Reader Mail

Nothing But War

Dirty snipers. Army movements. Islamic missions. Why wasn't Auschwitz bombed?

10.18.02

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THE SNIPER MOVIE
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Terrorized by Yellow-Bellies:

Recall, if you will, the villain in Dirty Harry. And likewise, remember how he was ultimately dealt with.
-- Harvard Fong
Sacramento, CA

P.S. For those who might not recall: After having terrorized San Francisco via sniper shootings and kidnappings (indeed, the movie opens with such a shooting, in a pool, atop two skyscrapers), the bad guy, Scorpio, is finally blown away by the iconic no-BS cop, Harry Callahan. If only reality could be so (less the long term terror, more the bad-guy removal).

THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Terrorized by Yellow-Bellies:

Kudos to the debonair Mr. Tyrrell on his last few columns. The First Canoeist spanking was a ripper and today's peroration bowing to a consummate American, John Wayne, is top shelf. A great rewind for the wonderful Americans at the Prowler would be She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. John Wayne. as captain Nathan Brittles with two consummate scene stealers, Victor McGlaglen and Barry Fitzgerald. Some of Wayne's other great performances include, The Quiet Man, The Searchers, Red River and the subject above!
-- Edward Del Colle

GOOD SPEED
Re: Lt. Col. Hilary Evers and Jed Babbin's exchange in Reader Mail's On the Lighter Side:

Dear Mr. Babbin: Thank you for your thoughtful reply. If you do not mind I would like to continue our discussion. All US Army doctrine calls for 24 continuous operations. I am sure you realize that different commanders and different situations produce different results. What Gen. Franks did or failed to do was situationally not doctrinally driven. I ask that you check the rate of advance during the "Desert Storm" operation and compare it to any other advance by any other Army. I also ask that you review the operations of the 101st Airmobile during that advance. The problems experienced in their insertion were minor compared to what they will experience as the main strike force of an all lite attack. I will tell you that the 101st could not have kept that advance up for another 24 hours; however, the heavy force could have. The long and short of it is that the saw "too light to fight too slow to run" holds true. Strategic quickness does not equate to tactical quickness.

Somalia: "Air power works." Yes, sir (if you have it), air power was not provided to the Rangers because of political considerations. Even if provided it would have had an extremely hard time providing any more support than the LOCHs did. Remember you cannot use a 500 lbs. bomb in a knife fight and a knife fight is what you get using only lite troops. Yes, sir, "Precision ammunition is just that" (if it can do the mission). In Afghanistan lite soldiers were pinned down by mortar fire and air power could not take the mortars out because they were in a protected position. Maybe you remember the story. Look I am not saying that this proposed operation does not need airpower, but -- and it is a big BUT -- even with everything working right as in Afghanistan precision munitions hit things they were not meant to hit and killed friendly troops.

I have studied the area for over 10 years. I would be interested in what makes anyone think that there will be spontaneous support (or any other kind) for the U.S. from anyone in Iraq. The most likely course is that when the fight goes past 30 days (a very good possibility if we only use lite forces) you will see significant Volunteers come into play from all over the Middle East.

"Occupation forces will, in large part, be a heavy force. But that can be brought in later, after tactical surprise is achieved." Two questions: 1. How long do you think the heavy deployment will take since we do not want to tip our hand by deploying them early? 2. Until the heavy force arrives what will be the theater reserve? I suggest that someone consider this question. During the first Gulf War we had a Marine Brigade on the water threatening to land. This fixed the position of a significant portion of Iraq's Army. It also acted as a theater reserve. If we were smart and were really looking for tactical surprise we would be telling everyone we were coming with the heavys. We would move everything back into Kuwait and act like we were going to do a "Desert Storm II." Then try the lite option.

As you can see I do not believe that the events in Afghanistan are repeatable in Iraq. I see what should be a walkover made into a very close-run thing and I do not see the reason why. To me this looks just like the lead up to Somalia where the desk riders structured failure into a can't lose situation and I am not talking about the Rangers. I am talking ROE, no tanks, no artillery etc...

