Do it right, or die

By David Hackworth

Hopefully, the American people’s call to action last week will result in a lean, mean Department of Homeland Security finally up and running, a doubling of the number of warriors in the FBI and Border Patrol, and our armed forces returned to the stern standards that won World War II.

Since 1945, our politicians – responding to an ever-more-politically correct citizenry who, for the most part, know war only according to Hollywood – have slowly stripped the essential kill-or-be-killed skills and techniques away from those who do the fighting and the dying.

Five years after our once-awesome military force destroyed the Axis war machine, our soldiers were sent to Korea and were savagely defeated in the initial phase of that hard war by a second-rate, sneaker-shod North Korean army.

Thanks to our top brass toadying to the then-nascent kinder-gentler crowd and kowtowing to Harry Truman’s dumb premise that future wars would be won by naval and air power, our garrison-green untrained ground forces were pummeled and almost pushed into the Sea of Japan.

“A nation that does not prepare for all the forms of war should then renounce the use of war in national policy,” wrote T.R Fehrenbach in “This Kind of War,” his highly acclaimed history of the Korean War. “A people that does not prepare to fight should then be morally prepared to surrender. To fail to prepare soldiers and citizens for limited, bloody ground action, and then to engage in it, is folly verging on the criminal.”

Our professional-soldier survivors from Korea, who’d seen too many good men die because they hadn’t been trained to the standard where they could engage a skilled opponent on automatic, became known as “training maniacs.” From 1954 to 1965, this team of haunted men, leavened with World War II vets, hunkered down and built a hardcore military second to none.

The finest regular force that ever served this great land was then wasted during the Vietnam War by self-serving generals blinded by careerism who couldn’t see the nature of that guerrilla war nor fight with the right tactics and techniques.

By 1973, when much of our armed forces were reduced to an angry, drugged-out mob, great leaders like Hank Emerson, Jim Hollingsworth, Hal Moore and thousands of other strong officers and NCOs reached into the cold ashes of defeat to build the brilliant force that brought Saddam Hussein down in 100 hours in 1991.

But after the toppling of the Berlin Wall and our triumph over Iraq, the social engineers again took charge – this time with unchecked gusto. Losers such as Army Gen. Claudia Kennedy, who proudly stated, “This is no longer your father’s Army,” ushered in the “Consideration for Others” era that’s made the United States – less the USMC, the Special Ops community and the fighter, bomber and chopper Jocks and Jills – the joke of the professional military world.

Last March, during Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan, our troops, neither trained nor equipped for mountain warfare, were initially clobbered when they were surprised because of bad intelligence. The al-Qaida enemy – whose fighting positions couldn’t be found because all our exotic intell gear wasn’t up for the gritty game – had superior small arms and easily outshot our soldiers. But for air power, our seriously out-of-shape kids would have followed George Custer’s 7th Cav into shallow graves. And then the Army brass submitted their SOP “We Won!” cover-up and rushed home to present hundreds of medals as part of their CYA campaign.

The war with Iraq will be over before any conversion from today’s sorry standards is possible. But we’ll still be committed to a long war against terrorism, with scores of upcoming battles. And to win, we need to insist that our pols and top brass do their duty and reinstate the absolute soldier standards that Fehrenbach referred to when he wrote: “His pride is his colors and his regiment, his training hard and thorough and coldly realistic, to fit him for what he must face, and his obedience is his orders.”

Otherwise, with the present shape of the majority of our armed forces, we’re headed for another Korean War type of rout. Or worse.