November 29, 2006
Not a pleasant conversation
A Marine officer, suspecting foul play or terrorism on the recent presidential visit to Hanoi, Vietnam, raised a security alarm after one of his men went missing for more than six hours, U.S. government sources tell ABC News.My guess is he's probably still being yelled at right now.
The missing staff sergeant was a maintenance specialist assigned to the Marine One Presidential Helicopter detail. After a night out drinking with fellow Marines, the specialist "left his hotel on the back of a moped driven by a local national without telling anyone," a Marine Corps spokeswoman confirmed to ABC News.
[ . . . ]
The specialist finally surfaced the next morning, hung over and late for work. According to an official account provided to ABC News by the Marine Corps, he explained, "He had become inebriated and spent the night with the local national."
A spokeswoman for the elite HMX1 Marine Aviation Unit, who declined to reveal the Marine's identity, said, "There would be no disciplinary action because the staff sergeant was on liberty and so technically not AWOL." But she added, "More than likely his commanding officer spoke to him in extremely strong language."
November 10, 2006
231 Years For Our Illustrious Corps
Happy Birthday to all fellow Marines!
"Marines are about the most peculiar breed of human beings I have ever witnessed. They treat their service as if it were some kind of cult, plastering their emblem on almost everything they own, making themselves up to look like insane fanatics with haircuts to ungentlemanly lengths, worshipping their Commandant almost as if he were a god, and making weird animal noises like a band of savages. They'll fight like rabid dogs at the drop of a hat just for the sake of a little action, and are the cockiest sons of bitches I have ever known. Most have the foulest mouths and drink well beyond man's normal limits, but their high spirits and sense of brotherhood set them apart and, generally speaking, the United States Marines I've come in contact with are the most professional soldiers and the finest men I have ever had the pleasure to meet."
--An Anonymous Canadian Citizen
September 7, 2006
Dispatches from the Defense Forum
The Defense Forum of 2006 was an outstanding event and I'd like to thank the US Naval Institute and Marine Corps Association for making it possible for me to attend.
If any Loyal Readers are interested, here are the pieces I wrote from the conference for Pajamas Media:
First Dispatch: about the remarks of Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Giambastiani.
Second Dispatch: about a panel on the progress of the Long War.
The Third Dispatch discusses both the remarks of Tom Ricks, and a panel on the Quadrennial Defense Review.
The final dispatch recounts the final panel, about lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan.
There's lots of good stuff in there!
September 4, 2006
Defense Forum Washington 2006
Tomorrow (Tuesday the 5th), I'll be attending the Defense Forum in Washington, DC, sponsored by the Marine Corps Association and the US Naval Institute, two outstanding professional organizations for the Naval services.
While there, I'll be sending email dispatches throughout the day to Pajamas Media, so look for updates on their homepage.
The schedule of events looks really interesting and I'm especially looking forward to the panels entitled "The Long War: Where Are We Now?" and "Fighting on the Terrorists’ Turf: Lessons Learned in Iraq & Afghanistan and the Gap Between Expectations and Realities".
If there's a chance during the panel discussions, I'll be sure to ask a question or two from the back of the room. If any readers have questions you'd like me to try to address, please send them on to my email account, listed in the sidebar to the right.
I'll be attempting to file my dispatches while using my Motorola RAZR phone in a modem capacity for my laptop. There's a backup if it doesn't work, but it will be pretty cool if it does!
April 18, 2006
FLASH: Marine Sgt to receive Navy Cross
A Loyal Reader emails:
You were one of the first blogs I read as the invasion of Fallujah unfolded. You really made it feel like I was there.I'll hold on releasing the name until I hear more details.
I am writing to inform you that my son-in-law [name withheld] will be receiving the Navy Cross in a ceremony at Parris Island . . .
He earned the award for action on 12/23/04 while clearing houses of weapons and people. His 20 man squad suffered 11 wounded and 3 KIA that day.
To my knowledge, this will be the second award of the Navy Cross during the War on Terror. The first went to my Basic School classmate, Captain Brian Chontosh.
You heard it here first . . . developing . . .
November 10, 2005
Happy 230th to our beloved Corps!
