Operational Security is Painless, It Brings on Many Changes, and John Bolton Can Take or Leave It if He Pleases…

Ambassador John Bolton, the Assistant to the President – National Security Advisor (APNSA) and the Frank Burns of American national security professionals, is also a master of operational security!

For those that can’t quite make that out:

And now the close up!

That says:

3) Afghanistan -> welcome the talks; 5,000 troops to Colombia

Nothing like the element of surprise when violating the War Powers Act!

Bolton has to be one of the absolutely stupidest national security professionals ever. Anyone want some action on whether he was one of the 30 people that were denied a clearance by the professional adjudicators and then granted one by Carl Kline, just like Jared Kushner was? He makes Alcibiades pushing the Athenian government to invade Sicily look like a military genius fusion of Pericles, Julius Caesar, Sun Tzu, and Clausewitz! And I don’t want to hear from you Jomini fan boys in the comments either! Keep it to yourselves you freaks!

Open thread!



The President Doesn’t Want US Military Personnel Deployed in Combat Zones; Fine, Order Them Home!

The New York Times dives into the President’s unwillingness to make a visit to US military personnel deployed in combat zones. Here’s the real important part of the article:

One reason he has not visited troops in war zones, according to his aides, is that he does not really want American troops there in the first place. To visit, they said, would validate missions he does not truly believe in.

There is a very simple solution if the President doesn’t want US military personnel deployed to these war zones or conducting these operations because he doesn’t believe that the US military should be conducting them: ORDER THEM HOME!!!!!

Every single one of these deployments, from Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria to Operation Freedom Sentinel in Afghanistan to every aid, advise, and assist mission conducted by both conventional and Special Operations forces, to every lethal/kinetic Special Operations mission covered under JSOC’s remit are all conducted solely under the authority of the President. Either authority provided to the President by the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force or the authority the President has to order short term, renewable contingency operations as long as the President both notifies Congress about them and Congress is willing to fund them.

If the current President of the United States believes that these campaigns, operations, and missions are wrong, should either never have been initially authorized or not repeatedly reauthorized, and doesn’t believe in the missions, the US military’s ability to complete the mission, or some combination of these reasons, then he needs to issue clear orders ending these assignments and return the US military personnel deployed to conduct them home. There is no declaration of war that creates a constitutionally rooted, statutory requirement that US personnel be deployed to defend the US and its interests that complicates this. Right now there are Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Service civilians deployed in harm’s way. Leaving them to face danger, when the President doesn’t believe they need to be there is a gross dereliction of his duty. If the President doesn’t believe in the missions these Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and DOD, Department of the Army, Navy, and/or Air Force civilians are tasked with carrying out under his authority as Commander in Chief, then he needs to end them. Immediately. If he can’t bring himself to do so because he’s too much of a coward, then he has a responsibility to visit US military personnel deployed abroad, to attend to memorial services at Arlington and other national cemeteries and monuments, both within and without the US. If he can’t bring himself to do either of these – ending missions he doesn’t believe in or actually attending to his duties and obligations to the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Service civilians deployed in harm’s way under his authority, then he needs to resign.

We are off the looking glass and through the map!

Open thread.



On the 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month of 1918 World War I Did Not Come to an End

(Satwinder Sehmi’s Calligraphy: In Flander’s Field)

As Veteran’s Day 2018 comes to a close, and with it the commemorations for the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, it is important to remember that World War I did not actually end on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. While it is true that the armistice was signed and peace talks would soon begin, World War I did not stop on November 11, 2018. Rather, and more accurately, it transformed into a series of low intensity conflicts that would simmer until reigniting into World War II. At the heart of those conflicts was a war of ideas. One of these ideas was national identity. Specifically, how ethno-national minorities that were left behind the lines, so to speak, when the armistice was signed would relate to the governments they now lived under, their ethno-national majority neighbors, and how those governments and those neighbors would relate to them. Out of these tense, taut, and often violent relationships between ethno-national majorities and minorities in post World War I Europe would grow other even more dangerous ideas such as fascism, in its corporatist, nationalist-syndicalist, and racist forms. Even, to a certain extent, Leninism, was unable to escape the nationalist tensions that resulted from the way World War I never really ended.

