We Are Not Escalating Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, or Much of Anything Else, Despite the Clickbait Headlines

A number of commenters were concerned last night, and rightly so, about reporting that seemed to indicate that the Administration is considering escalating US operations in Afghanistan. These operations are currently called Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and were referred to as Operation Enduring Freedom through the end of 2014. When you actually dive into the reporting you find something much more routine is being proposed.

Senior Trump administration and military officials are recommending sending several thousand additional American troops to Afghanistan to try to break a military deadlock in the 15-year war there, in part by pressuring the Taliban to negotiate with the Afghan government.

The added troops would allow American advisers to work with a greater number of Afghan forces, and closer to the front lines.

The recommendation, which has yet to be approved by President Trump, is the product of a broad review by the Pentagon, the State Department, intelligence community and other government agencies on America’s longest war. It is broadly consistent with advice Gen. John W. Nicholson, the top American commander in Afghanistan, gave Congress in February.

Warning that the United States and its NATO allies faced a “stalemate,” General Nicholson told lawmakers that he had a shortfall of a “few thousand” troops and said more personnel would enable the American military to advise the Afghan military more effectively and at lower levels in the chain of command.

American officials said that 3,000 to 5,000 additional troops, including hundreds of Special Operations forces, could be sent. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

NATO nations would also be asked to send thousands of troops, and the precise number of American forces deployed would probably depend on what those allies were prepared to do.

Last week General Thomas, the Commander of US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM/SOCOM), testified that US Special Forces are stretched.

The head of U.S. Special Forces told Congress Thursday that constant deployments and unrealistic mission expectations were taking a major toll on his troops.

Army General Raymond Thomas, top commander of Special Operations Command (SOCOM), testified before the Senate Armed Service Committee, saying his elite forces had been engaged in “continuous combat over the past 15 and half years.”

During Thursday’s testimony, Thomas also criticized “media circles” for promoting the idea that Special Forces could solve any issue around the world. Special Forces, about 8,000 of which are currently active in an estimated 80 nations, are not a “panacea” to remedy all global conflicts, he argued.

So there aren’t a lot of Special Forces left to spread around. And US conventional forces are also spread thin. The US Air Force, as well as US Navy aviators, have been in almost constant combat operations since Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm. As Lt. Gen. (ret) David Deptula, the Dean of the Mitchell Institute of Aerospace Studies has stated:

The U.S. Air Force (USAF) has been at war not just since 9/11, but since 1991.  After 25 years of continuous combat operations, coupled with budget instability and lower-than-planned top lines, have made the USAF the oldest, smallest, and least ready it has ever been in its history. The average USAF aircraft age is 27 years—the youngest B-52 is over 50 years old. Going into Operation Desert Storm, the USAF had over 530,000 active duty personnel, today that number is 320,000—40 percent less, and the USAF has almost 60 percent fewer combat fighter squadrons today (55) than it did during the first Gulf War in 1991 (134).  Today, over 50 percent of USAF forces are not sufficiently ready for a high-end fight against near-peer capabilities posed by China or Russia.

Lt. Gen. Deptula goes on to state in the same interview that the major problem facing readiness is:

The key challenge standing in the way of improving readiness is the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011.  It has resulted in a disproportionate loss of USAF capability, because it hinders the Air Force’s role as America’s “first response force.”  The damage to readiness caused by the BCA and subsequent sequestration in 2013, means that the U.S. has a growing strategy-resource mismatch: a widening gap between what our leaders say they want to be able to accomplish, and what the nation’s USAF can actually accomplish.

Sequestration was designed to be so irresponsible that Congress would prevent its implementation.  However, the danger is that because its consequences are not immediately visible, Congress is on a path to continue imposing resource constraints on the military that inhibit meeting the demands of our national security strategy.  Combat readiness doesn’t have a constituency—except for the entire nation— when fighting needs to be accomplished.

There is a very important point here that needs to be emphasized:

…Congress is on a path to continue imposing resource constraints on the military that inhibit meeting the demands of our national security strategy.

