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And it is that attitude that provides situations like Stalingrad.

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by A swedish kind of death on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 05:20:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The 6th army would have had no problems getting out of Stalingrad if they had been up against a bunch of ragtag civilians with guns and mines.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 05:47:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Getting out? The whole point was that the they were not to get out, they were to hold Stalingrad.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 07:41:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, staying around there while bombing Iran and turning Iraq into an utter hornet's nest would constitute a Very Bad Idea.

That is, beyond the Very Bad Idea of bombing Iran in the first place.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 07:48:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's pretty much the point here.

The bottom line is that after a serious attack on Iran, most of the US army ceases to exist as a viable fighting force. The best that can happen is some kind of semi-successful retreat - which would be a military fiasco and a political disaster, castrating forever the fond image that the US has of itself as a paragon of force projection machismo.

The worst is very much worse.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 09:19:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Plus at some point, if you're going for very much worse, a decision would have to be made if the losses to be had in attempting a rescue are too big a risk. The remainig troops in the army may be seen as the necessary seedcorn for rebuilding the army after the disaster.

after all the Marine corps appears to already see the looming disaster and are maneuvering to find themselves somewhere else

Marines Press to Remove Their Forces From Iraq - New York Times

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10 -- The Marine Corps is pressing to remove its forces from Iraq and to send marines instead to Afghanistan, to take over the leading role in combat there, according to senior military and Pentagon officials.

The idea by the Marine Corps commandant would effectively leave the Iraq war in the hands of the Army while giving the Marines a prominent new role in Afghanistan, under overall NATO command.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 09:36:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, but it was the 6th Army, not the US army or USMC. And there is a world of difference. The Germans were very good at war. The US is not and never has been. By 'war', I mean having to fight seriously armed and determined opponents, not Third World countries (which the US has fought on several occasions, and notably lost or 'drew' its major engagements against such). The Germans could fight virtually all the major Western powers of their time serially and/or at once, and still come dangerously close to victory. The US has never managed such a thing ... and never will, unless it just decides to wipe the slate clean and nuke the world.

Besides which, you underestimate the dangers posed by determined irregular resistance. Ask the Germans who fought Tito.

Finally, William Lind, a US conservative and military freak, is much less sanguine about the US position in Iraq than you are, and thinks that Iran could roll up US forces in short order. US supply lines are very exposed. But this has already been pointed out here.

Do not fall for Hollywood BS. The US military fights really well on the silver screen, but not in real life. Check out Stan Goff's report about the death of Pat Tillman. Goff is an ex-Ranger himself, and yet his account completely strips US 'elite' units of any combat mystique. These were people who got stressed over a broken-down vehicle and one rocket fired by a couple of teenagers that blew up 500 metres away ... so they shot one of their own three times in the face when he came back to investigate. That's the sort of fire discipline that came from an elite unit. Go crazy and shoot one of your own mates.

With talent like that, massive failure is assured as soon as determined resistance is met.

by wing26 on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 09:38:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The relevant analogy to US fighting force (including, especially, its relationship to the US populace) is the army of France under Napoleon III.

Middle class largely out of it, working class obviously the backbone, high bourgeoisie occupying officers roles, not a citizen army but in name only.  Just waiting to get their asses kicked by a real citizen army. In this light, Iraq might be seen as a Sebastopol, a relatively long conflict with no real winners which served mostly to piss off France's most important ally, Russia.

We can only hope that when Sedan comes, the aftermath will be equally as bloodless. Though I can't imagine Bush (or his successor) in exile in England. Where oh where would such a man go?

Walk around the US a bit, take a look at bellies which recall images, at least for me, of the excesses of Rome, and ask yourself if the US could in fact field more than just a small force of elite citizen soldiers. No, without technology, there's no there there. All the rot of Rome, with none of the glory.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 10:44:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bloodless aftermath ?

You're talking about the army that did the repression of the Paris Commune...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 11:33:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That happened a bit later.

Initially, the republic was restored, but they made the mistake of fighting on. If they had sued for peace, things may have been different, but, being the type of men of a certain class that they were, they didn't. That's the logic of these things.

But the coup that removed the monarchy was itself almost entirely bloodless.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 12:00:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You mean, the end of the empire ?

I'm afraid we won't get to see Dubya wandering in a Hummer, on the battlefield of the Najrah defeat, in desperation over his lost war and legacy... That's what helped the creation of the republic after the Sedan defeat. And don't forget that the third republic was initially monarchist...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 12:33:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, I don't forget it at all. Just like the Democrats are hardly on the side of the people, either.

It's a nice though to imagine such Bush wanderings, but I imagine him more somewhere in Uruguay, far away from horses though, he's afraid of them. They might bite.

Monarchy, empire, six of one, demi-dozen of the other by that point in French history. In fact, Nap III needed that war in order to ensure ascension of his descendance, which is why many refer to the period as the imperial monarchy.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 12:42:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But the US is not up against a citizen army.

Look, guerillas are fine. They win as long as they don't lose. That is, as long as they hang around, the enemy will leave and they will win.

But they can't beat conventional forces on the battlefield. That's just what the conventional forces want to, as the result is utter carnage.

They have to go conventional themselves at that point, like at Dien Bien Phu or the last offensive against South Vietnam.

This will obviously not happen in Iraq at this juncture.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 12:39:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Iraq's isn't.

