Letters

     Send comments to:  editor@G2mil.com   We have space for most, but not all comments.   Let us know if you want us to include your organization and e-mail address.  Some letters may end up as content elsewhere in G2mil.  Avoid political comments, this is a weapons, warfare, and tactics website.

A Humvee is a Truck

Let me start off by saying I have been reading G2MIL for two years. You are truly a military genius! I am a former army aviator, and was similarly surprised by the mindset I found in the army.

To get to the point. What is happening with the Humvee right now is the same exact thing which happened to the jeep and the Huey over many years. The jeep was designed in the forties to be a quick, lightweight scout vehicle. It performed that mission very well.  Then it was turned into an ambulance, a weapons platform etc. Have you ever seen a jeep that was turned into a TOW platform? With the missile launcher in the back and several TOW missiles strapped to the hood, the poor thing was so overloaded it can barely move. Someone decided the jeep is obsolete so they came up with specifications for a new vehicle, the Humvee was born. Because of its larger size it could perform the role of ambulance and weapon platform better than the jeep. But then someone decides it's too vulnerable, bolts armor onto it and tries to turn it into an armored personnel carrier. It just ain't gonna happen!

The jeep, the Huey, the Humvee all met and exceeded their original design specifications but there is only so far something can be pushed before it breaks. It seems to be the never ending cycle, build something for a specific purpose push it to its limits and then replace it with something bigger, stronger and always more expensive.

                                                                                                                Steve

Ed: I agree, the Humvee was never intended to serve as a combat vehicle.

Retreat from Iraq?

A most excellent and informative article.  Thank you.  

Is it just me, or does this look like an orchestrated failure?  There is virtually nothing the Bush administration (Cheney administration?) could have done wrong that they have not done.  Methinks something interesting is afoot.  I would be most interested to hear your comments on this idea:  A strawman is being set up that, when knocked down, will give the semi-sane (hopefully not the sane) citizens of the world someone to blame.  This being done, the game goes on while those who were outraged are temporarily sated until the next travesty, which, of course, is too late for “popular” opinion to stop.  

I suspected this pattern about 1½ years ago, and it has continually been confirmed.  The timing of the release of torture photos between the US and England drive this home in my mind.  I assume you’re conversant in the last 10 years of media control that contribute to this phenomena.  What think you?

                                                                                    Mark Vedder  

Ed: Yes, it seems odd, but I suspect it is just big government at work.  I suppose the "powers that be" have decided they have used up the Bushite's good credit with naive peasants, and it is time for new faces and new promises (Kerry and his group).  The media pretends there is a big difference between Bush and Kerry, who are both rich kids who never worked for a wage, graduated from Yale and belonged to the same Skull and Crossbones frat.  For those who think such comments are loony, please explain why the Clinton hating Bushites chose to retain a Clinton appointee in a key spot, CIA director George Tenet, even after the disastrous 9-11 failings, then the "poor Intel" on Iraq.  During Tenet's confirmation process many years ago, evidence surfaced that he failed to disclose a large bank account in Greece. Tenet said he had forgot about it, and that was accepted because we all forget about where we keep our money overseas, right?

Soon after my editorial appeared, the Bush administration announced that it would immediately seek another $25 billion for combat operations in Iraq, and a National Guard regiment was quietly mobilized.

Small Problem with your Analysis  

There are a few holes in your analysis, "Retreat from Iraq":

EVERY TIME U.S. commanders are asked, they say they DON'T need more troops. Now, either they are liars or they are spineless, or they are right. Which, in your view, is it?

Moreover, any comparison to Korea is really brainless. The terrorists are not supplied and supported by a 2-million-man regular army. Quite the contrary, from what I'm hearing from Marines, they don't have the support of a lot of the local populace, and are losing battles by ratios of 60-1. Now, it doesn't take a military genius to know that if you are being whipped 60-1 in firefights, you run out of FREAKING MEN pretty quickly.

                                                                                       Larry Schweikart   

                                                                                    Professor of History

Ed: When you don't have enough manpower to guard key bridges that's a problem.  And if you recall, I said the commanders say they didn't need more troops because they can't supply them.  And if you recall, they retained 20,000 soldiers who were supposed to come home.