The US National Security Strategy* states what the US will do in regards to national security (ends) and how the US will do it (ways). How the US will pay for it, the means, are up to Congress via the budget and appropriations. The budget, or since we no longer have a functioning budgetary and appropriations process in the US and may never have one again**, or year on year and temporary continuing resolutions are unable to sustain the America’s national security strategy. At this point most of you are probably asking: we spend all this money on defense, right? Yes and no. Global military expenditures are currently 2.25% of GDP. US military spending, as of 2016, is 3.61% of GDP. You can find all the NATO country comparative data here. While the US spends a large total number, especially in comparison to everyone else, which is reflected in having the highest military spending as a percentage of GDP, we are only 1.4% higher than the agreed upon NATO minimum requirements that we have heard so much about.

This is not a flippant argument for additional spending. Rather it is a realization that our ends, ways, and means are out of alignment. And that makes it very difficult for the US to do much more militarily than it is already doing. As Lt. Gen. Deptula indicated, the US Air Force has been at war continuously since 1991. And the aviation components of the US Navy have been as well. We have, perhaps, more air combat experience than at any time in US history and at the same time some of the lowest actual combat readiness. And as GEN Thomas indicated in his testimony, the ongoing operational tempo is also negatively effecting Special Forces.

LTGs Anderson, Bingham, and Piggee submitted a joint statement at the 8 MAR 2017 US House of Representatives hearing on the current state of Army readiness. In it they state:

Today, the Army remains globally engaged with over 182,000 trained and ready Soldiers committed to meeting Combatant Command deterrence and counter-terrorist requirements. These requirements fall disproportionally on the Army to fulfill: the Army meets 48% of Combatant Command base demand and is set to meet 70% of FY17 emergent force demand. This demand commits all major Regular Army combat formations that are assigned or allocated to Combatant Commands, or that are under orders to be prepared to deploy. In order to sustain this considerable level of demand, the Army has been forced to accept risk in end strength, capacity, readiness, modernization, installations, and sustainment. Simultaneously, rival nations have aggressively updated their armed forces, thus creating capability gaps that impose a significant threat to U.S. forces and contingency missions.

We echo the testimony of General Allyn on 7 February that the Army requires sustained, long-term, and predictable funding to build and sustain readiness. Under funding caps in current law, the Army will be forced to draw down end strength and underinvest in readiness. If the 2011 Budget Control Act is not further revised or repealed, we will be unable to sustain our force, leading to an underprepared and underequipped Army. We ask that you establish new budget authorizations to prevent this outcome and ensure investments in Army readiness are not wasted. Sustainable, consistent, long-term funding will allow us to rebuild the Army’s readiness. Ready forces are not just available for contingencies, they prevent contingencies by deterring potential adversaries.

What does all that mean in reality? It means that the conventional Army can’t do much more than what it is actually doing. And neither can the Air Force or the Navy or Special Forces. Eventually something will have to give. Either the US will have to adjust its national security strategy expectations down so they are in line with the ways and means available/likely to be available or it will have to adjust the ways and means available up so they are in line with our national security strategy expectations and obligations. Given that the US is the only country to ever cut taxes, twice, while waging two wars, it is highly unlikely that we will be able to increase our means in any significant manner. To do so would require actually increasing Federal revenue, which is anathema to the GOP majorities in both the House and the Senate, as well as movement conservative and Republican party orthodoxy.

(For an in depth understanding of US military force structure, here is the Congressional Budget Office’s primer on the subject.)

* This is the last Obama Administration National Security Strategy. As is the case with every new administration, the new Administration has not yet issued a new one.

** Almost 75% of the members of the GOP House Caucus have been elected since the 2010 midterm elections. Those GOP members of Congress have only ever participated in crisis budgeting and appropriations. They have no actual experience with regular order and, as we saw with last week’s passage of the AHCA, even when they have an overwhelming majority in the House, they have no interest in returning to regular order.

Full disclosure: every cent I have made since 2017 is as the result of US defense spending.

89 replies
  1. 1
    ET says:

    So Comey gets Trump elected and now it is rumored he is getting fired a day after his testimony. I guess that testimony wasn’t to Sessions or Trump’s liking.

  2. 2
    Thru the Looking Glass... says:

    @ET: It’s like the Night of the Long Sporks all over again…

    Wow… just… wow…

    Talk about giving the rest of the country a big, fat middle finger…

  3. 3
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @ET: @Thru the Looking Glass…: Yes this is bad. Yes, we now have a full fledged out in the open constitutional crisis as opposed to the simmering, just under the surface one that has been going on since January. The CI investigation is compartmented. It will stay that way under control of career National Security Section investigators and prosecutors. And we’ll have an acting FBI Director for a while.

