By Paul Vallely – MG US Army (ret),
Chairman – Stand Up America
October 28, 2014
Throughout the 237 years of United State history, we have seen the military forces experience many transformations in its roles/missions, its structure, its procedures, its reputation, its power, technological advancement, and ultimately its application and operation in combat. Initially the Army, Navy and Marines were organized as an armed force of fighters and patriots against the tyranny of England. They banded together to win a revolution and historically became a force for securing the fledgling nation. Over the many decades and centuries, it expanded, evolved, and eventually became the strongest military force on Earth. These changes all reflected the need and threats of the day and the political will of the government and its elected officials. As my friend and colleague, Admiral Ace Lyons, stated, “With the weakest national security team since World War II, it is no wonder that both our foreign and national security policies lack coherence and direction. The Administration’s faculty-lounge logic that, in the 21st century, ‘diplomacy’ will substitute for military solutions to international crisis, overlooks or chooses to ignore a key factor: recognized military power that provides the essential underpinnings to successful diplomacy. It is called Peace through Strength.”
From inception, it has, and by Constitutional mandate will always be, controlled by a civilian, the Commander-in-Chief, the President of the United States. As each of our Presidents has held office, the military took its marching orders based upon the political policies, threats to America, and the foreign policy he adopted. Many paths were chosen and many wars, great and small were waged upon his decisions. This writing is to analyze the relationship of President Obama and HIS Current and Future Relationship and Control of the Military and National Security.
President Obama and his followers have worked very hard by design to weaken US military superiority, consciously and unconsciously to the advantage our global enemies. In an attempt to seize control over national security and bypass Congress, a step by the Obama administration has already come into play. That the United States and Russia both reduce nuclear weapons without a treaty, as a treaty would require ratification by Congress. This would allow Obama and the Executive Branch to unilaterally cut our military capability and nuclear weaponry and ignore the treaty clause of the Constitution. Russia as we know is not a trustworthy partner in any respect other than lessens the influence and power of the US globally. Obama is wrecking the Defense Department, our forces and the US economy and committing national suicide. Yes, let’s just lay down our arms, weaken our military and give up our sovereignty to the United Nations world super state. Peace at any cost!
Intentions and the Agenda
What were Obama’s intentions after taking office toward the military? What impact has he had on the military to date? What will his impact be over the next few years? At this juncture, all these questions and more can only be answered by fact and actions. This places the future security of America in a very precarious position; a certain clear and present danger. To date, with all that is occurring across the globe and at home, his actions have resulted in a long list of failures and it appears our future will only witness further degradation of our credibility, respect, trust and standing in the community of nations. By design, malfeasance, or stark ineptitude, the past is prologue. It is important to point out what Obama and his administration goals are when it comes to the Armed Forces of the United States.
Discussion points outlined in the pamphlet are: Matters of future debate……..
Diplomacy and the use of the military – The definition of the term and its various interpretations are diverse. We examine President Obama’s vision of our foreign policy and his application of diplomacy and all its ramifications including the use of force.
Obama’s 2008 campaign and ideology – What he told America was wrong with our foreign policies, the Bush Administration’s wars, and his stance on the military and America’s place in the community of nations. This includes the ideology of the left, its past stances on Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and The War on Terror.
Obama’s first and second terms – Ending the war in Iraq, campaign promises broken, the escalation of Afghanistan and the Counter-Insurgency (COIN) Strategy, the Arab Spring, Israel, Libya, Syria and the economic structural impact on our military under his watch.
Obama’s Military Evolution – How Obama is dismantling our status in the world through diminishing our strengths, militarily and economically.
Obama’s Future Leadership – Discussion on the issues that face us from Syria to Iran to Russia to China, our Israel relationship, the Muslim Brotherhood, North Korea, ISIS and more. Why would a US president continue to push to give billions of dollars in aid and to supply arms to regimes that have declared that America and its ally Israel are mortal enemies that should be destroyed? And why would that same president who wants to arm our enemies want to disarm American citizens?
Obama supports and assist the Caliphate goals of the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS, known militant and radical Islamic groups. He supported the election of Morsi as Egypt’s new president, even when Morsi talked about establishing a new Muslim Caliphate with him as the ultimate head.
Morsi also publicly began an attack on all non-Muslim religions within his country. His military and police joined in the persecution of Christians who were beaten, raped, robbed and killed. Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said nothing and did nothing but continue to support Morsi and his radical government. Destiny and understanding the “realities” of Islamic terror brought General El-Sisi and his patriots to the Egyptian people.
Mideast atrocities could curtail Muslim influence in the U.S.
As Admiral Ace Lyons points out in a recent article: (Washington Times)
“America’s inconsistent response to the current Islamic State atrocities indicates that we are failing to understand, or deliberately ignoring, the facts that drive the terrorist organization’s ideology.
Such misunderstanding has been facilitated by the Obama administration’s embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is now institutionalized in all government agencies, including the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security and the White House. This penetration is similar to what the communists were able to accomplish in the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s. As a result, our warfighters and law enforcement agencies have been denied critical information on combating the Islamic jihadists we are fighting today.
How did this happen? In one example, 57 Muslim signatories wrote a letter Oct. 19, 2011, to President Obama’s national security adviser for terrorism, John. O. Brennan, now our CIA director, complaining about “bigoted trainers and material” that was being used to describe the threat of Islamic terrorism and the Islamic ideology that the terrorists use to justify their acts.
As a result, all such material and training manuals were “purged” to remove anything that portrayed Islam as a religion of violence. Furthermore, an advisory board that reportedly included Muslim Brotherhood operators was established to review and sanction all revised training material to be used for our military, FBI and other law enforcement agencies down to the local level. This means is that our entire national security community has now been effectively neutralized on understanding the threat of Islam.
