mm326: Go figure! Even our robot forces are undermanned!

March 23, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

This nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© is always intrigued when one of its obsessions interests pops up as news.

Danger Room is a military affairs blog (part of we don’t check into sufficiently often, but today we were rewarded with a new Predator tale.

The changing face of military aviation

ninth in an occasional series

The series so far…





U.S. pilot helped clear the fog of war



Go to war — Play videogames



Osprey: A Flying Shame



Abolish the Air Force



Proxy killers — Can you live with that?



A Maginot Line for the 21st Century



A shared obsession is a satisfying thing



Videogames. Real warfare. An unsettling



Read the rest of this entry »


mm096: Bush’s non-exit exit strategy

August 4, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Completing today’s war trilogy is this excellent commentary…


Bush’s non-exit exit strategy

Not only is the “surge” not working, it’s destabilizing Iraq. Yet military leaders say troops should stay for the long term.

By Joe Conason


Aug. 03, 2007 | To read the prepared testimony of Adm. Mike Mullen, President Bush’s nominee for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is to understand that the Bush administration’s Iraq strategy requires U.S. troops to remain in that country for a long time, perhaps permanently. With unusual candor, the admiral explained in answers submitted before his appearance in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday that he and the president believe in the necessity of a “pragmatic, long-term commitment that will be measured in years not months.”

How many years Mullen did not say, but he did offer a suggestion in this tangle of redundancies: “We must commit to a long-term security relationship with Iraq that facilitates political reconciliation, supports development of a stable Iraq, and is directly tied to our enduring long-term interests in the region.” American forces will be there for the long term, just in case that wasn’t clear the first few times.

Mullen forthrightly admitted that there is no “purely military solution” to Iraq’s problems, and his testimony was refreshingly honest about the catastrophic errors committed by the Bush administration over the past four years, from disbanding the Iraqi army and purging all Baathists from government to the failures of war planning and diplomacy. As he noted during his live testimony, the prospects for “victory” are mixed at best because Iraq’s political leaders have made so little headway toward a political settlement among the country’s warring ethnic and religious communities.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!] | Bush’s non-exit exit strategy

Adm. Mullen is well respected by MUDGE‘s own military advisors, his son and daughter-in-law, both former Navy lieutenants with front line experience, and his testimony this week is a clear demonstration that at the Joint Chiefs level, politics always trumps military excellence. Think Colin Powell.

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc. have led us to the point where there are only bad choices, where the only sure bet is that many, many more of our daughters and sons will die, fighting battles that everyone now understands are unwinnable in a country that will blow itself apart even if our troop strength was an order of magnitude greater.

As Conason writes:

But at this late date, as the political structures in Iraq fall, the war’s advocates cannot pretend that their strategy is working, either. The way to encourage compromise, if not reconciliation, among the Iraqis is to place our withdrawal on the negotiating table — and to warn those we have brought to power that we are leaving, sooner rather than later, and that their only hope for stability is to dither no longer. That was the essential recommendation of the Iraq Study Group, and it is still the only plausible exit strategy.

Plausible, of course. But if there’s one sure fact that emerges from six years of war, it’s that logic will never budge this administration. Only the next election, or given a gutsier Congress, impeachment.

January 20, 2009 can’t come soon enough.

It’s it for now. Thanks,


mm095: Pat Tillman and the Coming Witch Hunt on Iraq – Early Warning

August 4, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

The always readable William Arkin posted the following commentary this week in the Washington Post:


William M. Arkin on National and Homeland Security
Pat Tillman and the Coming Witch Hunt on Iraq

Interrupting his retirement and in need of a haircut, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld showed up on Capitol Hill yesterday for the first time since leaving the Pentagon. He had been called to testify not about Iraq, Iran, Pakistan or al-Qaeda, but about the death of former NFL star and Army Ranger Pat Tillman.

Rumsfeld said he was sorry for whatever mistakes had been made, but he wasn’t responsible for any of them, and the three current or former generals who testified alongside him echoed his remarks. The news media lapped all this up, even as it became clear that the hearing would come to naught. Is this a preview of the post-Iraq witch hunt we will experience after the 2008 elections?

