Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Okinawa Strategy

Michelle Malkin (and others) have noted John Murtha's latest call for redeploying U.S. troops from Iraq to....Okinawa. Appearing on "Meet the Press" over the weekend, Murtha opined that our military forces could easily support combat operations in the Middle East from the relative comfort and security of the Far East. What the heck, it's only 8,000 miles round-trip.

Even Tim Russert had a hard time swallowing that one, but Murtha persisted.

MR. RUSSERT: But it’d be tough to have a timely response from Okinawa.

REP. MURTHA: Well, it—you know, they—when I say Okinawa, I, I’m saying troops in Okinawa. When I say a timely response, you know, our fighters can fly from Okinawa very quickly. And—and—when they don’t know we’re coming. There’s no question about it. And, and where those airplanes won’t—came from I can’t tell you, but, but I’ll tell you one thing, it doesn’t take very long for them to get in with cruise missiles or with, with fighter aircraft or, or attack aircraft, it doesn’t take any time at all. So we, we have done—this one particular operation, to say that that couldn’t have done, done—it was done from the outside, for heaven’s sakes.

Of course, Murtha's claims are laughable. Froggy at Blackfive has a nice summary of what it would take to get F-16s--like the ones that killed Zarqawi--from Kadena to Iraq and back again. Nothing like a 20-hour, round-robin mission in a single seat, single-engine fighter. And, those dozen or so aerial refuelings (per aircraft) that Froggy describes would tie up a good portion of our KC-135 and KC-10 tanker fleet. Then, there's the question of where the refuelers would operate from, basing rights, airfield security, and all the other issues associated with creating an air bridge from Asia to the Persian Gulf.

It is easy to dismiss Murtha as a political twit who never learned another military lesson after he left 'Nam. In another era, Murtha's remarks would be dismissed as foolish rantings and an embarassment, even by Congressional standards. But, in today's political environment, Murtha is considered a military expert. The MSM is quick to point out that Congressman Murtha is a retired Marine Corps Colonel who served in Vietnam (wonder if he bumped into John Kerry over there?) By the standards of today's Democratic Party and the liberal press, Murtha ranks up there with Clausewitz as a military strategist. When Mr. Murtha loses his re-election bid this fall, perhaps he can find work as a visiting professor at the Naval War College or the Air War College. I'm sure his theories on global airpower projection who (ahem) receive a proper response at one of those institutions.

One final thought: Murtha, like thousands of Vietnam-era Marines, probably passed through Okinawa enroute to Southeast Asia, or on the way home. Perhaps he has fond memories of his time on the island, and somehow assumes that the U.S. will maintain a permanent military presence on Okinawa. Well, here's a little news flash for Jack Murtha; a sizeable number of Okinawans want the U.S. military off their island, and they routinely petition the Japanese government to shut down the sprawling Air Force, Navy and Marine installations located there. So far, Tokyo has resisted calls to eject the U.S. military, but our future on the island is far from assured. At some point, a more liberal Japanese government will capitualate to the Okinawans' request, and the U.S. will receive its eviction notice. That would certainly put a crimp in Murtha's Okinawa strategy.

But, being the strategist that he is, I'm sure that Congressman Murtha has considered that option, and probably has a fall-back plan. If we lose Okinawa, just base everything out of Guam. That's only 5,000 miles or so, just a hop, skip and a jump in Murtha's way of thinking. We'd better get to work on hypersonic attack aircraft, or space-based tactical weapons. I would hate to be a fighter jock or bomber driver in an Air Force subjected to Murtha's airpower "vision."


cold pizza said...

Y'know, we've been on Oki (and mainland Japan) for about 60 years now, keeping those pesky Japs under control. Don't you think its time we brought THOSE troops home? Why doesn't Murtha rant about our illegal occupation of the sovereign nations of Japan, Germany, England, Cyprus, etc.? Food for blogging later.-cold pizza

Whitehall said...

Are we sure he wasn't thinking Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean?

That's still a far piece but is a bit more plausible.

Wanderlust said...

Same argument goes for Diego Garcia as for Okinawa, whitehall: the Brits literally evicted the few hundred inhabitants of Diego Garcia so we could put a base there.

There's an old adage about Wall Street being an impartial barometer regarding major decisions. If you want to REALLY know how people believe, follow their wallet.

Case in point: by the Dems' logic, the US has been an occupying power in Europe and Asia for the past 61 years. Yet when Rummy so much as hinted about wanting to draw down troops from those forward bases, the locals freaked out. Hell, Germany alone all but begged the DoD to keep bases open and fully staffed.

Why? The answer is summed up in those four little words that Clinton was famous for: it's the economy, stupid. Yanking the bases out from those towns in Germany would be a huge dent in their local economy.

(Don't you just love it how other countries so often can't stand Yanks, but they just love our money?)

If it were up to me, I'd close the bases in Germany, England, and ROK, and redeploy some of the troops and assets into Iraq.

As for Murtha, well. I can only hope that history will remember him with his two equals, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. The blame for the rise of islamofascism, 9/11 and numerous smaller acts of terror worldwide can be proven to rest at the feet of those three individuals.

Jimmy Carter: Camp David accords, 1977 (a peace agreement purchased by $2 billion/year in foreign aid to both Israel and Egypt); Iran hostage crisis, 1979 (not defending our embassy, which was American soil, when attacked); Agreed To Framework, 1994 (with Bill Clinton, appeasing Dear Leader with billions of dollars of direct aid, fuel oil, and food, for nothing more than empty promises of no nuclear weapons); and for generally acting as a diplomatic loose cannon around the world

Bill Clinton: for committing the military to numerous "humanitarian" missions where there were too few boots on the ground to do anything meaningful; treating terrorist actions (1993, 1996, 1998) as law-breaking instead of acts of war; the "Gorelick Wall"; eight years of "no fly" in Iraq without pushing the UN to enforce its existing resolutions against Saddam; and for thinking that al-Quaida would just go away if he lobbed an occasional Tomahawk missile at a training camp somewhere.

John Murtha: pushed withdrawal from Mogadishu, 1993 (a tactic demonstrated by the 9/11 commission to have emboldened Osama bin Laden); pushing withdrawal from Iraq, 2005-6; slander of servicemen in the media without a shred of evidence to back up his claims, 2006; and for grandstanding against the military as an excuse to divert attention away from numerous probes against his practice of "earmarking" funds in spending bills - perhaps the fattest type of political pork ever invented.

And for the record, I think that Reagan's departure from Lebanon in 1984 didn't help either - but that deployment seems to be a strategic abortion from the start.

crosspatch said...

I say put Murtha in a seat in a two-seater for 20 hours and see how long it takes him to ask for a bathroom once his Depends soaks through.

crosspatch said...

And for the record, I think that Reagan's departure from Lebanon in 1984 didn't help either - but that deployment seems to be a strategic abortion from the start.

That was a joint US/French deployment and both the US and French barracks were blown up. We had to decide at that point to either go into full occupation mode in order to provide the degree of force protection we were going to need or leave. If we decided to beef up, we were going to face Syria directly and Iran by proxy. This was at the same time we were courting a fairly new relationship with Egypt.