Another Contrast

This Time piece dovetails nicely with my post earlier:

Obama uses a different frame of reference. “As somebody who had been a community organizer,” Obama recalls, “I was convinced that if you invited people to get engaged, if you weren’t trying to campaign like you were selling soap but instead said, ‘This is your campaign, you own it, and you can run with it,’ that people would respond and we could build a new electoral map.” The chum stores, the e-mail obsession and the way Obama organizations sprang up organically in almost every congressional district in the country meant that by the time Obama’s field organizers arrived in a state, all they had to do was fire up an engine that had already been designed and built locally. “We had to rely on the grass roots, and we had clarity on that from the beginning,” says Plouffe.

By contrast, the Clinton campaign, which started out with superior resources and the mantle of inevitability, was a top-down operation in which decision-making rested with a small coterie of longtime aides. Her state organizers often got mixed signals from the headquarters near Washington. Decisions from Hillaryland often came too late for her field organization to execute. Obama’s bottom-up philosophy also helps explain why he was able to sweep the organization-heavy caucus states, which were so crucial to building up his insurmountable lead in pledged delegates. What was not appreciated by many at the time: while Clinton spent heavily in every state she contested, Obama’s approach saved money. Says Dean-campaign veteran Trippi: “His volunteers were organizing his caucus victories for free.”

This reminds me of what I was taught when I was serving as an armor crewman 11th ACR in the Fulda gap, and we were preparing for the onslaught of Soviet armor to come cruising through. We were told to always let the scouts through, because Soviet Doctrine was to have scouts advance forward over phase lines on the map, and when they stopped radioing back phase lines, Soviet superiors knew they had made contact. Thus, you allowed them to get through the lines and eliminate them behind the lines, so the enemy has an inaccurate assessment.

Another story we were told was that the Soviets did not often have two way radios in all of their vehicles. Command had two-way, line units would only have one way. The notion was that decision-making authority was centralized at the top for them, while our troops had much greater latitude to make decisions at the lowest level- the military version of subsidiarity, something everyone discusses in public international law classes in college (presuming you take them). This was also, if I remember correctly (it has been years since I read the texts), the reason for the delayed response from German armor at Normandy because Rommel was actually out of theatre celebrating his anniversary or some other event (Update- it was his wife’s birthday).

Again, not sure how much of the above is accurate, although someone more familiar with REFORGER and Soviet doctrine could probably validate or invalidate my ramblings, for all I know I was fed nonsense by my platoon sergeant, but if accurate, it does seem analogous to the top-down formulation of the Clinton campaign. Trust, decision making authority, and organizational skills were dispersed in the Obama campaign and organic, rather than centralized and forced down on local offices from on high.






187 replies
  1. 1
    Dreggas says:

    What’s most amazing about this is that, with the de-centralization of the Obama campaign with regards to organizing he had fewer gaffes from heads of staff and organizing in the field than Clinton.

  2. 2
    Dave says:

    John, you got it exactly right. If you’ve ever perused Soviet AirLand Battle Tactics, one of the Soviet’s key beliefs was obedience. Lower-level soldiers and officers were expected to adhere to the plan, no matter what.

    Obama ran the first true Internet-Age campaign (Dean had parts of it). Hillary’s was very much like what you would see in the 80s and 90s. The days of that style of campaign are over.

  3. 3

    What John just posted was the clincher for me, and a lot of people, on why we not just voted for, but volunteered for, Obama.

    Some of it was Charisma, sure. But much more of it was finally being involved in something like a Movement. Something where you learn how not just to pull a lever, but how to actually fight for what you believe in.

    It wasn’t just encouraged to work for Obama; many a time Obama Staff told us to take what we were learning, and doing, and keep working in our communities, be we Democrat, GOPer, Independent, whatever. It was far more important, from their perspective, to be involved, for or against, than to sit on the damn sidelines.

    That’s the kind of courage, and leadership, more politicians should have.

  4. 4
    Napoleon says:

    while our troops had much greater latitude to make decisions at the lowest level-

    I swear I read years ago that was one of the great advantages the Germans had in WWII vis-a-vis the Red Army.

  5. 5
    Napoleon says:

    I missed your refernce to Rommell in my first post. Actually I think where they went wrong, if I recall correctly, was they held units back from the front thinking the real attack would be elsewhere or something like that. It’s not that the units in contact with the Allies were waiting for instructions, its that a bunch of units were never in contact in the first place since they were in reserve.

  6. 6
    ThymeZone says:

    Napoleon comments on Rommel.

    Let us pause to savor this moment.

  7. 7
    The Other Steve says:

    John, you got it exactly right. If you’ve ever perused Soviet AirLand Battle Tactics, one of the Soviet’s key beliefs was obedience. Lower-level soldiers and officers were expected to adhere to the plan, no matter what.

    This is always so interesting to me. I could see this top-down approach working for the Germans or the Japanese, but as I learn more and more about Russian culture, I’ve never met a group of people who are more “FUCK AUTHORITY! WE DO WHAT WE WANT!”

    I think this is why the Soviet government was so brutal to keep people in line, whereas in Nazi Germany most everybody just went along quietly.

    It’s just funny, because you’d think they would embrace this culture rather than try to kill it, but it has something to do with the German influence into the Russian ruling class.

  8. 8
    nikkos says:

    John, brace yourself for the Clintonistas asserting that “You just called Hillary a Communist!!@!@1”

  9. 9
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    Hopefully this says something about how Obama will govern. We’ve tried the top-down style for eight years and it’s been a disaster for America.

  10. 10
    Rick Taylor says:

    Did you see John Stewart on the Daily Show last night on Clinton? Seems people are suddenly noticing the same thing.

  11. 11
    El Cid says:

    It’s probably worth bearing in mind that the Clinton’s strategy nearly won, and had it, it would have been as ritualistically repeated how wrong this proved the Obama / organizer model as McGovern / 1972 proved how awful liberals and non-party-insider controlled nominations were for Democrats.

  12. 12
    Napoleon says:

    Napoleon comments on Rommel.

    LOL

    Actually I take my name from “Animal Farm”.

  13. 13
    John Cole says:

    John, brace yourself for the Clintonistas asserting that “You just called Hillary a Communist@1”

    Wow. I didn’t see that coming, but I bet you are right. And don’t you know it, communism is notoriously misogynistic and sexist.

  14. 14
    AkaDad says:

    John McCain is the type of guy I’d like to play Bingo with.

  15. 15
    Napoleon says:

    John McCain is the type of guy I’d like to play Bingo with.

    . . . or shuffleboard.

  16. 16
    Dave says:

    I’d like to sit at McCain’s knee and hear stories about how life was before television, ballpoint pens and tupperware.

    Damn this guy is old…

  17. 17
    Dennis - SGMM says:
    John McCain is the type of guy I’d like to play Bingo with.

    . . . or shuffleboard.

    Or chase the mastodon, back in the day.

  18. 18
    Teak111 says:

    “small coterie of longtime aides…” nothing more needs to be said.

    Adjustments, folks wes all gots to make them. Hillary didn’t.

    Got a friend getting killed by gas prices and a crazy mortgage, but he won’t adjust. Probably be in foreclosure soon.

    BTW, that McCain vid of yesterday is very strange. Almost like an SNL audition. Wow.

  19. 19
    Adam says:

    Or chase the mastodon, back in the day.

    MCCAIN 2008: RETURN TO THE ICE AGE

    Solving our food crisis and global warming in one fell swoop.

  20. 20
    Nora Carrington says:

    John, she’s out of the race. How about a little grace in victory? When are you boyz gonna get it through your heads that she’s sitting on 18 million voters that we’re going to need in a mere five months?

  21. 21
    Dave S. says:

    Nora,

    What, are they in a box somewhere? I don’t think they are waiting on her command to move.

  22. 22
    Guy in Ukraine says:

    Longish time first time – Your exactly right, I’m not an expert but before I came here to work I was brushing up on my Russian with a colleague who was formerly military intel. This is what he explained to me. The whole point of our strategy against the USSR was to exploit the leadership gap. In our army, NCOs hold the troops together. You don’t have them you have a discord between the top and bottom which leads to serious problems. In fact, in Ukraine (with our advise) they are trying to deal with this historical weakness. Sargeants hold the troops together, not generals. Interestingly enough, another huge problem with the effectiveness of former Soviet armies is that they are largely conscipts (like when you were serving) who frankly were not smart enough or didn’t have connections to get out of serving. Same as today. Whatever the merits of your COs intelligence, he seems to have been telling you the truth. As far as I can tell, all this has to do with the campaign is, Obama’s troops are not conscripts and trust who they are fighting with, I can’t say the same about HRC or McCain.

  23. 23
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    How about a little grace in victory?

    How about not being so thin-skinned? There were two articles and three op-eds in today’s WaPo dissecting the aftermath of the Clinton campaign. John’s post was mainly a quote from Time, no name calling, no personalities. It’s a legitimate topic and will continue to be so – unless of course Hillary is not to be criticized in any way shape of form.

    And, since you asked for it: if anyone could sit on eighteen million of anything it’s Hillary.

