June 08, 2007

Silky Pony's Six-Point Plan Against Terrorism

Democratic Presidential Candidate John Edwards has posted a six-point outline of his strategy for combating terrorism on his campaign Web site.

Let's take a look at what he's offering, point-by-point.

"Rebalance our force structure for the challenges of the new century"

  • Force Structure: The force structure of our military should match its mission. The Administration's mismanagement of the military has not only breached the faith at the highest levels—it has led to a very dangerous situation for our security. We are sending some troops back to Iraq with less than a year's rest. Edwards believes we need to ensure that our force structure is well equipped for the challenges of the new century. We must have enough troops to rebuild from Iraq; to bolster deterrence; to decrease our heavy reliance on Guard and Reserve members in military operations; and to deploy in Afghanistan and any other trouble spots that could develop. As president, Edwards will also double the budget for recruiting and raise the standards for the recruiting pool so that we can reduce waivers issued for recruits with felonies, which have skyrocketed under President Bush.

Stripping the politics out of this statement (if that can actually even be done) and looking solely at the policy, Edwards is suggesting that our troops need a full year's rest between deployments, that our troops need to be "well-equipped," that our standing military needs to be larger, that we need to deploy more troops to Afghanistan, and that we need to significantly increase recruiting and standards for those recruits.

Correct me if I am wrong, but as I recall history, the idea of our soldiers needing a year between deployments seems to be a modern phenomenon. Our soldiers in the Continental Army did not get year-long rest breaks in the Revolutionary War, the World Wars, or any other conflict in this nation's history until the current war in Iraq. I seem to recall that units were sent into battle, fought, and took brief "R&R" breaks of much shorter durations during a major conflict, sometimes lasting just a few days or weeks, and other times lasting months.

By way of example, World War II's "Band of Brothers," Easy Company, 506th PIR, went through several weeks or months of combat, with several weeks or months of training or R&R between combat deployments.

Most books I've read on military history (most of which were of this time frame) followed similar patterns. Unless pulled from combat for extensive training for a fresh assault, most units I recall reading about rarely, if ever, received a year off after a tour of combat. Is a full year between deployments truly needed?

I'm not the person to answer that question, but I can tell you that I cannot easily find a record of any large unit in any military in world history that consistently got a year off between combat tours. It would seem to me (admittedly as a civilian) that a year's rest would leave troops rusty, and in the kind of counter-insurgency operations we are now fighting where relationships with local communities are key, it means that the troops would have to start over and establish new relationships with every deployment. To me, sending home entire units for a year at a time seems very unwise.

I don't think anyone will argue with Edwards' platitude that our troops need to be "well equipped." How can you argue with that? But the simple fact of the matter is that our soldiers are already by far the best-equipped military in world history. Period. Edwards presumably want to make them bullet-proof, to avoid criticism when soldiers die. But soldiers with enough armor to be impervious to enemy fire are soldiers that lack the mobility to be effective in combat. Well-equipped does not mean making our soldiers over-armored to the point of being ineffective.

I do agree with Edwards on several points, holding the same opinion that our military should be larger than it currently is, and that we should seek higher quality recruits, and spend the extra money to attract them.

Now, on to point two.

"Ensure our intelligence strategy adheres to proven and effective methods"

  • Intelligence Strategy: We must aggressively gather intelligence in accordance with proven methods. Valuable information can be gained through interrogation, both about past and future attacks, and we must do everything we can to gather this information to keep us and our allies secure. At the same time, we must avoid actions that will give terrorists or even other nations an excuse to abandon international law. As president, Edwards will immediately address the issues that have become blemishes on America's image in the world by closing Guantanamo Bay, restoring habeas corpus, and banning torture.

Against, once we strip out the politics from this statement we are left with something like policy, and that policy is...don't be evil.

Well, that’s all well and good if you're running to be president of Google, but the reality of the matter for POTUS is a bit more complex that perhaps "Senator Gone" misunderestimates. I don't know of anyone who advocates wholesale, widespread torture, but for Edwards to intone that waterboarding of senior level operational commanders is wrong if a major attack is imminent, is nothing less than moral abandonment, stating that principles are more important than American lives in any and all circumstances. This is simply wrong.

