They still fear 'Vietnam syndrome': Rumsfeld seeks win without more troops

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sun Aug 24 04:07:47 MDT 2003


The 'Vietnam syndrome,' in my opinion, is the broad resistance to
placing large numbers of US troops at risk in wars abroad. It extends
from the masses to the ranks of the army and from there up into the
officer corps and even the command staff. This took root during the
Vietnam war, not only because of the casualties, but because of the
political impact of the resistance in Vietnam and the growing
awareness that the rulers were dragging the people into wars that were
not in the interest of the latter and were in fact unjust.

Periodically US presidents have announced that they have "beat" the
Vietnam Syndrome.  But they keep having to beat it again.

The 'Vietnam Syndrome' is not an illness or an emotional disturbance.
It is a bit of popular wisdom, a bit of knowledge about the real world
and real social relations that has taken deep root.  It was not a
passing political mood of a period of radicalization, but one of the
deep cultural changes that took root in the radicalization -- more
like the changes in attitudes about Blacks, women, gays. Getting rid
of it will take enormous defeats of working people in this country,
defeats on a scale that have not taken place.

US military strategy since Vietnam has, to a substantial degree, been
constructed around the 'Vietnam syndrome' as a fact of life, not as
something that can be dispelled or beaten to death. The cautious
Powell doctrine was the first form -- reflecting the rulers' fear and
hesitancy to take it on.  The more agressive Rumsfeld approach is
driven by the economic difficulties of world  capitalism which impel
U.S. imperialism on an explosive road of conquest.  But this doctrine
is still built not around quickly dispelling the 'syndrome' but treats
it as simply a social reality to be gotten around.

Some of the technological changes fostered in part by the imperialist
response to the Vietnam syndrome -- the reliance on technologies that
enormously increase the precision and  destructiveness of the means of
killing wielded per soldier represent real, fundamental increases  in
military power, like the technological advances imposed on the
capitalists by the class struggle with the workers.  Others are
adaptations to difficulties and signs of weakness.

The 'Vietnam syndrome' does not and will not prevent any imperialist
war.  But it is a fact of the political and social reality that works
on our side, especially when the rulers run into real popular
resistance. Fred Feldman


http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/24/international/worldspecial/24TROO.ht
ml?th=&p August 24, 2003 Rumsfeld Seeking to Bolster Force Without New
G.I.'s

By THOM SHANKER

ASHINGTON, Aug. 23 ó Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, seeking to
increase the nation's combat power without hiring more troops, is
poised to order a sweeping review of Pentagon policies, officials say.
It will include everything from wartime mobilization and peacekeeping
commitments, to reservist training and incentives for extended duty.

A senior Defense Department official said Mr. Rumsfeld would order the
Pentagon's senior leadership, both civilian and military, to rethink
ways to reduce stress on the armed forces, fulfill recruitment and
retention goals and operate the Pentagon more efficiently.

In essence, Mr. Rumsfeld will ask the service secretaries and chiefs
and his under secretaries to address how the Pentagon can more
efficiently use its troops at a time when the armed forces are spread
thin by global deployments.

Should Mr. Rumsfeld eventually be forced to expand the military,
whether by unexpected missions, future threats or a Congressional
mandate, the effort should reduce the size of the reinforcements
required, officials said.

The review will be seen in some circles as answering powerful members
of Congress who have demanded more active-duty troops for the
military. Lengthy deployments to Iraq drew scattered complaints from
families of soldiers, and some reservists criticized their extended
call-ups.

Some concepts being proposed as ways to enhance combat power challenge
core military planning. One questions the long-term practice of
earmarking forces in the United States for specific regional war
zones, as opposed to ordering the military at large to stand ready to
be sent wherever required. Another asks whether advances in
intelligence-gathering and analysis allow the nation to anticipate
threats with greater accuracy. Such "strategic warning" could direct
more efficient plans for assigning troops.

Other proposals are based in pragmatism. Mr. Rumsfeld told Congress he
wanted to transfer to civilians or contract workers an estimated
300,000 administrative jobs now performed by people in uniform.

While some on Capitol Hill reject that total as high, one senior
Pentagon official said that if even one-sixth of those jobs were
converted, then the equivalent of more than two Army divisions could
enter the fighting force without any increase in the number of paid
military personnel.

In the same vein, Navy planners are complimented for designing ships
that use new technologies to cut crew size by perhaps 50 percent.

