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29 July 2012


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Very interesting but will a Congress that is only able to name post offices capable of enacting such a far reaching policy, regardless of its merits?

I am sure there will be institutional resistance from the military too.



I read the original article on Mother Jones web site:


What struck me was the term “lily pads” for the “small, secretive, inaccessible facilities with limited numbers of troops, spartan amenities, and prepositioned weaponry and supplies”. If these bases are in sub-Saharan Muslim lands, they bring to mind the French Foreign Legion Forts from 1930 films. Native true believers will automatically consider these forts as foreign Christian infestations to eradicate. “Hell-Holes” might be another term used by the troops.

The Obama Administration has wholeheartedly embraced Unconventional Warfare (UW). Colonel, you are testimony that UW worked in Central America. Supplying “Lily Pads” and building Drones make contractors and DOD happy and stimulate the economy. But, I remain unconvinced that UW will work on the other side of the world in the midst of a thousand year old religious war.

Islamic Taureg rebels with an influx of battle-hardened fighters from Libya have seized Northern Mali. Strategically there are only two choices in Africa “Kill them all and let Allah sort them out” or Containment; the separation and establishment of a border between the Arab and African tribes from the Atlantic to Indian Oceans. The third option is for Americans just not to give a damn.

ex-PFC Chuck

One of my faults is I am a thinker; that I often question the status quo, the why things are.

This is no doubt why you retired as a colonel. And I mean this as the precise opposite of an insult.


Tom Engelhardt should be read by all thinkers. His blog, TomDispatch.com, is an important contribution to exposing the dangerous reality of US imperialism around the globe.

Imperial Rome wasn't built in a day and didn't decline in a day.

What we are bequeathing to succeeding generations is at least troubling.



…the Combatant Commander has direct access to the Commander-in-Chief and as such the Executive is more likely to contemplate Military Action first and foremost.
I have a couple of problems with this statement.
First, while it's true that the COCOM commanders are two degrees of separation from the CINC, Ambassadors are direct representatives of the President. In practice most of them have to go through State, just like the COCOMs have to go through the JCS and/or the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Of course there are always special cases like Big Political Donors who become Ambassadors. Some of them have little difficulty getting the direct line to the President.
Second, and more importantly, even if one assumes greater influence by the COCOM, it is not safe to assume that their first recommendation is necessarily a military one. The best of the COCOMs are fully invested in the totality of the DIME, and therefore are happy to recommend other than military solutions. However, they can only control the military contribution and must rely on other Agencies to resource diplomatic, economic and informational plans. Also, until C17s and hospital ships are assigned to State or USAID, they will still have to come to DOD to move or build things without a competitively bid contract.
Having said all that, I agree with much of the article. The entire Federal government should divvy up the world the same way in the interests of efficiency. Further, having a regional Ambassador who has authority over significant resources to effect policy would be a happy thing.

The Twisted Genius

I agree wholeheartedly with your suggestions. The combatant commanders are now the most powerful feudal lords in our foreign policy/national security sphere(s). This is not healthy for a nation that wants (I assume) to be a peaceful, prosperous nation. The State Department should assume the lead, as long as they have the right people, resources and regulatory power to do so. If the COCOM is to assume temporary primacy, it should require a Congressional declaration of war or conflict or emergency or whatever you want to call it. But it should be a deliberate act.

Obviously the bureaucratic resistance to such a change would be immense. I don't think it could even be attempted until our second civil war reaches some kind of conclusion. I feel the true believers on both the republican/conservative and the democratic/liberal sides are engaged in a civil war just as profound as the WBS. Their allegience to their respective philosophies is stronger than their allegiance to the nation as a whole. Any reform of the national security structure or any other major aspect of our public life will be impossible until this philosophic civil war is concluded.


Is State the right department to lead things right now though? It seems like they're overrun by the neocon/neolibs/globalists and believe that inside every third world tribalist is a true believer in democracy. It will only take the right combination of bombing and foreign aid to bring that convert to the forefront, if you listen to them.

From where I'm sitting it seems like elements in the military and the intelligence services are the grown ups who realise what is going on in the world around us. But my experience is obviously limited compared to some of the luminaries who post here and have traveled in the higher ranks domestically and globally among the various services.

The Twisted Genius


Is the State Department ready to assume leadership of our national security structure? It's certainly not as it's currently structured and manned. I think it would take several years of buildup, manning and training. It would probably take nearly as long to restructure and retrain the DoD before it's ready to assume a more subordinate role. It would be a big cultural change for both departments. As far as being overrun by neocon/neolibs/globalists, I doubt the career foreign service officer corps is any worse than the military officer corps. The vast majority of the wackos are political appointments and gift ambassadorships to political fundraisers. That whole system would have to stop. Could you imagine brigade commands being given to political hacks and fund raisers... even in a peacetime Army?


You're right of course, it would be a massive culture shift in both departments, which I don't see happening anything soon. To be honest, the domestic front isn't much better either. It seems the only 'law enforcement' the federal level is interested in consists of civil rights, copyright violations, child porn, and counterterror. Otherwise it is all 'diversity' training and 'run away and hide' internet 'virtual' courses.


RE: "One of my faults is I am a thinker; that I often question the status quo, the why things are."

Col. sir,

At the very least, you Gwailoh have the luxury of indulging in such thoughts & acting on them

In the Gawdfersaken region™ where I'm at, most folks who even attempt to absquatulate about the "gawd****-way-things-are", often in the words of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, "are at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored."

Such is the nature of things my side-of-the-hemisphere.


Medicine Man

Brigade Commands being given to political hacks? My first thought was that an element of this was present in how the British elevated their officers. Maybe not fair to them but I thought it nonetheless.

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