Major Dad 1984

Cursed By A Classical Education

Let's just say that I intend to use this blog to blow off some steam that I might be feeling with the International/National media, my work situation, or maybe even to tee off on the family in a humorous way of course!

12/09/2004

Armored vs. Un-Armored Vehicles in Iraq

Okay, let me try and make things perfectly clear. I do not want anyone to go into harm's way without the equipment, weapons, or ammunition required to complete their assigned mission. On the other hand, I have to fault the leaders, tacticians, and national command authority on their conduct of the war on insurgents, IEDs, and RPG ambushes. Here's my idea about how to fix the problem...


1. We've all heard about the "highways of death" and "ambush alleys" throughout Iraq. It's time to get tough here...and the interim government can certainly help us here. We need to start patrolling, conducting surveillance, and absolutely hammering ANYONE that approaches these routes under the cover of darkness. Maybe it's time to really "let loose the dogs of war" and start dealing with the sneaky little cowards that choose to fight us from the shadows.

2. We need to figure out how to get the "good" Iraqis that are willing to be tolerant of the differences between all the different peoples of Iraq AND to give up the "bad" Iraqis that are attempting to re-establish a heavy handed regime like the Baath Party...or a theocracy based strictly on Islam. It cannot happen for a number of reasons, but mostly because you can't get the different Islamic factions to work together very peacefully.

3. We need to start going back to the days of "Loose Lips Sink Ships." There is so much information available in the unclassified press for ANY enemy to help establish their own doctrine and tactics to defeat our forces. We need our press to act more responsibly. I'm not advocating military gag orders...but just because a reporter happens to talk to a bitching soldier, doesn't mean that the story is necessarily newsworthy.

The firestorm created by the Rumsfeld "Town Hall" meeting in the past few days....never should have happened. While I believe that soldiers might not understand why every HMMWV over there isn't armored, that tells me that their leaders have done a poor job explaining the "whys" of the answer. The bottom line is that HMMWVs were never intended to be armored vehicles. This changed within the past ten years where SOME HMMWVs were upgraded and given a little thicker skin to operate in certain areas of the battlefield where their brothers with vinyl doors have no business being.

Without going into any details that would put my butt behind bars in Leavenworth...trust me that there are better things on the way to the troops in potential trouble spots around the globe. Pretty soon it will be funny to watch the results. We'll get the "bad guys" or maybe better yet, they'll get themselves.

This issue really had me twisted around today while I cruised back toward home...but maybe my real bottom line is that the session was intended to be between the SecDef and the soldiers. If I were king and had my way, I'd ensure that the press was given something better to do than to make mountains out of molehills on topics they have just a fleeting familiarity with.

Read the rest of the longer story!

15 Comments:

At 10:31 PM, Blogger Jim said...

MajorDad.
i agree the troops should be well protected, but the methods you describe to "get the bad ones" seems harsh. I mean, blasting people who are walking around at night near well traveled roads seems... murderous. I think it's just your anger talking.
We'll never agree about the "good" and "bad" Iraqis. I still think a good many of them view their plight as freedom fighters. There is a foreign power occupying the land, and whether or not the insurgents are Baathist and want Saddam back is not proven.
Either way it stinks to high heaven to me. Our fine young people being killed, and many more Iraqis being killed. "Bad" or not a life is a life, which is why I view war as a last case option, when all else fails and we are under attack or attack is imminent. This is not the case in Iraq to me, given what the media reports.
Still, I hate to hear our troops are unsafe, and yes we both agree the higher ups are to blame.

I'm with you about media being unhelpful. I see Bin Laden or some other Mullah reading threats on TV several times a week, ensuring the public will remain fearful at all times.

 
At 5:40 AM, Blogger the urban fox said...

1 - The army is already "hammering ANYONE" who dares to walk their own streets, hence the civilian body count.

2 - A person is not "bad" because they disagree with American objectives. As you say, Iraq's population is diverse. It is important that all members of society are involved in what is happening to their country, without being labelled "good" or "bad" in such a simplistic way.

3 - Another argument in favour of press censorship. The Bush administration is pushing this line heavily too. Wonder why? Clue: it's nothing to do with national security.

4 - Rumsfeld's speech was less about reassuring the troops and more about aggressive posturing to the rest of the world about America's military capability, because everyone is aware that the army are stretched very thinly. If you have a finger in every pie, soon you're going to run out of fingers. It doesn't take a genius to work out that another aggressive country could use that to its advantage.

And aside from all that - hope you had a good trip, Major Dad!

 
At 5:35 PM, Blogger MajorDad said...

Fox...need to respond to this one, point by point. My comments in bold...1 - The army is already "hammering ANYONE" who dares to walk their own streets, hence the civilian body count.

