On military readiness and what happens after deployment

There are two hot topics of mine that fall the civil-military relations section of this blog: readiness and recruiting. The first might not be considered c-m at first, but the areas I’m looking have direct ownership in the civilian side of the equation. The second, the recruiting, falls within the c-m framework in our citizen army, the All Volunteer Force (AVF). So briefly, because it’s late and I have a lot more work to do…

First, from Phil Carter on the Washington Post’s announcement that “nearly 90 percent of Army National Guard units in the United States are rated ‘not ready'”:

In his 2000 acceptance speech to the Republican National Convention, then-Gov. George W. Bush leveled the following criticism at the Clinton Administration and its management of military readiness in the wake of the Kosovo campaign:

“Little more than a — little more than a decade ago, the Cold War thawed, and with the leadership of President’s Reagan and Bush, that wall came down.

“But instead of seizing this moment, the Clinton-Gore administration has squandered it. We have seen a steady erosion of American power and an unsteady exercise of American influence. Our military is low on parts, pay and morale. If called on by the commander-in-chief today, two entire divisions of the Army would have to report: “Not ready for duty, sir.” “

read the rest of Phil’s post here

Second, Noah Schachtman captures the terrible situation situation at Walter Reed and the deplorable support of our forces, as does Phil Carter. If you’re a family member of a person at Walter Reed and you had a son, nephew, or neighbor considering going into the service, what would you say? Tom Barnett in his JHU Rethinking War seminar commented on this very point a short while back.

More on Contractor deaths

In response to AE’s comment on contractor KIAs in Iraq, I doubt (and agree there shouldn’t be) any joint memorial to our fallen servicemen and servicewomen and private contractors. Consider Blackwater USA, however. In their effort to emulate or reconstruct the US Armed Forces from which many of their number come, they have their own memorial. I’m not aware of any other firm that has such a feature (but not many have such expansive grounds to fit one either).

Book Review: Warriors and Politicians: US Civil-Military Relations Under Stress

Warriors and Politicians: US Civil-Military Relations Under Stress is an outstanding book providing a real and practical look at American civil-military relations. Charles Stevenson comes to this book with the experience of two decades on the staff of four US Senators and as a professor fo the National War College. Unlike other authors on the subject, he puts significant ink in the beginning on the fact the “US Constitution was framed by men distrustful of standing armies and any concentrated power.” The product of this mistrust is evident in the established relationships, by Constutition and by practice, between the three institutions (Executive, Legislative, and military). There is an ongoing struggle where the military seeks autonomy and resources and offers professionalism and loyal subordination (per the Constitution) while the two political branches struggle, as the Framers intended, to make policies. The US military is “cross-pressured by its two masters and…often feels compelled to turn to one for relief from the other.” In the current national security crisis, this book is important reading to really understand the role of the military, the impact of Rumsfeld and the Generals Revolt, Congerssional debates and resolutions, and more.

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Posing the question: Is the SysAdmin Constitutional?

Dan of tdaxp reframed a question of legitimacy of the Marines the Volokh Conspiracy posed last week. Volokh suggested that since the Marine Corps “is more like armies” that perhaps it should be treated as the US Constitution treats the US Army and thus not considered an element of the US Navy. Dan extends this to question whether the Tom Barnett’s SysAdmin theory is then unconstitutional. I felt it was necessary to respond with history and facts.

I had originally posted what was surely a brilliant response in Dan’s comments, only to have it lost to cyberspace. Thinking again about this, I decided to post the response here because there are other more important areas that should be probed when discussing the answer to V & D’s questions. Be warned, this is a long post.

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Can’t fight without the right equipment

Not only is the Army suffering manpower problems, creating issues at CONUS bases, hindering knowledge creation and transfer, wearing down its equipment, and not providing known and necessary pre-deployment training, but now the DoD’s own Inspector General issued a report last week stating failures to provide proper equipment to our soldiers.

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Domestic security is hampered by an inattentive Pentagon and White House

From the Associated Press:

HONOLULU (AP) _ The Army is considering hiring a private contractor to provide emergency medical airlift the military and civilians on Oahu.

Army soldiers have flown Oahu patients on an emergency basis, but they had to stop doing so due to a deployment to Iraq.

The Hawaii National Guard has been filling in since April but it too must
stop to get ready to go to Iraq.

