Rebranding China’s Military for Tomorrow’s Challenges by Thomas Barnett

Last week in Honolulu, I spoke at a high-level conference hosted by our Pacific Command of special operations forces (SOF) commanders from numerous Pacific Rim countries. This gathering was notable primarily for the attendance – for the second year in a row – of senior officers from the People’s Republic of China.

Now, depending on your worldview, you might be aghast that: (1) the U.S. military even interacts with SOF personnel from China, our rising competitor in the East or (2) that it’s taken this long for such interactions to begin with a power already as globally significant as China is today.

I fall into the second category.

I know most great power experts have long argued that America’s sole superpower status simply cannot last, that history demands a balance must somehow be achieved.

Yet no such military has arisen since the Cold War’s end, not even China’s rapidly modernizing force, whose overall spending is reasonably estimated as less than one-fifth our own. Moreover, China’s acquisition strategy is narrow: clearly focused on threatening America’s capability to threaten its own capability to threaten Taiwan’s ability to defend itself from possible invasion.

If you define Taiwan’s defense as a key pillar of American national security in this globalizing world, where Taiwanese businesses routinely ship high-tech manufacturing facilities to Shanghai’s technology corridor, then clearly something’s amiss. But if you have a hard time, as I do, contemplating the folly of letting Taiwan declare war between globalization’s two most important economies, then China’s build-up underwhelms.

China’s economic and network connectivity with the global economy grows far beyond its current ability to manage that interdependency through diplomatic and security means. China punches far below its weight.

This is troubling today, but it becomes worse tomorrow, especially as China’s dependency on energy from the unstable Middle East skyrockets in coming years. America, by contrast, imports little of its foreign oil from the Persian Gulf, now and in the future. Increasingly, it’s America’s blood for China’s oil.

If China can continue free-riding on the global security system maintained by America’s military forces, this “say/do” gap might never be revealed – much less become crucial. But consider: Globalization’s advance, currently equating in the minds of many with becoming more Western – especially American, will soon enough start being equated with becoming more Asian – especially Chinese.

China will then find itself targeted like America is today by those who violently oppose globalization. Good example? Last week rebels attacked a Chinese oil well in eastern Ethiopia, killing nine. Violent extremists seeking civilizational apartheid with a “corrupt, materialistic world” will attack Chinese influence just as they today seek to limit Westernization.

In that future, a China that cannot adequately defend its economic interests globally in the manner similar to America – and, to a lesser extent, Europe through NATO – will represent a serious source of global instability.

China will either be forced to retreat from the world or rely on others to defend its interests, neither being a path we should welcome for all the reasons America itself would find such a situation unbearable.

To avoid that scenario, China needs to rebrand its military from its revolutionary origins into a force with moderate capacity to project itself around the planet, focusing on crisis response, humanitarian relief, and post-conflict stabilization and reconstruction.

This rebranding process should mirror – in function but not in magnitude – our own military’s emergence from relative international obscurity in the late 1800s to a position of trusted prominence following its successful entry into and conclusive impact on World War I in Europe.

America’s role in China’s military rebranding should be one of mentor, much like Britain’s role vis-a-vis the United States in the first half of the 20th century.

Viewed in that grand historical light, China’s embryonic military and strategic dialogue with the United States should be viewed as anything but adequate.

Rather than continuing to size our conventional forces implicitly with China’s residual threat in mind, our military commands around the world should rapidly and dramatically expand their military-to-military cooperation with the People’s Liberation Army.

Not because we trust China nor because we fear it but simply because it makes strategic sense in a complex international security environment America cannot hope to govern on its own.

Military Problems on the Horizon by Douglas Farah

I have spent time with military officials and civilian DOD officials in different parts of the country in recent weeks, and found a disturbing consensus on events, which, if correct, will have long-term implications for our national security.

The first is the broad feeling that the military is being asked to do everyone else’s job in government, particularly the job of the State Department.

The public diplomacy wing of the State Department seems to have virtually disappeared (except for the little shop run by Shaha Riza, Paul Wolfowitz’s girlfriend, and a shop that has a $45 million annual budget but has made no grants in 18 months of existence).

Partly because of the security conditions and partly because the army is already on the ground, many of the leaders feel they are being ordered to do things they are not trained for, have no resources for, and that take them away from crucial missions.

The second is that, as a result of the massive strain on human and physical resources of the Iraq conflict, the military and the rest of the Intelligence Community are falling further and further behind in monitoring vital events in the rest of the world.

This is not entirely the fault of this administration, of course. The hollowing out of the military and the drastic reduction of human intelligence capabilities began under Bush I, was continued under Clinton and not adequately addressed by the current administration. So there are plenty of people responsible.

One area of acute concern in the intelligence community is Venezuela and its growing orbit in Latin America, thanks largely to the close ties of Hugo Chavez to Iran.

Another area where intelligence, both military and civilian, has huge gaps, is most of sub-Saharan Africa. Despite the plans to stand up the Africa Command, it will take years before the new command is operational. There is still no consensus on where the headquarters should be located IF the command is based outside of Germany, where it currently is housed as part of the European Command.

This means that, even as lip service is paid to the rapid emergence of non-state armed actors, the unnerving rise in the number of failed and failing states and the clearly-demonstrated threat to national security these factors represent, there are few resources to actually DO anything about the challenges. This includes studying and training for different types of emerging threats.

The third thing is that those officers with hard-earned experience and knowledge, the captains and the majors, are leaving in droves because of the heavy rotations away from home in combat zones.

This is leaving a huge hole between the fresh, young officers with little or no experience and the colonels who see little field action. This loss of experience on the ground is compounded by a similar phenomenon in the upper ranks of enlisted men.

The final point was the feeling that public support for the military is eroding because the political establishment has done little to prepare the public for extended military commitments. There is broad recognition that, under ideal circumstances, the stabilization of Iraq would have taken a decade. Now, if it is possible at all, it will take far longer. Yet no one wanted to say that publicly or lay out the case for such an engagement.

All this adds up to the possibility of even more acute shortages in the near future, both in terms of personnel and capacity. The men and women of the armed forces are professionals, doing the heavy lifting in an ill-defined war against Islamist militants. They deserve better.

Failure to See Jihad for What it is by Diana West

Someday, when the war in Iraq has become a historical episode, we will tally up the lessons learned-if, that is, we ever learn any. Here are two worth mastering because failing to do so probably means we will no longer exist.

Lesson 1. Nation-building in a war zone is nuts. Nation-building in an Islamic war zone is suicide.

When the United States embarked on its most successful cases of nation-building in Germany and Japan, both countries lay in ruins, their cities and infrastructure devastated, their populations decimated. These appalling conditions worked wonders toward opening both countries to all manner of Americana: democracy, de-Nazification, de-militarization and, in Japan’s case, not just a constitution practically written by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, but also baseball. In other words, Total War was followed by Total Pacification.

In Iraq we have fought a Limited War for Limited Pacification, which has resulted in a perpetual, if limited, war zone. At about $200 million a day, this war may not sound very “limited,” but consider where “Sunni insurgents,” “Shi’ite militias,” and assorted thugs and jihadi groups go at night after a hard day’s maiming and killing and IED-ing. They go home to safe houses. Now, ask yourself whether, say, a George Patton or a Curtis LeMay would allow them to wake up again, chow down breakfast and return to maim, kill and IED another day.

The answer is no, not on your life. Such generals would have seen to it that the enemy’s home, his neighborhood, his entire town if necessary, was destroyed, doubtless killing innocent (and not innocent) civilians in the process. Total War. It’s ugly and barbaric, but it leads to Total Pacification, not to mention Total Victory, which is supposed to be the point. Limited War is ugly and barbaric, but it just leads on and on. And where is the moral purity in war unending? The Limited Warrior struggles for the answer, and comes up with… Hearts and Minds: The superpower that doesn’t want to use its super powers will instead make everyone like it a lot. To that end, Gen. David Petraeus, our top commander in Iraq, has ordered troops out of their well-fortified bases into “outposts” in Iraq’s most dangerous enclaves. (One such outpost was recently struck by suicide-bombers, killing nine Americans and wounding 20.) Often described as the linchpin of Gen. Petraeus’ counterinsurgency strategy, this outpost-plan is supposed to “establish regular contact with Iraqi civilians and win their allegiance,” according to the New York Times.

Win their allegiance — is he kidding? I hate to be the one to break it to Gen. Petraeus, not to mention President Bush, but the fact is, in an Islamic war zone, an “infidel” army just isn’t going to win Islamic allegiance. There are many religious and cultural reasons I could offer in explanation, but instead I’ll turn to the underreported story of the week: two findings contained within an extensive new poll of Muslim opinion conducted in four major Islamic countries, Egypt, Indonesia, Morocco and Pakistan.

According to, more than half of those polled in Indonesia, and three-quarters of those polled in Egypt, Morocco and Pakistan believe in the strict application of Shariah, or Islamic law. Nearly two-thirds of all respondents expressed their desire to see the Islamic world united in a caliphate.