The Muslim Brotherhood penetration goes well beyond training materials. Their influence is most likely reflected in the restricted Rules of Engagement under which our military is forced to fight. This has caused the unnecessary loss of life and debilitating injuries for thousands of our military personnel. The Muslim Brotherhood has been so emboldened that it now has the audacity to demand the “brainwashing” of all our previous trainers. Mao and Stalin would be proud.
According to an article by terrorism expert Clare Lopez, on Aug. 14, another letter with 75 signatories was written to Lisa O. Monaco, homeland security counterterrorism adviser to the National Security Council, urged the Obama administration to “implement a mandatory retrainer program” for all federal, state and local law enforcement officers who have previously been “exposed” to anti-Muslim training. Much like the previous letter sent to Mr. Brennan, the signatories represent many of the leading Muslim organizations in the United States, e.g., the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the Muslim Alliance in North America. It should be noted that many of those signatories represent organizations that were designated in federal court as unindicted co-conspirators from the 1998 Holy Land Foundation Hamas terrorism-funding trial in Richardson, Texas.
What prompted this latest letter may have been the fear that America might wake up and connect the current Islamic State atrocities to the ideology of Islam. The silence from the so-called moderate Muslim Brotherhood front organizations on these atrocities should tell you everything you need to know. Likewise, all those hundreds of millions of so-called moderate Muslims remain silent.
Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in 1838, noted by Bruce Thornton on Aug. 18, “Jihad, holy war is an obligation for all believers. The state of war is the natural state with regard to infidels. These doctrines of which the practical outcome is obvious are found on every page and in almost every word of the Koran. The violent tendencies of the Koran are so striking that I cannot understand how any man with good sense could miss them.” We must face facts: Islam never was, nor can it be, a religion of peace, regardless of what we are told by our current and past leaders.
Islamic ideology clearly provides the theological justifications stemming from the time of Muhammad through 1,300 hundred years of its history to justify the current jihadist movement and atrocities. Islam has not been hijacked by radicals. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said it best: “Islam is Islam.”
There is no question that the current Islamic State movement must be destroyed. Iran’s alleged offer to help get rid of it in Iraq, provided we lift all sanctions, should be totally rejected (if indeed made as reported). Pressure must be maintained on Iran to prevent it from achieving a nuclear-weapons capability. It must never be forgotten that there are no differences among the Islamic State, al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran when it comes to their objective of destroying the United States and Israel.
The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, could not have happened without Iran’s support for al Qaeda.
The Islamic State is the wealthiest terrorist organization in the world (after the Iranian regime), and must be relentlessly pursued in Iraq and Syria until it is effectively destroyed as a symbol of Islam’s resurgence. This will require a sustained air campaign coordinated with our special forces, and hopefully, our allies. We must assume the Islamic State, al Qaeda and others have established sleeper cells in the United States. Accordingly, our readiness posture must be significantly increased. In that context, our military and law enforcement agencies must be retrained so that they can effectively recognize and defeat the threat.
Congress must take the lead and prevent any further drawdown of our strategic and conventional forces. They must also take the lead in purging all Muslim Brotherhood front organizations from our government agencies. Regrettably, based on past performance, we should be under no illusion that this administration will aggressively implement these urgent actions.”
Taking back America
Leadership that compromises national security violates the Constitution
By James A. Lyons - – Wednesday, October 22, 2014, Washington Times
Never in my lifetime did I believe this great nation would be taken down and withdrawn from its world leadership position by its own leadership. While some try to explain away the Obama administration’s damaging policies by making excuses, they fail to face reality. This is a planned agenda.
When then-Sen. Barack Obama announced in 2008 that he was going to fundamentally transform America, few Americans comprehended what that declaration actually meant. However, with his radical background and his leftist mentors and associates, his agenda became very clear early on in his presidency.
With its many scandals, including the Benghazi tragedy, the perverse “progressive” ideology of the Obama administration, combined with its deceitful and manipulative methods, has corrupted normally nonpartisan government agencies. More importantly, it has infected the civilian and military leadership who lead their agencies.
The core of the corruption is an attitude that flaunts the Constitution and takes the position that the president can do anything he wants with a pen and a phone that promotes an agenda, regardless of its impact on the country’s national security.
We used to have giants in Congress such as John Stennis, Richard Russell, Tip O’Neill, et al., who were Americans first and party members second when it came to matters affecting our national security. Regretfully, other than a few in the minority, that doesn’t exist today.
Clearly, trust in our government institutions has been eroded. Furthermore, the Obama administration’s embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood, with its penetration of essentially all our government agencies, including the Department of Defense, has had an adverse impact on our policies, particularly with regard to the Middle East and the global war on terrorism. As we have seen, the administration switched sides in that war in Libya by financing, training and arming Islamic jihadist militias who were under the political control of the Muslim Brotherhood. It was these same militias that carried out the terrorist attacks on the U.S. compound in Benghazi. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s failure to provide adequate security prior to the attack even though there was advanced warning, according to five CIA security contractors at the Benghazi annex, as well as the administration’s failure to respond militarily, was a dereliction of duty.
The financial crisis of 2007-08 subsequently presented the Obama administration with a “perfect storm” to implement its planned agenda, which was based on the perverse ideology that American power has caused much of the world’s problems. The financial crisis could not have happened without outside forces in play, according to financial analyst Kevin D. Freeman, who wrote a 2009 report for the Defense Department. He stated that domestic economic factors would have caused a “normal downturn,” but not the “near collapse” of the global economic system. Fifty trillion dollars evaporated. According to Mr. Freeman, the most likely outside, hostile nations included China, Russia and Islamic financial powers, e.g., Dubai, which deliberately conducted “financial terrorism” against the U.S. economy. If true, then this is clearly irregular warfare and needs to be further investigated.
Nonetheless, it was the catalyst for the implementation of “sequestration.” It provided the vehicle for the unilateral disarmament of our military forces.
