September 14, 2001
Dear friends and fellow Americans,
Like everyone else in this great country, I am reeling from last week's attack on our sovereignty, but unlike some, I am not reeling from surprise.
As a career soldier and a student and teacher of military history, I have a different perspective and I think you should hear it. This war will be won or lost by the American citizens, not diplomats, politicians or soldiers.
Let me briefly explain.
In spite of what the media, and even our own government is telling us, this act was not committed by a group of mentally deranged fanatics. To dismiss them as such would be among the gravest of mistakes. This attack was committed by a ferocious, intelligent and dedicated adversary.
Don't take this the wrong way. I don't admire these men and I deplore their tactics, but I respect their capabilities. The many parallels that have been made with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor are apropos. Not only because it was a brilliant sneak attack against a complacent America, but also because we may well be pulling our new adversaries out of caves 30 years after we think this war is over, just like my father's generation had to do with the formidable Japanese in the years following WW II.
These men hate the United States with all of their being, and we must not underestimate the power of their moral commitment. Napoleon, perhaps the world's greatest combination of soldier and statesman, stated “the moral is to the physical as three is to one.” Patton thought the Frenchman underestimated its importance and said moral conviction was five times more important in battle than physical strength. Our enemies are willing – better said anxious — to give their lives for their cause. How committed are we America? And for how long?
In addition to demonstrating great moral conviction, the recent attack demonstrated a mastery of some of the basic fundamentals of warfare taught to most military officers worldwide, namely simplicity, security and surprise.
When I first heard rumors that some of these men may have been trained at our own Air War College, it made perfect sense to me. This was not a random act of violence, and we can expect the same sort of military competence to be displayed in the battle to come.
This war will escalate, with a good portion of it happening right here in the good ol' U.S. of A. These men will not go easily into the night. They do not fear us. We must not fear them. In spite of our overwhelming conventional strength as the world's only “superpower” (a truly silly term), we are the underdog in this fight. As you listen to the carefully scripted rhetoric designed to prepare us for the march for war, please realize that America is not equipped or seriously trained for the battle ahead. To be certain, our soldiers are much better than the enemy, and we have some excellent “counter-terrorist” organizations, but they are mostly trained for hostage rescues, airfield seizures, or the occasional “body snatch,” which may come in handy). We will be fighting a war of annihilation, because if their early efforts are any indication, our enemy is ready and willing to die to the last man.
Eradicating the enemy will be costly and time consuming. They have already deployed their forces in as many as 20 countries, and are likely living the lives of everyday citizens. Simply put, our soldiers will be tasked with a search and destroy mission on multiple foreign landscapes, and the public must be patient and supportive until the strategy and tactics can be worked out.
For the most part, our military is still in the process of redefining itself and presided over by men and women who grew up with – and were promoted because they excelled in – Cold War doctrine, strategy and tactics. This will not be linear warfare, there will be no clear “centers of gravity” to strike with high technology weapons. Our vast technological edge will certainly be helpful, but it will not be decisive. Perhaps the perfect metaphor for the coming battle was introduced by the terrorists themselves aboard the hijacked aircraft — this will be a knife fight, and it will be won or lost by the ingenuity and will of citizens and soldiers, not by software or smart bombs. We must also be patient with our military leaders.
Unlike Americans who are eager to put this messy time behind us, our adversaries have time on their side, and they will use it. They plan to fight a battle of attrition, hoping to drag the battle out until the American public loses its will to fight.
This might be difficult to believe in this euphoric time of flag waving and patriotism, but it is generally acknowledged that America lacks the stomach for a long fight. We need only look as far back as Vietnam, when North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap (also a military history teacher) defeated the United States of America without ever winning a major tactical battle.
American soldiers who marched to war cheered on by flag waving Americans in 1965 were reviled and spat upon less than three years later when they returned. Although we hope that Osama Bin Laden is no Giap, he is certain to understand and employ the concept. We can expect not only large doses of pain like the recent attacks, but also less audacious “sand in the gears” tactics, ranging from livestock infestations to attacks at water supplies and power distribution facilities.
