Archive for Thursday, November 15, 2007

Army general: Military adapting to modern wars

Lt. Gen. William Caldwell of Fort Leavenworth discusses how war has changed since the founding of the United States and how the military adapts to changes Wednesday at the Dole Institute of Politics on the Kansas University campus.

Lt. Gen. William Caldwell of Fort Leavenworth discusses how war has changed since the founding of the United States and how the military adapts to changes Wednesday at the Dole Institute of Politics on the Kansas University campus.

November 15, 2007


Modern warfare discussed at Dole

The changing face of warfare was the hot topic of discussion tonight at the Dole Institute of Politics. Lieutenant General Wiliam Caldwell spoke about the evolution of military conflict and its tactics. Enlarge video

U.S. military leaders are learning to adapt to the complexities of modern wars of insurgency, an Army general said during an appearance Wednesday night in Lawrence.

Insurgent organizations such as al-Qaida know they can't defeat the United States in a conventional war, so they resort to terrorism, said Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, commanding general at Fort Leavenworth's Combined Arms Center, which oversees the Army's professional military education centers throughout the country.

"Their goal is to exhaust our will to fight," he told about 300 people who heard his speech at Kansas University's Dole Institute of Politics. "They know they don't have to win; they just have to survive until we go away."

Military leaders can counter insurgent forces by knowing the cultures of the people in the countries where they fight, working with those people and communicating to them and the rest of the world their purpose. Commanders need to know how to use force and how to lend a hand, Caldwell said.

"We're not interested in teaching our soldiers what to think but how to think," he said. "We're asking them to challenge assumptions and ask why."

Caldwell, who once served as media spokesman for multinational forces in Iraq, emphasized the need for better strategic communication to the public to counter the information that insurgents put out over the Internet. Communication is one way to erode support for the enemy, he said.

"We need to make sure there is an accurate picture of events," Caldwell said.

Moreover, Caldwell noted the importance of working with the governments and militaries in other nations.

Caldwell, who also spent two years in Afghanistan as commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, gave an insight into the military and its leadership that the public doesn't usually get, Lawrence resident Steve Ramsdell said after Caldwell's speech.

"We really need to let the public know who we (the military) are," said Ramsdell, who said he grew up in a military family. His father served 22 years in the Army. "A lot of people don't know about the military connections."

Another Lawrence resident, Richard Dyer, said he thinks the nation's political leaders could learn a few things from the Army, based on what he heard from Caldwell.

"I don't know that our political leaders have the smarts to stay up with the military," Dyer said. "They (the Army) are adapting to a changing world and I think the politicians are 50 years behind the times."

Barbara McCandless, who drove from Topeka to hear the general, also was impressed.

"I think Kansas should be very proud we have the programs at Fort Leavenworth," she said.

Caldwell spoke on the eve of a two-day military-social science roundtable that begins today at the Dole Institute. He also is scheduled to speak at the round table opening at 9 a.m. Today's discussions will focus on subjects researched by teams consisting of a university professor and a military officer who has been deployed to a world trouble spot. Friday will include talks by foreign officers about their experiences with the American military.

"The more culturally agile U.S. soldiers are, the more effective they can do a job in helping to build a country like Afghanistan or Iraq to better standards," said Felix Moos, a KU anthropology professor, who helped organize the event and who will be a participant.

The roundtable is open to the public but seating is limited.

Highlights from Lt. Gen. William Caldwell's speech

Here are some of the highlights of Lt. Gen. William Caldwell's speech Wednesday night at the Dole Institute of Politics.

¢ Caldwell presented a gift from Fort Leavenworth to the Dole Institute. It was a miniature statue of a 10th Cavalry trooper on his horse. The 10th Cavalry was one of four black regiments authorized in 1866 and was garrisoned at Fort Leavenworth. In 1992, retired general and former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole co-sponsored and raised money for the full-size statue at the fort. There were only 100 of the miniature statues made and 95 of them had been given out, Caldwell said.

"This is the 96th one," he said as he presented it to Dole interim director Jonathan Earle.

¢ Caldwell spoke highly of private American contractors working in Iraq and Afghanistan. The jobs they do free up soldiers to handle combat duties, he said. There are 180,000 contractor employees in Iraq while there are 160,000 military personnel, he said.

