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Cut Special Ops Forces

      Having spent perhaps an hour reading your magazine, I am, on the whole, favorably impressed. Your anti-Imperial stance and "welcome to the new century" position are right on target. One thing I must take issue with, however, is your love for SOF. Frankly, they have not provided nearly the strategic return that would justify their current budget, and certainly not justify adding 15,000 more men.
SOF's have gained in popularity for two basic reasons:
1) The regular forces have completely abandoned the role of light infantry.
2) Their activities can be concealed from the electorate.
Neither is proper, necessary, or legitimate.
                                                        Raymond Churchfield
Ed. I think you will agree that the Army needs to shift more resources from tanks to "light infantry", which was part of my criticism of the former Chairmen of the Joints Chiefs, General "Do Nothing" Shelton.  There are two distinct types of SOF, the Green Berets (trainers/advisors) and the Rangers/Delta/SEALs.  I think another "Green Beret" group is needed for South Asia (Iran, India and the "Stans"); that's a billion people there now divided between the "Arab" and "Asian" groups.  I'd cut the SEALs (they just duplicate the Marines) and divide the Rangers among each Army Corps organized into four-man LRRP teams, like Marine Recon.  I'd cut Delta and turn their mission over to the FBI, which already has its own Delta force (called the Hostage Rescue Team), and the FBI already operates worldwide with offices in over 40 countries.  The recent Ranger/Delta raids in Afghanistan could have been performed equally well by the 82nd and 101st Division troops.
     I agree that the Special Operations Command is dangerous, and was formed to bypass Pentagon oversight.  Most Admirals and Generals disapprove of illegal activities, which is how Ollie North rose to power.  I don't like they way the operate as Presidential mercenaries with a secret budget.  I'd disband the Special Operations Command structure and bring training and equipment under Army control with a separate budget line.

How Incompetence Hurts Our Military

Haven't seen this quote for a while and thought it applicable to your November editorial.

                                                     Emery Nelson

      "Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on that strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The Statesman who yields to war fever must realise that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events. Antiquated War Offices, weak, incompetent or arrogant Commanders, untrustworthy allies, hostile neutrals, malignant Fortune, ugly surprises, awful miscalculations all take their seat at the Council Board on the morrow of a declaration of war. Always remember, however sure you are that you can easily win, that there would not be a war if the other man did not think he also had a chance."

                                                  Winston Churchill, "My Early Life," 1930

How can the F-22 be obsolete?

In response to some of your recent points:

1. In light of the aerial competition around today -- and tomorrow -- why blandly assert that the F-22 is an obsolete aircraft? The usual defense of multibillion fighter design contracts is that some foreign power knows how
to beat the current ones. Today, who would this be? 2010, who would this be?  The F- 22s ain't new, sure.  New ones can be made.

2. Is it possible for you to write something based on the idea that bin Laden ain't necessarily in Afghanistan at present? Or in the near future? And neither are his leading lieutenants? Is there any sensible (ie, military
intelligence)  reason to believe that he's there? The current campaign bears some resemblance to going postal: Post Office is shot up by somebody who had a bad experience there some time before. Those who die are seldom the people who gave him the bad time.

3. Your reference to "nuts" trying to push the US into combat wider than in Afghanistan ignores the central point that the President went on world television to threaten the world -- and thus, is, or was until senior military  personnel explained some of the realities of life to him, the leading nut.  No US President has declared the planet a free fire zone before, and his action in doing it on internationally beamed television strongly weakened the US
military position. The ring of steel surrounding Afghanistan, kinda, and that sparse bandit crew naming itself a Northern Alliance within Afghanistan, seem to be there because of bribery on an unprecedented scale. Unfortunate that it was hallowe'en week when the NA was photographed lined up neatly a coupla days back, obviously uncomfortable in fancy dress provided by the US taxpayer.

Name Withheld  

Ed. Most experts believe the JSF, now F-35, will be a superior and cheaper aircraft than the long-delayed F-22.  Why not just wait a few more years.  Here is a link to an older article: Obsolete F-22.  I agree that bin Laden knew we would look for him in Afghanistan, so he probably left before 9-11.  I suspect he's driving a cab in New York.

SUB-Surface-to-Air Missile

The Soviets also tested the SUBSAM idea.  Check this link: Soviet SUBSAM

                                                                       Phil West