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Rethinking the Military

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Take a look at our modern American military, taking form over the last 50 years. All are highly trained professionals, especially in combat and peacekeeping. Peacekeeping. Hmmm, maybe we need to focus on this one. Our men and women who serve no longer need to focus so much on combat as they once did, and instead need to branch more and more into an international police force. This may go against conventional wisdom, but the truth is, we are the world’s police, making sure that human rights violations are minimal (if we weren’t stretched so thin, we could aid Darfur), and that dictators lose power as soon as possible. Used to be the United Nations worked as a police force, as well as a forum for diplomacy. These days, however, the UN has become a rogue nation in and of itself, controled by the power hungry and egotistical.

We’re losing more soldiers after the war in Iraq was declared won than during combat. This isn’t due so much to an increase in insurgents (although undeniably part of the promblem), but the soldiers inability to cope with a national police force mentality. Our job in Iraq has gone from deposing a dictator, to quelling regional conflicts, not something the military is proficient in. The Armed Services would do well to recruit more Police Officers, people who understand complex yet localized conflicts. Rule of law must become the norm in Iraq, and the US Military was trained to bring down the status quo, not to enforce the status quo’s replacement.

I’d feel much safer if we brought the most of the troops home from Iraq, and in their place sent both the LAPD and NYPD. I’m not sure why the military hasn’t begun developing police programs, they’re almost a necessity in this new era in defense. Will we ever see any change? Probably not. But it would be nice if the Defence Department would at least give some thought of change.


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About Andrew Hughes

  • Generally a good point about the focus of the military, but…

    >>I’d feel much safer if we brought the most of the troops home from Iraq, and in their place sent both the LAPD and NYPD.<< Yes, but then we'd have to deal with so many more civilian casualties...not to mention the beatings and gratuitous taserings. Dave


    Tremendous oversimplification on your part; “Our men and women who serve no longer need to focus so much on combat as they once did, and instead need to branch more and more into an international police force.” In Iraq, it is not a question of either or, it is a matter of both, switching from one to the other at a moment’s notice.
    You should look into the concept of the three-block war; one block fighting actively, another block patrolling to deter use both insurgents and criminals, the third block one of pure humantarian assistance and peacekeeping, that is the situation in Iraq.

    The insurgency in Iraq is built many forces, very generally: foreign fighters waging jihad as part of their global terror campaign, Sunni Iraqi holdovers unwilling to cease fighting, religious and nationalist Iraqis, who see our presence as occupiers, and one other group; Iraqis who are not coalition members (ISF or ING) fighting against them but not necessarily for or against us. Now, some of these groups can be dealt with politically or diplomatically, others can only be fought off or killed. Don’t make the mistake that there is a one-size-fits-all solution to this problem, again the 3 block war deals with some of these same issues.
    You have to have a peace in order to have peacekeepers, until then you need soldiers. Frankly, I am astounded that you suggest removing soldiers and putting police officers in their place will somehow establish rule of law, especially in the case of the first group above, they recognize no law but their own, as you can plainly see by every act they perpetrate against Iraqi citizens, and emphasize with every statement they release to the world.
    “I’m not sure why the military hasn’t begun developing police programs, they’re almost a necessity in this new era in defense” Stay in your armchair, general, we’ll handle it. You must be getting most of your news from the 2 minutes of All-is-Lost-Coverage that passes for war coverage. The US DOD as well as coalition forces have been working to establish and Iraqi police force almost from the beginning, those would be the blue-shirted Iraqi men you see being blown to hell by insurgents with car bombs. If the Europeans ever get off the dime, they will be sending addtional personnel to train law enforcement officers in Iraq, (France graciously offered to send one, but every bit helps.) Both Germany and France have also offered to train Iraqi police forces in their own countries as well.

    BTW, the war was never declared over, or won. The end of major combat ops was declared, but that was definitely premature.

  • RJ

    Pepper Spray the insurgents! That’ll teach ’em!

  • “When your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail”.

    America has a very big and impressive hammer in it’s toolbox. Unfortunately it lacks the needle-nose pliers and the adjustable wrench.

  • SFC SKi

    The US military is much more than a hammer, it’s more of a Gerber multi-tool. Remember, the same Marines fighting insurgents in Iraq were also passing out humanitarian aid in Indonesia 6 months later.

  • Who needs pliers and an adjustable wrench? All you need is a pair of vise grips, a flat head screw driver and a big hammer! Maybe some duct tape!

  • Andrew, I’m not sure you understand the definition of “peace-keeping”. The classic peace-keeping model, developed in the 1950’s and 60’s, is basically the intervention of a lightly armed military force that is mutually acceptable to all parties (generally a neutral third party), inserted between the warring parties. The classic peacekeeping situations have been Suez, Cyprus and others.

    Recent years have seen that model, which worked within the context of conflicts not vital to the major players of the Cold War, put under significant strain as there are profound limits to the capabilities and actions that a nominal “peace-keeping” force can do. The breakdown of order in Yugoslavia, the events in Bosnia and Croatia, Somolia, and Rwanda have all revealed the inadequacies and weak points of the traditional peacekeeping model – it only works when everyone wants it to work.

    One of the key problems with any American involvement in peace-keeping activities is that the US is a global player, for better or worse it impacts on almost every issue. Active US involvement way create an environment whereby the parties to the conflict actively try to “suck” in the US to the conflict for various reasons (think of Al Quada’s current active strategy in Iraq).

    That being mentioned I do think that the US might want to consider increasing operatonal training for units such in low-intensity insurgency-type environments, focusing on the lessons learned by some peace-keeping operations etc. My understanding is such that they are already in the process of rewriting the book on using economic and development aid in conjunction with military and police action to improve the situation in Iraq. These are lessons already learned by the Canadians, the Norwegians, the Swedes and other mainstays of peace-keeping operatons over the years, the US would do well to draw on these experiences in building long-term stability as force levels diminish.