The Boko Haram Bully Needs a Beating, But….

The Boko Haram Bully Needs a Beating, But….

—Oct. 16, 2015

President Obama Wednesday announced that the U.S. is deploying up to 300 military personnel to Cameroon for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations against the militant Boko Haram terrorist group. In making the announcement the White House emphasized that personnel would not take part in combat operations and would be armed only for self-defense.

300SpartanMenReadyToFight

So, what’s the point in sending soldiers somewhere unless they’re going to fight? Sure, “intelligence,” “surveillance” and “reconnaissance” might make a difference in helping the multi-national coalition that’s fighting the al Qaeda offshoot…. But does it not mark yet another lack of resolve in defeating the terrorists? Is it not a half-hearted effort (or perhaps 1/33-hearted)?

Not that there aren’t “political realities” that need to be considered in such engagements. For example, the deployment of too many troops could alienate the local Muslim population and lead to increased Boko Haram recruitment. Or the increased U.S. presence could lead to Boko Haram seeking even closer ties with any number of Middle Eastern Islamists. Or, and more likely, both.

True enough, but the coalition fighting Boko Haram seems to be losing ground, and the Americans are arriving on the scene like a penknife-armed cowboy rushing into a shootout. Why even bother?

Why does America of late jump into most of the world’s conflicts with limited resolve? Sure, we’ve had our moments, such as the 1983 Invasion of Grenada, 1989 Invasion of Panama, Desert Storm (until the coalition “objective” was met) the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan (until the terrorists grew hard to find), and the initial attack of Gulf War II. But that resolve proves so limited in other cases. Think of Beirut in 1983 when Reagan pulled out after the Marine barracks truck bombing. Somalia in 1993, when Clinton pulled out after the Blackhawks were downed. And the Middle East in general.

Here are a couple of answers that we know of: The Vietnam complex, in which our presidents are exceptionally wary of losing U.S. boys in foreign wars, and numerous pesky political realities. Such realities can include the lack of any U.S. political or economic interests, a lack of a well-defined and easily identifiable enemy, lack of local conflict area support, lack of friendly logistical support, fears of escalating a conflict, and fears of antagonizing either nearby friends or enemies (if not both), among others.

And granted, these political realities most definitely need to be considered. But if you’re going to fight, you generally can’t just throw one punch. Nope, when you take on the bully you keep punching until he’s down and then you tap him a few more times to make sure that he’s received the message loud and clear that “you don’t f—k with me!”

Other than Grenada and Panama, America really hasn’t done that since it took on Japan and Germany in World War II. And the rest of the world knows it.

Those American boys going to Cameroon…sure, they’ll do some good. But the bully will undoubtedly remain standing and still be cause lots of trouble. Those American boys staying in Afghanistan until 2017, as announced yesterday by Obama? Yes, they’ll do some good too, but that Taliban bully ain’t going anywhere. ISIS, al Qaeda, and any number of other Islamic groups that America is scrapping with? Same thing. In fact, all those soldiers might as well be walking around with targets on their backs, as the “insurgents,” or whatever their moniker-of-the-day is, know that if they’re patient and slowly pick off a few Americans here or there, the politicians back in the American homeland will likely lose resolve and bring the boys home.

Bottom line is if we’re going to fight, we need to actually fight–kick the living snot out of the bad guys. If the political realitiesVE-DAY-Picture force a limited resolve in this regard, then why should we even bother. But if such realities allow for the fight, but complicate a continued presence, then why not take out the bully and let those countries behind those political realities clean up the mess.

And if the politicians back home are worried about a black eye or loss of teeth (i.e, loss of American lives), well then we’d best stay home and not even contemplate a fight…let someone else deal with the bully.

So, what do you think–should U.S. soldiers even bother taking on the Boko Haram bully with such limited resolve? Hash-It-Out!

—Originally published Oct. 16, 2015 by Hash It Out!

Beware The Military-Industrial Complex?

Beware The Military-Industrial Complex?

—September 21, 2015

Former President Dwight Eisenhower famously warned Americans to “guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex,” because the “potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.”

Americans have certainly failed to follow that advice and “unwarranted influence” and “misplaced power” are vast understatements with regard to today’s military-industrial complex. Little doubt that Ike, who successfully led the American war effort against Nazi Germany during World War II, would be appalled.

th-8If the military-industrial complex was a single entity or corporation, an appropriate logo for it should include an image of a hammer and/or toilet seat. Easily identified symbols of the Pentagon’s 1980s era procurement of $400 hammers that cost about $12 retail and $600 toilet seats that went for about $21 retail.

While that procurement bungle led to congressional investigations and hearings after being exposed by the press, along with the subsequent Pentagon promises to clean up its procurement act, we doubt much has changed since then, and that the Pentagon still spends taxpayer money like a drunken sailor on leave. In fact, in 2000 and 2001 the Pentagon was under congressional pressure to account for more than $2 trillion in missing money, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld publicly admitted on Sept. 10, 2001 that the Pentagon could not account for about $2.3 trillion in Pentagon funds. The 9/11 attacks happened the next day and the accounting oversight was quickly forgotten.

Although forgotten, this still means that taxpayers are on the hook for an amount equal to about $8,000 for every man, women and child in America. On the hook and paying interest on it, as it was ultimately just added to the government’s deficit.

And now we’re going to spend about $1 trillion on an advanced attack fighter jet program that many analysts say has been mismanaged to the point of being a “financial catastrophe.”

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is the most expensive weapons system in world history, and one that has been plagued with problems and massive cost overruns since its inception. The F-35 is touted by its builders and the Pentagon as being the most lethal and technologically advanced attack aircraft in the world. And this might prove true, if the contractors can actually keep it up in the air and get its numerous advanced systems to work as advertised.

In 2013 the Pentagon’s Inspector General identified 719 issues that could “adversely affect aircraft performance, reliability, maintainability, and ultimately cost.” The IG’s “quality assurance assessment” faulted the Pentagon for losing control over its contractors and quality management procedures.

While many of those issues have been resolved, others, including “catastrophic engine failure” and “structural cracking,” have emerged and the existing fleet of aircraft remains severely restricted in its operational capability as testing continues. Testing that has thus far shown that the F-35 can easily be bested in close-range combat by a 1980s-era F-16, and that its high-tech weapons systems is hard-pressed to identify whether another aircraft is friend or foe. Contractor Lockheed Martin’s response to this leaked news was that the F-35 is designed for long-range combat and not “visual dogfighting situations.” That’s reassuring!  

Despite all this, and the lack of a working gatling gun (the high-tech system is still under testing and reportedly will not be air-operational for at least another year), the U.S. Marine Corps declared its version of the F-35 combat ready as of July.

The question is will the Marine Corps be able to keep any of them in the air. As of earlier this year, the amount of maintenance needed per jet to keepth-6 them air worthy allows for about 7.7 flight hours per month, or one sortie every 5.5 days. And that’s making our potential enemies lose sleep with worry….

Oh, and the aircraft are so high-tech that maintenance has to be conducted by the contractors who built the plane. Cha-ching! and little doubt that the $1 trillion estimated cost is going to rise.

Yep, beware the military-industrial complex because there’s apparently no accountability and obviously no lack of taxpayer money with which to feed the military-industrial complex trough.

—Originally published in Hash It Out! Sept. 21, 1015.