Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Invasion of the Blow Hards

Many pundits to the Right of the political spectrum make much ado of the barbarity and fanaticism of the Muslim Terror elevating these savage clowns to the status of a serious invasion threat of the Continental US and to the Constitution itself. To the level we once associated with the Axis and the Soviets.

We lived under the nuclear gun for forty years, which circumstance elevated national security as the primary focus of national policy, overshadowing all other considerations. The Fall of the Wall and the end of the Soviet Empire is missed by all who need a Villain in their lives to use for personal pleasure and gain. And who would love to circumvent the Constitutional Rights embodied in our Constitution. And True Believers exist at both ends of the political wind machine who are straining at the leash to do.

The fact is that the Muslim Terrorists are a serious pain in the ass, but hardly a serious threat to the Continent and constitute a threat to the Constitution only as a blow back from those who take them too seriously. No way is the entire Caliphate from Morocco to Indonesia, all together and united going to be able to mount sufficient naval warships and transport to land a force big enough to overwhelm the US.

Consider the avenues of approach to the US to get to our coasts or to the Mississippi. The Asian Axis must include control or neutralization of Japan and Kamchatka Peninsula to able to approach Alaska. The avenues of approach to the US from Alaska either must penetrate the wall of mountains at some point between Alaska and the Mexican border or risk constant level of threat from their eastern flanks. Once in Washington State, California must be controlled, likely from the sea, which advance is restricted by the Sierra Nevada, the Rockies, and the Great Plains before being able to strike home.

The Atlantic Approach likewise must control Great Britain, Iceland (as in Red Storm Rising), and go for Newfoundland before reaching the St Lawrence River. It was this avenue of approach that worried FDR should England have fallen to Hitler. He asked Churchill to turn the Royal Navy over to the US should that happen. Churchill said no in very certain terms.

That time frame was more dangerous than we give it today given the fact that we won and no threat appeared. If the French fleet had gone over to Germany and Germany had landed in England, there were British who would have welcomed him, including Edward former King of England. A combined European fleet of Germany, France, Italy, and the Royal Navy would have had the necessary power to support landings in the US. And they would have been supported by an Axis fueled by Soviet Oil. Hitler’s invasion of Russian ended those options.

A Soviet invasion of Europe would have hadto consolidate it’s gains in the same areas and would have had to have the same relative naval power to have ventured against the US that a combined European Fleet under German control. And then venture across the North Atlantic, seize Newfoundland, and the mouth of the St Lawrence before taking on New England.

It becomes obvious that the best chance an invader has is to have substantial support from within the US. Substantial enough to control or seriously disrupt key segments of the nation including at least one of the top three: West Coast, Union, and/or Mississippi. Such an event would need to replicate the inner divisions of such nations at war such as France in 1940 where the pro-German faction was equaled by the Communists who, at that time were allied with Germany.

It is easy to consider a Red State - Blue State division in the face of an invasion, but hard to predict who would favor who. It would depend on the perception of legitimacy of the extant US government, and upon which end of the political wind tunnel blew first. And the high ground would be the rights spelled out in the Constitution, particularly free speech and assembly and due process.

Beware of the Blow-Hards.

Except me.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Civil Service Generals to Replace Real Generals?

The decision to give some flag-rank jobs to civilians, actually civil servants, of the Senior Executive Service (SES) is the result of a natural selection process of back office domination of front office operations, also known as dog wagging. This is a process not peculiar to the military and is a principal cause for bureaucratic incompetence in both public and private sectors where the delivery of goods and services become subordinate to palace politics, administrivia, and job security for the high and mighty.

While much as been said about the shortcomings of the General Officer Corps in the press lately, the General Officer Corps is the result of a long and progressive development process subjecting the officer to increasing levels of complexity and responsibility designed to gain competence across the full spectrum of military operations from platoon to combined and joint operations. It requires demonstrated competence in the art and science of war.

The civil servant has no such progressive educational and experiential process and is primarily the result of adroit self advancement through the labyrinth of office politics. No measurable standard exists to determine an understanding of war and it’s vagaries within the Civil Service.

While a uniformed officer’s career if file-centric (personnel file) based on the successive inputs of rater and endorser, the civil servant’s career is position-centric in which survival is enhanced by turf expansion and protection. As a retired bureaucrat from a large unnamed Texas city known for oil, I have been there and done that. Efficiency reports in civil service are more a formality than a matter of career life or death.

The turmoil attending the rotation of uniformed officers through senior positions to feed the military promotion mill is a cost of career progression that can be corrected by slowing the process down. The stubborn persistence of the process of “Transformation” which stalled at the Brigade level attests to the ignorance of the Department of the Army of division,, corps, and field army operations which expertise was sloughed off to the Army Reserve, and forgotten.

Were it not for the retirees, reservists, and Guard personnel called up in ad hoc manner or hired at multiples of their civilian salaries, there would be no logistics structure. It is tribute to the adaptability of our people to task organize in the field a structure originally task organized by TOE instead of METT-T.

If senior civilians are to act at General Officer level, they should have demonstrated the tactical and technical propensities we expect of their military counterparts. This is the case with Guard and Reserve "technicians" who must maintain their military rank and qualifications to keep their civil service job, often operating in the same duties in both capacities. Guard and Reserve technicians often command units.

Left disconnected to military art and science, an expansion of the flag rank SES virtually could eliminate the need for flag rank military persoonnel, indeed of a professional force of any component. What could be civilianized could also be privatized. Think of a Blackwater bluewater force operating with a Letter of Marque and Reprisal (as Privateers) as in the days of the Bounding Main.

