6 November 2003

Rumsfeld's new model army

While the manpower crisis on the ground is bad - there are just not enough troops available to match the administration's imperial sprawl - it is likely to get a whole lot worse. A recent poll by the military newspaper Stars and Stripes found that only 49 percent of the reserves intend to re-enlist.

So is this blind folly? Or does 'transformation' offer an unseen benefit? 'The arguments in support of technological monism echo down the halls of the Pentagon,' Major-General Robert Scales (Retired) told the House Armed Service Committee on October 21, 'precisely because they involve the expenditures of huge sums of money to defense contractors.'

In the 2002 election cycle, US arms corporations' political action committees spent US$7,620,741, two-thirds of which went to the Republican Party. 'Transformation' might not work well once the initial 'shock and awe' of battle is over, but it can be a formidable re-election machine.

When the 'Young Turks' of the French army adopted the doctrine of elan, they were certain it was a formula for victory. The battle of the Marne convinced them otherwise, and the French abandoned the tactic. Of course the French general staff wasn't running for office.

Elan was supposed to save the French army from German technological superiority (no-one asked why the Germans would not have the same �lan). The Bush administration has a new version. It is the now to be the �lan of the civilian leadership, embedded in the White House, that determines the outcome of wars.

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