CHESTER HAS MOVED!: Belmont Club Comment

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Belmont Club Comment

Belmont Club has a great discussion going on about force structure if anyone has missed it (probably not, knowing this crowd). Just tried to post the below and failed. Thought it might be interesting here, though out of context: Wretchard, Your "Update 2" and its description of "capabilities" vs. numbers is right on the money. When I was a combat engineer, every time I worked supporting other units, the same thing happened. Someone would come into the headquarters and say, "we need a bulldozer" or "I need some plywood" or "can you spare an electrician for a few hours?" Then it was up to us to unravel what the "requirement" was, and what exactly the work was, then to place a "capability" against that -- and the capability is a set: people and their equipment. A squad of engineers is more or less useless without tools (although just listening to enlisted Marines BS in their spare time is highly entertaining). The same logic applies in your description: critics think, "I need three more infantry brigades on the ground -- cough them up!" not "there is an enemy force coalescing in and around the city of xxxx. Please respond as you deem appropriate." It is the same logic writ strategically. As to the excellent question by one commenter about who is going to train spies when universities don't do so -- this is a difficult point. The answer lies somewhere in the fact that Renaissance men are a dying breed. Look at what British lieutenants, or subalterns, would do independently, and with little supervision at all, back during the days of the Great Game: they fought, they dabbled in statecraft, and they spied. What one man used to be able to accomplish with his Victorian-bred wits and an ear for languages, now we have three separate government bureaucracies with different career tracks to do. The ultimate in stovepiping. The Geneva convention prohibits officers from spying as well. Radical changes will be necessary to prevent ossification of these agencies. On my blog, I've referred often to the concept of "jointness" and how it needs to move beyond a mere DoD-internal concept and be mandated into law throughout the national security apparatus. This is one thing I refer to. I'll explore further as my series on Conservative Critiques of the War continues. Cheers, Chester


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