I suggest that you read about Iran's military capability, and ponder what would happened if they crossed the border.  I don't understand why you say they don't need more manpower and then note the Marines are outmanned.  Marines tend to exaggerate, and include dead civilians as a combatants.  

And a man of history should know better than using the childish political term "terrorists" to refer to the nationalists opposing American occupation.  I suppose George Washington was a terrorist too, as well as the French resistance during World War II.  Finally, Generals in the US military today were carefully trained and screened to ensure they are both spineless and expert liars.  Here is a recent example of the nation's top General demonstrating these skills.

More Troops is not the Solution

If we are forced to retreat from Iraq it is not because we didn't have enough troops.  The drumbeat throughout the land is that former Chief of Staff of the Army, General Eric Shinseki was right. He said it would take 200,000 soldiers to pacify Iraq (http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2003-02-25-iraq-us_x.htm). An Internet search of “General Shinseki was right”, brought up 11,700 hits on Google. I suspect that we’ll be long gone from Iraq, without ever having come close to this many troops, but this myth will endure forever more… or at least until reality kicks us in the teeth (again). Even if we were to put 500,000 soldiers in Iraq it still wouldn’t guarantee victory.  
 
Adding mass (soldiers) to fight a growing insurgency flies in the face of history. In fact, fewer and better-trained armies are the most lethal. If numbers won insurgencies than Vietnam would be the 51st state. Since the end of WW II no western style nation state army has defeated an insurgency without the overwhelming majority of soldiers coming from the host country. You can advise and provide material but never battalions. The very act of jamming the host country with invaders insures that the invaded will never flock to your banner.
 
The highly centralized and conventional U.S. army cannot beat decentralized and loosely aligned guerillas. We can hurt them badly everyday, but win? Never! The people of the country in question are the only ones that can accomplish victory. If they fight with us, victory is assured. If they fight against, we won’t lose so much as get tired and go home.
 
Even in conventional warfare numbers are not always the answer. It didn’t help the British at the Somme in WW I. But here we go again, unlearning the lessons that have been around since the start of organized warfare. Alexander the Great always faced larger armies; most of the time far from home, with unfortunate results for his enemies. Our populist leanings ignore the historical fact that large armies are rarely well-trained armies, and although capable of great carnage, it’s mostly to itself, in the form of half trained and ill led troops blundering into the meat grinder.
 
The beauty of mass (for general officers at least) is that it’s a built in excuse. When things go badly, generals always say we need more soldiers. General Westmoreland in Vietnam lived this lie unto the deaths of 69,000. The final straw came when he asked for another 135,000 troops, on top of the 535,000 already in country. He never understood that each additional soldier added to an occupation is a recruiting poster for the insurgents, a drain on the local productive economy, as well as the economy of the invading country.
 
Unless they intend to slaughter occupied in the style of the Roman Legions, occupiers are nothing but targets for the guerillas, particularly the U.S. army with its huge tooth to tail ratio. Invaders put treasure, and their finest young men, into the “host” country while getting coffins and ruined lives in return. The moral confidence of possible gains will fade as the casualties’ mount and the treasury empties.
 
We conservatively have at least one General officer, plus his staff and security detail, for every battalion in Iraq. Many generals, if not all, have moved into Saddam’s palaces. Could we do anything more insulting to the Iraqi people (well, apparently yes)? In a method reminiscent of our failure in Vietnam, We divided the country into sectors where a each general officer has his own fiefdom. While some units fight all the fights, other units are in very quiet zones with little or no action. Has the army ever heard of economy of force? This mania for zones and lines is symptom of all that’s wrong. The conditions we are trying to create can’t happen when fighting a guerilla war because it all takes place with no respect for lines, zones and borders.
 
To understand what you get with more generals you only have to look at the Abu Gharib scandal. More generals obviously do not mean more control of a clearer chain of command. The ever-increasing number of generals trying to get their tickets punched, while avoiding anything that will hurt a career, dilutes any real accountability. 
 