Here's a nice birthday image via Leatherneck Magazine:
September 13, 2005
The Future of the United States Marine Corps
What an action-packed day -- with a cast of great Marines, great foreign policy experts, and an audience that seems distinguished as well. There's something here for everyone: war stories from Bing West, reflections on small wars by Max Boot, all kinds of great insights by Mike Vickers (who has an innocuous position at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Analysis, but who is nonetheless famous to anyone who has read Charlie Wilson's War, because he was the CIA operations officer who planned the arming of the mujaheddin in Afghanistan) lots of laughs as we learn that the funniest man in the Marine Corps is Lieutenant General Sattler, Commanding General of I MEF, and in charge of the Second Battle of Fallujah. Two other generals are present, General Hagee, the Commandant of the Corps, who notes that "paranoia" is the Marine Corps' core competency. And of course, what gathering of Marines would be complete without Lieutenant General Mattis, who says, "After some of my publicized remarks, I'm honored to be invited back to any polite company," and, "I have to make a nod to doctrine, ladies and gentlemen, because I have said on occasion, in the past, that doctrine is the last refuge of the unimaginative. I now find myself responsible for Marine Corps doctrine. That's part of the commandant's way of gaining some degree of revenge over me."
Read the whole thing, if you have the time. If not, keep scrolling here.
The effect on the reader is that of a fly on the wall as some fascinating discussions take place. Going through the document, several issues and concepts come up again and again. What follows are thoughts on three of them.
Three Different Marine Corps
One of the initial presentations was by LtCol Frank Hoffman, a research fellow at the Center for Emerging Threats and Opportunities, a think-tank created by the Marine Corps. Says Hoffman:
There's three different kinds of Marine Corps and the first one is I would call the forcible entry Marine Corps, and it's not the kind of Inchon, or here, you know, the D Day kind of approach. I can make an argument, push back a little bit on what my good friend Max Boot had to say, that there is an argument that can be made, that in the 21st Century there are going to be major power competitions with states who have significant anti-access capabilities and are going to try to keep us out of some particular area, using weapons of mass destruction, missiles, or other cheaper forms of anti-access.Several participants seem to think that storming beaches is an anachronism, but the Marine thinkers were quick to correct them -- that forcible entry may mean bypassing the beach altogether, but still hitting an inland target very hard -- and coming from the sea the whole time, using it as a battlespace and maneuver space. The next Marine Corps, from Col Hoffman:
And I can make an argument that in a strategic competition with such a power, that there are strategic rationales at some level, that you might want to keep. That's why we have a nuclear deterrent, why we have a nuclear force, and why we have some other capabilities in our national arsenal.
It's not that we've used them very much but that they produce a strategic reaction in our opponents, and I could argue that there's a need for forceful entry capability to provide the nation strategic independence, to come and arrive and achieve our interests in some place of our own choosing.
We can argue that it's very good to counter your opponent's strategy, you should focus on your opponent's strategy, and there are strategies or countries out there following an anti-access strategy, and defeating that and defeating their strategy is a means to securing our interests in the future.
Another Marine Corps. Max talked to this. The small wars Marine Corps. This is an option, has some favor amongst some of us. This is a Marine Corps that would be totally postured for the upper left box, the irregular warfare type thing.The capability that Col Hoffman refers to is psychological operations. Not content with the Three Block War, the Marines have invented a fourth block, and like the fourth dimension of physics, it is neither visible nor tangible, but has perhaps the largest affect on physical events. Returning to the second Marine Corps:
This would be a Marine Corps that'd be going back and working within its historical legacy of small wars, in essence, embracing what I would call the "second small wars era," which is how one could define the future environment.
I remember General Krulak, several years ago, talked about the future of warfare, you know, we'd be focusing on the stepchild, the stepchildren of Chechnya, and I would just extend that to it would be the stepchildren of Fallujah, would be the things we'd be focusing on, and that would include extensive urban combat.
We'd be prepared for the savage wars of peace that Max has written so eloquently about. The Marine Corps would not become a contributor--right now we have out little toe, you know, at SOCOM, and there's arguments for maybe sticking a leg in--but this'd be a Marine Corps that might be the major component to SOCOM or at least make a contribution of at least 30,000 Marines to that particular command.
It would also become the support base, in essence, the platform to try to operationalize interagency operations in small wars.
