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Military Incompetence: Why the American Military Doesn't Win (American Century) by Richard A. Gabriel (Aug 1, 1986)

The army reflects the society as a very sharp mirror that reflects that processes in large organizations, especially multinational corporations. Gabriel argues that 3 issues produce American military failures:
  1. Size of the officer corps (it is too big).
  2. Rapid reassignment of officers (no one learns their job).
  3. Self-promotion ( and self-serving bureaucracies).
  4. Amateurism of leadership.

A rise of somebody with the personal traits of Admiral Nelson among the ranks of modern military is unthinkable. He would be dismissed as a "dangerous and insubordinate maverick."  The military is a bureaucracy and, as in all bureaucracies, it’s far easier to succeed by going along with the flow than by trying to change things. Being a maverick may well make a young officer stand out and get great evaluations; it’s more likely to piss off at least one senior rater during a career, though, and end one’s chances at promotions.

The demonstrable deficiencies of the level of competence of leadership in military (which is no less common for multinationals) lead to cynicism, indifference, and even "mental paralysis" whose ultimately outcome is careerism, "ticket punching," and the accompanying development of new layers within the already massive bureaucracy. Which leads to situation when layers of, say, naval bureaucracy shudder each time they hear the word "ship."

Both Parkinson's Law and Peter's Law  are operating in army at full throttle.

Far worse is the fact that, while leadership failures are evident at all strata of the army, the problem is probably most acute at the officer intake level: the Academy. Honor code notwithstanding, incidents of dishonorable conduct emerge with a fairly high frequency, and underscore inadequacy of the current training. Low half of graduates might be even dangerous for the army. Many of the problems relating to the issues of leadership are intimately related to low personal erudition of officers. Which is reflected in numerous army anecdotes. Thus the need for knowledge-based professional competence is indisputable.

In his superb but long-forgotten book "The Art of Leadership" the late Captain S.W. Roskill, RN stressed most eloquently the need for all-around knowledge that a naval leader must posses. His postulates, based on a long and distinguished naval career and as a Fellow at Cambridge's Churchill College are valid today as in the sixties when the book was written. Yet, the most popular graduate degree among the officer corps is the civilian career-promoting MBA or its variety. Degrees in history, political science, art, etc., are not only viewed as "career-indifferent," but may even be frowned at.


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[Feb 10, 2018] The generals are not Borgists. They are something worse ...

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The post WW2 promotion process in the armed forces has produced a group at the top with a mentality that typically thinks rigorously but not imaginatively or creatively. ..."
"... These men got to their present ranks and positions by being conformist group thinkers who do not stray outside the "box" of their guidance from on high. They actually have scheduled conference calls among themselves to make sure everyone is "on board." ..."
"... If asked at the top, where military command and political interaction intersect, what policy should be they always ask for more money and to be allowed to pursue outcomes that they can understand as victory and self fulfilling with regard to their collective self image as warrior chieftains. ..."
"... In Trump's time his essential disinterest in foreign policy has led to a massive delegation of authority to Mattis and the leadership of the empire's forces. Their reaction to that is to look at their dimwitted guidance from on high (defeat IS, depose Assad and the SAG, triumph in Afghanistan) and to seek to impose their considerable available force to seek accomplishment as they see fit of this guidance in the absence of the kind of restrictions that Obama placed on them. ..."
"... Like the brass, I, too, am a graduate of all those service schools that attend success from the Basic Course to the Army War College. I will tell you again that the people at the top are not good at "the vision thing." They are not stupid at all but they are a collective of narrow thinkers ..."
"... Academia reinforces the groupthink. The mavericks are shunned or ostracized. The only ones I have seen with some degree of going against the grain are technology entrepreneurs. ..."
"... "They are not stupid at all but they are a collective of narrow thinkers." I have found this to be the case with 80 to 90% of most professions. A good memory and able to perform meticulously what they have been taught, but little thinking outside that narrow box. Often annoying, but very dangerous in this case. ..."
"... Since Afghanistan and the brass were mentioned in the editorial statement, here is an immodest question -- Where the brass have been while the opium production has been risen dramatically in Afghanistan under the US occupation? "Heroin Addiction in America Spearheaded by the US-led War on Afghanistan" by Paul Craig Roberts: https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2018/02/06/heroin-addiction-america-spearheaded-us-led-war-afghanistan/ ..."
"... A simple Q: What has been the role of the CENTCOM re the racket? Who has arranged the protection for the opium production and for drug dealers? Roberts suggests that the production of opium in Afghanistan "finances the black operations of the CIA and Western intelligence agencies." -- All while Awan brothers, Alperovitch and such tinker with the US national security? ..."
"... God help the poor people of Syria. ..."
"... thanks pat... it seems like the usa has had a steady group of leaders that have no interest in the world outside of the usa, or only in so far as they can exploit it for their own interest... maybe that sums up the foreign policy of the usa at this point... you say trump is disinterested.. so all the blather from trump about 'why are we even in syria?', or 'why can't we be friends with the russia?' is just smoke up everyone's ass... ..."
"... Predictably there is always someone who says that this group is not different from all others. Unfortunately the military function demands more than the level of mediocrity found in most groups ..."
"... A lot of technology entrepreneurs--especially those active today--are stuck in their own groupthink, inflated by their sense that they are born for greatness and can do no wrong. ..."
"... The kind of grand schemes that the top people at Google, Uber, and Facebook think up to remake the universe in their own idea of "good society" are frightening. That they are cleverer (but not necessarily wiser) than the academics, borgists, or generals, I think, makes them even more dangerous. ..."
"... They [the generals] seem to have deliberately completely ignored the issues and policy positions Trump ran on as President. It isn't a case of ignorance but of wilful disregard. ..."
"... So true and as others commented this is a sad feature of the human race and all human organizations. Herd mentality ties into social learning ..."
"... Our massive cultural heritages are learned by observing and taken in as a whole. This process works within organizations as well. ..."
"... I suspect a small percentage of the human race functions differently than the majority and retains creative thinking and openness along with more emphasis on cognitive thinking than social learning but generally they always face a battle when working to change the group "consensus", i.e. Fulton's folly, scepticism on whether man would ever fly, etc. ..."
"... This is an interesting discussion. The top in organisations (civil and military) are increasingly technocrats and thinking like systems managers. They are unable to innovate because they lack the ability to think out of the box. Usually there is a leader who depends on specialists. Others (including laymen) are often excluding from the decision-making-proces. John Ralston Saul's Voltaires Bastards describes this very well. ..."
"... Because of natural selection (conformist people tend to choose similar people who resemble their own values and ways-of-thinking) organizations have a tendency to become homogeneous (especially the higher management/ranks). ..."
"... In combination with the "dumbing" of people (also of people who have a so-called good education (as described in Richard Sale's Sterile Chit-Chat ) this is a disastrous mix. ..."
"... That's true not only of the US military but of US elites in general across all of the spectra. And because that reality is at odds with the group-think of those within the various elements that make up the spectra it doesn't a hearing. Anyone who tries to bring it up risks being ejected from the group. ..."
"... "The United States spent at least $12 billion in Syria-related military and civilian expenses in the four years from 2014 through 2017, according to the former U.S. ambassador to the country. This $12 billion is in addition to the billions more spent to pursue regime change in Syria in the previous three years, after war broke out in 2011." https://goo.gl/8pj5cD ..."
"... "They are not stupid at all but they are a collective of narrow thinkers." I've often pondered that concept. Notice how many of radical extremist leaders were doctors, engineers and such? Narrow and deep. ..."
"... Long ago when I was a professor, I advised my students that "the law is like a pencil sharpener, it sharpens the mind by narrowing it." I tried to encourage them to "think backwards". ..."
"... Col, I think it might help people to think of "the Borg" - as you have defined & applied it - in a broader context. It struck me particularly as you ID'd the launching of our modern military group-think / careerism behavior coming from the watershed of industrialized scale & processes that came out of WWII. ..."
"... We note parallel themes in all significant sectors of our civilization. The ever-expanding security state, the many men in Gray Flannel Suits that inhabit corporate culture, Finance & Banking & Big Health scaling ever larger - all processes aimed to slice the salami thinner & quicker, to the point where meat is moot ... and so it goes. ..."
"... I just finished reading Command & Control (about nuclear weapons policy, systems design & accidents). I am amazed we've made it this far. ..."
Feb 10, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

(Editorial Statement)

The Borgist foreign policy of the administration has little to do with the generals. To comprehend the generals one must understand their collective mentality and the process that raised them on high as a collective of their own. The post WW2 promotion process in the armed forces has produced a group at the top with a mentality that typically thinks rigorously but not imaginatively or creatively.

These men got to their present ranks and positions by being conformist group thinkers who do not stray outside the "box" of their guidance from on high. They actually have scheduled conference calls among themselves to make sure everyone is "on board."

If asked at the top, where military command and political interaction intersect, what policy should be they always ask for more money and to be allowed to pursue outcomes that they can understand as victory and self fulfilling with regard to their collective self image as warrior chieftains.

In Obama's time they were asked what policy should be in Afghanistan and persuaded him to reinforce their dreams in Afghanistan no matter how unlikely it always was that a unified Western oriented nation could be made out of a collection of disparate mutually alien peoples.

In Trump's time his essential disinterest in foreign policy has led to a massive delegation of authority to Mattis and the leadership of the empire's forces. Their reaction to that is to look at their dimwitted guidance from on high (defeat IS, depose Assad and the SAG, triumph in Afghanistan) and to seek to impose their considerable available force to seek accomplishment as they see fit of this guidance in the absence of the kind of restrictions that Obama placed on them.

Like the brass, I, too, am a graduate of all those service schools that attend success from the Basic Course to the Army War College. I will tell you again that the people at the top are not good at "the vision thing." They are not stupid at all but they are a collective of narrow thinkers. pl


Jack , 09 February 2018 at 05:42 PM

Sir

IMO, this conformism pervades all institutions. I saw when I worked in banking and finance many moons ago how moving up the ranks in any large organization meant you didn't rock the boat and you conformed to the prevailing groupthink. Even nutty ideas became respectable because they were expedient.

Academia reinforces the groupthink. The mavericks are shunned or ostracized. The only ones I have seen with some degree of going against the grain are technology entrepreneurs.

Fredw , 09 February 2018 at 06:26 PM
You remind me of an old rumination by Thomas Ricks:

Take the example of General George Casey. According to David Cloud and Greg Jaffe's book Four Stars, General Casey, upon learning of his assignment to command U.S. forces in Iraq, received a book from the Army Chief of Staff. The book Counterinsurgency Lessons Learned from Malaya and Vietnam was the first book he ever read about guerilla warfare." This is a damning indictment of the degree of mental preparation for combat by a general. The Army's reward for such lack of preparation: two more four star assignments.

http://foreignpolicy.com/2012/02/07/cmon-man-meathead-generals-and-some-other-things-that-are-driving-me-crazy-about-life-in-this-mans-post-911-army/

Peter AU , 09 February 2018 at 06:37 PM
"They are not stupid at all but they are a collective of narrow thinkers." I have found this to be the case with 80 to 90% of most professions. A good memory and able to perform meticulously what they have been taught, but little thinking outside that narrow box. Often annoying, but very dangerous in this case.
Anna , 09 February 2018 at 06:48 PM
Since Afghanistan and the brass were mentioned in the editorial statement, here is an immodest question -- Where the brass have been while the opium production has been risen dramatically in Afghanistan under the US occupation? "Heroin Addiction in America Spearheaded by the US-led War on Afghanistan" by Paul Craig Roberts: https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2018/02/06/heroin-addiction-america-spearheaded-us-led-war-afghanistan/

" in 2000-2001 the Taliban government –with the support of the United Nations (UNODC) – implemented a successful ban on poppy cultivation. Opium production which is used to produce grade 4 heroin and its derivatives declined by more than 90 per cent in 2001. The production of opium in 2001 was of the order of a meager 185 tons. It is worth noting that the UNODC congratulated the Taliban Government for its successful opium eradication program. The Taliban government had contributed to literally destabilizing the multibillion dollar Worldwide trade in heroin.

In 2017, the production of opium in Afghanistan under US military occupation reached 9000 metric tons. The production of opium in Afghanistan registered a 49 fold increase since Washington's invasion. Afghanistan under US military occupation produces approximately 90% of the World's illegal supply of opium which is used to produce heroin. Who owns the airplanes and ships that transport heroin from Afghanistan to the US? Who gets the profits?"

---A simple Q: What has been the role of the CENTCOM re the racket? Who has arranged the protection for the opium production and for drug dealers? Roberts suggests that the production of opium in Afghanistan "finances the black operations of the CIA and Western intelligence agencies." -- All while Awan brothers, Alperovitch and such tinker with the US national security?

