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December 18, 2006

Comments

Good Lord.

Intelligent, knowledgable and thoughtful. I think everyone should at least read these articles (though they may not agree with them). Thanks.

Great stuff, and more realistic than lots of other views..
Let me add (for discussion) another element, which is ability to perform "non-military" tasks--I am thinking of the post-tsunami efforts. These have diplomatic value, and they do exercise logistical skills (though not combat ones), and "dealing with the locals". Should this element be modest, tiny, or zero?

I would also add that the political/military separation seems to me (a civilian) to have two parts. The more important part is, fortunately, the easier one: the military should stay out of the domestic political process--no coups. The more difficult one is the military following the orders of the executive--which has now been demonstrated to have a bad outcome in two wars (Iraq and Vietnam). While I wouldn't want the miliatry to mutiny, I do think that a (justified) rule of obedience within the military has perhaps made it too willing to accept, rather than seriously question (and perhaps resign in the face of) orders from the executive that have been militarily unwise. Sometimes "can do!" is the wrong answer.

If you don't have anything better to do, please forward a copy of this essay to the chief of staff [they're the ones who actually read stuff] of every elected Democrat in D.C. I don't believe I've ever read a more clear and succint analysis of the purpose and need of our armed forces and its relationship to civilian life.

hat tip, sir.

Andrew: thanks. This is really good.

I think there's an analogous piece to be written about what we need in a civilian citizenry. I think I've said this somewhere before, but: civilian control absolutely requires good, or at any rate non-insane, civilians doing the controlling. And trying to make sure that we have them is the job of all of us. There are of course lots of reasons to do this, but doing right by the military is surely one of them.

(NB: This is about exercising one's own judgment. One can, and I have, disagreed with opinions publicly expressed by military folks about which leader is the one who will hold up the civilians' side of the bargain with the military. One of the many reasons I didn't vote for GWBush, either time, was that I didn't trust him to exercise his civilian control of the military responsibly. Especially in 2000, my sense was that large chunks of the military disagreed. I take that seriously, but in this case I stand by my judgment ;) )

Sorry -- that last wasn't meant to insert partisanship where it didn't belong. I just reread my initial comment, decided it could be taken to imply something about deference to the military, which I didn't intend, and 2000 was the best example I could think of to illustrate.

I will now withdraw before I trip over my feet again.

I wonder if there is any way for us to get back to what the authors of the Constitution seem to have intended: that Congress, not the President, gets to decide whether or not the US goes to war. I'm appalled at how much power Presidents have grabbed for themselves over the last few decades.

And, alas, this is a bipartisan problem. It won't be solved by electing a President of a different party. I don't think most of the mini-wars Cinton started were really wrong in themselves, but I do think it was very wrong that he claimed the authority to start them on his own.

Lucid thinking, and prose to match, Andrew.

May I add to your thoughts regarding language proficiency in the military and your allusions to the temptation to overuse the military, that the diplomatic corps should stress language proficiency more, and that, Albright notwithstanding, the point of a magnificent military is to create the hope in the minds of possible enemies that our diplomacy is equally magnificent.

Nice writing, Andrew.

It seems to me that one factor that cuts across some of the ones you discuss is the relationship between civilian government and the military. The first three characteristics you mention are primarily internal to the military; that is, given the right budgeting and good leadership, the military itself develops (or doesn't) these characteristics. The latter ones involve interaction with the civilian government. It also seems to me that flexibility, scalability, AND minimizing temptation together imply a rather small but extremely well-trained force, with a particularly large set of senior noncoms.

I am deeply ignorant about the nuts & bolts of our military ...

... but it seems that we need to be able to land our troops anywhere in the world on 3 days' notice, *and* follow up with "portable infrastructure" to sustain a larger presence.

I cannot help thinking that we have not put anything like the effort into this, that's been wasted on SDI, ultra-invulnerable fighers, etc., etc.

Well-written, and well-thought-out, and impossible to disagree with... and yet, considering that the US is known primarily (in the past sixty years at least) for wars of aggression - wars where it makes no difference that the other country knows it can't win against the US military, because the US will send in its military anyway - this paragraph in particular

All things being equal, the United States would be far better off never fighting another war. One means of securing that is to have a military that is clearly able to defeat its country's enemies. That is not foolproof by any means, but a strong, capable military does tend to make enemies think twice prior to engaging in military actions.
cries out for "and a pony" somewhere about it.

I agree with Jes, that obviously having a military that is clearly enough to defeat its country's enemies is not enough - QED more than I like in recent history.

As far as allies go: just the language knowledge is not enough. Even with the Brits there seems to be a lot of culture clashes. I've read quite a number of articles about the diffence in approach between the UK and the US, and how that does not 'grease' the relationships between those two allies. And that is *without* having much of a language problem.

Andrew, an excellent post and I second many of the arguments above.

Particularly the comment by DCA about the military being able to perfrom some non-military tasks. Which, I think it does fairly well, until it gets to nation building, for which we are woefully unprepared. Ant this actually flows into the civilian/military dichotomy, but I don't think the military should ever be used without some planning for post-military action in place.

And this means reaching out to other countries who are skilled in this.

Jes, not to be picky, but I think it would be hard to make a case for the US being the aggressor in Korea or even Gulf War I. And even Vietnam was iffy in that regard.

However, I understand your cynicism.

john: Jes, not to be picky, but I think it would be hard to make a case for the US being the aggressor in Korea or even Gulf War I. And even Vietnam was iffy in that regard.

