“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, March 11, 2007

'Iraq and Afghanistan are sucking up resources at a faster rate than we planned for'

'Smart' rebels outstrip US

Paul Beaver in Fort Lauderdale and Peter Beaumont
Sunday March 11, 2007
The Observer

The US army is lagging behind Iraq's insurgents tactically in a war that senior officers say is the biggest challenge since Korea 50 years ago.
The gloomy assessment at a conference in America last week came as senior US and Iraqi officials sat down yesterday with officials from Iran, Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia in Baghdad to persuade Iraq's neighbours to help seal its borders against fighters, arms and money flowing in. During the conference the US, Iranian and Syrian delegations were reported to have had a 'lively exchange'.

In a bleak analysis, senior officers described the fighters they were facing in Iraq and Afghanistan 'as smart, agile and cunning'.
In Vietnam, the US was eventually defeated by a well-armed, closely directed and highly militarised society that had tanks, armoured vehicles and sources of both military production and outside procurement. What is more devastating now is that the world's only superpower is in danger of being driven back by a few tens of thousands of lightly armed irregulars, who have developed tactics capable of destroying multimillion-dollar vehicles and aircraft.

By contrast, the US military is said to have been slow to respond to the challenges of fighting an insurgency. The senior officers described the insurgents as being able to adapt rapidly to exploit American rules of engagement and turn them against US forces, and quickly disseminate ways of destroying or disabling armoured vehicles.

The military is also hampered in its attempts to break up insurgent groups because of their 'flat' command structure within collaborative networks of small groups, making it difficult to target any hierarchy within the insurgency.

The remarks were made by senior US generals speaking at the Association of the US Army meeting at Fort Lauderdale in Florida and in conversations with The Observer. The generals view the 'war on terror' as the most important test of America's soldiers in 50 years.

'Iraq and Afghanistan are sucking up resources at a faster rate than we planned for,' one three-star general said. 'America's warriors need the latest technology to defeat an enemy who is smart, agile and cunning - things we did not expect of the Soviets.'

Other officers said coalition rules of engagement were being used against the forces fighting the insurgency. 'They know when we can and cannot shoot, and use that against us,' said one officer, reflecting the comments of US soldiers in the field. Another said recent video footage of an ambush on a convoy, posted on the internet, was evidence that insurgents were filming incidents to teach other groups about American counter-measures.

The concerns emerged as Iraq's Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, issued a stern warning that unless Iraq's neighbours - including Iran and Syria - united to help to shut down the networks supplying both Sunni and Shia extremists, Iraq's sectarian bloodshed would engulf the Middle East.

Speaking at the beginning of the conference of regional and international powers in Baghdad, Maliki warned: 'Iraq has become a front-line battlefield. It needs support in this battle, which not only threatens Iraq, but will also spill over to all countries in the region.' Shortly after he spoke, mortar shells landed near the conference site and a car bomb exploded in a Shia stronghold across the city.

Maliki asked for help in stopping financial support, weapons smuggling and 'religious cover' for the relentless car bombings, killings and other attacks that have increasingly been inflicted on Iraq, as the minority Sunnis, who dominated the country under Saddam Hussein, have fought the Shia majority who now run the government.

Terrorism, Maliki said, 'was an international epidemic, the price of which was being paid by the people of Iraq'. He also warned Syria and Iran not to use Iraq as a proxy battlefield against the US: 'Iraq does not accept that its territories and cities become a field where regional and international disputes are settled.'

Maliki said he hoped that today's conference could be a 'turning point in supporting the government in facing this huge danger'. The one-day gathering is also seen as a chance for conversations on its fringe between Iran and the US over the deepening Iranian nuclear crisis - opening the way to end the 28-year diplomatic impasse between America and Iran since the US hostages crisis. The chief US delegate has left open the door for possible one-on-one exchanges about Iraq.

More accounts from this Army Assoc. meeting here.
From this source we learn that the Army is in the greatest equipment building period “our nation has ever seen,” but there shouldn’t be a bump as the Army continues down the road of modernization and transformation, according to the director of force development for the Army deputy chief of staff.
Brig. Gen. Charles A. Anderson told Army and industry leaders at the Association of the United States Army’s Winter Symposium and Exhibition in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that the equipment soldiers receive continues to be improved, but funding has to be on time and predictable if that is going to continue.


  1. And, of course, under the
    No Learning Curve Administration,
    One must never expect the ROE's to be changed one iota, come, Hell, High Water, or Defeat.

  2. How long have we known about the RoE problem, doug?
    Remember all the "real seers" telling US it was just in my imagination, that there was even a problem with those Rules?

    Back to M. Yon and the LTC Kurilla story, if I recall correctly.
    RoEs and Catch and Release. Those two factors being the greatest indicators of a lack of seriousness on the part of US.

    Just my imagination, running away with me.

    But then again, we were just burka wearing pessimists, back then in '04, according to those that said it was just imagination, our running away from the fight with Islam, the Religion of Peace.

    My oh my, now the Generals agree. But then they say:
    " ... There is no military solution ... "

    Decieved into defeat, by a bunch of ragheads.

    Well, that's just our imagination, running away with US.