You are an intelligent observer. Get a map out and look at the terrain that has to be covered. Now tell me how the force we are talking about deploying can cover it all at the same time or in any reasonable time. If you cannot then where does your tactical surprise go? Are you assuming that Saddam's soldiers will just give up? I hope so, but as you know "hope is not a method."
-- Hil Evers
LTC US Army

(Update: Jed Babbin's reply is available here, as part of Monday, October 21st's Reader Mail.)

BELLOC AND LOAD:
Re: George Neumayr's Falwell Was Right:

In George Neumayr's article about Falwell, Islam, intellectuals, etc., he quotes Hillaire Belloc as saying the exact opposite of what he in fact said.

He writes that Belloc said:

"It did, as has been so frequently repeated, destroy at once what it came across; it did exterminate all those who would not accept Islam..."

The actual quote is:

"It did NOT, as has been so frequently repeated, destroy at once what it came across; it did NOT exterminate all those who would not accept Islam..."

Belloc's point was that Muslims, far from wiping out the culture they conquered, in fact made major borrowings from that culture. He then goes on to say that, contrary to the opinion of some people, this wasn't because they were "tolerant" but because they were initially few and disorganized. (The entire Belloc article can be found here.)

As far as the actual substance of the article, I partially agree, but I hasten to reassure Mr. Neumayr that the left is, in fact, not in the least motivated by a love of Islam. Rather, they are motivated by the desire to massacre unborn infants and a blinding hatred towards anyone who might stand in their way. ...

The basic intra-left controversy, in which both sides take for granted that the real enemy is serious Christianity, is whether to blame Christians for being anti-Muslim bigots, or to jump on the anti-Muslim bandwagon themselves and labor mightily to establish as the conventional wisdom that all "fundamentalists" are alike and that, therefore, any pro-lifer is morally equivalent to the Taliban.

The first side would be your average politically correct leftoid, second side would be people like Andrew Sullivan and Christopher Hitchens. I figure it is probably better for the country, in the short term, if they adopt the second strategy. Anybody whose opinion of Christianity changes as a result of such horse waste probably is already anti-Christian, so it won't hurt Christians, and if it does, we can handle it. So, if the left thinks 1) that by getting behind the war effort they can hurt Christians, and 2) that they themselves, or anybody they know, won't have to, you know, like, actually fight themselves or anything, then the left might actually shut up and let us fight the war we have to fight, which would be a major improvement over their usual behavior and would spare everyone a lot of headaches.
-- Roy Koczela

Your article on Islam and its followers was gratefully received by those of us who have wearied of persons in high places referring to it as a "religion of peace." I really thought Jerry Falwell would hold up to his own understanding of the nature of Islam but he caved. You are a man of courage and I thank you for your willingness to speak the truth. I would say to expect a Fatwah shortly, but this is the first time I have read The American Prowler or any of your articles and wonder if the "evil eye" might pass by your words as well.

On the other hand, with NRO's Rod Dreher sending people your way, you just may be found out and make the most wanted list in Iran, or maybe even here, as I believe we are far more plagued by these fanatics in this country than we are being told. By the way, I am adding you to my regular reading list, but I can't send money. Sorry. I need a job first, as my husband does not fund my political interests.
-- C. Seymour

Your Falwell column is on-target.
-- Irene Groot
San Jose, CA

NOTHING DOING
Re: Jackie Mason & Raoul Felder's Doing Nothing:

In response to your article "Doing Nothing" a few points with regards to the U.S. Army Air Force and Churchill's recommendation to FDR to bomb the death camps are in order.

The U.S. Army Air Force relied on B-17 and B-24 four-engine bombers and their highly-trained crews to fly daylight strategic bombardment missions to destroy the industrial heart of Nazi Germany. Losses were heavy. On one mission to bomb the ball-bearing factories at Schweinfurt in the summer of 1943, for example, Nazi fighters and antiaircraft artillery shot down over sixty bombers, one-third of attacking formations. A few months later, on another mission to bomb this same target, the Nazis shot down one-third of the bombers again. All missions flown over the Third Reich witnessed B-17s shot out of formations by Luftwaffe fighters or B-24s torn to pieces by 88mm Flak artillery.