"They are absolutely paramount to what we are doing. They are great patriots," he said.

¢ The media seldom cover the peaceful activities the military does in Iraq, Caldwell said when asked by an audience member how the media coverage of the war affected the soldiers.

"They feel disappointed that the good things are not being seen," he said. "They want the people to hear about what is going on."

¢ China is a country the U.S. needs to stay in communication with, Caldwell said.

"It's someone we do want to have a dialogue with so that we don't misunderstand each other's intentions," he said.

¢ Caldwell admitted that the Army is "stretched and strained" to its limits with constant deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as commitments elsewhere in the world. But he also commended the men and women and their families for their dedication and how well they handle the deployments.


wagenseil 10 years, 7 months ago

Caldwell is quite a contrast to his predecessor, David Petraeus. Petraeus emphasized the important of concrete accomplishments in dealing with an insurgency -- providing security and basic services like water and electricity. For Caldwell, at least in the talk last night (I was there), basically everything is spin. Seems like a giant step backwards. I've heard some of the same from people teaching there as well -- Leavenworth is switching from the focus on basics of political and economic development that were emphasized under Petraeus and Wallace, and instead bringing in con-artist consultants who charge very high fees to explain that all we need to do is improve the Iraqi's self-esteem.

Somewhere in a cave in Afghanistan, Osama bin-Laden is very, very happy -- we're at a huge relative disadvantage to al-Qaeda in the information and opinion realm, whereas we can beat them in providing material security. So what Caldwell is suggesting is that we play their game, not ours: doesn't seem like a very good call.

jumpin_catfish 10 years, 7 months ago

Number 1 - Con Artist! whose spinning now Number 2 - Happy living in a cave, I doubt it Number 3 - The methods needed to destroy al-Qaeda would be very unplesant to our soft whining American mindset so its network will continue to grow until we get hit again

Brandon Devlin 10 years, 7 months ago

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kneejerkreaction 10 years, 7 months ago

With all those brilliant minds in military academy that do nothing but think about this stuff all the time, you'd think they would have figured this out a long time ago. Time to continue stockpiling ammunition.

DGL 10 years, 7 months ago

logrithmic: "The military machine is keeping lists..." I just about lost my bearing when I read that. Who talks like that? I heard the military machine also eats puppies for sustinence...puppies drenched in oil and human suffering. Let the military do its job weirdo. Do what you do best...smoke pot, hang out at coffeehouses, and think you're changing the world by posting your catchphrases online while 18 year old guys are dying in the Middle East to stop extremists who would kill you on sight.

Rationalanimal 10 years, 7 months ago

But there is evil in our military. Guantanamo, Abu Graib, bombing of villages, indiscriminate killing, renditions, Blackwater (comprised of ex-Special Forces and according to the FBI, guilty of indiscriminate murder in Iraq), phosphorous gas (chemical weapons):. Let's not whitewash the reality. Too many want to. Too many want to trust and obey. This is what leads to corruption.

You speak well for the Moveon Socialist Party dba as the Democratic National Committee--and that is precisely why the MSP is going to take it in the shorts in November 2008. Apparently we should believe the fabricated stories of phoney soldiers. Yo, log, these bozos running around alleging all these atrocities are proven frauds. Your socialist media prints the retraction on page 30. Keep blaming our military and trashing them. It is the best thing the MSP can do because you are totally out of touch with reality, not to mention the sentitment of mainstream America.

War is nasty dirty business any way you cut it. Real bullets are shot at real people and bombs are dropped. And yes, the intent is to kill. In World War II we indiscriminately carpet bombed Berlin night and day for months. Berlin was rumble when we were done. We dropped the A-Bomb twice on Japan. We have not, and should not, apologize for either. War is war. You do what it takes to win.

Ideally we could solve all our disputes at a Strawberry Shortcake tea party as the Democrats suggest. But, when you say "go" to the military, you don't pull political stunts as the MSP dba DNC has been doing for the past few years. That kills American troops, which is precisely why the DNC's days in control of the House and Senate are numbered. Republicans win big in 2008 as the DNC have bet their political future on America's military defeat, big government, socialist healthcare, and out of control tax increases.

Rationalanimal 10 years, 7 months ago


Are you typing from a cabin in Montana? You have derailed. Seriously, you're way past due on taking your medication.

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