Now the army and its supporters are rushing to cash in on the more troops madness. Highly respected writer and retired Colonel Ralph Peters just did an editorial in the NY Post entitled “Troops Don’t Trust Rummy” http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/20841.htm. His loyalty to the organization that spawned him, particularly the senior officer corps, is clouding his judgment. As is the custom at most newspapers, Col. Peters probably did not decide on the title. Surely he knows that since WW II, study after study has shown that junior officers and enlisted men have little faith in their senior officers, which is not the case in other armies like the British and WW II Wehrmacht.
 
I’m sure the Colonel, along with most senior officers, would put this off to normal troops bitching. In Vietnam, where it became a matter of life and death, this bitching came in the form of fragmentation grenades. Now they want to increase the size of the army so that half trained troops can play beat the clock for a year, while clueless junior officers spend a few months in any danger and don’t even learn how to be good platoon leaders and company commanders. Imagine what it would be like to be a young soldier in Iraq and no that you will probably have 2 or three inexperienced platoon leaders during that time.
 
Peters rightfully accuses Rummy and his minions of failing to understand that, “Airpower doesn't win wars on its own. Technology doesn't trump courage, guts and skill.” But if he thinks for one minute that army General officers don’t believe in these same things than the good soldier has not been paying attention. Long before Rumsfeld arrived on the scene the army was involved in all kinds of navel gazing linear warfare garbage like Blue Force Tracker, digitization, and Land Warrior to name but a few. The common denominator with these systems is the desire to further centralize the command and control capabilities of ever more superfluous general officers. If technology and air power don’t win wars then he should inform the generals.
 
Peters goes on to assert that Rumsfeld was the architect of “transformation.” Although there’s a great deal of truth to this, the army version was General Shinseki’s doing, along with a host of army generals (some now working for General Dynamics) with his Stryker Brigade Combat Teams (SBCT). The SBCTs have little firepower but are supposed to overcome this with the notion of complete situational awareness (Iraq makes a mockery of this notion on a daily basis) and stand off firepower (Where’s that firepower supposed to come from? The air???). This was the army’s plan long before Rumsfeld came on the scene. It’s easily documented that the army itself, not Rumsfeld, saw its own infantry as nothing more than a constabulary to clean up after a conventional warfare mess caused by a perfectly targeted enemy that’s killed from afar. Nothing the army has done in the recent past has prepared it for fighting long-term insurgencies, and that goes back to the Reagan Administration.
 
Desert Storm was an aberration, fought against a third rate conventional army that we heralded as world class. Insurgency is the warfare of the past and future and those who can’t deal with it will fight it anyway. The army’s tired phrase, “we don’t do mountains and we don’t do jungles” is as close as it ever came to dealing with the predominate method of warfare in the 20th century. In the later part of that century and moving into the beginning of this one, so-called 4th generation warfare, conducted by gangs, groups with all kinds of political and religious leanings, and old-fashioned nationalists, is the order of the day.
 
The U.S. army has already suffered one major defeat at the hands of insurgents (Vietnam), although they've always tried to blame it on someone else. Learning to deal with guerilla warfare would mean moving away from the senior officer holy grail of mass, combined with methodical battle, directed by a very centralized hierarchy. I suspect the general officer corps would rather see us lose then see their status reduced with the decentralized army it takes to beat insurgencies.

                                                                                                    Emery Nelson

Ed: We wouldn't need more than 10,000 troops over there if that fool Bremer hadn't disbanded the Iraqi Army.  We had direct communications with Iraqi Generals prior to the invasion; we could call their personal cell phone numbers.  Most agreed to order units to disperse in exchange for cash or immunity.  (General Franks has confirmed this.)  We could have offered them cash and retention of their command if they ordered their troops to stay in their barracks area with a promise they would not be bombed or attacked.  After Saddam fled and US tanks moved into Baghdad, Iraqi troops (which included Shia and Kurds) could have moved into the cities to prevent looting and restore order.  However, I suspect the idea drove our Generals nuts, who dream all their life of a chance to bomb the hell out a country while armored columns charge forth.