Further, Edwards betrays a childlike misunderstanding of our enemies if he actually thinks terrorists have ever given any consideration to international law, or that by treating terrorists with kid gloves, we will somehow influence their actions. Frankly, this platitude shows him to be an unserious, lightweight candidate, and perhaps somewhat dangerous.

His "blemishes" comment simply affirms he is far more interested in symbolism than results.

"Hold regular meetings with top military leadership"

  • Meetings with Military Leadership: The past few years have brought the biggest crisis in civil-military relations in a generation. The mismanagement of the Pentagon has been so severe that many of our most decorated retired officers are speaking out. As president, Edwards will institute regular, on-on-one meetings with top military leadership. He will also reinstate a basic doctrine of national security management that has been demolished by the Bush Administration: military professionals will have primary responsibility in matters of tactics and operations, while civilian leadership will have authority in all matters of broad strategy and political decisions.

This is apparently meant as a swipe at George W. Bush and Don Rumsfeld, and perhaps one that they deserve.

What it does establish is that Edwards seeks to be very "hands on" if elected. As I recall, that didn't work very well with LBJ. Edwards comment here is, of course, also directed at the fact that many generals have disagreed with how the current war has been fought.

Edwards indicates that he will try to listen to most or all generals. If Edwards sincerely means to listen and attempt to assuage the misgivings and differences of opinions among all generals, he will "lead" us into paralysis, and that the bold stokes of a Patton or a Grant will be ignored over a safe, consensus position... a self-imposed Pentagon quagmire. I do not find that encouraging in the least.

"Create a "Marshall Corps" to stabilize weak and failing states"

  • "Marshall Corps": Weak and failing states create hotbeds for terrorism and create regional instability that creates security dangers for the U.S. and our allies. As president, Edwards will create a "Marshall Corps" of 10,000 professionals, modeled on the Reserves systems, who will work on stabilization and humanitarian missions. He will also implement new training for future military leadership and create a undersecretary for stabilization and a new senior stabilization position within the Joint Staff.

We've already seen the opposition for such as unit; Iran calls their version the Qods Force of the Revolutionary Guard. Edwards wants to impose an opposing Girl Scouts-Lite version of this to spread peace, joy, and puppies. Yea! A slightly more charitable interpretation is that he envisions a cross between the Corps of Engineers and the Peace Corps, or the creation of something like the Navy Seabees, but populated with social workers. I'm not sure what he is actually proposing here, and suspect he isn't sure, either.

"Rebuild equipment"

  • Rebuild Equipment. Over 1,000 vehicles like tanks and helicopters have been lost in Iraq, and our equipment is being used at a rate of five to six times its peacetime use. Our forces are not equipped to meet the challenges presented to them. As president, Edwards will re-invest in the maintenance of our equipment so our strategy against terrorists is as effective as possible.

Edwards has latched onto the concept that stuff gets blown up in war, and he wants to reinvigorate the motor pool. Such insight.

His statement "Our forces are not equipped to meet the challenges presented to them" means one thing to me; as threats emerge, Edwards will constantly push our military procurement branches to rush willy-nilly after the Threat of the Day.

We're being hit with IEDs? Up-armor our Humvees, and buy billions of dollars in new armored trucks (like MRAPS). When the enemy builds larger IEDs, Edwards will rush to upgrade to larger MRAPS or like vehicles, and so on, and so forth, until we are left with battlefield battleships that lack the mobility to go anywhere quickly or stealthily, and by the way, are too expensive to justify sending into combat. And just so you know, EFPs tend to make those inside such heavily armored vehicles more likely to die than vehicles with no armor at all, due to spalling.

We do try to reduce the threats to our soldiers as much as possible of course, which is why our soldiers are the most heavily armored force in terms of both personal and vehicle armor in human history, but Edwards and many other candidates on both sides don't want to deal with the reality that soldiers die in war, nor do they seem to understand that there are many circumstances where armor can and should be sacrificed for mobility and flexibility for soldiers to be effective. I don't think Edwards grasps that concept in the least.