We talk about employing all instruments of national power but there's only really one that can be both deployed and employed and sustained for long protracted conflicts.
This kind of a small wars Marine Corps would be what you would want, if you anticipated what the CIA calls in their future study, "Mapping The Global Future," they talk about a pending perfect storm of intrastate conflict, and in intrastate conflict you have to have an interagency or what I prefer to call a multi-agency capability . . .
The kind of Marine Corps I would like to see, or one could argue for is, in essence, the age of the imperial grunts. There's a new book out by Robert Kaplan, I encourage people to take a look at. He makes a strong argument for this kind of a world. The Marines would be the master's of the four-block war. You've heard about the three-block war? General Gregson's [ph] talked about the four block. It's not just being in one area where you might be fighting, another street you might be doing humanitarian work, in another street you might be doing peacekeeping. In the fourth block, you're employing information operations and trying to influence the perceptions of large populations in urban areas, something we find ourselves doing in Fallujah and Ramadi today. It's something I agree with Max, the Marine Corps is particularly weak in, it has some, you know, not only a reliance on the Army, it's almost a total dependence in that capability.
My Marine Corps, for that kind of a Marine Corps, would be very MEF-centric, I'd get rid of a lot of high-order staffs cause you wouldn't necessarily need those, you need to invest in other areas. I would create four MEFs that would be dedicated, specifically trained, language-qualified and oriented on specific areas of the world.And the third Marine Corps?
I'd have two brigades. Perhaps both of them would be urban-focused and they'd have particular training, particular equipment to excel at urban combat. I'd add some foreign training battalions, perhaps four, and activate two civil affairs battalions and two information operations battalions in the active Marine Corps.
I'd also update the Marine Corps excellent 1940's, you know, doctrine, bring it up to the 21st century, and last, I'd make an extensive investment in human capital which the Marine Corps has not yet made but is looking at very hard in the future, and General Mattis will probably discuss that this afternoon.
The kinds of investments are things that people like "Bing" West have been arguing about for years, that we need to do for infantry squads. We need land forces, we need ground forces, they need to be in sufficient numbers. They need to be rigorously trained, they need to be superbly led by strategic NCOs.
General Krulak made the phrase "strategic corporals" kind of famous. We need to actually make that an operational capability and the Marine Corps has some programs it's just initiated in that area. We need to follow through on those.
We need people with a little older, a little more seasoned judgment, and greater agility to work in a small wars era.
The last Marine Corps as an option, Colonel Hammes might talk about this again this afternoon, Mac Owens talked about it a little bit today, I call it the global war against extremism, after next. I don't like the term 4th generation warfare, so I came up with my own. The GYN type Marine Corps. This is a Marine Corps that's focused on future long-range threats, the hybrid threats, the multi-variant, multi-modal and multi-dimensional kind of an enemy that I expect in the future.What Col Hoffman refers to as "China in the unrestricted warfare area" is a remarkable document published by two senior Chinese colonels in the late 1990s, calling for the ultimate multi-agency joint warfare conception -- to use US terms -- that uses every available element of power to attack a foe -- financial and cyberattacks are key among them. See the PLA Colonels' work here. Back to the third Marine Corps:
It's represented in writings, you see in China in the unrestricted warfare area, what they called beyond limits combined warfare, where they're planning on using all elements of national power against critical infrastructure in the United States, financial targets, military targets and civilian targets. That's a world to think about.
A Marine Corps focused on that particular threat, Colonel Hammes can flesh out a little bit this afternoon, it's one that's really prepared for multi-modality warfare. The Marine Corps would make a major contribution to both Northern Command and for SOCOM. It's not a Marine Corps that's focused just on overseas type applications.Hoffman admits the actual service will be a combination of all three, though the exact permutation is yet unknown:
This is a Marine Corps that does away with blurring distinctions between military and non-military capabilities and gains that occur, home or away. This is a one-stop-shopping kind of an operation.
The Marine Corps would provide JTF headquarters for both SOCOM and for Northern Command for employment. Force structure ads. I would take the concept of information ops or SIOPs and expand it to influence operations, something the Marine Corps is looking at and exploring. So is the Army. I'd stand up four battalions for that, to fill out that capability we don't have.
Marine Corps Reserve has one anti-terrorism battalion. I would create eight, one for each region in the United States for FEMA, and for Department of Homeland Security.