I did say primarily, John. Do you want to know how many wars the US got involved in in the past sixty years? A lot more than three.

(However you want to argue Vietnam and Korea, neither of them fit Andrew's argument about avoiding war by having an unbeatably army, and the war fought over the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait - which is Gulf War I or II depending where you live - doesn't fit Andrew's argument either, not least because up until the point Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, he was the public ally of the US, and therefore assumed he could get away with it, just as Israel repeatedly gets away with invading other countries.

Because COIN is so difficult, that means a great deal of time should be spent on developing highly-disciplined forces who can perform COIN missions successfully.

Why should our armed forces, instead of developing a COIN capacity, not develop the capacity to effectively do peacekeeping?

And what would the difference between the two be?

My assumption would be that a COIN would (and this seems to be the way it has turned out) concentrate on lethality. I imagine a peacekeeping force would have a more even representation of women, would have more and better language training, and would be trained in tactics more appropriate for police forces than for armed forces.

Hm. One, I'm not sure if a guiding principle in designing our armed forces should be a more even representation of women. Two, if you can do COIN, you can do peacekeeping. Peacekeeping is relatively easy; we've been doing that for a decade-plus now in Bosnia, and that has worked out reasonably well. COIN actually requires a lot more language training than peacekeeping, since in COIN reliance on interpreters not only is more difficult, it also places those individuals in danger. And while COIN does involve more lethality than peacekeeping, COIN involves a lot more working with the locals and building infrastructure and relationships than in killing people.

And, quite frankly, the idea of training our armed forces to be policemen strikes me as fundamentally at odds with what an army should be.

Thanks for responding. I thought that you would make some of those points, but I didn't want to be accused of putting words in your mouth. To discuss them in order
-women
I don't think that I said that the military needed to be completely 50/50, just that if there were a force/arm designated for peacekeeping, it would be 50/50. Unfortunately, I'm sure that the more martial sections would be more highly valued, just like SWAT teams are in many police departments.

-COIN is peacekeeping
While you have more knowledge about this, I'd have to ask you if this is really the case. It seems that the current conception of COIN is focussed less on intelligence and more on rapid deployment of force. I'd be interested to know what bonuses/rewards there are for soldiers who demonstrate advanced language proficiency. The DOD and the State Department recently had a conference on COIN, and the keynote speech is here. Now, it may be hitting a soft spot with me because I've worked with endangered languages and I'm a linguist, but the notion that the way the US dealt with Native Americans as a template is pretty bizarre (the same point was made here in the Mountainrunner blog). I personally think that the mindset of COIN is quite different from the mindset of peacekeeping, and if it were the same, you would see more crossover between Military Police and COIN operations than I think exists (though that is a total outsider's viewpoint, so I welcome corrections). The equivalency is also belied by your last 'East is East and West is West' line. I accept that is probably the case, but I don't think it has to be that way.

This is not to suggest that peacekeeping is already a cut and dried notion. The blog I mentioned above discusses problems with peacekeeping here But I do think peacekeeping is a lot harder than you make it out to be. If it were easier, I think cops would enjoy breaking up domestic disturbances more than arresting lawbreakers.

Somehow, a large chunk talking about the Eliot Cohen speech disappeared, probably in cutting and pasting some stuff. I think he makes several interesting points, and the problems we have intertwining civilian and military groups is aa good point, which is one reason why I think peacekeeping would need to be almost wholly under the aegis of the military.

Also, there was this article in the Armed Forces Journal. I find the ordering of concerns interesting and probably reflective of the weight given, in that intelligence and 'info ops' is listed first, and language is listed last. From the article

Armies confronting an insurgency have historically struggled with the transformation from their traditional focus on firepower to slowly and painfully cultivating the intelligence sources necessary to defeat an insurgent enemy. While the Army and Marine Corps have made significant strides in developing this capability, there is still much work to be done. The tank and infantry battalions on the front lines of counterinsurgency in Iraq were initially designed for a very different form of combat than the one they find themselves fighting today. Organized with an intelligence staff of just a handful of personnel among hundreds of tankers and infantrymen, they are learning that to wage counterinsurgency successfully these ratios must be dramatically revised. Turning every rifleman and tank driver into an intelligence collector and analyst is extraordinarily difficult, but necessary to defeat an insurgency.

Chief among the skills required, but currently lacking in all but a few of the soldiers and Marines in Iraq, is facility in the Arabic language. The ability to talk with and thus gain intelligence from the local population allows the trained soldier to turn an everyday presence patrol into an opportunity to identify the enemy — the crucial and most difficult step on the road to defeating him. While the ability to talk with the local population is inherent in the ever-increasing number of capable Iraqi units, Americans will be required to serve alongside and within Iraqi units for many years to come. To make them as effective as possible, they need more translators and greater familiarity with Arabic language and Iraqi culture. The recent decision by the Marine Corps to require that every Marine develop expertise in a foreign area and language is a step in the right direction, one that the Army — and the State Department, CIA, U.S. Agency for International Development and FBI — would be well-advised to emulate.

There are technological solutions to the demand for improved language skills in the works, but there is no substitute for the interpersonal nuance that only human interaction in the native language can provide. Dramatic efforts are required to ensure improvements in language capability for every patrol that goes outside the wire and corresponding improvements in the ability to analyze the greater quantities of intelligence that will flow from our soldiers as a result. Much more can be done to exploit captured insurgents and documents, understand enemy networks and conduct targeted raids to capture or kill the leadership of the insurgency. The missing nails in the horseshoe are interpreters who understand the local culture and the local insurgency and intelligence analysts who have the patience and cultural understanding to piece together the puzzle.

