Category Archives: Our Military

About the operation of our military. It’s strengths and weaknesses.

Martin van Creveld introduces his new radical book: “Pussycats”

Summary: Martin van Creveld has published another book, perhaps his most controversial yet (however difficult to imagine). He tackles the great enigma of our wars since 9/11: how western armies — certainly the most powerful every fielded by almost every metric — have been unable to defeat poorly trained, poorly equipped, almost unfinanced armies of the jihad.


Just published: Pusscats

By Martin van Creveld
From his website, 28 April 2016

Posted with his generous permission


In the kingdom(s) of the West, something is rotten. Collectively, the countries of NATO are responsible for almost two thirds of global military spending. In terms of military technology, particularly electronics, communications and logistics, they have left most of the rest so far behind that it is no contest. Yet since at least the end of the Korean War back in 1953, almost every time they went abroad and fought non-Westerners they were defeated and had to withdraw without achieving their objectives. As happened, to cite but two recent cases, in Iraq and Afghanistan; and as may yet happen if and when Islam keeps spreading into Europe, as it is doing right now.

What went wrong? How did the ferocious soldiers, who between 1492 and 1914, brought practically the entire world under their control, turn into pussycats? Readers of this website will recognize some of my earlier attempts to answer these questions; now those answers have been extended and put together in a single book.

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Another assassination of a jihadist leader. Here’s what comes next…

Summary: Another week, another assassination of a top jihadist leader, the usual glowing stories in the news. Next comes amnesia, as the wonderful results fail to appear — and the jihadist movement continues to spread across the world. Perhaps someday we will connect the dots and learn the ineffectiveness of this tactic (part of the larger inability of foreign armies to defeat local insurgencies).

“Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.”
— From “Step 2: A Promise of Hope” by James Jensen, a Narcotics Anonymous pamphlet published by the Hazelden Foundation (1980).

New CIA Logo

Reuters: “Afghan Taliban meets on succession
after U.S. drones target leader

“The Afghan Taliban’s leadership council met on Sunday to start considering succession after a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan targeted its commander …The strike targeting Mullah Akhtar Mansour on Saturday was perhaps the most high-profile U.S. incursion into Pakistan since the 2011 raid to kill al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and sparked a protest by Islamabad that its sovereignty had been violated.”

How many times have we read such headlines since 9/11? Many times. How many jihadist leaders have we assassinated since 9/11? Many. With what effect? We have created martyrs and convince increasing numbers of the Islamic peoples that America is Skynet, an evil entity sending killers from the sky. Al Qaeda has become a global franchise. Its Islamic State spin-off has become a proto-state in Syria and Iraq (albeit a besieged one). Africom is rapidly expanding to chase multiplying insurgencies (e.g., in Mali, in Nigeria).

No matter how small the results, journalists (aka DoD’s stenographers) report each as a major accomplishment from which great things are expected. Journalists write these stories because we do not learn. Otherwise we would laugh at them — which is poison to media narratives.

Reuters (best of breed in news) strikes a realistic note at the end of the article.

A second U.S. intelligence official was more pessimistic. “It’s at least equally likely that killing Mansour will destroy any chance to get the Taliban into negotiations with the (Afghan) government, not that there ever was much of one,” said the second official, who specializes in South Asia and also spoke on the condition of anonymity. “His successor could be even more loathe to negotiate.”

Also note that this hit marks another expansion of the drone campaign by our Nobel Peace Prize President.

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Photos of those serving America abroad on Armed Forces Day

Armed Forces Day

On 31 August 1949 President Harry S. Truman designated May 21 as Armed Forces Day, a time for citizens to come together and thank our military members for their patriotic service in support of our country. This represented the important unification of the Armed Forces under the Department of Defense, and replaced the separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Days.

To put faces to this Day, here are a few U.S. Army photos from Kuwait by Staff Sergent Ian M. Kummer of 40th Combat Aviation Brigade. These represent the 1.3 millions active duty troops and the 811 thousand in the Reserve and National Guard forces.


A Helocast: Jumping from the helicopter

Soldiers jump from the back of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter from Company B, 1st Battalion, 168th Aviation Regiment, 40th Combat Aviation Brigade, during a Helocast exercise in the Persian Gulf May 2. Helocast is a method of inserting teams of troops into combat zones that might not be otherwise accessible.

