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November 22, 2014 / 29 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘military’

Dead in the Water: Obama’s Military and Iran

Friday, March 1st, 2013

Two to three years ago, the United States Department of Defense had enough military forces on station in, or readily deployable to, the Persian Gulf region (the “CENTCOM AOR” – area of responsibility – or Southwest Asia, as it is called in the military) to execute a limited strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities without asking Congress for special funding.  The military could have performed such an operation “out of hide,” as quickly and seamlessly as the president wanted it to.

Four to five years ago, moreover, the U.S. had the regional political capital to use our bases in the local nations (e.g., Qatar and Bahrain) to launch and direct such a strike campaign.

Both of these conditions have now changed.  I wrote about the political shift in December of 2010, after the Persian Gulf nations executed a flurry of bilateral defense agreements with Iran, and Bahrain, in particular, announced that the U.S. would not be able to use Bahraini territory for launching military operations against Iran.  Even a subtle shift in these nations’ postures means that the U.S. will have less discretion in what we propose to do against Iran.  U.S. military actions that are so limited as to leave Iran able to retaliate against her neighbors may not be acceptable to our hosts.

Mounting a limited strike campaign using only U.S. Navy assets and the Air Force’s global strike bombers (which don’t need the Persian Gulf bases) has remained a fall-back option.  But as of 2013, with the funding issues inherent in the long-term budget stand-off, that option can no longer be performed out of hide.  The Navy has already had to cancel a carrier strike group deployment that it couldn’t project being able to pay for, and we can no longer assume that the Air Force will have the ready aircraft and aircrew – not to mention the fuel – to perform a bomber campaign against Iran.

The central reason is that the military doesn’t know whether or when it will get more operating funds.  There isn’t a federal budget, and the recurring fiscal showdowns between Obama and the House Republicans make all future military funding a big question mark.  There is no end-point beyond which the military knows how much money it will have.  This isn’t a question of pinching pennies for a while until the money kicks in on a date certain.  The Department of Defense doesn’t know what its future operating picture will be, beyond the next couple of months.

In the worst case, the sequestration cuts kick in on a month-to-month basis, as the fiscal stand-off between Congress and the president drags on.  In early February, in anticipation of having to “operate down” to this worst case, the Navy cancelled the scheduled deployment of the USS Harry S Truman (CVN-75) strike group, which was to be the second of two carrier strike groups hitherto maintained on station in the CENTCOM AOR.  Secretary Leon Panetta announced at the time that the U.S. would cut its CENTCOM-deployed carrier force to one.

A strike group brings not just the carrier and its air wing but an Aegis cruiser and/or Aegis destroyers, all with Tomahawk missile load-outs.  In multiple ways, U.S. combat power has now been cut in half in the CENTCOM AOR due to the long-running fiscal stand-off.  The level of carrier presence is insufficient today to execute a limited-strike campaign against Iran while containing the potential backlash.

Note that the Truman deployment, even if it had gone on as scheduled, would have left a gap of more than two months in the two-carrier presence in CENTCOM.  There has been one carrier strike group in CENTCOM, that of USS John C Stennis (CVN-74), since USS Dwight D Eisenhower (CVN-69) left the AOR in late November (returning to Norfolk, VA in December).  A gap isn’t unprecedented, in the years since the two-carrier presence was factored into carrier scheduling (although gaps are typically much shorter).  But now an actual degradation in our force posture has been announced.

Meanwhile, the Air Force is scrambling to scope out the impact of the sequestration cuts on its operations.  Big Blue foresees having to cut flying hours for the rest of the year by a third and cancel some scheduled squadron deployments overseas, both of which measures will, within months, affect force posture and readiness in CENTCOM.  So will the impending decision to further defer depot-level maintenance on overdue aircraft.  Some squadrons in the U.S. would run out of flying-hour funds by mid-May 2013, with no prospect of a new infusion of funds.  If additional squadrons were to be forward deployed to CENTCOM for a strike on Iran – and the fuel for such a massive operation set aside – much of the Air Force would have to stop flying altogether until more funds were provided.

