View Full Version : Iraq education and training (merged thread)

11-04-2005, 09:27 AM
4 Nov. Reuters article: Army Adapts to 'War of the Flea' in Iraq (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/03/AR2005110300838.html). Excerpt follows:

"In small steps and without fanfare, the U.S. Army is adapting its training to 'the war of the flea,' the type of hit-and-run insurgency that is gripping Iraq, where more than 2,000 American military personnel have been killed."

"Counterinsurgency training, military experts say, largely vanished from the curriculum of Army schools after the Vietnam War. It began a slow comeback after the Iraq war, which opened with a massive ground and air assault, turned into a protracted conflict of ambushes, bombings and hit-and-run attacks."

"Now, there is counterinsurgency (instruction) at every level, from the warrior leader course (for front-line sergeants) through to the war college, said Brig. Gen. Volney Warner, deputy commandant of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College."

11-04-2005, 11:09 AM
One of the books that will be required reading at the college -- an essential career step for all officers who want to rise above the rank of major -- is a textbook by David Galula which was first published in 1964.

Just curious. Why is Galula's book excluded from your reading list?

11-04-2005, 10:28 PM
As they say, you don't know what you don't know. Will add the book and we expect a review from you most ricky-tik - ;)

11-05-2005, 10:05 PM
4 Nov. Reuters article: Army Adapts to 'War of the Flea' in Iraq (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/03/AR2005110300838.html). Excerpt follows"

"In small steps and without fanfare, the U.S. Army is adapting its training to 'the war of the flea,' the type of hit-and-run insurgency that is gripping Iraq, where more than 2,000 American military personnel have been killed."

"Counterinsurgency training, military experts say, largely vanished from the curriculum of Army schools after the Vietnam War. It began a slow comeback after the Iraq war, which opened with a massive ground and air assault, turned into a protracted conflict of ambushes, bombings and hit-and-run attacks."

"Now, there is counterinsurgency (instruction) at every level, from the warrior leader course (for front-line sergeants) through to the war college, said Brig. Gen. Volney Warner, deputy commandant of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College."

While this is a good first step, one should ask why the Army has also announced that is going to try to push more non-resident PME vice resident PME, and is looking to cut the length of their CGSC course. How much of this is window dressing? The obvious answer is because of resource shortfalls in manpower and funding. Again I ask, is this all window dressing? How does one conduct effective COIN ops from Stryker vehicles, Bradleys, and tanks? I've read Galula's work, and dont remember a chapter that covers this.

11-05-2005, 10:53 PM
? How does one conduct effective COIN ops from Stryker vehicles, Bradleys, and tanks? I've read Galula's work, and dont remember a chapter that covers this.

Galula advocated the widespread use of light infantry instead of heavy forces. Heavy units have a very limited role in COIN ops and should adapt along light infantry characteristics.

As long as the insurgent has failed to build a powerful regular army, the counterinsurgent has little use for heavy, sophisticated forces designed for conventional warfare. For his ground forces he needs infantry and more infantry, highly mobile and lightly armed
-ch 6

The Stryker (http://sam_damon.tripod.com/) is a lemon (http://www.combatreform.com/loughlin.htm)

Bill Moore
11-06-2005, 05:15 AM
I don’t think we should take Galula’s comments out of context, nor assume his comments are a gospel that must be followed. We can fall into the same mental trap that big Army was stuck in for years, when they assumed their Fulda Gap doctrine would apply to all conflicts around the world equally. While Galula’s comments reference armor are probably spot on in several case studies, such as fighting a small war where the foe is using Maoist tactics and the terrain limits maneuver of Armor as it did in Vietnam, Cambodia, El Salvador, etc. However, a sound argument can be made that armor facilitates infantry maneuver in Iraq. Can you imagine how long and how costly the battle for Fallujah would have been without armor enablers? It is the right tool at certain times and locations. Note we don't have armor to any great extent at all in Afghanistan.

As for the Army's PME being shortened in length I would caution to avoid associating length with quality. The Army has a long habit of cramming four weeks of solid instruction into three months. I strongly recommend shortening the PME pipeline where we can, so we can get our soldiers back into the fight. You’ll learn more about waging so called small wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, than taking a couple of COIN electives at Ft. Leavenworth. As for professional reading assignments, why can’t we do those via distance learning and save the Army (and tax payers) money, and allow the soldier to spend more time at home with his family?

