Saturday, July 10, 2010
How ironic that the result of General "Stan the Man" McChrystal's being fired - for speaking like a warrior, candidly - is the promotion of hard-talking Marine General James Mattis to Petraeus's slot at CENTCOM, author of such choice gems as:
"Actually it's quite fun to fight them, you know. It's a hell of a hoot . . . it's fun to shoot some people - I'll be right up there with you. I like brawling . . . you go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them."
Personally I don't have a problem with this philosophy; this is straight-up gallantry, personified. These comments are obviously directed at the front-line fighters; the grunts, the ground-pounders - my kind of people. I was not a general, of course; generals are a distinct type of warrior, in a class by themselves. Therefore I measure general officers via a template of Sun Tzu and George S. Patton:
"Be the hunter, not the hunted: Never allow your unit to be caught with its guard down." - General Mattis
This is pure Sun Tzu, speaking of Preparation of the Battlefield: “He who knows the art of the direct; (Cheng) and the indirect (Ch'i) approach will be victorious.” Sun Tzu advocates a combination of demonstrations and direct attacks upon the enemy to fix their attention and deceive them; then use indirect attacks to win complete victory. An indirect assault is one that comes as a surprise, both in location and timing.
"I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you f*ck with me, I will kill you all." - General Mattis' message to Sunni tribal chiefs in Iraq, 2004
This is Patton: "War is simple, direct and ruthless," and "We can never get anything across unless we talk the language of the people we are trying to instruct."
"Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet."
Although this is attributed to General Mattis, I have been aware of this Marine Corps guidance since my infancy in Special Forces. In Okinawa I was taught a mental ritual that since has become second nature; meditate upon ordinary objects such as telephones or ashtrays, and consider their use as lethal weapons. Upon entering a room, I instinctively make a quick inventory of all furniture items, etcetera; I have not used firearms in self-defense anywhere near as often as I have use chairs, barstools, or even automobiles, for that matter.
"I were to sum up what I've learned in 35 years of service, it's improvise, improvise, improvise." - General Mattis
"Make your plans to fit the circumstances." - Patton
"I don't get intelligence off a satellite. Iraqis tell me who the enemy is,"
"A country that armed Stalin to defeat Hitler can certainly work alongside enemies of al-Qaida to defeat al-Qaida." - General Mattis
“Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril.” – Sun Tzu. The great Chinese philosopher of war tells us to "shape" the enemy by the skillful use of alliances. By building a strong web of alliances, the enemy is constricted. Also, by eliminating its alliances, one can weaken the enemy.
"No war is over until the enemy says it's over. We may think it over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote." - General Mattis
This wisdom is essentially Murphy's Law of Combat, #41: When both sides are convinced they’re about to lose, they’re both right.
"Demonstrate to the world there is 'No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy' than a U.S. Marine." - General Mattis
Again I did not know General Mattis was the author of this Marine Corps truism. I can attest to this; I treasure my many friends and warrior brethren of the mighty, mighty United States Marine Corps.
There is a brain within this Marine Bulldog, apparently: in the book Fiasco by Thomas Ricks, General Mattis is described as "one of the more intense intellectuals in the U.S. military." I am pleased to learn that, like myself, Mattis reads Marcus Aurelius. With General Petraeus, General Mattis co-authored FM 3-24 / MCWP 3-33.5, the joint US Army / Marine Corp Counterinsurgency manual, which codifies Department of Defense Doctrine for fighting insurgencies (i.e. "guerrilla warfare") and has been described as the strategy for our current conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
As a matter of professional pride, I would like to point out that the development of Counterinsurgency doctrine for the US military began at my alma mater; the United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (USAJFKSWCS - a.k.a. SWCS, a.k.a. the Schoolhouse), more than forty years before. As early as 1965, SWCS began incorporating counterinsurgency doctrine in FM 31-21 Special Forces Operations. The Schoolhouse stood up the U.S. Army Special Warfare Center Department of Counterinsurgency that collaborated on other Army doctrine such as FM 31-15 Operations Against Irregular Forces; FM 31-15 Counterguerrilla Operations and special texts such as ST 31-76 the COIN Planning Guide.
This historical development has eluded the mainstream media, who willingly slurped up the koolaid served to them by the leadership of the conventional military and treat the current FM 3-24 / MCWP 3-33.5 as a kind of military Holy Grail; when in many ways the current doctrine represents a huge step backwards and a gigantic conventionalization of what Special Forces has been involved in since at least the French and Indian Wars.
At the time of the McChrystal debacle I was asked if Petraeus would be chosen to replace him. I replied that this would represent a demotion for Petraeus; the equivalent of the Battalion Sergeant Major being re-assigned as First Sergeant of one of the line companies. This is not the way it is normally done; the military way to fill a vacant leadership slot is to bring up the senior subordinate leader.
I find it quite remarkable that the very same man who was vilified as "GENERAL BETRAY-US" by Democrats in Congress and their willing accomplices in the left-leaning mainstream media is now "the right man for the right war in the right place at the right time," to paraphrase the honorable Senator and military genius John Kerry (who served in Vietnam, by the way).
They seem to have the right people in place; now the Obama Administration and the leadership of the House and Senate must come to grips with the concept of actually winning this war - to do otherwise is criminal in fact. Instead of continual politicization of the war, our civilian leadership must envision what Victory looks like in Afghanistan, then communicate that vision to the American people.
And then "Cry Havoc! and let slip the Dogs of War!" (Shakespeare; Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene I)
- Sean Linnane Sends