With the United States being challenged throughout the world, our reduced military forces are severely stretched in meeting all their requirements. However, we still retain the capability to mount a massive, around-the-clock air campaign to defeat the Islamic State. The few strikes per day we are conducting in Iraq and Syria, with restricted rules of engagement, do not constitute a serious air campaign.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff know that what we are doing today in Iraq and Syria to defeat the Islamic State is wrong. By their acquiescence to the administration’s half-hearted war policies, they cannot escape being held accountable for the genocide the Islamic State will inflict on the Syrian inhabitants of Kobani, the Kurds and other minorities.
In a similar context, sending 4,000 military personnel to Ebola-infected countries makes no sense. It is symptomatic of an administration that views our military as expendable. This is not a military mission. Clearly, a comprehensive strategy needs to be developed that involves the United Nations, the World Health Organization and nongovernmental organizations throughout the world to contain this deadly virus. Common sense demands that the infected countries must be quarantined. All commercial flights in and out of these countries must be immediately terminated. Chartered and other government aircraft can provide needed supplies, equipment and personnel.
When our military forces return from those infected countries, they will have to be held in quarantine before they can return to their home bases. The Enterovirus D68 that is showing up in schools is the result of letting 75,000 unscreened children with various diseases cross our borders, and then relocating them throughout the country. This is unconscionable. Our southern borders must be closed now.
The real question is, how do you change the disastrous Obama administration policies that affect our national security? Obviously, the ballot box is one way, but the one institution that has the power to send an unmistakable signal that will be heard throughout the country is the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It is time for them to live up to their oath of office — “to defend this country against all enemies foreign and domestic.” The Obama administration has clearly violated the Constitution and must be held accountable. Since we no longer can count on Congress, the Joint Chiefs as a corporate body should voice their objections to administration policies that are threatening America’s security and that of our allies. It’s time to take back America.
Diplomacy and the Use of the military
Before expounding on Obama and the military, it is essential to understand the relationship and debate that has existed over the centuries between diplomacy and the use of military force. Crucial changes in American society, the defense of freedom and victory over her enemies all originate with the military. Using the military wisely implies that the military enters a war with the intent to win the war. Within the diplomatic sphere, war is diplomacy with arms, and in this phase war should be viewed as diplomacy at its worst, after all other options have been explored.
Politicians from various spectrums differ in the way they use diplomacy to achieve political and diplomatic goals. The use of military may be used used at the end of a failed or failing diplomatic process when an enemy threat still exists; called pre-emption. History demonstrates and statesmen have confirmed that war ensues when diplomacy fails. Many conservative leaning thinkers view the military within diplomacy, whereas many leaning toward the left (Statists) have detached the military from the diplomatic process. Under the Obama Administration the military has not been appropriately used to improve diplomatic relations, largely because the military is not viewed as a mechanism to achieve diplomatic success.
The endgame to war is Victory but is hardly in the vocabulary of the current senior leadership in America. Military leaders have been directed not to even use the word Victory in their dialogue with the press and others. But the definition of victory and the path getting there are transformed when political ambitions are revealed. For instance, while the Bush Administration has called the post-9/11 wars the “War on Terror” the Obama Administration changed the name to “Overseas Contingency Operations”. The former created a paradigm shift whereby the United States was fighting an ideology, terror, rather than a nation-state. Retreat is now known as withdrawal or “drawdown” and victory is now known as “nation building” or “transition.”
However, the change in semantics by the Obama Administration creates an interesting modification that has proceeded unnoticed by the public. War inevitably implies boots on the ground, the involvement of ranking officers and geo-strategic decision making from the Department of Defense. The Obama Administration has “mixed” the roles of war within diplomacy with more agencies: the Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Department of Defense (White House, 2012). The Obama Administration is making the State Department and the overarching bureaucratic influence more relevant and the U.S. military less relevant in the process of diplomacy.
In Iraq, where increasing violence by ISIS/ISIL and clandestine high-level takeovers and assassinations by Iranian groups have occurred over the past year, the Obama Administration further states that, “In Iraq, these temporary operations and assistance programs are necessary to sustain a civilian-led mission; strengthen the capacity of the Iraqi government through police training, criminal justice programs, and military assistance; and ensure the [State] Department and USAID have the necessary resources to support and secure the diplomatic mission”. President Obama may think that he is cleverly shaping a new form of diplomacy, but what he is really doing is undermining and even breaking the military role that can be leveraged to strengthen diplomatic aims and ensure an American victory.
Conservatives envision the military as a crucial component of diplomacy, an important union. President Obama and other Statists on the other hand, view the military as a hindrance to diplomacy. Changing diplomacy therefore, is being carried out a number of ways by the Obama Administration: diminishing the military role and leadership in diplomacy; manipulating the rules of engagement; and making the U.S. military irrelevant elsewhere.
Admittedly, the use of the military pre-Obama has not been perfect. In fact, numerous miscalculations in strategy committed by the White House can be found from President Kennedy onward. From Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan, Commanders-in-Chief have neglected or abused the diplomatic role of the military. Kennedy started the Vietnam War with Advisors, Johnson deepened the commitment in Vietnam and Nixon ended it and no clear endgame or achieving Victory with near 58,000 American lives lost in battle. Carter failed in properly managing the US economy and was paralyzed when it came to using the military as a powerful diplomatic tool; caving in to Iranian revolutionary Islamic fanatics.
The last major diplomatic victory was the collapse of the Soviet Empire and the “Wall” coming down due to Reagan’s leadership and vision. If one error could be highlighted it would be in 1983 when over 200 US Marines and over 50 French soldiers were unwisely billeted in a building at the Beirut airport (not a good role for Marines) killed in Beirut, Lebanon. The Muslim terrorists were emboldened and America and her allies have paid dearly in the Middle East ever since. The failures have continued, H.W. Bush was about three days from toppling Iraq’s Hussein in 1991 and why didn’t he order the military to proceed anyway? Because, we subjugated our nation to the United Nations.
