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In Defense of Lt. Col. Alan B. West
In Defense of Lt. Col. Alan B. West
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This article is provided courtesy of DefenseWatch, the official magazine for Soldiers For The Truth (SFTT), a grass-roots educational organization started by a small group of concerned veterans and citizens to inform the public, the Congress, and the media on the decline in readiness of our armed forces. Inspired by the outspoken idealism of retired Colonel David Hackworth, SFTT aims to give our service people, veterans, and retirees a clear voice with the media, Congress, the public and their services.

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November 20, 2003

[Have an opinion about the views expressed in this article? Sound off in the Hot Issues with Defensewatch Forum.]

By Jim Simpson

A few weeks ago, one very brave officer took a battle action that saved American lives and simultaneously demonstrated what may be the only way in many circumstances to obtain tactical intelligence on the insurgents in Iraq.

Did he face a battalion of enemy guerillas alone? Did he run through an artillery barrage to save a wounded soldier? No. Something infinitely more dangerous: He defied the U.S. Army's own legion of spineless lawyers and the gutless commanders who acquiesce to their edicts.

Lt. Col. Alan B. West, an African American - which makes him doubly politically incorrect, and therefore certain to face harsh handling by the Pentagon's PC Police - fired his weapon near the head of an Iraqi policeman, feigning a threat but not actually threatening the suspect's life. Why did he do this? To obtain vital, on-the-ground intelligence that prevented an ambush of West's troops and resulted in the capture of its intended perpetrators.

This should not even rise to the level of debate, but since so many armchair philosophers, safely ensconced in their warm, comfortable libraries, self-righteously decry West's action, it appears debate is necessary.

In earlier days, troops on the ground took whatever action necessary to gain tactical advantage. This sometimes meant getting rough with enemy prisoners to obtain essential intelligence. They were justified in doing so, both to save American servicemen's lives and shorten the war. They were relatively confident their actions would not be reported on the nightly news, partially because their commanders were more likely to look the other way, and partially because they did not face the instant communications capability and utter lack of loyalty of the news media today.

What are we so afraid of? The most frequently heard objection to our use of these tactics is the protest: "But then we will be just like them (the enemy)." This is the pinnacle of absurdity.

In World War II, when Hitler first used Blitzkrieg tactics to storm across Europe, the world was outraged, shocked! Yet we adopted similar tactics almost immediately. When he bombed London the world was horrified, shocked! Yet the British responded in kind with relentless nightly carpet-bombing of German cities, resulting in far greater civilian casualties than Hitler ever dreamed of.

No one blinked an eye.

In the European Theatre, the United States chose daylight precision bombing instead. It spared the German population some of the devastation wrought by the British, but at a high cost in American airmen's lives. Were we driven by some grand humanitarian passion to avoid civilian casualties at the risk of American lives? Absurd!

We believed that destroying Germany's industrial infrastructure was key to halting their war-making capability. And the best way to do that was with daytime pinpoint bombing of industrial targets, which was only possible because of the American-made Norden Bombsight.

Did we follow that recipe in Japan? No. We chose instead to conduct nighttime incendiary carpet-bombing raids on Japanese cities that caused more civilian casualties than both atomic bombs. Was this done out of some sadistic desire for revenge? Absurd!

It was because Japan had dispersed its war production facilities to small shops throughout its cities to deny us easy bombing targets. Since Japanese cities were largely constructed of wood, incendiary bombs targeting the entire city were the best way to attack Japan's war-making capability. Ultimately it took the atomic bomb to convince them to surrender, saving in the process the millions of lives, both American and Japanese, which an invasion would have cost.

Did we ever hear anyone protest that such brutal tactics would make us "just like them"? Absurd!

They would have been laughed out of their boots. We were fighting for our survival! Our sole aim throughout was to bring that war to a victorious end with as little bloodshed as possible. And we succeeded because we were willing to do whatever necessary to achieve that end. There was never a question that we would become "just like them." In fact, we avoided being "just like them" by beating them on the battlefield. Instead, they became just like us - a good thing, though it doubtless annoys the French.

All those American leftists, who insist that we don't deserve to win if we can't do it with both hands tied behind our backs, are the same as the scumbags who cheered the North Vietnamese for torturing American POWs during the Vietnam War. The use of torture, mass murder, or any other form of brutality has never been objectionable to these people when conducted by lovable communist guerillas or some other equally odious group with whom they find sympathy.

If the Left is so worried about us becoming "just like them," how come they don't have a problem with the behavior of "them"? By their twisted logic, becoming "just like them" would be a good thing! The North Vietnamese broke every international law on the books. Where are the Nuremburg Trials for them? How about the North Koreans? The Chinese? The Russians? All are guilty of unspeakable barbarity.

Whether you know it or not, whether you like it or not, we are once again in a battle for our survival. The War on Terror is not optional. The attacks on 9/11 were the international terrorist movement's shot across the bow, and we ignore it at our mortal peril. You can sit in your easy chair and whine about our tactics. You can join the Democrats and cynically use the Bush administration's mistakes as leverage for your own political edification.

Either way, if the terrorists have their way, you will be just as dead.

If we allow our soldiers to be hamstrung by back-office cowards who care more about their dainty images than the lives of their soldiers, then we are just as morally corrupt as the Islamic fundamentalists claim. We will have ceded certain victory to any enemy, great or small. Without the ability to ferret them out, our vaunted military becomes toothless.

All the insurgents need do is keep up the ambushes until our losses become politically unpalatable. Then our political system will inevitably force the current administration to call for a pullout or replace it with a new administration that will.

The officers and bureaucrats who are gunning for Lt. Col. West should be forced to walk point on the streets of Tikrit. They'll either become quick converts or quick casualties - thereby doing us a favor by culling the gene pool of the mindless, pusillanimous idiots that they are.

Our nation needs more men like Lt. Col. Alan B. West.

Jim Simpson is a Contributing Editor of DefenseWatch. He can be reached at one.wonders@verizon.net. 2003 DefenseWatch. All opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of Military.com.



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