Which brings me to:

Lesson 2. With numbers like these, portraying jihadist war goals (Shariah, caliphate) as belonging to a “tiny band of extremists” is nuts. Persisting in this PC fantasy as part of the narrative and strategy of the “war on terror” is suicidal.

But such PC fantasy fuels hearts-and-minds efforts that go beyond “allegiance”-winning outposts in Iraq as the United States now weirdly cheers on world Islamization to curry Islamic favor. “Just a reminder to the predominantly Muslim-led government in this world,” said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos at a recent Kosovo hearing, as reported by journalist Julia Gorin. “Here is yet another example that the United States leads the way for the creation of a predominantly Muslim country in the very heart of Europe. This should be noted by both responsible leaders of Islamic governments, such as Indonesia, and also for jihadists of all color and hue. .. The United States stands foursquare for the creation of an overwhelmingly Muslim country in the very heart of Europe.”

Aren’t we nice?
Aren’t we lovable?
Or are we just too dumb to live?

Private C.I.A. by John Robb

A strong sign that the nation-state is in decay is the frequency we see announcements of companies that are replicating some of the most sensitive government services. The most recent mover is Walmart, which is in the process of putting together its own intelligence arm (it’s being built by a former C.I.A./ F.B.I. officer Kenneth Senser). For those unable to afford their own global intelligence unit, Blackwater’s Cofer Black is building one called Total Intelligence Solutions.

MEND’S Open Source War by John Robb

One of the groups most likely to play a hand in driving the price of gasoline to $5 a gallon (or much more) and hollow out a major oil producing state isn’t Islamic or in the Middle East. It’s located in Nigeria and goes under the name of MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta — more about MEND). Its success so far includes the ongoing disruption of 1/4 of Nigeria’s oil output (of light sweet crude destined for the US) and a radical slowdown corporate activity (due to attacks that put pressure on corporate psychology, particularly Shell).

Like al Qaeda, MEND uses an open source insurgency (see Brave New War for background on this) to create disorder. Unlike al Qaeda, it doesn’t have an operational arm, in that it doesn’t have guerrillas of its own to advance its agenda. Instead, MEND uses a light organization to facilitate and hire groups that will hollow out the Nigerian state. Some of the best analysis on MEND is from the very talented James Briggs (who is based in Nigeria). In his recent “Guide to the Armed Groups Operating in the Niger Delta,” James describes MEND’s operational style:

* A thin leadership structure composed of recognized leaders across the delta that can funnel arms, cash, and training to the ad hoc groups it assembles. This effort has significantly improved the quality of the guerrilla operations in the Niger delta. This leadership organization also carefully manages the publicity surrounding its actions to build brand awareness.

* A large pool of individuals and bands of individuals that have ties to multiple primary loyalties (from ethnic militias to gangs to cults) that are hired to carry out MEND’s operations. “For example, ‘Mike’ from Gbaramatu can fight for MEND one day, rig an election for his local government chief the next, kidnap a foreigner for ransom and get in a cult clash on Saturday.”

* Ongoing support for smaller, criminal gangs that take hostages and conduct operations primarily for criminal gain. The reason: it aids in making Niger delta ungovernable.

The Leading Factions Behind the Somali Insurgency by Andrew McGregor

The U.S.-supported Ethiopian invasion that expelled Somalia’s Islamist government last December is rapidly deteriorating into a multi-layered conflict that will prove resistant to resolution. Resistance to Ethiopian troops and the Ethiopian-installed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) is inspired by nationalism, religion, economic factors and clan loyalties, yet all of these motivations are part of a constantly shifting pattern of allegiances in which the only common characteristic is a desire to expel foreign troops from Somalia. Local warlords and clan leaders who were deprived of power by the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) are now scrambling to reassert control over their small fiefdoms in Mogadishu, while many former ICU gunmen have transferred their allegiance to clan militias.

Fighting in the Somali capital of Mogadishu has created over 300,000 civilian refugees. Thousands more (nearly all from the Hawiye clan that dominates the capital) have been killed as residential areas become battlegrounds. Only one overwhelmed hospital is open as Ethiopian troops are using other hospitals as barracks. The Somali TFG is exacerbating the situation by imposing bureaucratic delays on the delivery of relief aid arriving in Mogadishu. Unable to resist the Ethiopian incursion, the ICU dissolved December 27, 2006, returning its stockpiles of weapons and vehicles to the clans and militias who had donated them. Since then, a number of leading elements in the resistance have emerged.

The Hawiye

The Hawiye (one of Somalia’s four major clans) provided important support for the ICU in the south-central region of Somalia, which includes Mogadishu. Hawiye members (especially those of the powerful Habr Gidir Ayr sub-clan) dominated all of the ICU’s decision-making bodies. Former ICU leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys is a member of the Habr Gidir Ayr (one of four major sub-clans of the Hawiye). The Hawiye sub-clans have fought each other for years in Mogadishu, but there are signs that opposition to Ethiopian/TFG forces is beginning to unify formerly antagonistic groups.

Now operating from Yemen, Sheikh Aweys claims that U.S. government support for the Ethiopian occupation and the resulting civilian deaths is motivated by a need to exact revenge for the deaths of U.S. troops in Somalia in the early 1990s. The former ICU chairman insists that Ugandan and other African Union troops will receive the same treatment as the Ethiopians. According to the sheikh, negotiations with the TFG are impossible until all foreign troops are removed from Somalia (, April 15). On April 13, a sub-committee was formed from Hawiye representatives and Ethiopian officers in order to negotiate the terms of a cease-fire (HornAfrik Radio, April 13). A spokesman for the Hawiye cease-fire committee lashed out at the United States for its support of the Ethiopian invasion (Shabelle Media Network, April 7).

The TFG is dominated by the Darod, another of the four major clans. The Hawiye suspect that the TFG is dedicated to the advancement of the Darod and the elimination of the Hawiye. Elders of the Hawiye clan pin responsibility for the devastation of Mogadishu on the TFG and have asked for an international commission to investigate the circumstances of the conflict (Radio Shabelle, April 15; Radio Banadir, April 14). Hawiye elders also accuse the TFG of recruiting only Darod into the army. To deflect such criticism, TFG Prime Minister Ali Muhammad Gedi recently appointed a notorious Hawiye warlord to the post of Somali chief of police (Garowe Online, April 18).

TFG President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmad is from the Majerteen sub-clan of the Darod. He commanded Darod forces in battles against the Hawiye in the 1990s. The Hawiye believe that the Ethiopians are set on installing a Darod-dominated government intent on eliminating their clan. Claims of “ethnic-cleansing,” “war crimes” and “genocide” are increasingly used by the Hawiye to describe Ethiopian actions in Mogadishu. Relations between the Hawiye and the Darod clans were irreparably poisoned by the massacres of Darod by the Hawiye in Mogadishu after the overthrow of Somali dictator Siad Barre in 1991. Given this history, the arrival of President Yusuf and his well-armed veteran Darod militia was especially alarming to the Hawiye, who now fear retribution for the massacres of 1991. The intense fighting of the last month began when the president announced plans to forcibly disarm non-government militias in Mogadishu.

Deputy Prime Minister Husein Mohammed Farah Aideed has angered his comrades in the TFG by visiting the Eritrean capital of Asmara, where he accused Ethiopia of planning “genocide” in Somalia. Aideed, a former U.S. Marine, leads a militia drawn from the Habr Gidir Sa’ad sub-clan of the Hawiye. Notorious for changing sides, Aideed created a controversy earlier this year when he suggested Somalis and Ethiopians use a common passport. Having survived the resulting firestorm, Aideed appears to have made a strategic decision to now oppose the Ethiopian invasion.


Shabaab (Youth) once served as an ICU-controlled elite militia. The group was formed in August 2006 from a core of fighters who played an important role in last year’s defeat of the Anti-Terrorist Alliance, a U.S. supported coalition of Somali warlords (Somaliland Times, August 12, 2006). The group became known for its ruthless methods that often discredited the ICU in international opinion. Many ICU leaders distanced themselves from Shabaab, fearing the militia’s radicalism would spark a new round of internecine fighting. Shabaab took heavy losses attempting to resist the Ethiopian advance into Somalia last December, but now it is more at home in the vicious urban warfare of Mogadishu.

After Aweys fled to Yemen, leadership of Shabaab passed to his former aide, Adan Hashi Ayro, a U.S.- and UN-designated terrorist and radical Islamist who is reported to have trained in Afghanistan prior to the September 11 attacks. U.S. spokesmen claimed that a January 8 airstrike by U.S. gunships wounded Ayro. The roughly 30 year-old Shabaab leader released an audiotape in March denying rumors of his death: “I will fight the troops who are enemies of my religion and who have invaded my homeland…and I am certain I will remove them by force soon” (Garowe Online, March 7). The Shabaab leader has several disputes with his own Habr Gidir Ayr sub-clan.

