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09/17/2004

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» Fight For Me, And I'll Set You Free! from The Left Coaster
There have been numerous stories published of late indicating that the US Military isn't the occupation of choice for America's young people anymore. The reasons are numerous, and the fact that this nation abandons its veterans when they can no... [Read More]

» A Coalition of the Billing from Political Bloviation
The Week reports that the Pentagon has spent $30 billion on contractors in Iraq thus far. Do we really want to outsource war? ... [Read More]

Comments

ali

Well the US military is one of the last bastions of civic minded public service; it’s not surprising that free market zealots want to privatize much of it. It has little to do with efficiency, and a lot to do with ideology and making a fast buck. However Mr Rumsfeld should read his Machiavelli. Mercenaries are in it for the money; they have no interest in bringing wars to a decisive conclusion. If you want to live in an age of endless wars employ soldiers of fortune. It’s almost as foolish as privatizing your prisons…

It’s true though that the US military is a cold war machine much of which is over specialized in battle fighting. It could do with auxiliary units with broader skills like the French Foreign Legion.

1MaNLan

Just read The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire by Luttwak...Interesting that you brought up the Romans! As I read that book it reminded me in an intrusive way...over and over, fair comparison or not, of our own current Iraq situation.

In many ways, Saddam was a typical Roman "client". He carried out the desired policies of his "patron". He provided an army to protect "the frontiers" against incursion (Iran) and to keep his populace under good control. Like many Roman "client" leaders though, Saddam became unmanageable, which for obvious political reasons, could not be tolerated. In went the "Legions" (In our case we unwisely disbanded his entire corps of auxiliaries and replaced them with ours) Finally, the Romans discovered that, from time to time, rebellions and "insugencies" just could not be put down by their legionaries, superb but very specialized troops who were not "designed" to be policemen or diplomats. IN THE END, the Romans had no compunction about "attacking the population base" and outright extermination......Understanding that options are narrowing and that the Iraq situation is "evolving" and indeed, changing us along the way, I pray that this is where the analogy ends.

Oscar

There are some similarities with other empires as well. The English is obvious, since their leaders knew the history of Rome, but also the Ottoman and some earlier Islamic empires were run in similar fashion, except the the odd fact that many of even the top leaders in the Ottoman military were slaves. This suggests that the model may be forced on any country at some point. Interesting question: does the Soviet Empire fit this model? I can think of persuasive arguments on either side.

Don Meaker

I would distinguish between mercenaries and contractors. I would not call the "Pinkertons" and such functions as mercenaries. They guard a finite facility. Normally contractors are not combatants, and are legally restricted to use of arms, if then, only in self defense, or to defend that limited non military mission. Any foe can avoid (as he should, per the Geneva Convention) attacking noncombatants by avoiding that limited non-military function.

Mercenaries are soldiers for hire, and normally care not about ideology. They are unreliable, because they had a history of being hired out from under their prince, and also fought in a very safe (heavy cavalry) way, so they got a really bad reputation in the foolish kreigspiel of the Condittori of Italy.

Mr. Alenel V. Valles

This is a very good critic on how USA military had shown its role in making the world safe from terrorists. I salute your critical analysis of the existing status of American military.

delorese a king

this is not a joke, I am a minister in Oklahoma, I have a man that is 31years old, he is a convicted felon, and had drug problems. I have talked to him about becoming a solider for hire. He his willing to try anything, how do I find out about companies that would hire him. No spam please, only real help needed.

TJM

You left out the planning for the later Pacific invasions as well as the bombing campaigns both in Europe and the Pacific. You also elided the planning and execution of the civilian mobilization during the war. But I digress.

The underlying theory of transformation was actually fairly sensible. In Viet-Nam, the ratio of support to combat soldiers was around 9 or 10 to 1. The attempt to outsource the support function was a fine idea. But,as usual, the implementation was a failure. There were logistics problems in the first Gulf War that weren't fixed by the 2003 invasion. (see the SIGIR report 10/05)

The GAO estimates it costs $100k per soldier for salary,health benefits,etc. That's $150 billion just for the active duty service. The costs of the contractors are much higher and that's before we get to the weapon systems, including the ones like the Marines' new vehicle that doesn't work.

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