Innocents Abroad Build Foreign Armies

Monday, February 11th, 2013

In the near-century that the United States has been a great power, it has developed some original and sophisticated foreign policy tools. Examples include the Marshall Plan, special forces, and satellite imaging. At the same time, the country’s naiveté remains firmly in place. For example, the notion persists that government staff are “particularly qualified to [handle a problem] because they knew nothing about it.” (For details, see my analysis at “American Know-Nothing Diplomacy.”)

The persistent belief that training and equipping foreign troops imbues them with American political and ethical values, making them allies of the United States, offers another sign of innocence. Some examples of this delusional policy in recent decades:

Lebanon: On landing U.S. troops in 1982, the priority was to train a national army. Of course, this failed, with most members returning to their communal militias with new arms and training to use against rivals. Despite this failure, the effort was renewed just two weeks ago.

Afghanistan: Training a national army was an action following the 2001 invasion; but the Afghan Local Police, a militia backed by the government, turned their guns against their international colleagues so often – 34 times in the first eight months of 2012, killing 45 persons – that the training was stopped.

Mali: The latest disaster, where U.S. efforts to train the woebegone Malian national army to take on Al-Qaeda did not exactly work out. In the words of Der Spiegel, “American specialists did train four crack units, totaling 600 men, to fight the terrorists. But it backfired: Three of the elite units have defected en masse to the rebel Tuareg. Most of the commanders, after all, are Tuaregs. Captain Amadou Sanogo, trained in the United States, was one of the soldiers who didn’t defect. Instead, he inflicted even more damage when, last March, he and a few close supporters overthrew the government in Bamako and ousted the elected president.”

Palestinian Authority: A disaster still in the making. The Dayton Mission has trained over 6,000 Palestinian Authority security personnel in the hope that they will become Israel’s partners for peace. To the contrary, I have predicted in writing that “these militiamen will eventually turn their guns against Israel.” When will American politicians and military leaders eventually realize that training foreign soldiers does not allies make them?

Originally published at Daniel Pipes.org on February 10, 2013.

Palestinians’ Nazi-Style Youth Movement Prepares for Jihad

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

Thousands of Palestinian schoolchildren have been receiving military training in the Gaza Strip to prepare them for jihad against Israel.

According to Mohamed Siam, a senior official with the Hamas-run ministry, some 9,000 high school children have already joined 36 camps throughout the Gaza Strip and are being taught how to use various types of weapons and handle explosives.

Hamas says that the purpose of the camps is to prepare Palestinian children, both militarily and psychologically, for the “liberation of Palestine, from the Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea,” in other words, all of Israel.

How can anyone talk about the two-state solution when thousands of Palestinian children are being trained to use weapons and explosives to replace Israel with an Islamic state? Does Mahmoud Abbas really believe that these schoolchildren will ever accept his strategy of peace with Israel? These are questions the West needs to ask itself before once again pressing for a two-state solution.

The training is being held under the supervision of the Hamas government’s Ministry of Education, and the training camps have been named Al-Futuwwa [meaning, spiritual chivalry].

According to Wikipedia, Al-Futuwwa was the name of the Hitler-Jugend [Hitler Youth] style of pan-Arab fascistic and nationalistic youth movement that existed in Iraq in the 1930s and 1940s. In 1938, the Al-Futuwwa youth organization sent a delegate to the Nuremberg Nazi party rally, and in turn hosted the Hitler Youth leader Baldur von Schirach. In 1941, the fascistic pan-Arab Al-Muthanna Club and its Al-Futuwwa movement participated in theFarhud attack on Baghdad’s Jewish community.

Last week, during a graduation ceremony for thousands of school children, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh declared that his movement was planning to establish a military academy for training and educating seventh and ninth graders. The goal, he said, is to prepare Palestinian children for jihad against the “Zionist entity.”

Addressing the cadets, Haniyeh declared: “You are the future leaders. You will march your people toward freedom and dignity. The Al-Futuwwa will end in victory and the liberation of all Palestine, “from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.”

Not surprisingly, parents in the Gaza Strip have not protested against this form of child abuse. Many parents, in fact, seem to like the idea that their children are being trained how to handle explosives and various types of weapons.

More disturbing is that only a few of the dozens of Western-funded human rights organizations that operate in the Gaza Strip have raised their voices against Hamas’s abuse of children. Even the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which was created to work for children’s rights, their survival, development and protection, has yet to condemn Hamas for recruiting school children to its military apparatus.

