GAO to Air Force: 'Try Again'

The Air Force has struggled mightily for years to build its KC-X tanker airplane. Its first attempt to procure the plane through a complicated leasing deal met a spectacularly bloody end, largely at the hands of Sen. John McCain and the Senate Armed Services Committee. Now, its second attempt has been derailed by the Government Accountability Office, which sustained Boeing's protest of an Air Force decision to award the contract to a joint venture of Northrop and EADS.

According to today's Wall Street Journal:

The GAO upheld the majority of Boeing's most serious objections. The agency said the Air Force "made a number of significant errors that could have affected the outcome of what was a close competition between Boeing and Northrop Grumman." It said the Air Force should seek revised proposals and pick a new winner.

Although the GAO can't force the Air Force to reopen bidding, its report is likely to have that result. The decision in favor of Northrop was already under scrutiny because the two top Air Force leaders were fired earlier this month by Defense Secretary Robert Gates over unrelated security gaffes. Those leaders had defended the Northrop choice....

The Air Force said it went to unprecedented lengths to make this competition as fair and transparent as possible. It was also unusually rigorous, drawing in weapons-buying experts from the Navy and Army, as well as senior Defense Department acquisitions officials to make sure the process could withstand a legal or procedural challenge.

During the evaluation, the Air Force had 10 face-to-face meetings with the companies and approximately 60 telephone discussions to make sure that both sides were clear on how their proposals stacked up against the government's requirements.

The GAO said it made no determination on whose aircraft was better, and focused on how the Air Force ran the competition. The GAO found seven overall problems with how the Air Force picked the Northrop bid, siding with Boeing on most of the key points.

Investigators found that the Air Force essentially ignored its own evaluation criteria in weighing the two proposals. The report also found that the service erred when it gave Northrop extra credit for having a larger aircraft that could carry more fuel, saying the decision violated the bid document's provision that "no consideration will be provided for exceeding" key performance parameters.

There are serious legal issues that need to be resolved here. There are also a number of political issues, including the whole range of questions involving foreign vs. domestic procurements in the defense arena. And there are strategic questions, like what kind of Air Force we really want and how many tankers it will take to outfit that force.

This last question is most important. The Air Force is facing a struggle for relevance in an age dominated by ground warfare and counterinsurgency. Why do we need an Air Force? And what do we want it to do? What should its roles and missions be in the 21st century? The answers to these questions should inform decisions about how many aircraft the Air Force needs, and of what type. I'm not satisfied that we've thought through these questions and answered them well.

Even though I'm a unrepentant knuckle-dragging, ground-pounding former Army officer, I believe the Air Force has an incredibly important role to play in the wars of today and tomorrow. I break this down into five broad functional areas: (1) global power projection; (2) global situational awareness; (3) combat operations such as fighter and bomber missions; (4) transportation and logistics support; and (5) strategic nuclear capabilities.

Each one of these areas is relevant in the age we live in -- particularly power projection and situational awareness. Some people think the Air Force's best contribution to counterinsurgency is its bomber capability. I disagree. The Air Force contributes by providing the ability to project ground troops and other assets anywhere in the world, and then integrate the panoply of American communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems so that those ground-pounders can have situational awareness.

The KC-X tanker plays a key role in all this. Without aerial refueling capability, global-power projection is a fantasy. Similarly, without this capability, the Air Force can't keep its surveillance and communications platforms flying. The current KC-10 and KC-135 fleet is aging and in dire need of replacement. I hope the Pentagon can get this critical program moving, and quickly.

By Phillip Carter |  June 19, 2008; 10:20 AM ET  | Category:  Air Force
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I'd add a sixth element, numbered 2(a):

Global and theater command, control, and communications

Too often, "situational awareness" does not get converted to useful changes in operations and/or operational posture. Point number 2 concentrates on the "I" in C3I; airpower has a critical role to place in the three Cs, too, beyond mere "awareness."