    Is this bad? Yes. Is the US now Chechnya? No.

  4. 4
    japa21 says:

    What about the National Guard?

  5. 5
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @japa21: What about them?

  6. 6

    I don’t really understand. They’re proposing adding 3-5k more troops, what’s that have to do with the second half, and while I can see that it isn’t an “escalation” since the military won’t be changing its role in Afghanistan, it’s still a significant number of troops.

  7. 7
    Thru the Looking Glass... says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Geez… my head is spinning…

    I watched most of yesterday’s hearing… I thought the Republicans came across as desperate clowns coming to a knife fight swinging a rubber chicken (SAD!), the Democrats came prepared and looking very professional, and Clapper and yates appeared annoyed w/ the Repubs’ lines of attack…

    I find it IMPOSSIBLE to not see Comey’s firing as an act of desperation on the part of Trump… yeah, he fired the man and he also managed to jack millions of us up to 11 on a scale of 10…

    It goes to 11, man… it goes to 11…

    No, we’re not Chechnya and this is the biggest crisis I’ve seen in my lifetime…

    And it just makes me hate those guys all the more…

  8. 8
    Schlemazel says:

    The USSR was broken fighting for nothing in Afghanistan. The US has a much larger military & had a stronger economy so it will take a bit longer but it helps that Boy Blunder opened a bloody gash in Iraq for no good reason so the end will be similar. We even have our own crew of oligarchs and mobsters to suck up all the remaining wealth. Youngsters should be learning Chinese if they are smart

  9. 9
    Arclite says:

    The Congress will do nothing because Team Republican.

  10. 10
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    I get the impression that Trump would like to escalate, but the troops just aren’t available. And if you think people are rushing to volunteer in a military headed by Trump, it’s a fool’s mission. The only way Trump is going to get a lot of volunteers is if times are so hard the military is just about the only real option, or if people feel that at least overseas service gets you away from him.

    What I worry about is that Trump just might set off the other unstable nut in North Korea. NK is unstable at the best of times, and if he/Un feels cornered, military action just might be the way to lash out at the cornering.

  11. 11

    If you didn’t see it, Trump’s letter to Comey ends “I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.” 😂

  12. 12
    Schlemazel says:

    @CarolDuhart2:
    There is still a draft

  13. 13
    Thru the Looking Glass... says:

    @CarolDuhart2: That’s why Kim Jong-Un’s been taking hostages, correct?

    The people who would bear the brunt of this the most are the South Koreans and the Japanese, apart form the North Koreans… if that situation collapses, we could have multiple millions dead so quickly…

    I don’t think I’ve ever been more scared or angry in my entire life…

  14. 14
    debbie says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    Probably as close as he could get to “You’re fired!”

  15. 15
    tobie says:

    I’m trying to wrap my head around the fact that we’re increasing our involvement in a campaign overseas while creeping toward a police state at home. This has echoes of 1933. Dictators know the only way to rally support is to identify an enemy at home and/or abroad. It’s night-time in America.

  16. 16
    Jeffro says:

    @Adam L Silverman: i’m good with anything short of the orange moron pushing the button… The whole thing needs to be blown wide open as so many Democratic members of Congress have alluded to

  17. 17
    max says:

    This is not a flippant argument for additional spending. Rather it is a realization that our ends, ways, and means are out of alignment. And that makes it very difficult for the US to do much more militarily than it is already doing. As Lt. Gen. Deptula indicated, the US Air Force has been at war continuously since 1991. And the aviation components of the US Navy have been as well. We have, perhaps, more air combat experience than at any time in US history and at the same time some of the lowest actual combat readiness. And as GEN Thomas indicated in his testimony, the ongoing operational tempo is also negatively effecting Special Forces.

    ‘Overextended Empire’

    What does all that mean in reality? It means that the conventional Army can’t do much more than what it is actually doing.

    And yet the FP Blob calls for more war at pretty much every turn. It’s like they’re some kind of collection of ignorant no-nothings dedicated to the pursuit of their own advancement among the aristocratic glitterati, i.e. Roman style.

    Given that the US is the only country to ever cut taxes, twice, while waging two wars, it is highly unlikely that we will be able to increase our means in any significant manner. To do so would require actually increasing Federal revenue, which is anathema to the GOP majorities in both the House and the Senate, as well as movement conservative and Republican party orthodoxy.