"Create a National Security Budget"

  • National Security Budget: The military budget itself also needs substantial reforms to keep us as safe as possible and to deal with 21st century threats. Today, dozens of agencies perform overlapping tasks, and there is no central, overall accounting of all security activities performed by all relevant agencies. We have nuclear proliferation programs in the Defense, State, and the Energy departments, and more than 15 different security assistance programs, running out of both the State Department and the Defense Department. As president, Edwards will implement a new National Security Budget that will include all security activities by the Pentagon and the Department of Energy, and our homeland security, intelligence, and foreign affairs agencies.

Nowhere in this statement does Edwards pointedly say he will consolidate any of these over-lapping programs, he just insists that we need another layer of bureaucracy inserted on top of it. Were Edwards actually willing to consolidate some of these activities and streamline elements, I could actually get behind him on this. that isn't his intention, however. He simply betrays a belief that more government is a more effective government.

Hold on to your wallets.

Update: Captain Ed notes that Edwards' Marshall Corps" is a modern day Children's Crusade, and may face the same results. The NY Sun is similarly harsh.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at June 8, 2007 10:13 AM

This idiot turns my stomach. He is such a flaming hypocrit.

Posted by: csasarge at June 8, 2007 01:18 PM

The Continental Army was a volunteer organization, as is today's Army. The soldiers of the Continental usually signed an enlistment for a set period of time. At first, the enlistments were only for one year, which led to a major manpower shortage at the end of the year. The Army of WW2 was not a volunteer army. Today's Army is, once again, a volunteer organization. Do you see where I am going?

Posted by: BohicaTwentyTwo at June 8, 2007 01:38 PM

Prell boy isn't smart enough to be a lawyer, much less president. Notice in his "force structure" statement he says that American forces must be rebuilt to be ready to deploy in Afghanistan and "any other trouble spots". Does he not realize that Iraq is one of those trouble spots. Tell me why people follow these morons!

Posted by: MAJGross at June 8, 2007 01:40 PM

Actually, English units and German units in the Second World War were pulled from combat after 60-90 days at the front (in ideal situations) to re-quip and reinforce. The American Army and the Soviet Army both kept units in line, but offered individual soldiers and small units R&R behind the lines. Reinforcements were sent to each unit as individuals, not as squads or platoons, which turned out to be inefficient (the men they trained with and trusted were gone and the veterans, knowing how likely it was that the new guys would make a mistake, kept their distance until the new guys learned something, which meant many new guys died while learning what the veterans could have taught them behind the lines).

Similarly, these units may have been on the line, but they were not the same. The casualty rate for the 1st Infantry Division was over 200% in its less than year of combat.

Studies after the war concluded that a soldier reached the peak of his effectiveness under constant fire at about 35-45 days and slowly lost effectiveness after that (unless he was rested). The human mind cannot process daily violence and gradually PTSD or shellshock get almost all of us.

To combat this, the US instituted a year long combat rotation for US draftees in Korea and Vietnam. You were drafted for two year. One year you went overseas for combat, the other year was training for combat and administrative tasks before and after deployment (since we apparently understand the military only through entertainment, think of Platoon and the guys comparing their tours as "201 in" etc)

The Pentagon's current plan is to rotate its forces for 12 months (now 15 months) in Iraq and twelve months to re-equip forces and train replacement officers and enlisted men. They also, per my Marine Lt cousin, use that time to refine their tactics and ditch what did not work the second time. Because the invasion is so ad hoc, they do not get the same mission in the smae place as the first time (they go where they are needed), so my cousin spent a year in Haditha, when he returns his unit will not be returned to Haditha (where they had relationships with the locals), but, most likely, they will "surge" into Baghdad.

Edwards's plan to give soldiers a year back home enables our volunteer force to do things like stay married, raise children, and live the life we ask them to put in danger.

PS The book Band of Brothers is superior to the film (aren't they all?) and will show unlike other units, the PIR's were pulled off the line to train new guys and rest. That's one reason they always fought so well. They were sharp.

