Monday, July 20, 2015

Rational Enemies Require Rational Responses

Over the weekend, I am sure you have read many of the responses to the attacks in Chattanooga. This is a good moment to take a measure of not just possible solutions to prevent more repeats of such attack, but of our leaders as well - and we'll get to that in moment.

As for the specifics of the attack, we need to be very clear and honest with ourselves about what they were and the person who conducted them. There was nothing senseless about them, nothing mindless, nothing that should have been a surprise. 

Though unquestionably a person with a warped world view, the attacker was quite sane. We have already seen people try to make excuses, but I'm not buying it. We have millions of young men who have debt, smoke weed, are depressed, and are trying to find their way in this world - but they are not growing beards and attacking the US military.

The attacker was very clear headed about what he was doing, why he was doing it, and the long-view context of his role in a global, religious war.

This was just one in a series of attacks of this kind. If you have forgotten, Streiff has a nice summary for you. Oh, and yes; there will be more.

We are engaged in a long, global war - it just happened to come home for a day. From a professional standpoint, it is useful to stand back and see that the enemy conducted a very good operation - one that not only should have been expected, but one that we should expect to be replicated. Effective and efficient techniques, tactics, and procedures are used and improved upon until they are no longer useful. Put on your red hat for a moment and review this attack. Same as the 911 attacks, professionally - using their way or war and ROE - you have to respect it.

William Saletan over at Slate provides some perspective if you need it;
Are trainers and recruiters noncombatants? If so, we’re killing noncombatants every week. According to the Pentagon’s latest published data, our coalition in Syria and Iraq has struck more than 2,000 enemy “buildings” and nearly 500 “staging areas.” A “staging area” can be almost anything—according to the U.S. military glossary, it’s “a general locality established for the concentration of troop units.” Scan the Pentagon’s daily reports on the campaign, and you’ll see accounts of strikes against “barracks,” “compounds,” “structures,” “manufacturing workshops,” and “logistics hubs.” If you’re an ISIS foot soldier, it hardly matters where you are or what you’re doing. You’re a target.

Recruiters are standard fare. In February, we sent a drone to kill an ISIS recruiter in Afghanistan, even though, according to a Pentagon spokesman, the recruiter had “decided to swear allegiance to [ISIS] probably no more than a couple weeks ago. And he didn't have a whole lot of depth to any network resources or manpower when he did it.”

Training facilities aren’t just fair game. They’re prized targets. President Obama has repeatedly bragged about hitting them. In February, White House spokesman Josh Earnest proudly informed reporters that coalition airstrikes had “succeeded in taking out at least 20 training camps.” Two weeks ago, Obama indicated that the tally had increased: “We’ve taken out thousands of fighting positions, tanks, vehicles, bomb factories, and training camps.”

When we target a training facility and kill its inhabitants, we don’t call that terrorism. We call it moral success.
He is, of course, exactly right.

As he and others have pointed out, we have a huge leadership problem at the very highest levels, leaders who seems to be going out of their way to signal a weak horse. Done for internal political reasons best known to those making the statements, you can not understate the degree they are creating undesired negative effects from an INFO OPS and PSYOPS perspective - a veritable cavalcade of unforced errors. 

Just a couple of examples of what I am talking about, and before we start pointing fingers elsewhere, we should examine our Navy-Marine Corp team first. From the SECNAV;
While we expect our Sailors and Marines to go into harm's way, and they do so without hesitation, an attack at home, in our community, is insidious and unfathomable.
Really?
insidious
adjective in·sid·i·ous \in-ˈsi-dē-əs\
: causing harm in a way that is gradual or not easily noticed
We have been under terrorist attack for almost a decade and a half inside our national borders. Review Streiff's summary again if you need to. That does not even cover all those attacks we have managed to stop. The Chattanooga attack is only insidious if you have not been paying attention, or unnecessarily distracted by less important thing ... like ... well ... "green" energy, naming warships for shameless political reasons, and contributing to sectarianism and division by actively supporting segregation of Sailors and Marines by race, creed, color, and national origin. That may be part of it.
unfathomable
adjective un·fath·om·able \-ˈfa-thə-mə-bəl\
: impossible to understand
If this is impossible for you to to understand, then, well ... I've got nothing more to say. The original statement speaks for itself.