  24. 24
    markus says:

    I think it’s too early to call the Clinton campaign tactics (to the extent such a thing exists) dated: Obama’s campaign tactic requires both a chrismatic and exceptionally inspirational lead otherwise you’re not going to get enough people motivated at the local level. In addition it requires a key set of issues (Iraq, health care, economy) people can rally around without descending into squabbling. That is, the lack of message discipline distributed campaigning tends to bring was less of a problem this year because everyone could agree on a couple of fundamentals.

  25. 25
    Rick Massimo says:

    I do remember reading that there was a particular division or battalion that sat on their hands awaiting orders that could have wiped out a large group of American troops on D-Day afternoon.

    I also remember reading that Eisenhower’s basic message to his lower-level commanders and the field troops was “Learn the plan. Know it by heart. Know it backwards and forwards. And then if you see it isn’t working, do something else.”

  26. 26
    Dreggas says:

    One thing I have said from the beginning of this campaign. Many people, young and old were looking for a way to be involved, this started immediately after 9/11 when everyone was helping each other, when people were volunteering time and in general we were “together”. That was squandered when we were told to go shopping and the current administration ignored it.

    Deep down, I believe, many still wanted to be part of something greater, to be a community and truly one nation. No one stood up and tapped into that until 2004 when Obama gave his speech, however that was his speech and not Kerry’s, even Kerry never really tapped into it. Obama, in his campaign tapped into that and it will help propel him forward and we can win in November.

    There’s those old movie cliche’s about some patriotic song playing while someone gives a rousing speech and everyone’s heart swelling and standing up together and doing “something”. We see it a lot (usually to the tune of Glory Hallelujah) and here, in some ways, it’s reality. We’re called on to be better and be more and people have been hungering for that for a while.

  27. 27
    jibeaux says:

    When are you boyz gonna get it through your heads that she’s sitting on 18 million voters that we’re going to need in a mere five months?

    Hillary sitting on 18 million voters/bargaining chips definitely violates the Geneva Convention. This is like the black CIA sites in Eastern Europe, Guatanamo, and Abu Ghraib all rolled into one.

    /channeling the Florida comments, in case that was over anyone’s head

  28. 28
    jake says:

    How about a little grace in victory?

    How about some better spoofs?

  29. 29
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    That was squandered when we were told to go shopping and the current administration ignored it.

    You mean that shopping wasn’t fulfilling enough for you? Even shopping for plastic sheeting and duct tape? Turn in your American flag lapel pin!

  30. 30
    joe says:

    Rommel was “out of theater,” because he went to Berlin to try to convince OKW of the need to end the war.

    It was nice that he got to see his wife on her birthday, but it wasn’t a birthday trip.

  31. 31
    Notorious P.A.T. says:

    the reason for the delayed response from German armor at Normandy because Rommel was actually out of theatre celebrating his wife’s birthday.

    I happen to have a picture of that:

  32. 32
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    I happen to have a picture of that:

    Well, there wasn’t anything else happening on August 29th, 2005.

  33. 33
    Beth in VA says:

    Trust, decision making authority, and organizational skills were dispersed in the Obama campaign and organic, rather than centralized and forced down on local offices from on high.

    Could this also explain why Hillary thinks that she somehow owns 17+ supporters, who are in actually just the people who voted for her, not the ones that will die and cease to think when she quits? She doesn’t trust these voters to be Democrats, she doesn’t trust them to have a Plan B or a second choice after her.

  34. 34
    Craig says:

    Other thing about the Soviets–no NCO corps worth mentioning. Conscripts and career officers. If we had fought, and if we had beaten them, it would have been because of our Sergeants.

  35. 35
    Krista says:

    And, since you asked for it: if anyone could sit on eighteen million of anything it’s Hillary.

    Foul!

    You get five minutes in the corner and your after-dinner pudding gets sent to John McCain instead.

  36. 36
    Jess says:

    I thought the same about Dean and, in contrast, Kerry. In 2004, I was more shocked than I should have been to realize that the DLC clearly did NOT want the voters to get any lofty ideas about self-government. I get the sense that a lot of other people were pissed about that as well, and that that fed into the dynamics of this campaign.

  37. 37
    replicnt6 says:
    John McCain is the type of guy I’d like to play Bingo with.

    . . . or shuffleboard.

    John McCain seems like the kind of guy I’d like to knock back a few glasses of Metamucil with.

  38. 38
    w vincentz says:

    Dennis,
    You’ve nailed the “fear meme”. It used to work, sadly, and it sure was effective. Just look at what we’ve gotten for it.
    Looks like quite a few of us see the absurdity of fear, living our lives like scared little rabbits while the coyotes kill all the chickens.
    Much better is the message of “HOPE” and “CHANGE”.
    Ahh, but that would take ALL of us out of the previous paradigm.
    As a great Dem once said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
    Just me, an ol’ hippy (also called “traitor”) for questioning the bullshit tactics of the Bush junta.

  39. 39
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    You get five minutes in the corner and your after-dinner pudding gets sent to John McCain instead.

    Just don’t make me watch him gum it down.

  40. 40
    John Cole says:

    John, she’s out of the race. How about a little grace in victory? When are you boyz gonna get it through your heads that she’s sitting on 18 million voters that we’re going to need in a mere five months?

    Oh for chrissakes. Should I just shut down the blog for a few weeks out of respect to Hillary, so you all can mourn? When will it be acceptable to post again? How long do I need to not post to show my respect so you all will not cut off your collective noses to spite your face by voting for McCain?

  41. 41
    b. hussein canuckistani says:

    And, since you asked for it: if anyone could sit on eighteen million of anything it’s Hillary.

    I laughed and now I’m ashamed to be male.

  42. 42
    Dreggas says:

    Krista Says:

    And, since you asked for it: if anyone could sit on eighteen million of anything it’s Hillary.

    Foul!

    You get five minutes in the corner and your after-dinner pudding gets sent to John McCain instead.

    I agree, after all as a connoiseur of big butts her ass ain’t that big.

  43. 43
    Dreggas says:

    Dennis – SGMM Says:

    You get five minutes in the corner and your after-dinner pudding gets sent to John McCain instead.

    Just don’t make me watch him gum it down.

    I hereby posit the theory that for every action there is a sound effect….cue slurping sound.

  44. 44
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    Just me, an ol’ hippy (also called “traitor”) for questioning the bullshit tactics of the Bush junta.

    Having been in much more exciting places while Bush was drinking his lunch and snorting dessert I couldn’t accept a dictatorship as the price of being “protected.”

  45. 45
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    I hereby posit the theory that for every action there is a sound effect….cue slurping sound.

    Like an elephant pulling its foot out of the mud.

  46. 46
    Napoleon says:

    By the way, this I find somewhat relevant. In the book that came out last fall on the McGovern campaign “the Liberal’s Moment”, which I can not over recommend for how much that is in it is relevant to today (Nixonland has been similar for me) it discusses how the McGovern campaign built up a list of grassroots supporters and contributes which they actually computerized. Morris Dees was the guy who put it together.

    At the end of the campaign they handed the data base they (the book says Dees did it personally) had built up over to the new DNC chairman Robert Strauss who in the book claims he does not remember being given it, but he never denies the story. The list was never used again by the Dems and the clear implication in the book is that it was intentionally destroyed or “lost” so that the party could kill any bottom up organizing or energizing or drawing on support of its base, and instead it undertook the project of turning to the corporate world for support (basically a proto-DLC approach).

  47. 47
    w vincentz says:

    Right Dennis!
    The price for our protection has been trashing the Constitution, habeus corpus, packing the courts with judges that play to the religious nuts.
    Oh! The consequences of dictatorship!
    Barack has his work cut out for him if he’s even able to restore any semblance of those precepts wherein this once great nation was founded.
    I advocate war crimes trials for the perps. Do we not believe in JUSTICE? Fuck impeachment. To the Hague with the tyrants!

  48. 48
    KevinD says:

    I was in Germany about the same time, Scout Platoon in the 2nd AD, and we got the same story. We had the advantage because we’re more decentralized, we have more initiative, they’re too robotic and over-controlled. As Fred Thompson would say, “The Russians don’t take a dump without plan”, or something like that. That was supposed to be our advantage, as long as they nuke us or gas us in our barracks at 2:00am Sunday morning.
    Then again, after the conflict in Kosovo, the Russians took the initiative and snagged the main airport for themselves while our generals were sitting around discussing who would get the indoor parking, or something, so I wonder how accurate those assumptions about them would have been.

  49. 49
    Krista says:

    John, she’s out of the race. How about a little grace in victory? When are you boyz gonna get it through your heads that she’s sitting on 18 million voters that we’re going to need in a mere five months?

    What, posting a Time magazine piece on how Clinton’s campaign was organized is being ungracious?

    Nora, let’s be frank here. Obama’s being very gracious, as he should be. Some of his supporters are being gracious, others less so.

    However, I’d be interested in hearing what you would define as being gracious, as it appears that posting a third-party analysis of the two campaign styles does not fit within that definition. Do you expect Obama supporters to pretend that Clinton ran a wonderful, perfect, utterly clean campaign with no mistakes whatsoever, in order to mollify her supporters? If we did, we’d be told that we’re being patronizing.