The American media failed to note that Iran's religious leader harshly denounced the US occupation of Iraq; he had remained silent about the US invasion until this year.  On May 16th he stated: "The Americans are trapped. There is nothing they can do. They will fail if they continue along this path, and they will fail if they pull out. But continuing will be the greater defeat."  No reporter seems to understand the real issue in Iraq today.  The US Government doesn't really give a damn about who runs Iraq, so long as they can maintain order, allow US oil companies to do business, and allow the US military operate from their four new permanent bases in Iraq. 

The Baathists Were Evil

As a former Marine, I can appreciate problems with supply lines and possible worst case scenario’s. What I can’t appreciate and find unconscionable is the fact that a former Marine is writing articles that are then mailed out to the most liberal mailing list I have ever seen. My uncle in California is on that list and forwarded me this article. Statements like “Iraqis show little gratitude since the United States caused most of the damage with bombings and a ten-year trade embargo.” are a typical twisting of the true state of affairs – that true state being that Saddam Hussein raped his own country to build palaces instead of investing in infrastructure. That he placed his own comforts first and failed to provide for his people.

The worst part is, supposing that you wanted to clarify your statements, is that you can't reach these people on the list – anything positive you might have to say just wont be sent to the list. Instead of your article in between something from MoveOn.org and an article praising Michael Moore, they will stick someone else, some other MARINE CORP EXPERT that seems to say that what we are doing is wrong, that the war is unwinnable.

                                                                                                     Scott Kelley

Ed: All the "Saddam is a demon" propaganda has confused reality.  It was the Baathists who modernized Iraq and provided nationwide electricity, free health care for all, and established universities and factories.  They were the only Arab country making automobiles and providing college scholarships in engineering and science rather than Islamic studies.  Iraqi women could go to school, drive cars, and wear Western dress only because the Baathists forced Muslim men to accept progress.

Saddam corrupted some UN officials so he could sell more oil.  Meanwhile, US oil companies were the major importer of Iraqi oil.  The UN embargo killed 600,000 Iraqis because the USA and Britain threatened veto whenever the issue of ending the embargo arose; inspectors had found no WMDs since 1995. Iraqis died from disease because replacement parts for sewage treatment systems, power plants, hospitals, and water purification plants were banned because they had "dual use" possibilities.  These were desperately needed after the USA bombed the hell out of Iraq in 1990.  World oil prices remained high as the US did all it could to keep cheap Iraqi oil off the world market while Iraqi infrastructure slowly broke down because of the embargo.  Iraqis know this, Americans do not, and many become angry and me for writing the truth.

Meanwhile, the US openly funded terrorists in Iraq, especially the Kurds in the North but also some Shiite groups, to destabilize Iraq, which took an economic toll as well.  And as for killing political opponents and suppressing the Shiites, the USA has proven far more brutal in keeping the peace in Iraq than Saddam.  I know of know case where the Baathists bombed an Iraqi city to suppress a rebellion.  When the US invaded Iraq, Saddam didn't even make a serious effort to destroy oil fields or bridges.  This is why Arab experts have always rated Saudi Arabia as a more brutal dictatorship than Iraq.  Possession of a Bible or preaching Christianity will land someone in jail in Saudi Arabia, while the Baathists protected Iraq's 600,000 Christians and their churches from Muslim radicals, while their foreign minister was a Christian himself.

So why does everyone assume Iraq's poor economic state is Saddam's fault?  Saddam never "gassed the Kurds" as G2mil readers learned last December. I recall when Tim Russert interviewed the President a few months ago and Bush struggled to justify the unprovoked invasion of Iraq.  At one point Bush said: "We all know Saddam was a madman, right Tim."  The spineless interviewer responded: "Of course, Mr. President.", which is why the President chose him.  You'll note there are no longer hard questions at news conferences like those posed by Sam Donaldson two decades ago.  Why, because troublemakers lose their access to news conferences and free rides on Air Force 1.  

