Friday, January 02, 2015

the tragedy of the american military

theatlantic |  Ours is the best-equipped fighting force in history, and it is incomparably the most expensive. By all measures, today’s professionalized military is also better trained, motivated, and disciplined than during the draft-army years. No decent person who is exposed to today’s troops can be anything but respectful of them and grateful for what they do.

Yet repeatedly this force has been defeated by less modern, worse-equipped, barely funded foes. Or it has won skirmishes and battles only to lose or get bogged down in a larger war. Although no one can agree on an exact figure, our dozen years of war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and neighboring countries have cost at least $1.5 trillion; Linda J. Bilmes, of the Harvard Kennedy School, recently estimated that the total cost could be three to four times that much. Recall that while Congress was considering whether to authorize the Iraq War, the head of the White House economic council, Lawrence B. Lindsey, was forced to resign for telling The Wall Street Journal that the all-in costs might be as high as $100 billion to $200 billion, or less than the U.S. has spent on Iraq and Afghanistan in many individual years.

Yet from a strategic perspective, to say nothing of the human cost, most of these dollars might as well have been burned. “At this point, it is incontrovertibly evident that the U.S. military failed to achieve any of its strategic goals in Iraq,” a former military intelligence officer named Jim Gourley wrote recently for Thomas E. Ricks’s blog, Best Defense. “Evaluated according to the goals set forth by our military leadership, the war ended in utter defeat for our forces.” In 13 years of continuous combat under the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, the longest stretch of warfare in American history, U.S. forces have achieved one clear strategic success: the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Their many other tactical victories, from overthrowing Saddam Hussein to allying with Sunni tribal leaders to mounting a “surge” in Iraq, demonstrated great bravery and skill. But they brought no lasting stability to, nor advance of U.S. interests in, that part of the world. When ISIS troops overran much of Iraq last year, the forces that laid down their weapons and fled before them were members of the same Iraqi national army that U.S. advisers had so expensively yet ineffectively trained for more than five years.


Ed Dunn said...

U.S. Military and US laws focus on deterrance, not victory. But once a group like Vietnam Korea and the Taliban and ISIS show they are not deterred or scared then the deterrance factor goes to hell. Deterrance seem to only work domestically on COINTEL victims...

DD said...

Um, the US Military is bar none the best investment this country makes. First, the money isn't real. Second, most of the 'money' invested provides for jobs and disposable income back home. Finally, the ROI on the resources we spend on the military is massive. Our force potential and use is what allows us to extract resources from around the world. Mark Zuckerberg is not the reason other nations ship us their raw materials and finished goods.

Not to endlessly repeat myself a la DoUble Accountachrist, but we dominate with food and weapons. When you get right down to it, what else is there as a foundation for this cushy, heated, wifi-having house I live in?

makheru bradley said...

The police state in Charlotte acknowledges that the use this surveillance equipment: For eight years, the Observer has learned, CMPD has owned portable equipment that mimics a cell tower and allows officers investigating serious crimes to learn the serial numbers, location and other
information about nearby phones and laptop computers and tablets that connect to a cellular network. The surveillance equipment, known by names such as StingRay, Hailstorm, AmberJack or TriggerFish, has been used by the military and federal agencies since the 1990s to hunt down terrorists.
But interviews and documents collected from the Observer’s Freedom of Information Act requests show CMPD uses the technology on a
weekly basis to track suspects in violent felonies, kidnappings and missing persons cases.Privacy groups say the surveillance is so intrusive that it
violates the Constitution’s prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure. The technology, they say, is powerful enough to penetrate a
home’s walls. The Obama administration has ordered cities not to disclose information about the equipment. During a recent visit to Charlotte, FBI Director James Comey said his agency is trying to shield police tactics from criminals. The Charlotte City Council voted unanimously without debate in 2012 to spend more than $357,000 to upgrade the cellphone surveillance technology for CMPD.

City Manager Ron Carlee said last week that CMPD has procedures in place to protect constitutional rights. He said in a statement: “The
equipment is not used without a court order. Even with a court order, the equipment is not used to listen to cellphone conversations or to
collect information about bystanders.” In a sworn statement, Bradley Morrison, chief for the FBI’s tracking technology unit in Quantico, Va., said the FBI shields from public view how, when, where and under what circumstances it deploys cell-site simulators. The information, he said, is exempt from discovery and other public disclosure because that could “easily impair the use of this investigative method.” Revealing even seemingly innocuous information could allow suspects to piece together enough details to develop countermeasures to evade detection by authorities, Morrison said.