I would have eight expanded sea berths, not the kind of small battalion we currently have, which is a national asset, but again, I would provide one very large asset, again, for each region in the United States, and two nonlethal weapons battalions and field that capability that's so badly needed.
And then to pay for those kinds of things, I would eliminate the forcible entry capability and some of the heavy armor things that exist in the Marine Corps, eventually have to balance off and pay for some of these things.
Again, Colonel Hammes will probably talk to this again today, but in his book, [inaudible], he makes some pretty good arguments. This is not just a different kind of enemy. It's just an entirely different kind of warfare and the nation might want to think about how to prepare for that.
And on synthesis, I'm not sure where I come down on any of those three. I think the debate today might come up with that answer. I think the commandant will give a presentation today and General Mattis will have, will show how the Marine Corps is synthesizing between those three worlds. We just can't focus on one, perhaps, and we can't afford to be that badly off.Too bad we don't have a copy of his slideshow.
We might have to take some operational risk and not be completely optimized for one environment. We have to be strategically smart and make sure we have everything covered. We can't be too badly wrong and completely miss something.
I'd focus on global influence, a phrase I got from Kaplan's book. We need to actually, you know, look at supremacy by stealth. We need to get influence, we need to get people out in the field, we need to get ahead of the game, we need to anticipate crises, not just react with 150,000 people for a number of years after a problem emerges, and there's areas in Africa and areas in Latin America where we can get ahead of the game and not just be reactive to threats.
I'd avoid specialization. I don't think we can have one of those three Marine Corps. You need it all. You need to embrace agility, you need to focus on people's education and their thinking, not just create a single tool for the tool box.
Seabasing, Sovereignty and Imperialism
The argument that the United States is an empire is easily found these days. But what empire worries of the perceptions that force projection will have on neutral populations, or allied countries? Such concerns are at the center of the concept of "seabasing." Here are some participant's thoughts on that:
MR. DONNELLY: I'd like to redirect, briefly, on the idea of sea basing, which if it's not an aircraft carrier and not a floating city, but what in the heck is it? I mean, this has been such an amorphous concept, and Frank, you raised the issue of vulnerability. It does seem to me there's an inherent tension between building something that works effectively or efficiently as kind of a logistics and operational hub and if it's, you know, if it's big enough it's going to be a target, and it's also thereby likely to be vulnerable, particularly to those nations who were developing enhanced strike capabilities.I think that provides a darn good overview of the rationales behind sea-basing . . .
I'm not perfectly sure where the niche that this thing is supposed to fit in, and I'll leave it to you to better define, you know, exactly what it is, but I guess the question is I'm not quite sure why I want one of these things, other than kind of the general, sure, I want an invulnerable place from which to operate; you know. It's hard to say no to that.
LT. COL. HOFFMAN: It's hard to say no. And that's what it is. It's hard to refer to it as an "it" because it's not a single entity, it's an aggregate of capabilities, of different types of ships. Amphibious ships, which I would think would be more the centerpiece. There's the "prepo float" [ph], the Army and the Marine Corps have, and then we have some technologies in high-speed lift, intra theater kind of connectors that can get things ashore, and it's the aggregate capabilities of interfacing those. Right now, we have to take everything to the beach and dump it, and that makes a big target, and if somebody's got WMD or got any capability of attacking things, just lots of IEDs or mines, you pay a cost for operating that way, and that's the way we operate today.
The sea-basing concept in my operational kind of sea-basing concept is much built around kind of existing legacy kinds of ships with advanced logistics capabilities and advanced interfaces between those kinds of ships, so the Army can bring up a ship with a battalion or it can bring a battalion from air and put it on a ship, people can access their gear and they can be deployed, either aviation mode to surface modes and get ashore some place.
And that capability is distributed, the Army, and the Marines, Navy assets working around a theater can be brought together in a package, in a tailored capability that the CINC wants at the time and place the CINC wants it, not because there's a base a thousand miles away, it's the only place that somebody will give us permission to work out of.
This is working against both the tactical and operational vulnerabilities of people that can strike us, and I'd argue that being at sea and moving around at 125 miles away from somebody's shoreline is a lot harder problem than hitting me in some airport that I used to own until the Army or the Marines came in and took it away from me, and now that I know where, exactly where they are, that's the kind of capability I want.