I'd suggest that even if our 'surge' was to send 30,000 troops with fluency in Arabic (imagining they exist), it would still be too late. The nut is that the problem was that peacekeeping as a skill was undervalued, and the rhetoric of the war on terror prevented a clear vision of what peacekeeping meant. Hence, 'fighting them there so we wouldn't have to fight them here' is the precise opposite of peacekeeping.

Women: the Army needs good people, and since 50% of the available good people are women, we'd love to get more. But the Army doesn't seem to appeal to women as a rule, and I doubt there's much likely to change that. No matter what else we do, Army life still boils down to a fair amount of time in the field getting dirty and nasty and utilizing the great outdoors as a rest room. For reasons I fully sympathize with, the average woman doesn't seem thrilled with much of that, particularly the last part.

I never said that COIN=peacekeeping. I said that if you can do COIN, you can do peacekeeping, because COIN is so much harder. As I pointed out previously, the Army has successfully accomplished a lot of peacekeeping in the Balkans without incident. Our record on COIN is comparatively awful.

I concur that considering the model of the Indian wars for COIN ops is a terrible idea. Indians lived separately and were relatively easy to locate and identify. There was never any worry about the Indians convincing the whites to come over to their point of view. So that's pretty silly comparison, and I'm shocked anyone would make it.

I also never said that peacekeeping is easy. I simply said it's easier than COIN, which remains true. Also, perhaps you would understand my position better if you consider that moving from regular police work to domestic disputes is stepping up tension. Moving from active armed combat to maintaining the peace, however, is a marked step down in tension. So your analogy doesn't really apply.

Sorry, if I were a bit more organized, I would have also included the Packer New Yorker piece on David Kilcullen.

I also took your statement that "if you can do COIN, you can do peacekeeping" to suggest that the latter is a subset of the former. Apologies.

I think the 'tension' analogy is interesting, though there is some non trivial relationship between lowering tension and allowing troops to be put into the field for longer periods of time. I'm thinking that an average deployment is 6 months, but a peacekeeping deployment would be much longer. I'm wondering if COIN related deployments are longer or the same length as other deployments.

Of course, the structure of our armed forces, with guard units forming a large part is, in and of itself, inimical to the idea of a peacekeeping force, and is more in line with a resistance suppression force. I can understand the argument that peacekeeping is not possible because it would undermine what the military is supposed to do, (which I guess is closer to your point of view), but I'm thinking that we need a peacekeeping force, and if it is not placed in the military, it must either be made from the whole cloth or it has to be contracted out and if it is the latter, the cost will be high, both financially and morally.

Very good piece, Andrew.

I will have to think about your objections to peacekeeping/policing/nation-building, and your vision of what an army/military is and is for.

I do understand the implications of imperialism. But I do not foresee the conventional HIC threats on the horizon, but I do see a rapidly accelerating problem of assymetrical threats from failed/anarchic (states) regions. I do not see how to have the State Department "solve" Afghanistan/Waziristan/Pakistan or Anbar/Iraq/Baghdad. Somalia/Horn of Africa. Oaxaca.

Can't have COIN without an ally to protect from the insurgency.

I really am not a Kagan or Barnett. But I do see a problem that probably will need at least a partial military solution. Although I have no idea how to make it work. When are we getting out of Kosovo?

The last real threat of foreign invasion of the United States dates back to the War of 1812. When we have gone to war, it has been on foreign shores far from the U.S. That means that our military force must be able to get to where the fighting is relatively quickly and effectively.

This gets it exactly right. When you are dealing with enemies that don't have the capacity to threaten you in any significant way, their weakness becomes their strength.

Our military needs to have the capacity to annihilate foreign enemies that have no reciprocal threat, and that is a real challenge.

First, let me add to the general chorus of acclaim for this piece (and this series).

Second, a little amplification on the deterrence matter, at least with regard to Korea and Vietnam. In both cases, those whom we wound up fighting were very much aware of our military capacity, but for various reasons - partly our policy and communications, partly their own intelligence failures - thought that they could achieve at least some of their goals without having to fight the Americans. IOW, if they had known for sure - and I'm not talking idle threats here - that the US would send in the Marines (& all the rest) they might have done things differently. It's not like they started out believing they could kick our ass.

It's not like they started out believing they could kick our ass.

Feel very strange asking this to dr ngo but isn't this a bit like shooting Hitler in 1933? I think we were constrained to a course of escalation in Vietnam, especially since we were supposedly aiding a sovereign government. I agree that had the US presence been more robust in Korea, it might have given second thoughts, but that would have demanded a US public that was willing to overcome its war weariness and commit to a defense in depth to a country that was part of Imperial Japan. It seems that our general principles as a nation are always going to dictate that we aren't (or weren't) going to just, as I think Goldberg suggested, throw some 2 bit country up against the wall every 5 years or so.

I'm sure that I am going to get schooled on this, but I have to ask.

Andrew: But the Army doesn't seem to appeal to women as a rule, and I doubt there's much likely to change that. No matter what else we do, Army life still boils down to a fair amount of time in the field getting dirty and nasty and utilizing the great outdoors as a rest room. For reasons I fully sympathize with, the average woman doesn't seem thrilled with much of that, particularly the last part.

