Sunday, November 2, 2008

Course Adjustments and The Return of Optimism



Working my way down my blogroll this Sunday morning, I begin to sense a feeling of change as I read some of the posts from my fellow bloggers. My first stop today was at Thomas Barnett's always revealing and informative blog. His Sunday column was brimming with optimism, and became instant fodder for new post. However, the very next blog I visited swept away all thoughts of using Tom's column as the centerpiece of this post. Dan of ties together several issues of recent concerns and in a few short sentences linked several articles that support his headline, Positioned for the Future.

Dan begins:

During August and September — when oil prices were high, Russia invaded Georgia, the financial crisis began unfolding, the doom-and-gloomers were at it. We were told that it was the end of capitalism. We were told that our foreign policy was being controlled by Mikheil Saakashvili. We were told that our choices were a close friendshp with Putin or a new Cold War.

Dan continues with countering evidence that the above statements are premature and wrong. Read the whole post, Positioned for the Future.

A few days ago, Thomas Friedman in the New York Times has this to say about Iran.

Have you seen the reports that Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is suffering from exhaustion? It’s probably because he is not sleeping at night. I know why. Watching oil prices fall from $147 a barrel to $57 is not like counting sheep. It’s the kind of thing that gives an Iranian autocrat bad dreams.After all, it was the collapse of global oil prices in the early 1990s that brought down the Soviet Union. And Iran today is looking very Soviet to me.

Read the whole article,Sleepless in Tehran.

And also from the New York Times, who usually buries an article like this in the back pages was this by By C. J. CHIVERS in their October 31, 2008 edition.
A Warning, a Blast, a Fight to Save an Afghan Life From the New York Times.

COMBAT OUTPOST LOWELL, Afghanistan — Jamaludin, an aging Afghan cook, twisted and writhed on the green stretcher. Blood ran from his mouth and nose. Medics had cut away his clothes, revealing puncture holes where shrapnel from a Taliban mortar round had struck him minutes before.

Capt. Norberto A. Rodriguez, an American Army doctor, listened through a stethoscope as two Army medics and a Navy corpsman inventoried Jamaludin’s wounds. There were holes on his back, neck, buttocks, left leg and beside his right eye.

This next post may not look optimistic at first, but because it opens up what might be the most important discussion of our future it deserves to be here as the anchor piece on this Sunday Morning.

Mark at Zenpundit posted this today, The Coming of America’s Defense Meltdown. On first blush, it reads like we are faced with a crisis that would have the effect of threatening every facet of our society. Why? because security is the linchpin that creates the environment where societies can function and prosper, take it away, and chaos reigns. I include it here because it shows that thoughtful minds are thinking and proposing new ideas and directions in order to maintain as security rule-set that benefits all Americans and in turn the rest of the world.

Mark provides the links to other blogs who have written about a soon to be released series of essays about America's future defense posture. Mark ends his post with these words.

There’s going to be a titanic struggle over defense budget priorities in the next administration and the natural bias of Congress and the military-industrial complex in downsizing eras is to keep the same process dysfunctionalities intact rather than re-examine how a smaller pie can best be spent (and the pie is likely to be much smaller circa 2010 regardless of who is elected president). So in the 1990’s the armed services shed personnel - usually warfighters rather than desk jockeys - to preserve platforms; in the 1970’s we “hollowed out” the military by skipping on training, maintenance, spare parts and so on.

Back then, those poorly made decisions occurred during peacetime. Today, the country is at war in far-flung corners of the globe. It’s important that the right issues are raised and tough questions asked.

Mark notes that several blog friends have written about this soon to be released work, like, Fabius Maximus who posted this, America’s Defense Meltdown. and this, from Don Vandergriff, who outlines what each of the 13 authors will address.

A little snippet from Col. G.I. Wilson (U.S. Marine Corps, ret.) and Maj. Donald Vandergriff (U.S. Army, ret.) who write on Leading the Human Dimension Out of a Legacy of Failure

The fundamental reform requirement is to learn to lead people first and manage things second. Instead, today we administer people as a subset of managing things.

The primary route to valuing people is to learn to nurture highly innovative, unshakably ethical thinkers. Sadly, in today’s armed forces such people, those who lead by virtue of their courage, creativity, boldness, vision, honesty and sometimes irreverence, are known as mavericks.

Note the word ethics and leadership amid the strategies and tools of war. Like I said, it has the scent of optimism amid the clouds of gunpowder.

And for the Navy, William Lind mirrors what insightful blog friend Galrahn of Information Dissemination has been in the forefront of advocating, True 4GW Maritime Strategy is Corbett and Mahan.

Lind's Recommendations:

1. The main personnel deficiency of the Navy is an officer corps dominated by technicians. That reinforces the Navy’s Second Generation institutional culture. Reform requires adopting a Third Generation culture and putting the engineers back in the engine room.

2. Fourth Generation War demands the Navy shift its focus from Mahanian battles for sea control to controlling coastal and inland waters in places where the state is disintegrating.

3. Submarines are today’s capital ships, and the U.S. Navy must remain a dominant submarine force while exploring alternative submarine designs.

4. Aircraft carriers remain useful “big boxes.” However, they should be decoupled from standardized air wings and thought of as general purpose carriers, transporting whatever is useful in a specific crisis or conflict.

5. The Navy should acquire an aircraft similar to the Air Force’s A-10 so it can begin to effectively support troops on the ground.

6. Cruisers, destroyers and frigates are obsolescent as warship types and should be retired; their functions assumed by small carriers or converted merchant ships.

7. The Navy should build a new flotilla of small warships suited to green and brown waters and deployable as self-sustaining “packages” in Fourth Generation conflicts. (The Navy’s current “Littoral Combat Ship” is an apparently failed attempt at this design.)

I await the release of this important work and am looking forward to the coming verbal battles that allow a free people to choose their own path, even if it turns out to be rougher than expected.
We American's will choose our leadership for the next four years this week. Whoever wins, will be charged by the will of the people to do their very best to lead all the people and carry on the traditions that have made American what it has become over the past 232 years. I am confident in the will of the people to decide, and if unhappy with their decision, tweak the course, via the congress in two years, and change the leadership at the top in four.
Don't forget to vote this Tuesday!

1 comment:

Dan tdaxp said...

Excellent post -- and thanks for the links!