J , 09 February 2018 at 07:05 PM
Colonel,

There needs to be a 're-education' of the top, all of them need to be required to attend Green Beret think-school, in other words they need to be forced to think outside the box, and to to think on their feet. They need to understand fluid situations where things change at the drop of a hat, be able to dance the two-step and waltz at the same time. In other words they need to be able to walk and chew gum and not trip over their shoe-laces.

By no means are they stupid, but you hit the nail on the head when you said 'narrow thinkers'. Their collective hive mentality that has developed is not a good thing.

divadab , 09 February 2018 at 07:16 PM
God help the poor people of Syria.
james , 09 February 2018 at 07:30 PM
thanks pat... it seems like the usa has had a steady group of leaders that have no interest in the world outside of the usa, or only in so far as they can exploit it for their own interest... maybe that sums up the foreign policy of the usa at this point... you say trump is disinterested.. so all the blather from trump about 'why are we even in syria?', or 'why can't we be friends with the russia?' is just smoke up everyone's ass...

i like what you said here "conformist group thinkers who do not stray outside the "box" of their guidance from on high. They actually have scheduled conference calls among themselves to make sure everyone is "on board." - that strikes me as very true - conformist group thinkers... the world needs less of these types and more actual leaders who have a vision for something out of the box and not always on board... i thought for a while trump might fill this bill, but no such luck by the looks of it now..

David E. Solomon , 09 February 2018 at 07:50 PM
Colonel Lang,

Your description of these guys sounds like what we have heard about Soviet era planners. Am I correct in my understanding, or am I missing something?

Regards,

David

DianaLC , 09 February 2018 at 07:56 PM
As a young person in eighth grade, I learned about the "domino theory" in regard to attempts to slow the spread of communism. Then my generation was, in a sense, fractured around the raging battles for and against our involvement in Vietnam.

I won't express my own opinion on that. But I mention it because it seems to be a type of "vision thing."

So, now I ask, what would be your vision for the Syrian situation?

Bill Herschel , 09 February 2018 at 09:11 PM
This has been going on for a long time has it not? Westmoreland? MacArthur?

How did this happen?

turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 09:40 PM
Bill Herschel

Westmoreland certainly, Macarthur certainly not. This all started with the "industrialization" of the armed forces in WW2. we never recovered the sense of profession as opposed to occupation after the massive expansion and retention of so many placeholders. a whole new race of Walmart manager arose and persists. pl

turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 09:48 PM
DianaC

The idea of the Domino Theory came from academia, not the generals of that time. They resisted the idea of a war in east Asia until simply ordered into it by LBJ. After that their instinct for acting according to guidance kicked in and they became committed to the task. Syria? Do you think I should write you an essay on that? SST has a large archive and a search machine. pl

turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 09:55 PM
David E. Solomon

I am talking about flag officers at present, not those beneath them from the mass of whom they emerge. There are exceptions. Martin Dempsey may have been one such. The system creates such people at the top. pl

turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 10:08 PM
elaine,

Your usual animosity for non-left wing authority is showing. A commander like the CENTCOM theater commander (look it up) operates within guidance from Washington, broad guidance. Normally this is the president's guidance as developed in the NSC process. Some presidents like Obama and LBJ intervene selectively and directly in the execution of that guidance. Obama had a "kill list" of jihadis suggested by the IC and condemned by him to die in the GWOT. He approved individual missions against them. LBJ picked individual air targets in NVN. Commanders in the field do not like that . They think that freedom of action within their guidance should be accorded them. This CinC has not been interested thus far in the details and have given the whole military chain of command wide discretion to carry out their guidance. pl

turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 10:12 PM
J

Thank you, but it is real GBs that you like, not the Delta and SEAL door kickers. pl

turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 10:24 PM
Gaikomainaku

"I am not sure that I understand what makes a Borgist different from a military conformist." The Borg and the military leaders are not of the same tribe. they are two different collectives who in the main dislike and distrust each other. pl

turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 10:27 PM
Anna. Their guidance does not include a high priority for eradicating the opium trade. Their guidance has to do with defeating the jihadis and building up the central government. pl
turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 10:30 PM
Peter AU

Predictably there is always someone who says that this group is not different from all others. Unfortunately the military function demands more than the level of mediocrity found in most groups. pl

turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 10:44 PM
james

Trump would like to better relations with Russia but that is pretty much the limit of his attention to foreign affairs at any level more sophisticated than expecting deference. He is firmly focused on the economy and base solidifying issues like immigration. pl

Peter AU , 09 February 2018 at 11:01 PM
The medical profession comes to mind. GP's and specialists. Many of those working at the leading edge of research seem much wider thinking and are not locked into the small box of what they have been taught.
turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 11:16 PM
Peter AU

The GPs do not rule over a hierarchy of doctors. pl

J -> turcopolier ... , 09 February 2018 at 11:22 PM
Combat Applications Group and SEALS don't even begin to compare, they're not in the same league as 'real deal' GBs. The GBs are thinkers as well as doers, whereas Combat Applications Group and SEALs all they know is breach and clear, breach and clear.

There is more to life than breach and clear. Having worked with all in one manner or another, I'll take GBs any day hands down. It makes a difference when the brain is engaged instead of just the heel.

kao_hsien_chih -> Jack... , 09 February 2018 at 11:22 PM
A lot of technology entrepreneurs--especially those active today--are stuck in their own groupthink, inflated by their sense that they are born for greatness and can do no wrong.

The kind of grand schemes that the top people at Google, Uber, and Facebook think up to remake the universe in their own idea of "good society" are frightening. That they are cleverer (but not necessarily wiser) than the academics, borgists, or generals, I think, makes them even more dangerous.

FB Ali , 09 February 2018 at 11:23 PM
Col Lang,

They are indeed "narrow thinkers", but I think the problem runs deeper. They seem to be stuck in the rut of a past era. When the US was indeed the paramount military power on the globe, and the US military reigned supreme. They can't seem to accept the reality of the world as it is now.

Of course, these policies ensure that they continue to be well-funded, even if the US is bankrupting itself in the process.

turcopolier , 10 February 2018 at 01:03 AM
dogear

He is still the Saudi Mukhtar for the US and most of the generals are still narrow minded. pl

LondonBob , 10 February 2018 at 06:59 AM
They [the generals] seem to have deliberately completely ignored the issues and policy positions Trump ran on as President. It isn't a case of ignorance but of wilful disregard.
turcopolier , 10 February 2018 at 07:55 AM
LondonBob

I think that is true but, they were able to talk him into that, thus far. pl

DianaLC said in reply to turcopolier ... , 10 February 2018 at 09:23 AM
I've been reading this blog for some time. My question was facetious and written with the understanding of your statement about the generals not having a good grasp of "the vision thing" on their own.
Terry , 10 February 2018 at 09:25 AM
So true and as others commented this is a sad feature of the human race and all human organizations. Herd mentality ties into social learning. Chimps are on average more creative and have better short term memory than humans. We gave up some short term memory in order to be able to learn quickly by mimicking. If shown how to open a puzzle box but also shown unnecessary extra steps a chimp will ignore the empty steps and open the box with only the required steps. A human will copy what they saw exactly performing the extra steps as if they have some unknown value to the process. Our massive cultural heritages are learned by observing and taken in as a whole. This process works within organizations as well.

I suspect a small percentage of the human race functions differently than the majority and retains creative thinking and openness along with more emphasis on cognitive thinking than social learning but generally they always face a battle when working to change the group "consensus", i.e. Fulton's folly, scepticism on whether man would ever fly, etc.

One nice feature of the internet allows creative thinkers to connect and watch the idiocy of the world unfold around us.

"A natural desire to be part of the 'in crowd' could damage our ability to make the right decisions, a new study has shown."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141216212049.htm

TV , 10 February 2018 at 10:18 AM
The military by definition is a rigid hierarchical structure. It could not function as a collection of individuals. This society can only breed conforming narrow leaders as an "individual" would leave or be forced out.
Barbara Ann , 10 February 2018 at 10:22 AM
That part of our brain responsible for the desire to be part of the 'in crowd' may affect our decision-making process, but it is also the reason we keep chimps in zoos and not the other way around. Or, to put it another way; if chimps had invented Facebook, I might consider them more creative than us.
Babak Makkinejad -> Terry... , 10 February 2018 at 10:30 AM
Do you think chimps are, per the Christian Docrine, in a State of Fall or in a State of Grace?
Adrestia , 10 February 2018 at 10:32 AM
This is an interesting discussion. The top in organisations (civil and military) are increasingly technocrats and thinking like systems managers. They are unable to innovate because they lack the ability to think out of the box. Usually there is a leader who depends on specialists. Others (including laymen) are often excluding from the decision-making-proces. John Ralston Saul's Voltaires Bastards describes this very well.

Because of natural selection (conformist people tend to choose similar people who resemble their own values and ways-of-thinking) organizations have a tendency to become homogeneous (especially the higher management/ranks).

In combination with the "dumbing" of people (also of people who have a so-called good education (as described in Richard Sale's Sterile Chit-Chat ) this is a disastrous mix.

Homogeneity is the main culprit. A specialists tends to try to solve problems with the same knowledge-set that created these.

Not all (parts of) organizations and people suffer this fate. Innovations are usually done by laymen and not by specialists. The organizations are often heterogeneous and the people a-typical and/or eccentric.

(mainly the analytical parts of ) intelligence organizations and investment banks are like that if they are worth anything. Very heterogeneous with a lot of a-typical people. I think Green Berets are also like that. An open mind and genuine interest in others (cultures, way of thinking, religion etc) is essential to understand and to perform and also to prevent costly mistakes (in silver and/or blood).

It is possible to create firewalls against tunnel-vision. The Jester performed such a role. Also think of the Emperors New Clothes . The current trend of people with limited vision and creativity prevents this. Criticism is punished with a lack of promotion, job-loss or even jail (whistle-blowers)

IMO this is why up to a certain rank (colonel or middle management) a certain amount of creativity or alternative thinking is allowed, but conformity is essential to rise higher.

I was very interested in the Colonel's remark on the foreign background of the GB in Vietnam. If you would like to expand on this I would be much obliged? IMO GB are an example of a smart, learning, organization (in deed and not only in word as so many say of themselves, but who usually are at best mediocre)

Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg -> gaikokumaniakku... , 10 February 2018 at 11:58 AM
Isn't the "Borg" really The Atlantic Council?
ISL , 10 February 2018 at 12:58 PM
Dear Colonel,

Would you then say that a rising military officer who does have the vision thing faces career impediments? If so, would you say that the vision thing is lost (if it ever was there) at the highest ranks? In any case, the existence of even a few at the top, like Matthis or Shinseki is a blessing.

ex-PFC Chuck said in reply to FB Ali ... , 10 February 2018 at 01:08 PM
FB Ali:
"When the US was indeed the paramount military power on the globe, and the US military reigned supreme. They can't seem to accept the reality of the world as it is now."
That's true not only of the US military but of US elites in general across all of the spectra. And because that reality is at odds with the group-think of those within the various elements that make up the spectra it doesn't a hearing. Anyone who tries to bring it up risks being ejected from the group.
Adrestia , 10 February 2018 at 02:03 PM
I forget an important part. I really miss an edit-button. Comment-boxes are like looking at something through a straw. Its easy to miss the overview.

Innovations and significant new developments are usually made by laymen. IMO mainly because they have a fresh perspective without being bothered by the (mainstream) knowledge that dominates an area of expertise.

By excluding the laymen errors will continue to be repeated. This can be avoided by using development/decision-making frameworks, but these tend to become dogma (and thus become part of the problem)

Much better is allowing laymen and allowing a-typical people. Then listen to them carefully. Less rigid flexible and very valuable.

kooshy , 10 February 2018 at 02:19 PM
Apparently, according to the last US ambassador to Syria Mr. Ford, from 2014-17 US has spent 12 Billion on Regime change in Syria. IMO, combinedly Iran and Russia so far, have spent far less in Syria than 12 billion by US alone, not considering the rest of her so called coalition. This is a war of attrition, and US operations in wars, are usually far more expensive and longer than anybody else's.

"The United States spent at least $12 billion in Syria-related military and civilian expenses in the four years from 2014 through 2017, according to the former U.S. ambassador to the country. This $12 billion is in addition to the billions more spent to pursue regime change in Syria in the previous three years, after war broke out in 2011." https://goo.gl/8pj5cD

J , 10 February 2018 at 02:49 PM
Colonel, TTG, PT,

FYI regarding Syria

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/sen-tim-kaine-demands-release-secret-trump-war-powers-memo-n846176

Richardstevenhack -> turcopolier ... , 10 February 2018 at 02:56 PM
It may "demand" it - but does it get it? Soldiers are just as human as everyone else.

I'm reminded of the staff sergeant with the sagging beer belly who informed me, "Stand up straight and look like a soldier..." Or the First Sergeant who was so hung over one morning at inspection that he couldn't remember which direction he was going down the hall to the next room to be inspected. I'm sure you have your own stories of less than competence.

