Send comments to:   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.

You are Right

I totally agree with your editorial.  Most every war has seen command and staff bloat and the people in the field have suffered because of it.  The military axiom that divided commands lead to defeat in detail has not changed in thousands of years.  I sometimes think that the US Military is working its way back to five star ranks.  What do you think?  The Marine Corp used to have just one four star rank, Commandant.  Now I can count at least three and am not so sure it will not be more in the immediate future.  What’s the need?  Ego?

We had our butts kicked out of Somalia in the '90s and even though that was due to a lack of fortitude by the civilian component of our war waging/decision making leadership. What makes anyone in the military think now will be different?  This civil component must be a definite part of any terrorist-war-unconventional war waging planning in our future.  The location of the military decision makers will have a definite and lasting impact on the support from home.  Where will we put the “African Command” (or is it the A friggen command? Seems tailor made for Jon Stewart)?  South Africa ? Hmmm, Morocco, nah, Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood? I know, let’s go back to Somalia

This is one of those “seems to me” moments as it seems to me that if general officers were required to spend say thirty percent of their time in forward areas (Central command in Baghdad, Kabul, etc. and others as associated with the major area commanded) then there would not be the necessity for all the subordinate General/Admiral commands and actual on-the-spot evaluations by the most senior commanders would have a relevance not seen for many decades.  As recent as the Second World War, Eisenhower, Patton, Montgomery, et al were actually within the sound and sight of the guns while leading from the front.

This would have several advantages in that respect of the troops is the most important tool a leader can utilize and sharing the same dangers imposed by these leaders’ decisions is a sure-fire method to earn that respect.  The number of staff, support (non-combat related support), and communications equipment “required” would drop dramatically as would cost in theater.  As a USMC mustang, I suspect that all these ideas are too Roman for existing Pentagon thinking.

To paraphrase a recently departed secretary of defense “we should be able to do more with just enough” not as he said with less.  Our young officers at the platoon/company level understand this.  Some place between the company level and the General Staff it appears this is lost, perhaps buried under ego.  In war, there is no place for the luxury of an ego.  Pride, Yes! Competence, Yes!  Intelligent execution Yes!  

The ability to learn when you are wrong is much more important than the ego of one man.

Bloated chains of command and staffs are ego run amok.

                                                                                                  Bill Tharp  

Ed: My favorite Rumsfeld quote came a few months before he was canned.  While flying in a helo over Baghdad he shouted to the press: "Everything looks fine from up here."

Remove Unified Commands

Just the saving in officer billets would probably allow us to raise 4 more Brigades/MEUs of combat troops.  And the personnel savings would allow us to shift enough troops from those CSS roles to probably raise another 4.

It is time for us to recognize that we have the best and brightest and best processes already in place in the services and apply that same thinking to the whole DoD.  The US Navy and Marines have been doing the rotation and task force management at a superior level for years.  Only certain Divisions within the Army have come close (those task with providing Readiness Forces).  It is time to bring that same process higher.  You are dead on accurate in your assessment.

One side note though…SOUTHCOM does more than interdict drug traffic.  They have some very quite operations throughout Central America providing the type of “war on terror” that we should be doing.  Quite Special Ops teams hunting down bad guys.  Training the local governments in counter-terror, and providing the Civil Affairs programs that make it harder for terrorism to spawn and take advantage of those areas.

                                                                                          Chris Louviere  

Airbase Security

Was looking thru your Air Commando article. Funny you should mention air base security. Imagine a tractor trailer rig pulled into a location dozen miles from a major airlifter base (Dover, Charleston, McGuire, etc.). The rig is parked with its long axis parallel to the hangars/ready ramps. Inside the rig are 122mm or 140mm type rockets. Probably have 18 or so 40-tube launchers in a 55-ft trailer. 18 40-tube launchers is a Soviet style Multiple Rocket Launcher battalion, which was designed to cover a grid square and cause a lot of casualties/damage. Several other rigs are also scattered around the base perimeter, each with a similar load. The launch sites are marked on the ground in inconspicuous locations. Those to the west/southwest can be further back (prevailing winds) and those to the east closer, to account for the added/lost range due to wind.

The trailers are normally in an anonymous secured warehouse in an industrial park somewhere that no one visits, owned by a dummy corporation that files its paperwork on time and excites no suspicions, with trailers up on supports to keep the wheels intact. When the command is given, drivers get the trailers, pull them to the launch sites, drop the trailers and leave. Timers blow off the roof and sides, then the launchers start firing rockets at one-second intervals. In 2 minutes, the US has no heavy lifters on the ground and only those in the air might be safe. No ability to move troops/equipment rapidly to a trouble spot, numerous casualties, nasty videos on all the networks/Youtube, no ability to recover from the losses and the overseas crisis starts shortly thereafter.

Think USAF fighter base/NAS/MCAS/navy bases as being next, and the whole concept of deterrence collapses.  I've worried about this for decades. No SHORAD capabilities against any simple attack for any airfield exists to my knowledge, and I don't think any are in place. 


