President Obama’s Afghanistan speech reminded me of a 1996 article.
Out of Harm’s Way – No Way to Run the U.S. Army
By: Paul Stam, Representative of the 37th District
In the recent (1996) women’s varsity soccer conference tournament, Cary High School lost 3-0 to Apex. During the regular season, Cary had tied Apex 1-1, then beat Apex 1-0. I have figured out why Cary lost in this final match-up.
I dreamed I listened to Coach Norcus’ talk with the Cary team at half time. “Okay women,” he said, “I’m going to talk to Coach Middleton. I am going to tell him that we are not going to finish this game until we know how many goals Apex is going to score in the second half. We are down by 2. We need a clear line on Apex’s plans so we will know how many goals to score.
Another thing. We are not sending any of you women into harm’s way, Coach Norcus said. “There is entirely too much pushing and shoving in the game. You might get a sprained ankle or a sore shoulder. I am going to let that Apex coach know that his team is not to hurt you at all.”
“But, Coach,” said Mary Lou “we have been training all year to tangle with the Cougars.”
“Well, this is another day and there are different rules. I do not believe in letting any of you get hurt. And if Apex doesn’t like it they can find someone else to play with.”
“One more thing I want you to think about before we walk onto that field. I’m going to talk to the ref. We need an exit strategy. When the game is over we need to know how we are going to get out of Cary without getting mobbed by all these crazy fans. If the ref can’t give me an exit strategy, we are not playing.”
Maybe this isn’t exactly why Cary lost to Apex. But perhaps it illuminates why the American military, despite having an overwhelming technological, material and training advantage is going to have problems.
Coach Bill Clinton is befuddled. Saddam Hussein, for one, has figured him out. In the fall of 1996, Saddam played us like a yo-yo. Saddam let us lob million-dollar cruise missiles at $50,000 targets in southern Iraq that can easily be replaced. In return, we did not even attempt to stop his slaughter of the Kurds in northern Iraq – even abandoning a group of Kurds who had been working with the CIA for years.
In November the President considered sending troops to Zaire and also continued the mission in Bosnia for another year. Television reports from Fort Bragg treated us to the spectacle of parents and spouses complaining that the Thanksgiving and Christmas season was no time to send out the troops. What an embarrassment to the country and to our brave soldiers.
I prefer a different philosophy of struggle. It was penned in 991 AD by a hard-pressed soldier facing an onslaught of Danes at the Battle of Maldon:
“Hearts shall be bolder,
Harder be purpose,
More proud the spirit
As our power lessens.
Minds shall not falter
Nor mood waiver
Though doom should come
And dark conquer.”