Clausewitz and ISIS


Carl von Clausewitz’s book On Warfare is required reading at almost every military academy. It has its imperfections, but it offers some useful ideas on how war can be used to implement policy. James Holmes, a professor of strategy at the Naval War College has written an interesting essay on how Clausewitz might have viewed President Obama’s ISIS strategy.

Such is the topsy-turvy challenge before Washington. Administration leaders must put policy and strategy, not artificial limits on military means, in charge of the counter-ISIL campaign. If U.S. policy is to destroy ISIL, let us figure out what that entails in terms of ground, air, and sea forces and set those forces in motion. If it is to contain ISIL through airpower, let us say that and resign ourselves to an open-ended effort promising few satisfactions.

The United States can wage unlimited war against the Islamic State, or it can wage war by contingent. Trying to do both opens up a world of strategic problems.

Read the whole thing.

Drafting Women


Anna Granville has a post over at Task & Purpose arguing that it’s time that women should have to register for the draft.

The picture at the top of the article shows a group of female soldiers training with the M9 pistol and it shows one of the subtile difficulties in integrating women into the combat force. The soldier in the foreground is not only left-handed, her hands are too small to properly grip the pistol. As a result her strong hand is twisted clockwise around the grip so she can reach the trigger. Such improper alignment of the hand, wrist, and arm typically allows the hand to involuntarily rotate at the wrist as the trigger is pulled causing the muzzle to move toward the weak hand (the right for a southpaw). This is a common problem for those of us with small hands. I find the Beretta 92/M9 difficult to manage. Someone with hands the size of Mrs. Hoge’s would likely find the M9 even more difficult, but she might have no trouble with a pistol with a smaller grip such as a Browning HiPower or a M1911.

This is not to say that women can’t be better integrated into combat forces, but if we are going to do so, they deserve to have equipment that fits their generally smaller physiques.

Do We Want to Win?


Larry Kudlow has a piece up called If We Want to Destroy ISIS, We Can Destroy ISIS. This raises the question: Are we willing to destroy ISIS? Do we want to win?

Here’s what winning a war looks like:Atlanta 1864That’s a picture of Atlanta in 1864. Here’s what Berlin and Hiroshima looked like in 1945.1945

In the wars we’ve won, the United States crushed our enemies. We killed them and laid waste to their countries until we destroyed their will to continue fighting. Even if we knew how to go about doing that in the present circumstance with ISIS, I’m not sure we are willing to do the hard work of inflicting sufficient pain of our enemy to win.

Veterans Day


On the wall in a hallway in our house there is a pencil sketch of a young Army captain. It’s dated August 14th, 1945, Dachau. A grateful former prisoner drew the portrait of my father.

My father joined the Army in 1940 as an enlisted special agent in the Counter Intelligence Corps. In 1943, he was commissioned as an Infantry officer but continued to serve in Counterintelligence. In the final days of the war, he commanded a counterintelligence team attached to the 66th Infantry Division, and after the war, he was involved in the detection and arrest of Nazi war criminals.

The FBI, the Army, and 9 mm


The Army is looking to replace its current stock of M9 and M11 9 mm pistols with newer, more modern weapons. One interesting twist in the request for submissions from potential vendors is that the choice of caliber has been left open. This has led to speculation that the Army may wind up joining the Coast Guard in adopting the .40 S&W round or the Marines who have partially readopted .45 ACP. Some have suggested that the .357 Sig round might be chosen.

Meanwhile, the FBI has announced that it will begin transitioning its agents from .40 S&W to 9 mm. Apparently, a significant number of Special Agents have difficulty mastering a pistol chambered for the more powerful round. Given that 9 mm ammunition has been greatly improved over the past couple of decades (and is significantly less expensive than .40 S&W), the change is not unreasonable for a large, bureaucratic organization.

If the Gentle Reader were to spend some time pursuing the comments on various sites reporting on these two stories, he will find them filled with the pontifications of a plethora of Internet arm chair experts, almost none of whom have any real world experience or practical knowledge of combat shooting with a handgun. My personal preference is for a Model 1911 pistol in .45 ACP, but that is based on my training and actual combat experience. I suspect that the FBI will wind up swapping their .40 Glocks for 9 mm Glocks or something very similar. It will be interesting to see what wins the Army’s shootout.