GEN HAGEE: We believe that this nation needs a sea-basing capability. It's a national capability and it's a joint capability. I believe that the Navy and the Marine Corps should be in the lead on this. I mean, this is what we do for the nation. But it must be a national and joint capability.
And I know when I say sea basing, what jumps to your mind? Logistics, stacks of boxes and containers; right? I'm not talking about platforms and I'm not talking about logistics.
Now my very good friend, Vern Clarke, and now Mike Mullin, would say platforms are important and I would agree with them. But from a conceptual standpoint, that's not what I'm talking about.
I'm essentially talking about erasing the traditional barrier between oceans and land, between sea and land, actually using the sea as maneuver space.
Why can't we cross the line of departure at Diego Garcia? And we are maneuvering forces as we approach wherever we need to go. We don't think like that today. I argue that we need to think about that in the future.
To me, sea basing is a set of four capabilities. It's a set of strike capabilities, and strike is just not kinetic weapons from fixed-wing aviation. Strike is putting Marines ashore somewhere. It's a set of defensive capabilities that will protect not only the platforms that are bringing in this joint force but also securing areas as they go ashore. It is a set of logistics capabilities. We call that the sea base. There's no doubt that logistics are really quite important.
And it's a set of command and control capabilities, and depending on the scenario, whether you're doing high-end operations or you're doing low intensity, or even cooperative security operations, those capabilities, the size of the capability set would change. Let's talk about high end just for a moment.
Let's take Operation Iraqi Freedom as an example. What would happen if we did not, if we had not had Kuwait in Operation Iraqi Freedom?
Now some would argue we have to go take Kuwait. I would argue with sea basing, we would not have to do that. We would bring the joint force in to Diego Garcia, as an example, we would put them on ships that we don't have today, but three months ago the Navy and the Marine Corps slapped the table on what type of ships that we need. We know where we're going on this.
And we would bring the joint force in, or the Marine force in to the North Arabian Gulf. We would do the reception staging, onward movement and integration at sea. We'd cross the line of departure at sea, and we would not project combat power into Umm Kasar. We projected all the way to An-Nasariyah. Can we do that today? No. But we can in fact do that and I would argue that is a capability that this nation needs, especially when you think about the anti-access problem that we could have.
We know that we had some access problem during Operation Iraqi Freedom. In my opinion it is going to get worse, not better.
GEN MATTIS: Sea basing. Ensuring joint force access from the sea. Ladies and gentlemen, all politics are local. When I was ordered to go into Afghanistan, I flew in, I took out a map and saw this country called Pakistan between myself at sea and Afghanistan. I flew into Islamabad and spoke with the Pakistani joint headquarters staff.
They were willing to do a lot for us but they had to be very careful, early on, how much they exhibited their support for us. The Pakistanis knew H Hour, D Day and the objective there weeks in advance. They kept it secret. They gave us a rather hidden little fishing village cove that we could use after dark, with an air strip nearby, about ten miles away over the sand dunes.
And we worked together with the. But had we not had those beautiful gray Navy amphibs out there at sea, and been able to hide during the day what was going on, because we'd pull back over the horizon, only come in and use the beach at night, we could not have pulled this off.
All politics are local, not just in Chicago. Everywhere. As I recall, and one of you can correct me on this, i think we offered Turkey a total of $29 billion worth of aid, guarantees, grants, loans, whatever you want to call it, and from a country that stood by us through thick and thin, fought alongside us in Korea, been good friends with us, they were unable to give us one-time passage of one infantry division for $29 billion. It's not because they hate us. It's just tougher nowadays, in today's age, to show that kind of support.
So I think what we're going to see is a continuing need for, an increasing need, excuse me, for sea-based forces. Some things that have been brought up this morning about do we have to be ready to do an Iwo Jima? Ladies and gentlemen, when you see those pictures of Iwo Jima's beaches, that's as good as the technology allowed us to do in those days.
Today, if I'd had the MV22, I wouldn't have stopped at Rhino going after the Taliban. I'd a gone straight into Kandahar and collapsed them a month and a half earlier, and created even more a sense of despair on them. We're mostly out to break the enemy's will, not to kill people, and so the new capabilities from the sea are going to threaten more of our enemies, reassure more of our friends and do no harm to those relationships.
