All the Rhetoric About Military Families …

Tonight, on the first night of the Democratic party’s national convention, Michelle Obama has continued her appeal to the families of people in the military service as well as those service members themselves for votes.

There is no doubt that military families are now under a lot of stress. Since Congress began reaping it’s “peace dividend” in the early 1990’s, the military, as far as it’s human component is concerned, has been downsized and, to a large degree, neglected.

Michelle Obama has made a lot to do over the plight of military dependents, expressing concerns for their situation and pledging that she and her husband will do everything they can to improve their conditions.

One thing that will do more to relieve the current and recent past conditions of military families hasn’t been mentioned by the Obamas or John McCain that I know of. It is also one of the major blunders of the current Bush administration.

During World War II, the combined manpower of the military services was about 11 million active duty personnel. During the Korean Conflict it was about 3.5 million servicemen and women. During the Vietnam era, military manpower peaked at about 3.2 million members. After the official end of the Vietnam war, the military was downsized to about 2 million members and stayed at this size until the end of the first Iraq War. After the first Iraq War, military manpower was downsized to about 1.5 to 1.6 million members. Currently, and during the extent of the current Iraq War, military manpower has stayed in the range of 1.375 to 1.4 million members.

Insufficient manpower is the major cause of the stresses being placed on military families. Active duty members have had to serve as much as 15 months in the war zone with very short reassignments outside of that area. The United States is unable to adequately man two war zones in Iraq and Afganistan, adequately fulfill its other world wide obligations and has been unable to give an adequate or appropriate response to the recent Russian invasion of the country of Georgia.

Although President Bush called for a significant increase in the number of combat brigades in his last State of the Union speech, review of current manpower statistics show no response to that call for increasing military manpower with an actual decline for several months in the number of active duty personnel after the speech.

I have a daughter whose spouse is currently serving on active duty. One of his major complaints is the lack of adequate personnel to get jobs done, feeling like he is having to do the work of three people.

One of the things that I have noticed living in a community that has had a large military presence over the years, is the fact that, upon talking to various people, many jobs that were once filled by active duty personnel, during my time of military service, are now filled by civilian employees or civilian contractors. My daughter and her husband have noted that these people are frequently uncaring and unresponsive to the needs of the active duty personnel. There is no substitute for having an onbase position filled by a person who can understand and sympathize with the needs of the active duty member and his family and no one can appreciate those needs better than another active duty person or a member of a dependent family.

All of the sophisticated weaponry is no better than the individuals who man and maintain them and the wellbeing of these people should be the number one priority of the government. Adequate manpower can improve the perception of wellbeing among active duty personnel and their families and no amount of improved benefits or improved living conditions will be adequate if the active duty personnel are understaffed. All of the rhetoric and even some fulfilled promises will be to no avail if the working conditions of the military personnel are compromised and made difficult or impossible by a manpower shortage.

The first thing that any administration has to do to improve the conditions of military personnel and their families is to re-establish a reasonable size in manpower to the military, one that will address all of the current needs as well as an adequate number to provide an adequate buffer for unanticipated emergencies.

After all, this is the purpose of having a military force. Having a military which is understaffed and undermanned defies the logic of having a standing military force in the first place.

The United States should, at least return to its manpower of the 1980’s of about 2 million active duty personnel, and, with the current world threats as well as trying to conduct two wars, Congress and the executive branch should strongly consider enlarging the military to even greater numbers.

The lack of NATO support both in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the current reluctance of its members to stand up to Russia should show that it is only wishful thinking if not a grave and serious blunder to count on others to fulfill our shortfalls in manpower. This only emboldens and encourages adversaries of the United States like Russia is currently showing herself to be.

Susan Rice Accuses McCain of Worsening Georgian Situation

Fox News reported this morning that Susan Rice, a senior foreign policy advisor for the Obama campaign, on MSNBC last night accused Senator John McCain of aggravating the Russian invasion of the country of Georgia, stating that he shot from the hip.

susan rice « FOX Embeds « FOXNews.com

Senator McCain, unlike Senator Obama, has been a long time friend of the president of Georgia,

Mikheil Saakashvili, and has stated in recent interviews that he has been in daily contact with the president of that country. Senator McCain has also stated that he has been a ardent supporter of the emerging democracies which have been created from the former client states of the USSR.

Georgia (country) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

While Senator Obama has been on vacation in Hawaii and President Bush has been at the Beijing Olympics games, Senator McCain has been actively campaigning as well as staying on top of the situation as it developed in Georgia.

While Ms. Rice has impressive credentials,

Susan E. Rice – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

, they don’t necessarily guarantee either an accurate or realistic assessment of world situations.

Historical perspective has repeatedly shown that weak responses to Soviet goals and aggression have been met with more overt aggression. There is no reason to believe that the current regime, led by former KGB agent, Vladimir Putin, would react any differently.

From Truman’s Berlin Airlift in response to Stalin’s ground blockade of that city to Kennedy’s Cuban blockade in response to Kruschev’s placement of strategic nuclear missiles in Cuba, positions of strength have been the only position that Soviet or Russian leaders have respected.

Positions perceived as weakness such as Kennedy’s meeting with Kruschev in Vienna or Jimmy Carter’s unilateral disarmament policies have only been met with more aggressive actions on the part of the Soviet or Russian leadership.