    So I’d like to know what exactly it is that her supporters want from us (and no, Obama conceding is not going to happen…sorry), because right now, it seems like no matter what we do or say, it’s the wrong thing.

  50. 50
    Napoleon says:

    PS to my post – It was hard not to read that book and look at all that has happened since in the Dem party as a continuing fight between the party regular wing of the party, what we would now identify as the DLC, and the grassroots/McGovern coalition which in my mind is what just won the nomination (with the addition to it of one segment that has long voted with the party regulars, African Americans). By the way, Jimmy Carter, although he was definitely an insurgent candidate, and a reform candidate, really doesn’t fit the mold of coming from the McGovern/Hart/Bradley/Obama thread of the party – in fact Carter nominated Scoop Jackson at the 72 convention in an attempt to derail McGovern. Also he was pretty clearly a fairly conservative Democrat.

  51. 51
    AkaDad says:

    If Obama really wants to be gracious he would concede.

  52. 52
    The Other Steve says:

    Interestingly enough, another huge problem with the effectiveness of former Soviet armies is that they are largely conscipts (like when you were serving) who frankly were not smart enough or didn’t have connections to get out of serving.

    I always find this argument rather insulting and arrogant. WWII was fought largely with conscripts. The American army had a larger percentage of conscripts in WWII then in Vietnam.

    This idea that men/women will only be motivated to fight if they are paid money, trivializes the sacrifices that men have made over the centuries for their country.

    WWII is referred to as the Great Patriotic War in Russia. The men who fought and survived are treated with great respect. Every year they put on their uniforms and march on VE day. It is no different than in America.

    Where the Russian army failed in WWII was in their command structure, and their supply lines. It was for lack of supplies, and lack of planning, and lack of technology that the Russians lost so many to the Nazis.

    IT WAS NOT FOR LACK OF AMBITION. Do not forget, the Russians beat the Nazis. Patriotism can be a powerful motivator, especially when you are attacked.

    I realize that people think that the reason we have a volunteer army today was because the conscripts in Vietnam didn’t fight hard enough. You’re wrong, so very wrong. The reason we have a volunteer army today is solely political. It is to have enough soldiers for instant reaction, while limiting the longterm supply to force the President to go to Congress and ask for more.

    It was not because of the fighting effectiveness of conscripts.

  53. 53
    Bobzim says:

    I’ve got picture somewhere of a SMLM in a Mercedes zipping past our convoy on the Autobahn. REFORGER 84.

    We were always taught that the average Soviet troop was intentionally not taught how to read a map. Now there’s you some top-down macro-management.

  54. 54
    Hannity Hussein says:

    So if we apply your premise regarding American Military doctrine re. Soviet Armour to Obama’s campaign versus McCain, Barack should hold fire until the yellow tint in McCain’s teeth has passed out of view and attack when his and Joe Lieberman’s halitosis fills the room to press the attack.

  55. 55
    Kevin K. says:

    This notion that all 17 or 18 million people who voted for Clinton were over-the-top, deeply-committed supporters and are all in some extremely delicate state of mourning right now is as big a fallacy as the notion, peddled by groups like WomenCount, that every single last woman in the world was behind Hillary. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

    Unless it’s on my blog. That shit is solid.

  56. 56
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    Trust, decision making authority, and organizational skills were dispersed in the Obama campaign and organic, rather than centralized and forced down on local offices from on high.

    Another twist here – Obama is showing his Chicago school (Milton Friedman, et. al.) roots. His campaign is being run the way that fiscal-conservatives have always talked about how the economy should be run: minimize top-down regulation and let innovation from the bottom up work.

    Obama’s campaign is using small-c conservative ideas to beat the GOP and the DLCGOP-lite within the Democratic party, while calling up communitarian ideals from the electorate.

    This really is a new ideological era, and the old rules and categories don’t apply any more.

  57. 57
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    I realize that people think that the reason we have a volunteer army today was because the conscripts in Vietnam didn’t fight hard enough. You’re wrong, so very wrong.

    I wasn’t a conscript but I fought alongside them at different times. Believe me, when someone is trying to shoot your ass clean off you fight, hard.

  58. 58
    w vincentz says:

    Bobzim,
    I’m not an expert on the Soviet army.
    Just a question, do you think the “Viet Cong” and the ANVM soldiers could read a map?
    They sure kicked our asses.

  59. 59
    joel hanes says:

    REFORGER 74 vet here, eight-inch howitzer battalion.
    Twenty-one days of continuous duty in the field, in the rain, without a shower.

    They didn’t bother to talk to my unit about Soviet tactics, because our projected life expectancy if they came through the gap was on the order of half an hour — just long enough to get out to the alert area and get off a couple barrages. Eight inch howitzers are tac-nuke capable, and that’s the mission we trained for most.

  60. 60
    w vincentz says:

    typo…ARVN, not ARNM

  61. 61
    KevinD says:

    Obama was better at working the OODA Loop.

  62. 62
    Zifnab says:

    IT WAS NOT FOR LACK OF AMBITION. Do not forget, the Russians beat the Nazis. Patriotism can be a powerful motivator, especially when you are attacked.

    And how. I think the Axis powers lost troops at a ratio of around 2 to 1 between the eastern and western fronts. And, to be fair, everyone’s supply lines were shitting in the middle of the Russian wasteland. The Germans packed light and the Russians were dirt poor.

    Had the US been forced to face the full might of the German military machine in France or Italy, I doubt we’d have faired so well.

    And don’t even get me started on the Chinese / Japanese side of the conflict in the Pacific theater. We didn’t magically end the war by dropping a couple of nukes. Japan was ground down from all sides in the same way that the Nazis were defeated.

  63. 63
    BAH says:

    Perhaps a better analogy would be Paul Van Riper’s leadership in the war game Millenuim Challenge 2002 (as related in the brilliant book “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell). He trusted his leaders in the field to use their judgement and make snap decisions and hhe result was a lopsided victory over a US “Blue” team that had access to far more data and military resources than Van Riper.

  64. 64
    pharniel says:

    The story I’ve heard on why the divisions were not depoloyed to normandy was a two fold ‘mind fuck’ plan:
    we made it looke like there were 10 times the numbers of troops in england as there were, along with turning the local intel ring and comprimising 90% of german infiltrators into double agents and 2) intentionally spreading the idea that Patton would land the “Real” force at Calis, going so far as to send out fake invasion plans where normandy was just the fient.

    i remember some tv movie had the personal story of some woman spy. i only cuaght the tortureporn end denumont though.

  65. 65
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    Just a question, do you think the “Viet Cong” and the ANVM soldiers could read a map?

    Minor historical correction. The ARVN’s (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) were the South Vietnamese forces. The NVA (North Vietnamese Army) were on the other side.

  66. 66
    pharniel says:

    w vincentz Says:

    Bobzim,
    I’m not an expert on the Soviet army.
    Just a question, do you think the “Viet Cong” and the ANVM soldiers could read a map?
    They sure kicked our asses

    They were a trained insurgent force that’d been fighting 1st world attackers since the french pulled bullshit in the early 50’s.
    at that point you were dealing with second or even third generation insurgents and fighters.
    the actual north vietnamize army didn’t fare to well in pitched battles. but they sure fucked our shit up with 80% infiltration.

  67. 67
    Bobzim says:

    w vincentz, I think part of John’s point was that Hillary’s campaign did not allow the the front line troops to think for themselves and everything I was taught about Soviet troops makes the analogy valid to me.

    I think both ARVN and Viet Cong soldiers were taught to read maps because they were the epitome of loyalty and determined to defend what they thought was absolutely the only path for their country. Soviet soldiers, not so much.

    I was an MP with the Fighting Coonasses of the 5th Inf. Div. (Mech.) and we spent all our time further south, east of Wurzburg, near the Czech border.

  68. 68
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    They were a trained insurgent force that’d been fighting 1st world attackers since the french pulled bullshit in the early 50’s.

    Longer than that. The Viet Minh, predecessors of the VC, started up in 1941 to fight for Vietnamese independence from France and then fought the Japanese occupiers and the Vichy French through WWII.

  69. 69
    Bobzim says:

    But I’m not saying that the Hillary campaign and the Soviet military micro-manged for the same reasons, just that not allowing the front line troops to use their critical thinking skills is bad strategery.

  70. 70

    Wow.

    Competence.

    What a concept.

    Who woulda guessed?

  71. 71

    John, she’s out of the race. How about a little grace in victory? When are you boyz gonna get it through your heads that she’s sitting on 18 million voters that we’re going to need in a mere five months?

    Whenever I get my kiester kicked (which was often the past few years) the first thing I did – even before I started feeling sorry for myself – was try to figure out what went wrong.

    The after-action report/post-mortem/post-game show is an important part of growing and leadership.

    That’s what every newspaper has been doing for the past few days about the Clinton campaign. It’s a tough lesson to learn, I guess, and even if Hillary’s people don’t like it, it should be done.

    And the 18 million voters are hers? I thought they were Democrats.

