The Incredible Power of the United States Military

Posted: June 1, 2011 in america, books, current events, history, islam, misc, politics

I’m almost finished (finally) with Steve Coll’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afganistan, and Bin Laden, From the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001.  Although I started reading the book long before recent events related to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, I am just now getting to the end of this incredibly researched and truly fascinating account.  I plan on writing a brief review as soon as I finish, but I thought I would share a passage from the book that serves to illustrate the incredible power of the United States military.  There has never been a more capable and far-reaching military force in the history of the world (and I say that without any patriotic “enthusiasm” – it’s simply true):

Tarnak [bin Laden’s suspected hiding place] had been the target of the CIA’s first secret plan to kidnap bin Laden, back in 1998.  More than two years later the United States, an unchallenged global power with a military larger than all of its serious rivals combined, with aircraft carrier groups and B-2 bomber wings that could strike any target worldwide in twenty-hours or less, still found itself stymied by this lightly defended mud-walled compound of several acres…  Clinton’s national security and intelligence team spent many hours studying satellite photographs of Tarnak’s flat-roofed, one-story residential buildings, clustered in several tiny villages behind the compound walls.  At the Pentagon, targeters with the Joint Chiefs of Staff crunched trigonometry equations and blast calculations to determine which of Tarnak’s little concrete boxes – no more than sheds, by American standards – would collapse on their inhabitants if one or two of three cruise missiles slammed into the particular house where bin Laden slept.  One of the nearby sheds was a mosque.  Another was a medical clinic.  American military doctrine presumed the sanctity of such buildings.  This was the purpose of the Pentagon’s missile math: to determine which available munitions would be most likely to destroy the Tarnak house where bin Laden stayed while knocking down the fewest neighboring houses.  Alone among the world’s militaries, the United States had the capacity to ask and answer such questions.  It was also the first military power in world history whose leaders argued day after day in conference rooms about the mathematical nuances of their destructive power. (534-5)

  1. Alexis Berry says:

    I have been looking for a good book to read about our military and gain a better insight on the war we are in. This looks fascinating; I am definitely going to check it out!

    On a side note: My brother Seth is a Marine, finishing his tour in Afhganistan and is slated to leave for home (oh, praise God) any day now. Prayers are more than appreciated. = )

    – Alexis B.-

    • Matt Tully says:

      Thanks for the comment, Alexis.

      The book really was terrific. I would also recommend a book entitled, “Joker One: A Marine Platoon’s Story of Courage, Leadership, and Brotherhood.” It’s the memoir of a Christian Marine’s experiences leading a platoon in Iraq. Another awesome read!

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