It's a question of intelligence and imagination. And frankly, I don't see the military in any country receiving the "best and brightest" of that country's population, by definition. The fact that someone is patriotic enough to enter the military over a civilian occupation doesn't make them more intelligent or imaginative than the people who decided on the civilian occupation.

Granted, if you fail at accounting, you don't usually die. Death tends to focus the mind, as they say. Nonetheless, we're not talking about the grunts at the level who actually die, still less the relatively limited number of Special Forces. We're talking about the officers and staff at the levels who don't usually die in war - except maybe at their defeat - i.e., most officers over the level of captain.

One can hardly look at this officer crowd in the Pentagon and CENTCOM and say that their personal death concentrates their mind. They are in virtually no danger of that. Only career death faces them - with a nice transition to the board of General Dynamics at ten times the salary.

All in all, I'd have to agree that the military isn't much better at being competent - at many levels above the obvious group of hyper-trained Special Forces - any more than any other profession.

dogear said in reply to Terry... , 10 February 2018 at 02:59 PM
That is well put.most important is the grading system that is designed to fix a person to a particular slot thereby limiting his ability to think "outside the box" and consider the many variables that exist in one particular instant.

Creative thinking allows you to see beyond the storm clouds ahead and realize that the connectedness of different realities both the visible and invisible. For instance the picture of the 2 pairs of korean skaters in the news tells an interesting story on many levels. Some will judge them on their grade of proffiency, while others will see a dance of strategy between 2 foes and a few will know the results in advance and plan accordingly

https://www.google.com.au/amp/www.nbcolympics.com/news/north-south-korean-figure-skating-teams-practice-side-side%3famp?espv=1

Mark Logan said in reply to Peter AU... , 10 February 2018 at 03:30 PM
Peter AU

"They are not stupid at all but they are a collective of narrow thinkers." I've often pondered that concept. Notice how many of radical extremist leaders were doctors, engineers and such? Narrow and deep. STEM is enormously useful to us but seems to be a risky when implanted in shallow earth.

turcopolier , 10 February 2018 at 05:03 PM
Mark Logan

These narrow "but deep" thinkers were unable to grasp the nature of the Iraq War for the first couple of years. They thought of it as a rear area security problem, a combat in cities problem, anything but a popular rebellion based on xenophobia and anti-colonialism The IED problem? They spent several billion dollars on trying to find a technology fix and never succeeded. I know because they kept asking me to explain the war to them and then could not understand the answers which were outside their narrow thought. pl

turcopolier , 10 February 2018 at 05:13 PM
ISL

War College selectees, the national board selected creme de la creme test out as 50% SJs (conformists lacking vision) in Myers-Briggs terms and about 15% NTs (intellectuals). To survive and move upward in a system dominated by SJs, the NTs must pretend to be what they are not. A few succeed. I do not think Mattis is an intellectual merely because he has read a lot. pl

outthere , 10 February 2018 at 05:19 PM
Long ago when I was a professor, I advised my students that "the law is like a pencil sharpener, it sharpens the mind by narrowing it." I tried to encourage them to "think backwards".

My favorite example was a Japanese fisherman who recovered valuable ancient Chinese pottery. Everyone knew where an ancient ship had sunk, but the water was too deep to dive down to the wreck. And everyone knew the cargo included these valuable vases. And the fisherman was the first to figure out how to recover them. He attached a line to an octopus, and lowered it in the area, waited awhile, and pulled it up. Low and behold, the octopus had hidden in an ancient Chinese vase. The fisherman was familiar with trapping octopuses, by lowering a ceramic pot (called "takosubo") into the ocean, waiting awhile, then raising the vase with octopus inside. His brilliance was to think backwards, and use an octopus to catch a vase.

turcopolier , 10 February 2018 at 05:24 PM
TV

By your calculation people like Joe Stilwell and George Patton should not have existed. pl

turcopolier , 10 February 2018 at 05:31 PM
Adrestia

the original GBS were recruited in the 50s to serve in the OSS role with foreign guerrillas behind Soviet lines in th event of war in Europe. Aaron Bank, the founder, recruited several hundred experienced foreign soldiers from the likely countries who wanted to become American. By the time we were in VN these men were a small fraction of GBs but important for their expertise and professionalism. pl

ked , 10 February 2018 at 05:56 PM
Col, I think it might help people to think of "the Borg" - as you have defined & applied it - in a broader context. It struck me particularly as you ID'd the launching of our modern military group-think / careerism behavior coming from the watershed of industrialized scale & processes that came out of WWII.

We note parallel themes in all significant sectors of our civilization. The ever-expanding security state, the many men in Gray Flannel Suits that inhabit corporate culture, Finance & Banking & Big Health scaling ever larger - all processes aimed to slice the salami thinner & quicker, to the point where meat is moot ... and so it goes.

I note many Borgs... Borgism if you will. An organizational behavior that has emerged out of human nature having difficulty adapting to rapidly accelerating complexity that is just too hard to apprehend in a few generations. If (as many commenters on STT seem to...) one wishes to view this in an ideological or spiritual framework only, they may overlook an important truth - that what we are experiencing is a Battle Among Borgs for control over their own space & domination over the other Borgs. How else would we expect any competitive, powerful interest group to act?

In gov & industry these days, we observe some pretty wild outliers... attached to some wild outcomes. Thus the boring behavior of our political industries bringing forth Trump, our promethean technology sector yielding a Musk (& yes, a Zuckerberg).

I find it hard to take very seriously analysts that define their perspective based primarily upon their superior ideals & opposition to others. Isn't every person, every tribe, team or enterprise a borglet-in-becoming? Everybody Wants to Rule the World ... & Everybody Must Get Stoned... messages about how we are grappling with complexity in our times. I just finished reading Command & Control (about nuclear weapons policy, systems design & accidents). I am amazed we've made it this far.

Unfortunately, I would not be amazed if reckless, feckless leaders changed the status quo. I was particularly alarmed hearing Trump in his projection mode; "I would love to be able to bring back our country into a great form of unity, without a major event where people pull together, that's hard to do.

But I would like to do it without that major event because usually that major event is not a good thing." It strikes me that he could be exceptionally willing to risk a Major Event if he felt a form of unity, or self-preservation, was in the offing. I pray (& I do not pray often or easily) that the Generals you have described have enough heart & guts to honor their oath at its most profound level in the event of an Event.

turcopolier , 10 February 2018 at 06:00 PM
babak

As a time traveler from another age, I can only say that for me it means devotion to a set of mores peculiar to a particular profession as opposed to an occupation. pl

Barbara Ann -> outthere... , 10 February 2018 at 06:00 PM
Great example outthere.

Another springs to mind: James Lovelock (of Gaia hypothesis fame) was once part of the NASA team building the first probe to go to Mars to look for signs of life. Lovelock didn't make any friends when he told NASA they were wasting their time, there was none. When asked how he could be so sure, he explained that the composition of the Martian atmosphere made it impossible. "But Martian life may be able to survive under different conditions" was the retort. Lovelock then went on to explain his view that the evolution of microbial life determined the atmospheric composition on Earth, so should be expected to do the same if life had evolved on Mars. Brilliant backwards thinking which ought to have earned him the Nobel prize IMHO (for Gaia). Lovelock, a classic cross-disciplinary scientist, can't be rewarded with such a box-categorized honor, as his idea doesn't fit well into any one.

Another example of cross-disciplinary brilliance was Bitcoin, which has as much to do with its creator's deep knowledge of Anthropology (why people invented & use money) as his expertise in both Economics and Computer Science.

This is they key to creative thinking in my view - familiarity with different fields yields deeper insights.

[Aug 29, 2017] New York Police scrap 36,000 Windows smartphones

The story is probably more complex and Regisr is as close to yellow press as one can get but discarding 36K smartphones in one year is something that smells incompetence. BTW Lumia 83 can be upgraded to Windows 10 so this was not a problem.
Aug 29, 2017 | www.theregister.co.uk
Bonkers buy-up by bungling billionairess By Kieren McCarthy in San Francisco 28 Aug 2017 at 18:48 SHARE ▼ The New York Police Department will scrap 36,000 smartphones, thanks to a monumental purchasing cock-up by a billionaire's daughter.

The city spent millions on the phones back in October 2016 as part of its drive to bring the police force into the 21st century. And the woman behind the purchase – Deputy Commissioner for Information Technology, Jessica Tisch – praised them for their ability to quickly send 911 alerts to officers close to an incident.

There was only one problem: Tisch chose Windows-based Lumia 830 and Lumia 640 XL phones, and Microsoft officially ended support for Windows 8.1 in July.

Even though those two models are eligible to be upgraded to Windows 10 Mobile, the NYPD will need to redesign more than a dozen custom apps it created to run on Windows 8.1. And every phone will need to be manually updated to the new operating system. In addition, Microsoft is only promising to support upgraded Windows 10 phones through to June 2019.

In other words, the phones are effectively obsolete and so, according to the New York Post , the police department has decided to scrap them altogether and go with iPhones instead.

That decision has not come as a huge surprise: even when the purchasing decision was made, Windows-based phones held just three percent of the market. In fact, back in 2016 when the program was launched, pretty much everyone applauded the idea of giving cops smartphones but were baffled as to why anyone would go with Windows phones over Android or iOS.

Tsk, tsk, Tisch

Well, according to department sources quoted by the New York Post, the procurement disaster was all down to Ms Tisch – who, it turns out, is the daughter of former Loews CEO and billionaire James S Tisch.

"She drove the whole process," one unhappy cop told the paper, name-checking Jessica. "Nobody purchases 36,000 phones based on the judgment of one person," he complained. "I don't care if you're Jesus fucking Christ, you get a panel of experts."

Which is a fair point, since we have no hesitation in saying that even an expert panel of one would have concluded that Windows phones were a turn in the wrong direction for a huge police department.

According to other sources, the reason Tisch plumbed for the Lumia was because the NYPD was using Microsoft software on its video surveillance system – a system that Tisch has closely associated herself with and, back in 2012, demonstrated and boasted about to the press, raising eyebrows .

You can see how an inexperienced IT manager might think that it made sense to go with Microsoft all the way. But then that is also why anyone who carries out IT procurement into an area they are not expert on gets a team of people to review all the possibilities before they spend huge sums of money.

"She was in charge. It was her project, no question about that," another department source told the Post.

So why has the notoriously tight-lipped NYPD decided to dump on one of its own? It may be that Ms Tisch put a few noses out of joint with her smartphone plan, first announced in 2014.

At the time, then-police commissioner Bill Bratton specifically identified Tisch as being the driving force for the plan and joked: "She's a terror if she doesn't get her way, so I usually let her get her way. So she's certainly getting her way with this technology."

Oh dear.

We have asked the NYPD for confirmation and comment on the decision to scrap the phones. We'll get back if and when they respond.

[Aug 28, 2017] Bombastic boss gave insane instructions to sensible sysadmin, with client on speakerphone

Aug 28, 2017 | www.theregister.co.uk
When data disappeared, everyone knew exactly where to point the finger By Simon Sharwood, APAC Editor 25 Aug 2017 at 07:02 SHARE ▼ The Register 's weekly reader-contributed tales of workplace woe.

This week, meet "Craig," who shared a story of working for a small IT services company that hired a new "team leader".

Craig used italics because after meeting his new boss he quickly surmised the title "was an entire contradiction, as he was neither."

One fine day, Craig was given the job of sorting out an email issue at a small family owned legal firm. Craig knew the client well: he'd previously fixed their jammed printers, added new users to the company domain and lots of other mundane stuff.

On this occasion things were a bit more urgent as one of the senior partners had email issues and there was a whiff of data loss in the air. Enter the new team leader, who dispatched Craig to the client with thundered instructions to "JUST GO AND FIX IT!"

Upon arrival, Craig liaised with "Dianne", a worker at the law firm who helped him when he visited.

With Dianne's help Craig quickly figured out that senior partner's .PST file was corrupted. Craig tried his usual tricks but they didn't work, in part because "Outlook was throwing a hissy fit at every opportunity." So he called back to base to consult a colleague, but the phone was answered by the new team leader who insisted on taking control of the situation.

At this point, Craig put the call on speaker so that Dianne could hear it.

Both were treated to the new boss suggesting use of a .PST repair tool, which Craig had already tried.

"I don't care, run it again," was the response, so Craig obeyed and duly reported it had not worked.

"Delete the account and recreate it" was the next instruction, which again was hardly news to Craig and again didn't work.

So the boss got extreme and told Craig to "delete Outlook and Office from the registry."

Craig didn't like that idea and told the team leader so, while shaking his head at Dianne, making lots of bad-idea motions and telling his boss he felt this was not a sensible course of action.

"Just fucking do what I tell you" was the reply. Which got Dianne smiling as she now appreciated Craig's situation and realised the boss had no idea he was on speaker.

Craig protested that this was a dangerous course of action likely to create further problems in an already-unstable system and endanger the client's data.

To which the team leader responded that Craig was a lowly functionary and should do what he was told by his betters.

