17 May 2009

Links of the Day

Two links for today.

  • The first link is an article entitled "Change from Above" from Vertical Online (obviously, a helicopter-related magazine/website). Although the article spends a great amount of time discussing the ins-and-outs of helicopter flight over Afghanistan with the US Department of State (and their pilots from DynCorp), there is quite a bit of talk about current counter-narcotics strategy in Afghanistan. It's worth taking a look at. Also of note is that DynCorp is operating a fleet of twin-engined Huey helicopters, Soviet-designed Mi-17 Hips, and even DC-3 cargo planes to ferry around diplomats and participate in counter-narcotics operations. The article's well worth a look.
  • Another article is from the Washington Post, entitled "Countering the Military's Latest Fad". Although the article is critical and harshly worded (particularly in the title), it brings up a number of good points. Although our new coutner-insurgency doctrine was sorely needed, and represented a huge improvement in our ability to adapt to modern conflict, it's not the complete be-all-do-all-end-all to all of America's conflicts. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are not "pure" counterinsurgencies in the vein of Malaysia and Vietnam. Rather--let's repeat it again--they're hybrid conflicts, combining a number of different types of phenomena in one geographic region. While the new counter-insurgency doctrine is certainly a critical component of waging modern "Small Wars", it is only one component of it. Although the improved security situation in Iraq owes much to the Troop Surge (and when I say "Surge", I also include the counter-insurgency strategy which accompanies it), but there were also a number of other factors which also came into play at roughly the same time, such as the Awakening movement and the stand-down of the Mahdi Army. I should also mention that, although the article is critical of General Petraeus' enthusiasm for applying Iraqi counter-insurgency principles to Afghanistan, the General has also gone on record in noting that his staff was, in fact, making a serious assessment as to whether or not the Iraqi Surge strategy would work in Afghanistan. Time will tell, and with new leadership, new troops and a new outlook on Afghanistan, things look as if they can only improve.


Roger Klang said...

I personaly am interested in knowing if the American soldier smokes pot or do other drugs, like some of the American soldiers did in Vietnam in the seventees? I know that a heavy machine operator such as a chopter pilot can not, and must not, do drugs. But do you know anything about the foot soldiers drug use (or abuse), or absens of drug using? The picture I have gotten is that drug use in the army in a war zone, is not as common as it was during the war in Vietnam.
Looking forward to an answer. That is - if you are able to tell.

Roger Klang, Lund

Starbuck said...

I would actually like to talk about this in another post, but drug use among Soldiers is EXTREMELY rare. In my seven years in the Army, I've only known two people that have used drugs. They were unemployed within a month (and when you consider that it takes time to try, convict, and have them process out of the Army, that's quick)

The US Army mandates that all Soldiers undergo regular urinalysis, largely as a result of the Vietnam experience.

My experience may be a little odd--drug use in the aviation community is rare, but even in most portions of the Army, it's safe to say that drug use is nowhere near where it was during the Vietnam era.

Roger Klang said...

And of course, during the Vietnam era the United States had a draft system, and many soldiers in combat would have been glad to have been kicked out of the army if cought smoking pot or doing other drugs, so urin analysis was not an option for the army then, at least not without alternative punishment. But the modern warriors risk their livelyhood if caught, so urin analysis is a very effective method to avoid drugproblems in the force today.

I think that there is both upsides and downsides to having a professional army, and this is a big upside for Uncle Sam.

Roger Klang

El Goyito said...

Drug use, however, among the ANA is quite another matter: