Here’s why I don’t trust the Obama administration on national security.

John Brennan is the President’s top adviser on counter-terrorism issues. And he is the President’s fair-haired boy. Dennis Blair recently resigned as Director of National Intelligence largely because he lost a power struggle with John Brennan.

As the top adviser to the President, we would expect Brennan to be an expert on the issue of Islamic inspired terrorism.  Silly us.

No matter how many times terrorist organizations and individual terrorists tell us they were motivated by their religion, and insist they were doing the will of Allah, there’s always some idiot that is nuanced enough to know better than they what their true motivations are. In this case, Brennan is the idiot.

The president’s top counterterrorism adviser on Wednesday called jihad a “legitimate tenet of Islam,” arguing that the term “jihadists” should not be used to describe America’s enemies.

During a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, John Brennan described violent extremists as victims of “political, economic and social forces,” but said that those plotting attacks on the United States should not be described in “religious terms.”

He repeated the administration argument that the enemy is not “terrorism,” because terrorism is a “tactic,” and not terror, because terror is a “state of mind” — though Brennan’s title, deputy national security adviser for counterterrorism and homeland security, includes the word “terrorism” in it. But then Brennan said that the word “jihad” should not be applied either.

I’m not a Christian theologian, let alone an Islamic one. But the plain reading of the Qu’ran makes it clear that the terrorists that claim their actions are blessed under Jihad have a sounder theological leg to stand on than Brennan does:

Qur’an 9:005: So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

Qur’an 4:089: They desire that you should disbelieve as they have disbelieved, so that you might be (all) alike; therefore take not from among them friends until they fly (their homes) in Allah’s way; but if they turn back, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them, and take not from among them a friend or a helper.

There obviously are a huge number of Muslims that do hold the view that Jihad is an internal struggle. So what? Those aren’t the people we concern ourselves with. Because there is a significant number of Muslims that explicitly believe that Jihad is an armed struggle against the infidel, and the US in particular. If our top counter-terrorism official cannot even recognize what our enemy himself proudly proclaims as his motivation, how on earth can we expect him to have any insight into the tactics, techniques and procedures terrorists intend to use.

This goes further than Brennan being a woolly headed idiot. The President not only deliberately chose this idiot, he’s chosen to side with him repeatedly in the face of asinine public statements and sided with him in internal debates over the role of our intelligence agencies in the War on Terror. He’s Obama’s guy, so Obama owns his statements.

I’m all for a little nuance, and outreach to the world community. Better to make friends than enemies. But some people will never befriend us. And the willful blindness to this is going to cost American lives.

H/T: War News Updates

Ed Uhl

I saw this yesterday at War News Updates, but didn’t get a chance to comment.

A bazooka team on Saipan in WWII

We briefly mentioned Ed Uhl as the co-inventor of the bazooka in our post on the Army’s AT-4 rocket launcher. To be frank, I had no idea he was still alive at the time.

Update: And he played a big part in the development of the A-10! What a career.

Logistics, Old School

It’s funny, I’ve had logistics on my mind quite a bit lately.  It’s funny, because I never gave a lot of thought to it when I was in the Army. I was usually on the receiving end of logistics. Other people had to make sure that I was fed and watered, had all the ammo, fuel and spare parts I needed. While I was vaguely aware of how most of it worked, I actually spent most of my time studying other topics, like leadership and maneuver. It wasn’t until after I left the Army I started giving a lot of in-depth thought to the topic. And now, it seems that every time I turn around, I see another lesson on the constraints that logistics impose on a force.

AW1 Tim, whom I normally think of as an Anti-Submarine Warfare guy, is also something of an expert on the Civil War. And he’s got  a great post that shows not only the rations for a soldier in that war, but if you read down to the bottom, shows just how that ration can impose very real constraints on the schemes of maneuver available to a commander.

A Current Reading List

In no particular order, or in fact any rhyme or reason, here’s a look at some of the books on my shelf and on my nightstand:

Rampant Raider– An A-4 Skyhawk Pilot in Vietnam (interesting in its own right, it is doubly interesting because his wartime cruise coincided with my father’s cruise on a different carrier. It is weird reading about strikes that I know my father flew on.)

An Army at Dawn– Rick Atkinson and I may not agree on much, but he’s a hell  of a writer, and the story of the Army in North Africa is well told, if somewhat unsettling.

The Day of Battle– Part Two of Rick Atkinson’s LiberationTrilogy. More great reading.

The Civil War: A Narrative– Shelby Foote brings us the best popular work on the Civil War. It is a wonderful primer on maneuver warfare, politics in war, and the way events control politics. A must read.

The Brotherhood of War– WEB Griffin’s tale of the Army  from WWII to the end of Vietnam. Sure, it’s a guilty pleasure, and I plead guilty to finding it pleasurable. And once you get hooked on this series, you get hooked on all his other stuff. I’ve never been on  a trip to the woods with the Army where copies of his books weren’t being passed around.

Moment of Truth in Iraq– pretty much everyone has Michael Yon on their reading list. Having said that, I was disappointed in this book as it is primarly a rehash of columns. I suppose that is a hazard of a columnist writing a book.

Sailors to the End-Greg Freeman does a service bringing this story of valor to our attention, but the book is somewhat facile. I can’t recommend it to historians, but it is a good introduction to the events of the Forrestal fire.

Thud Ridge– Everyone interested in the air war in Vietnam has either read this book, or should.

There’s a War to be Won– Geoffrey Perret’s must-read about the US Army in WWII.

That’s just a thin slice of the bookshelf. What’s on yours?

Why you should listen to me…

Sweet! Just got touted by the fine folks at Castle Argghhh! As you read my posts, you may be wondering, “what qualifications does our author have to comment and pontificate on matters of such import?”

Well, none, really. I served twelve years in the Army. My career was not by any  means a spectacular success. But it was varied and interesting. I bounced around from one position to another quite often and had a lot of peeks into many facets of the Army life.

Let me say right now, the sum total of my combat experience consists of riding in the back of a Bradley for four days. I have absolutely no awards for valor. The longest deployment I ever made was only 5 months. I have no special training in strategy, no security clearance to look at intel, few contacts giving me the inside scoop.

What I do have is a deep, abiding love for the US Army as an institution. I am certainly not blind to it’s faults, but looking at the history of the Army, with the attendant highs and lows, I am amazed by the number of truly impressive people that have given so much to the service. I mean that in two ways. The young citizen soldier who serves on the front lines, in times of peace, and now, in time of war. People worry about the future of our nation, always bemoaning “kids these days”. I don’t. If you go back and read the letters from the Revolutionary war, they said the same things. We’ve been going downhill for 233 years now-look where its gotten us!

The other folks that have been so impressive to me are the hidden heros. They made their impact not so much on the battlefield, but toiling in relative anonymity in unglamorous staff positions, deciding things like our doctrine (that is, how we fight), how to best organize the Army (you think your business goes through a lot of re-orgs, try tracking 200+ years of re-org charts!), how we equip our forces, and how we train folks. These folks don’t get a parade, and they do get a lot of grief-everyone hates a staff weenie. But without their efforts, we don’t win on the battlefield. I’m not going to put up a lot of posts about the post housing officer, but I do want to look at the roles of people like Gen. Marshall in the pre-WWII days, and the amazing, untold story of how the Army was rebuilt after Vietnam.

A lot of my point here is to make the institution of the Army  more accessible to folks without a military background. I’ve tried to strip away most of the jargon and acronyms so people can understand concepts. By all means, if you have questions, just ask. If I goon the answer, ask again. I’ll keep trying till I get it right.