    ‘Social security and Medicare cuts’ for the centrist/totebagger/Unity ’08 win. The old people get whipped into competitive shape, and the Blob can have some more war.

    max
    [‘That’s the stated R party aim since ever.’]

  18. 18
    Keith P. says:

    So another surge?

  19. 19
    debbie says:

    Adam, NPR’s On Point had an interview with Eli Lake (Bloomberg) about McMaster’s seeming to lose favor with Trump. Do you think he’ll get the next “you’re fired” letter?

  20. 20
    TenguPhule says:

    It means that the conventional Army can’t do much more than what it is actually doing. And neither can the Air Force or the Navy or Special Forces. Eventually something will have to give.

    This is a feature, not a bug, for Trump. He’s going to order them to comply regardless of readiness. Any weakening of the armed forces serves China and Russia and he’s on their payroll.

  21. 21
    TenguPhule says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    “I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.”

    Followed shortly by Mr. Comey having an accident in a bathtub. A fatal one.

  22. 22
    TenguPhule says:

    @CarolDuhart2:

    The only way Trump is going to get a lot of volunteers is if times are so hard the military is just about the only real option

    Answered your own question, didn’t you?

  23. 23
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Major Major Major Major: The second half explains why we can, at best, send 3 to 5K more troops. That’s one BCT, more or less. Because we just don’t have the bodies.

  24. 24
    BBA says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Yes, we now have a full fledged out in the open constitutional crisis as opposed to the simmering, just under the surface one that has been going on since January.

    January of 2011, I think you mean.

    To the extent I’ve encountered Trump loyalists online, they seem to think Comey was obviously a Democratic hack, or else he’d have locked Hillary up for being a c*nt the many crimes she’s obviously guilty of.

  25. 25
    Jeffro says:

    @TenguPhule:

    This is a feature, not a bug, for Trump. He’s going to order them to comply regardless of readiness. Any weakening of the armed forces serves China and Russia and he’s on their payroll.

    True, he is.

    And yet, I’m not seeing the military give their fastest 110% response to Trumpov’s orders if they’re not within the bounds of reality. The military’s pretty good at “reality”.

    And this is Trumpov we’re dealing with. Military leaders could tell him that they’d moved the entire US armed forces, to the last man and MRE, to the Syrian desert within 48 hours and he’d go, “Ok – good job!”. I’m not crazy about the thought of our military leaders outright lying to the president, but in this case? With no other institutions checking this fucking corrupt moron? And saving their own men & women’s lives as well? Heck yeah they can lie to him. They can tell him they repelled a Martian invasion while en route to Syria, I don’t give a crap.

  26. 26
    JCJ says:

    But I thought adding more boats for the navy was the answer!

    (Boats, ships, armed floating thingies, whatever)

  27. 27
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @tobie: We’re not really doing much more. All that has been asked for is enough bodies to embed training teams (12-24 personnel) with the Afghan National Army brigades and Afghan National Police Force equivalent units that we are training. What we’re doing now is largely focused on training the folks at division and corps levels and the police equivalents. That is important, but it isn’t going to get the Afghan forces to where they need to be.

  28. 28
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @max: No arguments here.

  29. 29
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Keith P.: Not even close.

  30. 30
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @debbie: Eli Lake’s last two stories have quickly blown up in his face for being gigantically wrong. I was never impressed with Lake. He has no actual experience or expertise in what he covers, just ideological preferences. This would be fine if he was a pundit, but not a reporter. Additionally, there’s been significant pushback, starting with Joe Scarborough claiming that Lake is full of it and that Lake’s source is Bannon. And the point of the leak to Lake is to simply cause trouble.

    That said, LTG McMaster serves at the pleasure of the President. Both in the assignment as Assistant to the President-National Security Advisor and as a serving 3 star general. He can announce his retirement any time because he’s had enough and he can be told it is time for him to retire.

  31. 31

    @tobie: I can’t readily visualize the American people rallying around another round of inconclusive fighting with the Taliban.

  32. 32
    TenguPhule says:

    @Jeffro:

    I’m not crazy about the thought of our military leaders outright lying to the president, but in this case?

    But that’s the problem. Once precedent is set, it sticks.

