Controversy over American military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan is common. America has been at war for over ten years. Children of troops that fought America’s enemies in the first days of the war on terror are now fighting too. There is no end in sight. Very well intended people like to point out that The United States failed to comply with what has become to be called the “Powell Doctrine” after General Colin Powell. A key element of the Powell Doctrine is use of overwhelming force. Overwhelming force is lacking in the Afghanistan campaign. Doug Durbin, writing in “Military Strategy: Powell Doctrine … explains: “For decades the United States had followed a policy of proportionality: restraint because of the fear of escalation. It was under this theory that Maj. Powell watched his men bleed and die purposely in Vietnam.” General Powell’s Doctrine is, of course more involved than this brief discussion as room to include. Restraint and fear of escalation is killing Americans and allowing the enemy the initiative on the battlefield. A situation created and allowed to continue by American leaders.
1. Consider one of a General George Patton view of military tactics:
“There is only one tactical principle which is not subject to change. It is to use the means at hand to inflict the maximum amount of wound, death and destruction on the enemy in the minimum amount of time.
Evidence does exist that Marines in Afghanistan have incurred KIA’s and WIA’s – due to the normal conduct of combat operations and foolish, restrictive rules of engagement. Current rules of engagement reportedly prohibit Marines and Troops from killing the enemy, even when they are watched setting up assault and ambush positions, until the enemy shoots at our troops! NATO forces are not inflicting the maximum amount of wound, death and destruction on our enemy.
2. Consider a view General Douglas MacAruthur’s opinion on a nation’s decision to go to war:
“It is fatal to enter a war without the will to win it.”
National policy allows the enemy good access to safe areas. They are free to re-equip, re-group, recruit and train new troops, plan strategy and obtain military supplies. Crossing a border keeps the enemy safe from NATO ground attack. The much applauded drone strikes are a good military tactic. Without follow up air, armor, artillery and infantry combined arms use; the enemy is not fatally harmed.
3.Father Dennis Edward O’Brien (serving with the United States Marine Corp) is credited with the following:
It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the soldier, not the organization, who gave us the freedom to demonstrate.
It is the solder, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allow the protester to burn the flag.
Freedom of the press:
America has a free press.
Much of the media fails to report accurate facts. Americans are entitled to know there is a shortage of infantry, artillery and armor units in Afghanistan. Americans must be informed that our people are getting killed because [criminal] rules of engagement restrict the use of combat power, i.e. air assets, artillery and direct small arms fire. The people who wrote and implemented these rules and the political operatives who demanded them must be relieved of any responsibility for the conduct of military operations and contact with American or NATO forces. Demanding that troops face enemy fire before engaging them is new to warfare.
Freedom of Speech:
Americans are a free people with a Constitutionally given right to speak as we choose to!
One Baptist Church group uses its freedom of speech to insult KIA troops families at funerals. Anti-war demonstrations occur. People claiming to be veterans have formed so-called vet groups “against the war”. There are some public presentations of support for the troops. There are no known public gatherings demanding the immediate end to rules of engagement. There is no known public gatherings demanding the destruction of our enemies and their support systems to end the war(s) quickly. For example, a squadron of B-52’s not dropping high explosives on the enemy is a waste of national resources. Highly qualified Naval Officers and Enlisted personnel have available weapons systems that will kill the enemy and destroy their logistics systems from long ranges, i.e. hundreds of miles away and are not allowed to be used. I urge to the public to use their constitutional right to petition the government for a redress of grievances and demand that every available weapon be brought down on our enemies. We do not speak up in opposition to the Americans who allow the enemy to kill our troops.
Attend a Memorial Day event this year. Look around. Notice anything? Ones I attend are short of people. One million three hundred thousand Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice for our county from the Revolution through today, February 17, 2011. The number goes up, every day! Honor the flag and the people that fight for it. Old fashioned values – and still a good one! Remember – civilians choose wars, not soldiers!
(Quotes and data from americanveteransmemorial.org)
Many people that contribute to and offer comments to Veterans Today may have limited contact or knowledge of what combat troops are confronted with in the day to night to day existence in war. Consider the following excerpt from an unpublished book about an American family’s experience with warfare.*
“Put one foot in front of the other. Don’t think. Put one foot in front of the other. Concentrate on taking the next step, one foot in front of the other. Nothing else exists. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Take the next step, put one foot in front of the other, can’t quit, nowhere to go. Put one foot in front of the other.” (1) The command, “Close it up, keep your interval, one round getcha all,” (2) comes up and down the column. “Put one foot in front of the other. Don’t think. Keep putting one foot in front of the other.” Firing breaks out at the point. The squad fan’s out, on line. “Run, move, paddy water and mud bogging me down, have to keep moving,” Rounds cracking by, again and again and again. “Fire to heavy. Dive behind a paddy dike, spray and pray. Up, move forward, keep going, remember to breathe. River in front, where’d it come from? Stupid question, who cares. Move, move forward, keep moving forward, can’t be left behind.” Out of the water, climbing the bank, squad goes to ground, “fire to heavy, can’t move.” Each guy looks left, right. “Who’s going first? “Another stupid question, “we’re all going! High diddle diddle, straight up the middle.”(3)”
General Powell’s doctrine is not available to our forces today. The excerpt noted above occurs on any battlefield in any war. Our troops, allies and enemy infantry all experience the same concerns and issues. In past wars, Americans had indirect fire weapons available and on call for immediate use. Other Americans have taken this key resource away from our troops. I have heard only a few American Dads complain about the terrible rules of engagement our troops are forced to comply with. Warfare is horrible. Giving the enemy the advantage in first use of weapons and there is no national outrage?
Organizations that exist to prevent warfare from occurring are much needed in American. Prevention of warfare is a goal that many military people can agree with. Most people that have experienced war know that prevention of war is an important national goal. Once war is created – kill the enemy and end it, quickly. The troops in the example above needed no permission to open fire. They needed no authorization to use indirect fire weapons. They needed no authorization to kill – it was expected of them. The experience described above was and is a normal occurrence of warfare. Limiting the ability of our military to use maximum combat power to destroy the enemy does not have a long history in America. No folks, the war is over. Our nation needs to make up its collective mind. Destroy the enemy or stay home. It is really as simple as that. It is O.K. to make the enemy mad. There is no rule against it!
I guess Soldiers and dogs need to be told over and over to stay off the grass. The dogs do however appear to have more support in America than the Soldiers do.
Dale R. Suiter
1. Putting one foot in front of the other is an old infantryman’s method of moving when beyond exhaustion. Only those that have experienced infantry warfare can know the crushing fatigue infantrymen must cope with. This is also one of the important reasons troops are highly trained to be physically fit and to endure physical discomfort.
2. Infantrymen keep an interval of five (5) meters between them. Keeping an interval lessens the amount of troops killed and wounded because of enemy indirect weapons, i.e. grenade launchers, mortars and artillery fire.
3. High diddle diddle, straight up the middle is a phrase from the Vietnam era. It refers to an immediate attack on prepared enemy. It is a frontal attack.
*Used with permission of the author who requires anonymity. The author’s book on infantry combat and military service of one family from the Revolution through the war on terror isn’t complete.