And as an AF veteran, I would make item 4 into item 1... because there is no global projection without logistics (there aren't even effective defensive operations at home without logistics). But then, I wasn't a pilot.

Posted by: C.E. Petit | June 19, 2008 12:31 PM

Well Phil,

I definitely have some thoughts here.

First, the notion that the Air Force is getting irrelevant in some way is just plain silly. The are many legitimate issues about the what capabilities and roles it should have, but there is no question that air power remains every bit as important as our ground and naval forces.

Second, global air lift capacity is of absolutely critical strategic importance, for both troop movements and logistics, and tankers are essential to that mission. We need both tankers and freighters, and we need them to be fuel-efficient, durable, cost-effective, and MADE IN THE USA.

[ Aside -- I'm also thinking maybe we need a law that says all equipement used by the US armed forces must be US-made. ]

Third, I think we need to substantially increase that capacity -- two or three times at least. I hesitate to state anything in exact terms becasue it's all so complex and the details matter in real world analysis, but the gist in my mind is we need to be able to move a whole division (give or take) by air anywhere in the world on short notice -- and be able to supply it indefinitely and extract it entirely by air.

Just thinking out loud...

Posted by: Charles Gittings | June 19, 2008 2:07 PM


I love your legal stuff, but parts of the above are WAY off base.

"the notion that the Air Force is getting irrelevant in some way is just plain silly."

I'd say Phil agrees with you - re-read his assertions. What's the point here?

"we need them to be fuel-efficient, durable, cost-effective, and MADE IN THE USA."

You had me until the last phrase. Why oh why would we do that as a matter of policy? If a US company makes a superior product, great. If not, buy the best thing out there. At the very moment when we're trying to build partner capacity overseas, why would we poop in their Wheaties like this?

I find this statement especially fascinating coming from a guy who repeatedly and loudly argues the virtues of international law and norms (on which I happen to agree with you, BTW).

"we need to be able to move a whole division (give or take) by air anywhere in the world on short notice -- and be able to supply it indefinitely and extract it entirely by air."

Not unless you can suspend the laws of physics. See Stalingrad or Dien Bien Phu. If you're truly going to provide EVERYTHING (food, ammo, water, etc.) roads and ports are a necessity. Period.

Posted by: Ray Kimball | June 19, 2008 3:30 PM

I agree, we don't need to have stuff "MADE IN THE USA." - - What matters is the stuff is well made and reliable.

You can drive a Mercedes or Toyota that is well made. Cars from other nations are often better made, more reliable and less cost to run than stuff built here in the USA.

We live in a global economy, and some very fine stuff is outsourced and built overseas. Even your computers with which you calculate the GPS offset of a target, or figure the payload of a warhead, are made overseas.

Aircraft, by their very nature, are the most inspected and examined bits of kit out there. It is not likely that they will be made with serious defects.

For a global fleet of air tankers, it is probably better to purchase an airframe that is widely used and has lots of service parts available all over the world.

The air force took pains to make sure the evaluation was as fair as possible. This new round of objections sounds like sower grapes and nitpicking.

If both evaluations came out dead even then going with the one that had more capacity would be logical and fair. But the evaluations did not come out equal, Boeing lost on almost all the head to head criteria.

Boeing has a long history of going below the belt to 'fix' contracts, or to 'win back' stuff it lost. When Bowing lost they went wining to the air force brass, then to congress who thought the call was above board, then to the politicos in the administration who stuck the GAO on the air force.

This is like a ball game. Both teams played, the reffs made a series of careful and calculated calls, and in the end the best team won. That does not mean that every call was perfect, but on balance it seems to all that the better proposal was chosen. The argument is not of the best was chosen, but if all the calls were perfect.

Even then, even if each of the calls that Boeing or the GAO now don't like, if every one were re-called in their favor, they still have not demonstrated they would have won the contract. The errors, if any, were very minor.