Saddam was not a madman, reckless and ambitious is a better description.  He was interviewed on "60 Minutes" just prior to the invasion and was lucid, polite, and was seeking some way to avoid the coming invasion.  He agreed to the key demand that UN inspectors could have unfettered access, but the US invaded anyway, even after UN inspectors confirmed there were no WMDs.  Since then, the US media reports as fact that the Bush Administration thought there were WMDs in Iraq. 

Finally, I find it laughable when people accuse foreign dictators of lavish spending.  The "White House" spends over a billion dollars a year on the President, with five full-time cooks and dozens of servants while homeless Americans sleep in the park across the street.  The private resort at Camp David costs millions of dollars to maintain each year for Presidents who may use it just a few days.  I always find it humorous when a President flies somewhere in his personal 747 accompanied by two C-5s full of limos and hundreds of assistants to visit a city and lecture about fiscal responsibility and the need to cut government fat.

Army C-2 Greyhounds

The piece contained at http://www.g2mil.com/Greyhounds.htm demonstrates a rather superficial knowledge of aircraft carriers, the Navy, carrier borne aircraft, and the role and mission of the Marine Corp. First, aircraft carriers have a dedicated mission of force projection ashore, not just "sea control". This strike capability is not nearly so large as that provided by the Air Force, but it has some unique capabilities in that it can come from a direction not expected by the enemy and it can be launched and over the target rather quickly measured in minutes rather than hours or days.

Second, I don't know of anyone whose morale is boosted by spending 6 months deployed at sea aboard a Navy warship. I'll grant you it's a bit more comfortable than living in a GP tent (or shelter half!) and eating 2 MRE's per day.  Third, buying a "carrier capable aircraft" does not instantly give you a carrier capable aircrew. Training pilots to operate aircraft aboard carriers is a long, expensive and rather trying process. We know. We've been doing it a long, long time.

Fourth, the capability you describe is already contained in the ARG (Amphibious Readiness Group), about 1500 Marines, including Marine Recon Companies (SPECWAR), as well as CH-53 and CH-47 helicopters and other methods for transporting ashore. And, incidentally, the CH-53 can be air refueled by any Navy carrier based aircraft including F/A-18, S-3B and others. Several ARG's are at sea all of the time - this is a standard deployment for them. That is what "FMF" - Fleet Marine Force - is all about.

Fifth, the Navy operates several C-2 Greyhound squadrons. These aircraft are used for routine personnel and logistics purposes. But the great bulk of logistics support of Navy ships at sea is done with ships. That said, any emergent requirements to bring Army troops aboard a Navy ship at sea can easily be supported by either existing C-2 or S-3C aircraft.  Sixth, the standard Ship's Company is about 3,000 people. When the airwing embarks this goes up to about 5,000. Every single one of these people has had training in shipboard firefighting and a whole host of skills required for personal survival in an emergency in a Navy warship.

Contrary to what you may think, a Navy warship isn't outfitted quite like the Queen Mary.  This concept was tested back in the 70's when we test operated a C-130 aircraft, landing aboard 7 different times aboard aircraft carriers with a simulated load of 50 troops and then launching after unloading. These test were successful. Although we can do it, it was deemed to be unnecessarily risky, particularly at night.  The advent of the V-22 is going to bring fast, long range personnel airlift capability that won't be restricted to the CVN. It is capable of landing and launching aboard our amphibious assault ships.

                                                  Senior Chief Michael Lee, USN (ret.)

Ed: Thanks for the input, but your letter "demonstrates a rather superficial knowledge of aircraft carriers" which is a Navy wide problem.  Those were your words.  Ask any soldier and most would love a chance to go to sea for six months, same with marines.  One tour is enough though.  Since marines learn basic ship survival skill in a couple of hours, I suspect soldiers can too.

The Marines keep just two ARGs deployed which have around 2000 Marines, and a CH-53E is half as fast and only has half the range of a C-2, which is why the Navy uses C-2s instead of CH-53Es. The Navy could train Army aircrews, for a fee of course.  The few Navy C-2s in theater are busy supporting the Navy.  If the theater commander requested support from two dozen C-2s, the Navy will say no can do.  The V-22 is a jobs program and will never deploy as they are too dangerous.  The S-3 isn't designed to carry cargo pallets and can't use dirt airstrips because it has jet engines.