  72. 72
    w vincentz says:

    Dennis,
    Right, it’s NVA. Sometimes my fingers type faster than my brain.
    Pharniel,
    No doubt. In pitched battles they sucked. Their advantage took another form, as has been seen and studied by al Queda.
    Perhaps the lessons of the British and the Minutemen at Concord need revisitation.
    Wars don’t change. The tactics do.
    Occupiers will be sent away from the homeland of those that seek to invade. After all, “all’s fair in love and war.”
    Perhaps the best strategy is Barack’s. Exhaust all diplomatic options prior to military engagement.
    War sucks.

  73. 73
    Napoleon says:

    I think the Axis powers lost troops at a ratio of around 2 to 1 between the eastern and western fronts.

    Correction, it was more like 9 to 1 (and the soviets lost 20 soldiers to every one we did in the war). If memory serves the Germans suffered 89% of their casualties on the eastern front. How American’s view what happened in WWII in Europe is a classic case of American Exceptionalism, where we view ourselves as the center of the universe. By any measure the western front was a side show in the European war. Take your pick, length of front, divisions deployed, number of troops, casualites and the eastern front is far and away the cause of the German defeat, not our effort in the West.

  74. 74
    Cromagnon says:

    My Bde from the 82nd jumped into Germany for Reforger ’82 after flying straight from Pope AFB, NC. First time I ever set foot in Europe was via parachute. What a blast… Did Reforger ’84 as part of 3rd ID as well. Ah the memories

    As for the Soviets, we were always tought first to shoot any ZSU-23-4’s in sight (so the flyboys don’t get blown out of the sky), and then go for any antenna tanks (i.e. the leader tanks)

  75. 75
    Rex says:

    No recent open threads so this is getting posted here:

    The Steelers are so ashamed of Steely McBeam that they won’t even make an image of him available for a mascot popularity contest against their hated rival, the Patriots.

    http://www.sportsline.com/spin/story/10851148

    Also, a non-fan site: http://steelymcstupid.com/

  76. 76
    horatius says:

    Time to apologize and eat crow John. It looks like Hilldawg loves the Democratic Party after all, and not the sort who’s likely to pull a Lieberman.

  77. 77
    Bobzim says:

    You didn’t get Marned did you, Cro?

  78. 78
    11B40 says:

    First-time/long-time for me, too.

    I pulled 11 months in Fulda (the Siberia of Germany) when it was still the 14th ACR under the legendary “Tiger” Howell.

    And when you go to Pens games, John, you’re squatting on my grandfather’s lot. My dad and his many sibs grew up on Bedford Ave. before Davey Lawrence built the Civic Arena as part of his glorification/urban ruin-all plan. So try to behave.

    Carry on.

  79. 79
    libarbarian says:

    Obama was better at working the OODA Loop.

    IM INSYDE UR OODA LUPE
    KILLIN UR CAMPANE

  80. 80
    wasabi gasp says:

    It looks like Hilldawg loves the Democratic Party after all

    Woulda’ never known, huh?

  81. 81
    theturtlemoves says:

    If there is ever a blog war that turns into a shooting war, I’m cowering behind the Balloon Juice Brigades as they kick ass and take names. Seriously, is there anyone commenting on this blog besides me who WASN’T in the Army? Pretty much kills the stereotype of the conservative military…

  82. 82
    MBunge says:

    When considering the differences between the Hil and BO campaigns, you have to look at how much was dependent on the candidate’s abilities.

    Coming from his background as a community organizer, Obama seems like he’s got a pretty good handle on the nuts and bolts of running a campaign. A candidate like that may have the self-confidence to be comfortable with a more free-flowing organization.

    Hillary, despite being involved in politics for practically her entire adult life, has never seemed really familiar with the practical aspects of the campaign and depended on others to handle that stuff. That sort of candidate, who can sometimes be very effective and valuable on the ballot, isn’t in a position to devolve control.

    Mike

  83. 83
    passerby says:

    Hey, a bit OT but I’d like to brag that when My Pony says “Change you can Believe in”, he means it:

    ABC News reports:

    It’s been less than two days since he crossed the delegate threshold to become the Democratic presidential nominee and Sen. Barack Obama’s mark on the party is already being felt.

    On Good Morning America Thursday, ABC News’ Chief Washington Correspondent George Stephanopoulos reported “the Democratic National Committee will no longer accept contributions from federal lobbyists, will no longer take contributions from PACs” in keeping with Obama’s well-publicized policy.

    UPDATE: DNC issues a statement:

    “The DNC and the Obama Campaign are unified and working together to elect Barack Obama as the next president of the United States. Our presumptive nominee has pledged not to take donations from Washington lobbyists and from today going forward the DNC makes that pledge as well,” said Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean. “Senator Obama has promised to change the way things are done in Washington and this step is a sure sign of his commitment. The American people’s priorities will set the agenda in an Obama Administration, not the special interests.”

    Impressive, no?

    T

  84. 84

    Have decided what dear old Dad needs this Fathers Day? How about some McCain Golf Gear. I am not shitting you. McCain Golf Gear. I didn’t see any jello molds.

  85. 85
    Cris says:

    This site and its comment threads kick ass when the topic turns to military analysis.

  86. 86
    HumboldtBlue says:

    the reason for the delayed response from German armor at Normandy because Rommel was actually out of theatre celebrating his anniversary or some other event (Update- it was his wife’s birthday).

    There is more to this little tidbit as well. The reason those armor units were not released was because at this point in the war Rommel had no direct control over them, that was left to Hitler in Berlin. Hitler’s aides, having received frantic calls from the Normandy beaches along with confusing reports, were literally afraid to awaken Hitler so that he could give the OK to counterattack using the armor. It gave the invasion, particularly at Utah beach, a chance to create a beachead, and the rest, as they say, is history.

    side note John, if you haven’t yet purchased Rick Atkinson’s first two books of his latest WW2 trilogy, do so. An Army at dawn which details the invasion of North Africa, may be one of the best history books out there. His second tome Day of Battle which moves on to the invasion of Sicily and then the Italian mainland is just as good.

  87. 87
    Node of Evil says:

    Obama’s campaign tactic requires both a chrismatic and exceptionally inspirational lead otherwise you’re not going to get enough people motivated at the local level. In addition it requires a key set of issues (Iraq, health care, economy) people can rally around without descending into squabbling.

    That is what we call “Democracy”. It’s an organic thing with a life of its own and generally doesn’t work well in a top-down environment. Why on earth would we want anyone who doesn’t inspire that sort of support (or inspire people to work that way) to be President?

  88. 88
    Blue Raven says:

    Seriously, is there anyone commenting on this blog besides me who WASN’T in the Army?

    *raises hand*

    However, my family has a pattern of service. My father joined the Air Force during Korea. One of my cousins was in the Navy and she went to Iraq during Desert Storm. One nephew is a Marine serving his second or third tour in Iraq. Another cousin is also a Marine.

    And we were all raised to be Democrats. And I even own guns, to shatter another left-winger stereotype.

  89. 89
    wasabi gasp says:

    Seriously, is there anyone commenting on this blog besides me who WASN’T in the Army?

    If we’re counting the Kiss Army, then yeah, it might be just you.

  90. 90
    Cris says:

    I totally agree with A Different JC’s comment. Though I would interject:

    And the 18 million voters are hers? I thought they were Democrats.

    I thought they were Americans. Not only are they not Hillary’s, they’re not Obama’s either. Even as the nominee, he still has to win them over (and I’m confident he will).

  91. 91
    Node of Evil says:

    …and, I should add, it’s no surprise that people don’t recognize “Democracy” when they see it these days. Eight years of the worst and most executive-minded President in history has done a lot of damage to our understanding of core concepts such as “Democracy”, “Freedom”, and “Good Government”.

  92. 92
    theturtlemoves says:

    Blue Raven, raising hand

    Yeah, my dad was a submariner (diesel boat) in the early 50s (but Atlantic fleet, so nowhere near Korea) and my grandfather was in the Navy during World War I. I’ve got a really good friend who is a Major in the Army right now and about to go over for his second tour in Iraq and a nephew in the Marines stationed in Japan. So, I’m not entirely devoid of military connection or knowledge myself, but I feel pretty sad compared to the apparently hale and hearty bunch around these parts.

  93. 93

    […] This first post, by John Cole and based on the NY Times piece about the differences between the Clinton campaign structure and that of the Obama campaignn, reminds me strongly of the famous essay “The Cathedral and the Bazaar“. The idea in general is that a cooperate unit using shared authority to draw on the parallel processing and massed intellect of multiple minds will defeat a top-down, centralized command structure which depends so heavily on the abilities of those few at the very top. […]

  94. 94
    Medicine Man says:

    Chiming in before I read the whole thread:

    I’m pretty sure the Germans delegated a lot of decision making privileges to their field commanders, platoon commanders, etc. Decentralized decision making was vital element of their style of mobile warfare. If the Germans failed to react decisively to the Allied landing at Normandy, it was due in part to the Allies use of Maskirovka, strategic deception (or perhaps bureaucratic intransigence further up in the command structure).