It seems to me, that the Air force is within it's rights to withdraw the RFP and start over, not that they want to. But if they did, it's unlikely that Boeing would again win - Unless the weighting is changed from the priorities of the Air Force's needs to some other set of priorities weighted so that Boeing can win.

There is a need for the consideration of some diplomacy. It seems balanced that we buy the small fleet of air tankers from the Europiens and in exchange they purchase their fighter jets, and most other combat aircraft from the US. Let's be part of NATO.

If we have a Ra,Ra,Ra we only buy US made stuff attitude, what does that say when we go out and try to get them to purchase our fighting aircraft?

If we want a new fighter we may well need the rich European nations to commit to purchasing it too, so the costs of development can be spread around, otherwise it becomes a little expensive.

You want help with what war?

Posted by: James M | June 19, 2008 4:20 PM

Although the "buy American" ideal is attractive, I'm going to disagree with Charly Gittings, too. Yes, procurements should be subjected to a national security scrub, and no, we shouldn't be buying critical stuff from China or Russia, but we do need to be realistic. Like it or not, we're in bed with our Western Euro cousins. We go down, they go down. And they know it.

As a taxpayer, I think it's high time to let our domestic defense contractors know that the fat hog off which they've fed for many years is getting skinnier and may not be so easy to make into their bacon. Contractors such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin have become a latter day Mafia, making offers that "can't be refused," and I find the Air Force's actions eminently sensible. Unfortunately, as we've learned, the Air Force is seemingly unable to handle a major procurement in accordance with the rules, which means, of course, more time for Boeing to work the political equation.

I think we can expect a whole new RFP out of this. When all's said and done, let's just hope the good guys, i.e., the taxpayers, can finally win one.

Posted by: Publius | June 19, 2008 9:14 PM

More important than which country makes the largest number of a given platform's components is how widely dispersed design, production and maintenance are. My understanding is that both tanker bids provided for significant dispersal, with some components manufactured in Europe for assembly in the United States and vice versa, and multiple production and assembly facilities within the United States itself.

In theory, this level of specialization could result in a better or even a cheaper platform. In practice, it substantially raises the cost of every weapons and logistics system we buy, and helps ensure that we will continue to buy some platforms whether the military thinks it needs them or not. Defense platforms that provide jobs in multiple constituences have powerful advantages when it comes to getting funding; both Boeing and Northrop Grumman's group appear to have given this principle careful attention in preparing their bids. But these are all political advantages. They make it more rather than less likely that a given platform will always take a decade or more to design and ready for production, while costing several times what the platform it is replacing cost.

No one in Washington has an interest in addressing this: not the defense industry, which prospers when the Defense Department spends more on anything, not senior military officers looking to lucrative post-retirement opportunities with defense contractors, not Congressmen and Senators eager to secure jobs in their constituencies that they can take direct credit for; not even the left wing of the Democratic Party, which while generally anti-defense has little real interest in the military and is mostly content to ignore the whole subject. And to the media, defense procurement is a boring subject, with no photos and paper trails a mile long to sort through.

Either EADS or Boeing will earn an enormous premium over what the government would pay for tankers procured under rules that didn't place a premium on political, as opposed to engineering, creativity. At the end of the process one or another group of contractors will contend they have won a spectacular victory. They will not say that we will pay a big price for their victory, but that will be the case.

Posted by: Zathras | June 19, 2008 10:25 PM

I completely fail to understand why they don't just establish a new military specialty within the Air Force, 'aircraft fabricator'. If they can't get a company to build airplanes for them without the taxpayer getting completely shafted, then start doing things the old-fashioned way, and build airplanes in-house. You want a college degree? Fine. The Air Force needs an airplane. Ready? Go! Simple as that, I think.

Posted by: Bert | June 19, 2008 11:19 PM

ITEM 1 vs ITEM 4

1 pilot.

