Monday, November 15, 2010

Winning with Warlike Souls

One of the many famed quotations attributed to General George S. Patton is his assessment of fortified defensive positions, “Fixed fortifications are monuments to man's stupidity. Any thing built by man can be destroyed by him.” Patton also believed that "the only sure defense is offense, and the efficiency of the offense depends on the warlike souls of those conducting it." The Colonel fervently believes that our republic needs to pay heed.

With the 2010 holiday travel season rapidly approaching, and nine years into our phony war with politically and militarily weak Islamic extremists employing terrorism as the only effective weapon available to them, the American people, in particular the traveling public, are stupidly subjected to increasingly onerous inspection regimes that are the TSA version of the Siegfried Line, against threats already discovered and narrowly thwarted, and therefore discarded as an ineffective tactic by the enemy. One could easily, and the Colonel will noisily, make the very good argument that the fixed fortifications through which the American people must wastefully weave in order to use public transportation are more of a hindrance to the protected than an obstacle to those against whose attacks we are presumably protected.

The Colonel is exasperated beyond words at the inexplicable, inefficient, and ineffective way in which the greatest republic in the history of man has frittered away blood and treasure against a flimsy foe. He has said it before, and the Colonel believes it bears pedantic repetition, if the United States had responded to the aerial attack on Pearl Harbor by the Imperial Japanese Navy in the same way we have, FOR NINE YEARS AND COUNTING, responded to the Islamic Extremists attack on 9/11, we would still have a fleet stationed in the middle of the Pacific intercepting individual Japanese aircraft. That may sound to some a cheap and effective tactic, but staying on the defense and giving an enemy time to develop increasingly effective offensive weapons and tactics is simply a recipe for disaster and defeat.

Most disappointingly to the Colonel, he is beginning to believe that the enemy is winning.

The goal of an enemy employing terror as a tactic is to unsettle you psychologically. He can't beat you operationally on the battlefield, but he can cause you to make decisions that are in his favor strategically. Particularly, he can hurt you more on the homefront than on the battlefield and that is the purest definition of success for anyone fighting America. Our response to terrorism has been to punish our population, in order to "keep them safe." That is a win for the enemy.

The goal of an enemy employing terror as a tactic is to incite panic, not only in the populace but in their leadership. Panic leads to decision-making such as that in which a nation's principles are sacrificed in the name of the safety of a relative few. Case in point--the torture of Kalid Sheik Mohammed, justified by the claims that information so gained has thwarted attacks that would surely have killed Americans and allies. The Colonel stands firm in his conviction that the lives of none are so precious as to justify the discard of the American principles of human decency and rule of law to protect.

One of the seminal books in the Colonel's early professional military education was John G. Hubbel's P.O.W.; A Definitive History of the American Prisoner-of-War Experience in Vietnam, 1964-1973. What so deeply impressed the Colonel was not so much the incredible and monstrously inhumane torture endured by American fighting men at the hands of their communist captors, but the reasons for their resilience, chief among them being the sure knowledge that America was better than their captors; that America would never submit its helpless captives to any mistreatment, let alone torture. The Colonel is dismayed that, in our current fight, we have stepped into the gutter with the enemy. That is a win for them.

The Colonel is afraid that this situation is destined to continue its descent towards defeat for America. It is inevitable that our enemy will find a crease in our static, fortified domestic defenses and our populace will pay the price for our leaders' unwillingness to prosecute this war with Patton's "warlike soul."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Limited Membership

There aren't many organizations to which the Colonel confers the dubious honor of his membership, or into which the Colonel has been granted inclusion, for that matter.

The Colonel doesn't belong to organizations that support elected lawmakers and political candidates whose agendas include unconstitutional aims. Therefore, you won't find the Colonel's name on the rolls of the AARP..., nor the NRA, for that matter.

"Why not the NRA," the five of you who regularly waste valuable rod and cone time perusing posts hereon may ask?

The NRA supports congressional candidates who caucused, or would have, with the political party that has done more to undermine the constitutional foundations of our republic than any external enemy would dare hope. Which party was that? The Colonel will give you two guesses and the first one doesn't count.

Other than his local church, the Colonel doesn't belong to any charitable organizations nor materially support any of the plethora of causes that dot the guilt-inducing social landscape. There are no ribbons, of any color, on his lapel, bumper, nor door. The Colonel gives to his church, the Lord of which he trusts to multiply his offerings and use to show His Grace.

Don't trust your church with your tithes and offerings? You belong to the wrong "church" for the wrong reasons.

The Colonel pays no dues to a union, no obeisance to group or gang. No fez on his mantle. No ring on his finger--save the one the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda placed there 34 years ago.

There are these few things in the Colonel's life and heart: He is a black-hearted sinner saved by the grace of God; ecstatically married to his best friend; a proud dad and prouder grandad; an American citizen; an Ole Miss Rebel...; and..., the Colonel is a Marine.