Clinton, who needed to learn the military salute properly after he became President, began on a foundation of incoherent foreign policy with the Bosnian War, Black Hawk Down, the 1993 bombing of New York’s World Trade Center, and two US embassies in Africa bombed, weaved with scandalous behavior in the Oval Office, and had no clear military success.
Problems existed under George W. Bush as well. Although the Bush Administration cited WMD (weapons of mass destruction) as part of the justification to invade Iraq, Bush and the Pentagon ignored the fact that chemical weapons were transferred from Iraq to Syria in 2003. This has worsened problems in Syria even today. Col. Cowan (Ret.) recalls that, “The way we fought the war in Iraq at the outset was tragic and outrageous because the Pentagon and the military leadership did not understand what they were dealing with. They purposely ignored the lessons of Vietnam”.
Toward the end of the Bush Administration the COIN (counterinsurgency) strategy in Iraq was a fresh idea, and perpetuated by Obama in Afghanistan. However the overall effects of COIN are devastating and have rewarded our enemies. Undoubtedly there has been an accumulation and compounding of the disharmony of the military within diplomacy over the past 52 years, however Obama has accelerated the division by downsizing, degrading and demoralizing the U.S. military.
Obama’s campaign and ideology: Diminishing the U.S. Military
America’s legacy as one of the oldest existing democracies on earth can only be preserved so long as: 1) a majority of U.S. citizens are actively involved in a genuinely representative government; 2) a growing economy persists; and 3) a strong military is maintained to protect the former. This simple triad of democracy becomes predictably fragile when the three are not in balance. The budget deficit and a stagnant economy threaten to destabilize this equilibrium, declining public involvement in governmental affairs has weakened a once strong citizenry, and unpredictable leadership for the U.S. military questions our security.
Part of Obama’s political plan to “change America” as he himself has stated, is to downsize the U.S. military. While one can argue that long-standing trends have eroded our military, very little has been done to stem the decline. Indeed, some argue that Obama has exacerbated problems related to military missions abroad, and our foreign policy positions.
Obama’s first term
Obama’s first year in office did not instill much confidence among military strategists or foreign-policy makers in Washington, DC. Obama revealed his flawed leadership amidst two major events in 2009, the emergence of the Green Revolution in Iran and the abandonment of the missile shield project in Poland and the Czech Republic.
In mid-June of 2009 the test of Obama’s leadership would reveal his feeble responses, and lack of decisiveness on Iran, as Obama said,
“As odious as I consider some of President Ahmadinejad’s statements, as deep as the differences that exist between the United States and Iran on a range of core issues…We will continue to pursue a tough, direct dialogue between our two countries, and we’ll see where it takes us. But even as we do so, I think it would be wrong for me to be silent about what we’ve seen on the television over the last few days. And what I would say to those people who put so much hope and energy and optimism into the political process, I would say to them that the world is watching and inspired by their participation, regardless of what the ultimate outcome of the election was. And they should know that the world is watching”.
This is a response that would have been appropriate in the Western world, but Obama, throughout the past four years, has neglected to properly assess Iran and other threats in the Middle East because he doesn’t fully comprehend the way America’s enemies think. Since the U.S. officially withdrew in December 2011, “assassinations by Iranians have been quietly conducted, killing Iraqis who worked with or supported the United States. Selective assassinations of individuals [were conducted against those who] wereclose to the U.S. [forces]. Even before the U.S. pulled out, retired and former Iraqis officers and pilots who had participated in the Iran/Iraq war were being assassinated” (Cowan, 2012).
The Obama Administration’s shortsighted decision to remove the missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic on September 17, 2009 fueled uncertainty in U.S. foreign policy and was ill-timed. First, the Obama Administration abandoned the project without discussing the issue with or informing their Polish or Czech Republic counterparts. Secondly, the Obama Administration did not use the decision to leverage other issues with Russia, an obvious sign of weakness in foreign policy. Thirdly and worst of all, the Obama Administration chose the most undesirable date to make the public announcement when ending American support for a missile shield: on the 70th anniversary of the Russian invasion of Poland. Culturally speaking, anniversaries are incredibly symbolic to the Polish people and the brazen announcement by the Obama Administration was not well received by the people of Eastern Europe. “The project is of puny importance militarily, but of enormous significance symbolically…the former captive nations the Shield signifies the US commitment to maintaining their freedom”. The Obama Administration unraveled nearly three decades of trust and hard work that was carefully built between America and Eastern Europe.
Obama’s Cairo speech in 2009 needs to be front and center and is a reflection of the ignorance of his advisors, speech writers and thinking of the Muslim world. Obama gave an inspiring speech to the people in Egypt; however Obama’s speechwriters are incredibly detached from Obama’s actions in the foreign policy sphere. Giving a speech emphasizing acceptance, peace and harmony between America and the Muslim world is one matter, however following through with genuine action is another.
U.S. MILITARY RULES OF ENGAGEMENT AND PRESIDENT OBAMA
The Obama policy makers in the White House and Pentagon have degraded the fighting capabilities of our forces with restrictive Rules of Engagement (ROE). In fairness, Bush initiated very restrictive ROEs.
Instead of being afraid of U.S. firepower, the enemy uses our own Rules of Engagement and restrictions on artillery support against us:
”—U.S. Marine officer quoted in Defense magazine, August, 2012 – Rules of engagement a key issue in U.S. Marine’s court-martial”—L.A. Times, January 2012. “
We called for artillery support and were told we were too close to a village. They ignored us.” A lot of men were dying”— stated Sgt Dakota Meyer, Medal of Honor recipient and veteran of battle of Gangjal.
In today’s world conflicts, the U.S. military operates under guidelines governing their use of deadly force. These guidelines are officially known as Rules of Engagement (ROE). Some countries consider their official ROE as guidelines only, but the U.S. military considers ROE as lawful orders to be strictly obeyed.