Mukhtar Robow (“Abu Mansur”) is another prominent Shabaab leader, accused by the United States of providing logistical support to al-Qaeda (U.S. Department of State, African Affairs Fact Sheet, January 25). Other Shabaab leaders include Afghanistan veteran Ahmad Abdi Godane and Ibrahim Haji Jama (“al-Afghani”), who is reported to have fought in Kashmir as well as in Afghanistan. “Al-Afghani” is wanted in the quasi-independent state of Somaliland, where he was sentenced last December to 25 years in prison on terrorism charges (Somaliland Times, December 9, 2006).

Typical of many Salafi militant groups, Shabaab offers an alternative to clan- or tribal-based movements, drawing on a wide base of recruits. The typical Shabaab gunman is a poorly-educated youth in his late teens or early twenties who has grown up in the midst of Somalia’s violent rivalries. Unlike former ICU colleagues who have found work with the re-emerging clan militias, the Shabaab fighter holds a rather inflexible and radical interpretation of Islam that compels him to undertake dangerous missions in the cause of creating an Islamist Somalia. This is a fairly new development in Somalia, where allegiance to ideology has tended to take second place to family and clan loyalties when under pressure. Many Shabaab fighters are reported to have undergone military training in Eritrea (Voice of America, January 6).

Shabaab fighters are often referred to as “the masked men” due to their habit of drawing red scarves across their faces during assaults on TFG and Ethiopian troops. The masks protect their identity not only from government forces, but also from Mogadishu residents, many of whom are bitterly unhappy about the civilian carnage resulting from Shabaab’s poorly-aimed mortars and the brutal retaliation of Ethiopian artillery on the residential districts that Shabaab uses as launching points for its reckless assaults. Many Mogadishu neighborhoods have hired vigilantes to prevent their use as firing-points by Shabaab fighters. Shabaab leader Adan Hashi Ayro claims that the mortar shells raining down on Mogadishu homes are fired by Ethiopian troops. Although Shabaab once numbered several thousand fighters, it probably does not field more than several hundred men at the moment.

In early April, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer claimed that Eritrea and the “global jihadist network” were supporting Shabaab (Shabelle Media Network, April 7). Eritrea denies accusations from the United States that it is supporting and supplying the Somali insurgency, but there is little doubt that Asmara takes delight in the predicament of Ethiopia, a bitter enemy of Eritrea since the two countries fought an inconclusive but bloody border war in 1998-2000 that claimed 70,000 lives. A Hawiye spokesman insisted that clan leaders have no contact with Eritrea or the former ICU leadership (Radio Shabelle, April 9).

The Popular Resistance Movement

Another resistance group formed in January of this year is al-Harakah al-Muqawamah al-Sha’biyah fi al-Bilad al-Hijratayn (The Popular Resistance Movement in the Land of the Two Migrations, PRMLTM) (, January 19). Led in the Banadir region by Sheikh Abdikadir, the movement has issued warnings to African Union peacekeepers that they can expect no different treatment than the Ethiopians. The PRM has since claimed responsibility for a March 12 attack on a Ugandan convoy. On March 21, an Ethiopian offensive against Habr Gidir strongholds in south Mogadishu was ambushed by hundreds of masked gunmen. The Ethiopians withdrew after a firefight lasting several hours, leaving their dead behind to suffer mutilation and burning before being dragged through the streets. The PRM claimed responsibility for the ambush (Associated Press, March 22).

Other Resistance Factions

Responsibility for a March 6 assault on the Mogadishu airport and a March 16 mortar attack on the presidential palace was claimed by the Tawhid wa’l-Jihad Brigades in Somalia (Unity and Struggle), apparently in response to the alleged rapes of Somali women by Ethiopian troops. The group promises a series of suicide attacks.

The Young Mujahideen Movement in Somalia is another group that has claimed attacks on Ethiopian troops, including an April 19 suicide bombing that allegedly involved the use of chemicals (SomaliNet, April 21).

Al-Qaeda in Somalia?

TFG Prime Minister Gedi maintains that the relentless shelling of north Mogadishu is designed to clear out “terrorist groups.” Using the now familiar language of those seeking U.S. military support, Gedi referred to “al-Qaeda operatives” while insisting that only terrorists opposed the government: “there are no Hawiye people involved in the conflict” (Somaliweyn Radio, April 21). The TFG seems well aware that clan warfare rarely brings the type of U.S. support that can be expected by allies in the war on terrorism. According to a Hawiye spokesman, Ethiopian officers insisted during a meeting with the Hawiye cease-fire committee that the attacks on Ethiopian positions in the capital were being carried out by al-Qaeda, a suggestion the Hawiye rejected. The spokesman added that the Hawiye community would prefer death over giving allegiance to President Abdullahi Yusuf (Radio Shabelle, March 23).

After an April 23 battle between two Darod sub-clans for control of the southern port of Kismayo, Prime Minister Gedi denied that there was any clan struggle for the city, blaming the fighting there on “al-Qaeda-linked terrorists from Mogadishu,” whom he alleged were also responsible for the deteriorating relations between Somaliland and Puntland (Shabelle Media Network, April 23).

Statements of support from al-Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahiri, foreign volunteers and diaspora returnees (not necessarily al-Qaeda affiliated) appear to have had little influence on the fighting so far. Scores of these poorly-trained fighters have been detained at the Kenyan border or picked up in Ethiopian security sweeps.


Ethiopia will never support a strong central government in Mogadishu that might ultimately prove capable of pressing Somali claims in the Ogaden region. Thus far, however, Ethiopia’s attempt to establish a weak Somali government that owes its existence to Ethiopian power has been a failure. On the other hand, the descent into chaos means Somalia no longer represents a threat to Ethiopia’s territorial integrity. If Ethiopia can manage to extricate its troops from Somalia in the near future, this might be interpreted as a victory in Addis Ababa.

Somali life is shaped by a unique social system that aids the survival of the individual, but in turn promotes schisms and hinders the creation of enduring alliances or devotion to ideological causes. Foreign occupation is possibly the only factor capable of uniting Somalis, but there are signs that resistance to Ethiopian/African Union troops may soon exist simultaneously with a Hawiye/Darod clan war. If the situation is allowed to deteriorate to that point, it may be years before peace can be re-established in Somalia.

Report: Iran may have Nuke in 3 Years by J.P.

Iran has overcome technical difficulties in enriching uranium and could have enough material for a single nuclear weapon in less than three years CBS News quoted a new intelligence report as saying on Friday morning.

Despite, there being no change in the official estimate that it would take Iran until 2015 to become a nuclear power, David Albright, a leading expert, disagreed was unconvinced.

“I think Iran can get enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon sooner than that,” Albright told CBS. “I think the 2015 number reflects too much skepticism about Iran’s technical capabilities, and they are making progress.”

Although US intelligence still considers an Iranian nuclear weapon by 2010 as a worst-case scenario, Pentagon officials said the new intelligence report increased the chances that Israel might launch a preemptive strike against Iran, as it did in 1981 against an Iraqi nuclear reactor.

Former CIA officer Bruce Riedel said this latest intelligence would increase the chances of an Israeli strike launched with American-built warplanes, said CBS.

“The Israelis have long believed that Iran is closer than US intelligence believes it is,” Riedel said. “If they now hear that the Americans think it’s getting closer as well, it puts pressure on Israel to take its own action.”

Riedel went on to say that an Israeli strike would be seen in Iran as no different from an American strike and could involve the US in a war against a much tougher opponent than Iraq.

Jessica Lynch Sets the Record Straight by Julie Scelfo

Jessica Lynch became a national hero in 2003 after she was dramatically rescued by a team of Special Ops soldiers from an Iraqi hospital where she was believed to be a prisoner of war. Her story was compelling not only because she was a 19-year-old supply-unit clerk who had stumbled into an attack during convoy travel with her unit, but because she was portrayed by military authorities as having valiantly fought back against her attackers even as her unit was surrounded and her comrades were killed and injured. The legend quickly unraveled, however, after Lynch returned to the States, recuperated from her substantial injuries (broken arm and leg bones, damage to her back and kidneys, and a six-inch laceration to her head) and began to speak out about what had really happened. Today, Lynch testified before a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing probing the source of misleading information about Lynch and about the death of Army Ranger Specialist Patrick Tillman in Afghanistan.

NEWSWEEK’s Julie Scelfo spoke with Lynch, who turns 24 on April 26, about her experiences. Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: Why did you decide to testify?

Jessica Lynch: Mainly it was about me just getting out the truth. I’ve spent the past four years trying to tell everybody the real truth, and not the stories they put together. They were false, ya know?

What was the greatest misinformation about you?

The whole Rambo story, that I went down fighting. It just wasn’t the truth.

So what really happened?

I didn’t even get a shot off. My weapon had jammed. And I didn’t even get to fire. A rocket-propelled grenade hit the back of our [Humvee], which made Lori [Piestewa], my friend, lose control of the vehicle, and we slammed into the back of another truck in our unit.

Who is to blame for spreading the misinformation?

