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June 30, 2004

Serving a Nation At War.

Continuing my reading of Parameters this month - next up for your consderation is this bit from Acting Secretary of the Army Brownlee and Chief of Staff, Army General Schoomaker their vision of where the Army needs to go - and our part, all of us serving, (yes, Ich Dien, in a nod to the House of Windsor) as we go about our business.

From the Army Leadership:

President Bush told us that this war will be unlike any other in our Nation’s history. He was right. After our initial expeditionary responses and successful major combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, those operations have become protracted campaigns where we are providing the conditions of security needed to wage a conflict—a war of ideas. This is not simply a fight against terror—terror is a tactic. This is not simply a fight against al Qaeda, its affiliates and adherents—they are foot soldiers. This is not simply a fight to bring democracy to the Middle East—that is a strategic objective. This is a fight for the very ideas at the foundation of our society, the way of life those ideas enable, and the freedoms we enjoy.

The single most significant component of our new strategic reality is that because of the centrality of the ideas in conflict, this war will be a protracted one. Whereas for most of our lives the default condition has been peace, now our default expectation must be conflict. This new strategic context is the logic for reshaping the Army to be an Army of campaign quality with joint and expeditionary capabilities. The lessons learned in two and a half years of war have already propelled a wide series of changes in the Army and across the Joint team.

This learning process must not stop. Although this article outlines the strategic context for the series of changes under way in our Army, its purpose is not to convince you or even to inform you. Its purpose is to cause you to reflect on and think about this new strategic context and what it portends for our future and for the Nation. All great changes in our Army have been accompanied by earnest dialogue and active debate at all levels—both within the Army and with those who care about the Army. As this article states, “The best way to anticipate the future is to create it.” Your thoughtful participation in this dialogue is key to creating that future.

Les Brownlee
Acting Secretary of the Army

General Peter J. Schoomaker
Chief of Staff, US Army

Quoted above is the intro to the article, which is available in it's entirety here.

What is important here is that the Army leadership is laying out something for a mostly internal audience (but publicly available to anyone who surfs) an open acknowledgement that this isn't just a response to terror, a knee-jerk reaction to 9/11, or a grab for oil.

The leadership is on record that it's about a clash of ideas. Of worldviews. Of a worldview that is fundamentally opposed to our own, antithetical to our own, and seeks to crush us, one way or another, until we bend the knee to them.

The rest of this is in the extended entry.

I can see the moral-equivalency brigades rushing in to say, "But we're doing that to them! America is trying to conquer the world and take over!"

Not so, I say. More often and not, we're willing to take a live or let live attitude about things. We're willing to stand by and let other peoples stew in their own juices. We'll find ways to trade. We'll try appeasement and 'constructive engagement'.

But when ya drop our skyscrapers, well, we'll notice. And then, as long as we have the stomach for it, we'll just deal. For as the article notes:

America is a Nation at war. To win this war, we must meld all elements of our national power in a determined and relentless campaign to defeat enemies who challenge our way of life. This is not a “contingency,” nor is it a “crisis.” It is a new reality that Soldiers understand all too well: since 9/11, they have witnessed more than a battalion’s worth of their comrades killed in action, more than a brigade’s worth severely wounded. Their sacrifice has liberated more than 46 million people. As these words are written, the Army is completing the largest rotation of forces in its history, and all 18 of its divisions have seen action in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, or Iraq. We have activated more than 244,000 Soldiers of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve in the last two years, and more than a division’s worth of Soldiers support homeland security missions. Over 300,000 Soldiers are forward-deployed. Like our Nation, we are an Army at war.

The upcoming election to me is shaping up more and more to be about stomach.

I don't really think Kerry will 'sell us out' or invite the Imams over to establish Shari'a Law in the US.

I do think he will, within the limits of the situation, take us back to the old way. The way that didn't work before; he will lead us back to 9/10. If that's what we choose, that's what we choose. And we'll pay the price for it, or our children will. I say better to pay the bill now, than later. But, that's looking at the future through a glass, darkly, as the man said.

“Kerry must be assuming no one will go back and actually read his [1997] manifesto [The New War], because his description of it is awfully selective. Yes, Kerry briefly considered the possibility of a terrorist catastrophe on American soil. But The New War was almost entirely focused on the threat of global crime - not terrorism. If the future Kerry predicted really had arrived, we'd currently be locked in a vicious cyberwar with CD-pirating Japanese yakuza, Chinese kidney-traders, and Italian mobsters - not hunting Islamic fundamentalists potentially armed with weapons of mass destruction. It is, of course, true that almost no one predicted a September 11-like attack, and few correctly identified Islamic terrorists as the chief post-cold-war security threat to the United States. But the ways in which The New War missed the mark are nevertheless revealing. They show the extent to which Kerry was influenced by the criminal investigations of his early Senate career, his preference for viewing post-cold-war security more as a matter for law enforcement than the military, and his tendency to describe problems ad nauseam without offering a clear and bold course of action.” (Michael Crowley, "Kerry's Odd Book On Terrorism," The New Republic, 2/9/04)

Oy! This thing morphed, didn't it?