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Gen. John Batiste (Ret.)
Military/Corporate leader

Gen. John Batiste (Ret.)

A retired U.S. Army Major General, John Batiste is president of Klein Steel Services, Inc, based in Rochester, New York.

Breaking Every Rule

Since 9/11, America has had an opportunity to relearn the following:

1. We should go to war only as a measure of last resort, after all other elements of national power have been exhausted.

2. When we do go to war, we should define success clearly, designate the "main effort," and then pull out the stops.

3. We must fully resource the "main effort."

4. The entire United States government, with all departments and agencies engaged, must be synchronized in support of the "main effort."

I believe the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, dating back to their very beginnings, are case studies on how not to do it. This was and continues to be a failure in leadership by both the executive branch and our Congress. We rushed to war, without designating the main effort, with an inter-agency process in Washington D.C. that is essentially broken.

Bottom line, our government's inter-agency process needs a complete overhaul, similar to what the Goldwater Nichols Reorganization Act of 1986 did for the Department of Defense. Recognizing that both Iraq and Afghanistan require other than military solutions, this is fundamental and requires immediate attention. We are unnecessarily expending our national treasure in both blood and dollars.

By Gen. John Batiste (Ret.)

 |  August 24, 2009; 12:34 PM ET
Category:  Military Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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cuantos pollitos en su familia?


Posted by: therapy | August 26, 2009 2:45 PM
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a no combat military is repulsively rank with phony soldiers, sunshine patriots, and career cowards. U.S. Army Major General, John Batiste is a perfect example of a flower child in full bloom before the cultural revolution.

send more stupid social workers into the very very dangerous land of allah.

effectively export democracy and unwanted public affairs expertise.

Posted by: therapy | August 26, 2009 2:41 PM
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Based on our performance in Afghanistan and Iraq, it seems obvious that our current military leaders learned nothing from Vietnam or the Soviet experience in Afghanistan. That's surprising, because I thought those conflicts were part of the curriculum at our war and staff colleges.

Perhaps it's not the leaders - perhaps it's the institutions: the Army just naturally doing everything the "Army way," the Marines the same, as opposed to adapting to the unique requirements of a specific battlefield. I imagine that once a doctrine is adopted by a service, that service is very reluctant to change it.

In Afghanistan, I think we started out with the right idea: use special forces to help the Afghans fight their own war against the Taliban. How and why that strategy devolved into conventional forces fighting an unconventional enemy using conventional tactics - I just don't have a clue. Something tells me the conventional forces guys were feeling upstaged by the special forces and wanted to get in on the game. Well, if that's the case they're definitely in it now. Question is, how can they get out?

Posted by: telesonic | August 26, 2009 9:30 AM
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Afghanistan is not winnable. It never was and never will be. You can either leave it alone, occupy it forever, or punish them and leave.

To punish Vietnam in 1979, China invaded the border region of Vietnam, occupied it for a month, and then destroyed everything when they left. That is the least costly type of war.

I do not think we have the political will to occupy Afghanistan forever. It is total folly to believe we can ever win there.

Posted by: alance | August 25, 2009 11:13 PM
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I oppose retaliatory strikes against the communities that harbor the people behind the attacks of 9/11 in the strongest possible terms.

Former President Bush lives in the suburbs of Dallas. Former VP Cheney lives in Maryland.
If we were to launch retaliatory nuclear strikes on those masterminds of 9/11, Dallas and Maryland would be devastated.

I oppose mass punishment against the communities in which they live. Why can't we charge them with crimes and let the justice system work its course ?

Posted by: BrianX9 | August 25, 2009 11:10 PM
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I remember COL Batiste from my brief visit to his location adjacent to the Serbian border about March of 1996 in conjunction with the investigation of war crimes sites. ..A fine officer. I also remember the Zvornik 7 incident..

MG Batiste is absolutely correct..a "new look" at current and planned initiatives. The US is now in the process of withdrawal from Iraq (a war that did not have to be); Afghanistan is another issue and requires a deep and enduring analysis of why we went into Afghanistan and our mission ahead to include metrics for success or other.

An article in the Washington Post about CAS support to ground forces, i.e. building an Afghan Air Force caused a pause..these kinds of endless billions perhaps wasted must be re-examined to define the exact and distinct reason such programs enhance our national security.

I don't have the singular answer..but, for certain, the Afghan people must realize that if the Taliban (defined as: those who seek religious knowledge or religious students) retake power in Afghanistan, then it will be the people of Afghanistan..not the American people who will suffer greatly. They must fight for their rights to some freedom under Islam (Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is the correct name). American soldiers should not fight and die when those who we fight and die for cannot or will not standup beside us..So, where is the Afghan National Army (ANA)..the reports in this paper and from my contacts in Afghanistan say the situation is dismal.

They say..why should the Afghans fight when the American will die in their place.

Haiti/95; BiH (Camp McGovern)/96; HOA/2002; Afgh/2003; Iraq/2005; HOA/2007-08

Posted by: LTC-11A | August 25, 2009 5:21 PM
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I applaud Gen. John Batiste for recognizing and stating that our government's inter-agency process needs a complete overhaul. The U.S. must learn to think and research first, plan second and react third, not react without planning, appropriate cultural and political research, and foresight.