Well, I think really the military and the media. The military, for not setting the record straight and the media for spreading it, and not seeking the true facts. They just ran with it instead of waiting until the facts were straightened out.

What do you hope Congress achieves with today’s hearing?

I hope it [helps] the Tillman family get the accurate information that they deserve. They need to know what happened to their son and why they were lied to.

Do you feel like this is a pattern, misinformation from the military?

Well, it kind of seems like that’s the way it’s been happening. I hope they can learn from mistakes and correct this and not let other family members and soldiers have to deal with the things that my family and I went through.

What was the hardest part of having misinformation spread?

Knowing that it wasn’t the truth. I just, I had to get [the truth] out there. I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself knowing that’s not exactly how it happened.

You said during your testimony you weren’t there for political reasons. But do you have an opinion about how the administration used your story and Tillman’s story for political gain?

I don’t know because there’s no way of knowing why this stuff was even created in the first place. Only the people who created it would have the answers.

So how is your recovery going?

I still have a lot of problems, a lot of injuries. I will probably never heal or be the same again. But I’m OK with it, and I’ve learned to cope with it in my own way.

You said in your testimony that Iraqi nurses actually tried to return you once to the Americans. What happened?

We were fired upon, and [the] driver of the ambulance had to turn around and brought me back to the hospital.

So the Iraqis were trying to return you?

Yeah, hopefully that’s what they were doing. That’s what I was told they were doing. We were headed to a checkpoint and we were fired upon.

If the Iraqis wanted to give you back, why did the military stage a big rescue? Couldn’t they just knock on the hospital door?

I don’t know. I hope that they had my interests in mind, and were wanting to get me out of there.

Do you feel like you were exploited by the military?

No, I don’t. I felt sort of like that in the beginning, yes. But now, four years later, I don’t.

During today’s testimony Pat Tillman’s brother, Kevin, says he feels his brother’s death was “exploited” for political reasons.

I agree, they did that in a way. Pat Tillman’s situation was similar to mine but completely different. He didn’t have the opportunity to come home and tell the truth and set the record straight like I did.

A Failure in Generalship by Lt. Col. Paul Yingling

“You officers amuse yourselves with God knows what buffooneries and never dream in the least of serious service. This is a source of stupidity which would become most dangerous in case of a serious conflict.”
– Frederick the Great

For the second time in a generation, the United States faces the prospect of defeat at the hands of an insurgency. In April 1975, the U.S. fled the Republic of Vietnam, abandoning our allies to their fate at the hands of North Vietnamese communists. In 2007, Iraq’s grave and deteriorating condition offers diminishing hope for an American victory and portends risk of an even wider and more destructive regional war.

These debacles are not attributable to individual failures, but rather to a crisis in an entire institution: America’s general officer corps. America’s generals have failed to prepare our armed forces for war and advise civilian authorities on the application of force to achieve the aims of policy. The argument that follows consists of three elements. First, generals have a responsibility to society to provide policymakers with a correct estimate of strategic probabilities. Second, America’s generals in Vietnam and Iraq failed to perform this responsibility. Third, remedying the crisis in American generalship requires the intervention of Congress.

The Responsibilities of Generalship

Armies do not fight wars; nations fight wars. War is not a military activity conducted by soldiers, but rather a social activity that involves entire nations. Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz noted that passion, probability and policy each play their role in war. Any understanding of war that ignores one of these elements is fundamentally flawed.

The passion of the people is necessary to endure the sacrifices inherent in war. Regardless of the system of government, the people supply the blood and treasure required to prosecute war. The statesman must stir these passions to a level commensurate with the popular sacrifices required. When the ends of policy are small, the statesman can prosecute a conflict without asking the public for great sacrifice. Global conflicts such as World War II require the full mobilization of entire societies to provide the men and materiel necessary for the successful prosecution of war. The greatest error the statesman can make is to commit his nation to a great conflict without mobilizing popular passions to a level commensurate with the stakes of the conflict.

Popular passions are necessary for the successful prosecution of war, but cannot be sufficient. To prevail, generals must provide policymakers and the public with a correct estimation of strategic probabilities. The general is responsible for estimating the likelihood of success in applying force to achieve the aims of policy. The general describes both the means necessary for the successful prosecution of war and the ways in which the nation will employ those means. If the policymaker desires ends for which the means he provides are insufficient, the general is responsible for advising the statesman of this incongruence. The statesman must then scale back the ends of policy or mobilize popular passions to provide greater means. If the general remains silent while the statesman commits a nation to war with insufficient means, he shares culpability for the results.

However much it is influenced by passion and probability, war is ultimately an instrument of policy and its conduct is the responsibility of policymakers. War is a social activity undertaken on behalf of the nation; Augustine counsels us that the only purpose of war is to achieve a better peace. The choice of making war to achieve a better peace is inherently a value judgment in which the statesman must decide those interests and beliefs worth killing and dying for. The military man is no better qualified than the common citizen to make such judgments. He must therefore confine his input to his area of expertise — the estimation of strategic probabilities.

The correct estimation of strategic possibilities can be further subdivided into the preparation for war and the conduct of war. Preparation for war consists in the raising, arming, equipping and training of forces. The conduct of war consists of both planning for the use of those forces and directing those forces in operations.

To prepare forces for war, the general must visualize the conditions of future combat. To raise military forces properly, the general must visualize the quality and quantity of forces needed in the next war. To arm and equip military forces properly, the general must visualize the materiel requirements of future engagements. To train military forces properly, the general must visualize the human demands on future battlefields, and replicate those conditions in peacetime exercises. Of course, not even the most skilled general can visualize precisely how future wars will be fought. According to British military historian and soldier Sir Michael Howard, “In structuring and preparing an army for war, you can be clear that you will not get it precisely right, but the important thing is not to be too far wrong, so that you can put it right quickly.”

The most tragic error a general can make is to assume without much reflection that wars of the future will look much like wars of the past. Following World War I, French generals committed this error, assuming that the next war would involve static battles dominated by firepower and fixed fortifications. Throughout the interwar years, French generals raised, equipped, armed and trained the French military to fight the last war. In stark contrast, German generals spent the interwar years attempting to break the stalemate created by firepower and fortifications. They developed a new form of war — the blitzkrieg — that integrated mobility, firepower and decentralized tactics. The German Army did not get this new form of warfare precisely right. After the 1939 conquest of Poland, the German Army undertook a critical self-examination of its operations. However, German generals did not get it too far wrong either, and in less than a year had adapted their tactics for the invasion of France.

After visualizing the conditions of future combat, the general is responsible for explaining to civilian policymakers the demands of future combat and the risks entailed in failing to meet those demands. Civilian policymakers have neither the expertise nor the inclination to think deeply about strategic probabilities in the distant future. Policymakers, especially elected representatives, face powerful incentives to focus on near-term challenges that are of immediate concern to the public. Generating military capability is the labor of decades. If the general waits until the public and its elected representatives are immediately concerned with national security threats before finding his voice, he has waited too long. The general who speaks too loudly of preparing for war while the nation is at peace places at risk his position and status. However, the general who speaks too softly places at risk the security of his country.

Failing to visualize future battlefields represents a lapse in professional competence, but seeing those fields clearly and saying nothing is an even more serious lapse in professional character. Moral courage is often inversely proportional to popularity and this observation in nowhere more true than in the profession of arms. The history of military innovation is littered with the truncated careers of reformers who saw gathering threats clearly and advocated change boldly. A military professional must possess both the physical courage to face the hazards of battle and the moral courage to withstand the barbs of public scorn. On and off the battlefield, courage is the first characteristic of generalship.

Failures of Generalship in Vietnam

America’s defeat in Vietnam is the most egregious failure in the history of American arms. America’s general officer corps refused to prepare the Army to fight unconventional wars, despite ample indications that such preparations were in order. Having failed to prepare for such wars, America’s generals sent our forces into battle without a coherent plan for victory. Unprepared for war and lacking a coherent strategy, America lost the war and the lives of more than 58,000 service members.

Following World War II, there were ample indicators that America’s enemies would turn to insurgency to negate our advantages in firepower and mobility. The French experiences in Indochina and Algeria offered object lessons to Western armies facing unconventional foes. These lessons were not lost on the more astute members of America’s political class. In 1961, President Kennedy warned of “another type of war, new in its intensity, ancient in its origin — war by guerrillas, subversives, insurgents, assassins, war by ambush instead of by combat, by infiltration instead of aggression, seeking victory by evading and exhausting the enemy instead of engaging him.” In response to these threats, Kennedy undertook a comprehensive program to prepare America’s armed forces for counterinsurgency.

Despite the experience of their allies and the urging of their president, America’s generals failed to prepare their forces for counterinsurgency. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Decker assured his young president, “Any good soldier can handle guerrillas.” Despite Kennedy’s guidance to the contrary, the Army viewed the conflict in Vietnam in conventional terms. As late as 1964, Gen. Earle Wheeler, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated flatly that “the essence of the problem in Vietnam is military.” While the Army made minor organizational adjustments at the urging of the president, the generals clung to what Andrew Krepinevich has called “the Army concept,” a vision of warfare focused on the destruction of the enemy’s forces.