You forgot to add: the men who make Army life much worse that it need be for women (women friends who have been in the army speak very highly of the many men who treat them as fellow soldiers, but add that there is a fearsome and strong undercurrent of sexual harassment which is hard to deal with when the harasser is - as he often is - his victim's superior in rank*), and one tiny horrible detail - that women are not entitled to full health care on army medical bases, neither the wives of military personnel nor the military personnel themselves.

Also, of course, that lesbians/bi women who join the army are much more likely to be kicked out, especially if they're good soldiers, than gay/bi men who join the army. Numerically this isn't a big deal, but it says a lot about how the military hierarchy tends to regard women who are good soldiers - with disrespect and suspicion.

*And while it's clear the men who harass and rape women are a minority, it really doesn't take much of a minority to make army life just hellishly worse: a friend told me of one base in Iraq where women simply did not risk the trek from barracks to showers after dark because of the threat of rape.

I was going to say everything Jes said about women in the military, only more so. Andrew, you're smarter than that. Blaming women's reluctance to enlist on our purported fastidiousness is both ludicrous and a cop-out. Although most men in the military are not rapists, tolerance for rapists is clearly (and traditionally) extremely high, and is IMHO the greatest single piece of evidence against the notion that being in the military is good for one's character.

To put it another way: a female soldier has about the same risk of sexual violence during a single non-combat tour as her non-soldier sister has over decades. From this it follows that males in the military are *less moral* than men outside it -- whether because the military chooses immoral men (aka the "veins in my teeth" school of recruiting) or because the situation encourages evil behavior even outside of combat.

Blaming women's reluctance to enlist on our purported fastidiousness is both ludicrous and a cop-out.

Um, no. It's either correct or incorrect. I think that Andrew probably has some notion of what he's talking about, and the fact that participation rate of American women in the military is lower than that of men is hooked somewhat into what Andrew's talking about. Which itself is hooked into something bigger that Andrew left undiscussed: not a cop-out, just declining to delve into the larger picture. Sometimes this is a smart thing to do if you don't have the time, knowledge and/or inclination to write an instant thesis on the subject.

Let Andrew write about what he knows. If he knows more on this subject, it's probably more effective to invite him to write more than to brickbat him into writing more.

All good points, Andrew, but the post has a great big hole at the centre. Viz.: what should the US military actually be doing?

To take one example, you say: "When we have gone to war, it has been on foreign shores far from the U.S. That means that our military force must be able to get to where the fighting is relatively quickly and effectively."

True. But you simply assume that the US military should and will be fighting wars on foreign shores. Why? Why should it be fighting other countries' COIN wars?

Time to take a leaf out of the British Army's book and follow an effects-based approach. Ask yourself: what effects do you want the armed services to have? Then you can work back into what sort of forces are best suited to produce these effects.

Do you think that the US Air Force should be defending US airspace against air attack? Then it will need short-range interceptors and radar, possibly airborne radar. Do you think the Army should be taking part in UN peacekeeping missions? Then it will need language-trained light infantry and military police. Etc, etc.

One of the biggest problems our armed forces have had in the post-Cold War era has been a failure to tailor forces to requirements.

One of the points Andrew Bacebich makes in his book on American Militarism is that the size & composition of the armed forces tends to reflect the institutional drives of the officer class more than true national needs. This will happen in any large institution, it's not something about the military in particular.

So, the officer class will naturally prefer the services to be "fully funded" at all times, not ramped up and down as circumstances change.

I don't know how the officers are likely to feel about requirements for language training, but I do know that *fluency* in a foreign language pretty much requires at least 6 weeks of immersion. Like learning to work with people from other countries' forces, this means officers would need to spend time in foreign social environments. The impression I get -- from the officers' preference for military academies and other schooling, and from the hermetically-sealed environments of US bases overseas -- is that this wouldn't go over well. American officers prefer to be in highly-structured, American, non-civilian social environments.

The question I have for you, Andrew, is: Can you see ways in which your proposed policy changes dovetail with the institutional interests of the officer class? Of the military-industrial complex? If the contractors or the officers see a policy as beneficial, that policy is much more likely to make it into reality.

The impression I get -- from the officers' preference for military academies and other schooling, and from the hermetically-sealed environments of US bases overseas -- is that this wouldn't go over well. American officers prefer to be in highly-structured, American, non-civilian social environments.

Speaking as someone who grew up on those bases, I have to say I think that this is wrong. It probably depends on the host country, but none of the bases I lived on (Italy and Germany) were anything like hermetically sealed. The military tries to supply all the comforts of home (fast food, bowling alleys, softball leagues, etc...) to try to lessen the dislocation caused by an overseas move, but there is generally a lot of interaction between the base population and the locals. Many Americans stationed overseas live off-base, most spend time doing touristy things in the surrounding area, and a significant proportion make at least some attempt to learn the language and culture. In fact, many military personnel join up at least in part for the travel and adventure. People who prefer hermetically sealed environments stay at home in the US where they never need stray more than a half-mile from the nearest McDonalds.

Also, as a small nitpick, I suspect that a fairly small minority of officers are graduates of military academies. I don't have any data on that, but that was always my impression. I'd be interested to hear Andrew's thoughts.

Slarti: I think that Andrew probably has some notion of what he's talking about

Well, either Andrew is ignorant of the way some men in the military treat their fellow soldiers - and ignorant of the fact that military bases deny full medical care to women - or he knows all about it and decided he just wasn't going to mention it because he'd rather blame women for their fastidiousness than men for their behavior towards women.