  95. 95
    passerby says:

    Seriously, is there anyone commenting on this blog besides me who WASN’T in the Army?

    I,m pure civilian (as are my siblings)so I,m enjoying the historical and tech analysis. Didn’t get that at home.

    T

  96. 96
    Barry says:

    Cromagnon Says:

    “My Bde from the 82nd jumped into Germany for Reforger ‘82 after flying straight from Pope AFB, NC. First time I ever set foot in Europe was via parachute. What a blast… Did Reforger ‘84 as part of 3rd ID as well. Ah the memories”

    I’d have been near your drop zone. We heard that the 82nd was coming in on the other side, and were waiting for the horde of big-d*cked, 8ft tall supersoldiers.

    Didn’t see jack, except for one 82nd jeep with a 1LT later, after the exercise ended.

  97. 97
    Brachiator says:

    markus Says:

    I think it’s too early to call the Clinton campaign tactics (to the extent such a thing exists) dated: Obama’s campaign tactic requires both a chrismatic and exceptionally inspirational lead otherwise you’re not going to get enough people motivated at the local level.

    But that’s the whole point. A great leader is also great at getting people to work for him or her. Clinton’s people were lousy at this.

    Obama’s style reminds me of that of the British Admiral Horatio Nelson, who kicked much butt at the Battle of Trafalgar. A few tidbits courtesy of Wikipedia:

    Nelson went against the conventional tactics of the time by cutting through the enemy’s lines. Nelson was noted for his ability to inspire and bring out the best in his men, to the point that it gained a name: “The Nelson Touch”….

    During the period of blockade off the coast of Spain in October, Nelson instructed his captains as to how he meant to fight the approaching battle over two dinners aboard [his flagship] Victory. …

    Nelson was careful to point out that something had to be left to chance. Nothing is sure in a sea fight beyond all others, and he left his captains free from all hampering rules by telling them that “No captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy.” In short, the execution was to be as circumstances dictated, subject to the guiding rule that the enemy’s rear was to be cut off and superior force concentrated on that part of the enemy’s line.

    Again, the principles are that you let your officers know that you have faith in them, be open about your plans and expectations, and leave people room to deal with unexpected events by themselves instead of sitting back and waiting for input from the high command.

    This kind of thing also works in business and some aspects of social life, though I am always amazed when people fight against it and fall back on fear, threats and intimidation, or deception to get things done.

  98. 98
    Billy K says:

    Trust, decision making authority, and organizational skills were dispersed in the Obama campaign and organic, rather than centralized and forced down on local offices from on high.

    Translation:

    DFHs

  99. 99
    Barry says:

    El Cid Says:

    “It’s probably worth bearing in mind that the Clinton’s strategy nearly won, and had it, it would have been as ritualistically repeated how wrong this proved the Obama / organizer model as McGovern / 1972 proved how awful liberals and non-party-insider controlled nominations were for Democrats.”

    In the conventional wisdom (i.e., the fools, esp. including the mass media). Clinton came in with a whole truckload of advantages. If Obama had lost by a small amount, the wiser young heads would have noted that, for later use when there wasn’t such starting frontrunner.

  100. 100
    11B40 says:

    As long as we’re talking decision-making here, a couple of points:

    1) The key decisions about the Eastern Front were made by Hitler, not the German General Staff. In spite of him, they executed a brilliant withdrawal – actually a series of escapes as Der Fuherer kept demanding that they hold their ground and fight to the last man, etc. Like most CEOs, he kept trying what worked for him early even after his opponents had adjusted. That takes nothing away from the Red Army, which fought heroically on an almost incomprehensible scale.

    2) I read someplace a couple of years ago that the basic war plan for the Warsaw pact was to use their tactical nukes first, so I don’t think that the quality of our sergeants (and I was one) would’ve been decisive. I’m beyond grateful that we didn’t have to find out.

  101. 101
    SnarkyShark says:

    They didn’t bother to talk to my unit about Soviet tactics, because our projected life expectancy if they came through the gap was on the order of half an hour—just long enough to get out to the alert area and get off a couple barrages. Eight inch howitzers are tac-nuke capable, and that’s the mission we trained for most.

    2nd AD circa 1983-5, and thats how I remember it. And don’t forget that we were expected to kill at least 10 before we died. It was always interesting to go to our FDL and see where are graves were gonna be. Of course I was infantry, so we were the excuse for firing those tac-nukes.

    On the plus side, the Patrizer Triple Bach was outstanding, and the Hash made everyday a holiday.

    Plus I got to hit to 2 Oktoberfest’s in Munich, and it don’t get no better than that.

  102. 102
    sunny says:

    You know what? I’m almost disappointed that Obama won’t face a worthy opponent this fall. His victory against Clinton was sweeter because his skills and foresight against what was admittedly a formidable opponent were on full display.

    Ironically, watching Obama makes me nostalgic for 1992. I was a volunteer for Bill (my county was one of the very few he won in my very red state)and remember watching his political feints and thrusts with great admiration.

  103. 103
    Nebjockey says:

    Napoleon Says:

    “By the way, this I find somewhat relevant. In the book that came out last fall on the McGovern campaign “the Liberal’s Moment”, which I can not over recommend for how much that is in it is relevant to today (Nixonland has been similar for me) it discusses how the McGovern campaign built up a list of grassroots supporters and contributes which they actually computerized.”

    The list was most assuredly computerized. My wife did keypunch as a volunteer for the McGovern campaign in ’72. Punch cards may be long past, but she can still make a keyboard howl and cry for mercy.

  104. 104
    Grand Moff Texan says:

    Seriously, is there anyone commenting on this blog besides me who WASN’T in the Army?

    I was an atheist chaplain in the Coast Guard Reserve. Does that count?
    .

  105. 105
    Cris says:

    Brachiator:

    Again, the principles are that you let your officers know that you have faith in them, be open about your plans and expectations, and leave people room to deal with unexpected events by themselves instead of sitting back and waiting for input from the high command.

    This kind of thing also works in business…

    Part of the bitter comedy of corporate culture is that upper management says they’re doing these things, but when it comes down to it they can’t stand to relinquish control.

  106. 106
    Adam says:

    Then again, after the conflict in Kosovo, the Russians took the initiative and snagged the main airport for themselves while our generals were sitting around discussing who would get the indoor parking, or something, so I wonder how accurate those assumptions about them would have been.

    That’s somewhat inaccurate. No one was taken by surprise. Wesley Clark wanted to drop paratroopers into the airport at first, and then wanted to send in armor — both times he was vetoed by the British general… which in retrospect was probably a good thing.

  107. 107
    The Moar You Know says:

    “The DNC and the Obama Campaign are unified and working together to elect Barack Obama as the next president of the United States. Our presumptive nominee has pledged not to take donations from Washington lobbyists and from today going forward the DNC makes that pledge as well,” said Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean. “Senator Obama has promised to change the way things are done in Washington and this step is a sure sign of his commitment. The American people’s priorities will set the agenda in an Obama Administration, not the special interests.”

    Holy hell. This may be the best news I’ve heard since I came of voting age.

    Which was 1984, a crappy year to be a Democrat.

  108. 108
    w vincentz says:

    I didn’t serve in the Army, though many in my family have all the way back to the Civil (it wasn’t) War. My Dad, may he RIP was an officer in the South Pacific during WWII. He came with two purple hearts for his efforts and a firm belief that conflicts are better settled without military involvement.
    Though it’s interesting to see others here take a micro view of war (Rommel, Soviets, etc), I take a mactro view.
    In a nutshell, it goes like this: invasion (for whatever justification), leads to resistance. Occupation breeds guerilla movements. Invaders leave before the invaded give up (it’s their homeland afterall).
    Then, old men sit around a table and talk while the dead are buried and the wounded heal.
    Wouldn’t it be far better if they talked beforehand?

  109. 109
    passerby says:

    Part of the bitter comedy of corporate culture is that upper management says they’re doing these things, but when it comes down to it they can’t stand to relinquish control

    Agree.

    Often they give responsibility without giving the necessary authority. It takes a great deal of trust but, in the end they’re stuck on the power trip.

    Obama is demonstrating an awareness of the scope of change needed as well as the tremendous amount work it will take to accomplish it.

    Could it be that we have a wise man to lead us? Pinch me.

    T

  110. 110
    sunny says:

    Which was 1984, a crappy year to be a Democrat.

    Was it ever. I started out so excited that my first presidential vote would help the first female veep. By the end of that campaign I was crying in my beer.

  111. 111
    demimondian says:

    Seriously, is there anyone commenting on this blog besides me who WASN’T in the Army?

    *I* wasn’t in the Army — I wasn’t eligible to serve, due to a misdiagnosed neurological disorder.

    Instead, I worked for quite some time as an on-base contractor.

  112. 112
    11B40 says:

    Then, old men sit around a table and talk while the dead are buried and the wounded heal.
    Wouldn’t it be far better if they talked beforehand?

    Don’t ask me, ask my draft board.

  113. 113
    calipygian says:

    We’re teaching the Russians now how to form an NCO corps. The Russians have been sending some of their contract junior Sergeants to ANOC, BNOC and PLDC in Germany. They also send a LTC/COL to supervise.