The primary reason for the heavy losses of bombers and crews was the lack of a suitable long-range escort fighter to equip U.S. Army Air Force fighter squadrons in Europe. Until the P-51 Mustangs arrived in large numbers in Europe during the early months of 1944, long-range bomber penetration missions into Nazi Germany were cost prohibitive. It was not until March 1944 that the Army Air Force attacked Berlin, a deep and heavily defended target. When they did attack Berlin, a small number of new P-51s escorted the bombers to and from the target, inflicting heavy losses on Luftwaffe fighters. Even with the P-51s in attendance, however, the Luftwaffe and flak artillery shot down nearly 70 bombers, or 10 percent of the force.

The P-51 lacked the range even with drop tanks to escort the four-engine bombers to targets deep inside Poland, where many of the infamous death camps were located, and return to Britain. On a few occasions when the P-51s and bombers did fly deep penetration missions into Eastern Europe, they landed at airbases in the Soviet Union, courtesy of Stalin. After the Luftwaffe caught and destroyed large numbers of Army Air Force bombers and fighters in an air raid at an air base in the Soviet Union in June '44, the "shuttle missions" were halted.

Moreover, even with the Norden bomb sight, the Army Air Force found it difficult to put a "bomb inside a pickle barrel" when flying at 25,000 feet with flak bursting inside the formation, twin-engine ME-110 enemy fighters hurling 240mm rockets into the combat boxes, and FW-190s making head on firing passes with 20mm and 30mm cannon from "Twelve O'clock" high. In response to poor bombing results over Germany, due to defenses and weather, the Army Air Force switched to "area" vice "precision" bombing in the early months of 1944. Instead of aiming for a specific part of a factory to bomb, the planes unleashed their 250, 500, and 1000-pound bombs at a section of a city, hopping to hit a factory in the area.

OK, what does all this have to do with the article? Simple. The B-17s and B-24s didn't bomb the death camps because the Nazi defenses would have hacked a considerable percentage of the bombers out of the sky without the bombers inflicting serious damage on the death camps. After all, just what targets should the bombers have struck? The crematoriums and gas chamber facilities were simply too small to hit with any degree of accuracy from 20,000 plus feet. To bomb from a lower altitude would have meant heavier losses and possible fuel starvation for the bombers on the return trip. The bombs released over the target would have hit the inmates in the camps, something Joseph Goebbels would have enjoyed harping on in the propaganda war being waged at the time. To bomb the railroads leading to the camps would have disrupted rail traffic at best, but the Nazis, Japanese, North Koreans, Chinese, and North Vietnamese foes our nation has fought over the past sixty-plus years, have proven many times over just how easy it is to repair a rail line overnight after a heavy air raid.

If it was practical to bomb the death camps, why didn't Churchill order his own Bomber Command to attack them? The RAF Lancaster four-engine bomber carried a larger payload a greater distance than American bombers. To argue the RAF bombed at night and the Army Air Force in the day misses the progress the RAF had made in target marking and radar bombing. By April 1944 the RAF was bombing more accurately at night than the Army Air Force was in the day. But in contrast to the slow decline in Army Air Force bomber losses that began after the introduction of the P-51, the RAF witnessed an increase loss rate in the same period due to increased German expertise in night-fighting and the lack of an effective night-fighter to escort the Lancasters to their targets. In March '44, the RAF lost over 90 of the 700 bombers it sent to attack Nuremberg in one night. With that disaster, RAF Bomber Command shifted its efforts from conducting deep penetration missions into Germany to attacking shallow targets in France until after the Normandy invasion.

One final point needs to be made. Eisenhower was able to promise his assault troops that they would only see Allied planes over the invasion convoys heading to Normandy because the combined might of the RAF and the Army Air Force (especially the P-51s) had decimated the Luftwaffe. To divert airpower to another purpose in a cost prohibitive and ineffective bombardment campaign against the death camps is a fantasy that was thankfully never carried out. We had to win the war to defeat Hitler and the Army Air Force made victory in 1945 possible.
-- Mike Slater

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