Major General William Brandenburg is the U-S Army Pacific deputy commander. He says the high demand for emergency flights in Iraq and Afghanistan isn’t expected to dissipate soon.

He says this is forcing Army officials to begin talking about issuing a
competitive bid process to hire a private contractor in Hawaii by this

Good post on Turkey

Chirol at ComingAnarchy has a brief but good primer on the role of the Turkish military in protecting the state & Kamalism. Turkey is certainly a fascinating country to study and pay attention to. As Chirol says, the Turkish military views itself as a mother would its son, intervening to correct its walk then stepping back. Turkey’s recent coups are more than “a bit unlike others” to the extent of being appropriately named “coup by memorandum” (or “communiqué”). Yes, a bit unlike others.

Studying Turkish civil-military relations can lead to a fascinating discussion beyond the context of potential Turkish ascension to the EU (which is partially blocked by their unique c-m) and into the relationship between Islam, government, and the military. I agree with those who equate Turkish civil-military relations with civil-military relations in Germany between the two World Wars and in France of the early 1960s even though most liken them to South America, particularly Brazil, or Eastern European relations after the Cold War. Why? Mostly because of the civil-side of the equation but also because of the professionalism of the military side, notably the officers. When you’re a Turk, you’re neither Kurdish or Turkmen, this is especially true in the military.

The positive role of the military in Turkish life cannot be underestimated. From the one-day conscriptions for invalids — so they too can serve their country with honor — to the ritual of the first letter home from a new conscript and despite corruption, especially on the eastern front, the Turkish military is held in high regard. The Turkish military is synonymous with Turkish national identity.

I look forward to Chirol’s future posts on Turkey and the threats she faces.

How not to win the Long War

Hat tip to the Duck of Minerva for highlighting the David Brooks op-ed reminding readers of two important articles on how to fight modern conflict. Both are by George Packer of The New Yorker. The first, The Lesson of Tal Afar, contains some lessons from one of America’s current premier counter-insurgency minds, Col. H. R. McMaster (who also wrote the outstanding book Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam). The second article, Knowing the Enemy, is “about freethinkers in the Pentagon and elsewhere who were studying how Hezbollah and the Iraqi insurgents create narratives that demoralize their enemies, energize believers and create a sense of historical momentum.” (See my post on the election of Hamas for related comments.)

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Rummy says Farewell at Kansas State

I was watching Secretary Rumsfeld talk live at Kansas State University yesterday on the Pentagon Channel and I was struck by his answer to a question from the audience (transcript available here) when asked on what advice he’d give to a young person today:

Study history… We need context. We’ve staked everything in this country — if you think about the gamble, we stake everything on the people, that they can — given sufficient information, will make the right decisions. They need context. We need context. History provides that context. And if there’s one piece of advice I could give, it would be to focus on that and think about it and understand it. It will improve the ability of all of us to function as citizens in this great republic.

I have no doubt the SecDef felt he was doing the right thing, but the conflict between the reality and his statement above is, quite literally, awesome.

Technorati tags: GWOT, Rumsfeld, War

Paving the way for US Military Operations in CONUS

Just quickly, here are a few interesting highlights on expanding DOD activities within the continental United States (CONUS) from the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 (HR5122). The full text is available here at THOMAS and here on GovTrack. I have highlighted some parts I found particularly interesting, but I’d be interested in reading what Opinio Juris and other legal websites have to say about this. 

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Looking into Meyer’s National Military Strategy

Briefly, I recently read through the National Military Strategy of the US for 2004. Put together under the previous Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Medal of Freedom winner General Richard Meyers, it just isn’t an exciting document that isn’t very interesting, except for these excerpts:

  • "When directed, commanders will preempt in self-defense those adversaries that pose an unmistakable threat of grave harm and which are not otherwise deterrable." [p9, this one we knew and was part of the National Security Strategy, no big deal]
  • When directed, the Armed Forces provide military support to civil authorities, including capabilities to manage the consequences of an attack. [p10, in response to Katrina… wait, it was one year before Katrina…]
  • When directed, the Armed Forces will temporarily employ military capabilities to support law enforcement agencies during special events. [p10, laid down before Katrina… who cares about Posse Comitatus]

It should be interesting to see what General Pace’s NMS looks like considering the difference in personalities and time.

NMS available here at DefenseLink.mil and locally cached here.