11-06-2005, 02:23 PM
I couldnt agree more that Galula's, Thompson's, or Kitson's opinions arent gospel; however, they are all the products of experience, and thus I would rather have my young Marines learn about them from a book in a controlled environment, than "learning by doing" in OIF and OEF as they make mistakes that cost lives. This "learning by doing attitude" has resulted in a lot of needless casualties.

As for your reference to armor in Fallujah as evidence its utility in COIN, I think you are missing the point. Yes, armor facilitates movement during engagements in urban terrain where there is NO concern for collateral damage such as in Fallujah. Yes, during these types of engagements, I would request tanks to destroy houses so that my Marines did not have to enter and take unnecessary risks, but this is the exception, not the rule. Tanks are a symbol of occupation NOT cooperation or security. Tanks send the wrong IO message. Tanks in Iraq appear to Muslims as tanks in Gaza or Ramallah, etc. They require a tremendous amount of infantry support to clear avenues of approach for them in the urban terrain and river valleys of Iraq.

As for you comment that non-resident PME has the same utility as resident PME, you are simply wrong. I have completed the non-resident Command and Staff College Course, and now am attending the resident course. The courses are like night and day, and having spent time in Iraq with another tour in my future, I dont feel as if I am wasting the tax payers dollars.

Bill Moore
11-06-2005, 05:09 PM
Like most people who visit this site I read everything I can get my eyes on (time permitting) that provide any insight into insurgency and counterinsurgency operations. However, taking lessons from the past and attempting to template them on current situations without truly analyzing the major and minor scenario differences won’t get us to the right answer for solving the problems we face today. Cause and effect will be different for almost every conflict, thus the potential beauty of true effect based operations if the emerging doctrine is used properly.

My background is Special Forces, but unlike many of my peers, I have a great respect for conventional Army and Marine capabilities. Of course for these capabilities to be productive vice counterproductive you must have outstanding officer and NCO leadership that are astute enough to adapt their TTP to the situation (first do no harm). Some of our units, like the 4th ID in 03 failed at this for a number of reasons, and maybe it was due to a "Mech mentality", along with some other problems, but I bet when they come in this time with a different mentality they will do very well.

I do have a strong difference of opinion with your previous statement where you wrote,

“How does one conduct effective COIN operations from Stryker vehicles, Bradleys, and tanks? I read Galula’s work, and don’t remember a chapter that covers this”.

I hope someone from the Stryker Brigade that just left Mosul writes a book or article from the operational perspective on how they conducted COIN. By all accounts (from Special Forces soldiers and reporters embedded with them) they did an outstanding job. No doubt they made mistakes, but overall they did a great job, and more importantly they were effective. The Stryker vehicle did not prevent them from executing effective HUMINT, Civil Military Operations, Presence Patrols, dismounted infantry operations, etc., but it did enable them to conduct effective sophisticated surgical strikes that maximized the C4I and combat power of their Strykers in a very dangerous situation. I don't think an 82nd ABN BDE with light skinned vehicles could have done as well in this environment.

Galula wrote primarily about counter colonial wars, and while many of the lessons are relevant to some degree; the scenarios were different. I'll make two points, both probably worthy of a separate discussion.

1. I don't think we want to castrate our Army's combat power to become more like Brit like. While the Brit's were very effective at conducting COIN prior to WWII, they couldn't fight a conventional war effectively and therefore were unable to counter the Nazi Germany offensive effectively. While we may not face another conventional threat from a near peer in the immediate future, I think it is premature to throw the baby out with bath water at this point. Insteand of going to a lighter force, I think we simply need to train our heavy forces in COIN. This isn't near as efficient or effective as forming a SASO or COIN force, but we still retain our ability to dominate any ground conflict. Maybe this is a dinasour's answer, but I still see conventional threats in the world.

2. We constantly talk about conducting COIN in Iraq, but are we really conducting COIN? I think it can be argued that we’re not conducting a counterinsurgency campaign in Iraq yet, because we haven’t completed the regime change. Once the regime change is in place, then we can shift to a truer COIN model. Maybe attempting to use COIN doctrine at this point is counter productive? Did we conduct COIN in post war Germany? In Iraq we are an occupying force until we get a viable government in place. We didn't come in to protect a threatened government, we removed a government. I know this will open a can of worms, but I think it is worthy of discussion.

As for PME, I hope your comment about window dressing is off the mark, but I fear you might be right. I still think there are many subjects that can be addressed via distance learning if we develop a learning culture in our ranks. In turn this will better prepare the student to maximize his return for time at the resident PME facilities, but this must be done correctly, not just to facilitate saving dollars and time (boots on the ground time). If you’re right and our PME is being degraded, then the impact will be strategic over time.

