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20 June 2010


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William R. Cumming

Time to overhaul the flag ranks in all services. Apparenty all are timeservers unable to tell the Civilian overseers what they need to be told. Tragic waste of a fine military.

Officer ops and promotion boards need a thorough cleaning out?

R Whitman

Having, many years ago, been a EM although not in combat, I can tell you that chicken-shit behavior like this breeds disrespect for the officer class, especially field grade and above.

My guess is that every EM and company grade officer had a WTF moment when these incidents occurred.

I would like to see some speculation as to how this might affect these combatants next time they are sent out on a mission.

Patrick Lang


Yes, of course, but selection processes will not change. Mirror imaging is the rule. pl


Pat, I wonder who will be blamed for "stabbing in the back" the troops in the field; will it be the suits in Washington and easy target; or will it be those wearing the uniform?

Patrick Lang

I hope some of both. Want my list? I suppose that i will be nominated by the neocons. pl

clifford kiracofe

1. Right on!

2. And F the Neocons and their poodle mental and policy lackies.

Best intro book to the Neocons as an ideological movement out of the sewers of New York is:

Jacob Heilbraunn, They Knew They Were Right. The Rise of the Neocons (NY: Doubleday 2008).

This is the one book to read on the matter by an author who is Jewish and who was a Neocon. He lays it out in plain English.

3. To place the Neocons into context (intellectual history) I cannot recommend enough:

Ralph de Toledano, Cry Havoc (Wasshington DC: Anthem, 2006).

This is the single most important book on the "Frankfurt School" and its influence in the United States. Essential reading for those interested in the cultural subversion of this republic.

I met Ralph on a couple of occasions at his appartment in DC thanks to a mutual friend. We enjoyed a few Chinese dinners and plenty of discussion together. His family is from Morocco.

These two books together will certainly provide a basis from which to assess our current situation. Then one can go on to more specialized reading of a "controversial" nature perhaps.

The Twisted Genius

Is the DOD, at some level, deliberately keeping organic mortar support out of tactical operations? MSM recently ran footage of an 82d Airborne unit (I think) taking fire upon returning to their base around Kandahar. I saw one 60 mm mortar tube used in direct lay, hand held mode by only one crew member. Where were the other tubes? Where were the bipods, sights and aiming stakes? Where were the mortar crews? Obviously there was no final protective fire (FPF) for this base. This apparent disdain for organic mortar support throughout our ground forces is criminal.

I fear this disdain is the result of a think tank inspired, PowerPoint managed social experiment masquerading as a military operation. I don't know what we are trying to prove in Afghanistan, but it's not working. Infantry attacks and defends. It does not do social science. If "the powers that be" want to do COIN doctrinal research, they should do so without using the blood of our infantrymen as their data points.

Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where's the Tylenol?

Patrick Lang


As I recall, Tyler said that company commanders have been brainwashed into ignoring organic fire support.

I was a 60 mm mortar squad leader in the Guard at 18. I love the guns. pl



This is tough. I’ve seen pacification in progress and wasn’t impressed. Vietnam and Afghanistan are being fought on the cheap. There are not enough men to provide security to every village for generations to come and place the bad guys on a Reservation.

At a million dollars per boot per year on the ground in Afghanistan, the USA simply cannot afford to continue the war no matter what strategy or tactic is employed. America cannot change the hearts of the radical Afghani warrior anymore than can it kill every true believer in the Hindu Kush Mountains. The USA was successful in the Indian Wars, Philippines and Central America, and WWII but not now.

Only the War Profiteers and Politicians, afraid to be labeled Losers, keep the wars going.

Adam L. Silverman

Professor Kiracofe: I would also recommend these two volumes very highly. Professor Drury specializes in the study of Strauss, his political philosophy, and its spread by his students. She has also done a number of short essays and interviews that are available online if you use her name as a search term.

Drury, Shadia B. Leo Strauss and the American Right. St. Martin’s Press, 1999.

Drury, Shadia B. The Political Ideas of Leo Strauss. Palgrave MacMillan, 2005.

