Miscellanea

A bunch of short things to post today as I'm short on time for the blog but there's news. I'd call this post Rapid Fire, but that's taken, although I like that better than "Miscellanea"!

Defining the War

The new National Strategy for Countering Terrorism was released yesterday. I haven't had the chance to review it, but Bruce Hoffman had positive things to say about the document and Bush's speech announcing it. The Washington Post, which also interviewed Hoffman (who released an updated version of his great book Inside Terrorism in May), portrays a document that seems to have a greater understanding of the root causes of terrorism.

Short on time, as I said, I thought I'd pop over to Jason at Arm Chair Generalist and see what he said about the new strategy. Alas, his priorities are a little different as he choose to blog something other than the National Strategy (which, admittedly, I have bookmarked and will return to later).

That said, Draconian Observations has a commentary worth reading (apologies as I have only skimmed it as of yet). Austin Bay clips an interesting segment... And the Ducks of Minerva has a few words too...

Conducting War

From DOD today: Department of Defense Introduces New Detainee Policy Document and Army Field Manual

They will introduce Department of Defense Directive 2310.01E (Department of Defense Detainee Program) and Army Field Manual 2-22.3 (Human Intelligence Collector Operations).

An electronic copy of Department of Defense Directive 2310.01E will be available in PDF format following the briefing on DefenseLink at http://www.defenselink.mil/pubs/. An electronic copy of Field Manual 2-22.3 will be available in PDF format at http://www.army.mil/.

I'm guessing Draconian Ob will comment on this too when it's released. Eric Umansky writes why the new policy is necessary

Recruiting for War

WaPo has another story on recruiting, a topic I keep returning to here on MountainRunner. The Army is having a go at private recruiters, headhunters as it were.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan made military recruiting, which was already difficult, even tougher. The Army and Army Reserve increased new soldiers' signing bonuses for some jobs, raised the maximum age for enlistees and stopped some soldiers from retiring. A recent government report noted that many military recruiters were unhappy with their jobs and that recruiting violations -- such as instructing applicants not to disclose medical conditions -- increased 50 percent in one year.

By turning to the private sector, advocates argue, the Army can save money and free soldiers to fight. Critics say it pushes the limit to what military jobs should be outsourced, furthering a trend that has already drawn record numbers of private contractors into roles as central as interrogating prisoners.

Privatizing War

I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced copy of Robert Young Pelton's Licensed to Kill, and will review it here soon (when I finish it). As the journalist who some say crosses the line to get too close to the subject matter, RYP has an incredible book of revelations. I'm saving my comments until I finish the book, but here are some links to what others have written.

In "Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror," author Robert Young Pelton writes that the four Blackwater contractors who were mutilated, burned and strung from a bridge in March 2004 were led into the ambush by two trucks full of men in the uniform of the Iraq Civil Defense Corps, a now-disbanded part of the new Iraqi security forces.

From the same UPI article is something also found in Ahmed Hashim's Insurgency and Counter-Insurgency in Iraq:

The 1st Marine Division was ordered to strike a withdrawal deal with Fallujah's leaders, which resulted in the city becoming a no-go zone for U.S. troops. It then became a home base for Iraq's Sunni insurgent leaders and al-Qaida in Iraq.

  • Slate's review is titled Army for Hire, but it focuses on accountability and transparency.

There's also Blood Money by Los Angeles Times report T. Christian Miller, reviewed by Andrew J. Bacevich (registration required), author of The New American Militarism (a book worth reading).  I haven't read or yet received Blood Money, but here's two bits from Bacevich's review that sets the tone:

His compelling account of the occupation and so-called reconstruction of Iraq describes naiveté, incompetence, corruption and venality on a scale so colossal as to make it impossible to blame the results on any single figure....

"Blood Money" renders untenable the claim that when it comes to managing national security affairs, the tough-minded Republicans (in contrast to the wimpy Democrats) are the party of competence and sound judgment. It also exposes as false the notion that when it comes to tough jobs, the hard-charging Defense Department (in contrast to the hand-wringers over at State) can be counted on to produce results.