Category Archives: Military Operations

The case for not bombing Iran.

Elbridge Colby and Austin Long writing in The National Interest.

The basic question is: How do attack advocates propose to stop the Iranian nuclear program if Tehran refuses to roll over after one round of attacks? There are two logical responses to this question. One is regime change, presumably through invasion. But there are significant downsides to invasion, not least that such a war would likely prove protracted and costly. Attack advocates such as Kroenig effectively concede that the American people are unlikely to support this course.

The other is that the United States should be prepared to conduct repeated strikes over a long period of time to ensure the Iranian nuclear program is kept down. Unsurprisingly, Kroenig and others shy away from this answer, as it is a recipe for perpetual war. The cost in lives, resources and America’s international reputation would be formidable, especially if done without diplomatic cover and international support that probably wouldn’t be forthcoming. Yet, even under the most favorable conditions in which Iranian retaliation stayed limited and international support was forthcoming, a long-term, limited-strike campaign might not work at a level of effort and damage in line with U.S. aims. Regular U.S. strikes on North Vietnam over a period of seven years under highly favorable international conditions failed woefully either to convince Hanoi to change its fundamental strategy or substantially degrade the communist war effort. The North Vietnamese resolutely repaired bridges, depots and roads. More recently, limited allied air strikes against Iraq in the 1990s didn’t force Saddam Hussein’s compliance with UN Security Council Resolutions. Moreover, as happened in Vietnam, such strikes likely would become more difficult over time. The Russians, for example, have refrained, thanks to Western diplomacy, from selling Iran advanced long-range surface-to-air missiles that could make strikes more difficult. They probably wouldn’t be so forbearing if strikes were conducted without their prior and explicit approval, which Moscow isn’t likely to give.

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Filed under Iran, Middle East, Military Operations

William Tecumseh Sherman on war

“You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out. I know I had no hand in making this war, and I know I will make more sacrifices to-day than any of you to secure peace.” -Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman

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Don’t pity the veterans

The event was a Wall Street gala that raised millions of dollars for homeless veterans in New York City.

Kid Rock sang a ballad about helplessness, frustration and loss. On cue, several hundred soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines strode into position around him. The black-tie crowd rose to its feet and cheered.

“The servicemen and women were regarded as heroes,” said David Saltzman, who organized the spring fundraiser.

A senior military officer at the gala, also attended by the Joint Chiefs then-chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, saw the troops’ role differently.

“They were rolled out like some sort of orphan kid,” the officer wrote in an e-mail. “I’m sure the organizers meant well. I know they did. But it wasn’t respect, really. It was pity.”

The starkly conflicting impressions illustrate the uneasy relationship that has taken hold between the military and an often distant, sometimes adoring American public.

The troops are lavished with praise for their sacrifices. But the praise comes with a price, service members say. The public increasingly acts as if it feels sorry for those in uniform.

“We aren’t victims at all,” said Brig. Gen. Sean B. MacFarland, who commanded troops in Iraq and will soon leave for Afghanistan. “But it seems that the only way that some can be supportive is to cast us in the role of hapless souls.”

The topic is a sensitive one for military leaders, who do not want to appear ungrateful or at odds with the public they serve. They also realize that the anger that returning troops faced in the latter years of the Vietnam War was far worse.

As a result, most of the conversations about pity take place quietly and privately among combat veterans. After his two sons returned from combat tours with the Marines, retired Col. Mark Cancian warned them that people outside the military would view their service from two perspectives.

Some would look at them with a sense of awe because they faced down insurgents and traveled to exotic places. Others would wonder whether there was an “angry, violent veteran beneath the surface,” said Cancian, who fought in Iraq and returned to a senior government job in Washington.

During his job search, he said, he sensed that some interviewers had subtly inquired whether he would be able to hold up under the strain of a demanding Washington job immediately after his combat tour.

Read more here.

 

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Is American Withdrawal an Iranian Victory?

On the eve of the U.S. withdrawal, it may be difficult to see the extent to which Iran’s policy in Iraq is in shambles. Since the displacement of Saddam Hussein’s regime, Tehran has pursued two contradictory policies. On the one hand, the clerical state seeks cordial relations with the Iraqi government and has provided aid and commerce as a means of solidifying bilateral relations. Yet Iran has also been arming and nurturing Shiite militias that plot against authorities in Baghdad. Such a paradoxical approach seemed sustainable during the civil war, as Iraq’s hard-pressed Shiites looked to Iran for assistance and thus countenanced its interventions in their country. The end of Iraq’s war, however, has left Iran without a coherent policy. Tehran’s inability or unwillingness to resolve the fundamental contradictions in its approach have done much to alienate the Iraqi government and a populace eager to put the burdens of conflict behind it. Whereas Washington was ill-prepared to deal with the start of Iraq’s civil war, Iran seems unable to deal with its aftermath.

Whether the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq is wise is an issue worthy of debate. But the imperative at hand is to ensure Iraq’s continued stability and prevent Iranian mischief in light of America’s departure. The key to this lies as much in diplomacy as in military deployments.

Today, the essential estrangement of Iraqi Shiites from the larger Arab world, and the neighboring Sunni regimes’ unease with their empowerment, makes them vulnerable to Iranian machination. A more forceful U.S. diplomacy, pressing allies to integrate Iraq into the Arab state system, would offer Baghdad additional economic partners and regional interlocutors as well as a means of reestablishing itself as a pivotal state of the Arab world. As the Middle East struggles with transitions that often pit identities against interests, Iraq can offer some useful lessons. Indeed, such a development would not only aid Iraq’s rehabilitation and assist the region political evolution but would further isolate Iran in its immediate environment.

Source.

Others, including most notably Charles Krauthammer, see this very differently. They see the American withdrawal as either proof of American defeat or a prelude to it. As I wrote before, if the Iraqis need or want more American troops, more can be arranged. It may be politically difficult in the US, but so will watching Iraq unravel and Iran blatantly and visibly exert its influence during the process. I’m not so sure that the withdrawal of American troops will lead to Iraq’s downfall. The Iraqi government, security forces, and people will have more work to do, but that is inevitable. Let’s hope it’s not too soon for them to take those responsibilities. Douglas Ollivant makes the persuasive case that the withdrawal is both necessary and worthwhile. It is well worth the read.

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Filed under Foreign Policy, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Military Operations

Alfonso Cano is Dead

Good riddance.

Government forces have killed Alfonso Cano, the leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia [FARC], during combat operations, the country’s defence ministry has said.

Juan Carlos Pinzon, the defence minister, said on Saturday that Cano was killed after government forces bombed a FARC jungle hideout in the southwestern Cauca region on Friday.

The death of Cano, 63, who took over leadership of the rebels after their founder died in 2008, would be a strategic victory for President Juan Manuel Santos, who came to office last year promising to keep up a hardline stance against the rebels.

The government had offered up to $5m for information that would lead to his capture.

Pictures of his dead body, with his trademark beard shaven off, have been broadcast on television.

“It is the most devastating blow that this group has suffered in its history,” Santos said in a brief televised address to the nation.

“I want to send a message to each and every member of that organisation: ‘demobilise’ … or otherwise you will end up in a prison or in a tomb. We will achieve peace.”

The sign of justice is again a shaven face.

 

 

Source.

Photo Source.

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Chechnya Wars in Photos

Source.

H/t to David Axe.

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Cat Sh*t One

A veteran friend of mine sent along the following animation: Cat Shit One.

The animation is quite good, and spot on. There is quite a bit of realism to it, from the weapons to their tactics and techniques. Our veteran readers will especially enjoy this.

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