J, the Pentagon has only regained their focus – TTG


“Dig a hole, cover it with a couple of doors and then throw three feet of dirt on top… It’s the dirt that does it… if there are enough shovels to go around, everybody’s going to make it.”

– T.K. Jones, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Strategic and Theater Nuclear Forces (1981)

Throughout the post-WWII period the Pentagon and the vast majority of our countrymen were focused on Russia in the guise of the Soviet Union as our grand nemesis. Remember containment, roll back and the evil empire? I remember the frequent air raid drills in Mrs. Bender’s first grade class. I remember the deployment of Pershing II MRBMs to Europe and all that talk of surviving a nuclear war. At one time I was ready to jump into southeast Poland and take on the headquarters of the Soviet Northern Group of Forces. The Air Force assured us that they could get us in. We weren’t given an exfiltration plan. We were given the odds of surviving past thirty days on target… one in ten. Those were crazy-assed time filled with crazy-assed talk and crazy-assed ideas.

When the Warsaw Treaty Organization and then the Soviet Union collapsed, there was a collective and cathartic relaxation of tensions. But all that talk about a peace dividend made the Pentagon uneasy. The common saying was that war is hell, but peacetime is a mutha fukka.

The attack on 9/11 was more than a shock to our country. It was the arrival of a new nemesis, a new evil empire for the Pentagon to focus its energies on, a new reason to be. The new focus required new resources. Everything was justified by the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). All the military expansion from equipment, to manpower and overseas deployments was justified with four letters… GWOT. Unfortunately this massive military expansion was accompanied with an unhealthy singular focus on a peculiar implementation of counterinsurgency doctrine. 

With the half-hearted and half-assed winding down of our commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Pentagon rightly turned its attentions to rebuilding our conventional warfighting skills and capabilities. Human nature dictated the naming of a new nemesis, a peer nemesis to justify the rebuilding of these long neglected capabilities. DIA brought out the old “Soviet Military Power” and renamed it “Russia Military Power.” It’s just as glossy and paints the new Russians just as formidable and dangerous as the old Soviets. It’s all marketing to extract greater resources from Congress. GWOT has been replaced by Putin’s Russia.

It is doubly unfortunate that DOD’s identification of Russia as a peer nemesis coincided with the public hysteria surrounding Russian interference in the 2016 election. It makes for a dangerous situation, but no more dangerous than it was back in the days of “With Enough Shovels.” 


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10 Responses to J, the Pentagon has only regained their focus – TTG

  1. turcopolier says:

    When I was at DIA there were basically two parts to the organization; one fought wars and the other justified the budget to Congress. pl

  2. John Merryman says:

    I think there is a much deeper force at work. Where would Wall Street and Capitalism be, without trillions of dollars worth of government debt to trade around, as a foundational asset?
    When society was small, economics was reciprocal, because it was more efficient to share, than to store value, but as it grew, accounting became necessary and that is the role of money. The medium of exchange that lubricates the process.
    The problem is assuming it can be stored value. When it’s pulled from circulation, more has to be added, but excess money is fictional contributions to the overall account. So we keep it in circulation by investing it. The problem with that are limits in the economy to absorb productive investment.
    So government borrowing fills a big part of that gap, even if it amounts to a Ponzi scheme, in the long run.
    There are ways forward though. To use the body as an analogy, blood is the medium and fat is the store. We don’t store fat in the circulation system, as the result would be clogged arteries, poor circulation to the extremities and high blood pressure. Analogous to a metastasizing financial sector, poor circulation to the extremities and QE.
    Back in Bush 1, the line item veto was bandied about, but as it would have gutted legislative control over priorities, it was never more than a talking point. There are ways to reformulate it though. Such as breaking the bills into all their items, have every legislator assign a percentage value to each one, put it back in order of preference and have the president draw the line. “The buck stops here.”
    That would retain legislative control over prioritizing, while leaving the executive directly responsible for the levels of debt versus savings. Of course, it would also seriously deflate the amount of money that could be “saved.”
    The fact is that we mostly save for the same basic reasons; childcare, housing, healthcare, retirement, etc. If we invested in these more as community assets, rather then trying to save for them individually, through notational value in banking, then we would be storing wealth in a more stable society and healthier environment, rather than using them as resources from which to mine notational value.
    The problem though, is understanding finance. Government essentially functions as the central nervous system of society, as executive and regulatory functions, while finance functions as the circulation system. We had private government, aka monarchy, but it eventually proved of limited function and had to be replaced and so we are reaching a similar state with banking. Yet government control over banking doesn’t work, as it is inclined to inflate the supply and provide a short term boost, but private control means the system is geared to produce excess notational wealth, that can be siphoned off, at the expense of society and the environment, rather than circulate value effectively and efficiently.
    So we need to understand how this system needs to function somewhere in the middle, without taking over everything.

  3. Fred says:

    Yes, nobody takes the Chinese seriously unless they can get another fleet carrier out of it. I don’t see any response to J’s ramblings on Co-60 torpedoes. The article he linked to is interesting though.
    So the US wtih our NATO allies, once again get to square off against the Warsaw Pact Russians, in defense of, well, Europe. Perhaps we should, to quote Churchill, “jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war”. Of course that would mean talking to Putin. Better not have them do that, Trump and Putin might agree to a Europe free from both Russian and US forces. What ever would we do then.