11-07-2005, 02:12 AM
I don’t think we should take Galula’s comments out of context, nor assume his comments are a gospel that must be followed. We can fall into the same mental trap that big Army was stuck in for years, when they assumed their Fulda Gap doctrine would apply to all conflicts around the world equally.

I never said Galula was gospel (http://www.d-n-i.net/boyd/pdf/poc.pdf). His book attempts to sway the reader away from the conventional warfare Jominian dogma. You should fight for the popular support instead of physical destruction- and win at the moral level, eroding the insurgents ability to move and interact so freely.

I hope someone from the Stryker Brigade that just left Mosul writes a book or article from the operational perspective on how they conducted COIN.

We should worry more about how we think (http://www.marx.org/reference/archive/sun-tzu/works/art-of-war/index.htm) rather than how to do (https://atiam.train.army.mil/soldierPortal/atia/adlsc/view/public/4718-1/fm/7-8/toc.htm).

Tanks are a symbol of occupation NOT cooperation or security. Tanks send the wrong IO message. Tanks in Iraq appear to Muslims as tanks in Gaza or Ramallah, etc.

That was a breath of fresh air!

11-07-2005, 04:22 AM
I hope someone from the Stryker Brigade that just left Mosul writes a book or article from the operational perspective on how they conducted COIN.
Well, right now you can access the SBCT Initial Impressions Report - Operations in Mosul, Iraq dated 21 Dec 04. It is available on the CALL website and in the CALL Web Products folder in the AKO KC files.

Bill Moore
11-07-2005, 05:59 AM
His book attempts to sway the reader away from the conventional warfare Jominian dogma. You should fight for the popular support instead of physical destruction- and win at the moral level, eroding the insurgents ability to move and interact so freely.

Winning at the moral level is hard to define and harder to do. Obviously we failed to that during the Vietnam War with our massive bombings and relentless pursuit of higher body counts. I’ll still argue it wasn’t the tools (bombers, artillery, etc.), but the application of the tools, or strategy. West Pointers have traditionally been terrible at formulating strategies, beginning with our Civil War where we somehow hold certain Generals in high esteem for leading their Armies to slaughter. Let’s not forget our military strategy is a by product of our industrial superiority, which makes us particularly unsuited to wage wars where we’re not able to destroy another Nation State’s fielded forces.

Getting back on to Iraq, your arguments don’t ring true to me because the conflict in Iraq isn't a true COIN, since we're still in the midst of regime change, nor is Iraq some simple banana republic host to a Marxist insurgency where the insurgency springs up from the soil based on economic disparities creating a base susceptible to Marxist ideology. This is the type of insurgency we have all studied, and now (after the fact) have great strategic and operational ideas for addressing this type of challenge.

However, we’re on the verge of making the same mistakes we made in Vietnam by failing to understand the true nature of the war. If we simply think we’re going to apply counter-Marxist/Maoist strategy to tackle this threat, then we’ll probably be reading about ourselves in the history books a few years from now on how we miss read the situation once again. The conflict in Iraq is a confluence of religion, ideological, economical, outside agitators, and ethnic tensions. Saddam was left in place by President Bush senior because he saw Saddam as the lesser of two evils, one who was actually a stabilizing influence who managed to keep Pandora’s Box closed. Sometimes the high moral ground is a chose between the lesser of two evils.

Now that Pandora’s Box is open we need to start thinking pragmatically instead of continuing to promote idealistically based strategies that have little application in the real world. As you stated, we need to learn how to think, not what to think.

In Iraq the winning at the moral level needs to be defined, and not by Sun Tsu, but by someone familiar with the world we live in today. Once it is defined, we have to determine how to translate it into action at the strategic and operational level. These are far from simple tasks. We can quote authors from Sun Tzu to Kaplan, but it won’t get us there.

Do you really believe that if we loaded our tanks up on ships in Kuwait and sent them back to Texas that Iraq would be better off? Do you think lightly armed infantry in cities with a dedicated foe supported by a number of nations and non-state entities will simply loose their will to carry on the conflict? That the Iraqi people will suddenly raise to the occasion and poison the pond making it untenable to the insurgents? Perhaps if we build a few more schools and medical clinics in various Iraqi cities in the Sunni dominated areas, then the Iraqis will suddenly see the light and embrace our form of democracy? Of course we can't provide adequate security for people to actually go to school in these areas yet, so I wouldn't be in too much of a hurry to get rid of our forces.