The great power competition that had led to World War I was changed by these clash of ideas – nationalism, fascism, communism – and, as a result, World War II and the Cold War were as much wars of ideas and ideology as they were wars of conquest and for territory. These ideas were about how to better organize state and society. And they placed the ideas of liberty and liberal democracy in all of its various types in direct conflict with the totalitarian ideas of fascism on the extreme right and communism on the extreme left. And just as different forms of liberal democracy would develop, so to would different variations of fascism and communism. These clash of ideas, of how states, societies, and even the global system should best be structured, would lead to both World War II, a long Cold War, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and a number of conflicts fought by the proxies of the two post World War II superpowers. to a certain extent they are also an undercurrent in the US’s seeming forever war against terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq.

As 2018 moves towards 2019, the world is once again faced with a war of ideas. The ideas of well ordered liberty and its expression in the different types of liberal democracy are once again facing off against totalitarian ideas from both state and non-state actors. Vladimir Putin challenges the US and its EU and NATO allies and partners with his promotion of managed democracy as a façade for the kleptocratic organized crime state he has created in Russia. Xi Xinping, recently declared as President for Life, promotes his fusion of Maoism, state controlled capitalism, and Chinese nationalism through his Belt and Road Initiative. ISIS continues to promote an extreme version of tawheed, the Islamic theological understanding of the unity of the Deity, which includes violently imposing its doctrine on believers and unbelievers alike. 

The War to End all Wars did not do so because it could not do so. Nor did World War II. Now has any other war. So while we recognize and commemorate the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I, we need to be realistic about what we face both within and without the United States. We need to remain vigilant in order to ensure that well ordered liberty prevails in this 21st century war of ideas.

Open thread.



And The Band Played…

Some years ago, I put up the video of a song that speaks to me on Veterans/Remembrance Day, and invited you all to add the one or ones that do the same for you.

When I hear this and the other pieces in this grim playlist, of course), I think of my grandfather, who served from 1914-1918, mostly on the Western Front, mostly as a battery commander in the Royal Horse Artillery.  I think of my dad, whose discharge papers my sister just excavated, documenting his four year journey from Japanese language school to Tokyo Bay.  I think of my uncle, who fought a towed-gun across northern Europe in 1944 and ’45, and ended his combat service in the Malayan Emergency, which was the only battlefield on which he ever saw a particular opposing soldier aiming a gun personally at him.  And of lots more, people I’ve known, and those I’ll never meet.

So here’s that tune again; respond as you will.

 

Memory is a defense against those for whom war is a prop.

Over to y’all.








Britain, Canada, France, and D-Day: Gold, Juno, and Sword

(Map 1: Normandy Landings)

Earlier today I did a post on the 74th anniversary of D-Day and the Normandy landings. This focused on the US, specifically as it highlighted the 82nd Airborne Division’s reenactment of their portion of the campaign over twitter. D-Day, however, was not just about the US’s efforts. It is important, given the current realities of the US’s relations with its closest allies, to remind ourselves what our allies and partners not only contribute as allies and partners, but what they are capable of doing. So before the 6th turns to the 7th, I wanted to take a moment and focus on Britain’s, Canada’s, and the Free French Forces’ portions of Operation Overlord, which were the landings on the Normandy coast’s named Gold (Britain), Juno (Britain and Canada), and Sword (Britain and France).

The planning for Operation Overlord was met with skepticism by Canadian and British military leadership as a result of the failure of the Allied raid at Dieppe on the French coast in 1942. From the BBC:

The British and Canadians had suffered their own disaster at Dieppe on 18 August 1942. More than two thirds of a 6,000-man raiding force had been left behind on the shingle beach, dead, wounded and prisoners.

On the eve of D-Day the Allied leadership was in a state of neurotic anxiety. Just after midnight on 6 June, a restless Churchill, haunted by memories of the disastrous Allied landings at Gallipoli 29 years earlier, bade his wife goodnight with the words, ‘Do you realise that by the time you wake up in the morning twenty thousand men may have been killed?’

The same night, the chief of the imperial general staff, General Alan Brooke, confided to his diary that ‘… it may well be the most ghastly disaster of the whole war. I wish to God it were safely over ‘.

Nevertheless, Britain and Canada prepared to take part in Overlord. From Veterans Affairs Canada:

Allied aircraft paved the way for the landings, bombing the coastal defence in the months leading up to the attack. On June 6, 1944—D-Day—a massive Allied force crossed the English Channel to engage in Operation Overlord. Their destination: an 80-kilometre stretch of the heavily-defended coast of Normandy. There were five landing zones, given special code names: Juno Beach (Canada); Gold Beach (United Kingdom); Sword Beach (United Kingdom and France); and Utah Beach and Omaha Beach (United States).