  33. 33
    raven says:

    @sufferinsuccotash, normalized: The American people don’t give a fuck. . . take that to the bank.

  34. 34
    debbie says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Thanks. I’m not familiar with what Lake’s written, but I’d hate to think Bannon’s grabbed back control.

  35. 35
    BBA says:

    @sufferinsuccotash, normalized: I can. 2003, but with less Jesus.

  36. 36
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @raven: Yep. As far as the American people are concerned they’re not at war. The Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines, the Intel Community, and a bunch of contractors are all at war. The American people not so much.

  37. 37
    Jeffro says:

    @TenguPhule: Yeah, well, military leaders lying to a lunatic to avoid needless deaths is a pretty awesome precedent, actually.

    I hope they tell him there’s unrest in Antarctica and he needs to see it for himself, personally. And then…he’s dropped off on the shore…and the Zodiac slowly drifts back into the surf…

  38. 38
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @debbie: Lake is just a mouthpiece for the Flynn die-hards in the WH.

  39. 39
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @debbie:

    but I’d hate to think Bannon’s grabbed back control.

    He never lost it. That whole “Bannon’s out of power” thing was an act to fleece the rubes.

  40. 40
    TenguPhule says:

    @Jeffro:

    Yeah, well, military leaders lying to a lunatic to avoid needless deaths is a pretty awesome precedent, actually.

    Once soldiers start lying to their superiors, all bets are off. Because sooner or later, the lie isn’t going to be for a good cause. /Remember Vietnam & Cambodia?

  41. 41
    StringOnAStick says:

    My husband has some old friends who are quite conservative, even stating “we should take their oil” during Dubya’s big adventure. Two years ago their son dropped out of college intent on joining the infantry while his scores could have gotten him into officer training, so they compromised on medic.

    Ever since their son became a potential casualty they’ve been a lot less interested in beating the war drums like FOX tells them to. It saddens me that it takes risk being potentially family -close to get some people to dial back the blood lust.

  42. 42
    debbie says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    There was a photo on FB last week of Bannon. Behind him was a white board listing all of his goals. The board was large; the writing small and cramped. Bannon has many, many goals.

  43. 43

    @StringOnAStick:

    It saddens me that it takes risk being potentially family -close to get some people to dial back the blood lust.

    That conservatives for you. They’re incapable of acting ethically unless it affects them directly. (And they project that onto everybody else–It’s why they insist that all poor people deserve it. It’s why they means-test everything and drug-test everybody.) It’s why they can’t see the human cost of war. It’s why they’re against gay marriage until their son comes out.

  44. 44
    MomSense says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I think we have been in a constitutional crisis for some time and agree with you that it is now fully out in the open.

    I keep thinking that this whole mess would be fascinating if it weren’t also so dangerous. Doesn’t it also seem like the reason we’ve all been suffering from 3 am trumpsomniia is because deep down we all know that things are going to get worse.

  45. 45
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @TenguPhule: Comey is harmless to Trump so no need for that. Plus, it will be easy for Trump to discredit Comey as a bitter person to his supporters should Comey spill any beans down the road.

  46. 46

    Poor Afghanistan, suffering ever since the wretched British gained a toehold on the subcontinent. The first Anglo-Afghan war started in 1839.

  47. 47
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @MomSense: Things will come to a head. Any attempt to interfere in the CI investigation will lead to damaging leaks. I would also expect our Five Eyes allies to leak as well.

  48. 48
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Patricia Kayden: Comey is still testifying tomorrow in closed/classified session to the Senate Intel Committee.

  49. 49
    Jeffro says:

    @TenguPhule: um, ok

  50. 50
    MomSense says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I’ve thought all along that our five eyes allies have been behind many of the leaks. Helps protect our good people, too.

  51. 51
    Jeffro says:

    @Adam L Silverman: yup

    Leak leak leak, drip drip drip

  52. 52
    TenguPhule says:

    @Jeffro: Adam can probably explain why violating chain of command is not a good thing better then I can. Yes, there’s the illegal order exception, but even then Trump can force them to deploy without ever crossing that line and by regulations they would have no choice but to comply or resign.

  53. 53
    germy says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    Poor Afghanistan, suffering ever since the wretched British gained a toehold on the subcontinent. The first Anglo-Afghan war started in 1839.

    A graveyard for empires.