Having failed to visualize accurately the conditions of combat in Vietnam, America’s generals prosecuted the war in conventional terms. The U.S. military embarked on a graduated attrition strategy intended to compel North Vietnam to accept a negotiated peace. The U.S. undertook modest efforts at innovation in Vietnam. Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS), spearheaded by the State Department’s “Blowtorch” Bob Kromer, was a serious effort to address the political and economic causes of the insurgency. The Marine Corps’ Combined Action Program (CAP) was an innovative approach to population security. However, these efforts are best described as too little, too late. Innovations such as CORDS and CAP never received the resources necessary to make a large-scale difference. The U.S. military grudgingly accepted these innovations late in the war, after the American public’s commitment to the conflict began to wane.

America’s generals not only failed to develop a strategy for victory in Vietnam, but also remained largely silent while the strategy developed by civilian politicians led to defeat. As H.R. McMaster noted in “Dereliction of Duty,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff were divided by service parochialism and failed to develop a unified and coherent recommendation to the president for prosecuting the war to a successful conclusion. Army Chief of Staff Harold K. Johnson estimated in 1965 that victory would require as many as 700,000 troops for up to five years. Commandant of the Marine Corps Wallace Greene made a similar estimate on troop levels. As President Johnson incrementally escalated the war, neither man made his views known to the president or Congress. President Johnson made a concerted effort to conceal the costs and consequences of Vietnam from the public, but such duplicity required the passive consent of America’s generals.

Having participated in the deception of the American people during the war, the Army chose after the war to deceive itself. In “Learning to Eat Soup With a Knife,” John Nagl argued that instead of learning from defeat, the Army after Vietnam focused its energies on the kind of wars it knew how to win — high-technology conventional wars. An essential contribution to this strategy of denial was the publication of “On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War,” by Col. Harry Summers. Summers, a faculty member of the U.S. Army War College, argued that the Army had erred by not focusing enough on conventional warfare in Vietnam, a lesson the Army was happy to hear. Despite having been recently defeated by an insurgency, the Army slashed training and resources devoted to counterinsurgency.

By the early 1990s, the Army’s focus on conventional war-fighting appeared to have been vindicated. During the 1980s, the U.S. military benefited from the largest peacetime military buildup in the nation’s history. High-technology equipment dramatically increased the mobility and lethality of our ground forces. The Army’s National Training Center honed the Army’s conventional war-fighting skills to a razor’s edge. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 signaled the demise of the Soviet Union and the futility of direct confrontation with the U.S. Despite the fact the U.S. supported insurgencies in Afghanistan, Nicaragua and Angola to hasten the Soviet Union’s demise, the U.S. military gave little thought to counterinsurgency throughout the 1990s. America’s generals assumed without much reflection that the wars of the future would look much like the wars of the past — state-on-state conflicts against conventional forces. America’s swift defeat of the Iraqi Army, the world’s fourth-largest, in 1991 seemed to confirm the wisdom of the U.S. military’s post-Vietnam reforms. But the military learned the wrong lessons from Operation Desert Storm. It continued to prepare for the last war, while its future enemies prepared for a new kind of war.

Failures of Generalship in Iraq

America’s generals have repeated the mistakes of Vietnam in Iraq. First, throughout the 1990s our generals failed to envision the conditions of future combat and prepare their forces accordingly. Second, America’s generals failed to estimate correctly both the means and the ways necessary to achieve the aims of policy prior to beginning the war in Iraq. Finally, America’s generals did not provide Congress and the public with an accurate assessment of the conflict in Iraq.

Despite paying lip service to “transformation” throughout the 1990s, America’s armed forces failed to change in significant ways after the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. In “The Sling and the Stone,” T.X. Hammes argues that the Defense Department’s transformation strategy focuses almost exclusively on high-technology conventional wars. The doctrine, organizations, equipment and training of the U.S. military confirm this observation. The armed forces fought the global war on terrorism for the first five years with a counterinsurgency doctrine last revised in the Reagan administration. Despite engaging in numerous stability operations throughout the 1990s, the armed forces did little to bolster their capabilities for civic reconstruction and security force development. Procurement priorities during the 1990s followed the Cold War model, with significant funding devoted to new fighter aircraft and artillery systems. The most commonly used tactical scenarios in both schools and training centers replicated high-intensity interstate conflict. At the dawn of the 21st century, the U.S. is fighting brutal, adaptive insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq, while our armed forces have spent the preceding decade having done little to prepare for such conflicts.

Having spent a decade preparing to fight the wrong war, America’s generals then miscalculated both the means and ways necessary to succeed in Iraq. The most fundamental military miscalculation in Iraq has been the failure to commit sufficient forces to provide security to Iraq’s population. U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) estimated in its 1998 war plan that 380,000 troops would be necessary for an invasion of Iraq. Using operations in Bosnia and Kosovo as a model for predicting troop requirements, one Army study estimated a need for 470,000 troops. Alone among America’s generals, Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki publicly stated that “several hundred thousand soldiers” would be necessary to stabilize post-Saddam Iraq. Prior to the war, President Bush promised to give field commanders everything necessary for victory. Privately, many senior general officers both active and retired expressed serious misgivings about the insufficiency of forces for Iraq. These leaders would later express their concerns in tell-all books such as “Fiasco” and “Cobra II.” However, when the U.S. went to war in Iraq with less than half the strength required to win, these leaders did not make their objections public.

Given the lack of troop strength, not even the most brilliant general could have devised the ways necessary to stabilize post-Saddam Iraq. However, inept planning for postwar Iraq took the crisis caused by a lack of troops and quickly transformed it into a debacle. In 1997, the U.S. Central Command exercise “Desert Crossing” demonstrated that many postwar stabilization tasks would fall to the military. The other branches of the U.S. government lacked sufficient capability to do such work on the scale required in Iraq. Despite these results, CENTCOM accepted the assumption that the State Department would administer postwar Iraq. The military never explained to the president the magnitude of the challenges inherent in stabilizing postwar Iraq.

After failing to visualize the conditions of combat in Iraq, America’s generals failed to adapt to the demands of counterinsurgency. Counterinsurgency theory prescribes providing continuous security to the population. However, for most of the war American forces in Iraq have been concentrated on large forward-operating bases, isolated from the Iraqi people and focused on capturing or killing insurgents. Counterinsurgency theory requires strengthening the capability of host-nation institutions to provide security and other essential services to the population. America’s generals treated efforts to create transition teams to develop local security forces and provincial reconstruction teams to improve essential services as afterthoughts, never providing the quantity or quality of personnel necessary for success.

After going into Iraq with too few troops and no coherent plan for postwar stabilization, America’s general officer corps did not accurately portray the intensity of the insurgency to the American public. The Iraq Study Group concluded that “there is significant underreporting of the violence in Iraq.” The ISG noted that “on one day in July 2006 there were 93 attacks or significant acts of violence reported. Yet a careful review of the reports for that single day brought to light 1,100 acts of violence. Good policy is difficult to make when information is systematically collected in a way that minimizes its discrepancy with policy goals.” Population security is the most important measure of effectiveness in counterinsurgency. For more than three years, America’s generals continued to insist that the U.S. was making progress in Iraq. However, for Iraqi civilians, each year from 2003 onward was more deadly than the one preceding it. For reasons that are not yet clear, America’s general officer corps underestimated the strength of the enemy, overestimated the capabilities of Iraq’s government and security forces and failed to provide Congress with an accurate assessment of security conditions in Iraq. Moreover, America’s generals have not explained clearly the larger strategic risks of committing so large a portion of the nation’s deployable land power to a single theater of operations.

The intellectual and moral failures common to America’s general officer corps in Vietnam and Iraq constitute a crisis in American generalship. Any explanation that fixes culpability on individuals is insufficient. No one leader, civilian or military, caused failure in Vietnam or Iraq. Different military and civilian leaders in the two conflicts produced similar results. In both conflicts, the general officer corps designed to advise policymakers, prepare forces and conduct operations failed to perform its intended functions. To understand how the U.S. could face defeat at the hands of a weaker insurgent enemy for the second time in a generation, we must look at the structural influences that produce our general officer corps.

The Generals We Need

The most insightful examination of failed generalship comes from J.F.C. Fuller’s “Generalship: Its Diseases and Their Cure.” Fuller was a British major general who saw action in the first attempts at armored warfare in World War I. He found three common characteristics in great generals — courage, creative intelligence and physical fitness.

The need for intelligent, creative and courageous general officers is self-evident. An understanding of the larger aspects of war is essential to great generalship. However, a survey of Army three- and four-star generals shows that only 25 percent hold advanced degrees from civilian institutions in the social sciences or humanities. Counterinsurgency theory holds that proficiency in foreign languages is essential to success, yet only one in four of the Army’s senior generals speaks another language. While the physical courage of America’s generals is not in doubt, there is less certainty regarding their moral courage. In almost surreal language, professional military men blame their recent lack of candor on the intimidating management style of their civilian masters. Now that the public is immediately concerned with the crisis in Iraq, some of our generals are finding their voices. They may have waited too long.

