My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Great Read--Not for the Faint of Heart

I just finished reading Robert Kaplan's Imperial Grunts. Actually, it only took about a ten days--and that was through a very busy week. To my surprise, it was both highly informative and an page-turning read.

The problem is, after reading it, I'm not sure if I should be deeply inspired . . .

or deeply depressed.

Probably a combination of the two.

Keep in mind that everything I'm going to write here is fairly preliminary. I just finished the book about 20 minutes ago, and many of these thoughts are not fully fleshed out.

Why inspired? because the portrait of the men- and women-at-arms of this country are remarkable people. I cannot underscore that enough--REMARKABLE! Men and women of wit, courage, character and wisdom, whose insights into their areas of influence are earned (!) through sweat, difficulty, and--more often than you'd think--diplomacy. If all the decisions within theaters were made by the men and women on the ground, I think this would be a much better world.

Why depressed? because the decisions within theaters are NOT made on the ground as often as they should be, or even as often as is reasonable or logical. Indeed, the marines even have an acronym for the actual decision-makers: REMFs (Rear Echelon Mo@#^& F*&$^%s). For example, if the portrait Kaplan paints is accurate, the Afghan campaign was going swimmingly (relatively speaking) when it was mostly "Little Army"--special Ops and small footprint units. This approach created ad hoc alliances which were effective at gathering intel and influencing the civilian population to ally themselves with "our side." Unfortunately, once that approach was successful enough, the "Big Army" moved in, left a huge footprint, alienated the population, and burdened its soldiers with so much bureaucracy and cumbersome rules of engagement that we lost a lot of our effectiveness. And now the Taliban is reconstituting and starting to wreak havoc again.

And that is, of course, a bit simplistic. But I could not help but think that the "grunts" had a better idea of how to execute the GWOT than the risk-averse old men with all the hardware on their chests.

Like I said, these are just preliminary thoughts. I'll have to let the whole thing percolate a little it before I get too committed to this position, but that's where I've been for the last few nights as I was finishing up the book.

So, by the way, when the President says "I listen to the Generals, and if the generals ask for more troops, I'll give 'em to 'em", I wish, just once, he would say "The other day I was talking to marine Captain John Smith outside of Samarra, and he thinks we should. . . , and you know what?, I think he's got a great idea. So here's what we're gonna do . . ."

If you want something good to read over the holidays, I can't recommend this book highly enough. Especially if you are someone, like me, who never put on the uniform.

More on this book later.

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