  54. 54
    TenguPhule says:

    @Patricia Kayden: Three men can keep a secret if two of them are dead. Putin doesn’t tolerate loose ends.

  55. 55
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @TenguPhule: You can’t deploy what you you don’t have. Sure, we have a lot of bodies at Army Material Command. Almost none of them are combat arms.

  56. 56

    @germy: Afghans and Afghanistan have not fared that well either. There is a rather sad story about an Afghan immigrant in Calcutta written by Tagore in the late 19th century. Even sadder is the fact that the same exact story can be written today without hardly any change.

  57. 57
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @MomSense: I mentioned downstairs, Comey was in Queenstown (NZ) a few weeks ago for a big 5Eyes confab.

  58. 58
    Mike in NC says:

    Read today that Trump wants to arm and possibly send an unstated number of advisors to assist Syrian Kurds. Turkey will not be pleased. He really wants his very own quagmire.

  59. 59
    germy says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    Afghans and Afghanistan have not fared that well either.

    Agreed.

  60. 60
    Tenar Arha says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I don’t know what the answer to this is. As far back as GWB saying to go shopping, even though I understood as a consumer economy we had to, I think it was a mistake not to encourage war bonds or something similar with forces in Iraq & Afghanistan.

    I also sometimes wonder if this is partly our choice not to show the human cost on the evening news anymore, just the martial show before football & other sports events. We may briefly hear & register that a special operator died in Somalia but we don’t see any follow up from a body coming off the plane or his funeral.

  61. 61
    MomSense says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    I’m telling you that when Clapper was on Todd’s show and responded to the question about Obama admin trying to spread intel that actually they were trying to sort of hide it and protect it I got serious chills. Sort of hoping Obama had a thumb drive in his pocket when he had that last meeting with Merkle in Germany.

  62. 62
    BBA says:

    What frustrates me is, nothing is going to come of the whole Russia thing. No matter how much information comes out, Trump will be president at least until 11:59 AM on January 20, 2021, because nobody is both willing and able to do anything about it. The willing are unable, the able are unwilling.

    I hope I’m wrong, but I’d bet 5-to-1 I’m right.

  63. 63
    Corner Stone says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Things will come to a head. Any attempt to interfere in the CI investigation will lead to damaging leaks. I would also expect our Five Eyes allies to leak as well.

    I’ve said since the election that the continued belief in institutions amazes me.

  64. 64
    Corner Stone says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Do you still believe nothing will come of the whole Russia investigation?

  65. 65

    CNN saying Comey found out he was fired because it was on the teevee while he was addressing workers at the LA office.

  66. 66
    germy says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    Brian Klaas‏Verified account @brianklaas 1h1 hour ago

    Trump’s private bodyguard hand delivered the letter informing Comey he was fired.
    This is some serious banana republic garbage right here.

  67. 67
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Tenar Arha: If we are in an existential conflict than the US should be placed on a war footing and a societal mobilization needs to occur. That the Bush 43 Administration, which made that argument, as well as movement conservatives and Republicans still do, but see know reason for such a response, is a tell. And the tell is either that we are not in an existential crisis or that they think actually placing the US on a war footing would be bad for their business.

  68. 68
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Corner Stone: Not the institutions. The people in them. I do not expect every institution to hold. Nor everyone working in them to do so. But enough will.

  69. 69

    @germy: I suppose we’ll see which source is right.

    eta: they’re also not mutually exclusive.

  70. 70

    @Adam L Silverman: Agreed. Also, T and gang are not invincible, they will make mistakes, its inevitable. Unlike W and gang this current assemblage does not have the depth of institutional knowledge, so their fuckups will be even more epic. Lucky us. Not.

  71. 71
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Corner Stone: Yes.

  72. 72
    germy says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    they’re also not mutually exclusive.

    From what I understand, the letter was delivered after the TV broadcast.

  73. 73
    amk says:

    @sufferinsuccotash, normalized: What rallying around? Citizens’ collective apathy & amnesia means the warmongers give jacksquat about what they think and are contemptuous of what they will and can do.

  74. 74

    @germy: exactly what I realized before I made my edit.

    ETA: also why does the president have a private bodyguard?