Airbase Defense

The British were quite successful in sabotaging planes in North Africa 1940-1942 with commando units and are probably the best historical example.  The best modern weapon for the job would be fibre-optic guided missiles with TV guidance and enough radar stealth to escape destruction by airfield defense AAA. Such missiles could even hit aircraft in shelters once the gates are opened and they need to direct line of sight like laser-guided weapons.  Another possible weapon would be ManPADS, but they'd give away the position much more easily and they'd require positioning on either end of the runway for high intercept chances.  Another interesting feature could be fake ILS transmitters that make aircraft crash at night...  In addition to aircraft destruction, such commandos could also hit the airfield defense and the tower & radar (both quite essential airfield components to keep internal friction and fratricide down).

In the end, the threat (or first successes) of such commandos would lead to additional airfield security and would therefore have less impact on airpower than on land power due to the diversionary effect. 

Once a method for that deep infiltration and exfiltration is available (and the necessary political will present), commandos could also hit power plants. Power plants can be destroyed by air attacks, but nuclear power plants such in the 1999 Yugoslavia case are off limits for air attacks against the electrical power supply. Commandos could destroy nearby transformation stations to get them offline.  

By the way, the OV-10 Bronco was able to transport four LRRP with (150ft iirc)  parachutes in the back. Supersonic business jets are quite fast, have their engines close to the fuselage and are not MilCpes at all concerning protection for fuel system, frag protection, self defence measures and so on - even those used for EW purposes aren't even remotely capable to operate over enemy terrain.


Ed: Given that B-2 bombers cost $2 billion each, a commando hit would be devastating.  Yes, they would commit more manpower to airbase defense, but that is costly.  On May 16, 2007, Iraqi insurgent mortars hit a U.S. airbase north of Baghdad, destroying one helicopter and damaging a dozen others.

RAF Air Commandos

I have been reading your most recent e-magazine, and a good read it is too.  On your article concerning Air Commandos it seems that we Brits are already there and have been since WW2.  On the offensive side the SAS and SBS have been employed in countless offensive counter-air operations (OCA) from the Western Desert in WW2 to Pebble Island in the Falklands.  As for the defensive side the Royal Air Force has the RAF Regiment who aggressively patrol outside our airbases to prevent rival air commandos getting close.  The RAF Regiment was also formed in WW2 and continue today to protect RAF bases, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, I do have some negative points about your article.  There is a video clip by a French news agency that shows the insurgent attack on the DHL jet.  These show clearly that the attack was made by a conventional Russian made MANPAD not an air to air missile as you state.  I was in Iraq at the time and I know that the damage to the aircraft confirmed that it was a MANPAD hit.  Wikipedia also list the weapon as a SA-14, .

As for the Hercules incident the official accident report does not list the type of ground fire you mention.  It is also unlikely that a 20mm weapon was used, as the US Army AH-64s in the area would have probably noticed and engaged such a large weapons system.

                                                                                           R Bush

Ed:  The British learned lessons dealing with crafty Germans during the first few years of WW II.  You are correct about the Iraq DHL incident and I will change the article.  The initial report was that it must of been a big air-to-air missile because of the damage caused, but that video proves otherwise. As for the 20mm AAA, "Aviation Week" reported that it wasn't a big Gatling gun, just an old WW II automatic loader type, which are easy to move about inside cars.

Most Americans are Leftists

This article is very well done.  Indeed here we had 40 years of corrupt governments [in Venezuela] and they all had one common trend:  abiding by US interests, commercial or political, at every turn.  So it's no wonder why the US government is actively working against Chavez.   He isn't great but he is far, far better than any other government we've had in decades.  You wrote: "These two groups use their media empires to convince workers that electing a "leftist" who wants to help them is dangerous."  Here there are some media outlets like channel 2 (RCTV) with talk shows that have actively called in the past for the overthrow of Chavez.  No one is in jail; no one got fined.  One can only wonder what would happen to those people in almost any other country.

On another note, I'm through with the [Venezuelan] army.  It happens that more often than not the people who are above you are the ones that shouldn't be there.  Lots of clientelism and "friend of my friend" policies still going on from the old days.  This type of thing is very dangerous because in the case of war, worse can happen:  


Ed: I recommend two recent books that shed more light on this issue.  "Confessions of an Economic Hitman" and "The Blood Bankers."

Latin American Redirection

I found your January piece about Latin American politics and that region's relationship with the U.S. to be spot on.  Hugo Chavez has achieved something that no other socialist leader from that part of the world has ever done, namely he won popular election to his country's presidency and has not been forcibly removed by a U.S. engineered and backed coup.  The general hostility radiating from parts of the American political spectrum at de Silva in Brazil is additional evidence that there are many in this country, or at least many in Washington and Langley, who would like nothing better than to return to the "good ole' days" of U.S. meddling in Latin American political affairs.  

