|Lessons from the Bozeman|
|there's a lot familiar about Afghanistan.......|
This All Sounds So Familiar………
Twenty miles, more or
less, south of
Ft. Phil Kearny was the middle and main of three outposts along the southern half of the Bozeman Trail, a spur off the Oregon Trail that led up the east side of the Bighorn Mountains to the Montana goldfields. In the area known as the Powder River country, under the intimidation of the Oglala Sioux and therefore the area most at risk to travelers, the Army after the Civil War expanded one camp into Fort Reno, built Ft. Phil Kearney into the iconic model of Western cavalry forts as the center, and elevated a squalid little way station into Fort C. F. Smith on the Little Bighorn. The center fort, Phil Kearny, was by far the most impressive and by far the most annoying to the Indians, primarily the Oglala Sioux of Red Cloud’s band.
It was envisioned that these forts would do two things. The first was to keep communications and
travel between western
The second goal of the forts was to discourage warfare
between the tribes themselves. The
Indians were viewed as violent idiots - much like the Irish - who had few
redeeming features at all absent good horsemanship. But their brutal and pointless tribal warfare
discouraged travel across the
The military didn’t particularly like this assignment. They were soldiers, after all, not cops, and their training was to destroy an army like themselves and acquire land until the pleasant day when a peace treaty could be signed with humiliated leaders of shamed peoples whose bravery and military might had proven inferior to their own. They chaffed, and sorely longed for large battles with clear victors, and after the bloodbath of the Civil War they could only envision themselves in that role. After all, the Indians didn’t even have good bands, much less artillery.
Anno 2002, the
The second mission is to discourage warfare between the tribes themselves. The Afghans are viewed as violent idiots - much like the Irish - who have few redeeming features at all absent good taste in tapestry. But their brutal and pointless tribal warfare discourages travel to those outposts of advanced civilization, the lovely mining camps and poppy fields, and so this delinquent activity must simply stop. There is nothing to be done but to punish and thrash the childish natives into submission because their culture and stupidity will never ever produce Mozart societies and sleigh rides among the T-74 carcasses at the rate things are going.
The military doesn’t particularly like this assignment. They are soldiers, after all, not cops, and their training is to destroy an army like themselves and acquire land until the pleasant day when a peace treaty can be signed with humiliated leaders of shamed peoples whose bravery and military might have proven inferior. They chaff, and sorely long for large battles with clear victors, and after the dainty Gulf War - where a significant percentage of mostly insignificant casualties was from friendly fire - they can only envision themselves in this role. After all, Al Quada doesn’t even have good bands, much less artillery.
Well…..some artillery, but this is a historical metaphor, see, and it doesn’t have to be exactly true. Well, yes, it does, it just isn’t.
It seems, these days, the various police forces of the
The Armed Forces of the United States, designed to
annihilate simultaneously several different armies in at least two different
fields of combat, is now being used almost exclusively as a police force: not
in acquiring and holding territory, but becoming - in essence – Special Unit
SWAT teams appealing not at all to the George Pattons
of the world but to the Darryl Gates.
They are where they are, be it in
They operate outside the
In some ways, not too far. The military of today is equipped to the nines, and it can be effectively supported around the world. But it has an assigned mission of defense, masquerading as offense, that has subtly created the image of what a ‘victory’ would look like to western minds.
It is a picture of occupation, probably around a series of pipelines that would provide much income and stability by Afghani standards to the aboriginals, but also much temptation to violent extortion.
It is a picture of occupation surrounded by believers of a religion in the dumps. Just as the religions of the Sioux failed to grant them the slightest break in dealing with the new white enemy – either in spiritual comfort or material product - Islam struggles to justify its economic status to its own people with the western world that doesn’t even honor their beliefs. Even its wealthy nations attained that wealth at western initiative and are allowed to exist only at western leave. Everyone knows this or senses it in the Muslim world, just as the Sioux, pounded relentlessly westward by European advance, sensed their own inferiority and helplessness.
Having projected force into
Next: The Fetterman Massacre