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!

 



D-Day and Operation Overlord: The 74th Anniversary of the Normandy Landing

Today is the 74th anniversary of D-Day, which was the Normandy landing portions of Operation Overlord. The 82nd Airborne Division’s social media team, with, I would expect, an assist from the Division historian, are doing a historical reenactment via twitter of the All American Division’s part of the operation 74 years on.

Eisenhower’s letter to the troops:

And his letter taking responsibility in case it all went wrong:

There is the occasional dig on their rivals in the 101st Airborne Division:

And there are maps of the battlespace!

They have about an hour or so left to go in their social media reenactment, so if you’re a World War II buff or just curious, click across and check out the whole thing.

All the way!

Open thread.

ETA: Ike’s letters.

 



From Memorial Day 2017 To Memorial Day 2018: The Tally Of The Fallen

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

Those who have died in service to the US from 29 May 2017 to 28 May 2018:

Sergeant Erik M Houck

Sergeant William M. Bayes

Corporal Dillon C. Baldridge

Private First Class Hanson B. Kirkpatrick

Sergeant Jonathon M. Hunter

Specialist Christopher M. Harris

Technical Sergeant David Board

Specialist Allen Levi Stigler, Jr.

Sergeant Roshain Euvince Brooks

Staff Sergeant Aaron R. Butler

Specialist Alexander R. Missildine

Staff Sergeant Dustin M. Wright

Sergeant La David T. Johnson

Sergeant Jeremiah W. Johnson

Staff Sergeant Bryan C. Black

Chief Warrant Officer Jacob M. Sims

Sergeant First Class Stephen B. Cribben

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Lee M. Smith

Sergeant First Class Hughton O. Brown

Corporal Todd L. McGurn

Specialist Avadon A. Chaves

Sergeant First Class Mihail Golin

Specialist Javion S. Sullivan

Sergeant Christina M. Schoenecker

Sergeant First Class Maitland D. Wilson

Captain Christopher Zanetis

Captain Mark Weber

Master Sergeant Christopher Raguso

Master Sergeant William Posch

Captain Andreas O’Keeffe

Staff Sergeant Carl Enis

Staff Sergeant Dashan Briggs

Master Sergeant Jonathan J. Dunbar



Megan McArdle Knows Absolutely Nothing About Any Form Of War And Wouldn’t Even If A Member Of The Military Bit Her!

Which I wouldn’t recommend, because despite all the vaccinations they’re given, I’m pretty sure they don’t cover whatever variant of Jakob Cruetzfeldt disease afflicts libertarian pundits who have never held an actual job and have absolutely no real world experience. But I repeat myself!

Now that the throat clearing is out of the way, I want to make a quick follow on point to AL’s cataloguing of McArdle’s idiocy. Specifically that the US has never actually fought a civil war. A civil war refers to a form of low intensity warfare – as in less than interstate war* -where the supporters of two or more claimants to power fight for control of the state. The claimants may have either de jure (legal) or de facto (extant) claims to control the state. This is not what happened in the US in the 1860s. Rather, what we call the US Civil War was actually a rebellion in support of secession from the state in the attempt to set up a new one. There was no dispute as to the legitimacy of the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency. What was in dispute is that the southern states that would become the Confederacy refused to accept the election’s outcome and sought to break away and form their own nation-state.

Had supporters of Secretary Clinton, including Democratic elected and appointed officials at all levels of government, refused to accept the President’s election as legitimate and contested his inauguration, including violently, once they learned that the US intelligence community had determined that the Russians had interfered in the US election with the specific objective of electing the President, then we’d be talking about a civil war. That did not happen despite some of the comments posted here over the past 18 months or so…

What McArdle doesn’t understand, because she knows nothing about war – theoretically, conceptually, and/or experientially – is that there has been a low level insurgency in the US going back decades. We sometimes call this the culture war. Sometimes it’s referred to as the Southern Strategy, but it involves one of the two major political parties and its supporting movements, including religious movements, in the US refusing to accept the legitimacy of any other ones. It includes frequent use of dehumanizing language and threats of violence ranging from legislatively and regulatorily directing the power of the state, utilizing lawfare, and actually threatening and sometimes undertaking violence against their opponents or the objects of their dehumanization campaigns when the insurgents don’t get their way. And these people – elected, appointed, voters, supporters, pundits, etc – are McArdle’s fellow travelers! They are part of the larger political, ideological, dogmatic religious, and sub-cultural groups and movements that McArdle has been marinating in since she was an undergraduate.