Neither the executive branch nor the services themselves are likely to remedy the shortcomings in America’s general officer corps. Indeed, the tendency of the executive branch to seek out mild-mannered team players to serve as senior generals is part of the problem. The services themselves are equally to blame. The system that produces our generals does little to reward creativity and moral courage. Officers rise to flag rank by following remarkably similar career patterns. Senior generals, both active and retired, are the most important figures in determining an officer’s potential for flag rank. The views of subordinates and peers play no role in an officer’s advancement; to move up he must only please his superiors. In a system in which senior officers select for promotion those like themselves, there are powerful incentives for conformity. It is unreasonable to expect that an officer who spends 25 years conforming to institutional expectations will emerge as an innovator in his late forties.

If America desires creative intelligence and moral courage in its general officer corps, it must create a system that rewards these qualities. Congress can create such incentives by exercising its proper oversight function in three areas. First, Congress must change the system for selecting general officers. Second, oversight committees must apply increased scrutiny over generating the necessary means and pursuing appropriate ways for applying America’s military power. Third, the Senate must hold accountable through its confirmation powers those officers who fail to achieve the aims of policy at an acceptable cost in blood and treasure.

To improve the creative intelligence of our generals, Congress must change the officer promotion system in ways that reward adaptation and intellectual achievement. Congress should require the armed services to implement 360-degree evaluations for field-grade and flag officers. Junior officers and noncommissioned officers are often the first to adapt because they bear the brunt of failed tactics most directly. They are also less wed to organizational norms and less influenced by organizational taboos. Junior leaders have valuable insights regarding the effectiveness of their leaders, but the current promotion system excludes these judgments. Incorporating subordinate and peer reviews into promotion decisions for senior leaders would produce officers more willing to adapt to changing circumstances, and less likely to conform to outmoded practices.

Congress should also modify the officer promotion system in ways that reward intellectual achievement. The Senate should examine the education and professional writing of nominees for three- and four-star billets as part of the confirmation process. The Senate would never confirm to the Supreme Court a nominee who had neither been to law school nor written legal opinions. However, it routinely confirms four-star generals who possess neither graduate education in the social sciences or humanities nor the capability to speak a foreign language. Senior general officers must have a vision of what future conflicts will look like and what capabilities the U.S. requires to prevail in those conflicts. They must possess the capability to understand and interact with foreign cultures. A solid record of intellectual achievement and fluency in foreign languages are effective indicators of an officer’s potential for senior leadership.

To reward moral courage in our general officers, Congress must ask hard questions about the means and ways for war as part of its oversight responsibility. Some of the answers will be shocking, which is perhaps why Congress has not asked and the generals have not told. Congress must ask for a candid assessment of the money and manpower required over the next generation to prevail in the Long War. The money required to prevail may place fiscal constraints on popular domestic priorities. The quantity and quality of manpower required may call into question the viability of the all-volunteer military. Congress must re-examine the allocation of existing resources, and demand that procurement priorities reflect the most likely threats we will face. Congress must be equally rigorous in ensuring that the ways of war contribute to conflict termination consistent with the aims of national policy. If our operations produce more enemies than they defeat, no amount of force is sufficient to prevail. Current oversight efforts have proved inadequate, allowing the executive branch, the services and lobbyists to present information that is sometimes incomplete, inaccurate or self-serving. Exercising adequate oversight will require members of Congress to develop the expertise necessary to ask the right questions and display the courage to follow the truth wherever it leads them.

Finally, Congress must enhance accountability by exercising its little-used authority to confirm the retired rank of general officers. By law, Congress must confirm an officer who retires at three- or four-star rank. In the past this requirement has been pro forma in all but a few cases. A general who presides over a massive human rights scandal or a substantial deterioration in security ought to be retired at a lower rank than one who serves with distinction. A general who fails to provide Congress with an accurate and candid assessment of strategic probabilities ought to suffer the same penalty. As matters stand now, a private who loses a rifle suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war. By exercising its powers to confirm the retired ranks of general officers, Congress can restore accountability among senior military leaders.

Mortal Danger

This article began with Frederick the Great’s admonition to his officers to focus their energies on the larger aspects of war. The Prussian monarch’s innovations had made his army the terror of Europe, but he knew that his adversaries were learning and adapting. Frederick feared that his generals would master his system of war without thinking deeply about the ever-changing nature of war, and in doing so would place Prussia’s security at risk. These fears would prove prophetic. At the Battle of Valmy in 1792, Frederick’s successors were checked by France’s ragtag citizen army. In the fourteen years that followed, Prussia’s generals assumed without much reflection that the wars of the future would look much like those of the past. In 1806, the Prussian Army marched lockstep into defeat and disaster at the hands of Napoleon at Jena. Frederick’s prophecy had come to pass; Prussia became a French vassal.

Iraq is America’s Valmy. America’s generals have been checked by a form of war that they did not prepare for and do not understand. They spent the years following the 1991 Gulf War mastering a system of war without thinking deeply about the ever changing nature of war. They marched into Iraq having assumed without much reflection that the wars of the future would look much like the wars of the past. Those few who saw clearly our vulnerability to insurgent tactics said and did little to prepare for these dangers. As at Valmy, this one debacle, however humiliating, will not in itself signal national disaster. The hour is late, but not too late to prepare for the challenges of the Long War. We still have time to select as our generals those who possess the intelligence to visualize future conflicts and the moral courage to advise civilian policymakers on the preparations needed for our security. The power and the responsibility to identify such generals lie with the U.S. Congress. If Congress does not act, our Jena awaits us.

Military Families Serve Country, Not Party by Diane Weston

How dare George Vreeland Hill of Hillsboro take the role of authority on the thoughts and feelings of American war families (Monitor Letter dated 16 April 2007).

To suggest that many military family members be sent over there because of his beliefs and opinions – this man has no clue what makes up the psyche of a person with a deployed family member.

My husband returned in December from a tour in Iraq. He was active duty Army, sent there by military obligation. We, his family, were ordered to separate and say goodbye, possibly for the last time.

So yes, I do have an opinion and a right to speak about the consensus among military families.

The military family holds onto hope that our leaders are making the right choices, whether they seem right or not. How else do we survive the many months our loved ones are in harm’s way?

And no, it is not because we are keyed in to any special information. We watch the same news broadcasts and read the same newspapers and magazines everyone else does. It is hope that keeps us able to go about our daily lives, love and care for our children and hold things together with the knowledge that our spouses are being shot at daily.

HOPE is a powerful force, and it’s all we have.

The war families who stand behind President Bush and his policymakers are looking out for the best interest of their loved ones serving.

We do not support an agenda. We do not support a political platform or party with regard to the turmoil in the Middle East. We do support any measures being taken to assure the safe return or our husbands, wives, sons and daughters.

After the next election season, we will stand behind whoever is elected and the path the president takes this war – Republican or Democrat – whether we personally agree with him or her or not.

One can hope that the nonsensical anger spewed from this man’s mouth is eating him alive, as unadulterated hatred does. There is a special place in hell for people who hate, and I am sure there is a chair awaiting his arrival.

Until then, I encourage Mr. Hill, an obvious disgruntled Democrat, to continue to practice his right to free speech, pontificating on what he will never understand from the comfort of his living room. But he should direct his anger at our leaders, not at the innocent.

Fort Drum Soldiers Charged by A.P.

Eleven Fort Drum soldiers burst into a fellow soldier’s home and attacked him and his wife, kicking him repeatedly and punching her in the face, authorities said Friday.

The attack late Wednesday was in retaliation for the earlier arrest of another soldier, state police said.

Carl Laws, 22, and his wife, Emily Hernandez, 21, were released from Samaritan Medical Center after treatment for multiple cuts and bruises.

Their attackers were charged with second-degree burglary, a felony that involves causing injury, and one also faces a second-degree assault charge, said State Police Investigator Randy Pound.

The dispute erupted after a soldier, who wasn’t involved in the attack, was arrested on a criminal complaint filed by the couple, Pound said. The complaint involved violation of an order of protection, but authorities were not immediately able to provide more details.

Additional charges in the home invasion are possible after the case is presented to a grand jury, Pound said.

Fort Drum spokesman Lt. Col. Paul Fitzpatrick confirmed that all 11 were members of the 10th Mountain Division stationed at Fort Drum and part of the same unit. He declined to identify the unit and said he could not immediately provide individual background information on the soldiers.

Although the investigation and prosecution is being handled by civilian authorities, Army officials will review the case.

“We support the investigation. The Army does not tolerate this kind of conduct. It is not what the Army represents, or stands for. It is totally out of character with our training and values,” Fitzpatrick said.

