Friday, April 27, 2007

Today's Military

Two editorials came to my attention today. Each is a piercing analysis of problems confronting today's military. One deals with our military leadership. The other with John Murtha's recent attempt to "help" restore military readines.

In May's Armed Forces Journal Lt. Col Paul Yingling explores the roots of failure in Vietnam and of our impending failure in Iraq. He pins the rose on our Generals and the broken system for selecting our highest ranking military leaders. He also offers a way out of our dilemma

The intellectual and moral failures common to America's general officer corps in Vietnam and Iraq constitute a crisis in American generalship. Any explanation that fixes culpability on individuals is insufficient. No one leader, civilian or military, caused failure in Vietnam or Iraq. Different military and civilian leaders in the two conflicts produced similar results. In both conflicts, the general officer corps designed to advise policymakers, prepare forces and conduct operations failed to perform its intended functions. To understand how the U.S. could face defeat at the hands of a weaker insurgent enemy for the second time in a generation, we must look at the structural influences that produce our general officer corps.

To improve the creative intelligence of our generals, Congress must change the officer promotion system in ways that reward adaptation and intellectual achievement. Congress should require the armed services to implement 360-degree evaluations for field-grade and flag officers. Junior officers and noncommissioned officers are often the first to adapt because they bear the brunt of failed tactics most directly. They are also less wed to organizational norms and less influenced by organizational taboos. Junior leaders have valuable insights regarding the effectiveness of their leaders, but the current promotion system excludes these judgments. Incorporating subordinate and peer reviews into promotion decisions for senior leaders would produce officers more willing to adapt to changing circumstances, and less likely to conform to outmoded practices.

It seems unlikely that todays congressional leaders demonstrate the kind of moral courage necessary to re-instill it into the military's upper echelon. In today's Wall Street Journal Bruce Berkowitz assails John Murtha for his attempt to usurp executive authority, and his lack of real leadership.

John Murtha (D., Pa.), chairman of the House subcommittee on defense appropriations, is mainly responsible for the clause that prohibits spending funds "to deploy any unit of the Armed Forces to Iraq unless the chief of the military department concerned has certified in writing... that the unit is fully mission capable.

Berkowitz uses an example from the Battle of Midway to demonstrate Murtha's lack of military depth.

U.S. Navy Ensign George Gay would have been bemused.

Gay became famous in World War II as the sole survivor of a squadron flying in the Battle of Midway. If ever there was a unit of the armed forces that wasn't "mission capable," it was Torpedo Eight.

In June 1942, the Navy's new torpedo bomber, the Grumman TBF Avenger, wasn't ready. So Ensign Gay and the other Americans had to fly old Douglas TBD Devastators, an aircraft that was inadequate for the task of taking on Japanese fighters.

A Devastator's top speed was about 200 mph. Japanese Zeros could do around 350 mph. The Japanese pilots had an advantage of about 150 miles per hour.

But Ensign Gay's bigger problem was training. "The Battle of Midway was the first time I ever carried a torpedo on an aircraft, and was the first time I had ever taken a torpedo off of a ship, had never even seen it done. None of the other ensigns in the squadron had either."

Not a single TBD flying that day from the Hornet made it back. Ensign Gay was the only one of the 30 men in his squadron who survived the attack and he had to be fished from the sea a day after the battle. The TBDs from the other two American carriers suffered similar losses. But by drawing the Zeros to themselves, the slow, low-flying Devastators gave the dive bombers a clear shot to strike from above. The dive bombers sank three of the four Japanese carriers, a loss that decided the outcome of a battle that proved to be turning point in the war in the Pacific.
Ensign Gay and the other pilots knew they were ill-equipped and under-trained. But they flew the mission anyway because they also knew that something larger was at stake -- like losing the war if they waited until someone was willing to "certify in writing" that they met official readiness standards.

It's unfortunate, and often tragic, but that's what happens in war, or at least one that you are serious about. And that's the issue. Are we serious about the war? Can anyone imagine Congress in 1942 passing a provision like the one in the current bill? Would they constrain Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower the way they propose to constrain Gen. David H. Petraeus?

Mr. Murtha has good intentions, but he's got it exactly wrong. If U.S. forces lack the equipment or training they need, it's his job, as the chairman of the one subcommittee specifically responsible for originating defense appropriations, to make sure they get it.If legislators really don't believe we should continue in Iraq, they need to come clean, shut down the war -- and accept the risks, and take responsibility for the consequences. Otherwise, they need to provide U.S. forces the means to carry out their missions.

I concur


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Mario Lozano News Brief

Most important. We are still fundraising. If you haven't yet, please hit DONATE and make a contribution. Mario is still fighting this case, and he needs our help.

A big thanks to Rog Charles over at Soldiers for the Truth. He posted a fundraising appeal for us.

We will be running fundraising events in and around New York City and Tampa in the future so if your interested in attending one of these (or hosting one) email me at

Not much that's new to report. Ed Hayes who's the lead counsel here in New York has been gathering evidence and interviewing potential witnesses. He is closely coordinating with Greg Kehoe in Tampa, Alberto Biffani in Italy and new full time lawyers from the Army's JAG corps. Ed is has stressed how professional and sharp everyone involved is, especially the Italian, Biffani who was an unknown quantity.

Mario has absolutely the best possible legal team available. People I talk to constantly ask me: Why doesn't the Army just pay for his lawyers? It is an unfortunate byproduct of bureaucracy, but no branch of the federal government is going to splurge on a team of top ecehelon criminal and international lawyers. It is unprecedented and exceptional that the government is paying for Alberto Biffani in Italy.

But Biffani can't do it alone. Most of the witnesses and Mario are in New York. So the governement has done what it can. Now the people have to help to. Remember We The People are thge fourth branch of government. It is on our shoulders to help defend those who like Mario Lozano who would defend us.