Bush's recent visit to Brazil strikes me as a tacit recognition that the realization is finally sinking in that the days of U.S. hegemony over the western hemisphere may be numbered.  South American nations with growing economic and political power led by leaders who are truly interested in helping their own people rather than pandering to the U.S. are no longer easy CIA targets.  I really hope this is the case anyway.  Our behavior toward our southern neighbors, particularly the people of Central America, is one of the most shameful chapters in this nation's history.  And yet people continue to wonder why migrants stream out of those countries and sneak into this one.  Knowing a bit more about the oligarchies we have fostered and maintained throughout the region and the dismal poverty that "economic dependency" has perpetuated might shed some light on this.  

Our government has consistently categorized any organization or political group from this region with even the slightest leftward leanings as 'communist' and, more important in the vernacular of our current era, 'terrorist.'  Part of me is surprised that it wasn't 19 Guatemalans flying planes into buildings.  Lord knows they and other Central Americans have ample reason to detest and resent us.


Ed: Unfortunately, much of SOUTHCOMs work involves disrupting the democratic process as poor workers seek the socialist programs enjoyed by North Americans, like Medicare, unemployment benefits, comfortable government jobs, welfare, Social Security ect.  This requires raising taxes on their millionaires and foreign corporations, who therefore encourage the U.S. military to help suppress these "leftists."

Right-Wing Hollywood

I read your article on military influence both direct and indirect on the Hollywood establishment and I would have to say I agreed with 99% of it. I am someone who takes great interest in films and I am somewhat knowledgeable about them. I would like to inform you that the movie Starship Troopers was intended to be an anti-war film.

Starship Troopers was originally a novel by Robert Heinlein. The novel was clearly right-wing; it expressed the merits of capital punishment, the value of military service, and necessity of war. Paul Verhoeven who directed the anti-corporate "Robocop" bought the rights to do a film version of Starship Troopers. He admitted that he never read the book and was only familiar with some of the themes of the novel which he said struck him as fascist. The film version of Starship Troopers is intended to be a satire of fascism, a state at war, and propaganda. The uniforms are reminiscent of the SS and the commercials are parodies of "Triumph of the Will" by Leni Riefenstahl, Frank Capra's 1940s anti-fascism short films, and wartime news broadcasts. Look at the scene where there are children squashing a bunch of hissing cockroaches with the voice over saying that they are doing their part. Those insects are clearly in no way related to the "bugs" which earth is at war with, yet they are being praised for killing something that has a vague resemblance to the enemy. That recalls events such as the internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War and attacks on Indian and Arab immigrants that follow terrorist attacks.

Although the novel Starship Troopers was militaristic, Robert Heinlein does not fit into a net political category. His novels range from "Stranger in a Strange Land", which is about a peaceful alien who challenges human beliefs in regards to sex, property, war, race, and religion. Stranger in a Strange Land is clearly anti-war and anti-violence. The alien is shown as a sort of Christ figure in his abhorrence to violence and encouragement of peace. The publishing of Stranger in a Strange Land was embrace by the hippie movement and was also mentioned in the song "We Didn't Start the Fire" by Billy Joel as one of the significant events of the 20th Century. Heinlein also wrote The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, which is about colonists on the moon who fight for independence from a tyrannical government on Earth. It is considered to be a libertarian book.

                                                                          Harley Waddell

Ed:  The odd thing is that many fascists in the USA love "Starship Troopers" since they are too shallow to recognize the satire.

Movie Recommendations

Glaring omissions from your great films list.  Just my opinion ;-)

Pork Chop Hill

12 O' Clock High

The Thin Red Line

Band of Brothers (HBO series)

Stalingrad (German film)

Lawrence of Arabia


Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

A Midnight Clear

The Big Red One

Apocalypse Now

Kingdom of Heaven


Born on the Fourth of July

The Guns of Navarone

Lost Command

                                                          Paul Sturrock

Ed: "Born on the Fourth of July" is a great film, and very relevant today as crippled GIs return from Iraq.  I'm not sure it is a "war" film, more of a "post-war" film.

8-inch Naval Gun

I liked the article on the 8-in MCLWG.  It makes a lot more sense than the Navy’s 5-in ERP.  When the weight and volume allocation in a 5-in projo must include a guidance and control system and a rocket booster, that allocation must come out of the weight and volume allocation of the explosive payload, which is a sharp reduction in terminal effectiveness. It is not intuitively obvious, but an 8-in projo is much more aerodynamically efficient at long range than a 5-incher since it is heavier and thus less influenced by crosswinds. 

Considering how much more explosive fill can be delivered in an 8-in projo than in a 5-in, it would take multiple 5-in rds to deliver the same amount of HE deliverable in one 8-in projo.  But the single 8-in rd would need a lot less propellant to reach long range than any 5-in projo, and the 8-in projo gives up weight and volume for only a single fuze, guidance and control system.

                                                                                           Don L.

Other Editor Comments