So Craig did as he was told, deleting any registry entry that mentioned Outlook while watching Dianne start to take notes about the incident.

Of course the glorious leader's idea didn't work and Craig was soon able to show Dianne that the partner's emails had gone, in all probability forever. Which is a bad look anywhere but even worse at a law firm.

Dianne was furious.

Craig was calm. He whipped out a third-party .PST repair tool he favoured, applied it to the backup of the partner's file he'd made just in case things went pear-shaped, and recovered just about all of the at-risk emails.

"Dianne hailed me as a hero," Craig recalls. And not long afterwards he was vindicated when the client sent his employer a letter saying that they'd be fired if the new team leader ever had anything to do with their IT again.

Said leader was gone two months later after other clients complained about his skills and service ethic.

"I was glad to see the back of him because he was an utter dickhead," Craig told us in his email to On-Call.

Has your boss ever asked you to do something dangerous? Write to share your story and it might be your anonymised name getting readers chuckling in a future edition of On-Call. ®

[May 24, 2017] The cost cannot be measured only in lost opportunities, lives and money. There will be a long hangover of shame

May 24, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Michael N. Moore , says: February 11, 2013 at 12:13 pm

In my opinion the most under-reported event of the Iraq war was the suicide of military Ethicist Colonel Ted Westhusing. It was reported at the end of a Frank Rich column that appeared in the NY Times of 10-21-2007:

"The cost cannot be measured only in lost opportunities, lives and money. There will be a long hangover of shame. Its essence was summed up by Col. Ted Westhusing, an Army scholar of military ethics who was an innocent witness to corruption, not a participant, when he died at age 44 of a gunshot wound to the head while working for Gen. David Petraeus training Iraqi security forces in Baghdad in 2005. He was at the time the highest-ranking officer to die in Iraq."

"Colonel Westhusing's death was ruled a suicide, though some believe he was murdered by contractors fearing a whistle-blower, according to T. Christian Miller, the Los Angeles Times reporter who documents the case in his book "Blood Money." Either way, the angry four-page letter the officer left behind for General Petraeus and his other commander, Gen. Joseph Fil, is as much an epitaph for America's engagement in Iraq as a suicide note."

" 'I cannot support a msn that leads to corruption, human rights abuse and liars,' Colonel Westhusing wrote, abbreviating the word mission. 'I am sullied.' "

Michael N. Moore , says: February 13, 2013 at 2:46 pm
As per the request of James Canning for more information on Col. Ted Westhusing, please see:

http://www.correntewire.com/a_disturbing_suicide_note_from_iraq

Or the book "Blood Money" by T. Christian Miller

thefatefullightning , says: June 4, 2013 at 1:09 pm
"The tiny pink candies at the bottom of the urinals are reserved for Field Grade and Above." --sign over the urinals in the "O" Club at Tan Son Nhut Airbase, 1965.

Now that sentiment, is Officer-on-Officer. The same dynamic tension exists throughout all Branches and ranks.

My background includes a Combat Infantry Badge and a record of having made Spec Four , two times. If you don't know what that means, stop reading here.

I feel that no one should be promoted E-5 or O-4, if they are to command men in battle, unless they have had that life experience themselves. It becomes virgins instructing on sexual etiquette.

Within the ranks, there exists a disdain for officers, in general. Some officers overcome this by their actions, but the vast majority cement that assessment the same way.
What makes the thing run is the few officers who are superior human beings, and the NCOs who are of that same tribe. And there is a love there, from top to bottom and bottom to top, a brotherhood of warriors which the civilian population will forever try to discern, parse and examine to their lasting frustration and ignorance.

It is the spirit of this nation [Liberty, e pluribus unum and In God We Trust ] that is the binding filament of it all. The civilians responsible for the welfare of the armed services need to be more fully aware of that spirit and they need to bring it into the air-conditioned offices they inhabit when they make decisions about men who know sacrifice.

Terrence Zehrer , says: July 15, 2013 at 12:48 pm
But the Pentagon is excellent at what it does – extort money from the US taxpayer. I call it treason.

"Massive military budgets erode the economic foundation on which true national security is dependent."

– Dwight Eisenhower

[May 24, 2017] Rank Incompetence by William S. Lind

Notable quotes:
"... The schools teach a combination of staff process and sophomore-level college courses in government and international relations. No one is taught how to be a commander in combat. One Army lieutenant colonel recently wrote me that he got angry when he figured out that nothing he needs to know to command would be taught to him in any Army school. ..."
"... The promotion system reinforces professional ignorance. ..."
Feb 01, 2013 | www.theamericanconservative.com
It was tragic that the career of General David Petraeus was brought down by a mere affair. It should have ended several years earlier as a consequence of his failure as our commander in Afghanistan. Petraeus, like every other theater commander in that war except Stanley McChrystal, could have been replaced by a concrete block and nothing would have changed. They all kept doing the same things while expecting a different result.

Thomas Ricks's recent book The Generals has reintroduced into the defense debate a vital factor the press and politicians collude in ignoring: military incompetence. It was a major theme of the Military Reform Movement of the 1970s and '80s. During those years, a friend of mine who was an aide to a Marine Corps commandant asked his boss how many Marine generals, of whom there were then 60-some, could competently fight a battle. The commandant came up with six. And the Marine Corps is the best of our services.

Military incompetence does not begin at the rank of brigadier general. An old French proverb says that the problem with the generals is that we select them from among the colonels. Nonetheless, military competence-the ability to see quickly what to do in a military situation and make it happen-is more rare at the general officer level. A curious aspect of our promotion system is that the higher the rank, the smaller the percentage of our competent officers.

Why is military incompetence so widespread at the higher levels of America's armed forces? Speaking from my own observations over almost 40 years, I can identify two factors. First, nowhere does our vast, multi-billion dollar military-education system teach military judgment. Second, above the rank of Army, Marine Corps, or Air Force captain, military ability plays essentially no role in determining who gets promoted. (It has been so long since our Navy fought another navy that, apart from the aviators, military competence does not seem to be a consideration at any level.)

Almost never do our military schools, academies, and colleges put students in situations where they have to think through how to fight a battle or a campaign, then get critiqued not on their answer but the way they think. Nor does American military training offer much free play, where the enemy can do whatever he wants and critique draws out why one side won and the other lost. Instead, training exercises are scripted as if we are training an opera company. The schools teach a combination of staff process and sophomore-level college courses in government and international relations. No one is taught how to be a commander in combat. One Army lieutenant colonel recently wrote me that he got angry when he figured out that nothing he needs to know to command would be taught to him in any Army school.

The promotion system reinforces professional ignorance. Above the company grades, military ability does not count in determining who gets promoted. At the rank of major, officers are supposed to accept that the "real world" is the internal world of budget and promotion politics, not war. Those who "don't get it" have ever smaller chances of making general. This represents corruption of the worst kind, corruption of institutional purpose. Its result is generals and admirals who are in effect Soviet industrial managers in ever worse-looking suits. They know little and care less about their intended product, military victory. Their expertise is in acquiring resources and playing the military courtier.

[May 24, 2017] A Condensation of Military Incompetence

Notable quotes:
"... Now think about it a minute. These are the people to whom we have given the authority to make life and death, godlike, decisions, over thousands of their subordinates and millions of people in less fortunate foreign lands. As you will see toward the end of this article, their manifest failings have had some rather serious consequences-that could have been much worse-in an episode in Korea in the 1960s that is revealed in full here for the first time. ..."
May 24, 2017 | www.dcdave.com

What with all the glorification of our "heroes" in uniform, a glorification that seems to grow in inverse proportion to the real need for them, a person could begin to feel afraid to utter aloud the sort of jokes that people used to make. For instance, you might feel the need to look over your shoulder before you repeat the old George Carlin observation that "military intelligence" is an oxymoron.

The growing military hype and the sort of military intelligence with which I became all too familiar in my two years of service, 1966-1968, came together on this Veterans Day weekend. The picture of the U.S. Navy's finest engaged in the Sisyphean task of mopping dew off the basketball court that had been laid on the deck of the USS Yorktown said it all. That was in coastal South Carolina on Friday night, November 9, in what was to have been a big military advertisement to kick off the weekend. The same fiasco played itself out on the deck of the USS Bataan in Jacksonville, Florida, except that the college basketball players there put themselves in harm's way for an entire half, attempting to play on the virtual skating rink that the very predictable condensation had made of the surface.

... ... ...

Now think about it a minute. These are the people to whom we have given the authority to make life and death, godlike, decisions, over thousands of their subordinates and millions of people in less fortunate foreign lands. As you will see toward the end of this article, their manifest failings have had some rather serious consequences-that could have been much worse-in an episode in Korea in the 1960s that is revealed in full here for the first time.

... ... ...

Before we were to do our one dry run we had a planning meeting, presided over by the lieutenant colonel from Eighth Army Headquarters in charge of the operation, at which the action plan was handed out. Right off the bat we noticed a problem. Each of the teams was identified with a number. We were team four. Each of the islands was also assigned a number, one through four, and they were called "sites." Our team four was to go to site one, team three was to go to site two, and so on.

We wanted badly to suggest that it might be a better idea to match up the sites and the team designations, so that team one went to site one, etc., but we were told that we would have an opportunity to make suggestions for the final action plan after we had done our dry run, so we held our fire.

... ... ...

"We're implementing the action plan," said he, or words to that effect. "Move out immediately."

Patting myself on the back for the decision I had made, and in a state of rather high excitement, I pulled out the phone number of the contact in the Kimpo engineer battalion to make sure that there would be boats for us when we got to our destination.

It's a good thing the phone worked-the military phones were something of a hit-or-miss thing at that time in Korea-considering his response. "We haven't had any move-out order," he responded to me.

I immediately got back on the phone to the Eighth Army lieutenant to ask him what was up.

"Hold that first order," he said. "We've decided to give it a little more time."

Now I was thinking that it was an especially good thing that I had not taken the "immediately" part of his move-out order too literally, and I was really glad I had gotten that boatman's phone number. Considering the weather conditions, "high and dry" doesn't precisely describe the position we would have found ourselves in at the evacuation site without the boats and without even a need for them, but it comes close.

Having heard many reports of predicted river flooding on the news where the levels expected are based upon levels already recorded upstream, I inquired of the lieutenant as to the basis on which the final decision would be made. I remember his response as though it were yesterday:

"Colonel 'Geronimo' is down looking at the river."

As it turned out, no one drowned because some would-be rescue helicopter had landed at Site 3 instead of the correct Site 2 because he had received an emergency radio call from Ground 3, and we never suffered from the lack of manpower that the Korean Army might have provided at our site. None of the islands flooded that day-or that year-and the "hold" on that first call from the Eighth Army lieutenant continued into perpetuity.

... ... ...

David Martin

November 15, 2012

[Sep 03, 2016] Hillary Clinton Incompetent, Or Criminal

The lost in mail laptop and disappear thumb drive with archived emails story is incredibly fishy. The whole story in incredible. Both Hillary and her close aides (especially Huma ) come out as completely incompetent idiots, who can't be trusted any sensitive information. This level of incompetence combined with recklessness is pretty typical for female sociopath
Notable quotes:
"... The Donald Trump campaign has already called for Clinton to be "locked up" for her carelessness handling sensitive information. The missing laptop and thumb drive raise a new possibility that Clinton's emails could have been obtained by people for whom they weren't intended. ..."
"... The archives on the laptop and thumbdrive were constructed by Clinton aides in 2013, using a convoluted process, before her emails were turned over to State Department officials and later scrubbed to determine which ones had classified information and should either be withheld from public view or could be released with redactions. The archive of messages would contain none of those safeguards, potentially exposing classified information if it were ever opened and its contents read. ..."
"... The archive was created nearly a year before the State Department contacted former secretaries of state and asked them to turn over any emails that they had sent using private accounts that pertained to official business. A senior Clinton aide, Huma Abedin, told the FBI that the archive on the laptop and thumb drive were meant to be "a reference for the future production of a book," according to the FBI report. ..."
"... Whatever the rationale, the transfer of Clinton's emails onto two new storage devices, one of which was shipped twice, created new opportunities for messages to be lost or exposed to people who weren't authorized to see them, according to the FBI report. (The Clinton campaign didn't immediately respond to a request to comment for this story.) ..."
"... The disappearing laptop and thumb drive story is incredibly fishy. Either Team Hillary is lying about it, or they are spectacularly incompetent and reckless with national security information. ..."
"... Hillary Clinton: Incompetent, Or Criminal? Both. ..."
"... Dear God, from the Daily Beast article, apparently they were using one of the laptops as a way to transfer the emails to a contractor they had hired. Since no one knew how to do it, they effected the transfer by sending the entire archive to a personal gmail account, then transfering it again to the contractor. So we have a massive store containing quite classified information going to a major tech company, entirely over the internet with only ssl protection I can only presume, because they could not figure out how to transfer a file system. The incompetence here is astonishing. Even a Google employee who forwards sensitive information to a personal gmail account would risk being fired. ..."
"... Of course the most important detail to come out of this is the use of BleachBit. You don't use that software to delete emails about yoga classes. ..."
"... The employee "transferred all of the Clinton e-mail content to a personal Google e-mail (Gmail) address he created," the FBI found. From that Gmail address, he downloaded the emails into a mailbox named "HRC Archive" on the Platte River server. ..."
"... Honestly, Rod you should highlight this. I can assure you that if something this mindbogglingly reckless were ever done at a major tech company the employee would either be fired or told to find work elsewhere but never enter the office again (because severance is expensive and bad pr). I assume the same is true of the government as well. ..."
The American Conservative

Why, exactly, did the FBI wait until Labor Day Weekend to dump this startling news about Hillary Clinton's e-mail scandal? Hard to believe it was a coincidence that official Washington wanted this story to have the best chance of going away. From the Daily Beast:

A laptop containing a copy, or "archive," of the emails on Hillary Clinton's private server was apparently lost-in the postal mail-according to an FBI report released Friday. Along with it, a thumb drive that also contained an archive of Clinton's emails has been lost and is not in the FBI's possession.

