By William Hamilton, J.D., Ph.D.
Biden’s* deadly American Dumbkirk
Veterans of a certain age who served during the Cold War in West Germany may recall the Non-combatant Evacuation Order (NEO). When General Bruce C Clarke (not Mark W. Clark) was Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Army, Europe (USAREUR), the threat of Soviet tanks coming through the Fulda Gap was all too real. Even so, our troops were permitted to bring their dependents over from the States to live on-post or, most often, rent a place from a German landlord.
If Soviet tanks came bursting through the Fulda Gap, the NEO Plan was designed to move all U.S. non-combatants westward into France. From France, aircraft and/or ships were to take the non-combatants out of harm’s way.
General Clarke ran U.S. Army, Europe like a fine Swiss watch. Nothing escaped his withering gaze including the NEO Plan. Every privately-owned vehicle (POV) carried a case of C-rations in the trunk and gas tanks must be at least half-full all the time. Hard-nosed NCOs opened car trunks and gas caps checking for compliance. No excuses. Every family had to drive their assigned NEO route into France at least once. Unlike Afghanistan, the location and contact information of all Army personnel and their dependents were kept up-to-date. To prevent key scientists and civilian tech reps. from falling into Soviet hands, Intel teams were ready to spirit them away.
Unfortunately, we no longer have commanders like General Bruce C. Clarke whom I had the honor to serve as his aide-de-camp during a summer spent in the Pentagon helping to write a bit of the doctrine for the new All-Volunteer Army. As General Clarke and I flew from Army post to Army post collecting ideas from the troops, he shared some of his thoughts on leadership. What would General Clarke have thought about mandatory diversity and CRT training? General Clarke was totally focused on combat readiness. Any directives that did not address combat readiness would likely go directly to the shredder.
Prior to West Point, General Clarke came up through the ranks. A soldier’s soldier, he knew well-trained sergeants were the key to combat readiness. General Clarke led the effort to establish the highly successful NCO Academies.
Armies do not like to talk about Retreat. So, the fig-leaf term is: “Retrograde Operations.” Although the Retrograde Operation is the most difficult operation to execute successfully there are only two basic rules: 1. Leave no one behind. 2. Combat troops (the Covering Force) are the last to leave. Apparently, the current Command-in-Chief, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff flunked Retrograde Operations 101.
The United States had 20 years to develop a sound evacuation plan for Afghanistan. If such a plan existed, it appears the Biden Regency* ran it backwards, pulling the Covering Force out first and leaving our noncombatants and key equipment behind. Our NATO allies are righteously furious.
But when the Commander-in-Chief dictates that the military spend its time on diversity and CRT training, reducing fitness standards so couch potatoes can pass, and making politicians out of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, we should not be surprised to witness an American Dumbkirk and needless loss of American lives.
* Election increasingly disputed.
Suggested reading: War During Peace: A Strategy for Defeat, William Hamilton, Ph.D. (2021).
©2021. William Hamilton.