What are your sources on this unbelievable body count? You make it sound as if the coalition's blowing away anything that moves on the streets in Iraq. If that were the case, I'm quite sure we'd be hearing about it at every turn. The press here in the states is pretty liberal...doubt that they're part of a conspiracy to keep things "quiet."

Perhaps I should have been a little more clear...could you live with a curfew in the areas that have been hardest by the IEDs and roadside bombs? Anything moving out there between dusk and dawn...blown away? I'll bet if you asked the families of those killed along those routes by the weapons in question would line up squarely behind me.
2 - A person is not "bad" because they disagree with American objectives. As you say, Iraq's population is diverse. It is important that all members of society are involved in what is happening to their country, without being labelled "good" or "bad" in such a simplistic way.

Fox, I really don't buy into the idea that the American/British leadership are trying to establish a little America or little Britain in Iraq. What I do think is that they're trying to assist the interim Iraqi government in establishing a society where one does not have to worry about voicing their opinions...much the way we do in our respective countries. They're trying to establish a society where religious tolerance is the order of the day rather than the exception to the rule. While I won't claim to know all the nuances between the different sects and tribes in Iraq, I have to believe that one day the Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds can indeed learn to live in relative harmony. Bombings at rival mosques can be a thing for kids to read about in HISTORY books, rather than the front pages of their newspapers or watch on the evening news on television.

Would you try to argue the fact that the average Iraqi has never experienced this kind of freedom? Even before Saddam, it wasn't commonplace.
3 - Another argument in favour of press censorship. The Bush administration is pushing this line heavily too. Wonder why? Clue: it's nothing to do with national security.

What's the conspiracy here? What exactly do you think is being surpressed? Seems to me that if the freedom of the press were truly being taken away...we never would have heard about the question of the SecDef about armored vehicles....4 - Rumsfeld's speech was less about reassuring the troops and more about aggressive posturing to the rest of the world about America's military capability, because everyone is aware that the army are stretched very thinly. If you have a finger in every pie, soon you're going to run out of fingers. It doesn't take a genius to work out that another aggressive country could use that to its advantage.

If someone decides to get "froggy" then they can jump and see just how thin we're stretched. While we might never be able to commit ground forces in another location...I don't think we need to. Airpower and Tomahawk missiles can put a damper on just about anyones party...let's see just how gutsy the other members of the "Axis of Evil" are.

As far as Mr. Rumsfeld's comments about war being a "come as you are" event...isn't it? As much as you plan...as much as you prepare, unless you have an agent in place to confirm your suspicions about the enemy...how can you get it right each and every time?

We can thank the good folks at the United Nations for not insisting that the post-Gulf War sanctions were followed through with.

We can thank a number of our "allies" for not standing shoulder to shoulder with us during the period of 1991-2003 in looking the other way and now we find out that they were feathering their own nests, much as the United States and Britain are being accused of now. Where's the evidence? Do you think that the American contractors are keen on the fact that they're losing employees to insurgent activity?
And aside from all that - hope you had a good trip, Major Dad!

Aside to coming back and finding emotional tirades...fueled by fears and lack of facts...it was a pretty nice drive. I don't throw bogus facts around and I try to keep the emotion out of it. I'm looking for logic...as always.

Good to be back on the high ground...

MajorDad1984

 
At 8:35 AM, Blogger the urban fox said...

Major Dad, I'm a little confused if you're suggesting my comment was an "emotional tirade". It's just my take on the issues you mentioned, plain and simple. No extreme emotions, beyond the usual general compassion for humanity.

The fundamental problem the two of us have is that we both interpret the same information in completely different ways. There's probably nothing I could say to convince you that politics aren't as straightforward as you'd like to believe, and there's probably nothing you could say to convince me that I'm seeing "conspiracies" where there are none.

But I'll run through your points quickly, to show that I do listen to what you say:

1 - The enormous civilian body count has been widely reported, even in mainstream press. Are we exposed to completely different news sources? Perhaps so. The curfew which entitles soldiers to shoot any man on the streets of Fallujah after a certain time at night has been very widely documented. I refer you to this journalist's Iraq blog for starters, but it's just the tip of the primary reportage iceberg.

2 - You're reiterating the 'official' line here. I don't believe the motive for invasion is this one. Unfortunately, politicians always cook up palatable public PR motives which are entirely separate from their real reasoning. This isn't a "conspiracy theory", it's standard practice. Any politician or political worker can confirm this. Our job as citizens is to read between the lines when we see gaps in the logic they offer us. At times when people are dying in their thousands because of the selfish motives of the rich and powerful, this close watch is especially important.