Troopers said Hernandez and Laws were in their off-post home in LeRay on Wednesday when someone knocked on their door just before 10 p.m.

The intruders pushed into the home and began assaulting the couple, Pound said.

Laws said he was knocked down and kicked numerous times in the body and head. Hernandez said she was punched and hit in the face with a glass bottle.

Charged with burglary were Shalota Williams, 22; Tyson Tucker, 20; Martin Johnson, 22; Jason Cofield, 25; Erica Hodges, 19; Shavonn Wynne, 22; Vianka DelCid, 19; Tyrone Lihpai, 22; James Skinner, 27; Carlton Causey, 28; and Randi Bush, 18.

Wynne was also charged with second-degree assault for hitting Hernandez, Pound said.

All but one of the soldiers were ordered held in the Jefferson County jail on $5,000 bail each after arraignment in Pamelia Town Court. Williams was turned over to her military superiors.

Fort Drum is a sprawling base some 75 miles north of Syracuse in upstate New York. It is home to the 10th Mountain Division, a force of 17,000 soldiers that has been one of the mainstays of Army deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Fitzpatrick said he did not believe any of the soldiers had been recently deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.

DoD Concedes on Reservists’ Benefits by M.C.

U.S. Department of Defense officials are “breaking the law” by failing to notify some reservists they qualify for education benefits, Connecticut state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal charged.

Blumenthal was joined by an equally angry U.S. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, D-3 and Giacomo “Jack” Mordente, director of veterans affairs at Southern Connecticut State University during a news conference at SCSU.

With them was SCSU senior John Deluz of New Haven, who initially was told by the Defense Department that he was not entitled to the benefits, but who through Mordente’s efforts will belatedly receive $6,462.

Within hours of the news conference, a Defense Department representative said officials from each reserve component will be advised of “this change” and that the department’s Web site will be updated to acknowledge it.

The New Haven Register reported in November on Mordente’s discovery of the largely ignored law, a finding that had nationwide ramifications for reservists.

But even after Mordente won an admission from a Defense Department official that he was correctly interpreting the law, Mordente remained frustrated that the Defense Department refused to set up a plan to notify reservists about it.

Mordente told those at the news conference, which included about 15 veterans, that Deluz’ experience reflected what has happened to reservists across the country.

Deluz enlisted in the Army Reserve in 1999, was ordered to active duty within the United States in October 2001 to October 2002, was again called up to serve in Kuwait and Iraq from February 2003 to December 2003 and then returned to SCSU.

But when Deluz decided to leave the reserve, his military superiors told him his education benefits had then ceased.

Mordente later informed Deluz they were wrong, and helped Deluz get the benefits retroactively. In May, he will graduate with a degree in accounting.

“It’s really important the word get out to the veterans who have served that these benefits are owed to them,” Deluz said.

Afterward, Deluz said, “When we were called to duty, we didn’t make excuses. We left our families, our jobs and schools. We were given a week to get ready. So it shouldn’t take three years to find a resolution to this issue.”

He added, “I’ve had to cover my expenses for three years.”

Blumenthal, who served in the Marine Corps Reserve, said the Defense Department’s actions with reservists have been “unconscionable and reprehensible. It has been breaking the law and misinforming countless reservists about their rights. … This denial of benefits is blatantly illegal.”

DeLauro said the Defense Department “undermines our country’s promise to these young men about their military service.”

Noting, “When they’re recruited, they’re given a lot of promises,” that DeLauro said the department is “reneging” on.

She said her March 28 letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates about this issue has not received a response.

But later Monday, Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke from the Office of the Secretary of Defense sent an e-mail response after the Register asked her for comment, attributing it to an unnamed Defense Department official: “Reaching common ground on this issue is a recent occurrence. To inform members of this change, the department is meeting with the G.I. Bill senior representatives from each reserve component to advise them of this change.”

She added, “We are updating the Reserve Affairs Web site and modifying regulatory guidance to incorporate this change.”

Two Types of Splinter Groups Break from Moqtada al-Sadr by Babak Rahimi

The recent rise of Sadrist splinter groups is a sign of a major shakeup in the Sadrist movement, so far mainly dominated by Moqtada al-Sadr. These splinter groups represent a deep-seated change in the Sadrist faction in both ideological and militaristic terms, which could have major implications for the future of Iraq. The increase in the number of these splinter groups since 2005 is mainly due to al-Sadr’s growing relations with the Iraqi government and Tehran. These groups view al-Sadr as a traitor who has forsaken his father’s stance against foreign threats for personal and political gain. The participation of al-Sadr’s representatives in parliament and his flirtation with Tehran since 2005 have directly led to the creation of two distinct breakaway groups. These two groups are millenarian-cultic in ideology and gang-like in the organizational sense. They are mostly formed in such locations as Baghdad and southern Iraq and are made up of young men who maintain anti-occupation or anti-Sunni sentiments.

The followers of Abu Maha and Ismael al-Zerjawi represent the first type of Sadrist splinter groups (Terrorism Focus, October 10, 2006; Terrorism Monitor, November 16, 2006). They are the most anti-Sunni faction of the Sadrists, who broke away from al-Sadr primarily after the increase of sectarian tensions in 2005 (although some even splintered earlier). These groups can be found largely in Sadr City, where most of the Sunni-Shiite fighting takes place. Al-Zerjawi, also known as Abu Deraa, is best known for his attacks on the Sunni district of Adhamiya in northern Baghdad (Terrorism Monitor, November 16, 2006). Other Mahdi Army officers, like Hassan Salim and Haj Shimel, are veterans of the 2004 Sadrist uprising in Najaf against U.S. forces. These former commanders all maintain anti-occupation and anti-Sunni ideologies with an on-the-field military background.

The second type of splinter group, such as the Hussain Army, led by Mahmud al-Hassani Sarkhi, and the shadowy cult of Dhia Abdul Zahra and his Soldiers of Heaven, is the most cultic and sectarian. As Mahdistic movements, these groups are mainly led by young or middle-aged clerics who seek to overcome any form of Shiite orthodoxy, with claims to worldly power through military force. The origin of these groups dates back to the late 1990s after the death of Moqtada’s father, Ayatollah Sadeq al-Sadr, who is believed to have been the most perfect representative of the Hidden Imam on earth. The bases of these groups are primarily located in southern cities such as Karbala and Basra, which have long histories of millenarian-mystical movements with anti-establishment ideologies. They represent the most anti-Iranian and Arab nationalistic currents in the Sadrist splinter groups as they vie for followers among both the tribal and urban population of southern Iraq. It is interesting to note that Sarkhi has also found followers in Iran, despite his anti-Iranianism. The conservative clerical establishment in Iran, however, identifies Sarkhi as a false representative of the Mahdi and even as an Israeli agent (Baztab, May 17, 2006).

The implication of the growing rise of these movements is complicated. First and foremost, these splinter groups can cause major instability in the Sadrist movement that is being gradually pacified by the Najaf clerical establishment. As members of the Mahdi Army break ranks and join these new groups, al-Sadr begins to lose more control of his followers and lessens the prospect of containing his movement within the boundaries of the Iraqi political process. Second, these groups can also unleash a major attack on the Shiite orthodoxy in Najaf, creating new cultic and sectarian movements in the Shiite community of Iraq that could lead to a new religious civil war.

The Najaf clerical establishment will most certainly play a major role in quashing these groups, as it did in January when, on the eve of one of the holiest days in the Shiite calendar, Ashura, the followers of Zahra were crushed by Iraqi and U.S. forces, tipped off by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani’s informants who had infiltrated the group (author interview with a seminary student in Qom, January 29). The key is to recognize that this new phenomenon is an internal Shiite problem and that the clerical establishment in Najaf is best prepared to match the rise of these splinter groups.

US: Iranian-made weapons were found in Afghanistan by A.P.

US forces in Afghanistan recently intercepted Iranian-made mortars and other weaponry in Afghanistan, although it is not clear they were shipped directly from Iran, the military’s top general said Tuesday.

Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that unlike in Iraq, where US officials say they are certain that arms are being supplied to insurgents by Iran’s secretive Quds Force, the Iranian link in Afghanistan is murky.

“It is not as clear in Afghanistan which Iranian entity is responsible, but we have intercepted weapons in Afghanistan headed for the Taliban that were made in Iran,” Pace told a group of reporters over breakfast.

He said the weapons, including mortars and C-4 plastic explosives, were intercepted in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan within the past month. He did not describe the quantity of intercepted materials or say whether it was the first time Americans forces had found Iranian-made arms in that country.

Sudan’s young endure "unspeakable" abuse: report by Evelyn Leopold

Children in Sudan are press-ganged, coerced to join armed groups, raped and used as forced labor or sex slaves, according to a new report by humanitarian groups.

The report, Sudan’s Children at a Crossroads, concentrates mainly on Darfur, where a conflict has been raging for four years, and southern Sudan, emerging from 20 years of war.

“Children in Sudan continue to endure some of the most inhumane treatment found anywhere in the world,” said Kathleen Hunt, chair of the Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, on Wednesday.

