Martin P. Schweitzer
Retired Brigadier General, United States Army


10th MTN Troops deploying again …why do we announce it?

After almost 30 years in the uniform, I have never understood why DoD and the White House feel compelled to announce deployments of soldiers into combat zones.  These announcements are not limited to either political party; both Democrat and Republican leadership from the WH and DoD have announced deployments to specific theaters since 2003.  However, over time, we have not only announced which theaters, but we now have started to announced specific geographic areas within those theaters.  Here is my guidance to DoD and the WH.  SHUT UP!!!!

By making these announcements we create two problems for our troops.  Fist, we alert the threat we are coming with a specific sized force.  The enemy actually studies us and understands what the force can do and will start preparing to counter those capabilities.  Second and more of a concern is when our leadership announces “where “ the Troops are going within a theater like they have done with the 10th MTN Troops.  The enemy will start to prepare that specific part of the battlefield with more challenges for our soon to be arriving forces.  Those preparations could be setting negative conditions with the community in which we are deploying into as well as planning for the future emplacement of IEDs (types, size, etc).  We owe our soldiers better OPSEC and protection; we owe the Moms and Dads of those soldiers, along with their family’s better protection as well.

The decision to release this information is 100% politically driven.  Having been on the end of those deployments and watched the manifestation of the decision cycle to announce deployments …it is clear to me that nobody is benefited by that sharing of information – except the enemy.  Knock it off – the leaders who make the decision to share that information with the public are helping the enemy and hurting our troops.

First Primary ….tonight

For me this is agonizing to watch both parties debate National Security as if the only lever is the Military instrument of power (none of them ever wore a uniform but they express their mastery by focusing on tactical actions).  My hope is one of the candidates on either side will actually discuss National Security at the Strategic level and discuss how they would integrate the four instruments of power — Economic, Diplomacy, Information, and Military.  Anybody have any thoughts?

Donald Rumsfeld – has amnesia.

I rarely attack the person when addressing problems – in fact; I have not done it 5 times in over 30 years in the military or 2 years in the civilian sector.  However, listening to Donald Rumsfeld over the last few days on TV has been nauseating.  This guy was one of the primary Hawks for going to war in Iraq.  He made the case, linked Sadaam to weapons of mass destruction, was the “cheerleader” to go to war – yet listening to him on the talk shows and late night this past week…one would think he was simply a subordinate staff officer providing information up the chain of command for someone else to build the options / courses of action, recommendation, and subsequent implementation.  He can’t walk away from this.  He is the embodiment of that War, the execution and implementations are his and his alone to address.  In his recent engagements with the media, he places all blame on the President and represents that he was simply a “messenger”.  Painful to hear what was coming out of his mouth.  When I think of a demonstrable example of a senior leader not applying all four instruments (Military, Dip, Information, and Economic) of power to achieve an endstate  …I think of Rumsfeld.  I am disgusted.

Presidential Field

In my opinion, I can’t find a candidate that I would vote for on either side of the aisle right now.  The Dem debates are hidden on Sat nights and poorly constructed for what reason I can only guess; the Rep debates are visible and prime time on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s ….but the responses are watered down because of too many folks on the stage — simply disappointing.  I am hoping somebody from either party demonstrates they are the quality we need in the White House.

State of the Union

State of the Union

I love the State of the Union Speeches; it provides insights to what the current Administration in office is thinking and where they want to go in the next few years.  However, the last speech any President gives while in office normally is a review of their Administration’s accomplishments.

When this speech was completed, I was left with some intellectual dissonance as it related to security and the economy.   If anybody wants to correct or educate me on my observations below, please do so.

First reference Security — we were told last night that we are more capable today than ever before, that we are more respected today than 8 years ago, and that we are leading a Coalition in Syria of 60 Nations to fix that problem set.  From my view I am not seeing any of these effects that were referenced.  Training Readiness of the military, according to the last set of Congressional Briefings by our Service Chiefs, appear to be more challenging than 8 years ago, Libya was a failure, Ukraine is a failure, Syria is a failure, the rapid departure from Iraq was a failure, the only one “leading” in Syria are the Russians – and needless to say their efforts are not consistent with most of the world.  The only reason why the Russians are leading in Syria is because we refused to take charge; we did not implement our “red line”, and subsequently have abdicated our role to the Russians.  Our standing in the world today can best be characterized by the Israelis, Saudis, Egyptians and others, as reported in the press, working with Russia to resolve the problems in the Middle East and not the United States.  How is this “better”.

Reference the economy – we were told last night that the economy was stronger than ever, our deficit has been reduced by 1/3 or 2/3, gas is down, Stock Market is up, etc.   I am really confused.  Does the reduction of the deficit mean we reduced the rate of spending but we are continuing to spend at rates above what our Gov’t receives?  How can the deficit be reduced if we are still at 20 Trillion and growing?  Gas prices reducing.  The implication is that our government had something to do with the prices going from $110 a barrel to $30.  In fact, the Middle East is causing the prices to go down by over producing – they are doing this not to “help” the US – but to break our ability to resources energy production by making it cost prohibitive to source in the US.  In other words …make the labor so cheap to compete with the Middle East that we won’t be able to find workers who will accept the wages being offered.  This is not the result of policy or an energy program; it is the result of a competitor taking aggressive action aimed at the US.  It looks like a good thing when you see gas prices under 2.00 a gallon …but the effect is catastrophic to our energy producers.  We were told that 18 Million Americans have health care who didn’t have it before – but the impact to small business and the average person has been significant in a negative way.  Small business are having to reduce the # of personnel they are hiring to meet the demands of the Affordable Health Care Act and families are paying higher premiums (by as much as 40% more).  We were told that the economy is strong and growing, but why are the available dollars less to the average family?  Why is the actual mean salary less today than 8 years ago?  I do agree that the Stock Mark is 10K points higher than 8 years ago …clearly the rich are getting richer but I am not sure that is the platform that this administration has pursued.