Seven thousand vessels of all types, including 284 major combat vessels, took part in Operation Neptune, the assault phase of the D-Day offensive. Destroyers and supporting craft of the Royal Canadian Navy did their part and shelled German targets while many Royal Canadian Air Force planes were among the 4,000 Allied bombers (plus some 3,700 fighters and fighter bombers) which attacked the German beach defences and inland targets.

More than 450 Canadians parachuted inland before dawn on June 6 and engaged the enemy. A few hours later, some 14,000 Canadian troops began coming ashore at Juno Beach in the face of enemy fire. Their mission: to establish a beachhead along an eight-kilometre stretch fronting the villages of Courseulles-sur-Mer, Bernières-sur-Mer, and Saint Aubin-sur-Mer. Once secure, the troops would push inland to capture the city of Caen, an important communications centre for the Germans.

Many Canadian soldiers in the Normandy campaign were young and new to battle, but their courage and skill meant they often helped lead the Allied advance against a determined enemy. Canadians soon captured three shoreline positions on D-Day and established themselves near the village of Creully, but this was to be only the beginning of the struggle to liberate France. Savage fighting in Normandy continued and grew even more intense as Canadian forces faced powerful German Panzer tank divisions in the struggle for Caen.

Through the summer of 1944, the fighting continued through choking dust and intense heat. The conditions were terrible and the enemy was ruthless, but the troops moved forward. Canadians played an important role in closing the “Falaise Gap” in mid-August as the Germans finally retreated in the face of the Allied offensive. On August 25, 1944, Paris was liberated by the Allies, bringing the Normandy campaign officially to a close.

And once again the BBC (emphasis mine):

On Gold, Juno and Sword beaches, British and Canadian troops were supported by the specialised assault vehicles of 79th Armoured Division. On all three, German strongpoints initially inflicted heavy casualties, but a combination of Petard mortar and Crocodile tank soon smashed the defences.

On Gold and Juno, British and Canadian forces pushed inland rapidly. On Sword, British 3rd Division was held up three miles short of Caen by a network of German defensive positions along a ridge. Finally, late that afternoon, the 21st Panzer Division launched a counterattack. Some units managed to reach the coast, though they were too weak to hold their positions.

The world learned the invasion was underway from German state radio, which announced landings in Normandy on its 07.00 news service, and promised the invaders would be swiftly annihilated.

A special BBC news bulletin came two-and-a-half hours later. John Snagge announced that D-Day had come and all was going according to plan. At 12.00 Churchill repeated this news in a statement to the House of Commons. Despite Eisenhower’s worries about the situation on Omaha beach, by mid-afternoon it was clear that even on Omaha the battle was running in the Allies’ favour.

When Churchill again addressed the House of Commons at 18.00 it was to announce an astounding success. To secure a lodgement on the coast of France, the Allies had taken 10,000 casualties, 3,000 of whom were dead – mostly airborne troops or those who had landed at Omaha Beach.

Losses were far lighter than anticipated, a tribute to years of planning and preparation, a bold command decision, and a lot of good luck.

I want to make sure to include the Free French Forces’ contribution. There weren’t a lot of them involved in the landing and assault on Sword Beach, but they fought with distinction.

On June 6, 1944, the Free French land forces deployed on Sword Beach are composed of two troops and a section. There are 177 commandos (1er Bataillon de Fusiliers Marins) led by Commandant Philippe Kieffer.

In the early hours of June 6, 1944, four sticks of 8 paratroopers from Free France belonging to the 3rd battalion under Bourgoin were dropped over Brittany.

The Free French air forces that participated in Operation Neptune from June 5 to 6, 1944, are the following: 3 fighter squadrons and 2 light and heavy bomber squadrons (which had previously fought in North Africa).

On many Allied war ships participating in Operation Overlord, one could find some crewmen French Libres. There are four Free French ships (which had been almost all built by the British):

In front of the German coastal artillery battery of Longues-sur-Mer (between Omaha Beach and Gold Beach) are deployed the Free France cruisers “Montcalm” and “Georges Leygues”.

In front of Omaha Beach is the Free France destroyer “Roselys”.

In front of Juno Beach is the Free France destroyer “La Combattante”.

 

(Image 1: Kieffer Commando’s Monument)

Here’s a documentary about the Allied – British, Canadian, and Free French – portion of Operation Overlord:

Open thread!