Many of Hamas’s children will undoubtedly be sent to the battlefront during the next round of fighting with Israel. Some will also be dispatched on suicide missions against the “Zionist enemy,” while others will be provided with assault rifles and rockets to be used against Israeli targets.

By poisoning the hearts and minds of schoolchildren, Hamas is raising an entire generation of Palestinians on glorification of suicide bombers, jihad and terrorism.

And this is happening at a time when some governments and leaders in the West are talking about the need to revive the peace process between the Palestinians and Israel — and at a time when the Palestinian Authority is making efforts to achieve unity with Hamas.

These are questions that Abbas needs to ask himself as he continues to seek unity with Hamas; and that the West might do well to ask itself, too.

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

You’re in the New Army Now

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Sending women into combat, like the end of the ban on official homosexuality, has been met with worried remarks about its impact on the “warrior culture.” But the new military that the left has been building for some time now is not interested in warriors; it wants peacekeepers.

The old army fought for a nation. The new one fights for vague concepts such as human rights or international law. Its goals are as intangible as those of the ideology it serves. It doesn’t fight actual enemies, but concepts and social problems. It fights against climate change, poverty and obesity. It fights for education, tolerance and the right of everyone to the gender of their choice. It isn’t really the army, it’s the hall monitors of the United Nations, the State Department, NATO and every liberal group on the planet.

Their ideal new soldier is not a warrior; he speaks three languages, appears non-threatening and can direct refugees, hand out aid to them and quickly pick up the local culture and religion. He is uncritical when witnessing child molestation, human sacrifice or any other quaint local custom. He is willing to die, not for his country, but to win the hearts and minds of the locals. He will not fire in self-defense if there is a single unarmed man, woman or child within twenty miles.

American soldiers have played the role of peacekeepers before, but in the new military that is their only role. They are the Peace Corps,  riding in under a U.N. flag when the video game boys back across the ocean have used remote drones to take out that portion of the enemy force that didn’t manage to find a human shield in time. Their mission is to set up generators, dig wells, patrol roads and smile a lot, unless smiling is not approved of by the local culture.

A warrior culture is supplementary to peacekeeping requirements. Warriors try to kill things. They want to win wars, instead of accepting that conflicts can only be resolved through negotiations and that their presence is a negotiating tactic, not a fight for survival.

The new soldier is a policeman of the world, watching crimes that he isn’t allowed to stop. He is a diplomat with a gun. He isn’t there to shoot anyone, except as an absolute last resort. Rather he is there to represent the United States on that great mission that is the only task of worth in a fatherless country, to be a role model. He is there, smiling and handing out candy, to convince the locals that even though we bombed their country, frightened their sheep and wiped out a lot of their smuggling income, that they should not hate the United States of America.

The old army projected the hard power of killing the people who wanted to fight us until they were either dead or willing to switch to competing with us by making transistor radios and electric shavers. The new army projects the soft power of winning over the locals so that they don’t want to fight us anymore. It’s not about winning wars, it’s about preventing the need for wars; even when already in the middle of a war.

To do all this our military has to become less American and more European, less imperial and more multilateral, an international consensus building exercise with bullets that aren’t meant to be fired. It has to become more tolerant and accepting. It has to lose the “warrior culture” and swap it in for the urban liberal culture that values consensus over performance and ideological conformity over all else.

The left is not comfortable with an army that is out of step with its values. A large standing army is a dangerous thing. Neutering it will take generations, but the left just won another four years in which it can have its way with national defense. And its way is to hollow out every institution, religion, workplace and family until they exist for no other reason than to pass on and implement its ideas.

The only way that liberals will ever accept the military is through the liberalization of the military into a force that projects their social values and fights to promote them abroad through human rights peacekeeping operations, rather than national defense. And when the peacekeeping force arrives in Timbuktu, Aleppo or Ramallah, it has to carry with it the liberal standard and convey to all the natives that the United States is wonderful because it represents gay rights, girl power and the wars on obesity, poverty and cholera.

With the Stroke of a Pen

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Earlier this month, a man in uniform you have probably never heard of sat down at his desk and took a quick glance at the piece of paper in front of him containing a military order.