Historically, ROE were articulated to limit the damage done by troops of warring nations while accomplishing a military objective. The International Institute of Humanitarian Law publishes what is known as the San Remo Guidelines of ROE. Many countries have used the San Remo document as a basis for their ROE. NATO also publishes ROE to be used by member nations, but has no power to enforce their implementation.
What are the current basics of the ROE our forces operate under? And why do our serving soldiers say they are confusing, ambiguous, and causing unnecessary casualties?
Here is a narrative given by soldiers in an Army platoon discussing ROE with a combat correspondent “In country (Afghanistan) they gave us Use of Force Escalation kits. They are designed to keep people away from us in a non-lethal manner. The kits had “KEEP BACK” signs we could put on the back of our trucks, and small flares we could fire for warnings. Those were taken away and now we are told to drive in a normal manner. If cars back up behind us, we are supposed to pull over and let them pass. This takes our buffer, our zone of safety away. They pull up right beside us and detonate car bombs, or fire on us. It takes away our reaction time.”
It may seem incredible that our ROE have gotten to this point. Perhaps its best expressed by a young soldier in that same platoon: “Joe Biden flew over Kunar province and said it sure looked safe down there. Meanwhile, a hell of a firefight was raging on the ground”.
Maybe our civilian leaders are out of touch with the realities of ground combat. A basic tenet of ROE is that a soldier always has the “first right of defense”, meaning he may fire if fired upon, or, he may engage the enemy first, so long as he perceives a clear and present danger. Well, it used to be that way. Before President Obama took office, U.S. forces could open fire upon enemy combatants who were clearly and definitely observed planting IED’s in roadways. Now, they may have to ask permission through three levels of commanders.
“They are confusing the young soldiers”, complained a veteran NCO, “An IED is incredibly more dangerous in the hands of an enemy than a rifle, yet they have to get permission to engage the fighters”.
Welcome to the new world of infantry combat under Obama.
In World War II, the first thing a U.S. combat unit would do upon entering a town held by the German army was to clear civilians out of churches, and then blow the steeple towers down. Why? Bitter experience taught them that church steeples contained snipers and artillery observers.
Try doing the same today with a mosque. We have devolved in a bad way. There comes a time in infantry combat where a condition sets itself over the scene. It’s called the “fog of war”; a term first used by Clausewitz, a Prussian military general. He wrote that in war everything is simple. You have an army here and an army over there; at some point they will collide and a battle will ensue. But in the confusion of battle, Clausewitz wrote, accomplishing even the simplest tasks becomes incredibly hard. Clausewitz coined this theory around 1830. It’s still valid today. Radios fail, aircraft engines malfunction, units get lost, weapons systems jam. It’s all part of battle. Difficult ROE makes the battle that much harder.
WWII generals such as George Patton and Omar Bradley knew the advantage in seizing ground swiftly and with violence. They ordered their subordinates to overwhelm the enemy with violence of action and maximum force in order to gain ground and shorten the war. The ROE they operated under were clearly defined, and they passed those ROE down to their troops. Patton and Bradley had no intention of placing unnecessary danger or risk on their troops.
WW2 American generals had no intention of allowing the enemy to gain a tactical or strategic advantage and in any event, were not hampered by “Out of Touch” ROE. In every war in history, atrocities have been committed on both sides. A general cannot control the actions of every one of his soldiers on the battlefield. It is a regrettable, but factual, part of war.
In December of 1944, German SS general Jocheim Peiper was rushing to gain ground in the Ardennes forest and overrun American positions. Near the town of Malmedy, Belgium, he took custody of approximately 85 American soldiers who surrendered. According to his account, he didn’t have the means or the time to care for them, so he had them shot.
In retaliation, American soldiers methodically shot captured members of Peiper’s command. An American Colonel issued an order that stated, “No SS troops will be taken prisoner”. Both acts are inexcusable, and both armies attempted to justify their acts under the pressure of combat.
Here is the bottom line: American soldiers should be able to defend themselves in any situation, in any environment, if there is a clear and hostile threat. An American soldier takes an oath to protect and defend the United States and the constitution against all enemies. An American soldier is also bound by the rules of land warfare to provide all the protection he can to non-combatants and children, and to minimize, where possible, collateral damage that may occur. This includes private property and property of no military value.
However, if your enemy is using a mosque to employ snipers against you, or planting IED’s in public buildings, the U.S. military should employ all means necessary to neutralize that threat.
It is regrettable that in Iraq and Afghanistan, our enemies choose a cowardly way of fighting a war; i.e. hiding in a mosque so that they can then kill our soldiers, or deliberately using non-combatants as human shields. As horrible as those circumstances are, however, Americans should always have the right to defend themselves.
There are several stories about wanton killings and atrocities against civilians committed by American troops deployed in combat zones. But the total number of those incidents is outweighed not by the hundreds, but by the thousands, in terms of how U.S. troops have taken casualties, rather than risk collateral damage to non-combatants.
“With a few exceptions on minor issues, Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have preached and practiced appeasement toward Moscow. One example is the signing of the START II treaty of 2011, which put America’s security at a disadvantage by forcing the US to obey by an agreement concluded with a party that no longer exists, the USSR. We are forced to disarm unilaterally. And now the Shield project will be scratched. President Obama: On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.
President Medvedev: Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you…
President Obama: (putting his hand on Medvedev’s knee): This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.
President Medvedev: I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.
In a way, then, the unguarded remarks of Obama reflect the administration’s consistency and continuity in its policy of appeasing Russia. What’s unsavory about the whole affair is that a hot microphone accorded America and the world a glimpse at frank, back door deals between the most powerful leader on Earth and the boss of a regional power” ” Chodakiewicz, 2012: pp 1
Objectifying the Military
Obama has objectified the military personnel in ways that divide rather than unite. The overall morale of the military after poorly managed, drawn out wars in Afghanistan and Iraq was already unstable by 2009 when Obama became Commander-in-Chief. Obama has done little to boost the morale in the military and has offered no realistic solutions to strengthen our military. In fact, the evidence discloses that Obama has set our military on a course of unpredictable erosion and decay through acts that have demoralized our military.