Army soldiers helocast: rafting to the target

Solders from the 86th Engineer Dive Detachment pick up the Soldiers.

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America needs a smaller and more lethal Army for the 21st century

Summary: The failures of our military in Vietnam and our occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan have sparked discussion about how the US Army can best meet the wide range of threats facing us in the 21st century. Here Robert Prescott reviews the Army’s planning for this new century of war. There are no easy answers. All we see for certain is the need for change.

Military spending

We see the massive power of the US military at work in our media, as not a week has gone by since WWII by without slickly produced articles clamoring for more money for DoD. Such as “America Needs a Larger, More Modern, More Lethal Army” by Daniel Goure at the National Interest, 4 May 2016. Goure (bio here) is one of the military-industrial-complex’s apparatchiks, rotating between positions in DoD and its supporting civilian ngos — now at the Lexington Institute, a right-wing “think-tank” apty described as the “defense industry’s pay-to-play ad agency“. But amidst the propaganda there are more sensible voices, such as this …

Should America Build a Smaller, More Lethal U.S. Army?

By Robert Prescott
From The National Interest, 22 April 2016
Reposted with the author’s generous permission

In the Old Testament book of Judges, the Almighty tasks Gideon with leading the Israelites against their oppressor, the Midianites. In assembling an Israelite army, the Almighty commands Gideon to reduce his numbers. Gideon obeys and ultimately triumphs with the remaining force of three hundred men employing an elaborate ruse. Reducing the size of an armed force seems counterintuitive, but, as the story illustrates, organizational design, and not end strength, is critical to military effectiveness.

In the present day, headlines are replete with American Army leadership warning of risks arising from the reduction in the service’s end strength. Unfortunately, Army leadership indicated the risks could only be addressed by providing the service with more resources, namely appropriation dollars to afford additional personnel and new equipment.

Given the Department of the Army’s record in managing prior manpower increases and modernization programs, Congress is right to be skeptical as to whether simply providing more of both would best minimize the risks raised by the service’s leadership.

The Commission on the Future of the Army, tasked by Congress with an examination of these matters, concluded “in general terms, the Army is appropriately sized, shaped, and ready to meet the strategic guidance it has been given… but only just so.” [Emphasis added].

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Martin van Creveld looks at our military white elephants

Summary: Today Martin van Creveld looks at one of the most exceptional aspects of US defense policy, our weapons. A naïf would describe it as quite mad, unaware of the lavish salaries and great corporate fortunes created by tapping the almost limitless flow of taxes from the apathetic and credulous citizens of America.

“In the year 2054, the entire defense budget will purchase just one aircraft. This aircraft will have to be shared by the Air Force and Navy 3-1/2 days each per week except for leap year, when it will be made available to the Marines for the extra day.
— One of Augustine’s Laws.

Augustine Law of aircraft costs


White Elephants

By Martin van Creveld
From his website, 28 April 2016

Posted with his generous permission


At least since 9/11, and possibly since the First Gulf War back in 1991, it has been clear that the most immediate threat facing developed countries is not other developed countries. It is terrorism, guerrilla, insurgencies, asymmetric war, fourth generation war, war among the people, nontrinitarian war (my own favorite term), whatever. Follows a list — a very partial one, to be sure — of expensive new American weapons and weapon systems, now in various stages of development, all of which have this in common that they are not relevant to the threat in question.

The USAF’s new bomber

America’s last bomber, the B-2, was an absolute disaster. Originally the program, which went back to the late 1980s, was supposed to result in a fleet of 132 aircraft. That figure was later reduced to just 20, plus one used for all kinds of experimental purposes. The machines cost $500,000,000 each, which is far more than almost any conceivable target. Some sources, taking development costs into consideration, provide a much higher figure still. Yet so vulnerable are the machines that, when they are not in the air, they need to stay in air-conditioned hangars. That in turn means that they can only be operated from the Continental US and take hours and hours to reach their targets.

Nevertheless, fixated on bombers as the USAF has been for so many years, none of these problems have prevented it from going for an even more ambitious program. This is the so-called Next Generation Bomber of which 175 are planned. Suppose, which in view of past experience seems rather unlikely, that anything like this number is in fact produced at a cost of God knows how many dozens and dozens of billions. The contribution to effectively fighting the kind of organization that has mounted 9/11? Zero. Zip.

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