Today’s column was inspired by one last week from friend and fellow columnist who shares this space with me on alternating Tuesdays, Joan King.
She pointed out that President Bush’s closest national security advisers who’d served with the first Bush had been advocating and actually planning for war since 1998.
Those advisers — Cheney, Rice, Rover, et al — couldn’t have been making the actual plans. They weren’t in office. Give the preceding Clinton Administration national security team some positive credit. With an overwhelming majority of Americans never having served in the military, much less at the higher command and staff levels, it’s logical for most not to know what type of detailed war planning goes on deep in the bowels of the Pentagon every day. They’re not dumb or ignorant, just haven’t been exposed and/or aware of it.
We never know when or where our vital national interest may be so threatened that military action is required. Intelligence (CIA) constantly monitors situations worldwide for that first existence. If we wait until learning of that existence to begin planning for action, we’ve lost or are in a battle for our lives, a la Pearl Harbor.
Our military establishment has a large, highly classified planning section working daily on making detailed plans for responding appropriately to every conceivable situation in every corner of the earth, even beyond. These plans include identifying the types and numbers of troops likely to be needed, logistics of getting the necessary equipment, troops and other support on site and sustaining them as long as necessary.
Active duty and reserve units are continually training to meet their specific duties if called upon. They don’t know the overall plans, just their particular roles.
Even they sometimes wonder why they’re doing what they’re doing. An example would be the training Col. Paul Tibbetts’ group went through before learning their actual mission would be dropping the first atomic bomb.
I’d give you odds we have such plans on file being constantly updated for various situations in friendly, neutral and hostile countries.
In a political campaign it’s unfortunately and increasingly commonplace for a candidacy advocating abandoning the fight and placing all blame on the incumbent party to accuse it of ill-motivated actions.
Plans seldom can be executed exactly as scripted. Conditions change, requiring plans to adjust. Intelligence and situations on which plans are based can be faulty or misinterpreted.
Just think. Many a family’s financial plans have been upset or gone bust because of changing conditions, unexpected health issues, natural disasters, etc. We have to adjust accordingly.
The military and political administrations to which it responds are no different.
This war is vastly different. In wars past, our enemies were nation-states. While the activities in this war are in nation-states, the actual war is against an intangible, loosely organized terrorism with diverse interests.
No rules of engagement such as the Geneva Convention exist. We’re having to engage by ear, by trial and error. When you demand no errors in such a situation, you demand perfection that humans simply don’t possess.
Incidentally, if you want to learn how terror organizations differ, are organized, cooperate, are trained, financed, etc., you might consider taking the terrorism course I’m teaching at Brenau’s Bulli program this fall.
Write me at the address below or contact Bulli for more information.
Ted Oglesby is retired opinion page editor. He can be reached at P.O. Box 663, Gainesville, GA 30503. His column appears biweekly and on gainesvilletimes.com.