Monday, July 19, 2010

Blood and Treasure: part I

I must begin this article by stating that no civilized man enjoys war, or killing.

No person in his or her right mind will advocate for the use of military force when other options are available to resolve issues between nations. For; there is no glory in the battle, no beauty or grace, but only fear, pain, loss and death. We do not want to place the lives of others in jeopardy anymore than we wish for ours to be. Yet, until such time as mankind can control his appetites and shy away from the violent instincts and passions that are the cause of war, we are left with a simple fact. Warfare, ugly and cruel, is part of the human experience. And so long as factions and nations persist in being belligerents, we as a people will always face the prospect of attack. So it is now the United States finds itself immersed in a long and bloody conflict. Not one of conquest or of desire, but rather one foisted upon us by a cunning and vicious enemy. We all wish that this was not the case and that the attempts to use diplomatic measures with these terrorists had succeeded. I don’t like war, but as we have been left no recourse and our foe has chosen to ignore reason and debate, and has taken the stance of aggressor, I see no other option but to fight.

The myriad of facts surrounding a topic such as “Military Operations” i.e. warfare, pile up quickly and can overshadow even the brightest or best of minds. Add to the overload of confusing information concerning troop deployments, logistics and timetables, the American politician’s penchant to argue and debate issues great and small, we quickly find ourselves mired in a morass of “Point vs. Counterpoint”. The minutiae’ of strategy, theory, and tactics, are drawn out, dissected, and fought over. More debate arises over the validity of contentions, both factual and fictional.

This of course is the American way of doing things and it is only natural that Military matters would be treated in the same fashion. For, if the Commander in Chief, and the Congress, had no control over our standing Armed Forces then I assure you we would not enjoy the freedoms and liberties we so often take for granted. History has shown time and time again that an autonomous Military establishment beholden to none but its own, leads not to the safety and security of the people, but to tyranny and dictatorships. I diminish not the valor, honor and genius of our military leaders by stating such, for they too understand the need for some oversight from the Legislature and Administration. Such cooperative management curbs the potential for abuses of power within the armed services as well as the government itself and protects the citizenry from that most fearful of political takeovers, the “military coup”.

However, though the necessity of cooperative management be evident, there is a point when the government must give the command of the conflict to the Generals and Admirals of the service. For it is ultimately with them that the experience and knowledge of armed struggle resides. One would not entrust a regiment of Marines to a lawyer or sailmaker anymore than one would have law practiced by the laborer and vice versa. The talents and abilities acquired through years of study and hands on experience of any job or skill is what gives the practitioner of the art his or her level of expertise. The talents and expertise for the profession of warfare most assuredly requires men and women of knowledge to execute the endeavor to effect. And though their peculiar talents and positions ultimately lead to the letting of blood, distasteful as such an act is, can in no way lessen the fact they are best equipped to handle the tasks assigned.

Establishing thus that those soldiers and sailors who hold rank and leadership within our armed services are professionals in their field we must conclude that their ideas, plans, assessments and views concerning warfare hold merit and value. This fact cannot be disputed, no matter how often certain persons try.

Yet, though this truth is evident, we are witness to, from the floor of the House and Senate, politicians braying loudly about the strategy of this nation’s current military operations. Some have gone so far as to say that there is no strategy at all as pertains to one area of Ops, that being Afghanistan.

This contention, on the part of some of our legislators is false, and quite frankly insulting to the soldiers and officers of the Military, for there is a strategy in place. One that is at the heart of the entire conflict, and if understood by those in congress who accuse the Generals of ineptitude I daresay, those same politicians would reward and applaud these brave men and women rather than defame them.

As has been pointed out time and time again the general strategy of the Afghan theater is to seek out and destroy the terrorist organizations and their financial supporters. In so doing we not only keep the enemy off balance by forcing him to react to our actions i.e. initiative, but we also undermine his ability to formulate and execute attacks on our civilian population. In this we have been rather successful for to date, the terrorists have been unable to effectively assault the American people. This I believe is due in great part to the military actions within the borders of Afghanistan.

One would think that such a simple strategy, well known and of common knowledge, would be available for our legislators to view and understand. Sadly this is not the case, and as the uninitiated and uninformed politicians scream about the cost in treasure for the operations in the east, they ignore the cost in blood and propose a vote to defund the entire theater.

It is here that rests the heart of the matter. (Continued in Part II)
Allen R. Butler

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