The language was bland and lackluster, bearing no emotion and revealing nothing concerning the momentousness of the event at hand.

But when Nitzan Alon, head of the IDF Central Command, affixed his signature at the bottom of the page, conferring formal recognition upon Rehalim as the 32nd Jewish community in Samaria, it marked a major victory for those who love the Land of Israel.

Located north of Eli and east of Ariel, Rehalim’s story is one of determination and fortitude born out of tragedy. And it should inspire all those who are anxious about the future of the Jewish presence in the cradle of our civilization.

Rehalim’s story stretches back more than two decades, when international pressure began to mount on Israel to make a deal with the Palestinians.

On October 28, 1991, just days before the start of the Madrid peace conference, Palestinian terrorists attacked an Israeli bus that was on its way from Shilo to a rally organized by the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

The bus driver, Yitzchak Rofeh, as well as Rachel Druck, a mother of 7 children, were murdered.

Afterward, Druck’s friends erected tents at the site of the killing and eventually received permission from the government to set up a civilian outpost and religious seminary there. They chose the name Rehalim as a way to memorialize Druck as well as Rachel Weiss, who had been murdered by terrorists three years previously.

By 1997, the government had agreed to upgrade Rehalim from an outpost to a community and it began to flourish, but for reasons that are unclear, the defense minister did not sign off on the final permit, which was the last remaining bureaucratic requirement.

Eight years later, that came back to haunt the community when a report commissioned by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared Rehalim to be “an unauthorized outpost.” As a result, all building at the site was halted and no development work was permitted. Even the construction of a kindergarten for children was prohibited, and it looked as if Rehalim’s future was in doubt.

But then an unwitting redeemer appeared from the most unlikely of places.

As part of its campaign against Jewish life in Judea and Samaria, the left-wing Yesh Din organization filed a petition with Israel’ Supreme Court with the aim of compelling the government to remove Rehalim and other outposts.

This measure forced the government’s hand, and last year it informed the court that Rehalim would receive the final approval necessary to formalize and legalize its status.

And so the long, winding and torturous process of making Rehalim “official” came to a happy conclusion when Nitzan Alon in effect signed its birth certificate just a few weeks ago.

It is hard to overlook the delicious irony in all of this. Had Yesh Din not filed its petition, who knows if the government would have bothered to address Rehalim’s status?

Paradoxically, the left-wing activists at Yesh Din were driven by a desire to tear down Rehalim, but they turned into an instrument for ensuring its permanence. Moving forward, they might want to think twice before taking to the courts to subvert Jewish life.

But the real heroes of this story, of course, are the brave men and women of the community itself, who endured years of uncertainty with the threat of evacuation hanging over their heads. Just imagine trying to build a life for yourself and your family when you know that at any moment the court or the government can decide to uproot you and remove you from your home, all because of a bureaucrat’s signature.

But guided by faith and a deep-seated belief in the justness of their cause, Rehalim’s pioneers persisted and did not yield to despair.

They were rewarded this month with formal approval, proving that sometimes, all it takes is the stroke of a pen to alter the course of Jewish history.

And that is something that should motivate us all. For despite the challenges and difficulties that Israel may face, and the wave of international opprobrium, the return of the Jewish people to its land can and will continue.

Egypt: Let Them Eat F-16s!

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

David P. Goldman (‘Spengler’) has been chronicling the decline and impending collapse of the Egyptian economy since the end of the Mubarak regime. With the tourism industry decimated, natural gas sales to Israel and Jordan halted by endemic terrorism, crime rampant, etc., Egypt’s foreign currency reserves will soon be gone. Agricultural production is down, and even in good times, Egypt does not produce enough food to feed its 83 million people.

When the money runs out, either Egypt will receive massive aid from other nations, or Egyptians will face starvation. Last month, Goldman wrote,

* The Food Industries Association warned Nov. 27 that lack of foreign exchange to purchase food commodities may reduce food imports by 40% during the next several months. Egypt imports half its total food consumption. Upper Egypt already is suffering a drop in food supplies (I presume other than state-subsidized bread) by 40%. Banks are refusing to  provide financing for food imports because importers are already deeply in arrears.
* The Misr Beni Suef Cement company shut five plants due to a natural gas shortage.
* An epidemic of bird flu threatens to destroy Egypt’s chicken population because of a lack of natural gas to heat poultry farms.
Egypt’s government electricity company warned that the provision of power is in danger because government agencies are 15 billion Egyptian pounds (US $2.5 billion) in arrears on their electricity bills.
Gas and diesel supplies at filling stations are down 70% from normal levels since President Mohammed Morsi’s constitutional declarations.
Shortage of fertilizer has cut agricultural exports by 10%, according to the Agricultural Export Council, and it is likely that overall production has fallen by a similar margin.