These attacks are designed to hit us in our “comfort zone” forcing the average American to “pay more and play less” and eventually eroding our resolve. But it can only work if we let it. It is clear to me that the will of the American citizenry – you and I – is the center of gravity the enemy has targeted. It will be the fulcrum upon which victory or defeat will turn. He believes us to be soft, impatient, and self-centered. He may be right, but if so, we must change. The Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz, (the most often quoted and least read military theorist in history), says that there is a “remarkable trinity of war” that is composed of the (1) will of the people, (2) the political leadership of the government, and (3) the chance and probability that plays out on the field of battle, in that order.
Every American citizen was in the crosshairs of last Tuesday's attack, not just those that were unfortunate enough to be in the World Trade Center or Pentagon. The will of the American people will decide this war. If we are to win, it will be because we have what it takes to persevere through a few more hits, learn from our mistakes, improvise, and adapt. If we can do that, we will eventually prevail.
Everyone I've talked to In the past few days has shared a common frustration, saying in one form or another “I just wish I could do something!” You are already doing it. Just keep faith in America, and continue to support your President and military, and the outcome is certain.
If we fail to do so, the outcome is equally certain.
God Bless America
Dr. Tony Kern, Lt Col, USAF (Ret)
Former Director of Military History, USAF Academy
Dear Mr. Holden:
I take the QM 24 Express bus every week day morning to Manhattan from 69 th Street and Eliot Avenue in front of the Mobil “On The Run” station. The bus stop is very dangerous, more than any other on the route, because cars and trucks enter the gas station and get very close to the area where people wait for the bus. Some mornings there is no bus stop because there is a car or truck parked on the sidewalk. This stop also serves the Q38. Would it possible to create a safe area i.e. a bus shelter where we can wait for the bus and not be in danger?
I appreciate your attention into this matter. Thank you.
This is an open letter to all those people that like to enjoy the beauty and to relax at Juniper Valley Park but don’t like to get out of their vehicles and turn off their engines. On a daily basis this includes school buses, car service vehicles, ice cream trucks, ambulances, police cars, fire trucks and various other government agencies and utility companies, or just parents waiting to pick up their children from a game. Many times I think they don’t want to turn off the heater, air conditioner or radio.
Please understand this is a park and people came here to either relax or to play sports and often there are a lot of young and old lungs at work. Also I think there is a city law where you can’t idle your vehicle for more than 3 minutes although it is rarely enforced.
Name Withheld by Request
Dear Juniper Valley Civic Association,
In June, I went to your cop 104 meeting and spoke with a Joe McCall. He is a cop with the 104. He had suggested that I start a block watch. A couple of weeks later I went to the 104 to see him and find out how to start a block watch. A couple of my neighbors were interested. He said he was not sure how to start the block watch but that he would get back to me. A month and a half later, he has not contacted me with the information. I left a video at the front desk of the 104 for Joe McCall or Mike Cassidy 2 weeks ago. The video has footage of the trouble that occurs in and in front of the Farmer’s Market (Myrtle Ave., Glendale). I called the 104 and left messages for Joe McCall to get back to me and I still have had no phone calls returned. We have been complaining for two years now and have written many letters. We have seen and have videotape of patrons of the Farmer's Market urinating on the gate next to the ice machine by their door. We have a stream of loud cars with blasting music, double parked cars, car alarms going on and off all night long, underage drinking, drinking outside the store, drinking inside the store, and the drinking is done in front of the deli's employees. Young adults scream and use profane language, pot bags are found constantly, outside young adults smoke pot on my stoop. There is always a mess in front of our houses in the morning due to the high volume of people through the night. These people leave their trash on our sidewalk and in front of our houses. The kids leave beer bottles under our tires and throw their trash out of the car windows. They park on our sidewalks. One young man parked his car so close to my house his rear bumper was touching my house drain pipe, when my wife asked him to pull off the side walk he responded with obscene insults. If the police cannot keep the peace and the Farmers Market cannot control their patrons then the place should be closed down. Why should the residents of the neighborhood have to live with no quality of life due to this 24-hour nightmare called the Farmers Market; just because the 104 Pct. is understaffed? Thank you in advance for your help.
Enclosed is a check for $25, $10 is for my renewal in the JPCA and $15 is for a new membership for a cousin no longer residing in the area. She misses the neighborhood and this is my way of allowing her to keep in touch with what’s going on.
The Juniper Berry looks better than ever! Very