How many ground crew, air controllers, cooks, facilities staff, perimeter security, etc........

Tough call, especially when that 1 lonely pilot turns out to be the pointy end of the stick we jab at the bad guys.

Posted by: osmor | June 20, 2008 12:44 AM

Ah, relevancy. As we still maintain a nuclear triad, and they are all so definitely needed... SLBMs, ALCMs, ICBMs... We need every one of those. Global power projection? Just what are all those carriers for? And why, exactly, do we need global power projection if we have several hundred bases? So we can't use them? Ah. Strategery.

I sincerely hope the tanker issue lasts at least a decade in the courts, and will accelerate the AF's irrelevency in the modern era. The F-22, F-35, next generation super bomber ($2B this year!)... All complete wastes. How much advanced, GPS-guided artillery, how many helicopters, how many UAVs could you build and pre-position for $200B? How many fast transports do you need? We can have them gold plated cheaper than giving the mission to the AF.

If the AF won't give the Army and Marines the coverage they need, give them the drones. There are over 1300 a/c registered in CRAF. What are they doing? If the USMC can maintain V-22s, they can damn well maintain all the C-130s they need.

Global disaster aid? Build a damn base outside on Bentonville AR with rampspace for 100 CRAF a/c. Outsource.

Global situation awareness? Sounds like a space corps with lots of superfancy satellites, optics and C3CI..POC. Boy, the trillions we spent on milstar sure came in handy on 9/11. What exactly did NORAD do that day? Oh, even as the 2nd tower got hit on live TV (clue, anyone?) they waited 15 minutes for FAA to remember to call them (you can't make this sh*t up) before deciding to scramble anything from Langley.

Freaking clown car brigade. Douglas Adams would have put them in the first ship.

Posted by: srv | June 20, 2008 1:28 AM

Hoo boy. I knew I should have kept my mouth shut on that last one, but what the heck, I'll start with Ray's questions...

On the first one, you seem to have gotten the point: agreement with Phil. Guess I could have added "What Phil said."

On "made in the USA", several things...

* After eight years of the Bush administration, I guess no one is confused about the saying treaties are made to be broken, and anyone who has studien international law surely knows that treaties are abrogated or revised all the time -- and some of us even understand that there are ways to do both lawfully.

* There are treaties, and then there are treaties. I do not rank trade agreements (important as they are) with the IMT Charter, Geneva, or Hague; and trade agreements, by their very nature, tend to be more flexible in their provisions and intent -- they are meant to adapt to changing conditions, where IHL is meant to establish inviolable norms. That's not absolute by any means; some economic principles are every bit as important as the moral principles of IHL, as IHL recognizes in many of its provisions.

* The ability to manufacture aircraft is itself an important strategic capacity. What happens if our supplier gets into a war that doesn't involve us, or even with us?

Neither is a likely scenario, but we have to be ready for anything, and unlikely scenarios will kick your... oops, almost forgot where I am. At any rate, you always have to accept some risk of not being able to sit down for a while, but you're supposed to eliminate the risk of a red hot poker finding a home. The world is changing, and while I'm no big fan of Rumsfeldian Metamorphosis, adaptibility and agility are high virtues, while making Big Assumptions about the intentions and fidelity of other nations is a game for suckers like the Bush gang.

* Aside to Publius -- far be it from me to have any illusions about the proclivities of our major defense contractors when it comes to looting the public cofers, but the solution to that isn't out-sourcing (foreign defense contractors are just as good at looting as ours our - this is the era of globalisation after all!), it's diligent over-sight and law enforcement.
After eight years of Cheneyism, that last part strikes me as a priority. The good news is that massive cost savings are possible, since most of the defense budget is just a literal waste of money right now.

* I'm not really suggesting we need to go all the way, I just know how Cheneyism operates, and how they somehow manage to seduce folks like Publius now and then. I want the airframes built here just like I want our ships built here.

