Friday, January 20, 2012

Credibility Suffers in Face of DADT Warnings

The following Op Ed by Major General Laich appeared in the January 23 issue of Army Times.

It has now been almost four months since “don’t ask, don’t tell” was formally repealed on September 20. Four months does not make a history, but none of the catastrophic consequences of repeal predicted by its opponents has come to pass. There have been no mass resignations from the military, no barracks or shipboard riots, no mass gay rights demonstrations on military installations, no massive declines in enlistment or re-enlistment rates, and no declines in morale, discipline and cohesion. Repeal has been the nonevent its advocates predicted that it would be.
Some of the most vocal among repeal’s opponents were many of the military’s “senior leaders” charged with providing the commander in chief, Congress and the American people with their best military advice. The fact is these “senior leaders” were wrong. Whether they were wrong due to their personal biases, pandering to a conservative/evangelical base, or simply out of touch with the service members they are privileged to serve, they were wrong.
The young troops have proved themselves to be more mature, pragmatic and professional than their “senior leaders” projected them to be and, more alarmingly, than the “senior leaders” themselves (with the exception of Admirals (Mike) Mullen and (Robert) Papp). This is an alarming failure that should bring into question the judgment and perhaps the integrity of those “senior leaders” who advocated against repeal.
Many of these same “senior leaders” were perfectly willing, in response to recruiting shortfall in the 2004-2008 time frame, to lower enlistment standards while discharging trained service members under DADT. During that time frame, the Army raised the maximum age for enlistment, lowered the education and physical standards, and granted an all-time high number of moral waivers.
The net effect of these policy positions is that these “senior leaders” would rather man the force with middle-aged, unfit, undereducated felons than with young, fit, educated soldiers with clean police records, simply because of the latter group’s sexual orientation. The policy cost the military the contributions of more than 14,000 fully trained, qualified and, in many cases, combat-experience service members: a cost measured in tax-payer dollars, combat capability and military credibility.
Given the fact that these “senior leaders” appear to have been so wrong and the cost so high, a congressional inquiry, or at least a rigorous after-action review (with the results made public) would be appropriate. If neither is done, one might ask why we should accept the best military advice of these “senior leaders” on future tough issues. Credibility is earned by performance, not conferred by position.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

U.S Would Regret Conflict with Iran

The letter to the editor by Major General Laich that follows was published in the January 3, 2012 edition of the Columbus Dispatch.
I was alarmed by last Tuesday’s letter “U.S. need not fear Iranian threat to Israel” from Austin Reid. It reminded me of the assurances given to the American people prior to the U.S. Invasion of Iraq that the war would be brief, we would be greeted as liberators and Iraqi oil would pay for the war. $2 trillion and 4,400 American lives later we know that this was magical thinking and that the enemy has a vote.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, a realist not enrolled in the magical-thinking school, said earlier this month that an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities could “consume the Middle East in a confrontation and a conflict that we would regret.”
Reid wrote that “in the aftermath of an Israeli attack, Iran more than likely would respond as did Iraq and Syria and not retaliate” if Israel attacked its nuclear sites. Panetta, a host of national security experts and I disagree.
The conflict that would result would draw in the United States, based on its treaties with Israel; raise oil prices, leading to a double-dip U.S. recession; and unleash terrorist attacks by Iran’s proxies against U.S. targets worldwide, to include the U.S. homeland.
Unlike the Iraqi and Syrian targets Reid refers to having been successfully engaged by Israel in the past, the Iranian nuclear sites are dispersed, dug in and protected by anti-aircraft defenses, thus making an equally successful attack far less likely. Additionally, Israel would have to secure the permission of the Iraqi government to overfly its airspace or violate the airspace and Iraq’s sovereignty, which the United States is committed to protect.
Reid has his history correct, but the military and national security references he draws from it reflect magical thinking.