Site About Bin Laden Leads To Threats

from the people-need-to-calm-down dept

It’s amazing how shortsighted and stupid people can be. In the wake of the September 11 attack, a woman decided to set up a website to try to gather information about Osama bin Laden so that people could better understand who this guy was. Mostly she just linked to mainstream press coverage talking about bin Laden and his background. Of course, idiots who didn’t take the time to figure out what the site was about started sending her hate mail and threats.

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Scott says:

Something very interesting that we should understa

For those who do not know him, Col. Charlie Precourt is an veteran Air Force
Pilot and astronaut flying on STS-55, STS-71 ,and Commander of STS-84 and
STS-91. Please see his note at the start about the author of this letter,
Tony Kern.

This puts into perspective how grave this situation really is.

—-Original Message—–
Sent: Tuesday, September 18, 2001 10:24 PM
Subject: FW: The unspoken resolve: US vs. terrorists

You all are probably tired of seeing forwarded e-mails on the terrorist
situation…but this one is written by Tony Kern, the guy who wrote
“Redefining Airmanship” and has been to visit us a couple of times as a
guest speaker. It is thought provoking and worth the read.

Recently, I was asked to look at the recent events through the lens of
military history. I have joined the cast of thousands who have written an
“open letter to Americans.” Please share it if you feel so moved.

Dear friends and fellow Americans 14 September, 2001

Like everyone else in this great country, I am reeling from last week’s
attack on our sovereignty. But unlike some, I am not reeling from surprise.
As a career soldier and a student and teacher of military history, I have a
different perspective and I think you should hear it. This war will be won
or lost by the American citizens, not diplomats, politicians or soldiers.
Let me briefly explain.

In spite of what the media, and even our own government is telling us, this
act was not committed by a group of mentally deranged fanatics. To dismiss
them as such would be among the gravest of mistakes. This attack was
committed by a ferocious, intelligent and dedicated adversary. Don’t take
this the wrong way. I don’t admire these men and I deplore their tactics,
but I respect their capabilities. The many parallels that have been made
with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor are apropos. Not only because it
was a brilliant sneak attack against a complacent America, but also because
we may well be pulling our new adversaries out of caves 30 years after we
think this war is over, just like my father’s generation had to do with the
formidable Japanese in the years following WW II.

These men hate the United States with all of their being, and we must not
underestimate the power of their moral commitment. Napoleon, perhaps the
world’s greatest combination of soldier and statesman, stated “the moral is
to the physical as three is to one.” Patton thought the Frenchman
underestimated its importance and said moral conviction was five times more
important in battle than physical strength. Our enemies are willing – better
said anxious-to give their lives for their cause. How committed are we
America? And for how long?

In addition to demonstrating great moral conviction, the recent attack
demonstrated a mastery of some of the basic fundamentals of warfare taught
to most military officers worldwide, namely simplicity, security and
surprise. When I first heard rumors that some of these men may have been
trained at our own Air War College, it made perfect sense to me. This was
not a random act of violence, and we can expect the same sort of military
competence to be displayed in the battle to come. This war will escalate,
with a good portion of it happening right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A.
These men will not go easily into the night. They do not fear us. We must
not fear them.

In spite of our overwhelming conventional strength as the world’s only
“superpower” (a truly silly term), we are the underdog in this fight. As
you listen to the carefully scripted rhetoric designed to prepare us for
the march for war, please realize that America is not equipped or seriously
trained for the battle ahead. To be certain, our soldiers are much better
than the enemy, and we have some excellent “counter-terrorist”
organizations, but they are mostly trained for hostage rescues, airfield
seizures, or the occasional “body snatch,” (which may come in handy). We
will be fighting a war of annihilation, because if their early efforts are
any indication, our enemy is ready and willing to die to the last man.
Eradicating the enemy will be costly and time consuming. They have already
deployed their forces in as many as 20 countries, and are likely living the
lives of everyday citizens. Simply put, our soldiers will be tasked with a
search and destroy mission on multiple foreign landscapes, and the public
must be patient and supportive until the strategy and tactics can be worked

For the most part, our military is still in the process of redefining itself
and presided over by men and women who grew up with – and were promoted
because they excelled in – Cold War doctrine, strategy and tactics. This
will not be linear warfare, there will be no clear “centers of gravity” to
strike with high technology weapons. Our vast technological edge will
certainly be helpful, but it will not be decisive. Perhaps the perfect
metaphor for the coming battle was introduced by the terrorists themselves
aboard the hijacked aircraft-this will be a knife fight, and it will be won
or lost by the ingenuity and will of citizens and soldiers, not by software
or smart bombs. We must also be patient with our military leaders.

Unlike Americans who are eager to put this messy time behind us, our
adversaries have time on their side, and they will use it. They plan to
fight a battle of attrition, hoping to drag the battle out until the
American public loses its will to fight. This might be difficult to believe
in this euphoric time of flag waving and patriotism, but it is generally
acknowledged that America lacks the stomach for a long fight. We need only
look as far back as Vietnam, when North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap
(also a military history teacher) defeated the United States of America
without ever winning a major tactical battle. American soldiers who marched
to war cheered on by flag waving Americans in 1965 were reviled and spat
upon less than three years later when they returned. Although we hope that
Usama Bin Laden is no Giap, he is certain to understand and employ the
concept. We can expect not only large doses of pain like the recent attacks,
but! also less audacious “sand in the gears” tactics, ranging from livestock
infestations to attacks at water supplies and power distribution facilities.
These attacks are designed to hit us in our “comfort zone” forcing the aver
age American to “pay more and play less” and eventually eroding our
resolve. But it can only work if we let it.

It is clear to me that the will of the American citizenry – you and I – is
the center of gravity the enemy has targeted. It will be the fulcrum upon
which victory or defeat will turn. He believes us to be soft, impatient,
and self-centered. He may be right, but if so, we must change. The Prussian
general Carl von Clausewitz, (the most often quoted and least read military
theorist in history), says that there is a “remarkable trinity of war” that
is composed of the (1) will of the people, (2) the political leadership of
the government, and (3) the chance and probability that plays out on the
field of battle, in that order. Every American citizen was in the crosshairs
of last Tuesday’s attack, not just those that were unfortunate enough to be
in the World Trade Center or Pentagon. The will of the American people will
decide this war. If we are to win, it will be because we have what it takes
to persevere through a few more hits, learn from our! mistakes, improvise,
and adapt. If we can do that, we will eventually prevail. Everyone I’ve
talked to In the past few days has shared a common frustration, saying in
one form or another “I just wish I could do something!” You are already
doing it. Just keep faith in America, and continue to support your
President and military, and the outcome is certain. If we fail to do so,
the outcome is equally certain.

God Bless America

Dr. Tony Kern, Lt Col, USAF (Ret)
Former Director of Military History, USAF Academy

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