As for winning the war, does the military win the war, or do we establish conditions to enable another organization to win the war? What are the conditions? What organization actually wins it? If it is the Iraqi government, then what do we need to do to actually stand up an effective government? We’re far from figuring this one out, but I trust we will this time, because we have to.

Bill Moore
11-11-2005, 04:31 AM
Jedburgh, thanks for the pointer. Going by the date, these would be their lessons learned and impressions after only a couple of months on the ground. I would really like to contrast these with their lessons and perceptions towards the end of their tour. Based on my readings and discussions with some of the officers there, they adapted very effectively.

That brings me to my question for you, how do you feel about how we manage lessons learned? Do you feel the websites are used to the extent they should be? Do they effectively change POI's in our schools? Seems to me that too much pull is involved, and not enough push. Although I have absolutely no suggestions to make it better, so maybe we're doing the best we can.

I had a very sharp boss that suggested we don't have lessons learned, we simply have lessons, meaning they're the same lessons again and again because we fail to learn them. I sometimes think that assessment is correct more often than not.


11-12-2005, 01:23 PM
Just in via e-mail from Major M. W. Shervington to the SWJ and posted on the SWJ Operation Iraqi Freedom / Telic / Falconer / Catalyst (http://www.smallwarsjournal.com/ref/iraq.htm) page in the Reference Library.

Small Wars and Counter-Insurgency Warfare: Lessons from Iraq - Major M. W. Shervington, British Army. Cranfield University thesis, July 2005.

On 1 May 2003, President George W. Bush stood aboard USS Abraham Lincoln, in front of a banner stating ‘Mission Accomplished’, and declared that ‘major combat operations have ended. In the battle for Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.’ The President’s declaration has proved to be a false dawn. Despite a breathtaking conventional military campaign that removed Saddam Hussein’s regime in 43 days, the US-led Coalition has since been embroiled in countering an increasingly violent, diverse and unpredictable insurgency.

This dissertation provides some historical perspective to the development of insurgency and counter-insurgency. It traces the background to the creation of the modern state of Iraq. It examines the post-conflict insurgency in Iraq. It considers those decisions made by the Coalition that most contributed to its emergence and growth. It analyses those lessons that should contribute to future British counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine.

The paper addresses four themes. First, the US military alone in Iraq is conducting a COIN campaign against an insurgency that is unprecedented in history. Secondly, key lessons for British COIN doctrine must be learnt from the American politico-military experience; the British Army must therefore be receptive and open-minded. Thirdly, Iraq has witnessed a continued failure by American and British policy-makers to learn the lessons from history. Lastly, COIN operations in Iraq have to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people as they have to do with the perceptions of the wider Muslim world and the American and British electorates. It is a battle of perceptions in a war over ideas.

11-12-2005, 07:18 PM
Going by the date, these would be their lessons learned and impressions after only a couple of months on the ground. I would really like to contrast these with their lessons and perceptions towards the end of their tour. Based on my readings and discussions with some of the officers there, they adapted very effectively.
Here's more on the SBCT in Mosul:

3/2 SBCT and the Countermortar Fight in Mosul (http://sill-www.army.mil/FAMAG/Previous_editions/05/jan-feb05/PAGE36-39.pdf)

Edit to add: Examining the SBCT Concept and Insurgency in Mosul, Iraq (https://www.infantry.army.mil/magazine/2005/2005_3/12_fa_SBCT.pdf)

That brings me to my question for you, how do you feel about how we manage lessons learned? Do you feel the websites are used to the extent they should be? Do they effectively change POI's in our schools?
Some old dead guy once said, in effect, Any idiot can learn from his own mistakes. An effective combat leader learns from the mistakes of others. I feel we do an excellent job of collecting lessons learned - but we do very poorly in disseminating them and putting them into practice. The websites are certainly not being used anywhere near to the extent that they should be. Look at NCO Net, as an example of the BCKS system - it is used by only a relatively small number of NCOs, and the discussion of lessons learned is minimal - given the current operational environment. Many of the NCOs who do use the forum are not aware of the resources available through CALL etc. The NCO education system does a very poor job of informing and pushing effective exploitation and use of such resources by our NCOs. A tremendous potential exists for using these lessons learned and integrating them into unit training that is not being effectively leveraged.

This issue certainly does goes beyond unit training to the POI at MOS-producing schools in TRADOC. I can only speak from my experience in the MI field, but both Huachuca and DLI lag far behind operational reality, and do a poor job of exeditiously integrating lessons learned into current instruction.

