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Letters to the Editor Policy

David And Goliath, Restaged

Asymmetrical warfare: Once the jargon of military specialists is a term that is gradually working its way into the news and everyday vocabulary. A good example is the biblical conflict between David and Goliath. David, a shepherd boy, had no military training, no armor, no sword or spear. Armed with only a sling he was pitted against a giant. Goliath stood 9 feet 6 inches, weighed perhaps 700 pounds, was a trained warrior equipped with the best and latest armaments. That's asymmetrical warfare. It's what going on in Iraq today. And that 3,000-year-old clash between the shepherd boy and the giant should give us pause for thought.

World War I and II were traditional battles. Two armies squared off against each other and pounded away with bombs, bullets, planes and tanks. The outcome was predictable. The side with the most hardware just kept slugging till the other side cried "Uncle!" Gulf War I and II followed along the same lines. But post GW II, which is really GW III, is a little different – it's asymmetrical, it's a restaging of David vs. Goliath in modern times.

Let's first take a look at Goliath, that's us of course. He's equipped with nuclear-powered 88,000-ton Nimitz-class carriers, F-15 warplanes with the latest is guided munitions, AC-130 gunships, cruise missiles, EM bombs to knock out the opponent's electronic equipment, rocket firing AH-64 Apache helicopters, 69-ton M1A1 Abrams battle tanks, GPS that can pinpoint a location to within feet and satellite imaging and drones to follow the enemy's every move. Goliath's troops have the latest in body armor, a first-rate M16A2 $600 rifle with night-vision capability and the most advanced communications equipment. There's lots more in his quiver but you get the idea.

In the other corner we have David, that's them. He is armed with improvised explosive devices (IED) and rocket propelled grenades (RPG).

David has no uniform, no central command structure, no tribal or even regional affiliation. But the very lack of all the accouterments of a traditional army are to his advantage. He is indefinable, a phantom, a will-o'-the-wisp appearing and disappearing at will. It is he who chooses where and when to fight. And it is he who decides when the conflict should end and then blends unseen back into the countryside.

The IED is simply anything that will explode be it commercial, military ordinance, or a homemade concoction. This is hidden in vegetated medians, cardboard boxes, soda cans, manholes, tunnels burrowed under roads or even in dead animals. Usually they are detonated by radio frequency command or wire, and occasionally by a broken inferred beam. They are the essence of simplicity and lethality.

His other weapon, the RPG, is also devilishly effective and low tech. But if you're thinking of something that shoots grenades, you're thinking pre-WW II technology. This device packs what is called a shaped charge. Its warhead consists of a concave-shaped explosive. Covering this bowl-shaped explosive is a metal lining, copper is preferred. The effectiveness of shaped explosives has nothing to do with kinetic force. It can be fired from a high-velocity cannon or, as in Iraq, a shoulder-fired launcher, the effect is the same.

When the RPG detonates the explosion compresses the metal lining into a solid or liquid – it's not known which – dart that can penetrate several inches of impact-resistant steel. (The record is more than four yards of solid steel.) Naturally an armored vehicle has defensives against this missile. But an advanced RPG warhead has defenses against defenses.

Asymmetrical warfare is also financially asymmetrical. The outmoded Russian RPG-29 launcher is available on the black market for $500 and a warhead for $40. Yet under the right circumstances it can destroy a 2-million-dollar Bradley personnel carrier or disable a four-million-dollar Abrams tank. Moreover, this shoulder-fired weapon weighs only 30 pounds, requires no extensive training, and needs no back-up fuel and maintenance facilities. The Abrams, on the other hand, requires a highly-trained four-man crew, is a fuel hog and is dependent upon expert maintenance and spare parts.

Manpower is a similar mismatch. In Iraq 160,000 coalition troops are needed to loosely control approximately 20,000 insurgents. That's eight to one, and that's asymmetrical.

The term asymmetrical warfare may be new but the concept is old. Aesop, the famed Greek teller of fables, knew all about it. He told a parable about a lion and a gnat. The gnat was disdainful of the lion's great power and bit him right on the nose. The lion swiped mightily at the gnat but succeeded only in bloodying his own nose. This went on repeatedly until the lion was worn and bloodied and the gnat flew away unharmed. The moral of this cautionary tale, and others like it, is this: The least of one's enemies is often the one to be feared the most.


Bob Scroggins

New Milford, PA

Veterans for Peace

On Veterans Day there was a protest on the “Green” in Montrose, organized by Veterans for Peace (VFP), a very small, but somewhat well organized group, reminiscent of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War aligned with Jane Fonda during the Vietnam War, dedicated to the abolition of war, founded by ex-service members in 1985. This is the same group who, aligned with Cindy Sheehan on September 24, 2005, tried to continue their demonstration through the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. About thirty “Brothers of the Nam” and myself, who happened to be visiting the wall that day, convinced them that protesting a war does not honor the dead and that their signs were actually an affront to the memory of those brave men and women. I stood next to another Vietnam vet, at the entrance to the wall, whose political views apposed mine. We joined together to protect the solemn memory of our comrades, not to express political views. Their signs did not go through.

