Saturday, March 08, 2003

War Versus Civil Liberties

Ah yes, there was a "woman's march for peace" today. That makes sense-stand up for a movement that would veil them and stone them if they have sex outside of marriage (or if they are raped) and otherwise provide them with a firmly enforced second-class status. And given that many opponents of war are warning that al Qaeda will strike if we invade Iraq, I guess it should be time for them to concede a link between Iraq and the Islamofascists.

These are the most extreme, of course, those who defend our enemies and wish them victory even as they go home at night comforted by the notion that we will not lose. Others decry our pending war against Iraq (it better be pending, I think we have made a terrible-though hopefully not grave-mistake in giving Iraq another deadline. Hopefully the French veto will save us from this mistake), unable to see the link between an anti-American despot with weapons of mass destruction and anti-American terrorists who dream of having weapons of mass destruction. Some of the "toughest" of these opponents say we should take the money we will spend destroying Saddam and plow it into homeland defense. We should, they say, pull back into fortress America.

Yet at the same time, these same people decry any effort to increase security at home, crying out that civil rights are being eroded. And they have a point. As long as we fight our enemies our civil liberties will be reduced. That is what happens in war. One of the mundane aspect of this threat level hit me yesterday. I received a rejection letter from a defense journal for an article I submitted (oh well, I'm one for two for the submissions I made in the fall). What really struck me were the two copies of my paper that they returned. They were yellowed. Then I remembered, oh yeah, as a government outfit they would have to zap every mail package with whatever device they use to neutralize Anthrax. This process yellows the paper.

This is just one of the prices we pay for defending against terrorists. And if we are to pull back into fortress America, how many police and soldiers will be needed on our streets? How many questions will we need to answer as government security people question us wherever we move? How many public places will be closed off to the public to keep terrorists from destroying our monuments and buildings?

Loss of privacy and freedom are the prices we will pay for letting our enemies live to plot against us. And every time they strike, we will crack down more. By sitting on the defensive, we guarantee that our enemies will eventually strike us successfully. Defense can only slow the pace, not end the attacks against us. Would these opponents of war say that we should do nothing to prevent attacks? Will they say that exploding malls and occasional plagues are the price we should pay to arrive at the airport five minutes before our flight?

If we want our liberties back fully, if we want the luxury of not having our mail irradiated because nutballs would kill us by mail, we must take the offensive and go after our enemies. Al Qaeda and the states that support them because of their common hatred of America must be destroyed.

Then we can debate our civil liberties and go on with our lives.

On to Baghdad. Our lives and freedom really do count on it.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

The Army and Marines Flow to the Gulf

We are about to start a major theater war (MTW), the building block war around which we determine what is 'enough' to defend America. The second MTW, North Korea, looms over us even as we flow to the Gulf.

So we really have enough ground troops?

First Cav and 1st Armored divisions are alerted to move. Plus 2nd Cavalry Regiment (Light). Clearly, we do not need these units to invade Iraq. Still, it is good to have them in the pipeline ("flowing") just in case we run into difficulties. It would not do to have an invasion force run into problems, request reinforcements, and then wait six weeks while the units ship to the Gulf. I imagine the two heavy divisions will fall in on equipment in the Gulf and be in action quickly if needed.

An article in the Washington Post today says this latest announcement commits 5 of our 10 active divisions. Let's see, 82nd AB is in Afghanistan and Kuwait; 3rd ID is in Kuwait. 101st AB is in Kuwait. 1st ID is in Kosovo and heading for the Gulf. 4th ID has its equipment floating off of Turkey; 1st CAV is going to the Gulf; 1st Armored Division is going to the Gulf; 10th Mountain Division will probably go the Gulf. I count eight. That leaves 2nd ID to watch the North Koreans and 25th Infantry (Light) (part of both are transitioning to Stryker Brigades, I believe). That's ten. I sure hope the Guard getting called up includes combat divisions. Nor do we have many Marine line units outside of Kuwait, it seems. So how small do we want our ground components to be? Will Rumsfeld really kill two Army divisions?

When we went to ten active Army divisions, people scoffed that we'd need to fight Iraq and North Korea at the (nearly) same time. That doesn't seem so ridiculous now. Plus we have to babysit the Balkans. Sure, people said we could just bug out if more important needs arose, but does that seem so wise now? When in one crisis we should pull out of another area and risk it exploding too? Nor does the established force of five Army divisions and 1 or 2 Marine Expeditionary Forces seem so assured of quick and decisive victory now that we go to war. Now, all or elements of eight Army divisions are heading to the Gulf plus three other brigade-sized separate units (2nd and 3rd ACRs and 173 AB Brigade), plus 24 Marine line battalions—eight brigade equivalents!

Quantity has a quality all its own, the old saw goes. We can't rely on technology and lightness to send small units of super troopers against masses of the enemy. Numbers matter. Remember the British Expeditionary Force in 1914? A superb force to be sure, it blistered the Germans as they advanced toward Paris. But at the end of the campaign, the German army stood while the British army was decimated. Just what would we do if we faced dedicated enemy soldiers and not the demoralized Iraqi conscripts?

What if we faced the North Korean, for example? How many American divisions would be flowing into the Korean peninsula to overcome adversity and still fight on to victory?

Or are we really willing to use nukes? That's a Hell of a choice to have. Let's not ever get to that point.

Enlarge the Army. There are no shortages of missions for our troops. And this will be true for quite some time.

[NOTE: This is from the former Defense Issues category from my original blog.]

Saturday, March 01, 2003

March 2003 Posts

One day I hope to finish moving posts from my original site here. But I stalled out after coyping and pasting 7 months of posts in February 2003, after a dozen posts that month. So as a stopgap, let me post to the undead archives of the gap months.

Here is March 2003.