Skip to comments.Our enemies aren't drinking lattes
Posted on 07/05/2006 8:56:53 AM PDT by 68skylark
'AMATEURS TALK strategy. Professionals talk logistics." That well-worn saying, sometimes attributed to Gen. Omar Bradley, contains an obvious element of wisdom. Modern militaries cannot fight without a lengthy supply chain, and the success or failure of major operations can turn on the work of anonymous logisticians.
Yet there is a danger of professional soldiers becoming so focused on supply lines that they lose sight of larger strategic imperatives. In Afghanistan and Iraq, we may already have crossed that threshold.
In the past few months, I have traveled across U.S. Central Command's area of operations a vast domain stretching from the deserts of Arabia to the mountains of the Hindu Kush. Everywhere, I have found massive bases fortified with endless rows of concrete barriers and stocked with every convenience known to 21st century Americans.
Some front-line units continue to operate out of spartan outposts where a hot meal is a luxury and flush toilets unknown. But growing numbers of troops live on giant installations complete with Wal-Mart-style post exchanges, movie theaters, swimming pools, gyms, fast-food eateries (Subway, Burger King, Cinnabon) and vast chow halls offering fresh-baked pies and multiple flavors of ice cream. Troops increasingly live in dorm-style quarters (called "chews," for "containerized housing units") complete with TVs, mini-refrigerators, air conditioning/heating units and other luxuries unimaginable to previous generations of GIs.
No one would begrudge a few conveniences to those who have volunteered to defend us. But the military's logistics feats come with a high price tag that goes far beyond the $7.7 billion we spend every month on operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. U.S. troops in those countries consume 882,000 liters of water and 2.4 million gallons of fuel every day, plus tons of other supplies that have to be transported across dangerous war zones...
(Excerpt) Read more at latimes.com ...
Seen 130 in the shade over there....
This sounds overly dramatic. It sounds like the author is trying to manipulate the reader and I HATE it when someone is trying to manipulate me.
I remember at the beginning of the war there was an window unit A/C drive...does anyone else remember that? Seems like some organization was sending them over to support the troops.
I wonder how many of these ACs were sent by these guys! And I don't think they were the only ones sending them.
It is like heat in that when you need it, you really need it.
And I think heat may be much more deadly than cold in that heat can kill a person much quicker.
IIRC on one large construction job there were the temps in a concrete spillway that were reaching 120-130 Fahrenheit and they kept two full crews and the men were only allowed to work about 20-30 minutes and then had to break for an equal amount of time.
Construction foremen should always keep a very close eye on their crews when the heat is on. One friend lost her young healthy nephew recently. He worked with a roofing crew in Florida and IIRC his heart stopped from screwed up electrolytes caused by drinking too much water.
I never liked Max Boot, since the first time I read him years ago. He's a globalist (America excellence suborned to the abitrary "good" of the global "community") on the same level as NYT columnist Thomas Friedman.
Wideawake wrote, "An American GI enjoying a fresh-brewed latte after he blows one of the bad guys away is an awesome statement of our might."
I agree. Developing that further, American GI's living in as much creature comfort as possible overseaswhile our Jihadi enemies are living under rock, in cavesand still on the run, well ... just brings a smile to my face.
Of course, I agree with you totally. It just sounded like the basic services found on a permanent military installation. The author of this piece could be fishing for ways to view the military in a negative light, once again.
This was my initial reaction to the article:
How dare this loafer-wearing, cappucino-drinking, probably-has-a-summer-house-in-The-Hamptons snotbag deign to come over here and then criticize how "good" we all have it?
Then he turns around and goes home to his lap of luxury where he can go wherever he wants whenever he wants, eat whatever he has a craving for and walk and drive around the streets without fear of mortars, kidnapping, car bombs, etc. So screw him.
There. That feels better. ;-)
Uh, Boot is a conservative.
Doesn't matter. That is still the reaction I had to reading the article.
He's a military/political historian -- Savage Wars of Peace, etc.
You might like this better:
I never agree with anybody 100% of the time, including columnists and the politicians who get my votes.
The tone of this article struck a nerve. If he'd spent a year here like most of our troops do, he'd very likely have had an entirely different perspective.
I don't even agree with myself 100% of the time.
