02 June 2005


No, not Ayn Rand style. Military objective style.

It may be time to run a strategic cost/benefit analysis on Gitmo, and for the Pentagon to decide whether this detention facility has really been worth the cost in dollars, strategic value, and moral/political capital. My opinion is that it has not, but obviously I'm not privy to any of the intelligence coming out of there. Still, all of the leaked and public reports indicate that what intelligence we have gotten out of Gitmo might have just as easily been gotten out of a standard military detention facility. Further, whether we agree with the world's characterization or not, this facility has become a powerful rallying point for anti-American sentiment. It has also provided our enemies with all the propaganda they could ever hope for. If we want to dry up the swamp of extremism, shutting down Gitmo would probably be a good start.

Phil Carter, "Gitmo Inmates Bought by U.S.?" Intel Dump (01 June 2005). What this really implicates is some pretty elementary elements of strategy. According to AFM 1-1 (1992), the first principle of war is:

Objective    Direct military operations toward a defined and obtainable objective that contributes to strategic, operational, or tactical aims.

How many ways does the Gitmo system violate this principle? Well, more than I can count conveniently. To list only a few salient points—

  • Defined objective?
  • Obtainable (defined) objective?
  • Contribution to tactical aims, for people who have now been off the battlefield for years?
  • Contribution to operational aims, for people who have now been off the battlefield for years and do not appear to have had operational control?
  • Contribution to strategic aims, given the strategic disadvantages created by Gitmo itself?

Of course, that all ignores the overarching problem: Does Gitmo serve a proper military objective at all? If not, why is the military doing it? If Gitmo serves purely intelligence objectives, the military shouldn't be there, except perhaps to provide security (and only perhaps). Of course, I have my doubts about that in the first place.