Adam L. Silverman

I find two things very interesting in regards to this. The first is that based on the media reporting and open source reports the majority of the collateral damage that led to the revision of the ROEs was caused by air strikes; either manned or drone by the USAF or drone by the Agency. Yet these continue unabated and continue to go off course:
Unfortunately the ground forces are the ones that have to bear the brunt of the ROE changes as they can't get the support they need.

The second thing, which you've mentioned here, and we've discussed repeatedly on SST, is that we're not really doing COIN. Other than some ODAs, no one is living with the host country population - not the PRTs or USAID or the HTTs; not a one. Rather they are all based on COPs, FOBs, and Camps, roll out, do their thing for a few hours, then head back to home and safety. So COIN in anything close to the classic sense isn't being attempted. It wasn't attempted in Iraq either. Yes what has been done there is called COINOps, and I worked the non-lethal side of that house, but the same thing held true there as it does now in Afghanistan: aside from some ODAs and some joint security stations where US and local forces are collocated to facilitate training and operations, the majority of the personnel are day trippers. Now a lot of good work was done that way in Iraq, but to call it COIN is, I think, a misnomer.

The Twisted Genius


Yes, I remember that. I don't know what they're teaching at Fort Benning now, but something just ain't right.

I led a weapons platoon in the 1/35th Infantry with three 81 tubes. We man-packed them, carried them on Gamma Goats and flew them in Hueys. We even brought them ashore in LVTP-7s. I love them, too. The new 60 mm mortars are slicker than snot.

N M Salamon

Twisted Genius:

With respect to mortar fire the probelm is noise 180 or so decibels and lack of proper hearing protection [very or moderately expensive] with approx 180 serious hearing losses as Vets, as depicted by USA analysis at


Colonel: most of the data is of USA origin, just recapped in Kabul


Only Company Grade Officers listen to the NCO's, Field and General Grade Officers are way to smart to listen to anyone other than themselves.

Remember when St Petraeus got to sit on the promotion board, maybe a couple of Platoon Daddy's should have also been there.

Happy Father's Day to all!

The Twisted Genius

NM Salamon,

Thanks for the informative article. That probably partially explains my hearing loss and tinnitus. Oh well, at least it helps drown out the voices. :)

OTOH, lack of effective fire support in combat can also be a serious health risk.

Neil Richardson


"Is the DOD, at some level, deliberately keeping organic mortar support out of tactical operations?"

I can't speak for the incident cited by Will, but I know for a fact that the Marine Corps emphasized the use of mortar (81s were CO level and 60s were sectioned out to platoons) in the last deployment cycle prior to Marjah. Apparently the Army is fastracking GPS guided 120s to be deployed by the end of the year. (A question to Tyler, et al: In terms of burst radius, would it be small enough to take advantage of the lower CEP? If I were a Taliban mortarman I'd prefer to fire from a village if NATO ROE continues to be inflexible) It seems to me if the Army is serious about indirect fire support while limiting collateral damage they ought to match GPS guidance to 60s or 81s at least.

"I fear this disdain is the result of a think tank inspired, PowerPoint managed social experiment masquerading as a military operation.I don't know what we are trying to prove in Afghanistan, but it's not working."

I was reading a recent paper on Center-of-Gravity analysis by a young MI major. I couldn't help but think that had she actually read Vom Kriege instead of papers and books about Clausewitz, it would've served her better (as well as her colleagues). It contained the usual assortment of PP charts and diagrams while completely overlooking the fact that the enemy has a vote in warfare. It was an amazing exercise in reification. I cannot believe I'm writing this 35 years after a PAVN colonel supposedly reminded Harry Summers about our COG during Vietnam. When casualties mount as a result of shortsighted ROE, what do these senior officers think will happen to our domestic support? As far as AfPak is concerned, it's a fortuitous turn of events that there potentially is significant reserve of minerals. Let the Chinese and Pakistanis fight it out with the Indians and Iranians over the control. Or even the Russians if they dare. We can declare victory and reduce our presence, while acting as an offshore balancer. Let the Chinese or the Indians try to provide security instead of free riding.

