Mark Hertling

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A satellite image shows a traffic jam near Russia's border with Georgia on Sunday. (Maxar Technologies handout/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to activate 300,000 “reservists” — some of whom have previously served, some who have not — to hold the line in Ukraine has led thousands of young Russian men to flee the country. The call-up is an outrage, but not only for the reasons you might imagine. Sending new recruits, poorly trained Russian reservists and untrained civilians into Ukraine is a recipe for slaughter. They will not be prepared for what they will encounter.

Years ago, I was given the command of the organization that oversees all basic training for the Army (what some call “boot camp”) as well as managing the advanced training that follows for every Army trooper.…  Seguir leyendo »

In 1975, the Cold War was at its peak. I was a new tank lieutenant starting my career with a three-year assignment in US Army Europe. There were 250,000 US soldiers on the continent, and our job was patrolling the border fences between West Germany and the Warsaw Pact nations and defending Europe from Soviet aggression.

Today the Soviet Union is no more, and the United States has only about a 10th of the permanent fighting force in Europe that it had 42 years ago. Still, the mission of defending against aggression remains a priority -- as is being made clear this weekend by the arrival of the first rotating US brigade in Poland.…  Seguir leyendo »

In 2007, I was a two-star general in charge of operations for the U.S. Army in Europe. My job was overseeing preparation and deployment of our forces to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo; planning for contingency operations in Europe and the Levant; transforming our bases and presence in Europe; and a variety of other responsibilities. One of my jobs centered on "force protection".

Force protection requires the collection of intelligence from human and technical sources. If we perceived potential threats to military personnel, their families or the mission, we would inform, coordinate and act with European governments to prevent those attacks. Those plots might entail a bomb threat, an attempted entry into a base or housing entry by an unauthorized source, or a variety of criminal and terrorist cell activities threatening the security of our forces or our host nation.…  Seguir leyendo »

CNN Opinion asked a range of contributors for their take on last week's attacks in Paris and how the war on ISIS must change if the U.S. and its allies want to defeat it. The opinions expressed in these commentaries are solely those of the authors.

Fareed Zakaria: What does ISIS want?

The barbarism of the attacks in Paris mark a new low in terror. The attacks were not directed against national symbols or government targets, but designed simply to kill innocent men, women and children. The murderers did not even bother to issue demands.

French President Francois Hollande has called Friday's attacks an act of war.…  Seguir leyendo »

Having had to request and frequently justify force requirements for combat and noncombat missions, I know that terms like "mission creep" and "boots on the ground" in connection with America's intervention in Iraq are frustratingly ill-defined and usually improperly used by those who have likely never had to plan or execute a military operation.

As neither of these terms come from military doctrine, as a former commander I'd like to try to clarify what I think they mean ... and what they don't mean.

Commanders are given missions. In the most recent situation in Iraq, a team of 300-plus military members -- of all ranks, and likely of many specialties -- were sent to Baghdad and Irbil to "assess" the situation facing the Iraqi Security Forces' ability to blunt ISIS.…  Seguir leyendo »