Information Warfare: The Fourth Block
Many of the participants discussed new cultural awareness initiatives going on within the Marine Corps, in an effort to grow a force that is more in tune with its operating environments. New language and cultural immersion classes in Quantico are one part, making every officer study a particular region of the world and its languages is another. But on a media front, here are some exchanges about shaping perceptions.
BING WEST: On the other hand, I will say that there are two things that converge together that any operation in the future is going to face that I believe that the senior operational staffs must take account of in a way that they did not in Iraq, and the first is that we are not a united country in war fighting, we are not, and we are not going to solve that in our political system.Well, that's all a little too much to qualify as a summary, but hopefully those portions flow together pretty well. A few more excerpts tomorrow!
If we go to war, one has to expect that the longer that war goes on, the stronger that those who are opposed to the war in the first instance will become, and therefore, there is an imperative to take time into account when you are doing your operational planning.
The second aspect that I think is even more dramatic is the information war. Fallujah in April, we had our butts kicked by al Jazeera and it caused fecklessness at the high levels. We can expect that any time this notion of information war where we thought we were on top of it, we really weren't, and to a large extent I would argue that overall in Iraq, even today we are losing at that information war level where we pat ourselves on the back and say we're so good.
So I would say that these two challenges feed into one another and any senior operational staff that's going to undertake a campaign that has not looked at this much more rigorously than we have today will be failing in its duty in the future.
MR. HOFFMAN: George Hoffman, adjunct faculty at George Washington University.
Mr. West, you mentioned the fact that we are losing the information war and I would agree with that. I think the reason we're losing it is because a lot of the press consciously decides not to report good things, individual acts of heroism, humanitarian activities, infrastructure improvements and things like that.
To paraphrase Winston Churchill, the worst kind of a press is a free press, except for all the others. We have to live with the press we have.
My question to you, sir, and also to General Sattler and also to you if you'd like to answer is, how do we put forward to the press all of the good things that are happening in a manner such that it will compel to report them?
MR. WEST: General Mattis quoting--has said the noblest deeds if left unsung go unnoticed. I believe for the United States Marine Corps, for instance, I came in because of my uncles but also because I always was reading his book Follow Me about the 2nd Marine Division. So we all have books as something we've gone back to.
It does concern me that in this war our soldiers and Marines are portrayed more as victims and all the heroes that we have out there like this Corporal Connors or this wild man we have now down in Quantico, Captain Oshkosh, is that how you pronounce his name? His bravery is extraordinary. We don't hear about them with some exceptions for a while, but I think I don't have an answer for that. I think it has a lot to do with the editorial boards. I just think it requires constant pinging away at people.
I meant something larger, sir, relative to the information war. What I meant was, at a strategic level before you go into battle when you're looking at something and you're saying what's going on here and figuring it out strategically. The classic example in Iraq is, to a large extent, the radical imams in Anbar Province hijacked the religion and put it on the side of the Sunni insurgents. So they attack you yelling God is Great and the Iraqi security forces to a large extent do not have a corresponding rallying cry. That makes a big difference.
It's that ability also to anticipate what's going to happen on the battlefield as it's going to be portrayed because every battle now is seen around the world within 24 hours. I think that we just have to think more creatively or put some of the more senior people to work on that dimension of the problem rather than the individual press stories themselves.
GENERAL SATTLER: I realize we're short on time, but very quickly, during the first Fallujah fight, the courage, the valor and the tactics were there to actually probably roll Fallujah up in you could guess 5 days or 4 days or another week. But what happened was, it was already mentioned, the information operations campaign painted such a bleak picture in some cases of B-roll or backup roll that was not even in the town of Fallujah, it was shot in other parts of the country, it was dated, pictures of people going into hospitals.
You can say all you want, once the enemy throws the first punch, it's like a boxing match, if you're on your back in the information operations war, you can throw punches all day long and they won't even reach the opponent's knee.