3 - The press are "free" to serve the interests of the few enormous multinational conglomerates who own most of their outlets. Again, this is not a "conspiracy". It's business. Anyone who's educated to even the lowest level of business studies competence can tell you this. People who are scared consume more. People who are told relentlessly they are at risk don't protest against staged wars designed to strip weak countries of their valuable resources for the continued benefit of the rich. If you genuinely think the interests of the huge corporations coincides with the interests of ordinary people, I am incredulous to say the least.

4 - I made no comment about Rumsfeld's "come as you are" point. I'm sure you're right on that. But you also mention the UN. I'd just add that it's interesting how the United Nations is being attacked by America only now, at a time when it does not back America's actions, when America has always been the overwhelmingly dominant member of the UN. Any crime the UN as an organisation committed, the USA must have been not only complicit in it, but actively involved.

Again, I'm sure none of this will have the slightest effect on your views, and that's absolutely fine.
We've always agreed to disagree in the past. But I note you make two mentions of "emotion" in your reply, which suggests you disapprove of the nature of my response. If you would rather I stopped responding with explanations of why I disagree - which I accept may have become tiresomely predictable given our irreconcilable differences of opinion - then I will of course respect your wishes.

Have a great day, Major Dad.

 
At 11:10 AM, Blogger MajorDad said...

Fox...you and the rest of the like minded thinkers are welcome...but I will continue to ask for facts. Just be prepared.

If you choose to remain scarce, up to you. I can keep up my end of a debate...more fun when there's someone willing to do the same.

Yes, I did use the word emotion twice...as you're not treating the situation fairly and failing to recognize that there are random acts of kindness going on in both Iraq and Afghanistan (just to name two).

The situation with infrastructure that you and I both take for granted is improving...and from what I understand, well above the Saddam era when it comes to electricity/water/etc.

You want to look at the glass as being half empty...I want to look at it as being half full.

See you on the high ground!

MajorDad1984

 
At 12:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Major Dad,

You mentioned the ambush alleys and highways of death. The road to the Baghdad airport has been described as one such road, and it was said to be 6 miles long. Can't we post soldiers along the road or else have them patrol in enough force to keep this 6 mile stretch safe enough so that our people don't get blown up every time they have to make a run to the airport? I've read that the British have prohibited their people from using this road. If the bad guys keep hitting us on the same road, why not secure that road? Are we that short of people that we know where we keep getting hit but can't secure a 6 mile long road? If so, why don't the commanders ask for more people? The administration keeps saying that they'll send more people if the commanders request them - are they all afraid of Rummy?

 
At 3:56 PM, Blogger MajorDad said...

Regarding the "Yellow Brick Road" between the city and the airport. I don't want to go into too much detail...as I think that it doesn't serve any purpose than give the "bad guys" (Yes Fox and others...there are BAD IRAQIs) ideas about how to do their evil better. I don't talk about troop deployments, locations, or tactics here.

I agree that there has to be a better way to keep the major roads clear...and it does absolutely bamboozle me when I hear of the same checkpoints getting bombed day after day...or problems along the same stretch of road.

If I took fire from a building (doesn't matter what kind) it probably would be three strikes and you're out with me. The third time I received fire from a location...that location would probably cease to exist. I would NOT leave two stones/bricks/whatever stacked. You'd have to ask yourself what truck would just dump that much rubble all in one place at the same time. Sorry, that's the way I would handle it. Guess it's a good thing that my time for those kinds of decisions are past. I know that the BAD GUYS would think so anyway.

What I would propose...is to institute curfews along the problem highways/roads and the penalty for violation would be a display of overwhelming military firepower. Once "they" got the message...we'll have to simply be prepared for the next "good idea" they have.

I'm not trying to defend Rumsfeld...I'm not that impressed by the man.

As to why people seem to be afraid of Rummy...I don't know. I have noticed in the 20+ years I've been associated with the military that there are very few career military officers that are willing to buck the system. It also transfers over to the civilian side of DoD. Maybe that's why I've been stalled at the same grade for over 11 years. If you ask me a question, you'd better be prepared to hear the answer. If you ask me what I think, likewise, I'll give you exactly what you've asked for.

For any active duty readers out there...you can hide your identity here quite easily. I'd like you to tell me if I'm misinterpreting what's happened over the course of 20 years. I'm finding it more and more prevalent that military staffs simply validate what the "boss" thinks. Woe be it to anyone that tells the "emporer" that he has no clothes.

See y'all on the high ground!

MajorDad1984

 
At 7:05 PM, Blogger Jim said...

MajorDad
No need for anonymity with me, I know your heart is in the right place. My view is that the military is doing exactly what it is instructed to do under horrible conditions. The young men and women are by and large doing a great and honorable job.

I support our troops, I just don't support the decisions of the administration which have been proven to be based on false intelligence. We could guess all day and night if they knew better, I think they did for sure know better but I can't prove a thing.