More likely, Andrew is - being, I am sure, a decent bloke - just blithely unaware of how men who are not decent blokes behave towards women in their power: has never considered what it means for women to know that the medical personnel won't help them when they need abortions: and would rather think that women don't join the military because they're too fastidious than because of things that men in the military do that would cause Andrew trouble, inconvenience, and embarrassment if he tried to change.

Not to mention that one man by himself can only do a limited amount to change the way men in groups behave: it's easier, always, for men who are decent blokes just to remain unaware and unreproving, not stick their heads over the parapet and become, like women and gay men, the enemy.

Either way, whether it's something that Andrew was ignorant of or just ignoring, it was worth a mention in a thread on why women don't join the military. (The economic reasons why low-income women don't join the military in the same numbers as low-income men are also worth a look at - and that's a whole other discussion topic.)

Jes - did you read this part of Andrew's comment?:

No matter what else we do...

That suggests to me that Andrew is saying to the extent the Army fixes things that are fixable, like the problems and issues you mention, there still remains the things that he mentions, which aren't fixable, or at least aren't by the Army. If you want to argue that the things he mentions simply aren't true, or in fact are fixable, or can be mitigated in some way, that's fine.

But to suggest that Andrew is ignorant of these other problems or would "rather blame women for their fastidiousness" is, quite frankly, uncalled for, not to mention inflammatory, unhelpful and most likely wrong.

ajay,

I assume that we'll fight overseas because that is our historical pattern, as I noted in the post. I am not arguing that we should go fight other nations' COIN battles, or any other battles, only that when we do use the Army, it will be somewhere far removed from the United States.

Doctor Science,

I have little doubt that my proposals are likely to be fought tooth and nail by the generals and defense industry. My intent in writing this is to address what I believe we need. I have no illusions about what we're likely to end up with.

As an aside, I reviewed The New American Militarism here.

Ugh: there still remains the things that he mentions, which aren't fixable, or at least aren't by the Army.

Except that the things Andrew mentions are trivial, next to the things I mentioned, which are fixable and which the Army shows no interest in fixing. So Andrew's focussing on unfixable trivialities and ignoring/ignorant of fixable big issues.

I don't think Andrew's focusing on unfixable trivialities, I think he's focusing on things that he thinks will make the biggest difference. From this, I'd guess that the Army's refusal to provide abortions for women isn't on the top of Andrew's list of things that most urgently need to be fixed.

I think he's focusing on things that he thinks will make the biggest difference.

So, you think he's ignoring the issue of men who sexually harass women in the military because it won't make a big difference if that's stopped?

The odd thing is that my first comment was directed at Andrew not in any particularly hostile way; I just felt his claim that the reason women don't join the army is that women are more fastidious than men was kind of ignoring a lot of larger issues, not to mention being really disparaging and disrespectful in a "good bloke" kind of way - that is, I'm certain Andrew didn't think that comment was disparaging/disrepectful, and wouldn't have made it if it had occurred to him that it was.

I think the socioeconomic reasons why women from low-income backgrounds don't see the military as their only way out, when so many men from low-income backgrounds evidently do see the military as their only way out, are interesting in themselves, and well worthy of examination - which examination just won't happen, if Andrew's only thought about it is "Women are more fastidious than men".

What is making the tone of my comments about this issue increasingly hostile is the attitude from Slartibartfast and Ugh that it's impolite of me to raise a couple of points that Andrew appears to be ignorant of - no matter how understandable it is that Andrew would be ignorant of those points.

And the idea that women are "just naturally" more fastidious than men? You know, that really won't bear close examination. Just thinking about it: what's the first thing any woman would want to be sure of, if she's on patrol with a bunch of men and there's a latrine halt and she has to "utilize the great outdoors as a rest room"? I can tell you right away, having been in that position myself (not in the military: on group hillwalks from school, etc). She'd want to be sure that none of the men were going to take the opportunity, when she was vulnerable/exposed, to harass her.

It's got nothing to do with fastidiousness. It has to do with feeling safe from your own team. As I said before, it doesn't matter that it's only a minority of men in the military who are responsible for treating women like this: it matters that the issue is not taken seriously - or, judging by Andrew's comments, considered at all - by the military hierarchy.

(As for "fastidiousness" - oh my. Tell me the gender of the person who wrote one of my favorite books: How to Sh*t in the Woods.)

First, I think you're seeing hostility where there isn't any. At least, there's none over here.

Second, I think you're insisting that Andrew adopt priorities for the Army that he may not see as ones that are most needed to meet the Army's current obligations. I'm not saying these things aren't important, just that they may not be nearly as important as you seem to think they are.

I think you're insisting that Andrew adopt priorities for the Army

??? She's disagreeing with his estimation that 'fastidiousness' is a major driver of the different percentages of male and female recruits for the military. That's pretty far from insisting that Andrew do anything about his or the Army's priorities.

And I think she's fairly clearly right. I can't imagine that distaste for the prospect of shitting in the woods has much of an effect related to keeping women out of the Army.

Slarti: First, I think you're seeing hostility where there isn't any.

Um, since that wasn't clear: I was saying I felt I was getting increasingly hostile, and trying to identify why I was feeling this increased hostility. I think I'm qualified to judge my own hostility levels, if not anyone else's.

I think you're insisting that Andrew adopt priorities for the Army that he may not see as ones that are most needed to meet the Army's current obligations.

What LizardBreath said.