    Pretty funny.

  114. 114
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    Seriously, is there anyone commenting on this blog besides me who WASN’T in the Army?

    Navy. I was just dumb enough to volunteer and get sent to the Brown Water Navy down in the Delta.

  115. 115
    w vincentz says:

    11B40,
    My Dad was also drafted. He was so happy when I got a 2S (student deferment). I was Canada bound otherwise. I refuse to kill anyone.
    I’ll just say that the USA needs to change from the current posture as military bully of the planet, shift from an economy that gains vast sums from the production of war materiel, and learns to live in peace with the rest of the inhabitants of the planet.
    It’s time to beat the swords into plowshares (see plaque outside the UN).
    Peace, brothers and sisters.

  116. 116
    joel hanes says:

    Although I was Soldier of the Quarter a couple times, I can claim no moral credit for my Army service — I was a draftee, one of the last.

    Das Gute Zirndorfer, Grafenwoehr Hell, and M.C. Wieninger did much to ease the pain. As did, um, other anodyne substances.

  117. 117
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    I’ll leave the military discussion to those who know their stuff, but the WaPo overview picked up two Obama tactics that fit somewhere between ‘cool’ and ‘well, duh’: scattering the Iowa team to the winds, and using Meetups and other ad hoc structures as the framework for their state and local operations.

    I’ve seen (in a small way) the competing institutional structures that affect a congressional campaign, and I saw the difference between the little Obama HQ in town and the outside orgs who brought Hillary, Bill and Chelsea into town before the primary.

  118. 118
    libarbarian says:

    w vincentz Says:

    I refuse to kill anyone.

    For the love of God, why?

    I also have never served. I was still deciding between WP and Annapolis (Marines) when I got the letter saying I was medically DQ’d. I sublimated my disappointment by developing an obsessive interest in military history & theory – though its all book-learning and therefore incomplete.

  119. 119
    slightly_peeved says:

    intentionally spreading the idea that Patton would land the “Real” force at Calis, going so far as to send out fake invasion plans where normandy was just the fient.

    Not just fake invasion plans – they had large formations of cardboard tanks, inflatable planes, etc. pointed at Calais so that German planes could see them.

  120. 120
    w vincentz says:

    Libarbarian,
    To answer your question, it has something to do with something I believe, “Thou shall not kill.”

  121. 121
    Robert Sneddon says:

    Seriously, is there anyone commenting on this blog besides me who WASN’T in the Army?

    Not me, but I did work in nuclear weapons development in my youth. My father was WWII Wavy Navy, an engineering CPO on corvettes escorting convoys to Murmansk, he even got a medal from the Soviet government after the war for it. He never did like cold weather for some reason though.

    As for the Rooshians, they depended on 2-year conscripts for their mass army, and the NCOs came from the ranks after 18 months. As anyone who ever served would tell you that’s a hell of a way to make a worthwhile military machine. They did what the Israelis (also conscript/reserve heavy) did to fix this by having a shitload of 2nd looies commanding small platoons, the size of a career army’s squad. The Soviet junior officer corps wasn’t half bad if a bit nepotistic.

    The Soviets also had a lot of what other militaries would call specialist forces, career soldiers like the Guard regiments who weren’t diluted into the conscript pool. They were very good, well trained (lots of large live-fire exercises), well equipped and there were a lot of them. They were the guys looking at you over the IGB through those big binoculars, the spearhead of the Third Shock Army.

    As for the Soviet performance in WWII, they got better by attritting their senior commanders until Kutuzov rose to the top. Have a look at what he did to the Japanese Army of Kwangtung in Mongolia after the SU declared war on Japan in August 1945. It doesn’t have the prominence in Western histories of WWII that, say, the Bulge or Falaise have but to an enthusiast it’s like watching a master craftsman at work. Sheer military genius.

  122. 122
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    It’s time to beat the swords into plowshares (see plaque outside the UN).

    That’s a tall order. I would say that we ought to be more skeptical about buying all sorts of shiny new swords just because they’re shiny and new. The defense establishment plays Congress like a violin by rolling out new weapons systems that promise to bring jobs to as many Congressional districts as possible. That’s why so many of them get appropriated – no matter how expensive, overly complex, and purposeless they are.
    Take a look at these photos of the boneyard at Davis-Monthan AFB to see your defense dollars at work.

  123. 123
    11B40 says:

    w vincentz,

    Thanks for sharing. I’ve heard it all before.

  124. 124
    Magnus says:

    Norwegian. Conscript army. ‘Course, I only got as far as the testing. Took off my glasses and the poster with all the big pretty letters disappeared.

    *niffle* :(

  125. 125
    Brachiator says:

    w vincentz Says:

    Libarbarian,
    To answer your question, it has something to do with something I believe, “Thou shall not kill.”

    By the way, the Hebrew more accurately translates as “Murder not!”

  126. 126
    theturtlemoves says:

    Take a look at these photos of the boneyard at Davis-Monthan AFB to see your defense dollars at work.

    That is a lot of damn planes. The cold war was good to Lockheed, Nothrup, et al, wasn’t it? I’m surprised at some of the planes mothballed there. The B-52s, sure, but some of those pictures look like F-14s and F-15s. Can’t we sell those to some third world country to fly against us when we invade them for oil at some point or something?

  127. 127
    demimondian says:

    For the love of God, why?

    Um, yes, exactly — why, for the love of God.

  128. 128
    Medicine Man says:

    w vincentz,

    Thanks for sharing. I’ve heard it all before.

    @11B40 — Disdain for peaceniks or disdain for impractical ideals?

  129. 129
    Robert Sneddon says:

    Duh, of course that should have been Zhukov, not Kutuzov. I blame the Laphraiog.

  130. 130
    4tehlulz says:

    F-14s

    We can sell those to the Iranians. I heard they were looking for parts.

  131. 131
    demimondian says:

    the Hebrew more accurately translates as “Murder not!”

    It’s a difficult phrase, even in the oldest texts — and in that form, it would have been translated several times previously, and so already decontextualized. It’s in the emphatic intensive form, so the best interpretation is *probably* “murder”, but it’s also possible that the appropriate gloss is “intentionally cause the death of [a person]”.

    –demi “yes, that language, too. wanna make something of it?” mondian

  132. 132
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    —demi “yes, that language, too. wanna make something of it?” mondian

    Elitist.

  133. 133
    Krista says:

    Seriously, is there anyone commenting on this blog besides me who WASN’T in the Army?

    Raises hand

    I was in Air Cadets for 6 years, and the folks wanted me to continue on in the military (they were hoping I’d snag an ROTP scholarship and save them tuition payments), but I’m not a big fan of rules that are there for no other reason than to instill respect for rules, so I knew I wouldn’t do well. I’m rather Starbuck-ish in my respect for authority.

    I did, however, get my pilot wings from Chuck Yeager, so that’s gotta count for something, right?

  134. 134
    w vincentz says:

    Dennis,
    Thanks for the link.
    Looking at that, all I can think is “what a waste!”.
    Can you imagine what would happen if we took all the creative talents of the scientists, engineers, and production workers thst contributed to these weapons and directed them to production of more beneficial outcomes?
    Yes WE can!

  135. 135
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    I did, however, get my pilot wings from Chuck Yeager, so that’s gotta count for something, right?

    Chuck Yeager? [Kisses hem of Krita’s dress.]
    Just the best damn’ stick and rudder man to ever strap on an airplane.

  136. 136
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    Make that Krista’s.

  137. 137
    demimondian says:

    Elitist.

    Come over here and say that. Punk.

    —demi “Does this look elite to you?” mondian

  138. 138
    Cain says:

    During the portland rally, most of us volunteers had to make the decisions on the ground and we didn’t really have a central authority to ask. The “captains” pretty much told us to make the best decision possible and trusted us to do it. The thing was that they weren’t from Oregon so they didn’t really understand the lay of the land and reliedon us. I know I had made some personal decisions on how the crowd was going to queue up. When the crowd is queuing up a block every 5 minutes you don’t really have a lot of options :-)

    cain

  139. 139
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    Come over here and say that. Punk.

    Okay, okay. I take it back. Let’s just s

  140. 140
    KevinD says:

    IM INSYDE UR OODA LUPE
    KILLIN UR CAMPANE

    Hey, that was our unit motto!

  141. 141
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    (Crap) Let’s just say that you’re not unfamiliar with arugula.

  142. 142
    Brachiator says:

    Semi OT, and semi-Wow (Gates ousts Air Force leaders in historic shake-up)

    Defense Secretary Robert Gates ousted the Air Force’s top military and civilian leaders Thursday, holding them to account in a historic Pentagon shake-up after embarrassing nuclear mix-ups.

    Gates announced at a news conference that he had accepted the resignations of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Moseley and Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne — a highly unusual double firing.

    Gates said his decision was based mainly on the damning conclusions of an internal report on the mistaken shipment to Taiwan of four Air Force electrical fuses for ballistic missile warheads. And he linked the underlying causes of that slip-up to another startling incident: the flight last August of a B-52 bomber that was mistakenly armed with six nuclear-tipped cruise missiles.