But Iran's is.

And if it isn't Iran, there will eventually be another. That's the logic of what the US has found itself in, and eventually it will play out, as it always has.

Hopefully not on a battlefield, but here again, it's hard to see how this is avoidable.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 12:44:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the Iranians couldn't even beat the Iraqis when the Iraqis had an Army.

If the Iranians are mad enough to fight a conventional war against the Americans, they will be ground to dust. That's it.

If they fight unconventional (read Hizb Allah, and google Paul van Ripen and Millenium Challenge 2002) there will be huge problems for the Americans, but not huge enough to make retreat impossible.


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 12:59:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We shall see.

It's one thing to fight your neighbor who has the advantage of knowing the terrain as well as you, and whose supply lines are at the very least not exposed and primarily within controlled, sovereign territory.

It is quite another to fight an isolated and demoralized expeditionary force whose supply lines are very exposed and primarily passing through increasingly hostile territory.

I think if you are suggesting that US troops in Iraq and, importantly, allied civilian personel, will be anything but sitting ducks, you are sadly mistaken. I mean, I saw Rambo in Afghanistan also, but the reality is something different...

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 02:36:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
links to the goff and lind bits?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 10:59:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Google is your friend...

Stan Goff: The Fog of Fame

The first of three parts on the circumstances of Pat Tillman's death.

In 1979, after a break in my Army service and having recouped my sergeant's stripes as a mechanized cavalry scout in Fort Carson, I volunteered for the Rangers. Off to Ranger School I went, and upon completion I was assigned to 3rd Platoon, Company A (Alpha Company), 2nd Ranger Battalion, 75th Infantry Regiment in Fort Lewis, Washington. Each of the three rifle platoons (organizations of around 40 light infantrymen) had nicknames, in this case, First to Fight, the Blacksheep, and Third Herd. A Company, known for its iron discipline, was called the Alpha-bots. When I left there in 1981 to become a tactics instructor at the Jungle Operations Training Center in Panama, I never had a notion that I might somehow be entangled with Alpha Company again ... two-and-a-half decades later.

Brothers Pat and Kevin Tillman were Alpha-bots, assigned to the Blacksheep (2nd Platoon), when Pat was killed by friendly fire on April 22, 2004 near a tiny village called Manah in Paktia Province, Afghanistan, near the Pakistani border. When I was a member of the adjacent platoon in the same building, Pat was a baby.

Stan Goff: How Pat Tillman Died

This is the second in a three-part series on the death of Pat Tillman. Click here to read the first installment: Pat Tillman Everyone's Political Football.

This is where there are conflicting stories, partly because of the "fog of war," but more importantly to evade possible prosecutions... and the Pandora's box of counter-accusation a recrimination that might be opened by prosecutions.

I won't belabor the minutiae.

Stan Goff: The Cover-Up of Pat Tillman's Death

Part 3 (concluding) of The Fog of Fame: the Death of Pat Tillman.

There is the cover-up (of the fratricide). There is the original lie (that Pat was killed in an intense combat engagement). There is the layering of plausible denial in case the stories unravel.

The motives of the spin-meisters were to pin a recruiting poster to Pat's coffin. The motive of the cover-up (at least one of them) was to preserve the mystique of the US Army Rangers -- the elite of the infantry -- as flawless, disciplined, steely-eyed commandos.

The Lind piece is left as an exercise for the reader ;-)

We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 11:08:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I;#'m reading through a stack of Lind stuff as we speak.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 11:10:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Lind piece is left as an exercise for the reader ;-)
Unsystematic as I am, that left me reading the Lind on War archive for an hour or so. Very interesting. But here's the piece:

Operation Anabasis

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 03:01:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Wehrmacht was an excellent fighting force, probably the best the world has seen since the Mongols.

Still, the Americans defeated them on the western front, due to the American superior numbers and superior firepower.

If the US Army of '44 could beat the Wehrmacht, the US Army of '07 can beat some ragtag Iraqis. I have no doubt whatsoever about that.

Sure, the US Armed forces are still stuck in the French second generation mentality (infantry advance, artillery conquers!), but that won't matter much here as they are not up against, well, the Wehrmacht (or the Bundesmacht, as an op-ed in the IHT which demanded a more aggressive role for the Bundesheer in Afghanistan called it).

The individual courage and skill of American soldiers and Marines should not be underestimated. Reports I've read for example from the second battle of Fallujah shows that. The Americans are great at urban warfare, as long as they are allowed to leave only ruins behind.

Anyway, it will boil down to supply. And no one does supply better than the Americans.

By the way, I'm a great fan of William Lind. And I think he has a very good point. The US force in Iraq could indeed be lost if they are not given free hands, which will mean lots of civilian death and destruction.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 12:38:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But the Americans did not beat the Wehrmacht on the West Front. The Wehrmacht had ceased to exist as an effective fighting force by 1944. By the time of D-Day, the Germans were in full retreat on the Eastern front, as fast as their crippled logistics could carry them. (OK, this is somewhat overstating things - to be sure, the Germans still had a sting, but hey, it's a two-paragraph post...)

Witness the fact that the American expeditionary force took fewer casualties on their trip to Berlin than the French army did during the German trip to Paris four years earlier. This does not speak to me of a smash-until-something-gives approach. It speaks to me of a pushover.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 04:06:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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