The discussion concerning if our military should have the ability to defend itself has been amazingly daft. You can barely breath for all the straw men people are throwing around.

At one end is, "this is the job of the police, the military should not be armed while in the USA in shopping malls and on Main St.." Amazing cognitive dissonance. If there was ever a situation that proved the darkly humorous phrase, "When every second counts, the police are only minutes away." this is it. 

On the other end are some who think that people are asking for everyone in uniform to be armed. GMAFB. No serious person is asking that. To make that argument is to not know how the military works, and to demonstrate an embarrassingly patronizing view of those who serve.

We have Duty Officers, Petty Officer of the Watch, etc etc. You can also keep people at Condition 4 if you really want to be safe, but I'll tell you what - I will take a negligent discharge once a month over the slaughter we saw last week - and so will 98% of those in uniform.

This incredible fear by leadership about having the logical move to allow at least some in each space to be armed comes from one place - fear. Not fear of the enemy, but fear for some safety incident on their watch that might hurt their career. They fear their own FITREP cycle than they fear going to a funeral of a Sailor or Marine gunned down at their desk. 

Make no mistake, some people are more than willing to put their Sailors and Marines in a defenseless position playing the odds that it won't matter, just so they don't have to deal with the potential risk of having armed Sailors and Marines in their UIC. That is nothing new, and the safety-uber-alles in the myopic PT-belt era is a headwind that must be fought. 

Let's also look back at the default excuse, these post-Cold War, Peace-Dividend era instructions from FEB92. Yes, we are operating under 22-yr old instructions that don't even have the word "terrorism" in it. Read it all here.

Specifically, Para D.1 is where the meat is - and opens the door to having more people armed, but;
The authorization to carry firearms shall be issued only to qualified personnel when there is a reasonable expectation that life or DoD assets will be jeopardized if firearms are not carried. Evaluation of the necessity to carry a firearm shall be made considering this expectation weighed against the possible consequences of accidental or indiscriminate use of firearms.
It is the last part that is the problem. That was put in as a catch-all point to destroy any commander who had a safety incident. Anyone can say in hindsight, "You did not properly evaluate the necessity ..." etc. Poor leaders will use this to throw subordinate commanders under the bus, so those commanders will not take the chance. Reason? They have no faith or trust in their Chain of Command to support them. When you create a zero-risk culture, don't be shocked when you have no one taking any risk.  Better a thousand die than to receive one bad FITREP, dontchaknow.

We mentioned the lead Navy civilian ... so to be fair and balanced, let's look at a uniformed Army leader;
"I think we have to be careful about over-arming ourselves, and I'm not talking about where you end up attacking each other," Odierno said during a morning breakfast. Instead, he said, it's more about "accidental discharges and everything else that goes along with having weapons that are loaded that causes injuries."
To say I am disappointed is to understate in the extreme.

As I mentioned Friday - I spent months - as have hundreds of thousands of other sevicemembers, many who can say "years" not "months" - carrying a weapon around in Condition 3 - and only going to Condition 1 only when outside the gate. Condition 3 or Condition 4 should be more than fine for recruiting duty ... and no chance for "accidental discharge" as there is no round in the chamber at all. But again, even if there were - look at the string of attacks where those in uniform were ordered to be defenseless. Worth a accidental discharge or two? My clearing barrel says, "Yes."

For now, we have a paralysis at the Federal level. We have become used to this state of affairs. At least we have some state Governors stepping in and leading;
Governors in Indiana, Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma have ordered National Guardsmen to be armed.
It really is that easy to do.

What these leaders know is that the enemy has seen that the attack in Chattanooga was a successful attack, and there are thousands of other targets that are just as easy to get to - and are just as legitimate of a target in war.

To not understand the threat as it is, is not to be worthy of someone in a position of authority and leadership in 2015.

Having servicemembers to die unarmed in the face of a determined enemy for your own vanity, and petty career comfort behind your reserved parking space, duty driver, six-figure retirement income, and security detail? Ponder that.

UPDATE: As the nation waits for leaders to act - the people will make their own statement. Via USMCQ;

Dude with semi-autos eating Chick-Fil-A, guarding their Marines.

'Murica.

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