Defense of the Continent by the Numbers

There are valid questions of what type and level of military force the nation needs for any given period of time based on the perceived level of threat. At the low end of the spectrum, during a time of no perceived lvel of threat, one percent of total population should be available for military service in short order, regardless of composition in service or component. At this level the defense of the Continental U.S. alone can be done with a well trained Guard and Reserve force, supplemented by sufficient blue water naval forces including air and ground assets needed for the protection of the sea and air lines of commerce to the Continent.

At the other end of the scale, such as was achieved during WW2, the nation should be able to go from one percent to ten percent in three years. At this level of involvement, another thirty five or forty percent of the total population would be involved in war production. At the population that means three million in idle times, while serious war would require thirty million. In WW2 we fielded 100 combat divisions (Army and USMC) and 102 aircraft carriers of all sizes. There were twelve million in uniform in WW2 with a population of 120 millions (e.g. 10%)

It is the need to project force overseas, and to deal with extant threats overseas, that standing forces are needed. In between big wars, there is a need for soft power integrated with political, economic, social as well as firepower is needed. Once a big one starts, the need for more firepower and logistics changes the complexion of forces, and both must be planned for, with those forces not needed forward are kept in reserve.

The threat to the Continent should be viewed as how this threat affects the sustainment of the Constitution. The physical attack of the continent or of occupation or destruction of parts of the US must be evaluated in terms of how the government operates in accordance with the Constitution. Washington DC was within the range of the sound of artillery fire for extended periods of time during the Civil War, was burned once by the British neither of which caused the nation to fail.

Both Russia and China lost huge chunks of their territory in WW2 and still functioned as nations. France was occupied during WW2, but was able to keep thier fleet of battleships and cruisers out of the clutches of Hitler, which if he had the French Navy under his control might have given the Germans the upper hand in the Mediteranean, indeed in the whole war at the critical year of 1941.

The Constitution requires three quarters of the states to ratify any changes, leaving one quarter (13) of the states in a position to block any unwanted changes. So long as thirteen states remain independent, the Constitution remains unchanged. The issue of a surrender to foreign forces, the Senate must approve by two thirds any treaty of surrender. Short of that, no surrender would be considered valid.

These numbers assume no secession, and secession is not considered legal at this time, but given the vagaries of chance, this opton would be the biggest threat to the continuity of the nation under the Constitution. It is possible that several states could secede in order to preserve the present form of Constitution which gives rise to an interesting number of scenarios depending on the geographic continuity of the unoccupied portions of the continental USA:

For the sake of simplicity, one could break down the US into six zones:

The Union,
the Pacific Coast,
the Mississippi,
the Confederacy,
the Great Planes,
and the Mountains,

in order of importance. The nation could be still operate with three of these in US control includingone of the first three. It gets to be a problem if there are large non-contiguous areas. The geographic center of gravity is St. Louis which if controlled by a force marching from any direction is in a position to over-whelm the rest.

An prospective enemy thinking about conquering the US, would have to raise sufficient forces and project them onto our soil to overwhelm a military force of thirty million and occupy three of the six areas above. The time to raise such a force, particularly transportation assets would give the US ample time to arrange a warm and permanent greeting for those who dare.

The nuclear option must be considered in the light of those we bombed mercilessly without effect by asking how many cities did the Germans lose before Hitler ate a bullet in his bunker. Allied infantry had to take the streets. Japan surrendered as much as because the Soviet Army was already invading the northern end of the country with the US poised to attack from the south. Hirohito was no Hitler.

Knowing when to quit isn't in any manual for war I know.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Ask the Candidates what kind of military they favor

The current direction of DoD planning, according to releases from the Pentagon, is to make the shape of the military conform to the requirements of the Secretary of Defense. While that may sound all warm and cuddly from a corporate standpoint or from the point of view of a unit commander, the design of the military establishment is the sole Constitutional purview of the Congress, and any authority that the President and SecDef use to design, raise and equip are provided by the Congress via laws and appropriations.

Until 1940, the order of battle, the number and type of units and major end items of equipment were each and every created by act of Congress. Since WW2, that control was ceded to the services, and then to DoD. Since then, our successes in battle have increased but the end performances of wars fought to a successful conclusion have dropped dramatically. Some smaller operations have been successful such as Grenada and Panama, but Mogadishu ended that run. It is time we rethought this process.

The blame of this series of debacles committed by the Executive Branch is actually to be laid at the doors of Congress where the authority to fix the problems lies. But instead of resuming their duties, the Congress chooses to meddle in military matters that are Constitutionally barred from, the direction of military operations and of foreign policy (less trade) which are the exclusive domain of the President.

The average military person I know cringes at the notion of members of Congress arguing about the relative merits of ships versus planes, yet this is what the Constitution calls for. At the very least, Congress gets to take the blame for the screwups committed by the White House and Pentagon.

What we, as voters, should do is to start asking the Candidates for office, including State legislatures and governors, what kind of military they stand for. State officials are responsible also for the state of their militia and Guard units. The cop out that those issues are Presidential Commander in Chief issues is false. \As these are legislative issues, is devolves to the voters to become savvy of issues military as well.

We should ask our representatives what are the national defense priorities they feel should be covered. Do we need expeditionary forces perched in Kansas ready to pounce on Tora Bora? While it is the President’s job to determine where and when the force goes, we should ask the question whether or not the President should have this capability.

There are serious holes in our national defense, given the restoration of a global economy and the absence of regional imperial powers using military force for economic advantage as was the case from the Phoenicians to the creation of the British Commonwealth, and Pax Americana. One of these holes is having the force to enforce Pax Americana and preclude a resurgence of imperial competition for markets and sea lanes of trade.

Start asking.