Saturday, September 3, 2011

Three great reads to ponder over a long weekend

Fall of Tripoli

September arrived with Col. Gaddafi's downfall after several months of battles that saw insurgents, supported by NATO air strikes and newly revealed US support. The blogs also seemed to take on a life of their own, in a reversal of Spring to bloom in the days preceding Fall, with posts that are filled with enough rich brain nutrition as to make an avid reader as giddy as a stallion with a bucket of fresh oats. I picked out a few of the best, to give you a tasty meal for your conscious mind to devour. First off, if you at first don't like the flavor of the article, I challenge you to not only read it but ponder the thesis of each. Then you are welcome to reject it, file it away or post your comments back on the original sites.
The first course is served up by Mark at Zenpundit who raises important points about the latest acronym R2P. No it is not a new Star Wars character, but means Responsibility to Protect the doctrine now being flaunted as the justification for Libyian intervention.

Mark gets right into discussing the doctrine with this introduction.
There has been much ado about Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter’s ennunciation of “Responsibility to Protect” as a justification for the Obama administration’s unusually executed intervention (or assistance to primarily British and French intervention) in Libya in support of rebels seeking to oust their lunatic dictator, Colonel Moammar Gaddafi. In “R2P” the Obama administration, intentionally or not, has found it’s own Bush Doctrine, and unsurprisingly, the magnitude of such claims - essentially a declaration of jihad against what is left of the Westphalian state system by progressive elite intellectuals - are beginning to draw fire for implications that stretch far beyond Libya.
This is an outstanding post that really showcases Mark as a master thinker as he adds his own astute comments and links three rebuttal posts to Dr. Slaughter's thesis.

I highly recommend reading Mark's post in full, as well as the linked posts to give yourself a full understand how R2P might come back to do, as Mark suggests.
Who is to say that there is not, somewhere in the intellectual ether, an R2P for the the environment, to protect the life of the unborn, to mandate strict control of small arms, or safeguard the political rights of minorities by strictly regulating speech? Or whatever might be invented to suit the needs of the moment?
When we arrest a bank robber, we do not feel a need to put law enforcement and the judiciary on a different systemic basis in order to try them. Finding legal pretexts for intervention to stop genocide does not require a substantial revision of international law, merely political will. R2P could become an excellent tool for elites to institute their policy preferences without securing democratic consent and that aspect, to oligarchical elites is a feature, not a bug.
R2P will come back to haunt us sooner than we think.
 Read more:
R2P is a Doctrine Designed to Strike Down the Hand that Wields It

US Army

US Navy
US Marines the Premier Forced Entry Team
US Air Force

Next up we visit a topic that is as old as the country itself,when one branch of the military asks the value of continued spending of the bulk of the nation's defense allocation on another branch. This comes in the light of the wind-down of our boots on the ground commitments in Southwest Asia. Chris Rawley penned this inquiring post at Information Dissemination that asks a question that might be on the minds of many, in view of the past ten years war.
A number of interesting learning points have arisen from the Libyan conflict. Foremost among them for me is the need to massively downsize the United States Army. More about that heresy in a minute… Galrahn and Robert Farley have discussed the merits and shortcomings of airpower in relation to the US/NATO/various third-party countries' campaign against the Gadhafi regime. They both make some interesting points. However, what the Libya campaign best demonstrates, or more appropriately, reiterates, is the utility of the special ops-airpower team. And by airpower, I’m referring to service-agnostic airpower in all its’ forms, although biased towards the flexibility sea-based aircraft provide.
Chris's post generated over 145 comments and prompted this update:
UPDATE: To save readers from going through 80+ postings and provide some clarity: what do I mean by "massive" cuts to USA force structure? How about at least 25% of active duty force structure? Honestly, I won't venture to put out an exact number, but I do know that 5% cuts applied to all services across the board is a disservice to national security. Designing a future force for "most likely" scenarios, as well as black swans doesn't mandate that we do things the way we always (or at least recently) have done them. And while 25% may not seem like a large number, when you put it in dollars and manpower, it's pretty "massive."

Read more.
Libya Lessons: Supremacy of the SOF-Airpower Team… Or, why do We Still Need a Huge Army?

This post led to a second post by Rawley after he received considerable feedback and personal emails regarding his raising this topic.
I’ve received significant feedback on this post , ranging from private emails calling these ideas “brilliant” to a blatant dismissal of any arguments that recommend cutting the army by a single soldier. More importantly, regardless of one's opinion on my arguments, the discourse on this topic has been energized. Since my post, a few timely articles were written discussing this debate. Looks like the Army itself is talking about eliminating 10 out of 45 active BCTs, which is just short of the 25% SWAG I recommended (no, I didn’t have inside information on this).

Was I too parochial? Guilty as charged, except that I’m also defending the Marine Corps, Air Force, and multi-service SOF community over the Army conventional force. However, I’m not sure how one can take a position on force reductions without being parochial, unless one thinks that across the board cuts make any sort of strategic sense (I don’t). I was also accused of coming to the right conclusion for the wrong reasons. Fair point, but I didn’t intend to capture all of the reasons that the army should be reduced before the other services in a single post. Those arguments have been made extensively at every draw-down, most recently during the early 1990s, post-Cold War/ODS era.
Read more:
Why Do We Still Need a Huge Army? - Round II

I am an Army guy and hold personal parochial feelings since my days in Army green. That said, we can still have the most lethal conventional force able to meet any commitment at the levels suggested by the Army itself of 35 BCT's. The waste in dollars spent the past ten years prosecuting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has been obscene and should never be repeated. A mean and lean Leviathan force is the best way for us to protect our interests, defend our homeland and be an influence for global good. That means a broad approach that continues to recognize that we are a maritime nation and must continue to be so in order to remain a great power. But also maintain a standing Army honed to a razor's edge so as to dissuade any opponent from trying the unthinkable.

1 comment:

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