What else could a man ask for?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Corps Novembers

On Wednesday, this week, the Colonel's beloved Corps celebrates it's 235th birthday, and a day later our nation sets aside the day to honor all those who have served the nation in its armed forces. In honor of the occasion, the Colonel republishes the following, first posted four years ago.

November is an important month for Marines, and is particularly a month tied to memories for this Marine. The obvious reason for its importance to Marines is that the Corps celebrates its establishment on 10 November. On that date in 1775, nearly 9 months BEFORE the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a rebellious outlaw group of landed gentry and merchants, ostensibly acting in representation of the will of the people of the 13 British colonies in North America, and calling themselves the Continental Congress, resolved that two battalions of Marines be raised for service with an all but non-existent rebel fleet (a resolution for establishing a navy had only been passed less than 4 weeks previous). Marines attach great celebratory import to the date 10 November, but few realize that the two battalions initially authorized by Congress were actually never raised.

You see, Congress had this great idea. They wanted to invade Canada. Mind you, we had just initiated open conflict with the greatest nation on the planet by skirmishing with its small occupation/constabulary force in America, and needed to be thinking about protecting the territorial integrity of the 13 Colonies against the sure to come full-scale British military operation to quell the rebellion. But, Congress wasn't thinking about border security (sound familiar?) and fancied themselves strategists of the first order. Part of their great invasion plan was an attack on the British naval base at Halifax, Nova Scotia. The two battalions of Marines the Continental Congress resolved to raise were to be the assault force of that naval raid. George Washington, in command of the Continental Army, objected to the diversion of resources, and the plan (along with the two battalions of Marines) never got past the drawing board.

But, an American navy of sorts was growing (converted merchant ships mostly) and the British naval model called for Marines on board to act as the captain's security force (18th Century sailors were an undisciplined lot), as sharpshooters during engagements at sea, and as a landing force for small-scale expeditions ashore. The American colonists were British after all, and they copied the Royal Navy right down to the printed regulations. There was an abundance of out-of-work able seamen in colonial seaports, and some of the more trustworthy were enlisted to serve as Marines. A tavern-keeper with scant martial or maritime experience was the first Marine officer commissioned by the Continental Congress. Samuel Nicholas was evidently prized for his recruiting skills and for the fact that he owned Tun Tavern in Philadelphia--a local watering hole frequented by the aforementioned idle able seamen. To this day, Marines celebrate their birthday with a toast of rum-punch, supposedly the drink supplied by Nicholas to seal the deal on each enlistment. One has to wonder how many toasts were drunk BEFORE the aforementioned idle able seamen scrawled their X on the enlistment contract.

November is an important month for Marines for other reasons as well. On 10 November 1918, one hundred and forty-three years to the day after the Continental Congress had resolved to raise two battalions of Marines, two brigades (or the remnants thereof) of Marines prepared for the final assault of the First World War (that operation--the crossing of the Meuse River--occurred the night before the war ended with an armistice on 11 November 1918). That a United States Marine Corps even existed at that point is an amazing and twisted story of near-extinction, evolution of missions, and fighting spirit of Marine leaders who tenaciously fought to save their jobs. But, a Corps of Marines did exist when the US entered the War in France in 1917, and Marines quickly established a name for themselves (thanks in great part to Army censorship of their own exploits) at the bitter battles of Belleau Wood, Soisson, Chateau Thiery, and Mont Blanc. Not much of the original two Marine brigades survived the war. What did survive was a reputation for battlefield ferocity, and perhaps more importantly, experience by senior Marine leaders in large scale military operations and staff planning.

The month of November has another Marine Corps red-letter date--20 November 1943. On that date, at the conclusion of the first year of our war with Japan, the Second Marine Division conducted the first full-scale test of amphibious assault doctrine developed by Marines during the interwar years. While amphibious landing operations had been conducted earlier in the war, most notably at Guadalcanal, the 20 November D-Day on Betio in the Southwest Pacific Tarawa Atoll, was the Corps' first truly opposed amphibious assault. It was a near disaster, plagued by poor intelligence regarding the tides and reefs surrounding the island, poor application of naval gunfire support, and horrible ship-to-shore communications. The Japanese commander of the island had boasted that his defenses were so formidable that it would take "a million men, a thousand years" to overcome. Five thousand Marines of the Second Marine Division took Tarawa in less than 4 days. The cost was horrific--1085 Americans gave their lives for that speck of coral--but the payoff was a treasure trove of lessons-learned that helped to perfect the conduct of amphibious operations and made possible successful Allied amphibious assault landings around the globe--across the Pacific to bring Japan to its knees, and across the English Channel to force Hitler into his death bunker in Berlin.

