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Posts Tagged ‘Colonel Jack Jacobs (Ret.)’

Every day, we lose more than a thousand veterans and with them the wisdom of age and lessons of history.  American culture puts a huge premium on youth and beauty and even on inexperience and naiveté, but it is hard to see how any of these traits have utility in making us prosperous and safe.  To be sure, it is more pleasant to hear platitudes from vibrant, attractive people with hairless, sculpted bodies than it is to hear the unvarnished truth from someone with a leather face and less glibness than experience, but older people are more likely to speak with authority.

And with passion, too, for the older we get the more we recognize that, when the day is gone, it is gone forever and it can’t be retrieved.  So there is an urgency to the things that mature people say, which is why they talk incessantly and won’t shut up.  So much of their lives have already passed that they don’t have enough time left to recount the lessons in it.  And they are worried that you aren’t listening, which is why they tell the same stories, and deliver the same aphorisms, over and over again.

If it seems that we keep making the same mistakes, it is because we pay insufficient attention to people who have been through it all at least once before.  In the end, we will survive rather than perish not because we accumulate comfort and luxury but because we accumulate wisdom.

–  Col. Jack Jacobs (Ret.), a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient (and Douglas Century)
from their book “If Not Now, When?

 

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…As every infantryman knows: it takes more resources to hold an objective than to take it.  An assertion that it takes fewer can only come from people with no understanding of how wars are actually fought and won.
 

…We have a system in which military leaders serve civilian bosses, because we do not want people in uniform to run the country.  We have seen it attempted elsewhere, and it is rarely successful and never very pretty.  So American service members are inculcated with the notion of the superiority of civilian authority,and they are very uncomfortable acting contrary to that notion.  Officers have the responsibility to contribute to the plans and the decisions to execute those plans, but they are taught that, once the decision is made, they must obey — unless, of course, the order is immoral or illegal.  And this works extremely well at nearly every level of command.  Nearly, but not at every level.
 

…But if the Secretary of Defense wants to do something contrary to the best judgment of the general officers appointed to render advice, something so egregious that experienced military people know instinctively, if not from experience, that it is foolhardy or worse, who is left to prevent disaster?
 

Only those general officers.  Professional military men know how many troops are needed to perform missions, and the plans must be reviewed and certified annually.  If Tommy Franks or Dick Myers or any other officer at the top of the chain of command thought that the plan was unworthy, each had an obligation to his uniform, to the nation, and to the troops they sent to war to ensure that the plan was not executed.  And if they thought that the plan was a good one, then they were fools.  In either case, they failed this country.
 

Civilian control was established to prevent military domination, and the rules for following lawful orders are clear.  Who would have thought that our real danger was the civilian hijacking of the military apparatus, snatching it from officers who were either too inept or too pusillanimous to resist? 
 

–  Col. Jack Jacobs (Ret.), a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient (and Douglas Century)
from their book “If Not Now, When?
 

[In my opinion, history will not be kind to either the Bush/Cheney Administration or to the general officers in command leading up to the invasion of Iraq – with the notable exception of Army Chief of Staff, General Eric Shinseki. 
 

General Shinseki testified to the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee that “something in the order of several hundred thousand soldiers” would probably be required for postwar Iraq. This was an estimate far higher than the figure being proposed by Secretary Rumsfeld in his invasion plan, and it was rejected in strong language by both Rumsfeld and his Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz, who was another chief planner of the invasion and occupation.
 

On November 15, 2006, in testimony before Congress, CENTCOM Commander Gen. John Abizaid said that General Shinseki had been correct that more troops were needed. (from Wikipedia)
 

Unfortunately, one brave man was not enough to keep us out of a war of choice.  —  KMAB]
 

 

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One could argue persuasively that if all citizens had a stake in the protection of our freedom, the arbitrary use of the military instrument of power, as a first resort, would be very difficult to engineer.
 

–  Col. Jack Jacobs (Ret.), a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient (and Douglas Century)
from their book “If Not Now, When?
 

 

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…I guess I could have become a politician had I not developed an aversion to being nice to people I can’t stand.
 

–  Col. Jack Jacobs (Ret.), a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient (and Douglas Century)
from their book “If Not Now, When?
 

 

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If you have been getting something for nothing for a long time, it’s rough to convince you to pay for it.  But pay Americans must.  In the years since the end of World War II, we have experimented with a number of schemes for producing the force we have needed, but none has been based on the notion of shared sacrifice.  It is arguable whether the current volunteer system or one in which we relied on a draft is worse, but suffice it to say that they are both bad.  We don’t need selective service.  We need universal service.  But there is great political danger in merely suggesting that all Americans contribute in a meaningful way to our collective defense, and so no politician who wants to keep his job will do it.  Consequently none does, and we are the poorer for it.
 

—  Col. Jack Jacobs (Ret.), a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient (and Douglas Century)
from their book “If Not Now, When?
 

 

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But I have an inveterate, almost uncontrollable urge to tell the truth.  Truth has an awesome power.  It is important and beautiful for its own sake, but also, without it an ordered society is impossible.  I am driven to deliver it, and so I often blurt out things that are wholly accurate but inadvisably impolite.
 

—  Col. Jack Jacobs (Ret.), a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient (and Douglas Century)
from their book “If Not Now, When?
 

[Would that more of us had the courage of this “failing”…  —  KMAB]
 

 

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Our mission as advisors in 1967 was to do exactly what American advisors are trying to do in Iraq now: train the local army to assume all security and nation-building duties and permit us to go home.  We never managed to do it effectively in Vietnam, and we are unlikely to be given enough time to get it done completely in Iraq, either.  Among other things, it takes more than simply sending over advisors, regardless of how well trained, qualified, and committed they are.  It takes the dedication of all executive departments in an organized, centrally directed, and concerted effort.  That’s not something one sees in Iraq.
  —  Col. Jack Jacobs (Ret.), a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient (and Douglas Century)
from their book: “If Not Now, When?
[We could not “save” Vietnam.  We will not be able to prevent the collapse of Iraq.  And we will NEVER (in anything less than a hundred years) be able to build a modern, functional democracy in Afghanistan.  The sooner we are out of both Iraq and Afghanistan, the better off we will be as a nation.  Does anyone seriously believe we will not bankrupt the United States before we are able to “help” the Afghans stand on their own?  We are building both (Iraq and Afghanistan) houses on sand.  When the first rains come, both will be washed away.  —  KMAB]
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