"Infantry attacks and defends. It does not do social science. If "the powers that be" want to do COIN doctrinal research, they should do so without using the blood of our infantrymen as their data points."


clifford kiracofe


1.Yes I have them on my shelf and have recommended them often in this forum. They are more specialized and for the reader who has a basic understanding of the Neoconservatives. Her other book on Strauss's friend Alexandre Kojeve is extremely valuable for the European dimension but you have some background for this one. Kojeve ran a finishing school in Paris for certain of the Strauss network among many other activities.

2. Aside from Strauss, another signficant component of Neoconism and other "conservative" circles is the Zionist/Nietzschean Hans Morgenthau. He is ably and thoroughly dissected in Christoph Frei, Hans L. Morgenthau An Intellectual Biography (Baton Rouge: LSU, 2001). This is another essential book for those with a serious interest in US foreign policy. Morgenthau, an emigre German Socialist lawyer turned political scientist has been influential in America. He created the academic school of faux "realism."

Balint Somkuti

My two line advice for superpowers on future FIDs, spreading democracy missions, COIN and similar missions.

1. No meddling in the 3rd world.
2. If contrary to the above there is one do it without regrets, restraints, caveats.

Contrary to Col. Lang's opinion I support COIN. Only if it is applied correctly.

Patrick Lang


I, too, support COIN when it is well done. The problem is that it is a game for artists, not engineers. There not many artists around any longer.

Have you ever committed COIN? pl

Patrick Lang


"they ought to match GPS guidance to 60s or 81s at least." Whut?

"She should have read Vom Kriege." Very funny. There are probably a lot of things she should have read.

How many officers do you know who have actually read Clausewitz? pl

FB Ali

The US war in Afghanistan is unwinnable. The latest evidence of that is the fact that, for his final and ‘decisive’ operation ‒ the wresting of Kandahar from the Taliban ‒ McChrystal has had to pick, for want of anyone better, Ahmed Karzai as the local partner and point man (and, ultimately, the biggest beneficiary). Ahmed Karzai is the President’s half-brother, and the most corrupt and hated man in the region. No wonder the local elders and bigwigs are all against the operation.

Next year will see the start of the scramble to pin the blame on someone for the inevitable defeat. As Obama attempts to wind down the war, the generals will plead for just a little more time (they will be seeing the “light at the end of the tunnel”). That will probably be the final storyline: if only they’d had a little more time............


FB Ali, Colonel,

Who do you think will win the race for the 'scapegoat' prize? Will it be Peteraeus, McChrystal, Odierno?

Neil Richardson

Dear Col.Lang:

"they ought to match GPS guidance to 60s or 81s at least." Whut?

Apparently GD-OTS is working on adding a guidance kit for 81s for UAVs. Of course the cost would be prohibitive, but if the senior officers really want to limit collateral damage, well... It's been a while since I've seen M30s (in M106A2s) in live fire, but IIRC the blast radius was around 50m. Honestly, I don't see how useful the 120s would be (GPS guided or not) if current ROE restrict indirect fire support whenever there are any doubts about proximity to civilian population.

"She should have read Vom Kriege." Very funny. There are probably a lot of things she should have read.

How many officers do you know who have actually read Clausewitz? pl

Point well taken, Colonel.



Yes, you are right. Company commanders are pretty much all about calling in CAS and giving their 60mm mortar sections to the battalion level staff for something called a "combined arms room".

To wit, all the mortars are assigned to battalion and captains get gun teams parceled out whenever there's a need for them. Apparently, Ranger Batt did something like this and in the way of the "regular" Army someone decided its such a grand idea we should all do it like this.


They were firing at us from residential areas when we were in Mosul because they knew we wouldn't counter battery back! And we had the touted GPS mortars that were registering in one round!

Anyone who's worked on a gun line knows that a single round register is insane, and we were doing it regularly! And command was still terrified of using their mortars.


Mortar Leadership Course (MLC) must be a fucking mess for so many LTs to become CPTs and decide, like my CPT did in Iraq, to rip apart his mortar section and shove them piecemeal to fill out his line platoons for a few months until he decided to keep some of us as his personal security detachment and send others to company and battalion level shops.

And this was in 2006, I can't imagine the cluster it is now.


Basically, as long as its not some REMF field grade officer putting his ass on the line the Army will never be happy with the accuracy of indirect fire.

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