A number of misplaced priorities between the White House and the Pentagon have distracted our military from a core mission. “We’ve allowed ourselves to get out of control,” according to the Army’s top enlisted soldier who has surveyed U.S. military bases globally, Sgt. Maj. Raymond F Chandler III. While his aim has been to improve discipline and focus among the armed forces, Sgt. Maj. Chandler’s own leadership has been uncertain. Jaffe emphasizes “As the war in Afghanistan draws to a close, more senior officers worry that the Army has not been able to articulate a clear mission that will enable it to hold on to its shrinking share of the Pentagon budget” (2012: pp. 2). An internal survey conducted in December 2011 indicates that Obama has not had an uplifting influence on the personnel and morale of the military, “only 26 percent of Army leaders believed that the Army was ‘headed in the right direction to prepare for the challenges of the next 10 years,’ down from 38 percent in 2006”.
What could cause such a decline in the confidence of the military officers for its Commander-in-Chief? Firstly, the priorities of the code of conduct have changed. Today’s Generals are occupied with covering up incidents so that it does not affect their career to be concerned the greater need of boldly leading their soldiers. Remember the SEALS who were going to be court-martialed after they brought in a confirmed Taliban prisoner with a bloody nose? That guy fought back and they had to subdue him. How about the death of Pat Tillman? Both were tragedies, but what the Generals should do is SPEAK UP and tells it like it is.
Obama is socializing the Military.
The repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has taken precedence over the sexual harassment (and even rape) of men and women in the military. With all the associated problems of being involved in two wars, Obama’s top agenda with the military was to cater to homosexuals. The military should not be coerced into being a place for social experimentation. The irony of serving as a soldier is that he or she necessarily gives up a lot of basic rights for the common good of the mission to protect the rights of U.S. citizens and the nation. There are a whole host of problems inherent in Obama’s repeal such as: Do we allow on-base housing for “married same-sex couples”? Do we allow PDA’s (public displays of affection) between gay military members when it has always been discouraged among heterosexual members if it is detrimental to good order and discipline? Do we allow same-sex dancing in on-base clubs? Do we allow a gay soldier to file a complaint against his/her commanding officer alleging maltreatment because of sexual orientation when in reality it is actually a case of substandard performance by the gay soldier? The military will under Obama, and it will distort the oneness and equality needed for military commanders. Overall the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has had a tremendous negative effect on the military. No special group should be catered to within the military, whether it is based on gender, sexual orientation, or race. “The military to Obama is a big social experiment and he has demonstrated that in his policies”
The increasing numbers of wounded warriors, including PTSD, and suicides under Obama is also disconcerting. 2012 marked the record number of suicides over the past decade among soldiers and family members, most who have never been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, according to the Military Suicide Research Consortium. The feeling of hopelessness, internal pain, inability to cope with life’s challenges can be attributed to the lack of inspiring leadership in the military.
The lack of concern for the soldier’s political vote, sending the ballots early in October to reach the polls before 6 November 2012, even conveniently losing the ballots, was another act of disrespect by the Obama Administration and their policies.
Obama is committed to slashing the military budget and would rather send needed troops home than dismiss an over-bloated bureaucracy to make a leaner Pentagon. According to LTC Bill Cowan (Ret, USMC.),
“The number of reports generated every month by the Pentagon is staggering. There is a growing government affinity for generating regulations and reports, which sends a message that wars don’t grow, but the Pentagon bureaucracy does. If you cut one-quarter of the staff in the Pentagon we will not lose our war fighting capability. In fact, we may even get better!” (2012).
This misconceived war fighting strategy has cost the U.S. valuable human and financial resources (billions of dollars) with no victories for the American people. How can we expect Muslim (Sharia guided) countries of the Middle East to adopt democracy and is certainly not a mission of the Armed Forces. Do not confuse the terms “nation building” with “foreign internal defense” (FID). FID means organizing a resistance movement by training indigenous personnel to combat and overthrow a murderous regime that supports terrorist attacks on the U.S. The terms are quite different. “Nation Building” is more properly the purview of the U.N., private sector initiatives, NGOs, the Red Cross or some interim governing body. Our military objective should be to get in, eliminate the threat posed by belligerents to the U.S. and get out. This is also a basic tenet of the Lilly Pad strategy. We do not need to build huge bases in foreign countries that publicly ask us for help and undermine the US and its mission. Earlier, I mentioned Forward Operating Bases. The best current example I can give is the Australian army in Afghanistan. Their soldiers live in “battle boxes” (conexes) with small generators for light and a/c. Their perimeters are well guarded and enclosed by concertina wire and claymore mines to repel attacks. Their ammo bunkers are battle boxes partially submerged in the ground and protected by sandbagging. An entire base like this can be set up in a day and a half, and removed and placed elsewhere in about the same time.]
The COIN strategy as discussed previously was implemented in Vietnam and Iraq however it was expanded by Obama in Afghanistan.
Col. Douglas MacGregor (US Army Ret), Military Strategist and Author writes:
“When the Surge in Iraq began, no one in Washington was interested in explaining why the world’s most powerful military establishment led by Petraeus was buying off its Sunni Arab opponents with hundreds of millions of dollars, effectively supplanting counterinsurgency with cash-based cooptation.[iv] When the Surge in Iraq ended, no one in Washington wanted to discuss why Tehran’s Shiite allies in Baghdad restrained their fighters, and waited until the U.S. occupation ended before consolidating their control of Arab Iraq. In 2009, an Iraqi journalist described the outcome in terms no serious observer of the conflict could ignore:
‘Observers not steeped in Iraqi history might be bemused to find that six years after the toppling of a dictator, after the death of several hundred thousand Iraqis, a brutal insurgency, trillions of wasted dollars and more than 4,000 dead US soldiers, the country is being rebuilt along very familiar lines: concentration of power, shadowy intelligence services and corruption’” (2012).