The Donald Trump campaign has already called for Clinton to be "locked up" for her carelessness handling sensitive information. The missing laptop and thumb drive raise a new possibility that Clinton's emails could have been obtained by people for whom they weren't intended. The FBI director has already said it's possible Clinton's email system could have been remotely accessed by foreign hackers.

The revelation of the two archives is contained in a detailed report about the FBI's investigation of Clinton's private email account. The report contained new information about how the archives were handled, as well as how a private company deleted emails in its possession, at the same time that congressional investigators were demanding copies.

More:

The archives on the laptop and thumbdrive were constructed by Clinton aides in 2013, using a convoluted process, before her emails were turned over to State Department officials and later scrubbed to determine which ones had classified information and should either be withheld from public view or could be released with redactions. The archive of messages would contain none of those safeguards, potentially exposing classified information if it were ever opened and its contents read.

The FBI has found that Clinton's emails contained classified information, including information derived from U.S. intelligence. Her campaign has disputed the classification of some of the emails.

The archive was created nearly a year before the State Department contacted former secretaries of state and asked them to turn over any emails that they had sent using private accounts that pertained to official business. A senior Clinton aide, Huma Abedin, told the FBI that the archive on the laptop and thumb drive were meant to be "a reference for the future production of a book," according to the FBI report. Another aide, however, said that the archive was set up after the email account of a Clinton confidante and longtime adviser, Sidney Blumenthal, was compromised by a Romanian hacker.

Whatever the rationale, the transfer of Clinton's emails onto two new storage devices, one of which was shipped twice, created new opportunities for messages to be lost or exposed to people who weren't authorized to see them, according to the FBI report. (The Clinton campaign didn't immediately respond to a request to comment for this story.)

Read it all. The disappearing laptop and thumb drive story is incredibly fishy. Either Team Hillary is lying about it, or they are spectacularly incompetent and reckless with national security information.

Clint says: September 3, 2016 at 12:00 pm
The Clintons have gotten away repeatedly by not playing by the rules that others must play by or get punished for breeching.

It's incrementally being exposed and Americans see that The Clintons act as if they're too big to jail.

Noah172 , says: September 3, 2016 at 12:08 pm
KevinS wrote:

It is like going through a red light because you weren't paying close enough attention as opposed to consciously choosing to run a red light

Lousy analogy. Running a red is a momentary lapse, not a years-long, well-thought-out conspiracy, with considerable effort given to covering tracks (BleachBit).

Sebastien Cole , says: September 3, 2016 at 12:09 pm
No one in the media wants to say it, but this report almost entirely exonerates Clinton. Yes, she's lawyerly and is inclined to walk too close to the line, but no – she didn't do anything immoral or unethical. If at some point it turns out that she's actually done something wrong then we revisit, but the obsession with this 'crimeless coverup' prevents us from stating the obvious – Clinton is a solid candidate for President, intelligent, diligent and serious enough to guide the nation through difficult times. Trump is uncontroversially not.

The moral equivalence games the media plays with the two candidates amounts to a cancer in our civic fiber that allows us not to put away our childish things.

mongoose , says: September 3, 2016 at 12:15 pm
…like choosing a hangover…rather than a heroin overdose
Buckeye reader , says: September 3, 2016 at 12:22 pm
You're insulting Nixon.

We could have had Carly Fiorina dealing with the challenge of cyber warfare in the 21st century. Voters are choosing a woman who put an insecure server containing national security communications in her basement, and sold our intention and opportunities to do good in the world to rich people for her own financial gain.
(I lean toward voting for Trump. My issue is the immense paperwork drag on health care delivery and the increase in cost caused by the "affordable" care act. I expect more of the same with Clinton. )

Abelard Lindsey , says: September 3, 2016 at 12:37 pm
Hillary Clinton: Incompetent, Or Criminal? Both.
Michael Guarino, says: September 3, 2016 at 12:51 pm
Dear God, from the Daily Beast article, apparently they were using one of the laptops as a way to transfer the emails to a contractor they had hired. Since no one knew how to do it, they effected the transfer by sending the entire archive to a personal gmail account, then transfering it again to the contractor. So we have a massive store containing quite classified information going to a major tech company, entirely over the internet with only ssl protection I can only presume, because they could not figure out how to transfer a file system. The incompetence here is astonishing. Even a Google employee who forwards sensitive information to a personal gmail account would risk being fired.

This sort of astonishing incompetence is exactly why I originally thought this was a big deal. The reason you don't want HRC running her own server is because she plainly doesn't know how to manage, or even hire for, all the inane details of information security.

Of course the most important detail to come out of this is the use of BleachBit. You don't use that software to delete emails about yoga classes.

Will Harrington , says: September 3, 2016 at 12:52 pm
Jay, or, and hear me out, like the other Bill, there has to come a point in time where the shear amount of claims of criminal behavior has to be considered. The other Bill got away with rape for years, maybe its time to consider that this Bill and his wife lack credibility in the face of accusers that HRC has denigrated and called Bimbos.

Leftists make me sick in this. They will cry that we should always believe the victim unless one of their political leaders are accused. You want to take out a conservative? Give credible evidence that he is guilty of rape or sexual harassment. We quit voting for them. Your side, deny, deny, deny….and ultimately demand we move on, just like a previous poster's five stages of a Clinton scandal.

The only exception to this I can think of is Weiner, not because he did something that is horrible. No, you guys abandoned him because he was pathetic and embarrassing.

Michael Guarino, says: September 3, 2016 at 1:08 pm
This is the direct quote from the Daily Beast article:

After trying unsuccessfully to remotely transfer the emails to a Platte River server, Hanley shipped the laptop to the employee's home in February 2014. He then "migrated Clinton's emails" from the laptop to a Platte River server.

That task was hardly straightforward, however, and ended up exposing the email archive yet again, this time to another commercial email service.

The employee "transferred all of the Clinton e-mail content to a personal Google e-mail (Gmail) address he created," the FBI found. From that Gmail address, he downloaded the emails into a mailbox named "HRC Archive" on the Platte River server.

Honestly, Rod you should highlight this. I can assure you that if something this mindbogglingly reckless were ever done at a major tech company the employee would either be fired or told to find work elsewhere but never enter the office again (because severance is expensive and bad pr). I assume the same is true of the government as well.

It really makes the Nixon comparisons seem apt, except she has an out for her supporters in simply claiming that she is a bumbling idiot.

Andrew E. , says: September 3, 2016 at 1:23 pm
The good liberals here who are starting the writing on the wall with Crooked Hillary should begin considering the fact that Trump isn't that bad and is actually pretty good in many ways. Come on over, you will be welcomed warmly.

[Mar 21, 2015] Presidents, Prime Ministers, Congressmen, Generals, Spooks, Soldiers and Police ADMIT to False Flag Terror by George Washington

Mar 18, 2015 | Zero Hedge

There are many documented false flag attacks, where a government carries out a terror attack … and then falsely blames its enemy for political purposes.

In the following instances, officials in the government which carried out the attack (or seriously proposed an attack) admit to it, either orally or in writing:

(1) Japanese troops set off a small explosion on a train track in 1931, and falsely blamed it on China in order to justify an invasion of Manchuria. This is known as the "Mukden Incident" or the "Manchurian Incident". The Tokyo International Military Tribunal found: "Several of the participators in the plan, including Hashimoto [a high-ranking Japanese army officer], have on various occasions admitted their part in the plot and have stated that the object of the 'Incident' was to afford an excuse for the occupation of Manchuria by the Kwantung Army …." And see this.

(2) A major with the Nazi SS admitted at the Nuremberg trials that – under orders from the chief of the Gestapo – he and some other Nazi operatives faked attacks on their own people and resources which they blamed on the Poles, to justify the invasion of Poland.

(3) Nazi general Franz Halder also testified at the Nuremberg trials that Nazi leader Hermann Goering admitted to setting fire to the German parliament building in 1933, and then falsely blaming the communists for the arson.

(4) Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev admitted in writing that the Soviet Union's Red Army shelled the Russian village of Mainila in 1939 – while blaming the attack on Finland – as a basis for launching the "Winter War" against Finland. Russian president Boris Yeltsin agreed that Russia had been the aggressor in the Winter War.

(5) The Russian Parliament, current Russian president Putin and former Soviet leader Gorbachev all admit that Soviet leader Joseph Stalin ordered his secret police to execute 22,000 Polish army officers and civilians in 1940, and then falsely blamed it on the Nazis.

(6) The British government admits that – between 1946 and 1948 – it bombed 5 ships carrying Jews attempting to flee the Holocaust to seek safety in Palestine, set up a fake group called "Defenders of Arab Palestine", and then had the psuedo-group falsely claim responsibility for the bombings (and see this, this and this).

(7) Israel admits that in 1954, an Israeli terrorist cell operating in Egypt planted bombs in several buildings, including U.S. diplomatic facilities, then left behind "evidence" implicating the Arabs as the culprits (one of the bombs detonated prematurely, allowing the Egyptians to identify the bombers, and several of the Israelis later confessed) (and see this and this).

(8) The CIA admits that it hired Iranians in the 1950′s to pose as Communists and stage bombings in Iran in order to turn the country against its democratically-elected prime minister.

(9) The Turkish Prime Minister admitted that the Turkish government carried out the 1955 bombing on a Turkish consulate in Greece – also damaging the nearby birthplace of the founder of modern Turkey – and blamed it on Greece, for the purpose of inciting and justifying anti-Greek violence.

(10) The British Prime Minister admitted to his defense secretary that he and American president Dwight Eisenhower approved a plan in 1957 to carry out attacks in Syria and blame it on the Syrian government as a way to effect regime change.

(11) The former Italian Prime Minister, an Italian judge, and the former head of Italian counterintelligence admit that NATO, with the help of the Pentagon and CIA, carried out terror bombings in Italy and other European countries in the 1950s and blamed the communists, in order to rally people's support for their governments in Europe in their fight against communism. As one participant in this formerly-secret program stated: "You had to attack civilians, people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game. The reason was quite simple. They were supposed to force these people, the Italian public, to turn to the state to ask for greater security" (and see this) (Italy and other European countries subject to the terror campaign had joined NATO before the bombings occurred). And watch this BBC special. They also allegedly carried out terror attacks in France, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the UK, and other countries.

False flag attacks carried out pursuant tho this program include – by way of example only:

(12) In 1960, American Senator George Smathers suggested that the U.S. launch "a false attack made on Guantanamo Bay which would give us the excuse of actually fomenting a fight which would then give us the excuse to go in and [overthrow Castro]".

(13) Official State Department documents show that, in 1961, the head of the Joint Chiefs and other high-level officials discussed blowing up a consulate in the Dominican Republic in order to justify an invasion of that country. The plans were not carried out, but they were all discussed as serious proposals.

(14) As admitted by the U.S. government, recently declassified documents show that in 1962, the American Joint Chiefs of Staff signed off on a plan to blow up AMERICAN airplanes (using an elaborate plan involving the switching of airplanes), and also to commit terrorist acts on American soil, and then to blame it on the Cubans in order to justify an invasion of Cuba. See the following ABC news report; the official documents; and watch this interview with the former Washington Investigative Producer for ABC's World News Tonight with Peter Jennings.

(15) In 1963, the U.S. Department of Defense wrote a paper promoting attacks on nations within the Organization of American States – such as Trinidad-Tobago or Jamaica – and then falsely blaming them on Cuba.

(16) The U.S. Department of Defense even suggested covertly paying a person in the Castro government to attack the United States: "The only area remaining for consideration then would be to bribe one of Castro's subordinate commanders to initiate an attack on Guantanamo."

(17) The NSA admits that it lied about what really happened in the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964 … manipulating data to make it look like North Vietnamese boats fired on a U.S. ship so as to create a false justification for the Vietnam war.