She's disagreeing with his estimation that 'fastidiousness' is a major driver of the different percentages of male and female recruits for the military.

Which is a strawman, since I never made that argument.

is the attitude from Slartibartfast and Ugh that it's impolite of me to raise a couple of points that Andrew appears to be ignorant of

Jes - I was not suggesting it was impolite of you to raise the points you did, what I meant to suggest was the way in which you raised them was impolite (or so it seemed to me).

That said, in re-reading my comment, I see did not make it clear that I wasn't objecting to you raising the points themselves, which I'm not.

Hrm. I was reacting to this:

But the Army doesn't seem to appeal to women as a rule, and I doubt there's much likely to change that. No matter what else we do, Army life still boils down to a fair amount of time in the field getting dirty and nasty and utilizing the great outdoors as a rest room. For reasons I fully sympathize with, the average woman doesn't seem thrilled with much of that, particularly the last part.

Was 'fastidiousness' an unfair gloss of not thrilled with getting dirty and nasty and shitting outdoors? I didn't mean it to be, and I apologize. But I still think that if what you said was intended to explain why fewer women than men enlist (and it did really seem to be such an explanation) that it's flawed and incomplete.

Since I've not been following comments here, I've probably missed the discussion of Andrew being sent to Iraq.

Which thread?

Which is a strawman, since I never made that argument.

So what did you mean, if not that women are more fastidious than men, in the section LizardBreath quotes above? Because that's certainly how both LB and I read it, and how Doctor Science seems to have read it, too.

"The last real threat of foreign invasion of the United States dates back to the War of 1812."

Weak joke: well, there were those Japanese balloons....

I can think of some purely physiological reasons why women might be less happy using the great outdoors as a restroom than men. Squatting vs. standing; reduced ability to aim away from one's feet, etc.

I can think of some purely physiological reasons why women might be less happy using the great outdoors as a restroom than men. Squatting vs. standing; reduced ability to aim away from one's feet, etc.

You really, really need to read this book.

I wonder if there is any way for us to get back to what the authors of the Constitution seem to have intended: that Congress, not the President, gets to decide whether or not the US goes to war. I'm appalled at how much power Presidents have grabbed for themselves over the last few decades.

And, alas, this is a bipartisan problem. It won't be solved by electing a President of a different party.

In fact, while one mustn't slight Nixon, and his expansion of the Vietnam War to Cambodia and Laos, I'd have to, as a Democrat, put more blame on Truman's decision to evade Congress and go directly to the UN Security Council, and on Johnson's reliance and maneuvering to create the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, than on any other President, for this historical fault.

Reagan followed up, of course, in Grenada and Panama, but by then he was just following the precedents of Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon.

(Eisenhower's choice to rely on "covert" action in Guatemala and Iran shouldn't go unmentioned, though; short-term "successes" that were horrific in their longterm results.)

Definitely not a partisan blame-the-Republicans issue, to be sure.

Okay, so why am I being asked to fill out a captcha with every comment now?

Jes: I have figured out answers to some of the conundrums I mentioned. The point was just that they are conundrums men do not face. I don't think I fully appreciated how handy this might be until someone I knew told me he had driven without stopping for some really astonishing amount of time, so astonishing that before I could think better of it I asked him: but didn't you ever have to use a bathroom? Answer: a soda can. While driving.

Huh, I thought.

Imagine.

There are four major reasons why United States troops make poor peacekeepers. They are: political decision making, super power status, training , and expectations.

Political decision makers in the United States are pragmatic, results orientated individuals who are weak in the historical aspects of problems. Consequently, they tend to make decisions looking for concrete results in a short time period.

The United States super power status dictates that peacekeeping deployments it is involved with must succeed. They must succeed because of the tremendous combat power available. Unfortunately, the availability of combat power encourages people to try to solve a problem by using it.

Doctrinal training for soldiers emphasizes the aggressive, warrior image that is not normally compatible with peacekeeping.

Finally, the United States soldier is always regarded as primarily under control of Washington, even when supposedly under the United Nations.

All of these reasons make it extremely difficult for United States troops to make good peacekeepers.

(paper from 1995)

Ah, that comment has been eagerly waiting all day - I couldn't SEE the captcha anymore. But with a different browser it works - though I never had problems with my preferred browser (Opera) before. Weird.

Also: I agree with Jes, dr Science and Lizardbreath; it felt as if Andrew stated that that was the main reason women didn't join. And I also agree with them that it is not.

Hilzoy: there are inventions for women that allow them to either pee standing up, or in the car. You'd have to google I quess, but I read about them in various magazines...

Oh, I've suffered from penis envy while racing sailboats -- having to go below to pee in a bucket while the guys used the leeward rail was annoying. I still can't see it being a major factor in career choice.

Liz,

Perhaps you might have zeroed in on the phrase "For reasons I fully sympathize with," rather than what you highlighted. Since this is a point not really related to the post, I didn't spend much time on it, but I was alluding to some of the issues noted regarding the various risks women have to face in such a situation. Hell, I'm not at all comfortable with dropping trou to use the great outdoors when it's necessary, and I don't have to wonder if someone else is scoping out my derriere. I can only imagine how much more uncomfortable it is for a woman who is already in a male-dominated field and likely has had to face no small degree of harassment.

...there are inventions for women that allow them to either pee standing up, or in the car. You'd have to google I quess, but I read about them in various magazines...

Here you go, from Canada's Mountain Equipment Co-op. And they seem to be available at REI too.

