RANGER AGAINST WAR: Looking Downrange <

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Looking Downrange

And though I wear a uniform
I was not born to fight 
--Last Year's Man, Leonard Cohen 
_____________________

[Sometimes a piece gets lost in the queue.  Today's post was a response to a Special Forces Valentine written last summer by Joe Pappalardo in Popular Mechanics (The Future of Special Ops).]

There is much contradiction in this piece, but that does not hamper the article's goal, which is to re-create Top Gun, 2012-style.  Hurt Locker and now Zero-Dark-Thirty shill director Bigelow is doing her part too in creating the mystique, our own Leni Riefenstahl as Naomi Wolf recently noted (RAW's Lisa said it first, but she didn't publish it, so it doesn't count.)

We must must remeber that the Ranger - SF dichotomy has become less distinct as SF's mission becomes more direct action (which was in the past the basic orientation of the regular combat arms branches.) The primary distinction between normal soldiers and the SOF was in their communication style: regular forces communicate with their own, whereas the SOF are trained to talk with a host nation's indigenous assets; this demarcation between conventional and non-conventional soldiers has been dissolving.

Special Forces and Rangers are both Light Infantry, so when and how did Light Infantry Special Operations become nation builders?  Where is the data showing that building foreign armies and police forces produces stable nations?  Army-building does not equate with nation-building: Strong armies and police do not ensure either democracy or stability. If our Special Forces are so special, why are they pulling guard duty like buck Privates in a leg unit? 

A team leader said, "We all have Type-A personalities on this team."  Type-A could just be another way of saying that attention deficit, hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the hallmark of the new SF; this is not necessarily a positive. A Ranger - SF - SOF selection process that selects for Type-A's indicates a break with the historical SF qualities of calm-thinking and logic.

--Not too phallic (fr. The Future of Special Ops)

How do soldiers teach a nation to take of themselves?  If these soldiers are "warrior-politicians", as a team leader is quoted as saying, then why are they not under State Department auspices?  The Department of Defense is not about politics, it is about killing people and breaking things; the SF skill set is more about breaking things than building things (which is why it is under the DoD aegis.)

The article does concede that "SOCOM has become the U.S. government's tool of choice for soft power projection ... by default":

"'Most of our resources, when it comes to these types of efforts, are placed in the Department of Defense,' says Rick Nelson, a senior fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who served with Joint Special Operations Command. 'The reality is that the State Department and USAID are not funded at appropriate levels.'"

A typical American bias is seen in the following:

"These "indirect-action" missions include training foreign troops and teaching locals how to establish responsible governments. The strategy also promotes economic development by building bazaars, encouraging farmers to grow extra food crops to sell, and constructing roads. No one makes video games based on indirect-action missions."

But -- what if the locals do not want any of these things? Laying things up for a rainy day fits in with our oft-preached (though seldom practiced) capitalistic ideology, but if you are nomadic, where are you gonna store your surplus?  It is not like there is a storage mall around the corner. (And heaven forfend Storage Wars break out.)

A team member is described tooling around in a "$470,000 mine-resistant, all-terrain vehicle" but by placing SF assets in fun off-road vehicles we have just reinvented the wheel.  Placing SF in such vehicles merely creates a new mechanized unit, albeit one that happens to wear SF - Ranger -Airborne tabs.

Why not use plain old Mechanized Infantry for this function (since this is what they do)? Putting SF  assets into an up-gunned vehicle that is naught but a modern chariot has nothing to do with nation-building.  It is simply a weapons platform, like an Apache helicopter with wheels -- whoopee, we have reinvented the Armor Branch.

The following concept escapes Ranger's comprehension:

"The attacks on Afghans who support the government in Kabul—and the United States—will only grow as 2014 approaches. The police units that spec ops teams train have been the targets of infiltration and murder. 'We talk to guys who are over there now,' Alpha says. 'We're expecting a hard fight.'"

How can SF teams train credible indigenous police forces when nobody on the SF teams has any civilian police force experience? Why do we pretend that Afghan police are anything other than paramilitary assets that have no police function other than that of supporting a corrupt and morally bankrupt puppet regime?  Why are our SF involved in such morally dubious activities?

So basically, the future of SF looks as confused as its recent past has been.  When will we ever learn?

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ranger just saw zero dark's ending, not the film leading up to it though (Icknow its full of torture, cliches, America= Helpless Good Guys blah blah).

I was wondering what you thought of the representation of the raid itself. It was a house raid, (B& E and Murder) there was no running and gunning it was methodical and merciless.

It pulled no heroics in my opinion of the raiders (armed to the teeth in an operation that could have been carried out by a swat team with no casualties although in more time probably) although it smelled to me as a civvie as full of the quiet professional cliche. Did you think it accurate? did you think it romanticized? Did the crying women and children orphaned by our boys in green in the blackout at all register?

As an aside I found myself repulsed by the voyeur in me for watching that 10 minute scene although it made me mad for a movie claiming so-called 'accuracy' that they used a bald 30 something actor for the 20-23 year old Khalid Bin Ladin (his pictures show a full head of hair) and had all attractive women play the wives as if they were communistas in Black September. The wives and family of AQ are not involved in the organization (males only) getting married in typical arranged cultural fashion and suffer at its hands (Zawahari got his family killed in the 2001 bombings including a retarted son) and see how OBL's wives and sons abandoned him and published a book with orientalist novelist Jean Sasson behind his back about the misery. Peter Bergen notes that Abu Ahmed's wife and children took typical outings to their family outside leading some to speculate that Bin Ladin was hidden even from them.

As a immigrant American I found it fascinating how Bin Laden himself was as if reverently not shown. He is after all the bogeyman, his ending must be mundane, a rifle not used must hang from the wall to show he was a coward. From banning the Al Jazeera interviews in which the terrorist in chief clarified in a soft spoken voice and gentle smile the war was not about US freedoms but actions, due to a foreign policy in the region most Americans are dimly aware of, under the pretext of secret messaging America has sought to otherize its 'enemy' as pure evil justifying as you mentioned an augustine city on the hill mentality.

AL Qaeda at its heart has taken an Augustine view as well. One that all governments are gangs just like them. Violence is reciprocal. Laws meaningless, the province of the powerful. Ultimately only your allegiance matters, Alleingece to the Muslims over those that kill them no matter who grotesque those claiming to fight in their name are. My Brother right or wrong as it were. We have our own version my country right or wrong. You can see why it was attractive and still is. It is at heart a defensive argument similar to ours. Bin Laden claimed he got the fevered dream of 9/11 when he saw some towers destroyed in the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and resolving to destroy towers like it in Israel's patron (and in his view) reason of continued existence.

Sorry for the rant in my aside. Im sure you disagree with it. I see AQ as a mentality cultivated in paranoia and humiliation from foreign powers and local governments deemed not legitimate. Not as an organization that can be defeated continually. 10 years on and we are fighting people who were kids or teenagers during the events of 11th September 2001 the antithesis of victory. I am still interested in a response to my questions about the raid itself considering your SF background. Thanks

Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 3:10:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Anon,
I cannot answer your questions because I WILL NOT VIEW the movie in question.
If you read RAW frequently ,as i feel you do, then you know the answers to your inquiries.
My views have been clearly expressed in my essays.
Thanks for your input which is hardly a rant.
jim

Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 10:43:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Anon,
I cannot answer your questions because I WILL NOT VIEW the movie in question.
If you read RAW frequently ,as i feel you do, then you know the answers to your inquiries.
My views have been clearly expressed in my essays.
Thanks for your input which is hardly a rant.
jim

Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 10:44:00 AM GMT-5  

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