Re: A Soldier's View

From: George Hammond (
Date: Thu Oct 11 2001 - 01:30:52 EDT

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    Message from a scientist to a soldier:

       As a 59 year old American and having seen most of this history
    myself first hand, I can only agree with this military historian's
    assessment. Particularly his assessment of Viet Nam and the
    importance of social psychology factors and their effect on modern
    military outcomes. Viet Nam came down to a psychological battle
    for American public opinion, and I'm not sure the best interests
    of Democracy were served in the end. Certainly it showed
    how social psychology can be used to undercut Democratic interests.
    Lt. Col. Kern points out that Napoleon said "in war the moral to
    the physical is as 3 to 1", and that pretty much sums up the situation.
       The terrorists of course wrap their criminal self interest in
    in a veil of moral righteousness, which is of course, the classic
    strategy of terrorists throughout history. And, it is always a
    fatal mistake to ignore the psychological component in a struggle
    against terrorism.
       Islam is the fastest growing major religion on Earth. It is
    however only growing in the Third World. The terrorist groups
    sell the idea that militancy is religiously justified because the
    Third World is the poorest population. And, they make use of
    the claim that Christianity, and even Buddhism, are decadent religions
    used to support decadent societies who are oppressing the Third World.
    In the long run, this psychological weapon is, as Napoleon pointed
    out, a serious strategic issue which I think can't be simply ignored.
       In fact, I think it is time for Christianity to move forward
    and simply take the lead in this struggle. It has got to demonstrate
    some moral leadership vis a vis the plight of the Third World
    which will defuse the militant overtures of the terrorists.
       Now I won't harp on this, but I would simply like to point out
    to Bill Payne, and Lt. Col. Kern, that scholars are not unaware of
    this, nor have they been doing nothing about it all these years.
    And by that, I refer to the fact that apparently Christian scientific
    scholarship has discovered a scientific proof of God using modern
    western technology (Psychometry and Relativity etc.). Obviously,
    the achievement of a scientific proof of God, by Christianity, is
    a powerful moral symbol. It demonstrates the leadership, and
    moral superiority of Democracy, and a preeminent concern for the
    emancipation of the Third World. In a "Holy War" it becomes the moral
    equivalent of an Atomic Bomb.
       At the risk of sounding like a unbalanced nut, it is simply
    my opinion that the Defense Department, the CIA, the State Department,
    or someone should be looking into this discovery because of it's
    potential positive impact on National Security, not to say World
    Security. Why should we be characterized as morally lax, while
    terrorists claim they are morally zealous?
       Such things can happen. I would remind you of a similar piece
    of scientific history. Half a dozen leading scientists, including
    Albert Einstein, actually had to write Franklin Roosevelt a
    letter telling him that they had discovered it was possible to
    "construct an Atomic bomb of enormous military importance". They
    actually put a 3-cent stamp on it and sent it to the president of
    the United States! Imagine the entire history of the World being
    decided by the fate of a one page letter from some scientists
    traveling through the mail with a 3-cent stamp on it!
       Therefore, by analogy, I would think that someone would think
    twice about this present letter from science, reporting a discovery
    of again, a scientific development of enormous strategic importance
    to Democracy.