  4. j says:

    T.K. Jones’s dirt scenario wasn’t considering Cobalt 60 salting. T.K would have had to live long past Rip Van Winkle before he saw the light of day again. His shovels would have been for naught.
    So in the process, of replacing GWOT, did the Pentagon even give nary a thought to stockpiling MREs for the tank and Cheyenne Mountain to exceed 100 years for each individual and those who might live that long? I sadly fear not. The tank with all its lights and gadgets didn’t consider natural physics of irradiated contamination whose shelf life exceeds the current normal human life span.
    Nor did the tank consider Yoga lessons to teach one to bend over in a perfect torso pose to kiss one’s behind goodbye. Oh well, guess they didn’t plan for everything.
    I’m glad I’m one of the retarded I mean Retd. clan whose current shelf life wont’ have to consider having to survive such insanity.
    I had hoped that my children and grandchildren wouldn’t have to endure such insanity as duck and cover, but alas D.C. idiocy as I call it, won’t let them live lives of peace and prosperity.
    The Military Industrial Complex that General Eisenhower warned us about , won’t let them. The greedy banks behind wars, may they be damned forever come Judgement Day!

  5. Fred and J,
    What do you recommend we do in the face of even more dreadful Russian doomsday systems? And what does it say about the Russians who willingly develop and deploy those doomsday systems? We and the Russians have been capable of destroying a large part of each others population and treasure many times over for decades. How much more doomsday can you pile on the potential for doomsday that already exists? I doubt the Russians want to hasten doomsday anymore than we do, but I do think the Russians are firm believers in MAD as the best guarantor against deliberately marching or mistakenly stumbling towards that doomsday. Until something better comes along, I agree with that notion. My perhaps forlorn hope is that a core of sober realists exist who can use MAD’s promise of a mutual suicide pact to cool down the hottest heads on both sides. Below that threshold, all the belligerent talk is just internal jockeying for resources and political influence.

  6. j says:

    Sadly, it’s been D.C. who has been walking away from MAD, not Moscow who like you said are adherents to MADs sane logic.
    DARPA has been working to nullify Russian nukes, which has had its successes and failures.

  7. Fred says:

    “What do you recommend we do…”
    Make peace. In the short term that would mean us getting out of Syria and the regime change business elsewhere. Both countires would have to come clean on activities in Ukraine and Crimea by both our governments as well as actions in Syria. Agree formally and in writing that we will remove our armed forces from the borders of the Russian Federation. Have the Russians give further doomsday development to get that. Find a common ground for joint action. How about a joint anti-terror unit to start? We don’t need to repeat on the African continent what we did in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. If you look South of the Rio Grande you might notice a bunch of trouble heading our way, and not just one caravan of future DACA2 dreamers.

  8. j says:

    Trump already has U.S. involved in joint Anti-terrorism operations with Russia/CIS. If only Trump would take Pat’s recommendation and call the duty officer of the NSA/DIA instead of the places he apparently gets his information, we would be a lot better off.
    Trump also needs to put you in his speed dial when he has a question about how to get out of the pickles he gets U.S. into.

  9. Yeah, Right says:

    TKJones: “if there are enough shovels to go around, everybody’s going to make it.”
    Well, everyone except the last guy holding the shovel.
    He’s left standing up there with three feet of dirt and a coupla’ doors between himself and safety.

  10. Fred,
    You must have been a hippie back in the 60s. Actually, damned near everything you say sounds fine to me. We are at peace with Russia… at least for now. For Syria, we should declare our intentions to leave after convincing/preparing the Kurds to seek an agreement with Damascus. Then, after taking a few more swings at the remaining Daesh jihadis, just leave. We did do a joint counter-terrorist exercise with the Russians in 2012. A detachment of the 45th Guards Spetsnaz Brigade trained in Colorado with the 10th SF Group. We should push for more of these JCETs (Joint Combined Exchange Training). Africa would be a good place to hold these as well as joint operations against AQIM, Boko Haram and the like. Hell we have no problem cooperating in space, why not do the same here on Earth. We should also try to fix the mess we made in Ukraine. Accept the fact that Crimea is part of Russia and do our best to get the Nazis out of Kiev. If there ever was a case of “you break it, you buy it” that is it. Then get out. As far as the Baltics go, I have no problem maintaining our small presence there. Although that may be my Lithuanian blood talking.
    I met an influential Polish Communist Party member in 1987. He was Jaruzelski’s principle civilian advisor during the martial law crackdown on Solidarity. It was an academic affair. I was introduced as a Green Beret by my thesis advisor. The old commie visibly shuddered and his face looked like he saw the devil himself. He probably believed all those tales told about us by his political officers. After several vodkas he relaxed and we had a good conversation. We proudly told me of the WTO plans for the Polish Corps. He also told me it was widely accepted among his peers that all this war in Europe talk was just rhetoric and political posturing. They all knew war would destroy Europe, east and west, no matter who won. It was unacceptable. They quietly went about the business of keeping the real hot heads corralled while creating the socialist paradise. We parted friends. Too bad I wasn’t a case officer yet. I tell you this to illustrate my central point. Our militaries will continue to use each other as bogeymen to extract resources from our respective governments, but there’s no need to be so loud about it. We have to keep the crazies corralled.

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