From a force of 6 Divisions and a like number of Air Wings, the Marine Corps, following cessation of hostilities in 1945, dropped to less than a third of that size and was scattered in reserve when Kim Il Sung (the current North Korean Commie's daddy) sent his forces into South Korea in June of 1950. Scraped together quickly from mostly WWII veteran reservists, the understrength First Marine Division spearheaded MacArthur's bold 15 September 1950 Inchon landing that turned the flank of communist forces pinning the remnants of US and South Korean defenders holding the Pusan Perimeter at the southern tip of the peninsula. Two and a half months later, the First Marine Division had retaken Seoul, re-embarked on amphibious shipping, sailed around the peninsula to Wonson, and advanced to the North Korean border with China. In the bitter cold of one of the worst winters in a region known for bad winters (history is replete with battles fought in record-breaking winters, as if God tries to cool off warring mankind's ardor), the First Marine Division was attacked, on 27 November 1950, by the ten divisions of the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army Ninth Army Group. Battling sub-zero cold and 100,000 Chinese, the Marines conducted a fighting withdrawal back to the coast and survived, barely, as a fighting force. But, leave it to Marines to celebrate even a terrible defeat such as this (forever immortalized as the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir) as one of the crowning achievements of our Corps.

More recently, the month of November achieved further acclaim in the Corps' battle history with some of the most ferocious house-to-house fighting Marines had seen since the battle to retake Hue City during the 1968 Tet Offensive. Required to eradicate Al Queda and insurgent forces in the key Sunni Triangle city of Fallujah, ten days of bitter fighting began on the 7th of November, 2004.

November is a personal red-letter month for the Colonel as well. The first of November 2003 marked the official end of nearly three decades of his uniformed service to the United States of America.

Monday, November 08, 2010

The Citizen Has Spoken

The Colonel apologizes to the five of you who regularly waste valuable rod and cone time perusing posts hereon for the egregious delay in publishing last week's Tallahatchie Free State election results. There have been several recounts and legal challenges, and, pending resolution of the same, the Colonel was loathe to even post a prediction of the outcome. In fact, the Colonel believes that there will be a ballot initiative on the next election cycle's ballot to call for an amendment of the TFS constitution prohibiting any pre-election polling, exit polling, and press prognostication regarding the outcome of balloting prior to the results of said balloting having been certified by the appropriate election supervising official (in this case, the Colonel).

Anyone with the painful familiarity (born of previous wastage of valuable rod and cone time perusing posts hereon) with the establishment and brief history of the Tallahatchie Free State will recall that while residency upon and within the boundaries of the sovereign territory governed by the TFS (a virtual republic established as much hand-on-wallet as tongue-in-cheek) here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere is easily attained and loosely conferred, citizenship is a right earned by honorable service in uniform. As the franchise to vote in the TFS will always and only be granted to citizens, and whereas the Colonel remains the only resident upon and within the boundaries of the sovereign territory governed by the TFS to whom the right of citizenship, by virtue of (relatively) honorable military service, has been conferred, the Colonel likewise remains the sole member of the only voting block participating in TFS elections.

Although challenges and vote recount demands by the non-citizen residents of the TFS have obscured the fact, and besmirched his good name, the Colonel is proud to announce that TFS voter turnout last Tuesday was 100%.

The polls aboard Eegeebeegee, the capital of the TFS here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere, closed promptly at 0705 (local), exactly five minutes after opening, and the Colonel began the ballot count immediately. At 0800 (local), the Colonel (who, in addition to being height and follicly-challenged, is, by proud self-admission, mathematically-challenged, as well) completed the ballot count and announced the results. The Colonel had won by a landslide, swept back into office as the supreme political leader by a tsunami of popular support from the citizenry of the TFS.

The Colonel's lady, the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda, looked up from her knitting, gave the Colonel the look that normally precedes the search for the cast-iron skillet more often used as a weapon than cook-ware, and demanded a recount.

Demonstrating discipline born of a military career of immediate and willing response to orders, and cat-like reflexes born of a marriage career of dodging cast-iron skillets, the Colonel began a ballot recount immediately thereafter (heading off the impending skillet search by mere mili-seconds). Endeavoring to prove his commitment to free and open elections, the Colonel invested the better part of two hours--time that he could have otherwise much more fruitfully applied to a supine strategic planning session and eye-lid light-leak inspection--to a slow and careful count. At 1000 (local), the Colonel announced that the ballot cast had indeed been cast by a (in this case, the) bonafide citizen and was unmistakably a (in this case, the) vote for the re-election of the Colonel as the undisputed, beloved, and benevolent leader of the good people of the Tallahatchie Free State.

The Colonel's lady, the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda, looked up from her ironing (You don't think the Colonel would let her waste all of her day knitting, do you?) and signalled her acceptance of the election results.


The Colonel thinks his lady may have missed her calling. Seems to the Colonel that the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda would have fit right in on the set of MSNBC's 2010 election coverage.

The Colonel hears there may be an opening for 2012...