18 June 2009

Links of the Day

A number of "links of the day" from some great sources.

Link #1 comes from Foreign Policy Online, and it concerns Fidel Castro's son, Antonio, being involved in a relationship with a foxy Colombian lady named Claudia. The only problem, of course, was that it was an Internet relationship.

And, of course, the fact that "she" was a dude, and a reporter nonetheless. Looks like Castro just got PWNT.

Ever since my days moderating my university's message board, this little practical joke has come up on a number of occasions—sadly enough, people have spent countless hours developing alternate identities on Internet message boards. And of all the alternate identities they decide to pick, they decide to be chicks. WTF.

Links #2 and #3 come from Small Wars Journal. Link #2 is a compilation of a collection of essays about "professors in the trenches". It's a joint collaboration between military officers and social scientists discussing the partnership between the military and academia in combat—and interesting breaking down of the traditional barriers that have always existed between these two groups. Link #3 involves air power in the small wars, written by a US Air Force intelligence officer. I'd comment on it, but Mongo beat me to the punch on this one.

Link #4: Kings of War weighs in on a recent op-ed on counter-insurgency written by a Pakistani military officer that has been making the milblogging circuits. A number of prominent milbloggers have already added their opinions to this article (Ricks, Exum), agreeing in many areas and disagreeing with some.

KOW weighs in on the op-ed as well, and also provides a critique of American counterinsurgency doctrine. The COIN manual (Field Manual 3-24, available on Kindle) describes counter-insurgency as the "graduate level" of war. KOW begs to differ, noting that there are many foreign militaries which have proven to be quite adept at putting down insurgencies, but are hardly a match for a modern mechanized force.

It's mostly a matter of perspective. Many of foreign militaries focus on counter-insurgency for two reasons: first, because insurgencies are their greatest threats, and secondly, because they simply do not have the funding available to justify expensive fighter jets and main battle tanks. They are good at COIN because that's all they do.

The US military in 2003, on the other hand, was trained, equipped and funded to fight conventional opponents. A budget which greatly exceeds that of most other nations in the world combined helps to ensure that the US military can simply overwhelm many conventional opponents with firepower and maneuver with relative ease (provided the campaign plan is relatively sound). Conventional war is the US military's comfort zone.

Conventional war, however, assumes that the US is still fighting in an environment based on first through third generation warfare patterns. That is to say that is based on the model of nation-state warfare in which diplomacy fails, the military does its thing, and then the diplomats take over again. Counter-insurgency, on the other hand, requires a well-thought-out strategy and complete integration of not only military, but also government, economic, cultural and diplomatic efforts throughout the entire campaign. Insurgency can negate the vast advantage in firepower that conventional militaries have often relied upon, forcing Soldiers to actually think about their actions and develop a greater strategy. The complexities of integrating the non-military aspects into a campaign plan, as well as learning to not rely on the incredible firepower that Western militaries have come to take for granted makes counter-insurgency the graduate level of war for Western-style militaries.

Link #5: Tucker Max just gave an advance screening of his movie, "I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell" to paratroopers of the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division (wait, was that the same brigade that featured paratroopers on that website in 2006...).

The troopers got Tucker a flask with the "AA" logo on one side, and an "All the way" on the other side.


El Goyito said...

Tucker Max may well be our version of Oscar Wilde. It would do him well to read "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" - or better yet "De Profundis."

El Goyito said...

Ok, scratch the "Portrait of the Artist..." (that was Joyce of course) and put "The Picture of Dorian Gray" in its place! Let me get my classic works of lit straight. Aaaargh.