Feedback that I have received from many mid-level officers and non-commissioned officers voice many and varied new doubts about the Army’s battlefield performances and senior leadership in Iraq and Afghanistan. A few years ago, Army officers almost universally celebrated the service’s freshly minted counterinsurgency doctrine and its ability to adapt to a new kind of warfare. Soldiers who were trained to fight tank battles shifted to a style of combat that emphasized politics, cultural awareness and protecting the local population from insurgent attacks.
Today Iraq, which is still wracked by violence and heavily influenced by Iran and ISIS forces has provided no victory for America and we do expect victory when we expend great losses of life and thousands of wounded troops. In Afghanistan, a surge of more than 30,000 U.S. troops has produced a stalemate that leaves soldiers counting down to withdrawal at the end of 2014.
Donovan summarizes his view of the illusions of Obama’s COIN strategy success here:
“In the interests of such political correctness, relevant terms like Islam, Islamist, Muslim, and even terrorist have been stricken from the public vocabulary with JCS help. Witness the recent Benghazi fiasco! The debate is not over mayhem or atrocity committed in God’s name. National politicians and the military brass are arguing whether or not to use the word “terrorist” in their reports dealing with Muslim barbarities.” (2012, p. 1)
And consider the ‘inside baseball’ spat over doctrine to be used against the nameless enemy; the counter-terror versus counter-insurgency (COIN) debate within the military. Petraeus apologists believe that the former ISAF commander reinvented the US Army with new doctrine; and then rode the COIN horse to promotions and prominence.
In truth, COIN played little or no role in Iraq or Afghanistan for two reasons; the force ratios required by Army doctrine, impractical theory, were never achieved. And both conflicts, like most Muslim wars, are civil, not insurgent. These internecine Islamic fights are between Sunni and Shia or between autocrats and theocrats. Neither NATO nor the US Army has the charter or doctrine to resolve these or any other religious or tribal civil wars. Evolution might be the only solution to any Muslim pathology.
COIN had nothing to do with tactical “success” in Iraq or Afghanistan either, but such distractions may contribute to strategic defeat. Theoretical illusions, even those nursed in the halls of ivy, are blinders. Theory, or more honestly, politicized military doctrine does not win wars…
While the U.S. still has the best war fighting force in the world, Generals have become more concerned with political correctness than they are with war fighting capability and future strategies against current and future threats( our borders, for example). This is in contrast to the soldiers focusing on the mission. However there has been an inflation of military Generals as LTC Bill Cowan recalls. During WWII our military had one General for about every 2,000 enlisted men and women, today we have one General for about every 400 enlisted men and women. Do these extra Generals enhance or augment our war fighting capability?
Obama has thus far not improved the U.S. military after President George W. Bush and Obama has no successes to claim. To be fair, as mentioned previously the military has been eroding at various levels over the generations, however the Obama Administration has served as more of a catalyst to the erosion rather than a stabilizer. Reminiscent of the World War I song, “Over There,” by World War II the U.S. military was labeled by the Europeans as being “Over-paid, Over-sexed, and Over Here” Today it could be argued that the U.S. military is over-regulated, over-promoted, and over-stretched.
Benghazi was a blatant failure by Obama and most of the military leadership. For the 2012 election, it is highly suspected that Obama personally requested that the Royal Family in Saudi Arabia increase oil production to ease the complaints about gas prices among voters before the election. If true, this demonstrates that Obama is willing to manipulate the economy solely for his selfish gain. Therefore would it be any surprise that Obama would be willing to negatively influence the US military, if he is willing to maneuver the prices of gasoline at the pump to deceive the voter?
Now obvious that the Muslim Brotherhood has support in the White House.
Obama’s Military Evolution
The continued corruption of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has been perpetuated by Obama. Obama Administration has no successes to claim.
Promises to exit Iraq and Afghanistan without a stable and effective plan have left both countries more vulnerable than ever. Obama’s failures to negotiate a proper status of forces agreement (SOFA) in Iraq
Our foreign policy is about other people liking us instead of other people fearing us. For instance, over the past decade, the US has been more concerned about a friendly relationship with Karsai than with leading Afghanistan out of corruption and war. How the US handles Karsai has steered our foreign policy platform and it has killed more troops under Obama.
Obama’s Future Leadership
Obama creates urgency at the last minute. Obama’s strategy is to push the pressure point. Obama’s projected budget cuts for the military are expected to be politically charged, with little effectiveness largely because Obama does not want to understand the tradition of the U.S. military. While recognizing that the U.S. still has the most powerful military in the world, Colonel Bill Cowan (ret.) asks, “if we don’t have a Commander-in-Chief that understands this and is not willing to exercise force at the right time, then why have the most powerful military in the world?” Cowan also confesses, “We have political leadership that is more interested in their next promotion than they are taking care of the military…Don’t ask the generals for their opinion on defense cuts, they have a vested interest and will not address the spending problem properly. It’s best to ask Sergeant Majors on a panel, ‘where cuts should be made?’”
Some might argue that Colin Powell became too politicized. However, one could argue it began with General Washington after the Revolution, General Grant after the Civil War, and General Eisenhower after World War II. However today, in order for a flag or command staff person to get a promotion, it must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. So over the past few generations of high-ranking military, the military has had to please the Democrats. Donovan quoted a veteran who asked regarding General Petraeus, “How does an officer with no personal experience of direct fire combat in Panama or Desert Storm become a division CDR (101st Airborne) in 2003…(and how does) a man who served repeatedly as a sycophantic aide-de-camp, military assistant and executive officer to four stars get so far?” Politics inevitably skews the military leadership; the question is, for better or worse? What is the motive when our Generals take a promotion from General to the State Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff or the Head of the CIA?
