Rush Limbaugh mocked the Obama administration for use of the term "kinetic" to describe military action in Libya, saying that the administration had "come up with the ludicrous term." In reality, "kinetic" is a common military term used by military and civilian leaders under both Democratic and Republican administrations, including former President George W. Bush and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Limbaugh Mocks "Kinetic Military Action," Claims Obama Administration Invented "Ludicrous Term"
Limbaugh Mocks Deputy National Security Adviser, Defense Secretary For Using The Term "Kinetic." From the March 24 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: But now "kinetic activity." We're not at war. We are engaged in "kinetic activity." Here we have a headline, this is from the DC Examiner, "In the last few days the Obama regime -- officials frequently faced the question, Is the fighting in Libya a war? And for military officers to White House spokesmen up to the president himself, the answer's been 'no.'" Well, OK then, what is it?
"In a briefing on board Air Force One yesterday, the deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes took a crack at the answer. "Well, I think what we're doing is enforcing a resolution that has a very clear set of goals.' "
LIMBAUGH: At any rate, this guy, the deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes took a crack at an answer, said, "Well, I think what we're doing is enforcing a resolution that has a very clear set of goals. Which is protecting the Libyan people, averting a humanitarian crisis, and setting up a no-fly zone. Obviously, that involves kinetic military action, particularly on the front end."
Folks, this is pathetic. Literally, genuinely pathetic. "Kinetic military action, particularly on the front end." Kinetic simply means motion. That's all it means. Depending on movement for its effect, of, relating to, or resulting from motion. So, now we've got "kinetic military action."
And here's the defense secretary. This is -- let's grab sound bite five. This is Robert Gates, Tuesday in Moscow. And he spoke with reporters, and this is what he said about the war in Libya.
GATES: I think as we are successful in suppressing the air defenses, the level of kinetic activity should decline. I assume in the next few days.
LIMBAUGH: I swear, this is -- this is -- this is surreal. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 3/24/11]
Limbaugh Claims Obama Administration Is Using "Kinetic" Because "They Don't Want To Say" What Action In Libya "Really Is." From the March 24 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: KMA, kinetic military activity, has replaced WTF. Winning the future -- I'm sure you thought it was something else. Kick my -- has replaced -- what the -- kinetic military -- OK, so I guess we're to assume it's not a protest anymore, it's a kinetic assembling action. It's not a riot, it's kinetic thuggery action. It's not a vacation, it's kinetic leisure action. It's not golf, it's kinetic ball-striking action. It's not dancing, it's kinetic food action. It's not sex, it's kinetic Lewinsky. It's not -- I'm not drunk, I've been engaging in kinetic adult beverage action. It's not an election, it's kinetic voting. It's not radio, it's kinetic Limbaugh action. Whatever. It's just -- kinetic means motion. Military means armed forces, action means motion. Kinetic action, moving motion. And these are the smartest people in the world. Well, the reason they can't say it is because they don't want to say what it really is. You know, we all know what it is, but they don't want to say it, they don't want to go on record as saying what it really is because they're actually trying to pretend it isn't anything. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 3/24/11]
Limbaugh: "They've Come Up With This Ludicrous Term" To "Excuse Obama, Give Him A Pass." From The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: It's -- and it's not really a military intervention, it's kinetic military action. That's why they've come up with this ludicrous term. Right, that's why they don't want to call it a war on terror because the Muslims don't intend to occupy us, they just blew up the World Trade Center. Of course, you might get some argument on that from certain people. All of this is nothing more than one of these intellectual exercises to excuse Obama, give him a pass. It really isn't war. Democrat presidents don't like using the U.S. military. If the truth be known, liberals actually are happier when the U.S. military loses. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 3/24/11]
Limbaugh: Poll On Obama's Military Leadership "Is Not Accurate," "They Need To Redo The Poll Asking How They See Obama As A Leader Of Kinetic Military Action." From The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: There's a new poll out, it's not good. Seventeen percent of Americans only --this is from Reuters, but it's a Reuters-Ipsos poll taken after the United States and its allies began the kinetic military action in Libya. Only 17 percent of Americans see Obama as a strong and decisive military leader. Nearly half of those polled view Obama as a cautious and consultatative -- or consultative commander in chief. More than a third see him as indecisive in military matters. Seventeen percent view Obama as a strong and decisive military leader. The headline of the Reuters story: "Few Americans see Obama as strong military leader." But again, the poll is not accurate, I don't think. They need to redo the poll asking how they see Obama as a leader of kinetic military action. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 3/24/11]
Bush, Rumsfeld Have Used "Kinetic" To Describe Military Operations
Bush Used Term To Describe Military Conditions In Iraq. From an October 11, 2006,presidential press conference:
Q I'm just wondering, two months ago, Prime Minister Maliki was here, and you talked about how we had to be nimble and facile in our approach. And my question is, are we being nimble and facile in the right way? Is what General Casey telling you the most effective advice? Because it would seem in the two months since Prime Minister Maliki was here, things have only gotten more bloody in Iraq.