(18) A U.S. Congressional committee admitted that – as part of its "Cointelpro" campaign – the FBI had used many provocateurs in the 1950s through 1970s to carry out violent acts and falsely blame them on political activists.

(19) A top Turkish general admitted that Turkish forces burned down a mosque on Cyprus in the 1970s and blamed it on their enemy. He explained: "In Special War, certain acts of sabotage are staged and blamed on the enemy to increase public resistance. We did this on Cyprus; we even burnt down a mosque." In response to the surprised correspondent's incredulous look the general said, "I am giving an example".

(20) The German government admitted (and see this) that, in 1978, the German secret service detonated a bomb in the outer wall of a prison and planted "escape tools" on a prisoner – a member of the Red Army Faction – which the secret service wished to frame the bombing on.

(21) A Mossad agent admits that, in 1984, Mossad planted a radio transmitter in Gaddaffi's compound in Tripoli, Libya which broadcast fake terrorist trasmissions recorded by Mossad, in order to frame Gaddaffi as a terrorist supporter. Ronald Reagan bombed Libya immediately thereafter.

(22) The South African Truth and Reconciliation Council found that, in 1989, the Civil Cooperation Bureau (a covert branch of the South African Defense Force) approached an explosives expert and asked him "to participate in an operation aimed at discrediting the ANC [the African National Congress] by bombing the police vehicle of the investigating officer into the murder incident", thus framing the ANC for the bombing.

(23) An Algerian diplomat and several officers in the Algerian army admit that, in the 1990s, the Algerian army frequently massacred Algerian civilians and then blamed Islamic militants for the killings (and see this video; and Agence France-Presse, 9/27/2002, French Court Dismisses Algerian Defamation Suit Against Author).

(24) The United States Army's 1994 publication Special Forces Foreign Internal Defense Tactics Techniques and Procedures for Special Forces – updated in 2004 – recommends employing terrorists and using false flag operations to destabilize leftist regimes in Latin America. False flag terrorist attacks were carried out in Latin America and other regions as part of the CIA's "Dirty Wars". And see this.

(25) Similarly, a CIA "psychological operations" manual prepared by a CIA contractor for the Nicaraguan Contra rebels noted the value of assassinating someone on your own side to create a "martyr" for the cause. The manual was authenticated by the U.S. government. The manual received so much publicity from Associated Press, Washington Post and other news coverage that – during the 1984 presidential debate – President Reagan was confronted with the following question on national television:

At this moment, we are confronted with the extraordinary story of a CIA guerrilla manual for the anti-Sandinista contras whom we are backing, which advocates not only assassinations of Sandinistas but the hiring of criminals to assassinate the guerrillas we are supporting in order to create martyrs.

(26) An Indonesian fact-finding team investigated violent riots which occurred in 1998, and determined that "elements of the military had been involved in the riots, some of which were deliberately provoked".

(27) Senior Russian Senior military and intelligence officers admit that the KGB blew up Russian apartment buildings in 1999 and falsely blamed it on Chechens, in order to justify an invasion of Chechnya (and see this report and this discussion).

(28) According to the Washington Post, Indonesian police admit that the Indonesian military killed American teachers in Papua in 2002 and blamed the murders on a Papuan separatist group in order to get that group listed as a terrorist organization.

(29) The well-respected former Indonesian president also admits that the government probably had a role in the Bali bombings.

(30) As reported by BBC, the New York Times, and Associated Press, Macedonian officials admit that the government murdered 7 innocent immigrants in cold blood and pretended that they were Al Qaeda soldiers attempting to assassinate Macedonian police, in order to join the "war on terror".

(31) Senior police officials in Genoa, Italy admitted that – in July 2001, at the G8 summit in Genoa – planted two Molotov cocktails and faked the stabbing of a police officer, in order to justify a violent crackdown against protesters.

(32) The U.S. falsely blamed Iraq for playing a role in the 9/11 attacks – as shown by a memo from the defense secretary – as one of the main justifications for launching the Iraq war. Even after the 9/11 Commission admitted that there was no connection, Dick Cheney said that the evidence is "overwhelming" that al Qaeda had a relationship with Saddam Hussein's regime, that Cheney "probably" had information unavailable to the Commission, and that the media was not 'doing their homework' in reporting such ties. Top U.S. government officials now admit that the Iraq war was really launched for oil … not 9/11 or weapons of mass destruction. Despite previous "lone wolf" claims, many U.S. government officials now say that 9/11 was state-sponsored terror; but Iraq was not the state which backed the hijackers. (Many U.S. officials have alleged that 9/11 was a false flag operation by rogue elements of the U.S. government; but such a claim is beyond the scope of this discussion. The key point is that the U.S. falsely blamed it on Iraq, when it knew Iraq had nothing to do with it.).

(33) Although the FBI now admits that the 2001 anthrax attacks were carried out by one or more U.S. government scientists, a senior FBI official says that the FBI was actually told to blame the Anthrax attacks on Al Qaeda by White House officials (remember what the anthrax letters looked like). Government officials also confirm that the white House tried to link the anthrax to Iraq as a justification for regime change in that country.

(34) Police outside of a 2003 European Union summit in Greece were filmed planting Molotov cocktails on a peaceful protester

(35) Former Department of Justice lawyer John Yoo suggested in 2005 that the US should go on the offensive against al-Qaeda, having "our intelligence agencies create a false terrorist organization. It could have its own websites, recruitment centers, training camps, and fundraising operations. It could launch fake terrorist operations and claim credit for real terrorist strikes, helping to sow confusion within al-Qaeda's ranks, causing operatives to doubt others' identities and to question the validity of communications."

(36) United Press International reported in June 2005:

U.S. intelligence officers are reporting that some of the insurgents in Iraq are using recent-model Beretta 92 pistols, but the pistols seem to have had their serial numbers erased. The numbers do not appear to have been physically removed; the pistols seem to have come off a production line without any serial numbers. Analysts suggest the lack of serial numbers indicates that the weapons were intended for intelligence operations or terrorist cells with substantial government backing. Analysts speculate that these guns are probably from either Mossad or the CIA Analysts speculate that agent provocateurs may be using the untraceable weapons even as U.S. authorities use insurgent attacks against civilians as evidence of the illegitimacy of the resistance.

(37) Undercover Israeli soldiers admitted in 2005 to throwing stones at other Israeli soldiers so they could blame it on Palestinians, as an excuse to crack down on peaceful protests by the Palestinians.

(38) Quebec police admitted that, in 2007, thugs carrying rocks to a peaceful protest were actually undercover Quebec police officers (and see this).

(39) At the G20 protests in London in 2009, a British member of parliament saw plain clothes police officers attempting to incite the crowd to violence.

(40) Egyptian politicians admitted (and see this) that government employees looted priceless museum artifacts in 2011 to try to discredit the protesters.

(41) A Colombian army colonel has admitted that his unit murdered 57 civilians, then dressed them in uniforms and claimed they were rebels killed in combat.

(42) The highly-respected writer for the Telegraph Ambrose Evans-Pritchard says that the head of Saudi intelligence – Prince Bandar – recently admitted that the Saudi government controls "Chechen" terrorists.

(43) High-level American sources admitted that the Turkish government – a fellow NATO country – carried out the chemical weapons attacks blamed on the Syrian government; and high-ranking Turkish government admitted on tape plans to carry out attacks and blame it on the Syrian government.

(44) The Ukrainian security chief admits that the sniper attacks which started the Ukrainian coup were carried out in order to frame others. Ukrainian officials admit that the Ukrainian snipers fired on both sides, to create maximum chaos.

(45) Britain's spy agency has admitted (and see this) that it carries out "digital false flag" attacks on targets, framing people by writing offensive or unlawful material … and blaming it on the target.

(46) U.S. soldiers have admitted that if they kill innocent Iraqis and Afghanis, they then "drop" automatic weapons near their body so they can pretend they were militants

(47) Similarly, police frame innocent people for crimes they didn't commit. The practice is so well-known that the New York Times noted in 1981:

In police jargon, a throwdown is a weapon planted on a victim.

Newsweek reported in 1999:

Perez, himself a former [Los Angeles Police Department] cop, was caught stealing eight pounds of cocaine from police evidence lockers. After pleading guilty in September, he bargained for a lighter sentence by telling an appalling story of attempted murder and a "throwdown"–police slang for a weapon planted by cops to make a shooting legally justifiable. Perez said he and his partner, Officer Nino Durden, shot an unarmed 18th Street Gang member named Javier Ovando, then planted a semiautomatic rifle on the unconscious suspect and claimed that Ovando had tried to shoot them during a stakeout.

Wikipedia notes:

As part of his plea bargain, Pérez implicated scores of officers from the Rampart Division's anti-gang unit, describing routinely beating gang members, planting evidence on suspects, falsifying reports and covering up unprovoked shootings.

(As a side note – and while not technically false flag attacks – police have been busted framing innocent people in many other ways, as well.)

So Common … There's a Name for It

A former U.S. intelligence officer recently alleged:

Most terrorists are false flag terrorists or are created by our own security services.

This might be an exaggeration (and – as shown above – the U.S. isn't the only one to play this terrible game). The point is that it is a very widespread strategy.

Indeed, this form of deceit is so common that it was given a name hundreds of years ago.

"False flag terrorism" is defined as a government attacking its own people, then blaming others in order to justify going to war against the people it blames. Or as Wikipedia defines it:

False flag operations are covert operations conducted by governments, corporations, or other organizations, which are designed to appear as if they are being carried out by other entities. The name is derived from the military concept of flying false colors; that is, flying the flag of a country other than one's own. False flag operations are not limited to war and counter-insurgency operations, and have been used in peace-time; for example, during Italy's strategy of tension.

The term comes from the old days of wooden ships, when one ship would hang the flag of its enemy before attacking another ship. Because the enemy's flag, instead of the flag of the real country of the attacking ship, was hung, it was called a "false flag" attack.

Indeed, this concept is so well-accepted that rules of engagement for naval, air and land warfare all prohibit false flag attacks. Specifically, the rules of engagement state that a military force can fly the enemy's flag, imitate their markings, or dress in an enemy's clothes … but that the ruse has to be discarded before attacking.

Why are the rules of engagement so specific? Obviously, because nations have been using false flag attacks for many centuries. And the rules of engagement are at least trying to limit false flag attacks so that they aren't used as a false justification for war.

In other words, the rules of engagement themselves are an admission that false flag terrorism is a very common practice.

Leaders throughout history have acknowledged the danger of false flags:

"Terrorism is the best political weapon for nothing drives people harder than a fear of sudden death".
– Adolph Hitler

"Why of course the people don't want war … But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship … Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
– Hermann Goering, Nazi leader.

"The easiest way to gain control of a population is to carry out acts of terror. [The public] will clamor for such laws if their personal security is threatened".
– Josef Stalin

Reaper

These false flags depend upon the trust of their underling sheeple in their leaders and media. Trust is an opiate of each nation's sheeple. Yes, fool, your government/king/media lie to you. Terrorist is word designed to elicit an emote from you Emoting prevents thinking. Power corrupts. Government power corrupts. Media power corrupts. Stupidity enslaves.

"Cui bono" is thinking. Thinking negates blind obeying. There is no virtue, nor honor, nor self-respect in emoting to your leader's stimuli.

I think; therefore I am. I emote; therefore I'm controlled.

raywolf

you missed out the London bombings in 2005, which are riddled with errors, mistakes and evidence of it being organised by military of Britain or perhaps CIA or Israel.... the train the attackers were meant to be on, was cancelled meaning they couldn't even get into London in time to do the bombings... it's all on CCTV and yet the 'official' report just skips over that part....

George Washington

There are scores of false flags I didn't address ... I only focused on the ones that were ADMITTED.

[Mar 21, 2015] Germany riot targets new ECB headquarters in Frankfurt

Quote: "Organisers were bringing a left-wing alliance of protesters from across Germany and the rest of Europe to voice their anger at the ECB's role in austerity measures in EU member states, most recently Greece. The bank, in charge of managing the euro, is also responsible for framing eurozone policy and, along with the IMF and European Commission is part of a troika which has set conditions for bailouts in Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Cyprus. A spokesman for the Blockupy movement said the troika was responsible for austerity measures which have pushed many into poverty."
BBC News

Dozens of people have been hurt and some 350 people arrested as anti-austerity demonstrators clashed with police in the German city of Frankfurt.

Police cars were set alight and stones were thrown in a protest against the opening of a new base for the European Central Bank (ECB).

Violence broke out close to the city's Alte Oper concert hall hours before the ECB building's official opening.

"Blockupy" activists are expected to attend a rally later on Wednesday.

In earlier disturbances, police in riot gear used water cannon to clear hundreds of anti-capitalist protesters from the streets around the new ECB headquarters.

Organisers were bringing a left-wing alliance of protesters from across Germany and the rest of Europe to voice their anger at the ECB's role in austerity measures in EU member states, most recently Greece.

