Sunday, July 10, 2005



In the cowboy movie, Silverado, Kevin Kline is talking to the part owner of a saloon. He adores her as an honest, kind, and special person: a mother/sister figure. It has been established that Kline is one of those moral cowboys who is somewhat of a renaissance man. And, those he cares about, he really cares about. Not to mention he is a person to be feared in a gunfight. The bad guy who was once his riding partner has threatened to do harm to Kline's friend. A battle is raging over right and wrong: cattle barons versus the little guys. Kline's friend realizes the reason that he has not taken sides is because he fears for his friend. She says to him, "If," and she names the bad guy, "Cobb, is dead, he can't hurt anybody," thus giving Kline permission to do what he has to do.


No one needs me to tell them that things have changed for all of us since that fateful day in September, 2001. We see it in everything and the recent tragic bombings in London show us anew. Terrorism is a way of life! And, we have a choice on how we are going to deal with it.

We have chosen to take the war to the terrorists. An unpopular war to many Americans but one that undeniably is the right approach to me. It is a strategy and whether it is a somewhat selfish philosophy or not, terrorism has not come back to our shores since 9-11. So, is it working? I think so with a price.


My complaint about the Iraqi War all along is not the fact we are waging it--at some point Saddam would have had to be taken out. He was insane surrounded by lunatics. To me, our timing was off, and we mismanaged the aftermath in such a way as it is almost embarrassing when you think of the smart people we have in our country. To ignore the obvious: securing the borders, the storehouse of weapons, the national treasuries, disbanding the Army and totally not understanding the mind of the Muslim, just to name a few. It was almost as though the planners sat around some table and said: "How can we screw this up?"


We still do not have the right mix of soldiers in Iraq and there appears to be nobody listening to the many voices dealing with this. I am constantly reading articles by this very smart guy, John Arquila, a Professor of Defense Analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. Always, his articles have a disclaimer: "Views do not reflect official defense department policy." Obviously not because they make too much sense. He advocates among many things: small teams of Special Forces troops who can hunt down the terrorists.


I echo his philosophy from our experience in Vietnam with some expansion. "Uncle HO" realized that he could wait us out as long as we fought the Vietnam War with conventional soldiers. The American Army in Vietnam was a good one that fought bravely but they were conventional soldiers. Simply stated, the American public would not stand for the war to go on forever. If Vietnam had WW ll front lines or even like Korea, conventional soldiers could have done the job posthaste. However, Vietnam and now Iraq are not conventional. The VC operated among the populace: we couldn't tell foe from friend.

Sound familiar? In Iraq, the complaint of our soldiers is that they know that often when the insurgents strike, they then hide among the populace. Very frustrating. What we need in Iraq as we did in Vietnam are unconventional soldiers: those who will fight the terrorists at their own game: hit and run, chase them down, equip the populace to help, train the police and mostly be unrelenting both in the fight and our resolve to stay till the job is done.


Special Operations troops are volunteers, they are experts in explosives, living off the land, weapons, and they know how to endure. They are the elite of the elite. And, they know how to train indigenous forces. Older and more experienced, these soldiers love this sort of stuff; they are Rangers, Navy Seals, Green berets--they are what are affectionately called, snake eaters. This is what we need in Iraq. And, it is what Professor Arquilla is suggesting but like so much in this war, nobody is listening. God bless us. kt