Oh. If I'm understanding you now, it's all a tempest in a teapot. You agreed with Jes all along on the safety issues, you just alluded to the issues she raised in a manner that she (and I) missed completely. No worries, and sorry to have misread you.

Re my 04:04 PM, is this thing on?

Is everyone talked out about it elsewhere?

[scratches head]

Did I annoy everyone to the point they're not speaking to me anymore?

And why the heck do I have to give a captcha answer with every comment?

Did I annoy everyone to the point they're not speaking to me anymore?

Nope. Personally, I found the comment informative, but not needing a reply.

Oh, wait, the captcha thing. Yeah, happening to me a lot too.

I don't know where it was discussed here -- I missed it (although I did see some peripheral references). In any case, best wishes on the deployment, Andrew.

There was something about it here, Gary.

Gary, LB: it doesn't seem to have been discussed, as such, here at ObWings (AFAICR): but Andrew discusses his upcoming change-of-scenery HERE (post for Dec. 18)

"Gary, LB: it doesn't seem to have been discussed, as such, here at ObWings (AFAICR): but Andrew discusses his upcoming change-of-scenery HERE (post for Dec. 18)"

Indeed, thanks for linking to the link I linked to.

[I'm going to stop head-scratching now, or I'll pierce my skull] (I needed to be informed of my own link? I give up.)

Anyway, my primary point was that I wish Andrew safety, understanding that that's not his primary mission. I sorta thought others might also want to wish him well in Iraq, but I give up. I'm clearly not understanding people well, as usual.

*WHY* am I asked to answer a captcha to post this?

Er, Gary, did you see the link I posted? It's to a discussion here at ObWings on the question.

Andrew: "There was something about it here, Gary."

As my aunts and uncles used to say, pish-tush.

"As for the ongoing efforts to shift security responsibilities to the Iraqis, I may soon have a better opportunity to speak to that fight."

That doesn't exactly translate clearly to "The Army has accepted my application to active duty and is sending me to Iraq as commander of a battalion MiTT team."

I understand, perfectly well, your being quiet about it here.

And you won't move out for -- 6 months, is it?

I just kinda thought that others here might also care, and want to wish you well.

But, then, I'm often bad about this sort of inter-human thing, and I apologize if I'm getting it wrong. I certainly don't want to put forward any awkwardness.

I'll shut up now. Or try to. (Maybe other people are as much, or more, unsure, as to how to best wish you well and safety as I am? Or maybe I'm just a dope, as ever.)

Oops, sorry Gary, my response was to a different comment of yours than the one you indicated.

Gary,

I may have pointed to the wrong comment. Further down in the thread I noted that I was probably going to get that assignment (I didn't find out for sure until yesterday afternoon), and there were quite a few expressions of goodwill. But your intent is noted and appreciated. For the record, I'll go to Fort Riley to train in March and head to Iraq in May.

Gary,

Ah, that was the wrong thread, try">http://www.typepad.com/t/comments?__mode=red&id=26475008">try here.

"Er, Gary, did you see the link I posted? It's to a discussion here at ObWings on the question."

I am feeling utterly stupid, but I saw the link, and don't see the discussion.

There were comments about you being posted to Iraq as commander of a battalion MiTT team?

I'm going completely insane in not seeing it.

Link?

Call me batshit insane for not reading "As for the ongoing efforts to shift security responsibilities to the Iraqis, I may soon have a better opportunity to speak to that fight" as saying what you later said, and I linked to, which is that you are going to Iraq as commander of a battalion MiTT team in a few months.

Who discussed this in that thread? WTF? (Gary's fingers plunge into his brain, revealing he is a complete and utter alien, unable to understand English in the slightest.)

"Ah, that was the wrong thread, try here."

You're pointing out as a discussion on ObWi the comment on your own blog that I linked to in the first place?

This truly is a plot to make me insane, isn't it?

Nope, you're not stupid. Or at least, if you are, this particular issue doesn't demonstrate it. ;) I forgot that the discussion kind of bounced about two different threads. The second thread is the one I should have linked in the first place.

Oy. I, on the other hand, am demonstrating stupidity in spades. I believe

WTF? Now it's eating my links?

Here is the discussion, I think. And if not, go to the Marking Time post and it's in there.

"Here is the discussion, I think."

Jeebus. Yeah, that's the sort of thing I expected to read.

I still have to believe that everyone here this afternoon was on a mission to drive me completely effing bats*t insane to keep claiming that other stuff was this. (No, I don't really believe that, but.)

People, I take prescribed mind-altering drugs; please don't spin me around and around and around like this.

It was really fairly frightening to keep being told that A=B, when I kept reading and that made no sense whatever, but people kept saying it did.

Please don't tell me over and over stuff that makes no sense, and isn't so, and that if you just read this link, it will say "Y," when it doesn't.

Thanks. (I went into therapy years ago, wondering why stuff didn't make sense; that an answer would be "oops, I'm an idiot about making a wrong link, and I'm talking nonsense" would have been useful to know, and isn't useful to have to relearn.)

Um, since that wasn't clear: I was saying I felt I was getting increasingly hostile, and trying to identify why I was feeling this increased hostility. I think I'm qualified to judge my own hostility levels, if not anyone else's.

Ok, got it. Agreed; all things inconsistent with that retracted.

You really, really need to read this book.

Coincidentally (or not) one of my work buddies has this in a position of prominence in his office.

And, for the record, I have seen "aim" exercised using plumbing different from mine. I couldn't begin to conduct a tutorial, though. Still, way different from just unzipping, whipping out a handy appendage and letting fly.