The bank, in charge of managing the euro, is also responsible for framing eurozone policy and, along with the IMF and European Commission is part of a troika which has set conditions for bailouts in Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Cyprus.

A spokesman for the Blockupy movement said the troika was responsible for austerity measures which have pushed many into poverty.

Police set up a cordon of barbed wire outside the bank's new 185m (600ft) double-tower skyscraper, next to the River Main.

But hopes of a peaceful rally were dashed as clashes began early on Wednesday.

Tyres and rubbish bins were set alight and police responded with water cannon as firefighters complained they were unable to get to the fires to put them out. One fire engine appeared to have had its windscreen broken.

Activists said many protesters had been hurt by police batons, water cannon and by pepper spray.

Police said as many as 80 of their officers had been affected by pepper spray or an acidic liquid. Eight suffered injuries from stone-throwing protesters.

Police spokeswoman Claudia Rogalski spoke of an "aggressive atmosphere" and the Frankfurt force tweeted images of a police van being attacked. They were braced for further violence as increasing numbers of activists arrived for the rally.

Blockupy accused police of using kettling tactics to cordon off hundreds of protesters and appealed for supporters to press for their release.

What is Blockupy?

Europe-wide alliance of left-wing parties, unions and movements Vehemently against austerity polices of European Commission, ECB and IMF First Frankfurt protest attracted thousands in 2012 Activists from Greece's radical left governing party Syriza and Spain's anti-corruption Podemos are joining the rally
Also includes Germany's Die Linke and Occupy Frankfurt

Rallying call: "They want capitalism without democracy, we want democracy without capitalism"

As the number of protesters grew in the streets away from the new ECB building, the bank's president, Mario Draghi, gave a speech marking its inauguration.

Mr Draghi said that the it "may not be a fair charge" to label the ECB as the main perpetrator of unpopular austerity in Europe.

"Our action has been aimed precisely at cushioning the shocks suffered by the economy," he said.

"But as the central bank of the whole euro area, we must listen very carefully to what all our citizens are saying."

The new headquarters, which had been due to open years earlier, cost an estimated €1.3bn (£930m; $1.4bn) to build and is the new home for thousands of central bankers.

Blockupy activists said on their website that there was nothing to celebrate about the politics of austerity and increasing poverty.

[Mar 18, 2015] Russia withdrew from the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty

marknesop , March 17, 2015 at 11:57 am
Most here will be aware that Russia withdrew from the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, effective about a week ago. But I wonder how many were aware of the lopsided balance of forces Russia was expected to accept in order to ratify the treaty.

"When Russia ratified the adapted CFE Treaty, the agreement's weapons limit for NATO was three times that established for the Russian army. However, NATO required the withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transdnistria as a condition for the ratification of the treaty.

"NATO countries were not in a hurry to ratify the adapted treaty," Alexei Arbatov said. "Although Russia had withdrawn almost all its troops, there remained some absolutely insignificant contingents and objects. The West sought to pursue its line. On the part of NATO, I think it was extremely short-sighted, it was a big mistake."

In Arbatov's view, this decision by NATO was what "finished off" conventional arms control in Europe."

So for Russia, it now no longer recognizes a balance of forces or limit on conventional arms it may deploy in reaction to what it considers NATO provocations. The temperature looks to be steadily rising.

et Al, March 17, 2015 at 2:07 pm
I advocated this as an option quite some time ago. The time is judged right by the Kremlin to do so. But, even the US has foreseen this:

There was a very interesting article (which of course I cannot now find) from a day or two ago outlining the US military's response to the end of the CFE treaty. The underlining point was that the US could do quite a number of things that could make it more militarily threatening to Russia without breaching any CFE commitmets.

Here's a few mil related stuff that is intersting:

New Radars, IRST Strengthen Stealth-Detection Claims

http://aviationweek.com/defense/new-radars-irst-strengthen-stealth-detection-claims

Counterstealth technologies near service worldwide

Counterstealth technologies, intended to reduce the effectiveness of radar cross-section (RCS) reduction measures, are proliferating worldwide. Since 2013, multiple new programs have been revealed, producers of radar and infrared search and track (IRST) systems have been more ready to claim counterstealth capability, and some operators-notably the U.S. Navy-have openly conceded that stealth technology is being challenged.

These new systems are designed from the outset for sensor fusion-when different sensors detect and track the same target, the track and identification data are merged automatically. This is intended to overcome a critical problem in engaging stealth targets: Even if the target is detected, the "kill chain" by which a target is tracked, identified and engaged by a weapon can still be broken if any sensor in the chain cannot pick the target up….
####

I think the point is that stealth has its place, but given the nature of 30 operational lives of aircraft, they are not going to keep their advantage for long. If you follow the tech news, the world is going through a sensor revolution. Price has massively dropped, capabilities have grown hugely, efficiency has significantly increase, its just the case of tying all the data together to make use of it 'data fusion' as they say in the article above. My camera has gps. In the pet shop I've seen gps cat collars not to mention video collars that can record all day or be set by sensor motion. It's only going to get better, cheaper and smaller and continue to reach the consumer in ever more imaginative ways.

Another 'gift' from the Ukraine, except this time to I-ran (the other I mentioned in a previous post of Su-33 naval prototype sold to China that ended up as the J-11B copy no to mention the copies Su-27SKs):

AW&ST: Iran Produces First Long-Range Missile

http://aviationweek.com/defense/iran-produces-first-long-range-missile

TEL-AVIV - Iran has unveiled a domestically produced long-range land attack cruise missile, dubbed Soumar.

Based on the Russian Kh-55, the Soumar is believed to have a range of at least 2,000 km. "This missile represents a significant leap in the Middle East arms race," says Col. Aviram Hasson of Israel's Missile Defense Organization.

"It positions Iran among the world's leaders in missile technology," a Western intelligence source adds….

…Iran secretly received the missiles in the first half of 2001 and began reverse engineering work. But unlike its publicly displayed ballistic missile program, Iran did not admit to having a cruise missile program until 2012. …
###

It's old, subsonic tech, but adds another arrow to the quiver that needs to be countered. Nor does it have a nuke warhead.

Defense Update: France to invest €330 million upgrading 218 Leclerc Main Battle Tanks

http://defense-update.com/20150312_leclerc-2.html

The planned modernization work will enable Leclerc MBTs to employ its heavy, direct firepower and mobility as part of the future "SCORPION" joint tactical groups (GTIA). The contract provides for the delivery of 200 "upgraded Leclerc" tanks and 18 "Renovated DCL" recovery vehicles from 2020….
####

Yup, from 2020. That's a lot of money for an extra reverse gear!

kirill, March 17, 2015 at 2:41 pm
"Even if the target is detected, the "kill chain" by which a target is tracked, identified and engaged by a weapon can still be broken if any sensor in the chain cannot pick the target up"

Total rubbish claim. It perhaps could be true if the "sensor fusion" system consisted of a couple of obsolete radars, but it would not be true for a system consisting of three or more obsolete radars. American idiots ripped off the stealth concept and mathematics from the Soviets and now prance around like they dictate physical reality. American idiots will not see what hit them when people with actual appreciation and skill in physics and mathematics will face their toys.

[Mar 18, 2015] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-31921011

bbc.co.uk

Warren , March 17, 2015 at 12:50 pm

France and Germany join UK in Asia bank membership

France and Germany are to join the UK in becoming members of a Chinese-led Asian development bank.

The finance ministries of both countries confirmed on Tuesday that they would be applying for membership of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Last week, the US issued a rare rebuke to the UK over its decision to become a member of the AIIB.

The US considers the AIIB a rival to the Western-dominated World Bank.

The UK was the first Western economy to apply for membership of the bank.

But German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble confirmed on Tuesday that his country would also be applying for membership.

France's finance ministry confirmed it would be joining the bank. It is believed Italy also intends to join.

The US has questioned the governance standards at the new institution, which is seen as spreading Chinese "soft power".

The AIIB, which was created in October by 21 countries, led by China, will fund Asian energy, transport and infrastructure projects.

When asked about the US rebuke last week, a spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron said: "There will be times when we take a different approach."

The UK insisted it would insist on the bank's adherence to strict banking and oversight procedures.

"We think that it's in the UK's national interest," Mr Cameron's spokesperson added.

'Not normal'

Last week, Pippa Malmgren, a former economic adviser to US President George W Bush, told the BBC that the public chastisement from the US indicates the move might have come as a surprise.

"It's not normal for the United States to be publicly scolding the British," she said, adding that the US's focus on domestic affairs at the moment could have led to the oversight.

However, Mr Cameron's spokesperson said UK Chancellor George Osborne did discuss the measure with his US counterpart before announcing the move.

Some 21 nations came together last year to sign a memorandum for the bank's establishment, including Singapore, India and Thailand.

But in November last year, Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott offered lukewarm support to the AIIB and said its actions must be transparent.

US President Barack Obama, who met Mr Abbott on the sidelines of a Beijing summit last year, agreed the bank had to be transparent, accountable and truly multilateral.

"Those are the same rules by which the World Bank or IMF [International Monetary Fund] or Asian Development Bank or any other international institution needs to abide by," Mr Obama said at the time.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-31921011

marknesop , March 17, 2015 at 3:11 pm
The USA's grip on Europe, against all odds, is loosening. Who would have thought it would be over money, considering it went meekly along hand-in-hand with Washington in imposing sanctions which had an immediate and deleterious effect on its bottom line? I mean, isn't that money, too?

"The UK insisted it would insist on the bank's adherence to strict banking and oversight procedures. 'We think that it's in the UK's national interest,' Mr Cameron's spokesperson added." Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahah…Oh, 'pon my word, yes, m'lud. The UK would be everyone's first choice to monitor strict adherence to banking and oversight procedures, after the £2.7 Billion in fines handed the Bank of England for currency rigging – which also resulted in the dismissal of its senior foreign exchange dealer – just a few months ago. Or the Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) scam, in which banks greedy for more profit conspired to rig the deck so that insurance which cost more and more stood less and less chance of ever having a successful claim levied against it. And let's not even mention Libor.

I don't think there's too much about crooked banking the Chinese will be able to teach the British.

james, March 17, 2015 at 3:59 pm
there is a straight line that runs from the boe to the federal reserve… moon of alabama has a post up discussing some of the changes afloat which can be read here –

http://www.moonofalabama.org/2015/03/the-end-of-the-us-dominated-international-money-system.html#comments

davidt, March 17, 2015 at 3:14 pm
My favorite Czech, Vlad Sobell, has an new article "The opportunity cost of America's disastrous foreign policy", which most of us here would agree with:

http://russia-insider.com/en/2015/03/17/4594

He reminds us what could have been if Putin's vision for creating a huge harmonized economic area stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok had been realized. (George Friedman has already explained why this could not be allowed.)
I don't think that anyone has mentioned an earlier article by Sobell that appeared as his contribution on the experts' panel on us-russia.org, His is the last contribution.

http://us-russia.org/2982-why-the-minsk-2-settlement-of-the-ukrainian-crisis-will-hold.html

If there were an award for clear thinking then Sobell would have to be a prime candidate.

kat kan , March 17, 2015 at 5:14 pm
Only problem is, this was written in February. And without regard for Poroshenko.

The weapons withdrawals were more or less done. Nothing else was. The Special Status law proposal was based on September lines and not discussed with the Republics so is unacceptable to them. Not only was there no improvement of humanitarian access, but it has been tightened up, to the extent that virtually no medicines are getting through, and no food at all. Travel to and from the Republics involves permits that take 3 weeks to get. The gas got cut off once. No social payments have been made and no wages back-paid. All this is in Minsk2 and Kiev's actually gone backwards on these clauses.

The reality is, Minsk2 will not succeed, because Kiev (and their masters) don't want it to. Poroshenko is carrying in like he can set conditions, as if HE HAD WON when in fact HE LOST.

davidt , March 17, 2015 at 6:17 pm
From memory, I think that Sobell would agree with your penultimate sentence- I don't think that he was very optimistic about Minsk2. (On the positive side, the gap between Europe and the US seems to have hardened.)

[Mar 07, 2015] Meet the Big Wallets Pushing Obama Towards a New Cold War By Christian Stork

February 25, 2015 | Alternet
As for those in the K Street elite pushing Uncle Sam to confront the bear, it isn't hard to see what they have to gain. There's a familiar ring to the U.S. calls to arm Ukraine's post-coup government. That's because the same big-money players who stand to benefit from belligerent relations with Russia haven't forgotten a favorite Cold War tune.

President Obama has said that he won't rule out arming Ukraine if a recent truce, which has all but evaporated, fails like its predecessor. His comments echoed the advice of a report issued a week prior by three prominent U.S. think tanks: the Brookings Institute, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Atlantic Council. The report advocated sending $1 billion worth of "defensive" military assistance to Kiev's pro-Western government.