They also make the mistake that they are the only ones that get to define patriotism and to actually care about the US and its ideals. They have convinced themselves that they are the only ones who can properly interpret the Constitution when in fact they are the poorest of linguistic and political historians of the late 18th Century, which leads to constantly misunderstanding and misapplying the Constitution. And they have deluded themselves into thinking that because their opponents believe in civility that their opponents are also unwilling to actually defend themselves in the political, ideological, social, religious, economic, and/or legal arenas. And those delusions include the mistaken belief that they don’t have the means to do so.

Right now the US is experiencing one of its periodic bouts of growing pains. As was the case in the 1780s and 1790s, the 1830s and 1840s, the 1860s, the late 1870s through the 1890s, during WW I, in the mid to late 1930s, and in the middle 1960s through the early 1970s, a period of imperfect progress is being met with a backlash against it. It is ugly. It is unpleasant. It is damaging. People who do not deserve to be hurt are being hurt. The real question that McArdle should have asked, yet is incapable because she is as the one who does not know how to ask, is what does it really mean to form a more perfect union? And what are the best ways to go about perfecting the union? Those are the real questions of American civic life. Not whether Democrats in urban areas know how to use guns.

Finally, that McArdle would even contemplate tweeting about this on Memorial Day weekend is insensitive and disrespectful for those who have given their life in service to the US. Discussing whether Americans should or could kill each other again en masse in pursuit of political power on this of all weekends should lead her to remove herself from opining. She needs to flee the public square and contemplate that the people who have given their lives for the US, with the exception of those fighting on behalf of the Confederacy, did so despite their political and ideological and regional and religious differences. They did it to ensure there would be a union to continue to perfect. McArdle is a poor excuse for a public intellectual. Unfortunately she’s an all too perfect an example of a poorly informed and poorly educated American ideologue.

And in case she or one of her followers sees her name in the post title on Cole’s twitter feed and decides to pop over and ask who am I to question her expertise in regard to war, here’s my abbreviated professional bio:

Adam L. Silverman is a consulting national security subject matter expert. In 2016 he assisted XVIII Airborne Corps in their strategic assessment of the Iraqi and Syrian Operating Environment for their deployment as the command element of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve. In 2015 he served as a Senior Fellow at SOCOM’s Center for Special Operations Studies and Research. Prior to that he served as a Subject Matter Expert with the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Security Dialogue and US Army Europe from June through August 2014. From July 2010 through June 2014, he was the Cultural Advisor and Professor of National Security and Strategy at the US Army War College. In June 2014 he was awarded the Outstanding Civilian Service Medal by MG Anthony A. Cucolo, III.

Dr. Silverman has advised and provided support to the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Security Dialogue, US Central Command, US European Command, US Special Operations Command, US Army Europe, the US Army Institute for NCO Professional Development, the US Army Sergeants Major Academy, US Army Special Operations Command, US Army Central, the US Army’s Office of the Provost Marshal General and US Army Corrections Command, I Corps, III Corps, XVIII Airborne Corps, 1st Armored Division, the 101st Airborne Division, the Department of State’s Near East and South Asia Desk, and JIEDDO’s Science Directorate. From NOV 2013 to AUG 2014 he served as the Cultural Advisor to the Commanding General of US Army Europe on temporary assignment. From OCT 2012 to NOV 2013 Dr. Silverman served as the Cultural Advisor to the Civil Affairs Branch Chief on temporary assignment. During 2012 Dr. Silverman served as the Cultural Advisor to the Commanding General of III Corps on temporary assignment from JAN through AUG. In 2010 he was the external subject matter expert on temporary assigned control to US Army Civil Affairs Branch’s Capability Based Assessment and then through JUN 2011 to the US Special Operations Command’s Joint Civil Information Management Test Development program. He previously served as the Cultural Advisor to the Commander, 2nd Brigade Combat Team/1st Armored Division from OCT 2007 through OCT 2008 and was deployed with the brigade in Iraq in 2008. Upon returning from Iraq he served as a social science advisor in US Army Training and Doctrine Command’s G2 (2009). He routinely provides operational support to a number of US Army, DOD, and other US Government elements. Dr. Silverman holds a doctorate in political science and criminology from the University of Florida, as well as masters’ degrees in comparative religion and international security.

* An interstate war involves two or more sovereign states whose militaries are fighting in uniform under their states’ flags with a minimum of a thousand battlefield deaths. Interstate wars will often include types of low intensity warfare, such as rebellions, revolutions, insurgencies, and terror campaigns on one or more sides of the conflict.

Open thread!