We took a lot of the lessons learned and as we approached the second fight for Fallujah, it was more deliberate where the prime minister was on board, he put some emergency law into place, gave us all the things that we knew we needed to have ahead of time. One of them was not the information operations because you're allowed in information operations to put spin on, et cetera, but the public affairs side which goes to the part of your point, we had 91 embedded media that came out and that stayed. You had to sign up for that. You couldn't just blow in, grab and story and blow out. You had to come, you had to work with the unit head of time, you had to get to know the unit. Then you cross the line of departure, you live with them and you stayed with them, and we would facilitate getting all your footage, all whatever you had to press back to the home front, we would facilitate you doing that.
That transparency, when we went in, when the enemy then attempted to come up with the back roll of civilian tragedy, of chaos in the streets, we had actual folks with cameras shooting, as Mr. West said, real-time footage that showed the streets were clear, there was no humanitarian crisis, it was mano a mano combat, it was tough, but there was not the civilian and collateral damage that was projected in the first one.
I'm a big believer, firm, firm believer, that you got to have the media with you. It's great. And the closer you work with them and the more transparent you are, expect to get the bad because it's going to happen, but demand that also the good be placed out there.
It's just hard when the fight ends, and now you go into the reconstruction phase that cataclysmic event--that combat is not there. So it's just human nature that the 91 rapidly fell off after we got to the southern side of the town and swept through.
Now you're building a town council. There's something that ought to be on the front page of the paper. It ought to be because it's critically important. We got the water out of the streets. The electricity is now in grid 4, it's heading to grid 5. These are all great things that motivate and energize the Iraqi people, but as hard as we want to try, those kinds of things don't stop you when you're clicking through your channel changer or make you grab a paper and buy it.
As a nation we have to understand there's good stuff going on out there. Our responsibility as the folks that are out there to continue to press stories forward to have our public affairs put it out there hanging on the Internet, hanging on the Web and somebody will pick it up eventually and the story will be told. That's the best I can give you on it.
MR. KAGAN: I might comment on that a little bit, too. I'm generally agreeing very much with what General Sattler and Mr. West said about this. I think the embedded reporters are critical and I think it's critical for a number of reasons. I think not only does it give the reporters the opportunity to get the right story, but it also acclimates the reporters to dealing with the military and helps to bridge a gap that had developed in American society between the media and the military, and I think that we've gone a long way in this last war toward bridging that gap and that's something that needs to be continued.
It is of course natural and also unfortunate that a lot of the embeds go home or go away when major combat operations stop and they don't cover things that are more prosaic like building sewers and hospitals and so forth which is perfectly understandable.
I think there is something that the military and the administration can do that would help in this regard. That is, to the extent that we allow the criterion of success in Iraq to be measured by either day-to-day casualties or military operations per se, we're going to be losing the info war. When you're dealing with an insurgency and what you're trying to do is establish a stable new regime, any military operation that is being undertaken is pretty much bad. What you're trying to get to is a situation where there are no military operations being undertaken and the country is peaceful.
If the highlight is on the violence and if the administration is focused on here is our military strategy and this is how we're doing all of this and this is how the military is going to succeed, I think we're going to have a problem winning this argument. I think the focus needs to be on this is the political program, this is the political progress that's being made, this is how we're going to measure success along those lines.
I would say in all fairness there is a problem there, too, because the Iraqis have a certain way of tending to negotiate through their political problems that creates a sense of constant crisis and near disaster even though it almost invariably works out at the end, and the media has shown itself to be very skillful at focusing on the constant crisis, near disaster and not on the fact that it works out at the end.
I think that the administration and the military could assist with this if we focused a little bit less on the fact that we've got warriors fighting insurgents and a little bit more on the fact that we've got these things going on and our own thinking and what we're saying.
If you want to add to that you can, or we can go to the next question.
GENERAL SATTLER: That goes back to the information operations theme. The theme that's developed at the top that cascades down will be the theme that the warriors on the ground will speak to when afforded the opportunity. But we all know you put a soldier, a Marine or a sailor in front of a microphone or an airman, they're going to tell you what they believe. They're not going to go to some theme and figure out what's going on, they're just going to tell you what's on their mind. That's another great reason to have embeds out there because you get ground truth and it has credibility.
Somebody who sits up here on a mike in a uniform who has a book in front of him sounds like there's a party line, but there are no notes on my book. I can swear. But when you get a young warrior who just speaks from the heart enthusiastically, I think that the nation and the international community really believes that that individual is, he or she, being sincere and just laying it out from their perspective, so I agree.