There are many communities of what is now formerly South Vietnam residing in California, who still display the flag of South Vietnam at their civic functions. VFP urged the California Legislature to “follow established diplomatic protocol and continue to recognize only the flag of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam as representing Vietnam in all of their public and civic functions.” In 2001, at their National Convention, they called on the end to the United States “War on Drugs.” VFP makes the fantastic claim that the U.S. initiated the Korean War. According to their website, "The truth is that the Korean War really started in 1945 when the U.S. suppressed the KPR government and imposed its military rule in the southern part of Korea." They have worked closely with the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth (NNOMY). As its name indicates, NNOMY seeks to build a national network of anti-U.S.-military organizations. Rocco DiPippo of FrontPageMagazine.com states, “A key player in aiding NNOMY’s young foot soldiers is the anti-war, anti-U.S. pro-totalitarian outfit VFP. Comprised of disgruntled and disillusioned veterans, VFP makes its membership available to help all counter-recruitment groups strengthen their anti-military message. In that capacity, VFP members give anti-military testimonials at high schools and colleges across the country and try to persuade students to not join the military. Like all major players in the movement, VFP has a solid history of sympathizing with America’s enemies including the Marxist Sandinistas and Fidel Castro.”

The fact that they are anti-war, anti-military and anti-Bush is well known and they do indeed have their “right” to protest but, as a veteran, I must point out that their timing and manner of observing that right is not only in bad taste, it is an affront to the sensibilities of any intelligent citizen. Mr. Ken Rodden, a Vietnam veteran from Rush Township, called me and told me that when he told one of the protesters that he thought their actions shameful, he was bombarded with profanity. Such is their honor and respect for veterans.

Why schedule their protest around veterans rather than during elections or political gatherings? Perhaps it is because the shock value might get them more media attention - their true goal. Rather than honor the veterans, living, dead, or held in captivity, they prefer to use them as pawns for their anti-war rhetoric. At the same time that they were putting on their protest, I was attending Gardner Warner Post 154, of the American Legion. They held a service honoring the POW-MIA and fallen veterans, as were many other true veteran groups. It was solemn and respectful of those gone or held in captivity. Politics were not an issue because it simply did not belong.

I have been told that to procure a permit to hold any function on the green, one must go through the commissioners’ office. Why would they have been granted a permit? I would hope that this organization merely duped the commissioners into thinking they had a legitimate veteran cause. To think otherwise would be to add yet another slap in the face to our county’s veterans.


Fred Baker

Meshoppen, PA

Life Goes On

I usually look forward to reading his column just to see what kind of a biased outlook Mr. Amadio is going to express. I laugh and take his words for what they are worth and life goes on.

However, in the interest of accuracy (or at least a little closer to accuracy) I would like to point out an error Mr. Amadio has made with respect to the percentage of Republicans and Democrats who voted straight party ticket. I don't know if the intent was to mislead or just poor math, but if one looks at the numbers published in the November 16 issue of the transcript one should immediately understand that the 68% figure given for straight party Republican voters is not a percentage of the total vote cast. 1509 is approximately only 20% of the total votes cast (per the published total number voting) of 7663. Since the total vote cast includes Democratic as well as Republican votes, one can see that the actual number of Republicans who voted straight party ticket must be considerably less than 20%. Mr. Amadio must realize that the percentages given do not reflect percentages of total votes cast.


Harry Biesecker

Susquehanna, PA

Beautiful Signs, But...

Thank you Men’s Club of New Milford for the beautiful signs for the borough and main entrance way to the Endless Mountains. The signs were certainly needed and a wonderful improvement for the town.

Sadly, it would appear, that the town folk and borough council do not see the need to improve their environment, making it pleasing and welcoming. They appear to have forgotten the adage, help your neighbor.

Need I remind you, that the New Milford Borough Council a few years back preferred to enforce rules about care of the homestead, upon a young man with a brain tumor. Some brave, private citizens quietly helped this young man and his dog while others chose to chastise.

The New Milford Borough Council appears to look at a glass half empty with their negative responses instead of looking at what the possibilities may be. Encouraging and supporting, (translated: “helping thy neighbor”) does not seem to enter into their formulae of operation. It is your town/borough!!! Don’t you care?

Recently it was defeated that a Barnes Kasson Clinic be built in the center of town, thereby removing a dilapidated home and barn. How sad. A clean Monday through Friday business that brings people into town to shop and remove an eyesore, how novel! The borough appears to be more complacent with having needy residents with absentee landowners, or a storage shed facility in the center of town.

The KOZ plastic manufacturing site, which has been vacant for years, tear it down and revitalize with a Senior Citizen Home. New Milford has parks, health centers, grocery store, bank, churches, restaurants, mechanics, health clinic, chiropractor, gas stations, beauty salons, and barber, all the services the elderly need. Maybe you have forgotten this? Get a grant, you know they are out there.

Don’t leave it for someone else to do, get out, and do it yourselves. Here’s an idea! Have a day for the members of the New Milford Borough Council to clean up Main Street. You know, it might just become contagious.

Welcome to “The Gateway to the Endless Mountains”, a run down, poorly taken care of environment? Oh yeah!


An Area Resident,

Name Withheld

A Marvelous Idea

I read about and see many different groups doing their “patriotic” thing protesting the war in Iraq. It suddenly occurred to me that the best way to bring our troops home would be to send all of our war protesters to Iraq and have them convince the terrorists that if they surrender to the laws of the land American troops will leave immediately. At the same time, maybe the protesters could find out why many thousands of Iraq citizens suddenly died from “heart attacks” under Sadam. (There were no WMDs so it must have been sudden death, huh!) Maybe they could also find out what language the UN should have used to get Sadam to abide by the twelve or more resolutions for inspections.

I have friends who willingly left their families to serve in a cause that they believed would preserve our democracy. The US finally addressed the problem of terrorism and yet I sense that some people support the actions of terrorists more than they support their president. As a veteran I believe that demonstrations against our country are not the way a veteran wants to be honored on Veterans Day.


Tom Jurista

Silverlake Township

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