Posted by: Charles Gittings | June 20, 2008 3:27 AM

So then there's the pragmatics, about which Ray says:

"Not unless you can suspend the laws of physics. See Stalingrad or Dien Bien Phu. If you're truly going to provide EVERYTHING (food, ammo, water, etc.) roads and ports are a necessity. Period."

Ya, well Stalingrad or Dien Bien Phu ain't gonna happen but, ya, sure. One big disagreement: necessity is the mother of invention. Roads and ports are useful. Breathable oxygen is necessary; very little else is, though water, food, ammo are definitely priorties.

However, I wasn't talking in any particular operational setting, I was blue-skying in the abstract. Air-dropping a division isn't anything you're going to do every day, but if you have a division that can do it, there's a lot of smaller things you can do more or less at at will, and I'm thinking light infantry with no heavy equippment and minimized logistics. But you tell me Ray; let give you a hypo...

It's Sept 18, 2001, I'm Bush, you're Gen. Meyers, and here's what I want to know: how big of an airborne assault can we mount against Khandahar in 2-4 weeks?

Objective: something along the lines of what the Nazis did in Norway or Crete. Go in, take the airport, establish security, and start building up just as soon as the runways are clear.

This is not a scenario where we are going to run an air-lift indefinitely, but only up to a point. It's also not a scenario where were going to pull out -- we're planning on staying for awhile.

We'll be doing other stuff along the lines of what we actually did minus the bombing campaign in the North; there the object will be to put pressure the Talban frontly, but not hard enough to break them; I'm thinking annoy and provoke more than shock and awe initially. The object in the south will be to build up fast and move on Kabul, and unlike Bush, I don't care about casualties as long as they aren't needless or negligent. Indeed, early on, I wouldn't mind the Taleban thinking they might be able to counter-attack sucessfully -- and would be absolutely delighted if they got the notion they could make Khandahar into a Dien Bien Phu.

So go ahead an tell me how crazy I am, but don't tell me I'm crazier than Cheney or Rumsfeld. I'm just interested in hearing what you think that hypo would take.

Thanks for the kind words about my legal stuff too; been up to my ears in it this week.

Posted by: Charles Gittings | June 20, 2008 4:54 AM


I don't think I said "crazy" - if that came across as an undertone, I apologize.

OK, now we're talking!

"how big of an airborne assault can we mount against Khandahar in 2-4 weeks? etc."

Well, on Sept 18th, 2001, that answer was pretty easy - you'd use the Division Ready Brigade from the 82nd, who had just such a mission of forced entry. These days, I'm not sure who you'd use, since we don't have anything resembling a rapidly mobile strategic reserve.

I do question your overall objective - Kabul. Why? Kabul has always been a symbolic seat of power in Afghanistan. The real power is dispersed in the countryside with the warlord(s) du jour.

The other real issue is - what you've given me here are tactical and operational objectives. What's the strategic objective? If it's to simply stack Taliban like cordwood, well, why do you need to take Kandahar? Drop in SF and CIA with suitcases of money, and use the barbarian to fight the barbarian. Provision lots of airpower in support. Ah, but then there's the pesky problem of where they stage from. Do you run the 28-hour mission cycle from New Mexico, or go somewhere closer like Diego Garcia or K2? Not a lot of great options in that part of the world.

OTOH, if your strategic objective is the installation of a new government in the country, then airlift alone ain't going to cut it. We may be able to move all kinds of craziness in by air, but other agencies and civilian NGOs that will be essential for a rapid provision of services and legitimacy will need roads. Witness the current dearth of tactical airlift (rotary-wing and fixed) in Afghanistan - the #1 shortage in theater ain't troops, it's medium and heavy-lift A/C that can handle the altitude.

Capabilities have to be tied to objectives. It's great to posit a capability, but if it's not tied to a strategic reality and objective, you have a shiny new toy on a shelf that can be played with (and broken) by any chucklehead that comes along. (And no, I'm not going any further down that path, so don't ask.)

