U.S. General Leads Fresh Assault on Obama Policies



By: F. Michael Maloof

WASHINGTON – A prominent Army general, bolstered by other military and  defense leaders, contends President Obama’s preferred counterinsurgency policy  is proving to be “devastating” for America and rewarding to its enemies.

Vallely says Obama has so degraded and demoralized the military in multiple  ways – including a  major purge of senior officers, with almost 200 relieved of duty over Obama’s  five years as commander-in-chief and nine generals this year alone – that  those remaining cannot speak out for fear of being forced out of the  military.

Essentially, Obama’s counterinsurgency, or COIN, doctrine is a form of  warfare that makes soldiers trained to fight tank battles shift to a combat  style that emphasizes politics, cultural awareness and protecting the local  population from insurgent attacks, Vallely said.

The result looks like failure, he said.

“Today Iraq, which is still wracked by violence and heavily influenced by  Iran, has provided no victory for America, and Americans do expect victory when  the U.S. expends great losses of life and thousands of wounded and dead troops,” Vallely said.

In Afghanistan, he said, a surge of more than 30,000 U.S. troops has produced  a stalemate that leaves soldiers counting down to withdrawal at the end of  2014.

“Many mid-level officers and non-commissioned officers voiced many and varied  new doubts about the Army’s battlefield performances and senior leadership in  Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said, regarding the feedback he’s heard.

Vallely attributes the failed COIN strategy to the lack of military officers  speaking out against the Obama administration’s political and social demands. If  they do, as he and other retired officers have pointed out, those outspoken  officers are forced out or given bad evaluation reports.

That would mean “they will never make flag officer because of their failure  to comply to a certain view,” agrees retired Navy Capt. Joseph John.

A Naval Academy graduate, John had three tours of duty in Vietnam, served as  an al-Qaida expert for the FBI and was a commanding officer with SEALs embedded  on special operations. Since then, as chairman of Combat Veterans For Congress  PAC (Political Action Committee), he has helped elect 20 combat veterans to  Congress.

“The truly sad story is that many of the brightest graduates of the three  major service academies, witnessing what the social experiment on diversity … is  doing to the U.S. military, are leaving the service after five years,” he told  WND. “We are being left with an officer corps that can be made to be more  compliant, that is, exactly what Obama needs to effect his long range goals for  the U.S. military.”

He specifically referred to the Rules of Engagement, or ROE, in combat that  were put in place after Obama took office, claiming the changes resulted in very  high casualty rates in Afghanistan, including the loss of 17 members of SEAL  Team 6 in one incident.

A more restrictive ROE grew out of the COIN strategy embraced by Obama as  commander-in-chief.

Vallely and John aren’t alone in their criticism of this strategy.

Bing West, who served as an assistant secretary of defense for international  security affairs in the Reagan administration, served in the Marine infantry in  Vietnam.

In 2006, Bing wrote the U.S. Army and Marine Corps counterinsurgency field  manual that had the effect of enshrining counterinsurgency as nation-building in  U.S. military doctrine.

Nevertheless, in the case of Iraq and Afghanistan, he said, this approach  involved a “prodigious effort without commensurate returns.”

The doctrine required U.S. soldiers and Marines to safeguard the indigenous  population, improve democratic governance, combat corruption, deliver economic  projects and institute the rule of law as understood in the Western  tradition.

In developing the counterinsurgency strategy from his experiences in the  Vietnam war, Bing wrote  in World Politics Review that the realities in Iraq and Afghanistan did not support such an approach.

Thus, while the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan resulted in swift  conventional victories, they were followed, he said, by the rise of insurgent  movements, with the U.S. military chasing “ever-elusive guerrillas in civilian  clothes, before eventually changing its approach to a nuanced, restrained  effort.”

“The goal was to win over the population and ‘drain the swamp,’ leaving the  guerrillas, like water moccasins, to shrivel in the sun,” he said. “In both  countries, instead of training an indigenous army or attacking the insurgents  directly, the U.S. military made nation-building the focus of its  counterinsurgency mission.

“Likewise, the coalition military, under firm U.S. direction, assumed  responsibility for protecting the population and ensuring the provision of  governmental services until the host nation was capable of doing so without  foreign troops,” Bing said.

In Afghanistan, he said, more than 1,800 American troops had been killed  since 2001, with the U.S. military carrying out more than 16,000 development  projects.

Likewise, in Iraq, the goal of a full U.S. military withdrawal that was  supposed to leave behind a stable democracy with a foreign policy supportive of  American interests never happened.

Added to that, Bing said, U.S. and NATO coalition forces in Iraq and  Afghanistan had imposed the strictest rules of engagement “in the history of  warfare. Soldiers were instructed to return fire only when they had positively  identified an enemy and when nearby civilians were safe. These rules were  followed by the vast majority of the deployed units.”

Similarly, Michael Mazarr, a professor and associate dean for research at the  U.S. National War College, was critical of the COIN strategy, which he said  defense analysts saw as the future of U.S. defense planning and operations.

“We know that outsiders can’t run a successful COIN campaign on behalf of the  local government,” Mazarr  has explained. “Insurgencies and uprisings are best dealt with by the host  government fighting the war largely by itself, while receiving aid, training and  some special operators – or relatively small numbers of troops – from outside  sponsors.

“However, if the war goes badly, the sponsor is often unable to keep itself  from taking over the fight and throwing its armies into the fray,” he said. “This is what happened in Afghanistan, Vietnam and, for a while, Iraq.”

According to Vallely, the problem with the COIN strategy, which today  constitutes the bedrock of U.S. military doctrine, is that it will not work in  Muslim wars such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan, since those wars are civil,  not insurgent.

“These internecine Islamic fights are between Sunni and Shia or between  autocrats and theocrats,” he said. “Neither NATO nor the U.S. Army has the  charter or doctrine to resolve these or any other religious or tribal civil  wars. Evolution might be the only solution to any Muslim pathology.”

He further contends that with the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq in  December 2011 and their removal from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, Obama has  done little to boost the morale in the military “and has offered no realistic  solutions to strengthen the U.S. military.”

“In fact,” he said, “the evidence discloses that Obama has set the U.S.  military on a course of unpredictable erosion and decay through acts that have  demoralized the U.S. military.”

This concern was reinforced by a survey conducted in 2011 in which only 26  percent of Army leaders said they believed the Army was “headed in the right  direction to prepare for the challenges of the next 10 years.”

This figure, Vallely pointed out, was down from 38 percent in 2006.

Bottom line, said Vallely: Military officers today lack any confidence in  Obama as commander-in-chief. Yet, instead of speaking up, he said, they are  preoccupied with covering up incidents so they don’t affect their career, rather  than meeting the greater need of “boldly leading their soldiers.”


Read more by: F. Michael Maloof

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