Another approach is asking allies to help shoulder the burden.
Officials say
3,000 Germans now stand guard at United States bases in Germany,
replacing Americans sent to Iraq. Before Mr. Rumsfeld asked Germany to
provide those patrols, thousands of reservists were almost mobilized
for the mission.

Mr. Rumsfeld's latest thinking on these questions is encapsulated in a
working paper, titled "End Strength," which runs about a dozen pages
and has already gone through four versions after discussions with his
most senior circle of civilian and military advisers, said officials
who have seen the document. End strength is the military term for
total force levels.

"He said, `Let's bring back answers so we can start to gather the
information, start to make the analysis of where we are with regard to
stress on the force, what we're going to do about that,' " said one
senior Pentagon official. "What does the force `end strength' look
like in terms of what we need for tomorrow? This has got to be an
intellectual pursuit as opposed to an emotional argument. That's the
secretary's intent."

A heated debate over end strength is expected after Congress returns
from its recess in September, as powerful voices on Capitol Hill have
taken to op-ed pages to announce their coming fight for more troops.

"We need more troops or fewer missions," Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison,
the Texas Republican who leads the Senate Appropriations subcommittee
on military construction, wrote in The Washington Times this week. "Do
we have enough Army and Marine active-duty members for the post-Sept.
11 era of national security? My view is: We do not."

Senior Pentagon officials cite war games run by the Joint Staff
indicating that the military ó at present ó has sufficient active and
reserve forces to do the job. While Mr. Rumsfeld has said he would go
to President Bush and Congress for additional troops if required, he
also says that it would be an expensive mistake to enlarge the
military without detailed analysis proving the case.

The debate is about balancing risks. On one side is the risk that
there will not be enough soldiers to carry out diverse missions or
that troops will not re-enlist after exhausting assignments that
degrade their quality of family life and do not leave enough time for
training.

That risk must be weighed, though, against the fact that money spent
on personnel will not be available for new technology and modernizing
the current arsenal.

Mr. Rumsfeld's senior aides say that his view does not represent an
antipathy to a larger military in general or to ground forces in
particular. They say he is aware that increased troop levels carry a
number of additional costs beyond pay and benefits: the more troops on
the roster, the more it costs to house them, guard them and equip them
ó and pay them retirement benefits in decades to come.

Some of the arguments made by Mr. Rumsfeld, based on evidence from the
battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, provide only a broad measure for
required troop numbers.

For example, early lessons from those two wars are cited as proving
that the military does not necessarily require "overwhelming force" ó
in numbers ó to defeat an adversary if it brings "overmatching power."
That power includes not only the number of fighters, but also
precision weapons, accurate intelligence, speed of maneuver and joint
missions that combine the combat punch of all the armed services.

Even so, the quick victory over Saddam Hussein has not silenced those
who say more troops are required to stabilize Iraq and win the peace.

The strain on the National Guard and Reserve is of considerable
concern, and officials will analyze how to increase the months
actually served on duty. At present, with the promise of a 30-day
notice of mobilization, ó which in some cases was reduced to less than
a week ó several months of training and a month of demobilization,
some reservists spend only six months on operations out of a yearlong
call-up.

For active-duty troops, the Pentagon will review incentives for
extended deployments.

Mr. Rumsfeld will ask for analysis on a proposed "Peace Operations
Initiative" to create an international force for such operations,
relieving the United States of pressures on its troops for missions
like that under way in Liberia. The American role would emphasize
logistics, transportation and intelligence. In the meantime, the
Pentagon will assess how to pare down its commitments in Sinai, Bosnia
and Kosovo.

Senior officials in recent days convened a number of invitation-only
discussions with retired three- and four-star officers and civilian
analysts to describe Mr. Rumsfeld's ideas for reducing stress on the
military.

"Rumsfeld's goal is reshaping the entire institution," said Michael
O'Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who joined one
of the closed-door discussions at the Pentagon. "He is rethinking
everything, not just reconceptualizing warfare."

The Pentagon's archives are filled with annual reviews, quadrennial
reviews and top-to-bottom reviews ordered by previous defense
secretaries ó but which only marginally restructured the department
and the armed services. Mr. O'Hanlon warned that Mr. Rumsfeld's
efforts might founder, too, although he noted that Mr. Rumsfeld
certainly found himself in a powerful position.