John Kennedy was naive in his initial dealings with the Soviet leadership which led to the construction of the Berlin Wall and the USSR’s decision to place nuclear missiles in Cuba. Jimmy Carter was equally naive by reducing America’s naval surface fleet by nearly two thirds.

Quite frankly, the entire process of downsizing the US military as a “peace dividend” which began after the end of the first Iraq War under the first President Bush and vigoriously continued under the Clinton administration and Bush II’s administration has appeared to be a serious error since the beginning of the current Iraqi War.

Russia’s rapid deployment of large numbers of troops into Georgia as well as it’s blockade of the Georgian coast within 24 hours of the onset of hostilities with surface ships based in the Ukraine on the other side of the Black Sea as well as the cyber attacks on Georgian government websites which began weeks before the Russian invasion of that country readily show that the Russian strategy was well thought out and planned long before Georgia’s attempt to regain control of South Ossetia, part of its sovereign territory, which lies in the heart of the country. The Russian tactic of issuing passports to citizens of a foreign country to use “protection of Russian citizens” is a poorly veiled excuse for it’s aggressive invasion of a sovereign nation.

Coordinated Russia vs Georgia cyber attack in progress

It has become very evident that the Russian leadership has ambitions of restoring its control over the sovereign nations of eastern Europe even though the old Soviet government is gone.

The United States and the other countries of NATO need to decide if they are going to determine the future of Europe or allow Russia to reassert it dominence in eastern Europe, in essence reestablishing the previous Soviet or Russian empire.

Much has been said about excluding Russia from the G8 as a response to their actions. Further action needs to be taken. NATO and the EU need to put all of the countries in eastern Europe on a fast track to membership which will draw a line in the sand at the very borders of Russia. Otherwise, the Russians will take the liberty to draw their own line in the sand at a position of their choosing, a process they’ve already begun.

In addition the United States needs to begin the painful process of rebuilding its military to a capability that will deter aggression by foreign governments or any other entity. Ronald Reagan knew and proved that peace can only be achieved from a position of strength.

Susan Rice has impressive credentials. So does Barack Obama, So did Jimmy Carter and John Kennedy. Their impressive credentials and intellect didn’t keep aggressive leaders like Nikita Kruschev or Leonid Brezhnev from chewing them up and spitting them out … figuratively speaking. It won’t keep people like Vladimir Putin from doing the same to Ms. Rice and Senator Obama.

I’ve known a number of very intelligent people during my lifetime who didn’t have the sense to get in out of a shower of rain or a thunderstorm. I’m really wondering about Ms. Rice. It could be that the person who inadvertently shot from the hip was Susan Rice and not John McCain. Maybe she needs to think a little bit more before she speaks.

Ms. Rice’s comment that John McCain has aggravated the situation in Georgia sounds overtly political as well as simplistic and naive.

Obama Refuses to Give U.S. Troops Credit for Surge Success

While admitting that the surge has improved conditions on the ground in Iraq, Senator Barack Obama repeatedly refused to give American troops any credit for the improvements.

Instead, he totally evaded that issue by playing “what if”; i.e., we don’t know what would have happened if the surge hadn’t occurred … and steadfastly sticking by his vote against the surge. While adhering to his vote against the surge he also refused to apply a quantitative estimate of the effect of American forces on the improvements in Iraq while alluding to the possible effects of the Sunnis rebeling against Al Quaeda and a “so-called” cease fire called by Al Sadir supposedly restraining his Shiah militia.

Interesting.

Barack Obama supports the troops, but he refuses to give them any credit for improvements in Iraq. That must be a tremendous morale booster … knowing that someone who may be the next president of the United States has no capacity to assess troop effectiveness in a war zone which intreprets into a total lack of support … or respect … for the efforts of each individual soldier, marine, airman or sailor in Iraq … not to mention his own inability to deal with reality beyond his self-perception perpetually fed by a frenzied horde of sychophants.

Barack Obama’s ego is so fragile that he can’t recognize others efforts if their efforts … in some way … in his imagination … threaten his self image.

Well … now Barack wants to play “what if” to justify his decisions. That sounds like it’s a few steps away from a delusional madman hunkered down in a bunker in Berlin giving orders to move imaginary divisions while the city was being bombed into rubble, decaying flesh and dust around himself.

An extreme analogy?

Not really … just an assessment of a narcissistic personality and where it can go in extremes.

Now, don’t forget … this isn’t a person who wants to get the nation out of wars. He wants to get the nation out of a war that HE opposed. But … he wants to increase American presence in Afganistan … which he perceives as HIS war and wants to take it into Pakistan according to HIS assessment … but he disagrees with current military leaders who have been successful in extremely challenging situations. These military leaders are very different from Wesley Clark or “Tony” McPeak.  Remember, Wesley Clark commanded a “nonengagement” and McPeak had the responsibility of stripping the Air Force from 200 wings to 90 wings. Obama sees the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan as a failed Bush policy rather than the failure of NATO and the European community to uphold their commitment.

Don’t get me wrong about Afghanistan. I am totally for cleaning up the mess there … the fairly stable situation that we left for the Europeans and NATO to manage and the one which they’ve totally screwed up.

It will be interesting to see how he will now approach the European community. Will he be kissing European derrieres or chiding them for back stabbing the United States by failing to do their job in Afghanistan? That will be one defining difference between a politician and world leader.