BUSH: No question, Ramadan's here. No question, we're engaging the enemy more than we were before. And by the way, when you engage the enemy, it causes there to be more action and more kinetic action. And the fundamental question is, do I get good advice from Casey? And the answer is I believe I do. I believe I do. [Federal News Service, 10/11/06, accessed via Nexis]
Rumsfeld Noted In 2003 That Purported End Of "Major Military Activities" In Iraq "Did Not Mean ... The End Of Kinetics." From a June 18, 2003, Defense Department operational update briefing:
RUMSFELD: Security throughout the country is indicated here. Green is what's characterized as permissive. That's not to say perfect, but it's permissive. The yellow is semi-permissive and the red area in Baghdad and then in the area north towards Tikrit is considered not permissive or semi-permissive. There are now some 8,000 police officers back at work and 2,000 on patrol. And in those pockets, you'll recall that when President Bush indicated that the major military activities had ended, we said very explicitly that that did not mean that the -- that was the end of kinetics; that there would continue to have to be significant efforts to root out the remnants of the regime. That's been going forward, and it's been going forward in recent days, particularly, in ways that have been quite helpful. [Federal News Service, 6/18/03, accessed via Nexis]
Discussing Afghanistan, Rumsfeld Said In 2004 That Pakistan Border "Is Where The Kinetics, For The Most Part, Are Taking Place." From the February 6, 2004, edition of Fox News' Special Report:
BAIER: U.S. officials say five new PRT's, run by NATO, will be operational by June. And not only that, NATO ministers expressed interest in taking over the entire military operation in Afghanistan, one sector at a time, starting in the north and the west.
RUMSFELD: The bulk of the problems are along the Pakistan border. And that is where the kinetics, for the most part, are taking place. And it is entirely possible that that would be the last sector. [Fox News, Special Report, 2/6/04]
In 2005, Rumsfeld Described Iraq Counterinsurgency As "Partly A Battle On The Ground Using Kinetics." From a July 5, 2005, interview on Hot Talk With Scott Hennen:
HENNEN: General Abizaid said the confidence of the troops on the ground has never been higher about completing the mission in Iraq, while at the same time he said inside the Beltway he's never detected it lower. He said, "We cannot win without the support of the American people." Do the actions of these critics risk eroding support from the American people?
RUMSFELD: Well sure. I mean to the extent people say things that give encouragement, and if you're engaged in a test of wills as we are here, this is partly a battle on the ground using kinetics, and partly it's a test of will as to whether or not we'll be willing to continue to aggressively help the Iraqi people defeat this insurgency, depends on support from the American people. It depends on support from the international community. It depends on confidence level on the part of the Iraqi people. Which side's going to win, they say to themselves. Do we want to support the Iraqi government and the coalition, or do we wait and see maybe they're not going to have the staying power? [Federal News Service, 7/5/05, accessed via Nexis]
Military Leaders Regularly Use "Kinetic" To Describe Military Campaigns
Gen. Tommy Franks Used "Kinetic" To Differentiate From "Work Which Is Much More Humanitarian." From an August 15, 2002, Defense Department briefing:
Q General, to go back to what you were talking about on the activities in Afghanistan, could you characterize a little more how much of the U.S. military is involved in these sort of non-warfighting actions? And how long do you anticipate those would be necessary?
