Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"There is nothing left here, not even our pride."

The esteemed and incomparably valuable FerFAL would like to share the following story written about the Argentinian state in 2002, or, mayhaps, his intention is not to teach history, but to to warn us exactly what is at stake, in the United States as we enter 2009.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Dangerous Instruments and the Gages of History

"There are instruments so dangerous to the rights of the nation and which place them so totally at the mercy of their governors that those governors, whether legislative or executive, should be restrained from keeping such instruments on foot but in well-defined cases. Such an instrument is a standing army."
--Thomas Jefferson to David Humphreys, 1789.

We first talked about the decision to stray from hundreds of years of prudence and tradition, namely the stationing of active combat troops in the United States, back in September, before the battle-tested 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, (formerly in charge of running the Iraqi province of Faluja) was transfered to the command of NORCOM, The North American Unified Command, which itself is a fairly recent creation. Some time has passed now since the death of Posse Comititatus on October 1st, 2008, and the Washington Post has recently offered a hodpodge cut and paste of government press releases it is choosing to pass off as an article on the subject, that may illuminate what other steps lay in the future of a further militarized america.

You can read the whole article here, and id recomend it, but what really stuck me, and I mean struck me, laugh out loud hit me between the eyes, was right in the first lines.

The U.S. Military expects to have 20,000 uniformed troops inside the United
States by 2011 trained to help state and local officials respond to a
nuclear terrorist attack or other domestic catastrophe, according to
Pentagon officials.

If you dont really understand what I found amusing about that, in a very sad, but unstiflable laughter, maybe i should explain myself as i know not everyone enjoys history as much as myself.

Consider the following:
In November of 1774, General Gage, the acting military governor of boston since his disbanding and outlawing of the provincial democratic government of that city, wrote a letter to the British Ministry stating that if he were to be able to subdue the rebellion and retain control of the colony, he would require, at the least, 20,000 troops.

Are you still with me? Hah. History does have a tendency to repeat itself, doesnt it... General Gage did not receive his 20,000 troops, and infact, nearly the same number of colonial militiamen, farmers and other free citizens, took the city of Boston, restoring its provincial government, after laying seige to it. We can only hope those who wish to "retain control" today will find themselves with like luck.

Of course, the numbers of free militiamen who might respond to a call such as that one that went out after april, 19th, 1775, if it went out today, is not known to me. i can only hope, that if any of them are reading this article, they might take a page out of the pentagon's playbook, and look to over trippling their numbers in the next 3 years.
As Jefferson also said: "Our duty is to act upon things as they are and to make a reasonable provision for whatever they may be."

Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges

Monday, December 1, 2008

America's Defense Meltdown

America’s Defense Meltdown: Pentagon Reform for President Obama and the New Congress

The Overburden of America’s Outdated Defenses

Lt. Col. John Sayen (U.S. Marine Corps, ret.)

Most of America’s military problems are not new. The most important problems can briefly be summarized as follows:

• Our military has broken its constitutional controls. Our Founding Fathers wanted no more than a very limited size and role for a federal military. They feared standing armies not only because they might be used against the American public, i.e. to establish military rule, but also for their potential to involve us in costly foreign wars that would drain our treasury, erode our freedoms and involve us in the “entangling alliances” that George Washington warned of in his farewell address. At that time our armies were composed mainly of state militias that the president needed the cooperation of Congress and the state governors in order to use. Today, we have one large all-volunteer federal Army, which for all practical purposes responds only to the president and the executive branch. It has engaged in numerous foreign wars, involved us in many entangling alliances, drained our treasury and eroded our liberties just as our Founding Fathers foresaw. It has enabled the president to take the nation to war on little more than his own authority. The recent repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 allows him to unilaterally use the military not only against foreigners, but against the American people as well.

• Our military is inwardly focused. This is to say that it focuses on itself and its internal concerns, rather than looking outward at the world and reacting to what occurs there. This is partly a consequence of domestic politics, which determine the military budget, and partly due to a climate of intellectual laziness and complacency that prefers the glories of the past over the unpleasant realities of the present and future. This has made it very difficult for us either to produce or implement a realistic grand strategy or to adjust to changing realities, particularly the emergence of Fourth Generation War (4GW).

• Our military is very expensive. The “official” budget will soon hit $600 billion per year. This approximates the military budgets of all other nations of the world combined. Some have argued that this amounts to only a few percent of our gross national product (GNP) and that it should be increased. One might reply, however, that the military budget might instead be determined by the military needs of the nation (the determination of which requires looking outward at potential threats) more than an arbitrarily determined portion of its economy. Also, the real budget is much higher than the official one. The official budget does not include the Department of Homeland Security or Veterans Affairs, both of which are really military expenses. The current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are paid for by offline “supplemental” budgets so they are not included either. If one adds these costs the budget climbs to about a trillion dollars. It absorbs much of the government’s discretionary spending and has contributed significantly to the depreciation of the dollar.

• As our military gets more expensive it gets smaller and less capable. Although the current military budget, even adjusting for inflation, is the highest since World War II it buys us only modest forces. At the height of the Reagan military buildup in the 1980s the U.S. Army had 18 active divisions. Yet today, with a higher budget, it has only 10. At the height of the Vietnam War the U.S. military maintained over 500,000 men in Vietnam besides a substantial force in Germany under NATO. It fought an enemy with more than half a million men under arms that had armor, heavy artillery, and even small naval and air forces. The North Vietnamese were also receiving assistance from both the Soviet Union and Communist China. Today, it is all the U.S. military can do to maintain 140,000 to 150,000 troops in Iraq and 30,000 in Afghanistan, where they fight enemies whose combined strength (after Saddam’s fall) seldom if ever exceeded 30,000. Unlike in Vietnam these enemies have no air or naval forces, no modern heavy weapons, little or no formal military training, and no outside support. This dramatic decrease in U.S. capabilities should be no less astonishing than the simultaneous increases in the budget. Worse, the strength of the forces we have is eroded by the skyrocketing costs of new weapons. It has resulted in a shrinking inventory of aging weapon systems only a fraction of which can be replaced because their replacements are too costly.

• Our military is not professional. That is to say its officers, especially the senior ones, are poorly educated in the military profession. U.S. Army training in mechanical skills such as flying an airplane or repairing a truck compares very well to similar training in foreign militaries. However, true comprehension of why things are done as opposed to how to do them, is usually deficient. This makes it much harder to deal with the unfamiliar and unexpected. This in turn relates to the military’s inward focus already referred to. It is easier to focus inwardly on the familiar than outwardly on the unfamiliar. This follows a long American tradition of commissioning officers at the last-minute (usually when a war is just beginning) based largely on civil education and social status, and then giving them training not unlike that of enlisted recruits. Subsequent promotion depends more on politics, social skills and personal ambition than on military and leadership skills. This has left us with a military that has a leadership that has never really learned to “think” in its own profession. Such leaders find it difficult to devise sound strategy or offer advice to their political superiors that they can clearly explain and justify.