  75. 75
    Alternative Fax, a hip hop artist from Idaho says:

    @germy: The US is now a banana republic with shittier weather. But at least I made the big time on twitter:

    JΞSŦΞR ✪ ΔCŦUΔL³³º¹ (@th3j35t3r) liked your reply

    link

  76. 76
    MomSense says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I personally am at the ready the lanterns for steeples stage.

  77. 77
    germy says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    also why does the president have a private bodyguard?

    Next he’ll have a gaggle of female bodyguards, like Kaddafi.

  78. 78
    Another Scott says:

    @Adam L Silverman: What’s old is new again.

    I’m reminded of “Stop Loss” and sending the National Guard and Reserves.

    If Donnie orders the Pentagon to send people, people will get sent. Not enough, not well-enough trained, not well-enough equipped, but people will get sent. There’s a long history of that.

    Unfortunately.

    “I suppose someone has to go,” said Rolf Pieper, ….

    Yes, and, well, no not really. Sunk Costs isn’t an argument to keep doing what we’ve been doing. We need better reasons, and a better understanding of the world as it is and not as we wish it were….

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  79. 79
    StringOnAStick says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Cheney and W were smart enough to have kept the mess Mango Moron is making under control; they were evil and I didn’t think it could get any worse, but they cared enough about the US to not sell it to Putin. Drumpf couldn’t give a crap about the country, just about how much they can extract from it while selling us up the river to the oligarchs.

  80. 80
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    The plot thickens.

    Washington (CNN)Federal prosecutors have issued grand jury subpoenas to associates of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn seeking business records, as part of the ongoing probe of Russian meddling in last year’s election, according to people familiar with the matter. CNN learned of the subpoenas hours before President Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey.

  81. 81
    TenguPhule says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Any attempt to interfere in the CI investigation will lead to damaging leaks.

    Again, who’s controlling their paychecks and probably has access to their personnel files?

  82. 82
    TenguPhule says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    You can’t deploy what you you don’t have.

    Muster the National Guard. Stop Loss.

    Bush’s greatest hits, Vol. 2: Trump Boogaloo

  83. 83
    Thru the Looking Glass... says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I would also expect our Five Eyes allies to leak as well.

    This is what I expect next, especially if Trump is dumb enough to try and flush the FBI investigation down the toilet…

    Nothing to see here folks… move along… move along…

    And especially in light of what just happened in the French election… the Europeans appear to be in no mood to tolerate crap from either Putin or our GOP…

  84. 84
    Thru the Looking Glass... says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    CNN learned of the subpoenas hours before President Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey.

    Gee…

    ***scratches head…***

    I wonder if there’s any relationship between those two facts… the subpoenas and Comey’s firing?

    Not that I’m an expert… but the firing sure looks like the act of a desperate man…

  85. 85
    efgoldman says:

    @TenguPhule:

    who’s controlling their paychecks and probably has access to their personnel files?

    Not in French, German, or British intel, parts of the “Five Eyes” mentioned above, whence Adam posited long go many of the initial damaging links came.
    Also (having done it myself on a much smaller scale) the point of leaking is that your boss doesn’t know.
    With the intartoobz, national boundaries and native media don’t matter any more.

  86. 86
    Thru the Looking Glass... says:

    @efgoldman:

    Not in French, German, or British intel, parts of the “Five Eyes” mentioned above, whence Adam posited long go many of the initial damaging links came.

    It should be really, really, really way too interesting if they all get pissed and just dump whatever they have out there… kinda like the way Wikileaks does its shit… way, way, way too interesting…

  87. 87
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Thru the Looking Glass…: See my new post up top.

  88. 88
    Feckless says:

    1) the military voted for Trump and the GOP. You get what you pay for (or in this case didn’t pay for.)
    2) Just because the contractor/generals want a failing F-35 that costs billions, you cant say you don’t have enough $ to upkeep the actual planes we are actually using in combat every day, now.
    3) I regularly read stories about something like 7 TRILLION dollars of “missing” military money and equipment.
    4) The only military we need a peace corps, a coast guard and a national guard.
    ON 9-11 what good did our wasted trillions on “defense” do for us?
    Its way past time to radically restructure our national defense in response to value per dollar, not useless ideas like percentage of GDP.

  89. 89
    TenguPhule says:

    @Feckless:

    4) The only military we need a peace corps, a coast guard and a national guard.

    And you’re fucking wrong. We need the biggest blue water navy in the world because the alternative is China and Russia trying to maintain law and order on the high seas.

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