As long as we think with our military first, we will overreact and make mistakes such as our invasion (yes, NOT a war) in Afghanistan and Iraq. What was the hurry, and more importantly, the reason? We were attacked on our own soil. It was hugely traumatic and devastating, not just for us. The entire world was shocked and cried with us. Yet instead of learning from the experience we followed our president's personal vendetta by simply and destructively 're-acting' to get the 'bad guys' quickly - at the expense of not only our own lives but the Afghan (whom we had already let down once before) and Iraqi civilians as well, without thought to strategy, focus and, as it turns out, in major violation of human rights (see 2004 CIA report), in the end hurting our standing in the world even more. It is true that there is a group of people who wishes to hurt us. There were more who expected us to help them and, at first, applauded our involvement. Now through our carelessness and revenge-seeking behavior we have made enemies of many who used to be our friends.

Posted by: arv67 | August 25, 2009 3:10 PM
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No Afghan or Taliban was ever involved in any terrorist activities against the West.
The bottom line is that Afghans have never liked anyone to tell them what to do, since the invasion of Aryans 4000 B.C. over 200 invaders have tried and failed.
Al Queda was American baby foisted on Afghanistan from Sudan in 1996.
Till 9/11 Talibans were been feted and dined in Washington.
Only a fool can believe that 9/11 was planned in caves of Afghanistan.
This was a more complex operation than D-Day landings in
Al Queda did plan the attack in Afgahanistan. Our soldiers just missed Osama bin Laden there.

The reason THIS nation has lost wars sence Vietnam is people like you. the military should be allowed to win the war as they see fit, and not have politicans holding the leash because they are afraid of the oppinions of you.

War is to be fought and won, not be be politically correct at the whims of pasifits and arm chair generals like you.

Posted by: LiberalBasher | August 25, 2009 12:44 PM
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The General uses the word "war" four times.

The most important component of war is legal.

Our military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan were never legally declared wars. Military operations? Yes. War? No.

There is an enourmous difference between "war" and "authorized use of the military."

Major military efforts such as Iraq and Afghanistan require a fifth criteria:

5. America will only commit the military to major operations only after "war" has been legally declared by Congress IAW the constitution.

Posted by: furtdw | August 25, 2009 12:26 PM
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The General's analysis is spot on. I thought we had learned this in Vietnam and it was the reason for the Powell Doctrine.

Those who critize the efforts in Afghanistan forget that that nation was harboring the criminals who attacked our nation on 9/11. Our response was appropriate.

Iraq was a mistake made worse by poor civilian leadership.

Posted by: InTheMiddle | August 25, 2009 10:40 AM
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When are the American people going to learn
that war should be the LAST resort, we aren't safe on our own streets, yet we go to another country and WASTE more lives. Sinse WWII this has been the country that has killed more of it's young people than any other country in the world, forcing our ideas on other people. We should be a country that ALL the countries would want to be, instead we are the country everybody HATES!!! We can turn it around by cleaning up our own country and minding our own business. Not too long ago the world loved America and wanted to be like us, now nobody wants to be like us. Now Obama is talking about starting youth groups, wonder who thought of that first? Another country that started WWII. American people had better wake up before the world turns on us. We could have a GREAT country again, but we have to take part in who is doing what and to who, before you are in chains like the rest of the world.

Posted by: Vic5440 | August 25, 2009 9:40 AM
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"This was a more complex operation than D-Day landings in Normandy"

Mo. It was lucky. A few screeners doing their job could have ruined it.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | August 25, 2009 5:29 AM
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No Afghan or Taliban was ever involved in any terrorist activities against the West.

The bottom line is that Afghans have never liked anyone to tell them what to do, since the invasion of Aryans 4000 B.C. over 200 invaders have tried and failed.

Al Queda was American baby foisted on Afghanistan from Sudan in 1996.

Till 9/11 Talibans were been feted and dined in Washington.

Only a fool can believe that 9/11 was planned in caves of Afghanistan.

This was a more complex operation than D-Day landings in Normandy

Posted by: chaffcutter | August 25, 2009 4:48 AM
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The US post 9/11 was forced by cataclysmic events to replace the "watch dog" role with an interventionist role, designed to create conditions for the unfolding US policy in various regions of the world.This role was never contemplated even during the post USSR demise when a uni polar strategy was being coined, to replace the cold war strategy.

The sudden dissappearance of the erstwhile "Soviet Enemy" from all military and intelligence gathering radar apparatus, caught the planners by surprise.All of a sudden the basic soviet templates being used by all military planners to devise strategies and counter strategies was left blank.Who was to fill these enemy templates?

Iraq was a similar battlefield where you could count conventional divisions and brigades, place them in various scenarios and devise a plan of attack.Success, was understandably swift as a result of the conventional method of warfare where everyone was so adept.

Conversely, in Afghanistan where the "enemy" was not organised into conventional command structures and organisations, these templates could not be formed or understood by US military planners.As a result the war started with an Air Campaign designed to "destroy" the Al Qaida and Taliban fighters and their command and control networks.There were no hard targets to destroy, no hard command and control setups or tanks and artillery for the A-10s to take out.Nothing was achieved until the US had to put boots on the ground.

Lack of a systematic study of Afghan culture, tribal hierachy and traditional resistance tactics against the Soviet Union were not known by many planning these future ground operations.Resultantly, the troops were employed againgst an unknown enemy who was fluid, trecherous and familiar with the terrain.The results were dissappointing to say the least.

What, have the US forces learned from Afghanistan.That, it would have been prudent to consult the British who had a century of experience from failure and defeat in Afghanistan during their colonial Indian rule. I believe technology and military prowess are not enough to venture into unknown regions.Preparations are definitely needed to cater for unknown factors, and would obviate the need to change force structures and tactics as a learning curve but with higher casualties and loss of prestiege.

Posted by: BrigJRajaPakArmy | August 25, 2009 3:45 AM
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