“Despite the end of the war in the south and recent signs of hope for a strengthened peacekeeping force in Darfur, many Sudanese children are not faring any better than they were four years ago,” Hunt told a news conference on the report, compiled by six humanitarian organizations.

While Sudan’s military continues to deny the presence of children in its ranks, the report said its representatives have acknowledged that youth from other armed groups have recently been incorporated into the government armed forces.

In Darfur, most rebel and militia groups recruit children, including the pro-government Arab militias known as the Janjaweed, the rebel Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudan Liberation Army.

While reports of rape and maiming are prevalent in Darfur, Sudanese girls from other areas have been forced into prostitution or into domestic service in and out of Sudan.

Boys as young as 4 or 5 years old “have been trafficked to Arab Gulf countries to work as camel jockeys and beggars,” Watchlist said.

Education is also a horror in many parts of the country, with the south having the lowest rate in the world of only 25 percent of young people in school.

An entire generation in southern Sudan has missed out on education, said Jeannie Pearlman Robinson of the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children. She cited examples of children walking for two hours to school and untrained teachers working for low or no pay.

“Education cannot wait until the fighting is over,” she said.

Francis Mading Deng, a former Sudanese foreign minister, U.N. envoy for displaced people, author and now a professor at Johns Hopkins University, said that children and civilians could only be spared through a political solution.

“The need for a political solution is the only way we can find peace,” he said.

The six groups on the Watchlist steering committee are Care International, the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, the Norwegian Refugee Council, International Save the Children Alliance, Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children, and World Vision Canada.

The Wrong Decision on Sudan by Douglas Farah

Yesterday President Bush was to unveil the long-anticipated “Plan B” for sanctioning the Sudanese regime for the genocide in Darfur. But at the last minute Bush accepted a plea to wait. The Sudanese government had again asked for more time to allow U.N. peacekeepers to arrive.

It is a trick that the Sudanese have successfully used for four years to avoid ending the slaughter of civilians, with the Islamist government’s blessing, guidance and support. It simply means more people will die while the regime of Lt. Gen. Omar Hassan al-Bashir drags its feet, backtracks, promises, hems, haws and generally buys several more months. Sooner or later, if he can drag it out long enough, there will be no one left to ethnically cleanse, and then peacekeepers can disembark without opposition.

After at least 450,000 killed and 2 million displaced, why does anyone take Bashir’s word on anything? He hasn’t done anything to lessen the slaughter since the carnage began. He has repeatedly promised, then retracted, support of peacekeepers.

“The brutal treatment of innocent civilians in Darfur is unacceptable,” Bush said. “The status quo must not continue.” And yet it is entirely acceptable. For a few weeks, then months, then years.

The irony is that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asked the sanctions be postponed, even as he was presented with concrete evidence the Bashir government was illegally flying weapons to its forces and the janjaweed in Darfur. A U.N. Panel of Experts two days ago presented the UN Security Council with a report outlining the use of Antonov aircraft and helicopter gunships in the region.

In an MO that is the same as Viktor Bout used in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the aircraft were painted white with UN markings on the side. (Coincidence??)

It seems to me the solution is fairly simple. Slap the sanctions on (and even these are weak), with the promise to lift them as soon as the peacekeepers are on the ground. Enforce a no-fly zone. Are we afraid Viktor Bout will lose some old Antonovs?

Go after those who support genocide and terrorism, using the justification of Islam as a gruesome justification. Expose the shameless pandering and spineless refusal to condemn Darfur by Islamists and world power who put their economic interests (China, Russia) above the suffering of the region. Most troubling to me is the unwillingness of South Africa to support sanctions. Islamist states are protecting friends. China and Russia their investments. South Africa, once a beacon of true liberation, is protecting nothing other than a corrupt and brutal regime, as the Mbeki regime has continued to do in Zimbabwe as well.

The South African government’s behavior is a slap in the face not only to its own courageous people who struggled for freedom, but to all who supported that struggle.

Russia Plans World’s Longest Tunnel, a Link to Alaska (Update 4) by Yuriy Humber and Bradley Cook

Russia plans to build the world’s longest tunnel, a transport and pipeline link under the Bering Strait to Alaska, as part of a $65 billion project to supply the U.S. with oil, natural gas and electricity from Siberia.

The project, which Russia is coordinating with the U.S. and Canada, would take 10 to 15 years to complete, Viktor Razbegin, deputy head of industrial research at the Russian Economy Ministry, told reporters in Moscow today. State organizations and private companies in partnership would build and control the route, known as TKM-World Link, he said.

A 6,000-kilometer (3,700-mile) transport corridor from Siberia into the U.S. will feed into the tunnel, which at 64 miles will be more than twice as long as the underwater section of the Channel Tunnel between the U.K. and France, according to the plan. The tunnel would run in three sections to link the two islands in the Bering Strait between Russia and the U.S.

“This will be a business project, not a political one,” Maxim Bystrov, deputy head of Russia’s agency for special economic zones, said at the media briefing. Russian officials will formally present the plan to the U.S. and Canadian governments next week, Razbegin said.

The Bering Strait tunnel will cost $10 billion to $12 billion, and the rest of the investment will be spent on the entire transport corridor, the plan estimates.

“The project is a monster,” Yevgeny Nadorshin, chief economist with Trust Investment Bank in Moscow, said in an interview. “The Chinese are crying out for our commodities and willing to finance the transport links, and we’re sending oil to Alaska.”

In Alaska, a supporter of the project is former Governor Walter Joseph Hickel, who plans to co-chair a conference on the subject in Moscow next week.

“Governor Hickel has long supported this concept, and he talks about it and writes about it,” said Malcolm Roberts, a senior fellow at the Anchorage-based Institute of the North, a research policy group focused on Arctic issues. Hickel governed Alaska from 1966 to 1969 as a Republican and then from 1990 to 1994 as a member of the Independence Party.

Alaska’s current officials, however, are preoccupied with other issues, including a plan to develop a pipeline to transport natural gas from the North Slope to the lower 48 U.S. states, Roberts said.

The U.S. government’s Federal Railroad Administration isn’t directly involved in talks about the link, agency spokesman Warren Flatau said today.

Finance Agencies

Tsar Nicholas II, Russia’s last emperor, was the first Russian leader to approve a plan for a tunnel under the Bering Strait, in 1905, 38 years after his grandfather sold Alaska to America for $7.2 million. World War I ended the project.

The planned undersea tunnel would contain a high-speed railway, highway and pipelines, as well as power and fiber-optic cables, according to TKM-World Link. Investors in the so-called public-private partnership include OAO Russian Railways, national utility OAO Unified Energy System and pipeline operator OAO Transneft, according to a press release which was handed out at the media briefing and bore the companies’ logos.

Russia and the U.S. may each eventually take 25 percent stakes, with private investors and international finance agencies as other shareholders, Razbegin said. “The governments will act as guarantors for private money,” he said.

The World Link will save North America and Far East Russia $20 billion a year on electricity costs, said Vasily Zubakin, deputy chief executive officer of OAO Hydro OGK, Unified Energy’s hydropower unit and a potential investor.

Transport Electricity

“It’s cheaper to transport electricity east, and with our unique tidal resources, the potential is real,” Zubakin said. Hydro OGK plans by 2020 to build the Tugurskaya and Pendzhinskaya tidal plants, each with capacity of as much as 10 gigawatts, in the Okhotsk Sea, close to Sakhalin Island.

The project envisions building high-voltage power lines with a capacity of up to 15 gigawatts to supply the new rail links and also export to North America.

Russian Railways is working on the rail route from Pravaya Lena, south of Yakutsk in the Sakha republic, to Uelen on the Bering Strait, a 3,500 kilometer stretch. The link could carry commodities from eastern Siberia and Sakha to North American export markets, said Artur Alexeyev, Sakha’s vice president.

The two regions hold most of Russia’s metal and mineral reserves “and yet only 1.5 percent of it is developed due to lack of infrastructure and tough conditions,” Alexeyev said.

Cluster Projects

Rail links in Russia and the U.S., where an almost 2,000- kilometer stretch from Angora to Fort Nelson in Canada would continue the route, would cost up to $15 billion, Razbegin said. With cargo traffic of as much as 100 million tons annually expected on the World Link, the investments in the rail section could be repaid in 20 years, he said.

“The transit link is that string on which all our industrial cluster projects could hang,” Zubakin said.

Japan, China and Korea have expressed interest in the project, with Japanese companies offering to burrow the tunnel under the Bering Strait for $60 million a kilometer, half the price set down in the project, Razbegin said.

“This will certainly help to develop Siberia and the Far East, but better port infrastructure would do that too and not cost $65 billion,” Trust’s Nadorshin said. “For all we know, the U.S. doesn’t want to make Alaska a transport hub.”

The figures for the project come from a preliminary feasibility study. A full study could be funded from Russia’s investment fund, set aside for large infrastructure projects, Bystrov said.