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Robert Richardson
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US Army Faces FCS Shambles ["Future Combat Systems"]
by Martin Sieff Aug 14, 2006 (UPI)

Just when wonders how the disarray of the US Military can get worse, Martin Sieff's article illustrates that the bottom has not yet been reached. According to the GAO, the army's Future Combat System combines the worst of both worlds: It is seriously overbudget, and so far has demonstrated significant technical problems. Once again the Rumsfeld Pentagon has opted for a narrow, brittle high-tech system rather than a broader, resilient and more robust approach to meeting the tactical needs of tomorrow's battlefields.

The secretive and repressive climate fostered by this administration does provide fertile ground for conspiracy theorists, and their diversity and vehemence overshadow the rather innocent brouhahas of the recent past. We enjoy such a rich smorgasbord of congressional and presidential perfidy that an observer of discriminating palate is hard-pressed to select the despicable deception du jour. My personal favorite is that Bush, Rummy & Rove really are cabal of Manchurian candidates whose plan is to destroy the United States. Why? Because the unbroken string of political, fiscal, social, military and diplomatic disasters goes far beyond the outer reaches of coincidence. Even making allowances for Bush being intellectually challenged, simple coin-flipping statistics suggests that now and then he would get it right.

It is wisely written that the two most abundant elements in the Universe are hydrogen and stupidity. But the Bush record cannot be dismissed as simple stupidity. It is too malevolently focused and consistent to be the working of an absent intellect. If one accepts the premise that Bush is incapable by himself of conceptualizing and sustaining such a complex and pervasively destructive administration, one then must ask: Who are the Puppet Masters?

The damage this administration has done will not be reparable for decades to come, if at all, and I believe that forces have been set in motion that fundamentally, and irreversibly, change the dynamics of the world stage. Osama Bin Laden certainly has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. With one stroke, 9/11, he has fundamentally altered the social, legal and ethical climate of the (hitherto) most powerful nation in the world.

The 9/11 attack was emotionally traumatic, but it actually was trivial in terms of significant damage to the US infrastructure. The real damage to the US lies in the neo-fascist state that this administration subsequently imposed on the country. By obsessively focusing on domestic control and a pseudo-Christian social agenda, Bush not only has betrayed his own nation, he also has lost all global perspective. Although the threat of terrorist attacks certainly is real, the endless drumbeat of terror warnings has served as a vehicle for the steady erosion of our traditional values and, worse, the unraveling of the fabric of our democracy. National security always has been the rallying cry of tyrants.

Under this administration we have moved farther and farther from even a basic understanding of the zeitgeist -- the spirit of our times -- and how this affects our future and even our survival as the nation we once were. In a sense we are becoming a nation with institutional osteoporosis. That is, we appear fine from the outside, but internally the robust structure that gave us our national strength is becoming a fragile and porous tissue that will not support us in times of stress

We have squandered our moral authority before the world. The rise of militant Islam, enabled by the same worldwide communication skills that have made the marketing of our pop culture so successful, cannot be thwarted by mindless conservative rhetoric or, in the near future, be stopped at all. The same devotion to Christ shown by televangelists' congregations is easily matched by the Muslim devotion to Allah. Same intensity, same fundamentalist mindset, just different pews.

When the West (read: Great Britain) was fighting African spears with Lee-Enfield rifles and Gatling guns we had a clear advantage. But as Hezbollah just demonstrated in Lebanon, the playing field is leveling. The same cell phones on which American teenagers chatter also can have more sinister applications. The transmitters that control toy cars and planes also can detonate explosives. What Bush utterly fails to understand is that speaking Arabic, wearing robes and sandals, and rejecting salvation through Christ doesn't make Islamists less intelligent or less lethal. The technology genie has been let out of the bottle, and our erstwhile military (and competitive) advantages are being eroded.

The administration's pandering to the Saudis and to the ubiquitous medical/oil/religious special interests attests to their willingness to sacrifice honor and integrity for creed and greed. What Bush does not understand is that militant Islam is not playing his game. They are willing to sacrifice their lives for their conception of honor, and corporate profit has nothing to do with it.

In this context it is useful, and rather frightening, to look beyond the stridency of militant Islam and consider the infinitely more threatening, albeit quieter, prospect of militant China. That, my children, will make Osama appear to be little more than a schoolyard bully, and we will wish, as we are overwhelmed, for the dear old simple days of the Intifada.

So we increasingly are relying on the application of overwhelming high-tech military force (what the Panzer attack doctrine called "schwerpunkt" -- the use of massed armor to break through enemy defenses on a narrow front) against a distributed Viet-Nam type of adversary that hides in, and is indistinguishable from, the civilian population. Against this kind of enemy our "shock and awe" military policy clearly is a hollow spear point. There is nothing behind it. That, by the way, has been our traditional way of dealing with difficult global issues. Like spoiled children, we have a very, very short attention span.

Penetration followed by zero sustained follow-through is bad military doctrine and also bad sex. If Bush & Company make love the way they conduct foreign policy, there must be many Washington wives who end up scratching their mattresses in frustration....

Conspiracy theorists, try that one on for size.

Bob Richardson

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Bob Richardson is a retired electrical engineer and information specialist. He lives in New England.
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