Based on my experience with COINTELPRO, there is no doubt in my mind that this surveillance is used against political targets. That awareness helps, but we carry on our struggle anyway.

CNu said...

There's no question whatsoever that in comparative terms, with the civilized world - the U.S. is overweeningly bristling with arms. The question begged here, is whether the composition of those forces and those weapons is anywhere approaching efficient or effective. When put to a sustained and significant test - it may well prove to be the case that comparatively minimal investments in properly constituted and deployed forces prove overwhelming to the apparent might of U.S. armed forces.

(put it like this DD, if the U.S. armed forces were run like either the Imperial Japanese military or the the Third Reich, we would spend less than a 10th of what we spend and waste and have an armed force vastly superior to the one we have)

So also with agriculture. If instead of the intensely inefficient and resource wasteful way in which we currently do corporate agriculture, we did Cuban-style sustainable and pervasive agriculture, we'd still not only enjoy absolute food security, but we'd enjoy that food security in perpetuity.

Your warmth, wi-fi, and personal self-defense will be for nought if there is a significant breakdown in the grid and the supply chain in No-Cal.

DD said...

Cosign. Just pointing out that of all out inefficiencies, the military is one that worries me the least. In fact, I'd suggest that the inefficiency is actually a benefit to the American Way of Life. If it was more efficient, that would slow the velocity of money and delivery of tangible assets to the US. Since money is fairly cheap to manufacture, having lots more of it sloshing around quickly is good to maintain financial domination.

Remember, as the originator of the global reserve currency we absolutely have to run structural deficits. Overspending costs us nothing, helps maintain hegemony, and actually delivers more real goods to our shores.

As always, this is not a moral assertion, more an attempt to find a logical reason for what looks like waste. TPTB may not be good, but I don't think they're stupid.

CNu said...

Bro. Makheru, would it be fair to characterize the CMPD as an experimental force projection structure?

If so, why do you suppose it's been constituted in a manner that is unique in the U.S.? (at this moment in time at least)

Does it have anything to do with the HQ presence of BoA in Charlotte, a branch of the Federal Reserve in Charlotte, or any other factor that you can call out top-of-mind? (because 900,000 people spread out over 110square miles is not distinctive imoho)

I'd characterize the state of Missouri as quite special for reasons that fairly leap off the map of the federal reserve system itself

Dale Asberry said...

Kansas City MO is also the primary Internet tier 1 hub connecting the east coast and west coast...

makheru bradley said...

“Why do you suppose it's been constituted in a manner that is unique in the U.S.?” IDK Bro. Nulan. “An experimental force projection structure” is as good a theory as any. The citizens were told that the merger would be bureaucratically cost effective--1 police chief, etc, and more efficient--1 department with divisions spread across the county. DHS has a regional office in here, and their units can be seen from time to time on the streets of Clt. Occupy did call Clt “Wall Street South.” Wells Fargo also has a large presence here. Duke Energy is a big wheel. I was in the “March on Wall Street South” during the 2012 DNC. The uniform presence was damn near suffocating, and there is no telling how many agents of all types were imbedded with the marchers. Thinking back, they always responded with a large force. I remember rolling out one night with some fellow Panthers to confront a white businessman about an alleged act of discrimination. The whole thing was probably a set-up because we quickly found ourselves in a semicircle of about 20 officers with shotguns pointed towards us. I was resigned to death at 17, but they just ran us off the property. Chief Rodney Monroe didn’t hesitate to charge one of his own with the killing of Jonathan Ferrell. Stingray is probably just the latest in a continuum of experiments dating back to the civil rights era.

DD said...

Of the pieces in this month's Atlantic, I actually found this one much more interesting in respect to luminance perspectives of consensus reality:

DD said...

Liminal. Apologies, auto correct isn't as literate as you are!

arnach said...

FBI really doesn’t want anyone to know about “stingray” use by local cops

CNu said...

Guess not only secrecy has a place in our criminal just-us system, but inquiring minds also want to know who has the nerve and audacity to question authority's methods and means.