The plot thickens

The Strategist has released Part III of The Doomsday Machine…this story just gets better and better – I think Peter may be once of those hidden talents about to be discovered…

Holding the High Ground

Travels With Shiloh has a very insightful piece on torture…for me the quote from MAJ Nathan Hoepner says it all…

As for ‘the gloves need to come off’…we need to take a deep breath and remember who we are…Those gloves are…based on clearly established standards of international law to which we are signatories and in part the originators…something we cannot just put aside when we find it inconvenient…We have taken casualties in every war we have ever fought–that is part of the very nature of war. We also inflict casualties, generally many more than we take. That in no way justifies letting go of our standards. We have NEVER considered our enemies justified in doing such things to us. Casualties are part of war–if you cannot take casualties then you cannot engage in war. Period. BOTTOM LINE: We are American soldiers, heirs of a long tradition of staying on the high ground. We need to stay there.

Drop ‘American’ from his bottom line and this statement applies across the Anglosphere.

Dumbing Down

Neptunus Lex carries a disturbing item on a US initiative to reduce the number of common tasks that all soldiers must be capable of doing.. if it is as stated, it represents a major setback for the US Army – the list of tasks referred to is a distillation of lessons learned the hard way since 2003. For a long time it has been clear that there are two parts to US TRADOC – the hard-charging sharp thinkers in Ft Leavenworth and ‘the rest’ who produce bland corporate speak. Unfortunately there are probably those who will latch onto this as an excuse to slash back training, probably based on the false premise that they can always play catch up in PDT. So much for the non-contiguous mission-space and if we are not careful, the training pendulum will swing back to the good old days of the 1990s and the Fulda Gap…

Mattis on thinking

Meanwhile, back at this ranch, I am working up an essay on GEN Mattis’ comments last week on the need to revitalise the American officer corps…unfortunately the weather is too good and the nice folk at ITM Taumarunui dropped off a load of wood for Phase II of the man-cave so I am somewhat distracted…

Mattis: Obsolete Thinking Worse Than Obsolete Weapons

By John J. Kruzel

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 19, 2010 – The only thing worse than obsolete weapons in war is obsolete thinking, a top U.S. commander cautioned in remarks on revitalizing America’s military officer corps.

Marine Gen. James N. Mattis, commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command, yesterday emphasized the role education plays in enabling military officers to adapt quickly to strategic and tactical changes they encounter.

“It’s opening the aperture,” he said, describing the value afforded through education. “Once you stretch the mind open, it’s hard for it to go back to how it was before.”

Mattis delivered his remarks at an event hosted by the Center for a New American Security, a policy think tank, in conjunction with a study by the center on improving the way military officers are trained, evaluated and promoted.

“The U.S. military must develop a model that trains and educates officers for the complex interactions of the current threat environment while being agile and versatile enough to adapt to a swiftly changing world beyond,” contributors John Nagl and Brian Burton wrote in the CNAS study published ahead of yesterday’s panel discussion. Mattis underscored the importance of complementing experience operating as part of a coalition on a battlefield with study of history and wars of the past.

“Through education built on an understanding of history and through experience gained on joint coalition operations, and probably commencing earlier in officers’ careers,” he said, “we can create an officer corps at ease with complex joint and coalition operations.”

Mattis stressed the need for a new “strategic reawakening” among military officers, making an apparent reference to the design in place before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

“By setting the problem first and spending a lot of time up front getting it right, you don’t invade a country, pull the statue down and say, ‘Now what do I do?’” he said, in an allusion to the iconic image of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein’s likeness being pulled down by a U.S. military recovery vehicle.

Focusing on the culture of the senior military officer corps, Mattis bemoaned that senior-ranking military members aren’t allowed ample time to reflect critically on important issues.

“I believe the single primary deficiency among senior U.S. officers today is the lack of opportunity for reflective thought,” he said. “We need disciplined and unregimented thinking officers who think critically when the chips are down and the veneer of civilization is rubbed off — seeing the world for what it is, comfortable with uncertainty and life’s inherent contradictions and able to reconcile war’s grim realities with human aspirations.”

First thoughts are that the mind is more like a rubber band – you can stretch it open but if you don’t maintain the tension, it will snap shut again; and as I said in the previous item, there are places like Ft Leavenworth that are already well down this path…

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