    The report drew the stunning conclusion that the Air Force’s nuclear standards have been in a long decline, a “problem that has been identified but not effectively addressed for over a decade.”

    Gates said an internal investigation found a common theme in the B-52 and Taiwan incidents: “a decline in the Air Force’s nuclear mission focus and performance” and a failure by Air Force leaders to respond effectively.

    In a reflection of his concern about the state of nuclear security, Gates said he had asked a former defense secretary, James Schlesinger, to lead a task force that will recommend ways to ensure that the highest levels of accountability and control are maintained in Air Force handling of nuclear weapons.

    Another side of leadership is holding people responsible for their mistakes and never promoting them “up” in order to hide errors or to cover your own ass.

    By the by, I think that Gates is auditioning to be a holdover in an Obama administration.

    demimondian Says:

    the Hebrew more accurately translates as “Murder not!”

    It’s a difficult phrase, even in the oldest texts—and in that form, it would have been translated several times previously, and so already decontextualized. It’s in the emphatic intensive form, so the best interpretation is probably “murder”, but it’s also possible that the appropriate gloss is “intentionally cause the death of [a person]”.

    —demi “yes, that language, too. wanna make something of it?” mondian

    It’s been a long, long time since my “Literary Use of the Bible” days. I follow you here on the variations of meaning, but I think that the actual language would be more pithy than it is usually rendered in English.

  143. 143
    theturtlemoves says:

    The “captains” pretty much told us to make the best decision possible and trusted us to do it.

    This gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling about Obama as chief executive, because this is exactly what I think all of us look for in a boss. You guide the organization, but you also trust people to do their jobs and don’t try to micro-manage it. Of course, this has to be coupled with the other thing Obama is good at, hiring the right people for the job in the first place. Unlike, say, the Current Occupant or the esteemed, but departed opponent in this primary, who both put loyalty over competence.

  144. 144
    cbear says:

    OT- Tbogg just posted tape of the recent Obama-Lieberman dustup.
    Apparently it was a little more heated than was first reported.

  145. 145
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    Semi OT, and semi-Wow (Gates ousts Air Force leaders in historic shake-up)

    Wha? Just because a B-52 unknowingly flew across CONUS with a half-dozen nukes and just because nuclear weapon detonators (The Holy Grail of insurgents everywhere) were shipped to Taiwan in place of helicopter batteries? That Gates is such a tight-ass.

  146. 146
    11B40 says:

    @11B40—Disdain for peaceniks or disdain for impractical ideals?

    Neither.

    If you’re an American male of a certain age, then you needed to make a moral choice back in the day. I used to be interested in how people got to where they did, but after so many years the responses have fallen into a pattern. Only a handful of us ever actually fought, but all of us seem to have an opinion self-justifying our own respective choices.

    I’ve grown beyond weary of hearing them.

  147. 147
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Here is Hillary’s email to her “supporters”. (I sent Wes Clark some money in 2004 and he gave her my email address so now he is dead to me.)

    Dear Fuckhead,

    I wanted you to be one of the first to know: on Saturday, I will hold an event in Washington D.C. to thank everyone who has supported my campaign. Over the course of the last 16 months, I have been privileged and touched to witness the incredible dedication and sacrifice of so many people working for our campaign. Every minute you put into helping us win, every dollar you gave to keep up the fight meant more to me than I can ever possibly tell you.

    On Saturday, I will extend my congratulations to Senator Obama and my support for his candidacy. This has been a long and hard-fought campaign, but as I have always said, my differences with Senator Obama are small compared to the differences we have with Senator McCain and the Republicans.

    I have said throughout the campaign that I would strongly support Senator Obama if he were the Democratic Party’s nominee, and I intend to deliver on that promise.

    When I decided to run for president, I knew exactly why I was getting into this race: to work hard every day for the millions of Americans who need a voice in the White House.

    I made you — and everyone who supported me — a promise: to stand up for our shared values and to never back down. I’m going to keep that promise today, tomorrow, and for the rest of my life.

    I will be speaking on Saturday about how together we can rally the party behind Senator Obama. The stakes are too high and the task before us too important to do otherwise.

    I know as I continue my lifelong work for a stronger America and a better world, I will turn to you for the support, the strength, and the commitment that you have shown me in the past 16 months. And I will always keep faith with the issues and causes that are important to you.

    In the past few days, you have shown that support once again with hundreds of thousands of messages to the campaign, and again, I am touched by your thoughtfulness and kindness.

    I can never possibly express my gratitude, so let me say simply, thank you.

    Sincerely,

    Hillary

  148. 148
    Rome Again says:

    John, she’s out of the race. How about a little grace in victory? When are you boyz (and girlz – me) gonna get it through your heads that she’s sitting on 18 million voters that we’re going to need in a mere five months?

    18 million votes? You’re including Rush Limbaugh’s Operation Chaos and calling it valid? No, it doesn’t work that way.

    Hillary is NOT sitting on 18 million votes, but, thanks for playing, try again!

  149. 149

    Your assessment is spot on.

    When the Soviets fought in Afghanistan, the mujahadeen had an easier time picking off Soviet leadership because the rest of the troops would always be seen circled around them.

    In the US Army, every soldier is taught to read a map and use a compass so that they can operate independently when necessary.

    Marines follow the 6 P’s (as does Obama)- Piss Poor Planning Prevents Proper Performance!

  150. 150
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    P.S. Larry, the clock is ticking. Please hurry.

  151. 151
    KevinD says:

    That’s somewhat inaccurate. No one was taken by surprise. Wesley Clark wanted to drop paratroopers into the airport at first, and then wanted to send in armor—both times he was vetoed by the British general… which in retrospect was probably a good thing.

    Like your article says, they still took the inititive and we were just reacting to them. You’re right though, in retrospect a good thing. We should have just let them have it all and deal with the whole mess.

  152. 152
    w vincentz says:

    Demi,
    Next time I see a photo of the flag draped coffins coming into Dover AFB, I’ll have to ask myself whether they were “killed” (King James) or “murdered” (Hebrew).
    Seems to me they’re just as DEAD either way.

  153. 153

    Seriously, is there anyone commenting on this blog besides me who WASN’T in the Army?

    Not army, but I was in an armed militia for a year. But I will concur with the posters above, it’s good to hear from pro-Obama veterans.

  154. 154
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    I’ve grown beyond weary of hearing them.

    I just wanted to slick out some Gooks – just like my daddy did in WWII, Korea and Vietnam.

  155. 155
    KevinD says:

    Another side of leadership is holding people responsible for their mistakes and never promoting them “up” in order to hide errors or to cover your own ass.

    By the by, I think that Gates is auditioning to be a holdover in an Obama administration.

    If that’s the case, he has a lot more work to do. At least he’ll have a headstart.

  156. 156
    w vincentz says:

    Gooks is so passe. They’re now called “rag heads”.
    From “South Pacific”…you’ve got to be carefully taught to hate.”

  157. 157
    Rome Again says:

    Do you expect Obama supporters to pretend that Clinton ran a wonderful, perfect, utterly clean campaign with no mistakes whatsoever, in order to mollify her supporters?

    Yes, because, according to Clintonistas, she did nothing wrong and Obama ran a dirty campaign.

    Is that so?

  158. 158
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    Gooks is so passe. They’re now called “rag heads”.
    From “South Pacific”…you’ve got to be carefully taught to hate.”

    You kill the brown people you have – not the ones you wish you had.

  159. 159
    theturtlemoves says:

    You kill the brown people you have – not the ones you wish you had.

    You, sir, have one of the most profoundly developed senses of gallows humor it has been my privilege to witness. I forgive myself for laughing at that because I can smell the sarcasm wafting out of my monitor…

  160. 160
    11B40 says:

    You kill the brown people you have – not the ones you wish you had.

    The NVA heartily concurred.

  161. 161
    w vincentz says:

    Dennis,
    Too true. Unforunately.
    Now watch for the assholes out there that refuse to vote for a capable person that has a different skin color than theirs. Sad.

  162. 162
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    You, sir, have one of the most profoundly developed senses of gallows humor it has been my privilege to witness.

    [Doffs hat] I tendered my own life as forfeit for any number of silly reasons. I am a fugitive from the laws of chance.

  163. 163
    nightjar says:

    This site and its comment threads kick ass when the topic turns to military analysis

    I just packed parachutes. The extent of my knowledge of military analysis consisted of working out the logistics required for the shortest after duty approach to the post liquor commissary.

  164. 164

    It’s a difficult phrase, even in the oldest texts—

    Bzzzzt! Sorry, I don’t want to be an asshole, and I’m not religious, but the Old Testament SPELLS OUT THE DEATH PENALTY FOR A HUNDRED FUCKING THINGS, so it’s a bit strained to say that the translation is iffy.

    Thou shalt not murder.

    … the penalty for which is death.
    .

  165. 165
    Adam says:

    We should have just let them have it all and deal with the whole mess.

    I think that would have probably been a bad idea as well. The whole problem is that Russia is not exactly an, uh, honest broker on the whole Kosovo issue.

