Kerry clueless on military transformation

John Kerry seems to be adopting a consistent theme on our involvement in Iraq. Briefly stated, it is that Iraq is a diversion from our war against al Qaeda. He sometime seems to feel that we should have devoted those resources to Afghanistan. This is nonsense. And it illustrates his complete lack of insight into the challenges of transformation of the military.

Al Qaeda descended out of the war between the Afghans and the Soviet Union. This war was lost by the Soviets in large part due the harsh terrain and geographic isolation of the region. The country is surrounded by Iran, Pakistan, China and former Soviet republics of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan & Uzbekistan. It sits in the most mountainous region of the world. This isolation had dramatic consequences when we chose to go to war with al Qaeda and the Taliban.

The forces we used there could not include the armored divisions used in Iraq. How would we insert them? Through the Khyber Pass in winter, after transiting Pakistan? Absurd!

What we used in Afghanistan were agile special forces (Army Rangers, Navy Seals) to advise indigenous militias (which Kerry dismisses as being led by `warlords') aided by tactical air support. The largest distinct formation was the Marine MEU (SOC) that established a base at Kandahar. They were transported in by helicopter from amphibious assault ships in the Arabian Sea.

The principal sources of tactical air support were the F—14D fighter squadrons from Navy carriers in "Bombcat" mode. The Air Force's initial participation was limited to B—2 attacks launched from Whiteman AFB in Missouri! The Air Force couldn't provide tactical air support until it had negotiated basing rights in the former Soviet republics. They also added bomber flights from Diego Garcia.

So the fighting in Afghanistan was accomplished by easily deployable light forces with air support. The heavy Army divisions had zero participation. To get them in theater would have required huge inputs of airlift, as ground or sea transportation are problematic.

One might assume John Kerry would have some acquaintance with the tactic of light forces, supported by tacair, from his Swift boat days with CTF—115 in Vietnam. Maybe he got out of country too soon for the lessons to take hold! There is no doubt such tactics were used. Some interesting and relevant web pages are found at the US Naval Institute and the Black Ponies.

So one of the most critical issues for the next commander—in—chief are beyond the ken of John Kerry. He lacks an elementary grasp of the basis for the successful restructuring of the American military's projection of power. As to Edwards's acquaintance with the subject, it's best not to ask!

John Kerry seems to be adopting a consistent theme on our involvement in Iraq. Briefly stated, it is that Iraq is a diversion from our war against al Qaeda. He sometime seems to feel that we should have devoted those resources to Afghanistan. This is nonsense. And it illustrates his complete lack of insight into the challenges of transformation of the military.

Al Qaeda descended out of the war between the Afghans and the Soviet Union. This war was lost by the Soviets in large part due the harsh terrain and geographic isolation of the region. The country is surrounded by Iran, Pakistan, China and former Soviet republics of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan & Uzbekistan. It sits in the most mountainous region of the world. This isolation had dramatic consequences when we chose to go to war with al Qaeda and the Taliban.

The forces we used there could not include the armored divisions used in Iraq. How would we insert them? Through the Khyber Pass in winter, after transiting Pakistan? Absurd!

What we used in Afghanistan were agile special forces (Army Rangers, Navy Seals) to advise indigenous militias (which Kerry dismisses as being led by `warlords') aided by tactical air support. The largest distinct formation was the Marine MEU (SOC) that established a base at Kandahar. They were transported in by helicopter from amphibious assault ships in the Arabian Sea.

The principal sources of tactical air support were the F—14D fighter squadrons from Navy carriers in "Bombcat" mode. The Air Force's initial participation was limited to B—2 attacks launched from Whiteman AFB in Missouri! The Air Force couldn't provide tactical air support until it had negotiated basing rights in the former Soviet republics. They also added bomber flights from Diego Garcia.

So the fighting in Afghanistan was accomplished by easily deployable light forces with air support. The heavy Army divisions had zero participation. To get them in theater would have required huge inputs of airlift, as ground or sea transportation are problematic.

One might assume John Kerry would have some acquaintance with the tactic of light forces, supported by tacair, from his Swift boat days with CTF—115 in Vietnam. Maybe he got out of country too soon for the lessons to take hold! There is no doubt such tactics were used. Some interesting and relevant web pages are found at the US Naval Institute and the Black Ponies.

So one of the most critical issues for the next commander—in—chief are beyond the ken of John Kerry. He lacks an elementary grasp of the basis for the successful restructuring of the American military's projection of power. As to Edwards's acquaintance with the subject, it's best not to ask!