MR. : Just two small questions picking up on things that have already been said.
One was on the question of why aren't there more heroes coming out of our current wars. I think Bing and the General are absolutely right in talking about the lack of interest in a lot of the media in reporting on this, whereas they'd rather report on Jessica Lynch and portray soldiers or Marines as victims.
I think there is also some responsibility here on the part of the military as well because I think there is a deep reluctance in the military to promote individuals over the larger unit over the larger service. I'm wondering what is the Marine Corps doing to promote its own heroes and to make the public aware of its own heroes coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan? And why isn't there anything comparable to the bond drives that Audie Murphy undertook in World War II, the kind of publicity that Sergeant York got in World War I or previous Marines like Smedly Butler or Chesty Puller achieved? Is that all just based on society or is the Corps or is the Army or other militaries institutions taking comparable publicity campaigns to let the public know about these heroes that we have?
The other question I have is we've been talking a lot about Iraq and I don't want to get this completely off on Iraq, but I would be curious given the vast wealth of expertise on Iraq that we have sitting on the panel there for your comments about what are the top two or three things that we could be doing better, that the Marine Corps could be doing better to win the war or the U.S. in general could be doing better to win the war, and especially on the subject of standing up the Iraqi forces, the very interesting point about American advisers not having control over the career paths of the officers that they're tutoring.
I'd be curious if there are other things, and if you want to expand on that in terms of what could we be doing differently to better win the war.
GENERAL SATTLER: On the promoting our own heroes, from the time you come into any of our armed services, I won't speak for the Army, the Air Force or the Navy, but I know it's so, but in the Marine Corps we preach selfless service and you take the personal pronouns out of any sentence. The word is only used in I screwed up, don't look any further than me to find out why this didn't go right.
But when it's something that's good, something that happens that brings glory upon the unit, no one wants a leader up front that said look what I did. It is immediately passed on to those inside the command, wait a minute, I just happened to be in this place at this time, but where the rubber hit the road, where the door was kicked in, where the individual was cared for, where the call for fire came from, was out here, and we believe it.
It's not phony. It's just the way you build a command. It's the way people want to fight for each other. They don't want to fight for me or I, they want to fight for us. We don't do things as leaders for me and to self-promote, we do it for the organization because we really believe in the organization.
It sounds schmaltzy, but it's the truth. It is the damn truth. You can go in any unit that has a self-serving leader and you can smell it, you can sense it, and you know it's there before you even get the second leg in the door. You can go into a unit that's selfless that has built this kind of an energy, this kind of a bond. Why does somebody run from the safest place they're ever going to be in their life and run down the street to grab someone they know is Lance Corporal Brown who grew up in Texas and I grew up in Maine and we've known each other for 4 weeks of training together, but that's my fellow Marine that's part of the team and I'm going to go this?
We do this. When we have Silver Star ceremonies, Bronze Star with Combat V, we hold ceremonies because warriors want to see those who excelled and they want in their little culture to pat them on the back and to thank them. Every time you do that, it's a humbling experience to see these young men or young women standing there giving you a thousand reasons why this should be broken into 400 parts and passed out.
That's part of our problem, it's a great problem to have, but that's part of the problem, and that we don't even own a horn and we shouldn't own a horn, let alone take it out and start playing it. Somebody else has to play that horn for us.
I will tell you, we, not me personally, but we create that environment where those warriors do it because it's the right thing to do and because their fellow warriors are counting on it. So we're our own worst enemy in self-promoting those who do great things.
We'll take a look. It's probably being looked at. I know the Commandant will be here and General Mattis will be here a little later. I'm probably just out on the edge of the empire and there's probably some things being done. What I'd like to see is some of these unbelievable tales of woe and daring to make you look at and go this individual was delivering my newspaper 18 months ago, couldn't hit my front porch twice in a year, and look at this. Look at what they just did in combat. Hit, fell down the stairs, got back up, knew Lance Corporal X was still on the upper landing, threw a hell fire and brimstone, continued the attack, threw two grenades, one came back, three times knocked down the stairs, still; when we get up, get away from me, I got a Marine up there I got to go take care of. That's over and over and over again documented in citations.
So it's there. We just have to take a look at how we market it. I'm so fired up I can't remember the other question.