Now that Obama is, for better or worse, our Commander-in-Chief for another four years, it is imperative that our General officers SPEAK UP, for the sake of our troops and the American people. We do NOT advocate a “coup d’état” against the principle that wisely keeps civilian control over our military; but what we SHOULD espouse is that our active General officers use every means and opportunity to address the threats that the U.S. now faces.
Reviewing the details, the disappointing relationship between Obama and the military is very real and apparent. President Barack Obama signed a $633 billion defense bill for 2013 despite serious concerns about the limits Congress imposed on his handling of terror suspects and lawmakers’ unwillingness to back the cost-saving retirement of aging ships and aircraft.
Obama had threatened to veto the measure because of a number of concerns, but relented because he couldn’t pick and choose specific sections. However, in a statement, the president spelled out his concerns about restrictions on his ability to carry out his constitutional duties as commander in chief. Specifically, he complained that the bill limits the military’s authority to transfer third-country nationals being held at a detention facility in Parwan, Afghanistan. He also took issue with restrictions on his authority to transfer terror suspects from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“Decisions regarding the disposition of detainees captured on foreign battlefields have traditionally been based upon the judgment of experienced military commanders and national security professionals without unwarranted interference by members of Congress,” Obama wrote.
He said the section of the bill related to detainees in Afghanistan “threatens to upend that tradition, and could interfere with my ability as commander in chief to make time-sensitive determinations about the appropriate disposition of detainees in an active area of hostilities.”
Obama promised when he took office four years ago to close the prison at Guantanamo, but congressional opposition from Republicans and some Democrats have prevented him from fulfilling that vow. The law limits his authority to transfer terror suspects to foreign countries or move them to the United States. Obama insisted that he still believes that Guantanamo should be shuttered because operating the facility “weakens our national security by wasting resources, damaging our relationships with key allies and strengthening our enemies.”
The president has his administration will interpret the bill’s provisions and if they violate the constitutional separation of power, he will implement them in a way to avoid that conflict.
The law puts off the retirement of some ships and aircraft, and Obama warned that the move could force reductions in the overall size of the military as the Defense Department faces cuts in projected spending. The law includes cuts in defense spending that the president and congressional Republicans agreed to in August 2011, along with the end of the war in Iraq and the drawdown of American forces in Afghanistan. And it would authorize $528 billion for the Defense Department’s base budget, $17 billion for defense and nuclear programs in the Energy Department and $88.5 billion for the war in Afghanistan.
The measure tightens penalties on Iran to thwart its nuclear ambitions and bulk up security at diplomatic missions worldwide after the deadly Sept. 11 raid in Libya.
As suicides among active-duty soldiers have accelerated, the bill also allows a commander officer or health professional to ask if a member of the services owns a firearm if they consider the individual at risk for either suicide or hurting others.
The bill includes a Senate-passed provision sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., that expands health insurance coverage for military women and their dependents who decide to have abortions in cases of rape and incest. Previously, health coverage applied only to abortions in cases where the life of the mother was endangered. The measure includes a 1.7 percent pay raise for military personnel.
Conclusions: Conflict within the executive branch and the military will continue to cause misdirection and confusion on future US National Security and adaptable global conflict strategies. We must have more sense and wisdom about engagement and conflicts in this year 2013 and beyond. We do not seem to look back in history well and have major problems in seeing and forecasting the future. We seem to be a nation that is rudderless. We, the people, are the “Masters of our Fate and Captains of our Soul and Destiny”.
The Nature of change – War and conflict will remain a human endeavor, a conflict between two forces, yet changes in the political landscape, adaptations by the enemy, and advances in technology and techniques will change the character of the battle. Leaders are often late to recognize such changes and adjust to the proper uses of hard and soft power options, and even when they do, inertia tends to limit their ability to adapt quickly. Driven by an inherent desire to bring order to a disorderly, chaotic universe, human beings tend to frame their thoughts about the future in terms of continuities and extrapolations from the present and occasionally the past. But a brief look at the past quarter century, to say nothing of the past four thousand years, suggests the extent of changes that coming decades will bring.
Any updated US strategic doctrine will still have to include preemption across many fronts. Inevitably, there will be new perils that may require “anticipatory self-defense.” Where rationality cannot be assumed, and where the effectiveness of missile defense would be low, the only alternative to capable and lawful forms of American preemption could be surrender and defeat.
All policy makers need to ask and answer to the American people, “What is the US and Western civilization fighting for?” “What is it that we are defending and protecting based on our Constitution?” Well, it’s everything that shariah Islam stands against: Judeo-Christian principles, individual liberty, equality before the law, equality of Muslim and non-Muslim, men and women; it is the freedom to believe as our conscience directs us, even if that means no belief at all, or changing beliefs; it means protections for minorities; pluralism, and tolerance….but all within the ethical framework of human reason as laid down by the Founding Fathers.
We hope President Obama will take heed and strengthen the United States for the future by his relationship with our Military and ensure the future security of the United States.
Paul E Vallely MG, US Army (Ret)
Chairman – Stand Up America
“ Celtic Warrior”
Cowan, William. (2012) Interview on December 4, 2012.
Dilanian, Ken. (2012) “Fact check: Iran’s ‘Green Revolution’ in 2009.” Los Angeles Times October 22, 2012.
Jaffe, Greg. (2012) “Army at crossroads: Facing budget cuts and uncertainty about future role.” The Washington Post November 22, 2012.
Nation, Craig R. (2010) “Chapter 8: Thucydides and Contemporary Strategy.” in: Bartholomees, J. Boone Jr. (ed.) The U.S. Army War College Guide to National Security Issues, Volume I: Theory of War and Strategy (4th Edition). Carlisle, PA: The Strategic Studies Institute.