  3. The solution, more toys.

    Who are they trying to decieve, now?

  4. I had not thought of Fred as one of the prospects in '08.

    WASHINGTON: Fred Thompson thinks there is not enough "star" power in the Republican presidential field, so the 'Law & Order' star and former Tennessee senator is considering getting into the 2008 race.

    Thompson, who plays district attorney Arthur Branch on NBC's drama, said Sunday that he is going to "leave the door open" and make a decision in the coming months.

    "I'm going to wait and see what happens," Thompson said. "I want to see my colleagues on the campaign trial, what they say, what they emphasize, whether they can carry the ball next November."

    "I think people are somewhat disillusioned. A lot of people are cynical out there. They're looking for something different," he said.

    Thompson, 64, said he was pondering a run after former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker and other Tennessee Republicans began drumming up support for his possible Republican candidacy, citing his conservative credentials.

    Bob Bechel said he's the GOPer that "scared" him most.

    The "other" Man from Tennessee.

  5. 03-11-2007 6:17 AM
    By LAUREN FRAYER, Associated Press Writer

    BAGHDAD (Associated Press) -- A suicide car bomber rammed a truck carrying Shiite pilgrims returning from a religious commemoration Sunday, killing at least 32 people a day after Iraqi leaders warned sectarian violence could spread through the Middle East.

    Hundreds of pilgrims were killed by suspected Sunni insurgents as they traveled to the ceremonies in the holy city of Karbala, where millions had gathered for two days of commemorations, and their return journey was equally treacherous.

    The truck was bringing about 70 men and boys home and had reached central Baghdad when it was blasted by the car bomber. At least 32 people were killed and 24 were injured, police and hospital officials said. ...

    Reconciliation, just another day away.

  6. While the U.S. spends billions of dollars on sophisticated defense systems, the dime-a-dozen kidnapper and suicide bomber have emerged as the most strategic weapons of war. While we tie ourselves in legal knots over war's acceptable parameters, international law has increasingly less bearing on those whom we fight. And while our commanders declare "force protection" as their highest priority, enemy commanders declare the need for more martyrs. It seems that the more advanced we become, the more at a disadvantage we are in the 21st-century battlefield.

    In "Insurgents, Terrorists, and Militias," Richard H. Shultz Jr. and Andrea J. Dew, both of Tufts's Fletcher School, have produced a wise and cogent briefing book about who our enemies are and how to anticipate their field tactics. The problem, they state early on, is that the Pentagon--the product of a rational, science-based Western culture--relies on objective quantification for its analysis. But what happens, the authors ask, if there is nothing to quantify? What happens if the enemy is merely an organic part of the landscape, revealing its features only at the moment of attack? Well, then all we can do is study these "idiosyncratic" human landscapes and use anthropology to improve our intelligence assessments.

    The Somali way of war--so startling to U.S. Army Rangers in Mogadishu in 1993--emerged from Somalia's late-19th-century Dervish movement, on which the country's top warlord, Mohammed Farah Aidid, based his strategy. What the West viewed as fanaticism was merely the Somali proclivity for judging a man's character by his religious conviction and his physical ability to fight without limits. In the Somali worldview, our aversion to killing women and children was a weakness that could be exploited by using noncombatants as human shields. Clearly, the task of anticipating the enemy's tactics requires thinking that goes beyond Western moral categories.

    There is no better example of how traditional warrior cultures hold fast in the face of globalization than Chechnya, where cowardice is among the worst of transgressions and a dagger the most prized material item. There is in Chechnya, too, as the authors note, the Sufi proclivity for asceticism and mysticism: the former providing the mental discipline for overcoming physical hardships and the latter for sustaining morale. Furthermore, the Chechens' decentralized, clan-based structure--and their tradition of raiding--help to determine their guerrilla style, which has resulted in lethal hit-and-run tactics by small units on large, conventional Russian forces in the "urban canyons" of Grozny.

    Our progressive global culture with its emphasis on convenience and instant gratification finds it difficult to cope with such warriors, for whom war is a first resort rather than a last one.

    And what if a warrior takes command of a large and modernizing nation-state, as Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has done?

    July 19, 2006

  7. "In the Somali worldview, our aversion to killing women and children was a weakness that could be exploited by using noncombatants as human shields."

    ...Palestinians rushed to the homes of two terrorists who had been warned by the army to leave their homes before the homes were destroyed. One case involved a commander in the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), Muhammad El-Barud, who was... given 30 minutes to leave his house in the Jabalya refugee camp. A similar warning was reportedly given to Wael Rajab, an alleged Hamas member in Beit Lahiya.

  8. We have decided that you are a threat to us, please leave your home so we can destroy it, without hurting you.

    Now that's a way to fight a postmodern War, and win?

    Killing the foe, it's just to provocative.

  9. Dr Z is about to hit the airwaves with his newest video release.

    Where oh where could he be?

    Only the shadow knows.

  10. History always errs on the side of the most ruthless.

  11. Now that's a way to fight a postmodern War, and win?

    No, that's the way to appease the US so it can in turn appease the Saudis.

  12. Although I have done it myself hundreds of times and will continue to do so, there is no changiing the minds, through reason, of those willing to accept conventional wisdom.