If followed, those recommendations would bring the U.S. and Russia the closest to conflict since the heyday of the Cold War. Russia has said that it would "respond asymmetrically against Washington or its allies on other fronts" if the U.S. supplies weapons to Kiev.

The powers with the most skin in the game -- France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine -- struck a deal on Feb. 12, which outlines the terms for a ceasefire between Kiev and the pro-Russian, breakaway provinces in eastern Ukraine. It envisages a withdrawal of heavy weaponry followed by local elections and constitutional reform by the end of 2015, granting more autonomy to the eastern regions.

But not all is quiet on the eastern front. The truce appears to be headed the route of a nearly identical compromise in September, which broke down immediately afterward.

Moscow's national security interests are clear. Washington's are less so, unless you look at the bottom lines of defense contractors.

As for those in the K Street elite pushing Uncle Sam to confront the bear, it isn't hard to see what they have to gain. Just take a look below at the blow-by-blow history of their Beltway-bandit benefactors:

No Reds Means Seeing Red

Following the end of the Cold War, defense cuts had presented bottom-line problems for America's military producers. The weapons dealers were told that they had to massively restructure or go bust.

Luckily, carrots were offered. Norm Augustine, a former undersecretary of the Army, advised Defense Secretary William Perry to cover the costs of the industry mergers. Augustine was then the CEO of Martin Marietta -- soon to become the head of Lockheed Martin, thanks to the subsidies.

Augustine was also chairman of a Pentagon advisory council on arms-export policy. In that capacity, he was able to secure yet more subsidy guarantees for NATO-compatible weapons sales to former Warsaw Pact countries.

But in order to buy the types of expensive weapons that would stabilize the industry's books, those countries had to enter into an alliance with the U.S. And some members of Congress were still wary of shelling out money to expand a military alliance that had, on its face, no rationale to exist.

Enter the NATO Expansion Squad

Enter the U.S. Committee to Expand NATO. Formed in 1996, the Committee wined and dined elected officials to secure their support for NATO enlargement. Meanwhile, Lockheed buttressed its efforts by spending $1.58 million in federal contributions for the 1996 campaign cycle.

The Committee's founder and neocon chairman, Bruce Jackson, was so principled in his desire to see freedom around the globe that he didn't even take a salary. He didn't have to; he was a vice president at Lockheed Martin.

By Clinton's second term, everyone was on board. Ron Asmus, a former RAND Corporation analyst and the "intellectual progenitor" of NATO expansion (who would later co-chair the Committee to Expand NATO), ended what was left of the policy debate in the State Department. He worked with Clinton's diplomatic point man on Eastern Europe, Strobe Talbott.

Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic were all in NATO come 1999. The Baltic States would soon follow. By 2003, those initial inductees had arranged deals to buy just short of $5 billion in fighter jets from Lockheed.

Bruce Jackson began running a new outfit in 2002. It was called the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq.

(36 F-16s are currently slated for delivery to Iraq at an estimated $3 billion.)

Rivers of Cash

Brookings is Washington's oldest think tank. For most of its existence, its research was funded by a large endowment and no-strings-attached grants. But all of that changed when Strobe Talbott took the reins.

Strobe Talbott, President

Talbott sought to bolster Brookings' coffers with aggressive corporate fundraising. He took it from annual revenues of $32 million in 2003 to $100 million by 2013. Though always corporate-friendly, Brookings has become little more than a pay-to-play research hub under Talbott's reign.

Among the many corporate donors to Brookings are Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Northrup Grumman, Lockheed Martin and cyber-defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.

David M. Rubenstein, Co-Chairman of Board of Trustees

Rubenstein is co-founder and co-CEO at the Carlyle Group, a massive private equity firm. Among the companies in which Carlyle has a controlling stake in is Booz Allen Hamilton -- a military and intelligence IT firm that is currently active in Ukraine.

Booz, which both sells to and operates within the U.S. military and intelligence apparatus, counts four former Carlyle executives among its directors. Ronald Sanders, a vice president at Booz, serves on the faculty of Brookings.

Atlanticists

The Atlantic Council was formed in 1961 as a "consolidation of the U.S. citizen groups supporting" NATO, according to its website.

Stephen Hadley, Director

A former national security advisor for George W. Bush, Hadley doubles as a director for Raytheon. He was also the driving force behind the creation of the U.S. Committee on NATO, on whose board he sat, and the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq.

Prior to joining the Bush White House, Hadley was a lawyer for Shea & Gardner, whose clients included Lockheed Martin.

James Cartwright, Director

A retired general and former vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, James Cartwright has an active work life. He's "an advisor to defense and intelligence contractor TASC, defense consulting firm Accenture, and Enlightenment Capital, a private equity firm with defense investments," according to the Public Accountability Initiative. He's also on the board of Raytheon, which earned him $124,000 in 2012.

Other notables include:

Nicholas Burns – former diplomat and current senior counselor at The Cohen Group, which advises Lockheed Martin, among other defense companies

James A. Baker III – Bush 41 Secretary of State and partner at law firm Baker Botts. Clients include a slew of defense companies

Thomas R. Pickering – former senior vice president for Boeing

Chi-town Chickenhawks

Founded in 1922, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs has since served as the premier voice of Midwest business leaders in American foreign policy. Jeb Bush recently made his "I am my own man" speech, outlining his foreign policy priorities, to the council:

Lester Crown, Chairman

The chair of Henry Crown & Co., the investment firm that handles the fortune started by his father, Henry Crown. Henry put the "dynamic" in General Dynamics, helping to turn it into the world's largest weapons manufacturer by the time Lester became its chairman in 1986. The defense behemoth remains the single largest source of the family's treasure; they're currently the 35th richest clan in America. General Dynamics produces all of the equipment types proposed for transfer to Ukraine in the think-tank report.

Ivo Daalder, President

A co-author of the report, Daalder is a former diplomat and staffer on Clinton's National Security Council. He later served on the Hart-Rudman Commission from 1998-2001. It was chartered by Defense Secretary William Cohen -- later to become a Lockheed consultant -- and tasked with outlining the major shifts in national security strategy for the 21st century. Among its commissioners was none other than Norm Augustine.

The commission concluded that the Department of Defense and intelligence community should drastically reduce their infrastructure costs by outsourcing and privatizing key functions, especially in the field of information technology.

The main beneficiaries have been America's major defense contractors: Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, Boeing, Booz Allen Hamilton and Lester Crown's outfit, General Dynamics.

General Dynamics' revenue tripled between 2000 and 2010 as it acquired at least 11 smaller firms that specialized in exactly the sort of services recommended for outsourcing. Roughly one-third of GD's overall revenue in 2013, the same year that Daalder was appointed president of the Council by Crown, came from its Information Systems and Technology division.

So even without a Cold War Bear to fuel spending, the re-imagining of that old foe is oiling the revolving door between the government and defense contractors.

Military Incompetence: Why the American Military Doesn't Win (American Century) by Richard A. Gabriel (Aug 1, 1986)

Harry Eagar

Call to arms, October 3, 2009 (Maui) - See all my reviews

The first thing to say about Army Reserve Maj. Richard Gabriel's 1985 book is that it had no influence. Since then, the American military has displayed incompetence in Libya, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Panama, Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf, Haiti and Yugoslavia. Gabriel was on to something.

In "Military Incompetence," Gabriel submits after-action reports on the five military adventures -- I use the word carefully -- the country had embarked upon since cutting and running from Vietnam: raids to rescue prisoners at Sontay, North Vietnam, Cambodia and Iran; "peacekeeping" in Beirut; and the conquest of Grenada.

Using primarily the findings of congressional investigations and Department of Defense commissions empanelled to review these disasters, but also some interviews of participants and bystanders and some very valuable reporting by newspaper and television reporters, Gabriel lays out a history of unbelievable incompetence.

Grenada, the biggest of these pipsqueak operations, was in many ways the worst as well, even though the Joint Chiefs of Staff by then had had the benefit of four straight disasters to learn from (not counting Vietnam) and had even established a new division to fix things, the Joint Special Operations Center.

Gabriel concludes, correctly, that the problem is at the top, although also systemic. He was not the only man saying so. The late David Hackworth was railing against the "no-fault Army" in those days.

Both men complained that the military had changed from a band of warriors into a managerial bureaucracy. This in itself did not require much perspicuity. Military leaders and their civilian superiors bragged about it.

The valuable insight of both men was that armies, navies and air forces do not need to be managed, they need to be led. Gabriel, a professor of politics, presents a more profound understanding than the better-selling Hackworth. His core criticism deserves to be quoted at length:

"The military must relearn what it once knew, namely, that is is a true profession, and not just one more enterprise awash in the sea of a free society. For the last 25 years and most certainly during the last 15 years, since the advent of the All Volunteer Force, members of the military have come to perceive what they do as just one more occupation, a career in which benefits to the individual have come to outweigh the need for selfless service to the Republic. The process began in 1960 with Robert McNamara's attempts to make the military more `modern' by incorporating a number of business practices and techniques designed to make the Pentagon bureaucracy more efficient.

Such techniques in themselves are no danger. However, with them came the habits, values and practices of civilian business enterprises, especially the belief that motivation within the military is no different from motivation in the larger business community. That motivation, as in the larger society, is rooted in self-interest rather than self-sacrifice. . . .

"The military . . . began to lose the perception of itself as a true profession comprised of a corps of officers and men whose reason for existence rests in something higher than the pursuit of self-interest; namely, in the task of defending the freedoms of the Republic. . . .

Somewhere the military forgot that a true profession is distinguished from a business enterprise by its scope of service. The military serves the common good, not the sum of the individual interests of its members."

Excellent analysis, so far as it goes, but more could be said.

First, it was not only the military that was driving this change. Feminists who openly demanded access to "good careers" were a factor operating against the national interest. Swinging-door munitions makers who valued ex-officers were another. Simple financial corruption was a third.

Without the regular infusion of short-term civilians in uniform, the military began to turn into a caste. Its us-vs-them (that is, us) attitude is growing daily. It is not only becoming a caste, but it is tending to become an hereditary caste. No democracy can survive this in the long run.

Although the military's incompetence is obvious to anyone who opens his daily newspaper, Gabriel does not place sufficient blame on the civilian leadership, which just made a bad situation worse.

Jimmy Carter, a former professional officer, was the last president to follow the historic practice (which had been ignored by Johnson and Nixon) of giving direction to military commanders and then letting them carry out orders without second-guessing. Gabriel says that, contrary to belief, both popular and of Ronald Reagan, Carter did not interfere at any point in the planning or execution of the Iran hostage raid.

The military owned that failure 100 percent.

Reagan, who spent his officer career banging starlets in Culver City, knew nothing about military affairs or the American traditions of civilian control, so he and his band of incompetents interfered at every point in both planning and execution. The results in Grenada were almost beyond belief. It was perhaps the most inept military operation in American history, worse even than the famous failures of the Spanish-American War.

As Gabriel acidly notes, Carter suffered politically for mistakes he did not make, and Reagan profited politically for mistakes that cost American, Lebanese and Grenadian lives to no purpose.

Carter, an honest politician (the last one we have had in the top job), leveled with the public. Reagan and his generals simply lied their way out. Although more than 5,000 Americans were fought to a standstill by fewer than 50 poorly-armed Cubans, Reagan simply crowed and handed out more than 8,000 medals.

Nobody in the military is known to have refused one, and Army officers who wanted to bring charges of cowardice against Air Force and Marine pilots who ran from the battle were "counseled" to stand down. As Gabriel says,

"In terms of career advancement, it is far more important to receive a medal for doing nothing than to have done something worthy and not received a medal."

All Gabriel's recommendations for correcting the problem are valid, and none has been adopted despite the inability of the military in the 25 years since he wrote to accomplish any combat missions it has been given: a much smaller officer corps, with slower promotion, fewer flag officers, 30-year retirement obligations, renewal of the draft, putting operational commanders in charge of planning.

David Pears "Seeker of Truth" (Darwin, Australia) - See all my reviews

Although this book was written in the 1980s, the essential argument, that the U.S. military is incompetent, remains true even now. There are far too many careerist officers who are only interested in getting promoted no matter what.

This in turn encourages risk avoidance and corruption.

If you'd like to read a more recent account of incompetence in the U.S. Navy, I suggest you read Professor Roger Thompson's book "Lessons Not Learned: The U.S. Navy's Status Quo Culture". Dr Gabriel has endorsed Thompson's book, so if you like Gabriel's book, there's a good chance Thompson's book will also satisfy you. Well done, Dr. Gabriel!

Sam Lemon - See all my reviews

Major Richard Gabriel is a distinguished officer, educator, strategist, historian, and scholar. Drawing on his own extensive military experience in addition to tactics and wisdom dating back to Sun Tzu's "Art of War," this work should be required reading at West Point, and for any military -- and especially, our political leaders who are woefully ignorant of world and military history -- responsible for the lives of the brave men and women in our armed forces and the security of our nation.

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