    George Hammond, Hyannisport

    Bill Payne wrote:
    > Recently, I was asked to look at the recent events through the lens of
    > military history. I have joined the cast of thousands who have written an
    > "open letter to Americans."
    > 14 September, 2001
    > Dear friends and fellow Americans,
    > Like everyone else in this great country, I am reeling from last week's
    > attack on our sovereignty. But unlike some, I am not reeling from
    > surprise. As a career soldier and a student and teacher of military
    > history, I have a different perspective and I think you should hear it.
    > This war will be won or lost by the American citizens, not diplomats,
    > politicians or soldiers. Let me briefly explain. In spite of what the
    > media, and even our own government is telling us, this act was not
    > committed by a group of mentally deranged fanatics. To dismiss them as
    > such would be among the gravest of mistakes. This attack was committed by
    > a ferocious, intelligent and dedicated adversary. Don't take this the
    > wrong way. I don't admire these men and I deplore their tactics, but I
    > respect their capabilities. The many parallels that have been made with
    > the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor are apropos. Not only because it was
    > a brilliant sneak attack against a complacent America, but also because
    > we may well be pulling our new adversaries out of caves 30 years after we
    > think this war is over, just like my father's generation had to do with
    > the formidable Japanese in the years following WW II.
    > These men hate the United States with all of their being, and we must not
    > underestimate the power of their moral commitment. Napoleon, perhaps the
    > world's greatest combination of soldier and statesman, stated that moral
    > is to the physical as three is to one. Patton thought the Frenchman
    > underestimated its importance and said moral conviction was five times
    > more important in battle than physical strength. Our enemies are willing
    > -- better said anxious -- to give their lives for their cause. How
    > committed are we America? And for how long?
    > In addition to demonstrating great moral conviction, the recent attack
    > demonstrated a mastery of some of the basic fundamentals of warfare
    > taught
    > to most military officers worldwide, namely simplicity, security and
    > surprise. When I first heard rumors that some of these men may have been
    > trained at our own Air War College, it made perfect sense to me. This was
    > not a random act of violence, and we can expect the same sort of military
    > competence to be displayed in the battle to come. This war will escalate,
    > with a good portion of it happening right here in the good ol' U.S. of A.
    > These men will not go easily into the night. They do not fear us. We
    > must not fear them.
    > In spite of our overwhelming conventional strength as the world's only
    > superpower (a truly silly term), we are the underdog in this fight. As
    > you listen to the carefully scripted rhetoric designed to prepare us for
    > the march for war, please realize that America is not equipped or
    > seriously trained for the battle ahead. To be certain, our soldiers are
    > much better than the enemy, and we have some excellent counter-terrorist
    > organizations, but they are mostly trained for hostage rescues, airfield
    > seizures, or the occasional body snatch, (which may come in handy). We
    > will be fighting a war of annihilation, because if their early efforts
    > are any indication, our enemy is ready and willing to die to the last
    > man. Eradicating the enemy will be costly and time consuming. They have
    > already deployed their forces in as many as 20 countries, and are likely
    > living the lives of everyday citizens.
    > Simply put, our soldiers will be tasked with a search and destroy mission
    > on multiple foreign landscapes, and the public must be patient and
    > supportive until the strategy and tactics can be worked out. For the most
    > part, our military is still in the process of redefining itself and is
    > presided over by men and women who grew up with - and were promoted
    > because they excelled in - Cold War doctrine, strategy and tactics. This
    > will not be linear warfare, there will be no clear centers of gravity to
    > strike with high technology weapons. Our vast technological edge will
    > certainly be helpful, but it will not be decisive. Perhaps the perfect
    > metaphor for the coming battle was introduced by the terrorists
    > themselves aboard the hijacked aircraft -- this will be a knife fight,
    > and it will be won or lost by the ingenuity and will of citizens and
    > soldiers, not by software or smart bombs.
    > We must also be patient with our military leaders.
    > Unlike Americans who are eager to put this messy time behind us, our
    > adversaries have time on their side, and they will use it. They plan to
    > fight a battle of attrition, hoping to drag the battle out until the
    > American public loses its will to fight. This might be difficult to
    > believe in this euphoric time of flag waving and patriotism, but it is
    > generally
    > acknowledged that America lacks the stomach for a long fight. We need
    > only look as far back as Vietnam, when North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen
    > Giap (also a military history teacher) defeated the United States of
    > America without ever winning a major tactical battle. American soldiers
    > who marched to war cheered on by flag waving Americans in 1965 were
    > reviled and spat upon less than three years later when they returned.
    > Although we hope that Usama Bin Laden is no Giap, he is certain to
    > understand and employ the concept. We can expect not only large doses of
    > pain like the recent attacks, but also less audacious sand in the gears
    > tactics, ranging from livestock infestations to attacks at water supplies
    > and power distribution facilities. These attacks are designed to hit us
    > in our comfort zone forcing the average American to pay more and play
    > less and eventually eroding our resolve. But it can only work if we let
    > it. It is clear to me that the will of the American citizenry - you and I
    > - is the center of gravity the enemy has targeted. It will be the fulcrum
    > upon which victory or defeat will turn. He believes us to be soft,
    > impatient, and self-centered. He may be right, but if so, we must change.
    > The Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz, (the most often quoted and
    > least read military theorist in history), says that there is a remarkable
    > trinity of war that is composed of the (1) will of the people, (2) the
    > political leadership of the government, and (3) the chance and
    > probability that plays out on the field of battle, in that order.
    > Every American citizen was in the crosshairs of last Tuesday's attack,
    > not just those that were unfortunate enough to be in the World Trade
    > Center or Pentagon. The will of the American people will decide this war.
    > If we are to win, it will be because we have what it takes to persevere
    > through a few more hits, learn from our mistakes, improvise, and adapt.
    > If we can do that, we will eventually prevail.
    > Everyone I've talked to in the past few days has shared a common
    > frustration, saying in one form or another, "I just wish I could do
    > something!" You are already doing it. Just keep faith in America, and
    > continue to support your President and military, and the outcome is
    > certain. If we fail to do so, the outcome is equally certain. God Bless
    > America
    > Dr. Tony Kern, Lt Col, USAF (Ret)
    > Former Director of Military History, USAF Academy

    Be sure to visit my website below
    George Hammond, M.S. Physics

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