Stephen Ambrose's other book Citizen Soldiers contains an in-depth view of how the US reinforced its Army in World War 2. It's also emotional and moving as hell. A great read.

Posted by: timb at June 8, 2007 03:19 PM

John Edwards’s voting record on military issues can be found at:

John Edwards’s history of speeches on the Iraq war can be found at:

John Edwards’s ratings from special interest groups on military issues can be found at:

Project Vote Smart produces the National Political Awareness Test (NPAT), which essentially asks each candidate “Are you willing to tell citizens your positions on the issues you will most likely face on their behalf?” You can find John Edwards’s responses to the NPAT at:

For more information on John Edwards’s position on military issues please visit: or call our hotline at 1-888-VOTE-SMART.

Posted by: Project Vote Smart at June 8, 2007 04:36 PM

If the movie Deliverance wants a Do-Over, I heartily recommend an alleged male, in white boxers, named John Edwards. He would be stellar in his performance as the Great Ned Beatty! Squeal fer me BOY!
OKAY!...OKAY!! Shut the hell up, John!!! I'm through ridin!!!

Posted by: Jihadgene at June 8, 2007 05:41 PM

I wonder how much hair spray he went through when he wrote that out?

Posted by: LisaV (aka "Talismen - Lady Crusader against jihad") at June 8, 2007 08:34 PM

I don't know of anyone who advocates wholesale, widespread torture, but for Edwards to intone that waterboarding

Please, Confed, enlighten us with your understanding of waterboarding. Have you actually studied why it's effective, and what it entails? Why the Inquisition employed it, as did the Japanese and Nazis in WWII? Would you be willing to let me subject you to it for more than 20 minutes? Even if I offered you $10K for staying firm the entire time (only you agree that I am in control the entire time...this is not a test, I decide when you've really had enough)?

Posted by: Random Guy at June 9, 2007 01:54 AM

Have you actually studied why it's effective, and what it entails? Why the Inquisition employed it, as did the Japanese and Nazis in WWII?

They ALSO utilized asking questions. Ergo, asking questions must be evil.

Why is it effective? Because it makes people think they will die but will not kill them.

Would you be willing to let me subject you to it for more than 20 minutes?

I wouldn't be willing to be subjected to an interrogation of any sort for 20 minutes. Are you implying that because of that all interrogation techniques are evil?

Posted by: MikeSC at June 9, 2007 08:11 AM

If waterboarding is safe and non-injurious enough for our own pilots taking the SERE training, I think its gotta be OK for terrorists.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at June 9, 2007 08:54 AM

What can one say? A little boy with an overly expensive hair cut has always gotten what he wanted. Now he wants to be the POTUS. A boy in an adult's game. I'm afraid it will end badly for him in the primaries. Isn't that great?

Posted by: Fred Beloit at June 9, 2007 01:57 PM

John Edwards' Plan against Terrorism: A Rebuttal

Force Structure:
‘We must have enough troops to rebuild from Iraq; to bolster deterrence…’
John Edwards’s call for troops to be withdrawn from Iraq in the middle of an unfinished war with Islamic extremists undermines our deterrence by demonstrating once again that America is a paper tiger and that the American Congress and the American people don’t have the will to deploy troops anywhere in the world for very long in defense of our national interests. One significant ‘national interest’ is the right to live in freedom from fear of attack by Islamic supremacist terrorists who want to drive American influence from the Muslim world.

‘…decrease our heavy reliance on Guard and Reserve members in military operations…’
John Edward shows how remarkably little he knows about military affairs. Guard and Reserve soldiers with years of civilian and military experience to draw from provide many of the unique skills required to embark on any modern military campaign. Transportation and Logistics, Engineers, Military Intelligence and Police, and Medical branches are all heavily dependant on Guard and Reserve soldiers.

Intelligence Strategy:
‘At the same time, we must avoid actions that will give terrorists or even other nations an excuse to abandon international law.’
John Edwards shows his stunning ignorance of the nature of the enemy we face. Terrorists do not now nor have they ever followed international law and the law of war, hence the name ‘terrorist’. Islamic supremacist terrorists in particular do not need international law as they receive all the authority and legitimacy for their actions from the Qur’an.

