We must Stay The Course! We can't Lose Our Soul! America must keep shooting itself in the foot!
Any questions about the Hot Dots which
indicate future American wars?
Leave A Comment,
Agence-Vleeptron Presse will explain
Where Each Dot Is,
and Why It's There.
(If the Loud Screaming from Bush,
Cheney, Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice
haven't already explained it.
But if they haven't, get your
hearing and vision checked this week.)
Somebody kicked Vleeptron in the butt for being asleep at the switch the last few days.
Well, if you're a Sherlock Holmes sort of person, it will have dawned on you a year or two ago that Vleeptron is something of a One-Man-Band kind of operation, and when Life distracts Bob, Vleeptron just has to shut down for a day or three while Bob attends to some Noisy Life Thing.
There is no Assistant Deputy Managing Editor of Agence-Vleeptron Presse who takes over while Bob is off playing 18 holes of golf in the shadow of Mount Merapi. Vleeptron is Bob, or else Vleeptron isn't.
For what it's worth, the Life Thing that made Vleeptron go dark over the long weekend wasn't serious or life-threatening, didn't involve doctors or emergency rooms -- it was just some Really Dumb Stunt pulled by an acquaintance of Bob's which made the next four days seem like All Ten Fingernails On A Blackboard to poor Bob's sensitive nervous system. I could have fixed everything immediately by running over this acquaintance with my truck a few times, but in the United States, this is considered a Crime, no matter what loopy stunt the person under the tires may have just pulled.
If you are aware of any nation on earth where running morons over in your truck is Not A Crime, please (!) Leave A Comment. (The place has to have Good Food and be as free as or more free of neighborhood gunfire than Northampton, Massachusetts.)
So Vleeptron now returns to Earth and takes a quick survey of All Important Things which have transpired in A-VP's absence.
We begin with news from the United States of America.
The world map above shows the places hither and yon around the world where the Bush Administration or some of its Loudmouth Patriotic Pals and Associates have during the last year or two suggested going to war against, to teach the Evil People there a Lesson They'll Never Forget.
Like Iraq is learning a lesson it'll never forget.
Unfortunately, so are we.
Except that clearly we forgot the lessons of Vietnam long ago, so we're probably going to forget this lesson, too.
In the first few years following the USA's military defeat in Vietnam, there were some obscure stories coming out of the American military establishment that suggested that some of our brighter, more creative and non-brain-dead professional officers (West Point and Annapolis types) were trying to make sense of how we got into the disaster of the Vietnam War, how we lost the war, and how to make sure the USA would never blunder into another disaster like that again.
These officers drew up some kind of Doctrine, and vowed, among other things, that the professional officer corps would never again permit the US to fight an overseas war which did not clearly include the near-certain likelihood of clear and relatively prompt Victory for the American military. These young officer Einsteins distributed the Doctrine widely and held many seminars to disseminate these Lessons Learned for the Future at all the staff and war colleges.
I guess I could Google and find that New American Strategic Doctrine from the Young Professional Officer Corps circa 1978, but what would be the point? Either the Bush Administration subsequently found it and recycled it as toilet paper, or the officers who Took That Clear Victory Vow wanted promotions to General Grade so bad that they quickly learned to kiss politicians' ass (they prefer it anti-clockwise) so thoroughly that, by the time they reached General Grade, if a powerful politician asked them what they thought about waging war against Indiana, the professional officers said, "Great idea, sir! Shock and Awe! Let's Rock n Roll! Victory's just around the corner!"
What follows isn't politics or patriotism.
The United States of America is currently waging two Hot Wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iraq is much noisier than Afghanistan, but don't sell Afghanistan short. It continues to reliably send American soldiers home to Dover Air Force Base in flag-draped coffins, and the notion that Victory in Afghanistan is Just Around The Corner is -- well, as Mark Shields said (on the PBS News Hour a few nights ago) of Bush's years of constant loud and clear promises of Staying the Course because Victory in Iraq is Just Around The Corner -- delusional.
Actually, Shields said that in the run-up to the Congressional/Senate elections in November, voters of both parties have been shoved into a nasty corner where they feel compelled to Choose One:
[ ] The president is delusional.
[ ] The president is lying.
Which of course is exactly where Johnson and Nixon found themselves during the Vietnam War: Is our president insane, or just lying his fucking ass off?
If you have a Third Choice to explain Bush's Iraq War Policy (most recently he said that if we pull out of Iraq, America will Lose Its Soul), please oh please Leave A Comment.
About a year ago, Bush tried winking at the camera during rare one-on-one TV interviews (with interviewers who weren't Fox News Channel softball pitchers) and tried this:
[ ] I know lots of secret stuff only the president knows, but I can't tell you about it because it's a secret, but that's why I'm acting this way. If you knew this secret stuff, the way I've been acting and the things I've been saying would suddenly make Perfect Sense to you.