I don’t fault the President – I fault the entire administration and Congress (all parties equally) – they are not working together to resolve our Nation’s challenges – not even close.  Whoever wins this next election better be able to bridge the gaps, create an environment of collaboration, and solve problems.

Gun Control – Really?

The recent Executive Orders reference gun control provided an opportunity for an informed dialogue across all forms of media to include social networking sites.  Instead of a dialogue that should have been led by our civilian leaders, we were instead exposed to extreme positions on both sides of the aisle – neither of which reflects reality, enhanced existing divisions, and added opaqueness to something that needs transparency.  Here are my thoughts.  The effects the President achieved with his recent executive orders are not extreme or illogical.  In my opinion, preventing medically challenged folks who should not possess a fire arm while they are incapacitated is probably not a bad idea.  Nor is it a bad idea to enhance our background checks to ensure criminals don’t get access to guns.   However, my support for the Administration ends there.  There are two primary concerns I have with this Administration as it relates to gun control.  #1 – these actions do not address the problems of gun deaths that we are watching on TV despite the representation by the administration and its “talking heads” that the effect of these Executive Orders will reduce gun violence – it won’t.  Will any of these actions stop or reduce the killings in Chicago, New York, DC, Los Angeles?   No.  Yet if you listen to the Administration and TV stations that are more favorable to this administration policy positions, then it is clear that the “talking points” indicate these measures will have an impact.  Or if you listen to the stations that are not favorable to this Administration positions you would believe that we have to “turn in our weapons”.  In either case – we are not addressing the problem of gun deaths in America.  Simply political B.S.  #2.  The manner in which the administration used to change existing law.  I cannot understand why the administration issued the Executive Order that “touches” the Constitution without first exhausting every avenue with Congress and establishing a dialogue with the American people.  Neither occurred before the decision was made and the Orders issued.   I get it that the administration and Congress are not the easiest places to create effects and nor do they apparently work well together – but it is their job to do the “hard work” and attempt to get it done.     I don’t have an issue with this POTUS (or any POTUS) using the “Executive Pen” to get things done; I do have an issue when he/she or the administration did not exhaust the avenues with Congress and the American people prior to cutting corners.  Make no mistake about it, the use of Executive Orders is cutting corners because it is apparently “too hard” to work through problems.  Congress and the Administration are both to blame for this lack of collaboration resulting in a failure to properly frame the problem for the American people – developing solutions to decrease / eliminate unnecessary gun deaths.  Instead we are re-arranging the chairs on the Titanic by working around the edges of gun violence vs doing something of substance.  We need leadership to frame the problem for the American people without duplicity, political agendas, and extreme representations of positions being represented as fact.

Start posting tomorrow

To all of my friends & acquaintances from all of my social media accounts.  Tomorrow I am going to start posting critical reviews across the spectrum of policy issues “of the day”.  These issues will range from gun control, the lack of integration of the 4 instruments of power  at the strategic level by policy makers and congress, national security & strategy, etc.  I encourage all of you to share, challenge, critique, etc my thoughts.  I am providing them with the hope that feedback will occur.   To be clear, I am confident that my comments will rile up folks on both sides of the aisle especially if you find your self with an extreme view of the world.  Regardless, the intent is to reach folks and get people thinking as we enter into this election year.

There is no controversy with the Recent Ranger Graduating Class – they all earned the TAB

I am reposting the below based on a series of articles without sources, an ignorant directive by a member of congress, and, in my opinion, shameful posts that i have seen over social media.   Folks need to get over this — all 96 earned their tabs — and it was a lower graduation rate then when I went through in 1985.     “To the 96 Ranger School Graduates — you are all great — and to the 200+ that did not graduate — you are awesome as well and wish you luck in your next attempt(s) at Ranger School. I have to tell you I am getting sick of folks responding to a Newspaper Article about how Ranger School relented on standards to assist the two ladies to graduate – unfair and not true. This is insulting on many levels. First to the Ladies themselves — what they achieved, like the other 1% of the Army has achieved who have graduated — is incredible; take pride in honoring them and the other 94 graduates. Embrace the two women graduates and the 94 men — let’s celebrate them not attack. Second it is insulting to the NCOs — the actual trainers at Ranger School — implying that they were “bought” through pressure to reduce the standards is disgusting. If anyone knows CSM Arnold — you would know he would have to be fired before he reduced a single standard — our NCOs are tremendous and those trainers at the Ranger Training Brigade deserve a thank you every day for implementing standards — not attacked because of a rumor or article quoting “a source” — simply pitiful. Finally and #3 — to the leadership at Fort Benning and all former graduates. The class started with 300 folks ….when you add recylces from previous classes …the number of total students who attempted exceeds 300 — yet only 96 passed. Less than 33% graduation rate. When I went to Ranger school in 1985 …we had about 300 attempt …and 115 pass ….a better ratio. I saw a comment about MG Miller walking a patrol ….yet when he was a senior leader in our unique forces in combat …no one commented then that he was “walking patrols” with the troops under fire –simply a stupid comment. It is routine for leaders (especially Miller) to check the training and the troops. The leadership at Fort Benning is the very best — implying anything else is slander. Keep getting after it!!!

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