In thirty-five years of following debt crises in emerging economies, I have never seen anything like this. Latin American economies suffered from hyperinflation during the 1970s and 1980s, but no-one went hungry, because the economies in question all exported food, while Egypt imports half its food. The difference between Egypt and a banana republic is — the bananas.

Egypt is not the only Middle Eastern country facing a crisis — according to Goldman, all of the non-oil-producing Arab countries (e.g., Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Yemen) are in trouble. It doesn’t help that rising demand for food from the more functional economies in East Asia has pushed up prices.

While Islamists like to say that “Islam is the solution,” radical Islam is precisely the opposite. Because of its negative effects on women, Christians, the educated middle classes, secular education in general, etc. — not to mention the disruptions caused by violent extremists — Islamism is death to economic success.

Naturally, one ‘solution’ to a problem caused by the incompetence of Muslims is to attack Israel and the Jews. Essam el-Erian, an adviser to President Morsi, recently announced that Jews of Egyptian descent living in Israel should give up their property to Palestinian ‘refugees’ and return to Egypt, since Israel was about to be destroyed.

Unfortunately for him, el-Erian forgot that Egyptians hate Jews even more than they hate Israel, and was forced to resign after the Islamic Jihad organization complained that the re-introduction of Jews would “rot the Egyptian economy” [they should be so lucky as to have Jewish businessmen!] and that Shari’a requires Muslims to kill Jews.

If that isn’t surreal enough, what is the Obama Administration doing in the face of the imminent collapse of the largest and historically most important and powerful state in the Arab world, now ruled by an anti-Western and anti-Semitic radical Islamic regime (which it helped bring to power)?

Why, giving them advanced F-16 aircraft, of course.

Visit Fresno Zionism.

So They Won’t Have to Serve

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

Last night, at the very end of my day – already close to midnight, I headed home, stopping by my daughter’s house to pick up the car seat for the baby. There in the quiet of the middle of the night, knowing I’d have to be up in six hours, I had a short talk with my son-in-law. He is a very special person in so many ways, more than I could ever explain without my eyes filling with tears. I’m so blessed to have him – well yes, my daughter has him, but he has her and together, they have each other. For a mother to see that…is beyond words. After two years, he finishes the army this week, returns his uniform and will be free to do what he wants, when he wants. It hasn’t sunk in yet, he told me.

I told him that it was good he had served and how it is good for a son to have a father who has gone through the army. Elie didn’t have that – what he brought to us, the stories, the process, the problems – were all new. My husband listened but couldn’t offer his own opinions, advice, army stories of his own. Each thing that happened to Elie was a discovery for us, an unknown, a path never traveled by any of us. It was easier for Shmulik and Chaim because they had Elie to guide them, advise them. Where a parent might call a commanding officer, Elie has taken that role if it was needed; Elie answers the questions, explains.

So when my grandson gets to that age, I said, if he serves in the army, Haim will be able to guide him, to share from the side of knowing. Haim is happy he served, enriched in many ways by the experience. There is a lot that is good about the army, he told me, but he looked down and around when I mentioned his son serving. It is years and years away – his son, my amazingly special grandson, is just a baby.

When you get to be my age, you understand how fast time goes – when your first is just a young toddler, it seems the future is ages away. And then Haim told me something I had forgotten, something friends of mine had told me when their son went into the army.

“It wasn’t supposed to be like this,” my friend said. “We served so that he wouldn’t have to.”

My son-in-law wants to believe in a future in which there will be peace and no reason for his toddler to ever grow into a soldier. He served so that his son wouldn’t have to. I’d forgotten that. My son-in-law needs to believe that there will be no need for soldiers in another 18 or so years. Deep down, I want to believe that too, but there is this massive wall inside me that doesn’t believe.

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

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