With two military victories in two years, Mr. Rumsfeld "doesn't want
to wait for a second term of the Bush administration," Mr. O'Hanlon
said. "He is trying pushing this through, personally, now."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company | Home | Privacy Policy |
Search | Corrections | Help | Back to Top


Yahoo! Groups Sponsor ADVERTISEMENT




Change Links Progressive Newspaper. Act.  Act in Love and Spirit.

Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.





http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/24/international/worldspecial/24TROO.ht
ml?th=&p August 24, 2003


Rumsfeld Seeking to Bolster Force Without New G.I.'s (excerpts)

By THOM SHANKER

ASHINGTON, Aug. 23  Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, seeking to
increase the nation's combat power without hiring more troops, is
poised to order a sweeping review of Pentagon policies, officials say.
It will include everything from wartime mobilization and peacekeeping
commitments, to reservist training and incentives for extended duty.

A senior Defense Department official said Mr. Rumsfeld would order the
Pentagon's senior leadership, both civilian and military, to rethink
ways to reduce stress on the armed forces, fulfill recruitment and
retention goals and operate the Pentagon more efficiently.

In essence, Mr. Rumsfeld will ask the service secretaries and chiefs
and his under secretaries to address how the Pentagon can more
efficiently use its troops at a time when the armed forces are spread
thin by global deployments.

Should Mr. Rumsfeld eventually be forced to expand the military,
whether by unexpected missions, future threats or a Congressional
mandate, the effort should reduce the size of the reinforcements
required, officials said.

The review will be seen in some circles as answering powerful members
of Congress who have demanded more active-duty troops for the
military. Lengthy deployments to Iraq drew scattered complaints from
families of soldiers, and some reservists criticized their extended
call-ups.

A heated debate over end strength is expected after Congress returns
from its recess in September, as powerful voices on Capitol Hill have
taken to op-ed pages to announce their coming fight for more troops.

"We need more troops or fewer missions," Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison,
the Texas Republican who leads the Senate Appropriations subcommittee
on military construction, wrote in The Washington Times this week. "Do
we have enough Army and Marine active-duty members for the post-Sept.
11 era of national security? My view is: We do not."


The debate is about balancing risks. On one side is the risk that
there will not be enough soldiers to carry out diverse missions or
that troops will not re-enlist after exhausting assignments that
degrade their quality of family life and do not leave enough time for
training.

Mr. Rumsfeld's senior aides say that his view does not represent an
antipathy to a larger military in general or to ground forces in
particular. They say he is aware that increased troop levels carry a
number of additional costs beyond pay and benefits: the more troops on
the roster, the more it costs to house them, guard them and equip them
ó and pay them retirement benefits in decades to come.

Some of the arguments made by Mr. Rumsfeld, based on evidence from the
battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, provide only a broad measure for
required troop numbers.

For example, early lessons from those two wars are cited as proving
that the military does not necessarily require "overwhelming force" ó
in numbers ó to defeat an adversary if it brings "overmatching power."
That power includes not only the number of fighters, but also
precision weapons, accurate intelligence, speed of maneuver and joint
missions that combine the combat punch of all the armed services.

Even so, the quick victory over Saddam Hussein has not silenced those
who say more troops are required to stabilize Iraq and win the peace.

The strain on the National Guard and Reserve is of considerable
concern, and officials will analyze how to increase the months
actually served on duty. At present, with the promise of a 30-day
notice of mobilization, ó which in some cases was reduced to less than
a week ó several months of training and a month of demobilization,
some reservists spend only six months on operations out of a yearlong
call-up.

For active-duty troops, the Pentagon will review incentives for
extended deployments.

Mr. Rumsfeld will ask for analysis on a proposed "Peace Operations
Initiative" to create an international force for such operations,
relieving the United States of pressures on its troops for missions
like that under way in Liberia. The American role would emphasize
logistics, transportation and intelligence. In the meantime, the
Pentagon will assess how to pare down its commitments in Sinai, Bosnia
and Kosovo.

Senior officials in recent days convened a number of invitation-only
discussions with retired three- and four-star officers and civilian
analysts to describe Mr. Rumsfeld's ideas for reducing stress on the
military.

"Rumsfeld's goal is reshaping the entire institution," said Michael
O'Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who joined one
of the closed-door discussions at the Pentagon. "He is rethinking
everything, not just reconceptualizing warfare."


With two military victories in two years, Mr. Rumsfeld "doesn't want
to wait for a second term of the Bush administration," Mr. O'Hanlon
said. "He is trying pushing this through, personally, now."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company | Home | Privacy Policy |
Search | Corrections | Help | Back to Top




More information about the Marxism mailing list