Now the pretense is to help the Iraqis become a democratic secular republic, something they never asked for- never worked for- and they certinly didn't spontaniously write their new Constitution.

I feel the troops and ourselves are being fed party line, with enough "opposition" in the media to make it seem that all sides are being explored. Fox has one point nailed: The media behemoths are not going to take the powers that be to task over much of anything. Bad for business. They also want to dwell on fearful things, because that sells. They want to appear neutral so they report occasional "opposition" pieces. We cannot get neutral news here if even such a thing exists.

To sum up my response: the troops have performed well and most are very honorable, including you. When they are put in impossible situations for wrong reasons, I object!

 
At 11:45 PM, Blogger Aravis said...

I just came across this article and am wondering what you think Major. This is not a trick question, I'm genuinely curious. :0) http://www.kentucky.com/mld/kentucky/news/nation/10401608.htm

 
At 11:00 AM, Blogger MajorDad said...

Ah...the age old issue of "cannibalization" or the more proper term...."controlled substitution."

I've been out of the active force for a little more than 12 years....but I'm very familiar with the issue. Happens during peacetime as well. The bottom line answer...is if you ever want to see easily pilfered items again (fuel cans, water cans, doors, windshields, etc) you take them off the vehicles and store them somewhere less accessible.

Now...you're probably looking for me to either jump on the band wagon and say that these guys/girls should be hung from the highest yard arm...or be given medals for their ingenuity and ability to carry on with the mission.

Can I put them in the pokey for three months and then give them a medal?

The fact that one unit basically abandoned the vehicles/equipment is bad. Probably shouldn't leave tractor trailers and other vehicles laying around the battlefield. The Ohio guard unit referenced should have been more honest about what they did. Every vehicle in the Army...and probably the entire force, has a distinct bumper number painted. It's not hard for the trained eye (been in the Army more than a week) to look at the abbreviations/numbers and have a pretty good idea what the parent unit is. To claim ignorance like the major serving a 6 month sentence...is an out and out lie. They knew the vehicles weren't theirs. They could have reported what they had done...and it would have been fine. The last charge on the list, conspiracy...that's what put them behind bars and rightfully so.

Does that answer the question...or do you need more?

Bottom line: Great job. You kept the fuel moving. Bad job...you should be honest in all that you do.

From the high ground.

MajorDad1984

 
At 11:25 AM, Blogger Aravis said...

I wasn't looking for any answer; I just wanted to hear your thoughts. Thanks for sharing them.

 
At 1:55 PM, Blogger Patrick said...

"The bottom line is that HMMWVs were never intended to be armored vehicles. This changed within the past ten years where SOME HMMWVs were upgraded and given a little thicker skin to operate in certain areas of the battlefield where their brothers with vinyl doors have no business being."

I can't prove this but it seems to me that there have been a lot of deaths in Iraq due to overturned vehicles.

If you are putting a great deal of weight, in the form of armor, on a vehicle that was not designed for it, it would seem to me that it might easily have stability problems, especially at higher speeds. There must be a trade off between the protection of armor and the stability and maneuverability of the HMMV. Besides, from what I've read, the armor plates are mounted on the sides and top of the car, but not on the underside of the vehicle. If they are running over IED's, that would be "unhelpful" as Rummy might say. Just putting sandbags on the floor isn't going to help very much.

To be frank, what the hell are HMMV's doing there in the first place? There are certainly plenty of Bradley's and LAV's around. If it's because they want the Soldiers and Marines to be more visible in order to win "hearts and minds", screw 'em.

 
At 3:31 PM, Blogger MajorDad said...

Patrick's nailed this one...adding to what I said. He's absolutely right...that HMMWVs probably ought not go out with an awful lot of support...and FIREPOWER!

Brads and tanks would help...but the bottom line is that some of these IEDs are so powerful, they've destroyed our tanks. We need to figure out how to keep these little bastards (Yes, UrbanFox...there are BAD people over there) from going out under the cover of darkness and rigging these devices. Better surveillance...sweeping...and tactics are probably a better solution than piling armor on under engineered, under engined vehicles. We're doing the same thing we've always done...gotten ready to fight the last war again.

Tactics and threats evolve over time. An increase in the intelligence capabilities (HUMINT) would sure help us keep up with the Jones' (Hajis?) in this regard.

See y'all on the high ground...with OVERWHELMING SUPERIOR FIREPOWER!

Peace through strength.

MajorDad1984

 
At 7:41 PM, Blogger Jim said...

OOOOOps
I didn't see the part where you asked only active duty readers to comment. My bad!

 
At 8:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim...never a problem. I've been accused of not reading the problem myself.

I wanted to hear from today's military...to see if I'm missing a key point.

MajorDad1984

 

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