GEN. FRANKS: I see the headline tomorrow that, you know, "Franks Commits the United States of America to, you know, to Nation-Building" or something. And so, you're not going to get that.
What I prefer to do is think about the amount of energy that is devoted to what I call kinetic work in some provinces and places inside Afghanistan, where there is much work left to be done, and then work which is much more humanitarian, if you will, in nature, that goes on across 10 to 12 additional provinces in Afghanistan. [Federal News Service, 8/15/02, accessed via Nexis]
In 2003, Then-Brig. Gen. Stanley McChrystal Described Early Military Campaign In Iraq As "Partially Kinetic, Partially Non-Kinetic, Partially Information Operations." From a Pentagon news briefing on March 23, 2003:
QUESTION: You should've been able to get some BDA (ph) today, though. The skies are pretty clear; you could take a look at it. How successful?
McCHRYSTAL: Well, sir, we can see whether or not we hit targets, in many cases. And we're still gathering that. But we're running an effects-based campaign that is partially kinetic, partially non-kinetic, partially information operations. And so what we judge effectiveness by is not just whether there's a hole in the roof of a building, but whether or not the function that that element did before ceases to be effective. [CNN, 3/22/03, accessed via Nexis]
In 2008, Then-Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno Described Operations In Iraq, Saying "We Have Not Done A Kinetic Strike In At Least Six Months." From a Defense Department news briefing from Iraq:
QUESTION: (inaudible) little bit about air power in Iraq? Are you seeing any kinetic strikes still at this point?
ODIERNO: I track it very carefully. We have not done a kinetic strike in at least six months. It might even be longer than that. I think it's even longer than that, but it's been a very long time. I track every one of them and they brief me weekly on that.
We don't need to do that anymore. In fact, there's been very few helicopter engagements in a very long time.
So -- and again, it's the nature of the shape of the fight. We don't have to use that anymore. In 2007, we had to do that in order to get control back. But now that we've gotten control back, you don't need to use that kind of capability.
So -- and it's important, because what we don't want to do is alienate the people with collateral damage. You know, collateral damage in an asymmetric fight is extremely important. And so we -- we haven't done it.
But we -- we have many other uses for air power. It's great reconnaissance. You know, we -- we use it, you know, we can use it to - for deterrence. So it still plays a role, but one that's much different. [Political Transcript Wire, 1/17/08, accessed via Nexis]
Others Have Noted "Kinetic" Has Been Used "For Many Years"
Examiner's York: " 'Kinetic' Is A Word That's Been Used Around The Pentagon For Many Years." From York's March 23 Washington Examiner column:
"Kinetic" is a word that's been used around the Pentagon for many years to distinguish between actions like dropping bombs, launching cruise missiles or shooting people and newer forms of non-violent fighting like cyber-warfare. At times, it also appears to mean just taking action. [The Washington Examiner, 3/23/11]
Slate: "Dropping Bombs And Shooting Bullets -- You Know, Killing People -- Is Kinetic." From a November 20, 2002, Slate article:
In common usage, "kinetic" is an adjective used to describe motion, but the Washington meaning derives from its secondary definition, "active, as opposed to latent." Dropping bombs and shooting bullets -- you know, killing people -- is kinetic. But the 21st-century military is exploring less violent and more high-tech means of warfare, such as messing electronically with the enemy's communications equipment or wiping out its bank accounts. These are "non-kinetic." (Why not "latent"? Maybe the Pentagon worries that would make them sound too passive or effeminate.) Asked during a January talk at National Defense University whether "the transformed military of the future will shift emphasis somewhat from kinetic systems to cyber warfare," Donald Rumsfeld answered, "Yes!" (Rumsfeld uses the words "kinetic" and "non-kinetic" all the time.) [Slate, 11/20/02]