The biggest problem producing an army to fight ISIS is finding an army to fight ISIS. Apparently everybody wants to provide air power that can hit prominent targets from the stratosphere, but nobody wants to be the boots on the ground. We are told you can’t win without boots on the ground. By that, it is not meant that we can get Gucci or somebody to set up a bunch of boots on the desert. These boots need real feet in them, or at least they do for now. Maybe in a few years science will give us the boot equivalent of drones, which can run around booting butts without needing an actual person in them.
The solution to this is obvious, and not without precedent. Fans of old movies are familiar with foreign legionaries who hung out in arid places, dressed for arid weather, ready to defeat whoever the movie was about. The most famous outfit, which apparently still exists today, is the French Foreign Legion (pictured above), once composed of foreign fighters who joined an elite group. They seemed to specialize in Arab stuff, at least in the movies, although they were also the hapless outfit that lost French Indochina to the Viet Minh in the 1950s.
Obviously, the French don’t want this unit to be the boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria. So why not set up a clone? Call it the Arab Legion, not to be confused with the Arab Legion that fought with Germany in World War II. This would be an elite volunteer force composed of anybody who wanted to fight the barbarians now on the prowl in the Middle East. There must be a ton of young dudes around the world who would, for religious purposes, or pure adventure (as in the French Foreign Legion), be willing to sign on for the noble purpose of saving civilization.
We are speaking here of young tigers who can’t see enough of the film “Patton” and George C. Scott’s speech about greasing the treads of our tanks with the guts of these dumb sons of bitches who want to die for their country. We would bet there are 10,000 such good men, and maybe some women, in our own armed forces who would volunteer to be such heroes. Add in the rest of the gutless world, and we would have more troops than we would ever need to be a permanent force in the Middle East. The big problem would be providing enough bars (in a place that discourages such) to keep these wonderful guys happy when not on duty.
PROVIDING: We paid them very, very well, perhaps using the money saved when all these NFL criminals are executed. And, THIS IS MORE IMPORTANT, they must have great uniforms. Here we get back to the iconic suits worn by the French Foreign Legion. They feature, even today, the kepi headgear. We all know it. It was a cut down version of the shako, invented in Hungary and worn by European armies in the early 1800s. The shako was a round, tall hat that made 5-foot-3 soldiers look 6-foot-7, often decorated with absurd plumes which made it even taller. Later, sobering up, the French cut it down and we used the HO version in our Civil War. Much later, the U.S. Army called it the “Ridgeway Cap” – a softer, olive drab version named for a Korean War general who fancied the style. It was worn by great military figures (including this author) in the 1950s and '60s. The same cap survives today on Fidel Çastro’s aging skull.
The kepi would of course have a neck cloth as in the old movies, giving it some Arab empathy. The uniform would be tropical and khaki with flourishes of crimson and blue, with a serious leather belt and of course, knee-high boots, which would thrill a Texas A&M cadet. It would be one sexy uniform, and men would love it because girls love guys in sexy uniforms.
Of course, such snappy garb is not for a fight. In combat, our Arab Legion would have the latest equipment and the soldiers would look like creatures from outer space, just as they do now. But one hopes that the mere existence of such a ready force, always camped near the next crisis, would perhaps deter that crisis, and give the lads more time to dance in their finery with beautiful ladies in gleaming palaces drinking whiskey and rye, as in the movies of old.