We'll agree to disagree on the replicability of a S-Grad or DBP. There are no certainties in the applicability of history to current and future events, but a recurrent theme is that military cemetaries are full of the bodies of good men and women whose commanders underestimated their opponents and their ability to replicate the "impossible."

Posted by: Ray Kimball | June 20, 2008 9:36 AM

A few comments on the legal issues:
1. "Made in USA" We have a series of bi-lateral treaties with approx. 40 countries that open our government contracts to their products, in exchange for opening their government contracts to ours. We export much more (particularly aero/defense) than we import. Huge surplus in our favor. (China is NOT one of those countries, BTW). If we closed our government contract purchases to foreign companies in qualifying countries, we would take a huge economic hit.
2. Except for the countries subject to these Trade Agreements Act(s), all other US government purchases are subject to the Buy American Act. Except in narrow cases, that means Made in USA.
3. #1 is still subject to security clearance requirements. Even if you are in a qualifying country (i.e. France, etc.) you still need to obtain appropriate security clearances to do classified contract work. Since it is almost impossible for non-US citizens to get clearances, all classified work is done by US citizens. (Narrow exceptions in rare cases for Brits and Canadians, even narrower for other countries.) For foreign-owned or controlled entities, the US gov't requires a "Special Security Agreement" before the business unit can work on classified projects. The Agreements typcially require robust physical, electronic, and legal firewalls around the project, so, for example, a non-US officer or director of the parent company cannot gain access to or influence over the unit doing classified work. System has been in place for 30 years and works well.
4. The GAO has been hearing bid protests since the 1920s. It handles about 2000 per year. They are decided by, in effect, administrative law judges who only do protests. They are completely seperate from the GAO's audit and investigative functions. Between cases where the gov't settles because they made a mistake, and where the protestor wins, the success rate on protets is about 25%. That is, the gov't wins most of them, but a protestor winning is not nearly as rare as the press reports indicated. The process is considered fair by professionals on both the gov't and contractor sides. The GAO does a good job of balancing the contractor's right to get an impartial review of a contract award, with the gov'ts need to move quickly. The cases are all decided within 100 days of filing, and the GAO has the ability (and uses it) to dismiss untimely or frivolous protests.
5. GAO went out of its way to emphasize (as it always does) that it was not ruling on the merits of the planes. Rather, the Air Force did not follow both the terms of the RFP, and basic rules of procurement procedure from the Federal Acquisition Regulation and various procurement laws. It also found (as it has to, in order to sustain a protest) that the errors were serious enough as to have had a likely effect on the award decision.
6. While the press was correct that the GAO decision is not "binding" on the Air Force as a matter of law, as a practical matter it is. Out of the several hundred protest decisions in favor of contractors each year, the gov't does not follow them in very rare cases--perhaps once every 3 or 4 years. The reason for that is simple: they have to report to Congress (which set up the GAO protest process) when they don't, and contractors can go to court (where the decisions are binding).
PS: Yes, I am a contractor-side government contract lawyer.

Posted by: Bill Weisberg | June 20, 2008 9:54 AM

Boeing lost but they are members of the good old boys club in congress and all is forgiven about the Boeing swindle deal to rent the tankers to the air force. Come to think of it who are we defending ourselves form with these aircraft? If anybody the citizens should defend themselves from this government and the freespending military complex generals!!!!!

Posted by: jackmack74 | June 20, 2008 12:25 PM


Oh I wasn't peeved at you. In the hypo, I'm your C-i-C, you're my top military advisor, and this IS a war, so I have to be ready for anything, and one of my biggest worries is I might just BE crazy.


