically fraught triangle — with El Salvador providing the connecting leg.

In light of this history, the author analyzes where the United States has gone wrong in Iraq; what unique challenges the conflict presents to coalition forces deployed there; and what light both shed on future counterinsurgency planning, operations, and requirements.

Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in Iraq [PDF]

Battle Ready
Topic: Military 1:37 am EDT, May 28, 2004

"In the lead-up to the Iraq War and its later conduct, I saw at a minimum, true dereliction, negligence, and irresponsibility, at worse, lying, incompetence and corruption." So says former US Central Command commander in chief Zinni, who retired in September 2000 and has been outspoken ever since regarding the uses and abuses of the US military.

Marine General Tony Zinni was known as the "Warrior Diplomat" during his nearly forty years of service. As a soldier, his credentials were impeccable, whether leading troops in Vietnam, commanding hair-raising rescue operations in Somalia, or-as Commander in Chief of CENTCOM -- directing strikes against Iraq and Al Qaeda. But it was as a peacemaker that he made just as great a mark -- conducting dangerous troubleshooting missions all over Africa, Asia, and Europe; and then serving as Secretary of State Colin Powell's special envoy to the Middle East, before disagreements over the 2003 Iraq War and its probable aftermath caused him to resign.

Battle Ready

Torture at Abu Ghraib | Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker
Topic: Military 1:29 am EDT, May  4, 2004

American soldiers brutalized Iraqis. How far up does the responsibility go?

This is the article to read on the matter.

Torture at Abu Ghraib | Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker

How Good Intelligence Falls on Deaf Ears
Topic: Military 12:48 pm EST, Mar 27, 2004

The testimony of Richard A. Clarke illustrates the perennial problem with intelligence: how do you get leaders to accept information they do not want to believe?

Intelligence will always be incomplete; it will often run counter to what people want it to say.

Leaders, however, are paid to overcome these obstacles. They can only lead when they deal with reality -- and then take steps to help us plan for the worst.

David Kahn, author of "The Codebreakers", provides today's history lesson.

How Good Intelligence Falls on Deaf Ears

The Rise of the Shadow Warriors
Topic: Military 1:51 am EST, Mar 16, 2004

The recent war in Iraq was, among other things, a powerful advertisement for the effectiveness of the United States' storied special operations forces.

Their achievements, although impressive, do not fully explain the unprecedented prominence currently enjoyed by special operations forces within the US military. Rumsfeld has made no secret of his plans to thrust special forces into the lead role in the war on terrorism, by using them for covert operations around the globe.

If Rumsfeld gets his way, administration hawks may soon start using special forces to attack or undermine other regimes on Washington's hit list -- without the sort of crucial public debate that preceded the war in Iraq.

This essay, by Jennifer Kibbe of the Brookings Institution, was published in the March-April issue of Foreign Affairs.

The Rise of the Shadow Warriors

The Home Team
Topic: Military 9:59 am EST, Feb  8, 2004

If you want the antidote to all the creeps in that Super Bowl show, spend a day at Centcom.

I promise you, you will walk away with one overriding feeling: We do not deserve these people.

If you elect to watch the Grammy awards this evening, perhaps because you just can't get enough of above-average Americans like Justin Timberlake, let me know how many of the winners thank the troops, and whether they do so before or after thanking their A&R.

The Home Team

Professor Nagl's War
Topic: Military 8:37 pm EST, Jan 11, 2004

In this feature for the Sunday New York Times magazine, a student of (counter)insurgency applies himself to the Iraq project.

"I thought I understood something about counterinsurgency, until I started doing it."

"I didn't realize how right Lawrence of Arabia was. My first experience of war was the gulf war, which was very clean. We shot the tanks that didn't look like ours, we shot the enemy wearing a uniform that didn't look like ours, we destroyed the enemy in 100 hours.

That's kind of what I thought war was.

Even when I was writing that insurgency was messy and slow, the full enormity of that did not sink in on me. I am seeing appreciable progress, but I am starting to understand in the pit of my stomach how hard, how long, how slow counterinsurgency really is.

There is no prospect it's going to end anytime soon."

Professor Nagl's War

Military Operations Against Terrorist Groups Abroad
Topic: Military 3:09 pm EST, Dec 20, 2003

Although military power is only one component of the portfolio of instruments that can be brought to bear in the fight against terrorist groups, military capabilities play unique and crucial roles in the overall strategy.

These capabilities will call for a mix of forces somewhat different from those fielded today as well as new concepts and technologies.

Equally challenging will be the tasks of training/advising friendly forces and protecting forces and interests around the world.

Military Operations Against Terrorist Groups Abroad

Annoying Donald
Topic: Military 12:50 am EST, Nov 29, 2003

“You should be in the press corps.”

-- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, responding to a "two-fold" question during a November 21 town hall meeting with military personnel at the Pentagon. Asking multiple questions at once has become Rumsfeld's oft-expressed pet peeve.

The Rumsfeld Memo
Topic: Military 8:16 pm EDT, Oct 25, 2003

The Rumsfeld "slog" memo, courtesy of The Smoking Gun.

Are we winning or losing the Global War on Terror?

Is DoD changing fast enough to deal with the new 21st century security environment?

Can a big institution change fast enough?

... an alternative might be to try to fashion a new institution ... What else should we be considering?

And so the master plan continues to unfold ...

The Rumsfeld Memo

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