The United States of America is currently the world's only military-economic Superpower. I think the reason everybody says this and overlooks the Peoples Republic of China is just that the USA is regularly bumbling into faraway loser wars, but China's military hasn't directly pulled a stunt like that since 1949 in Korea. And that turned out pretty well for China; perhaps China's military and political leadership structures which say Yay or Nay to potential foreign military adventures are a bit smarter and more cautious than the USA's. (They're cowards. We're not.)
So right now, the only mighty sovereign power likely and/or able to project its military might to any spot on the far side of Earth and try to wage some kind of loopy, questionable Victory-Free or Victory-Lite ™ war is the USA.
Oh, Vleeptron's take on the terrible prospect of pulling out of Iraq and Losing Our Soul ...
We finally pulled out of Vietnam and Lost Our Soul, and seem to have gotten over that reasonably well. National Souls seem to grow back if you give them a few years. Economically, pulling out of Vietnam and Losing Our Soul gave Hollywood enormous fodder for Rambo and Chuck Norris movies, which gave jobs to thousands of people for decades. There are already fictitious entertainment TV shows about the Iraq War. And in the TV shows and the Hollywood movies -- We Win! Every Week!
Let's hurry up and Lose Our Soul already, and stop killing our young soldiers and Marines (our neighbors' children), and get over it. (Vleeptron doesn't mind how many Asian-American movie actors we kill, it's only ketchup, and they all get paid every day and get to smear themselves with more ketchup the next day. America's military adventures in Asia mean steady work for our Asian-American actors and actresses.)
Back to arithmetic.
The story below indicates the current state of filling US military manpower needs while we wage two Hot Wars at the same time.
Like a teenage girl who lets Todd or Scott do Anything But That downstairs on the rec room sofa on Saturday night, the Pentagon and the Bush Administration can do Anything But Bring Back The Draft.
The story below is comparable to some very thrilling and kinky stuff on the sofa -- but it's not Unprotected Vaginal Penetration. It's not The Draft. Not Quite. Not Exactly.
That's the only Lesson Political America, bipartisan Republican and Democrat, seems to have learned and remembered crisply from Vietnam: The Draft is too dangerous a political bomb to fuck around with. The Draft is too threatening to Real Americans, and they'll fill the streets of our major cities with angry, politically destabilizing anti-war protests. The Draft -- which proudly won World War Two for the USA, with utterly NO political complaints -- has now become The Wartime Military Manpower Solution That Dare Not Speak Its Name.
So read the story below. And then figure out where we're going to get enough soldiers, Marines, sailors and Air Force personnel to fight one or two or three more loopy overseas wars. Leave A Comment.
As the new generation of West Point/Annapolis/Air Force Academy Pentagon generals and admirals say:
FOOTNOTE: Okay, Vleeptron isn't being Fair and Balanced. Iran will be easy, a walk in the park. North Korea, too. We'll have the boys home by Christmas. Big-ass Victory Parades. Military bands should start practicing right now.
We'll teach them goddam towelheads and kommies a lesson they'll never forget.
Los Angeles Times (California USA)
Wednesday 23 August 2006
Marines Who Served
Will Be Ordered Back
The involuntary return to active duty
will affect up to 2,500 reservists at a time.
The Pentagon is scrambling
to meet the demands of war.
by Julian E. Barnes, Times Staff Writer
WASHINGTON -- The Marine Corps said Tuesday that it would begin calling Marines back to active-duty service on an involuntary basis to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan -- the latest sign that the American force is under strain and a signal that the military is having trouble persuading young veterans to return.
Marine commanders will call up formerly active-duty service members now classified as reservists because the Corps failed to find enough volunteers among its emergency reserve pool to fill jobs in combat zones. The call-ups will begin in several months, summoning as many as 2,500 reservists at a time to serve for a year or more.
The Pentagon has had to scramble to meet the manpower requirements of the Iraq war, which have not abated in the face of a continuing insurgency and growing civil strife. Earlier this year, the military called forward its reserve force in Kuwait, sending one battalion to Baghdad and two to Ramadi.
Last month, the yearlong deployment of the Army's Alaska-based 172nd Stryker Brigade was extended by four months to provide extra soldiers to roll back escalating sectarian violence in Baghdad.
For much of the conflict, the Army also has had to use "stop-loss orders" -- which keep soldiers in their units even after their active-duty commitments are complete -- as well as involuntary call-ups of its reservists.
Both actions have been criticized as a "back-door draft" and are unpopular with service members, many of whom say they have already done their part.
[Everybody keep saying that this is different from Vietnam, because all these guys are Volunteers. Leave Comments. Keep saying they're all Volunteers.]
"You can send Marines back for a third or fourth time, but you have to understand you are destroying their lives," said Paul Rieckhoff, founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. "It is not what they intended the all-volunteer military to look like."
Marines typically enlist for eight years. Most serve four years on active duty and then enter the reserves, either attached to units that have monthly drills or as a part of the "individual ready reserve."