I don't know -- I found the story interesting and a good jumping off point for discussion. Unfortunately, it probably won't get a lot of discussion.
We have a volunteer military, not a drafted military like WW2
We'd also have massive anti-war protests rather than a few loons. For all their talk about caring for the Vietnamese people, most of the anti-Vietnam War protesters really just didn't want to go to war (you'll notice that their concern for the fate of the Vietnamese people evaporated once the draft ended -- most don't know or care what the North did when they took over).
I also don't think we'll put the War on Terrorism into the WIN column until we are ready to invade, encourage a coup, or bomb out of existence Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Lebanon, and North Korea. And the problem with at least some of them has more to do with global politics than the size of our military. Sadly, it's probably going to take a very large WMD attack on the United States before people treat it like a war.
"... growing numbers of troops live on giant installations complete with Wal-Mart-style post exchanges, movie theaters, swimming pools, gyms, fast-food eateries (Subway, Burger King, Cinnabon) and vast chow halls offering fresh-baked pies and multiple flavors of ice cream. Troops increasingly live in dorm-style quarters (called chews, for containerized housing units) complete with TVs, mini-refrigerators, air conditioning/heating units and other luxuries unimaginable to previous generations of GIs... a fresh-brewed iced latte at a Green Beans coffee shop."
And it seemed fairly straightforward why this is a concern...
"Keeping everything running safely and smoothly eats up a lot of scarce manpower. According to Centcom, there are 20,000 combat service support troops in its area of operations and another 80,000 contracted civilians. (The U.S. has a total of 150,000 troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.) The latter figure no doubt includes many private security guards, but numerous soldiers are also needed to protect all of these logistics lines, and casualties are inevitable."
"Most of our resources arent going to fight terrorists but to maintain a smattering of mini-Americas in the Middle East. As one Special Forces officer pungently put it to me: 'The only function that thousands of people are performing out here is to turn food into [excrement].'"
Speaking ill about anything related to Iraq, at least among conservative circles, is akin to being un-PC in leftist circles. Unfortunately, we need to come to the realization that our armed forces are not perfect. Otherwise, business as usual will result in a long, protracted defeat. There are plenty of folks frustrated and even disillusioned with the organizational irrationality and institutional ineffectiveness of large parts of our military. Max Boot simply had the gall to say what many others are thinking. In my opinion, Max Boot nailed it with this line.
"How to explain this seemingly counterproductive behavior? My theory is that any organization prefers to focus on what it does well. In the case of the Pentagon, thats logistics. Our ability to move supplies is unparalleled in military history. Fighting guerrillas, on the other hand, has never been a mission that has found much favor with the armed forces. So logistics trumps strategy. Which may help explain why we're not having greater success in Iraq and Afghanistan."
That describes very well what happens in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Kosovo, once the initial wave of trigger-pullers comes in and wipes out the conventional threats. We always joked in Bosnia that rather than intelligence driving operations, logistics and safety concerns drove operations and operations drove intelligence (okay, maybe it's not a very good joke if you're not in the military). In Iraq we often laughed at the notions of being "an Army at war" or even more laughably, "a nation at war" since, as we saw it, we were little more than a few scattered battalions at war, while the rest of the military was flat on its butt playing water polo and getting fat in the KBR chow hall.
The notion that "any organization prefers to focus on what it does well" really nails it. As the Army works as feverishly to erect desert paradises as it does to crush the insurgency, field grades and senior NCOs are working hard to recreate the garrison environment in Iraq. Many senior NCOs who were raised in the late 80s and early 90s don't seem to know much more than police calls, uniform inspections, and other menial tasks that have very little relevance to a combat operation. But that is what they do well, so that is what they are more comfortable focusing on.
Those who claim that all of the garrison and stateside type amenities and protocols are necessary for morale should sit down and discuss this with Army and Marine infantrymen who spend their tours in Iraq in a filthy patrol base, burning their crap, not bathing, working much longer hours, and enduring much greater danger and whose units meet or exceed their re-enlistment goals. Many of these men occasionally pass through the large base camps or visit for various reasons and many of them hold tremendous contempt for the other half, for the very reasons that Max Boot points out.
Ever read "Imperial Grunts" Robert D Kaplen? Good stuff