Regarding "Extending Tours in Iraq"
----- Original Message -----
From: William C. Lowe
To: Leonard Riedel
Sent: Wednesday, December 08, 2004 4:24 PM
Subject: Extending Tours in Iraq
I have actually been thinking about your e-mail regarding the NG and Reserves, Iraq and the draft et al.
There is some of what you say that has some truth and some that as you might expect I do not agree with.
The current war will not destroy the National Guard and Reserves. It will however cause some rethink of National Strategic Policy. Consider that as a result of Viet Nam there was developed a strategy called the Abrams Doctrine that stated in part that the US should not be able to go to war with out the proper public support. This support was lost in VN mainly due to the lack of strategic focus and the related use of the draft. The doctrine called for a new focus on the use of the reserves and National Guard and the fact that the US would not be able to execute a protracted military endeavor without the use of the reserves (I use reserves and national guard interchangeably here since the NG is a reserve component). Such use would bring the war to McDonalds and every home and due to the hometown nature directly involve public support. This support has not been lost in the current war so far even though 50% of the force on the ground will soon be reservist. It has come close and the political ramifications have yet to be seen but the cracks have just been seen in Oregon.
I lived through the draft and the army of the draft and take it from me we do not want to do that again. (Note: there is a difference between “national service” and “conscription into the military”). You point about a draft involving the support of the public when they start taking the kids out of school and McDonalds etc is off the mark since that is happening now. Additionally understand that a draft as we have seen it in the Civil War and V/N took only the poor and uneducated or minorities. The use of the reserves is a different game.
The current situation the military finds itself in was not due to the small size of the military; the military as currently configured is large enough and lethal enough to handle most tasks. And the military is quite capable of “peace keeping”, “nation building” and “civil affairs/action”. The problem is that the strategy and plans were flawed from the outset. Not the military action and plans (we say what the soldiers could do) but the follow through or the “ok so what now factor.” No draft or additional man power or force structure will assist when we forget the “Powell Doctrine”: what is the exit strategy; what is the mission and what is the purpose of military action.” If the use of the military is foreign policy and politics at its final mark we need to know what the outcome will be when we start.
The plan for combat was excellent. The accomplishment was superb and the results predictable. Then the plan and its execution stopped. We had no idea what to do next and the next is a mess. It has lead to “a back door draft “ including “stop loss” multiple mobilizations and deployment s of the same units and a military force that is wondering around with out purpose. The problem is not the military or the public’s support of the military but the political leadership’s definition of “end state.”
Who do we now hold accountable? Well we answered that in the last election. The public determined that they agreed with the direction of travel of the Administration.
I am still bothered by the concept that some where in the deep depths of the national decision makers that there is a plan that says if we fight them in Iraq we will not fight them in New Jersey. That we can “afford” to expend the military power and international good will for the return that Iraq is a “black hole” sucking in all the world’s radical Muslims and killing them.
William "Corky" Lowe
Colonel (Retired), NJNG
Bens-New Jersey Business Force