  166. 166
    MB says:

    Some of you on this thread (and John) may appreciate this picture:

    Took that in 2003. The tip of freedom’s spear is well neglected. On the whole, I’m quite happy that things have changed so that it’s no longer necessary. But it’s still a little sad. (I lived there as a kid in the 80s, when Tom White had yet to realize that Enron paychecks were in his future . . .).

  167. 167
    MB says:

    Ah. Figured that an image take may not take. Anyway, here it is.

  168. 168
    KevinD says:

    think that would have probably been a bad idea as well. The whole problem is that Russia is not exactly an, uh, honest broker on the whole Kosovo issue.

    No, they’re not. But we wouldn’t be stuck baby-sitting that powder keg waiting for it to blow up in our faces either.
    But this thread’s been hijacked enough so I’ll leave it that.

  169. 169
    Cataphract says:

    “when I was serving as an armor crewman 11th ACR in the Fulda gap”

    Tanker!!! Alright

    ***
    1-1 CAV Buedingen 98-02
    Blackhawk

  170. 170
    KevinD says:

    The extent of my knowledge of military analysis consisted of working out the logistics required for the shortest after duty approach to the post liquor commissary.

    A nice feature of Army bases is that so much is within stumbling distance, the ones I was at anyway. Sucks in winter though.

  171. 171
    MB says:

    Heh. I’ve frequently described Army bases as “bastions of socialism” that were keenly “designed with energy efficiency in mind”. That often sends people around the bend (esp. when I can back it up). I’ll have to work the stumbling distance (truly, another quality of life indicator) into that, somehow.

  172. 172
    erghammer says:

    Dude, I didn’t know you were in the army. Quite sincerely, thank you for serving.

  173. 173
    skippy says:

    john, she’s out of the race. how about a little grace in victory? when are you boyz gonna get it through your heads that she’s sitting on 18 million voters that we’re going to need in a mere five months?

    firstly, it’s ridiculous to equate analyzing a failed campaign with being ungracious. hillary ran the second best campaign in the dem contest; she placed accordingly. nobody here is saying “wow, that dame must have had pms cuz her little head couldn’t hold all the important stuff us manly men have to know to win a prezninshul nomination!”

    no, she ran a poor campaign, mainly by hiring over-paid out of touch incompetent consultants. and personally, one thing i want in a president, is the ability to pick good people for a job.

    secondly, the idea that all 17+ mill hillary voters are going to refuse to vote for anyone else is laughable. i expect most of them, like me, had a first, second and third choice in the voting booth, and will again in november.

    if their first choice isn’t there, they’ll pick their second. and most dems know that voting dem is more important than validating one’s own personal world view of who should have gotten what nomination when.

    i can’t possibly see why anyone who wanted a liberal woman as president would feel justified in voting for mclame out of spite…he represents almost everything 180 degrees from what women’s equality stands for.

    and as for the blue-collar whites in the swing states that won’t vote for a scary darky, well, obama will never ever get the bigoted vote, and who needs it? there are millions of young people who actually don’t see color the way the dinosaurs like ferraro still do.

  174. 174
    John Cole says:

    Ah. Figured that an image take may not take. Anyway, here it is.

    That was at Fulda Barracks where I was stationed. I was in 4th Platoon in Alpha Troop.

    “when I was serving as an armor crewman 11th ACR in the Fulda gap”

    Tanker Alright

    Yep. I was a DAT.

  175. 175
    Mike G says:

    Trust, decision making authority, and organizational skills were dispersed in the Obama campaign and organic, rather than centralized and forced down on local offices from on high.

    You put a finger on a discomfort I had about the Clinton campaign — it seemed so Rove-Republican-like in its authoritarianism, as well as its nastiness.

    I’ve worked for top-down organizations and have learned to loathe them for their obedience-uber-alles culture, arrogance, inhumanity, rigidity and contempt for intelligence as well as inefficiency. Glad to see the flexible, new-era structure come out ahead.

  176. 176
    Rome Again says:

    I’ve worked for top-down organizations and have learned to loathe them for their obedience-uber-alles culture, arrogance, inhumanity, rigidity and contempt for intelligence as well as inefficiency. Glad to see the flexible, new-era structure come out ahead.

    Funny, I read a post on a Hillary site last night from a campaign helper who stated all the reasons why working for HRC’s campaign was so much better. She (I’m assuming gender here, sorry) stated the level of organization inside the Obama campaign turned her off.

  177. 177
    grumpy realist says:

    Organization is good. Get all the lines of communication and who is in charge of what figured out, get good people in place, make sure they know what the target is, and let ‘er rip!

    Through the whole Hillary campaign seemed to be involved at the high level with a huge bunch of prima donnas, which didn’t help matters.

    P.S. Own military experience is non-existent. I do know a bunch of obscure information about certain military battles and strategy because I love the history and (quite often) the science involved–for example, one of the reason Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo was due to problems with the firing pins on the French cannons.

  178. 178
    MNPundit says:

    There are some very well written Diaries at DKos and OpenLeft that make a very strong argument that what Obama is doing is NOT bottom-up community-style organizing but is instead just as top down if more efficiently so.

  179. 179

    “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” ~ General George S. Patton

  180. 180
    w vincentz says:

    Lance,
    Good Patton quote. unfortunately, the “how” and the “what” are easy. The real question is the “WHY?”
    Alas, the price for that answer is paid for with blood.

  181. 181
    Medicine Man says:

    Neither.

    If you’re an American male of a certain age, then you needed to make a moral choice back in the day. I used to be interested in how people got to where they did, but after so many years the responses have fallen into a pattern. Only a handful of us ever actually fought, but all of us seem to have an opinion self-justifying our own respective choices.

    I’ve grown beyond weary of hearing them.

    I see. Anyhow, I was asking from curiosity, not out of a desire to antagonize (fyi). I am not quite sure what decision I’d have made in those times.

  182. 182
    Medicine Man says:

    Duh, of course that should have been Zhukov, not Kutuzov. I blame the Laphraiog.

    I think Rodion Malinovsky had quite a bit to do with the battle in Manchuria as well, Robert Sneddon; also a skilled commander (although Gregory K Zhukov is very well known).

  183. 183

    Lance,
    Good Patton quote. unfortunately, the “how” and the “what” are easy. The real question is the “WHY?”
    Alas, the price for that answer is paid for with blood.

    So very true. My admiration and respect for all the vets here btw (and their loved ones). I became draft age right as the Vietnam “police action” by the US was ending. I seriously thought of enlisting but the carnage represented by the photo of the young Vietnamese girl running after being burned by napalm stuck with me. I felt concerned that I might be at some point expected to kill people that didn’t deserve killing so I never followed through. It must be tough to go through the psychological stripping of boot camp and then try to break the mold after the fact and choose for yourself which conflicts to participate in or at just what level you will unleash death and destruction.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lC0pDOTnnDg

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLzUNDaF00U

    Peace

  184. 184

    “The dead know only one thing: it is better to be alive.” ~ Private Joker

  185. 185
    Stuart Eugene Thiel says:

    MacArthur had something to say on the “top down” question. I’m too lazy to look it up (see Manchester, American Caesar), but it was in ’43 or ’44. Responding to an assertion that authoritarian societies (like Germany and Japan) had an advantage in war, he said something to the effect that such societies had the advantage at the outset, as long as their Plan was working. But as soon as the Plan started to unravel, the field officers at all levels would be too obtuse, and too fearful of their superiors, to improvise. Then the advantage shifted to the Western-style democracies.

  186. 186

    […] I started thinking about this a few days ago, when I read this post by Publius at Obsidian Wings and left a long comment.  Since then I read this article in Time Magazine (hat tip to John Cole—who was once a Scout in the 11th ACR!), which only reinforced my view.  I believe that using primary elections in place of caucuses to select candidates for office dilutes the ability of political parties to organize citizens for collective action.  This happens because primary elections shift political participation from a collective to an individual action, and then make participation excessively broad by accepting the votes of nonmembers of the party. […]

  187. 187
    goatchowder says:

    It was pointed out to me some years ago that the word “campaign” came from the military.

    Having been involved in running a small and particularly difficult (political) campaign, I can say that it certainly felt like a war. Actually, more like an asymmetrical, 4th-Generation insurgency (we won).

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] I started thinking about this a few days ago, when I read this post by Publius at Obsidian Wings and left a long comment.  Since then I read this article in Time Magazine (hat tip to John Cole—who was once a Scout in the 11th ACR!), which only reinforced my view.  I believe that using primary elections in place of caucuses to select candidates for office dilutes the ability of political parties to organize citizens for collective action.  This happens because primary elections shift political participation from a collective to an individual action, and then make participation excessively broad by accepting the votes of nonmembers of the party. […]

  2. […] This first post, by John Cole and based on the NY Times piece about the differences between the Clinton campaign structure and that of the Obama campaignn, reminds me strongly of the famous essay “The Cathedral and the Bazaar“. The idea in general is that a cooperate unit using shared authority to draw on the parallel processing and massed intellect of multiple minds will defeat a top-down, centralized command structure which depends so heavily on the abilities of those few at the very top. […]

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