Meetings with Military Leadership:
‘…military professionals will have primary responsibility in matters of tactics and operations,…’
John Edwards’s opposition to the deployment of an additional 30,000 soldiers to Baghdad and his support for Congressional attempts to tie war funding to troop withdrawal contradicts his stated plan and demonstrates that he supports the unconstitutional interference of Congress in ‘matters of tactics’ that are the sole domain of the Commander-in-Chief.

"Marshall Corps":
‘As president, Edwards will create a "Marshall Corps" of 10,000 professionals, modeled on the Reserves systems, who will work on stabilization and humanitarian missions.’
Civilian units of the Peace Corp variety cannot be deployed to the dangerous and unstable parts of the world where terrorists thrive without significant military logistical support and armed protection. Thin-skinned social workers will be particularly vulnerable to Chlorine Gas Truck Bombs and will require extensive force protection from the military to do their jobs.

Rebuild Equipment:
‘…our equipment is being used at a rate of five to six times its peacetime use.’
War has a tendency to do that to equipment. Would John Edwards have argued against the invasion of Normandy during WWII because military equipment would be used at an alarming rate? Why even have a military if the primary mission is to preserve it in pristine condition for the ‘pass in review’ on the parade grounds of America’s stateside military bases?

Posted by: mick187tharct at June 9, 2007 03:46 PM

I think the Marshall Corps could work, if it was well-administered. This would be a force of police, reconstruction specialists, and emergency response personnel. All of these people would receive training to prepare them for hostile, lawless landscapes like Iraq... or post-Katrina New Orleans. This unit would be a deployable, non-military force that could operate inside or outside of the United States. They would also cross-train with current contractors and military personnel who have reconstruction related roles.

I'd like to see him actually detail it further. If he neglects the security element, it would be a waste of time. Does he mean Marshall as in Marshall plan or as in US Marshals? The latter would be more useful.

Posted by: OmegaPaladin at June 10, 2007 03:41 AM

The idea that the German army pulled its units out of line every 60 days is ridiculous. Units were kept in line until they were burned out and then sent back to reform and absorb new recruits.
American units didn't do this and units sent new recruits to be absorbed in action, where they died quickly. The Leuftwaffe pilots bascically fought till they were killed or were no longer fit to fly.

The British army never had the luxury of withdrawing divisions from an active front unless they faced an opponent so enfeebled that no real opposition could be expected.

I also note the moonbat comment regarding waterboarding. I accept the challenge of waterboarding if you'll submit to my Al Queda methods of "torture." Since you believe they are the same as waterboarding I'd be happy to demonstrate the difference on said moonbat.

Posted by: Thomas Jackson at June 10, 2007 04:57 PM

I also note the moonbat comment regarding waterboarding. I accept the challenge of waterboarding if you'll submit to my Al Queda methods of "torture." Since you believe they are the same as waterboarding I'd be happy to demonstrate the difference on said moonbat.

Nice dodge, but it doesn't work. I'm not disputing that Al Qaeda or other enemies of America use torture. I'm asking whether waterboarding practiced by anybody IS.

By my own research I conclude that it is one of the more perfect forms of torture, designed not to permanently impair the victim (after all, if you cut off 10 fingers you have no more to cut off...and what happens after you run out of limbs?), but to inflict maximum psychological damage with no lasting signature that the torture took place.

Please look into the psychological effects of it if you don't believe me.

Posted by: Random Guy at June 10, 2007 09:46 PM

On a separate note, please feel free to refer to me as a moonbat if it makes you feel good. I'm a fiscal conservative, social liberal, and as a student of WWII I think that claiming to be on the right side of the fight means, you know, actually BEING on the right side of the fight. If fighting the war on terror means that you give up principled American values like not engaging in torture, then I don't know what the hell it is that we're fighting for.

Posted by: Random Guy at June 10, 2007 10:15 PM