C-130s can land and take off from carriers, especially the new J model whose newer engines/props deliver 30% more power.  Army C-2s could be purchased with those same engines/props to boost their power 30% too.  However, C-130s cannot deploy on carriers as they are too big to allow other aircraft to operate and their wings don't fold, which is why the Navy uses C-2s. Adding 100-300 soldiers to an aircraft carrier will not interfere with sailors fighting fires or whatever.

RPG Correction

I'm a monthly reader of your site. I noticed that you linked to a strategypage.com page that asserted that a PG-7VR was used to penetrate an M1A1 in Iraq. Whether this is true or not, I am unsure- I must admit I would find it highly unlikely since there seems to be no evidence of the use of the PG-7VR outside of the former Soviet Union/ CIS- and certainly not in Iraq (though there is the outside possibility that insurgents brought these weapons in from Syria). 

Regardless, the pictures on that page are not accurate. The main picture is of an RPG-7 derivative I am not familiar with (judging from the warhead, it is almost certainly not of Russian origin) but anyway, the RPG-7 variants capable of using the PG-7VR are the RPG-7V1 & V2 (and their airborne troop derivatives), advertised by Rosboronexport (Russian state arms export agency). Attached is a picture, and Bazalt's homepage:

http://www.bazalt.ru/articles/rpgbirthday_e.html

The smaller round is the PG-7VL (93mm), while the larger one is the PG-7VR- 105mm with tandem HEAT charges for defeating explosive reactive armor. As you can see, the authors of the strategypage piece got the rounds mixed up.  Continue the interesting commentary on the US military.

                                                                                             DK

Ed: I always welcome corrections, especially those directed at other websites.

War Costs

The current war in Iraq has cost Americans $100 billion in the first 12 months according to Bush the Second's administration, which says it will keep the current number of troops (130,000)  on the ground through 2005. Including their request of Congress for an additional $25 billion to supplement the $87 billion outlay they estimated last year it comes out to +/-, $1 million per man on the ground for this zero-sum, neo-con destabilization exercise.  $132 billion divided by 130,000 = $1,015,384.62  The costs may actually be much higher but severely lowballed for election year consumption.  Put another way, we're spending ~twice the GDP of Iraq on war there.

Ed: The cost of the Iraq conquest will soon exceed US expenditures for all of World War I, even after adjusting for inflation.  Our GDP was much smaller back then, but it is still an interesting fact.  The current estimate is $220 billion for operations through FY2005.  Then there are the hidden costs, billions of dollars for disabled veterans and fixing broke down equipment.

The big spenders in Washington DC don't care much about how much things cost, so inflation is now increasing at an annual rate of 4.4%, up from 1.9% a year ago, and I expect it to double each year until the USA stops borrowing  a trillion dollars a year with treasury notes and trade credits.  Inflation is a hidden tax.  If you have $10,000 in the bank, the current "low" inflation of 4.4% imposes a $440 annual tax on that.  If you receive a salary or pension of $2000 a month, the inflation tax at that rate $88 a month.  If you are lucky, you get a matching increase within a year, but they don't reimburse you for the $88 a month you lost since then.  And if you have an adjustable rate loan, or even credit card debt, rates will soon rise to tax you indirectly.

Yes, the US economy is booming, like a junkie high on crack, because of massive borrowing from overseas and a one-time $900 billion infusion from last years' refinancing boom.  Fuel prices are high since the dollar has fallen, not because of market forces.  Oil prices haven't risen much when measured in Euros.  There are many reports that rising prices for commodities like steel and concrete are due to the heavy demand to meet US military orders for Iraq.    Meanwhile, inflation will tax Americans more heavily each month while we hope Asian nations are foolish enough to continue to loan us a trillion dollars a year to keep the American economy afloat.  Deficits do matter, there is no free lunch, otherwise we could just eliminate income taxes and quit our jobs and live off credit cards issued by Asian banks.