The ready reserve was designed to be a pool of manpower that the Pentagon could draw on in a time of national emergency. But the Iraq war has forced the Army, and now the Marines, to rely on the ready reserve to fill holes in the combat force.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said the Marines' ready reserve call-up was an example of the wear and tear the Iraq war had inflicted on the armed services, a stress that could hurt the military in the months and years to come.
"The right way to address the issue is to increase the size of the military so you do not have to rely on the call-up of the individual ready reserve," Reed said. "We should have raised the strength of the Army and Marine Corps three years ago. It does underscore the strain that is being placed on the land forces -- the Army and the Marines."
Frederick W. Kagan, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who has written about what he calls a military manpower crisis, argued that the involuntary call-ups were the latest sign that a larger ground force was needed. The increasing length of combat tours, the extensive use of National Guard combat units and the stop-loss orders all show the military is scrambling to meet the demands placed on it, he said.
"It is one of an avalanche of symptoms that the ground forces are overstretched by operations in Iraq and Afghanistan," Kagan said. "This administration needs to understand this is not a short-term problem, and it really needs a systemic fix in the size of the ground forces."
The announcement by U.S. commanders that they are seeking new sources to meet manpower needs came as British officers told reporters in London that the 7,000-member British force could be cut in half by next year. For months, U.S. commanders also have said they want to shrink the size of their force in Iraq, a move that would reduce the strain on the military and ease the need for involuntary call-ups. But most American -- as well as British -- promises to cut troop sizes have been derailed by the continuing violence in Iraq.
Although the Marines for the most part have avoided forcing reservists to serve in Iraq against their will, volunteers have been harder to come by as the war has dragged on.
"We have been tracking our volunteer numbers for the last two years. If you tracked it on a timeline or a chart, you would see it going down," said Col. Guy A. Stratton, head of the Marine Corps' manpower mobilization plans section, who briefed reporters Tuesday on the reserve plans.
There are 138,000 U.S. troops now serving in Iraq. There are about 24,100 active-duty Marines in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa, although the bulk of that force is in Iraq's Al Anbar province.
Most Marine Corps tours in Iraq are about seven months long, whereas the Army has yearlong stints. But Marines return to combat more frequently, with as little as five or six months in the United States between rotations. The grueling schedule means some Marines already have served three tours in Iraq.
The Marines' last involuntary call-up of individual ready reserve members occurred before the initial invasion of Iraq. Although 2,658 involuntary orders were issued at the time, far fewer of those Marines ended up serving in Iraq.
Those subject to the new call-up will be drawn from a pool of 59,000 members of the individual ready reserve. The Corps will exempt Marines who are in the first and last year of their four-year reserve obligation, meaning the first call-ups will come from a pool of about 34,000 Marines.
Although it is possible that someone who had served in Iraq just a year before could be selected to return, Stratton said that when deciding whom to mobilize, the Corps would choose the reservists with fewer combat tours or those who had served overseas less recently.
The Marines estimate they are about 1,200 people short of the needed manpower in Iraq and Afghanistan. With training taking six months and deployments an average of six months more, the Marines need the authority to call up 2,500 people at a time.
Marines called from the reserves could serve a maximum of two years, although most tours are expected to last between a year and 18 months. Stratton said the authority to involuntarily call up the ready reserve would last for the duration of "a long war," the term used by U.S. military commanders to describe the war against Islamic extremism.
"What it allows us to do is tap into that part of the IRR we've not used," Stratton said, "to be able to provide that additional augmentation to our units we have out there for this rotation, the next rotation, for however long the global war on terrorism will go on."
Stratton said the manpower needs were the greatest in the fields of communications, engineering, intelligence and military policing. But he also said infantry, truck drivers, aviation mechanics and other specialists would be called up.
Reed said it was particularly disturbing that the Marines needed the ready reservists to fill holes in infantry units.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, the Army has mobilized 5,000 soldiers from its ready reserves. The bulk of those have been part of involuntary call-ups that began in mid-2004. The Army now has about 2,200 members of the ready reserve serving on active duty; about 1,850 of those were called involuntarily.
On Tuesday, the Army said it was not able to provide the number of soldiers serving under the stop-loss order. But during the second half of last year, there were an average of 13,178 soldiers in Iraq whose tours had been extended by the stop-loss order. The Marine Corps does not have a stop-loss order in place.
When its involuntary call-ups began in 2004, the Army encountered problems when some mobilized ready reserve members failed to appear and others were disqualified from service for medical reasons.
Stratton said Marine reservists would be given five months' notice that they were being activated. He said there would be a generous system that would allow Marines called up from the ready reserve to defer service or, in some cases, be exempted.
But Rieckhoff said that yanking Marines out of their civilian lives would be disruptive to them and their families.
"The bottom line is: Everyone is exhausted," Rieckhoff said. "It may be legal, but it is kind of like the difference between a contract and a promise. Overall we are eroding the promise made to our military."