Kabul is not the ultimate objective, it's a strategic city that sits inbetween Khandahr and the Northern Alliance front; and we aren't after real estate per se, we're hunting heads. The object is to construct a virtual fence in order to hunt Taleban the way the Mongols used to hunt every living thing within a day's ride of the Khan's tent. We're trying to concentrate as many of the enemy as we can into a strategic killing zone, and then we're going to anihilate them in detail. We're just going to do it with infantry instead of armor like we did in the Gulf. When I say we aren't thinking "shock and awe", I mean initially, not never -- that's a matter of when and if circumstances require it.

Let me note that I think that Desert Storm and OEF were somewhat over-prepared, especially irt attacks on infrastructure. I don't mind at all if they have a working phone system and such: I want them acting in coordination -- we can't manipulate them if they aren't. We only disrupt them as needed, not indiscriminately.

When that's done, we'll see where we are and redirect. Our primary strategic objective in all of this is a nuclear-free Pakistan, and we have to be prepared for the war to escalate into an all-out confrontation with them, including nukes. I don't consider that probable, and we'll do everything we can to avoid it, but we will be ready; including scenarios short of the worst case, such as punitive expeditions into the tribal areas.

But initially, I want to pacify Afghanistan and set the table for a very frank and serious discussion with Gen. Musharif regarding our strategic objectives in the context of his cooperation, retirement plans, and life-expectancy.

I don't care about installing a new government other than I know there will be one, and it will behave itself within reason or else. That's for the Northern Alliance to worry about. We'll try to be a positive influence, but I'm not going lose a lot of sleep if they indulge themselves in a little traditional fratricide. They're our allies, and what kind of government they want is a matter of self-determination unless they give me a reason to think otherwise. I'm not interested in the neo-con's geo-political delusions at all.

Posted by: Charles Gittings | June 20, 2008 1:21 PM


Interesting approach. The sad thing is, from all the material I've read on the month after Sept 11th, the conversation you and I have justhad is probably well in excess of any actual strategic discussions that went on in the war room during that period.

Posted by: Ray Kimball | June 20, 2008 2:23 PM


Heh. Among so many other things even.

But that was then, this is now, and here we are...

1) My attitude towards Pakistan hasn't changed a bit.

2) My attitude towards Iraq hasn't changed either: we should get out just as fast as we can evacuate, the emabassy included.

3) I remain willing to recognize Kurdish independence, and would be willing to maintain a care-taker force there to help the Turks and the Iraqis get used to the idea if they did.

4) I feel exactly the same about Afghanistan per se: there simply is no reason to be there, other than we are there and Pakistan is still a problem.

A second problem there is that I consider both the 911 AUMF and the Iraq AUMF unconstituional and criminal, and firmly believe that the 111th Congress should rescind BOTH as their first order of business. Terrorism per se is a law enforcement problem, period, and it is dangerously mistaken to suppose otherwise, witness the Bush administration -- the mess we have is what they made it BY POLICY, and the mess will remain as long long as those policies do.

Anyone who thinks we are "winning" the war on "terrorism" is a fool, and all you have to do to prove it is ask them to state a coherent description of what "winning" is, and then catalog the false assumptions, fallacies, and frauds they give you in reply. In reality, we are losing, and badly, for the simple reason it can't be won by definition, and attacking the problem that way is self-defeating and only makes you more vulerable. What it boils down to is that "terrorists" can't lose, but the nations can.

5) That leaves Pakistan, and my feeling there is shut down Iraq first. Then we have a decision: either invade the tribal areas or get out, and I see no reason to wait either way. I think the CW is that the Army is too worn out, but I don't beleive that, and I say so thinking the Army is bigger than it needs to be. We troops all over the world that simply don't need to be deployed where they are, like Germany, Japan, and S. Korea, etc.

None of this stuff is ultimately about force per se; it's first and foremest a head game, and the most dangerous weapon we know of is the human mind -- everything else is just an accessory.

6) As my hypo was meant to suggest, I think our operational methods could be better.

Posted by: Charles Gittings | June 20, 2008 6:29 PM

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