It's not like they started out believing they could kick our ass.

LJ: Feel very strange asking this to dr ngo but isn't this a bit like shooting Hitler in 1933? I think we were constrained to a course of escalation in Vietnam, especially since we were supposedly aiding a sovereign government. I agree that had the US presence been more robust in Korea, it might have given second thoughts, but that would have demanded a US public that was willing to overcome its war weariness and commit to a defense in depth to a country that was part of Imperial Japan. It seems that our general principles as a nation are always going to dictate that we aren't (or weren't) going to just, as I think Goldberg suggested, throw some 2 bit country up against the wall every 5 years or so.

I'm sure that I am going to get schooled on this, but I have to ask.

I've apparently managed to write in a way that conflates two slightly different, though closely related topics, and now I'm going to duck your question by claiming I was actually addressing the other one (than the one you asked about).

MY point (obviously not clear) was not about US policy and what we might have done to prevent the Korean or VN War. Rather it was to look at deterrence from their (our enemies') perspective, and note that the actions they took were not originally posited on the view that, "We are strong enough to beat the United States!," but rather, "We can probably obtain our objective without having to fight the United States." In the case of Korea, the DPRK apparently thought they could wipe out the ROK before the US got mobilized, so we would have to accept a fait accompli. In the case of Vietnam, the DRV/NLF (in the early 1960s) was trying very hard to calculate just how hard they could push in the South and stop just short of the US bombing or sending in ground troops.

In both cases they miscalculated, which was in fact my point. "Deterrence" only works if your opponent calculates the odds exactly the way you do. Or if they are so totally intimidated that they are not willing to run the slightest risk of miscalculation, which was not the case here. (This may be where Mao's "paper tiger" rhetoric comes in. In both cases, I believe, they thought, "The US won't come in, but even if they do, we'll survive".)

BTW, there are undoubtedly dozens of cases in which the "calculus of deterrence" does work, and we pay no attention to it (except for something like the Cuban Missile Crisis) because war does not break out and peace is, frankly, boring. (I'd probably still be employed today if a convenient civil war, with US involvement, had broken out in the Philippines about the time they were putting me out to pasture.)

Your question - an entirely legitimate one, but not one I intend to address fully - has to do with whether we could have made ourselves so perfectly perfectly clear that war could have been prevented. Perhaps, but as this is a "counterfactual," we can never be sure. Presumably certain actions of ours could have altered the actual sequence of events, but I'm not sure how much they would have changed the underlying dynamic. E.g., in Vietnam (which I know much better than Korea), I see no chance whatsoever that the communists would ever have said, "Shoot, the US has drawn the line, so we might as well write off the South forever." If we had set a clearer "trip-wire," they might have backed off a little in 1964 or thereabouts, but I'm not sure how much difference that would have made in the long run.

All of which is just a gloss on Andrew's original point about deterrence. Yes, we would like to be strong enough so that no other country can challenge us directly or invade us (as we so confidently invade other countries). And we pretty much are that. But to be so strong, and so clear about what our foreign interests are, and how much we are willing to do (and risk, and spend) to defend them, that no mistake can ever happen, seems to me beyond possibility.

Concur w/dr. ngo. Which is another reason, when balancing the interests of deterrence and minimizing the temptation to use the armed forces, to err on the side on minimizing temptation.

If I may pick a nit in Dr. Ngo's excellent comment:

Deterrence works not when the enemy evaluates things as you do, but when (by luck or plan) you correctly predict their responses. What you do for deterrence of a particular enemy may often vary from what you do in your own defense as you formulate your own needs.

Other than that, right on. :)

Riffing a bit on dr. ngo's post, I've wondered if running through the North Vietnamese leaders' minds (at least those heavily influenced by Ho Chi Minh) was the thought, maybe the Americans will come to their senses and go back to treating us the way they were back in the day, since they have this business about changing their government every few years. (The most striking thing for me about reading William Duiker's biography of Ho was the awful sense of inevitability about the conflict between the US and Vietnam: the one determined to try to rein in Communism, the other determined to control their own destiny no matter what. I got the sense from that book that the conflict was foreordained by 1946.) Somehow this misinterpretation of the Other's mind seems to have some relevance to events of today. But as I said, I'm just riffing, and so will leave off the air guitar now.

Bruce: Point taken. What I would have said, had I been thinking and writing clearly, was that deterrence works if they calculate the odds not necessarily as you do, but as you think they will.

Which is what you said.

Given the general difficulty in general of figuring out what other people are going to do (viz. game theory, except in the real world without the opportunity for lots of do-overs), and the specific American problem with appreciating the perspectives of cultures not our own, I concur even more strongly with Andrew's last point than he does with mine. God help us if our fate ever depends on correctly divining the intentions of Koreans, Vietnamese, or Iraqis!

(I'm not a believer, but I do remember being told that God watches out for the blind, little children, and Americans.)

JakeB: You're certainly right that the Vietnamese leaders "knew" American politics far better than we knew theirs - but even they got it wrong sometimes. Let me add a supplement to my previous utterance: God help the rest of the world if their fate ever depends on correctly divining the intentions of the USA!

God watches out for the blind, little children, and Americans.

I think the line is 'fools, drunkards, and the United States.' Twain, isn't it?

Andrew's deployment to Iraq gets linked by Instapundit. A short link, but one that's probably going to get Andrew more attention than anything coming from here.

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