Motivated by a desire for national service, Tillman quit a promising and lucrative job as a safety with the Arizona Cardinals of the NFL to join the U.S. Army Rangers after 9/11. On April 22, 2004, he was killed in a friendly fire incident while operating in the mountain of eastern Afghanistan. His family and the nation were told he was killed by enemy fire. On May 1, 2004, President Bush mentioned Tillman in a speech to the White House Correspondents Association annual dinner. America had a hero, and just in time: Iraq was descending into anarchy. On May 29, the Army announced that Tillman was shot by fellow Rangers in a friendly fire incident.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Pat Tillman and the Coming Witch Hunt on Iraq – Early Warning

The Pat Tillman story is one of the most dire to come out of our six year national nightmare.

And Rumsfeld and his generals hide behind bland excuses. As Arkin writes:

After all, key decisions about the Iraq war remain enigmas: to limit the number of U.S. troops involved in the assault, to pay less attention to the aftermath, to carry out a de-Ba’athification program in the Iraqi Army, etc., etc. The very description of the events is so passive because we are describing a system that in fact is working. It remains unclear who made the key decisions and why — because that is how the participants want it.

And yet the Tillman tragedy is one of many thousands of such stories, of our sons and daughters sacrificed by our elected and appointed screw-ups, who hide behind bureaucracy and plausible deniability.

January 20, 2009 can’t come soon enough.

It’s it for now. Thanks,


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mm094: Point/Counterpoint: A War We Just Might Win – New York Times | Why the latest good news from Iraq doesn’t matter. – Slate Magazine

August 4, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Were you as bemused as I was by the story early this week in the NYTimes?


July 30, 2007

Op-Ed Contributor

A War We Just Might Win



VIEWED from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel, the political debate in Washington is surreal. The Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility. Yet now the administration’s critics, in part as a result, seem unaware of the significant changes taking place.

Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

A War We Just Might Win – New York Times

How could I make sense of this? Well, a couple of days later, helped put this odd story into perspective.


war stories

Irrelevant Exuberance

Why the latest good news from Iraq doesn’t matter.

By Phillip Carter
Updated Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2007, at 3:02 PM ET

In 1975, Army Col. Harry Summers went to Hanoi as chief of the U.S. delegation’s negotiation team for the four-party military talks that followed the collapse of the South Vietnamese government. While there, he spent some time chatting with his North Vietnamese counterpart, Col. Tu, an old soldier who had fought against the United States and lived to tell his tale. With a tinge of bitterness about the war’s outcome, Summers told Tu, “You know, you never defeated us on the battlefield.” Tu replied, in a phrase that perfectly captured the American misunderstanding of the Vietnam War, “That may be so, but it is also irrelevant.”

Today, in Iraq, we face a similar conundrum. Our vaunted military has won every battle against insurgents and militias—from the march up to the “thunder runs” that took Baghdad; the assaults on Fallujah to the battles for Sadr City. And yet we still find ourselves stuck in the sands of Mesopotamia. In a New York Times op-ed published Monday, Brookings Institution scholars Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack argue that “[w]e are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms.” They go on to describe the myriad ways the surge is succeeding on the security front. But in emphasizing this aspect of current operations, they downplay the more critical questions relating to political progress and the ability of Iraq’s national government to actually govern. Security is not an end in itself. It is just one component, albeit an important one, of a comprehensive counterinsurgency strategy. Unless it is paired with a successful political strategy that consolidates military gains and translates increased security into support from the Iraqi people, these security improvements will, over time, be irrelevant.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Why the latest good news from Iraq doesn’t matter. – By Phillip Carter – Slate Magazine

Okay, I’m back on track here. Slate raises two excellent points:

  • Who chose what O’Hanlon and Pollack saw? “Potemkin village” indeed.
  • Carter points out the “fatal flaw” to the argument: that progress is only sustainable at the present troop levels, and that’s not in anyone’s plan.

And that quote from New Republic encapsulates it all, doesn’t it:

We have just plain screwed up too many times.

Our patriotic, courageous and determined children have died by the thousands in Iraq and Afghanistan because those ideologues in the White House, Cheney and Rove and Rumsfeld, have just plain screwed up, over and over and over again.

And Congress continues to dither and fight its internecine battles.

It’s time to make the long march home to sanity.

It’s it for now. Thanks,