Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

Janine Davidson examines the art, politics, and business of American military power.

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Weekend Reader: Remembering General Harold Greene; Air Strikes in Iraq

by Janine Davidson
August 8, 2014

harold-greene Then-Brig. Gen. Harold Greene speaks at Natick, Mass., on his last day of command of the Natick Soldier Systems Center on May 10, 2011. Maj. Gen. Greene, the two-star Army general who on Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014, became the highest-ranking U.S. military officer to be killed in either of America's post-9/11 wars, was an engineer who rose through the ranks as an expert in developing and fielding the Army's war materiel. He was on his first deployment to a war zone. (U.S. Army/AP)


U.S. Army Major General Harold Greene is killed in an August 5 “green on blue” attack at an Afghan base that wounds fifteen others. He was a devoted officer and father who had given more than thirty years of service. Greene held a Ph.D. in material sciences and had been long recognized for his collaborative, effective style of leadership. As War on the Rocks notes, this marks the first wartime death of a general officer since the Vietnam War.

President Obama authorizes both air strikes and humanitarian aid to blunt advance of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. This was accompanied by an immediate airlift of emergency supplies to roughly 50,000 Yazidi refugees, stranded in the mountains of Sinjar for days without food or water. U.S. planes have since bombed ISIS artillery positions that had attacked Turkish forces defending Erbil, near where U.S. personnel are stationed.

Remembering the human side of the Army drawdown. An involuntarily separated Army Major pens a candid letter to Thomas Ricks on the subject. Elsewhere, the Pentagon pushes back against the controversy of delivering pink slips to soldiers deployed in war zones: there’s no other choice. And still elsewhere, USA Today reports that African American officers are being involuntarily separated from the Army at nearly twice the rate of their white counterparts.

In defense intelligence gathering, the future is in the open sourceThis is the conclusion of a new Wall Street Journal article that interviews outgoing Defense Intelligence Agency director General Michael Flynn, tracing—among other things—the role of social media analysis in the MH17 investigation. For more on the evolving nature of intelligence gathering, see Flynn’s remarkably candid interview with Blogs of Warwhere he reflects on his 33-year career. Flynn’s last day with DIA was August 7.

Weekend Reader bonus:  Footage from a “helicopter rodeo” that must be seen to be believed. Don’t try this at home, or anywhere else.

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  • Posted by Writt Woodson

    There has not been and there will not be a military solution to the carnage in the ME. The US spent blood, credibility and treasure to enter Iraq and put Saddam Hussein to death. (Handing Saddam to the Shiites was a death sentence.) It was an idiotic effort. Between 2006 and mid 2010 the US killed all of the high profile Al Qaeda leaders in Iraq. The problem is that the leaders of the Islamic State (IS) who have identified themselves are from a new generation. Some of them were young people that the US threw in jail. (Where they met Al Qaeda people.) So killing them as Sen. Lindsay Graham suggests would only be a repeat of the past, solving nothing. Is there something in the water on Capitol Hill?
    The US can not kill IS forces from the air without huge collateral damage. Bombing Sunnis into the dust would be no more inhumane than pushing Yazidis into a mass grave.
    Americans should accept two things. Our oil is in North Dakota (Well, under the ground we stole from the Native Americans.)
    Secondly, Americans are not a superior race.
    The caliphate IS is a reality. At the top are some very angry people. They hate the US for the US invasion. They hate other people too, but that is another point. The caliphate leaders will spill blood until they get what they want. Firstly, the want a secure caliphate. They should be allowed a state that goes from Tikrit to the Mediterranean. Just like when Pakistan was formed in 1947, the Alawites should more from the coast to the area near Damascus. The Sunnis who live around Damascus should move to the Lattakia province. Assad’s Syria could merge into Lebanon, creating a viable state, hopefully democratic . And a two state solution in Palestine is absolutely essential to all of this. Otherwise the world is moving toward a worst case scenario. That is a caliphate in Egypt. The second worst scenario is a very bloody protracted civil war in Egypt. Picture Gaza imposed on Cairo and Alexandria. More carnage in Gaza will make matters worse. Another US invasion anywhere in the ME will make matters worse. Make no mistake; it can get worse.

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