Thursday, April 16, 2009

Back to the Future

President Obama has been president for almost 100 days as of this writing (his inaugural date was Jan 20, 2009).  The economic stimulus plan has garnered the majority of press but other decisions are equally important.

First was the pronouncement by Vice President Biden and the Defense Secretary that the US military needs to be restructured to meet contingencies similar to those in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I see two problems with this view.  First, it suffers from the fallacy of basing your tactics on the lost battle fought.  Every single military school out there teaches the error of “fighting the last battle” over again.  Future adversaries have seen how we fought in Iraq            and Afghanistan that means they have the ability to develop counter-measures.  We need to develop new tactics for new adversaries.

The second decision is related to the first.  Secretary of Defense Gates decided to cancel the F-22 based on it being “too powerful”.  Shortly after the decision to cancel was made, the Secretary seemed to back-peddle when he pointed out the technological advances being made by Iran, North Korea, and China.  North Korea subsequently fired a long range missile further questioning Gates’ criticism that the F-22 was too powerful.

These first two decisions caused me some concern as the world is ever changing and it seemed as though the Obama administration was going to sacrifice military advancements because it did not perceive any viable threat.   Secretary Napolitano followed suit by removing “terrorist attack” from her speeches and replaced it with “man-made disasters”.  Collectively the administration seemed to be moving away from active to a passive position.

Then an old-fashioned threat came back to the future; pirates.  Somali pirates had become increasingly aggressive over the last few years but had never taken American hostages.  Secretary Clinton followed the rest of the administration by lamenting the need for a 21st Century solution to pirates.  Shortly after uttering those words, an American crew was captured by Somali pirates.  The captain was taken off the ship, the crew was able to retake the ship from the pirates.  It seemed like the administration was not going to let the Navy send in SEAL team in to rescue the captain.  Much to everyone’s surprise, the President did authorize the SEALs to execute a rescue mission ending with three of the four pirates dead and the captain rescued.

Things were beginning to look up, in my opinion, for the Obama administration.  The President may want to mend fences but he was also willing to protect Americans.  Then Secretary Napolitano released her report warning everyone about the threat of right wing extremists, especially disgruntled veterans.  The report based this warning on the combination of the economy, the first black President, and large number of returning veterans.  The conclusion seems to be that veterans are both a) disgruntled and b) willing to act against to the very government they swore an oath of allegiance.

I resent the report’s conclusion that all returning veterans are disgruntled and willing to commit “man-made disasters”.  Veterans may have more organizational, leadership and fighting skills than the average citizen but they also share another quality that prevents them from becoming a threat to the government; patriotism.  I and every veteran out there swore an oath the protect this country.  We are the last people that Secretary Napolitano needs to worry about.  She needs to seriously rethink her decision to have shared this report.  It is insulting and misleading.

I remember towards the end of the last decade the concern many law enforcement agencies had as the militia movement was growing.  Several of these groups claimed to have found a government report listing former military personnel as being at high risk for committing crimes against the government.  According to these groups, it seemed as though the government feared the very people they had spent so much to recruit and train.



As President Obama nears his first 100 days, I applaud his handling of the pirates but hope he does better with his decisions regarding the security of the nation.

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