11-13-2005, 01:44 AM
In Iraq the winning at the moral level needs to be defined, and not by Sun Tsu, but by someone familiar with the world we live in today.

While the classical three levels of war carry over into the Fourth Generation, they are joined there by three new levels which may be more important. Colonel Boyd identified these three new levels as the physical, the mental and the moral. Further, he argued that the physical level -- killing people and breaking things is the least powerful, the moral level is the most powerful and the mental level lies between the other two. Colonel Boyd argued that this is especially true in guerilla warfare, which is more closely related to Fourth Generation war than is formal warfare between state militaries. The history of guerilla warfare, from the Spanish guerilla war against Napoleon through Israel's experience in southern Lebanon, supports Colonel Boyd's observation. This leads to the central dilemma of Fourth Generation war: what works for you on the physical (and sometimes mental) level often works against you at the moral level. It is therefore very easy in a Fourth Generation conflict to win all the tactical engagements yet lose the war. To the degree you win at the physical level by pouring on firepower that causes casualties and property damage to the local population, every physical victory may move you closer to moral defeat. And the moral level is decisive.
-FMFM-1A, 4GW (http://www.d-n-i.net/lind/4gw_manual_draft_3_revised_10_june_05.doc)

11-14-2005, 07:55 PM
Check slides 105 -111 with emphasis on 108

Patterns of Conflict (http://www.d-n-i.net/boyd/patterns_ppt.pdf):

Bill Moore
11-15-2005, 12:46 AM
Thanks for the patterns of conflict of brief. I read the biography on Boyd a little over a year ago, and only wish I had read it sooner. I still wonder how such a profound thinker came out of the seat of fighter jet, but the answer was in his bio, he applied the principles of physics to war and sociology.

I understand the the concept behind your argument that we must win on the moral level, but remain sceptical that removing our Strykers and Armor will put us on the moral high ground. Regrettably I have to over simplify your arguments to keep this short. The question I asked before remains unanswered, how do we win the moral battle in Iraq?

Using Boyd's three forms of conflict, I think it is safe to say we won the maneuver fight, and we're now waging a war of attrition and a war on the moral front. The war of attrition doesn't need explanation, it may or may not be decisive.

The moral war is extremely challenging on at least three different levels: the moral war with the homefront, a moral war with the global audience, and most importantly a moral war with the Iraqi people (or more accurately peoples/tribes).

I won't belabor our challenges for gaining the moral high ground on the home front and with the global audience when the alleged reasons we went to war didn't bear any fruit yet. This is an extremely difficult obstacle to surmount, and the only mitigating factor may simply be time.

Winning the moral war with the Iraqi people is just as, or more, challenging outside of Kurdistan, as winning the moral war on the home and global fronts. We destroyed the Iraqi government and put a band aid in its place, and then we wonder why they can't respond to a crisis that is much more significant in scale than Huriccane Katrina? That is why I argue that OIF isn't a true counterinsurgency; furthermore, if this is true, then it is probable that strictly counterinsurgency strategies will probably fail to get us to the endstate we desire. Regime change requires a doctrine that is separate from counterinsurgency, even if many (if not most) of the lessons from previous counterinsurgencies are relevant.

Winning the moral war with Iraqi people will be extremely challenging when we attempt to establish a political system that flies in the face of their culture and history. Radical changes probably requires radical supporting actions like Mao and Lenin implemented. Obviously we don't want to go down that route. To compound the matters you have several different ethnic groups that do not trust one another, almost as bad as the Democrats and Republicans.

In the end I agree with the concept of winning on the moral level, but I think we better find other viable options in the meantime until we figure out how to achieve this concept on the ground.

On a happy note, I believe that if we stick with it we'll triumph, because our enemy is his own worst enemy. While we're struggling to define and obtain the moral high ground, our enemy doesn't even understand the concept. In time the Iraqi people will see this, and we'll have a cascading success.

CPT Holzbach
11-15-2005, 09:54 AM
I agree that the Army is not fighting a counterinsurgency here in Baghdad. There is most certainly an insurgency going on, but much of what we do isnt aimed at defeating it, just protecting ourselves. The use of tanks and Bradleys is necessary in some situations, and I wouldnt remove them from theatre, but I would greatly scale back their use. However, this would require drastic changes in the way the Army conducts operations here, changes that arent going to happen. Here's the problem: IEDs are far and away the biggest killers of Coalition and Iraqi troops. Where are most of the IEDs? On the MSRs. What do we INSIST on using to get around Baghdad? The MSRs. And this is why we use tanks and such here: route security. Because HMMWVs dont fare as well as a tank in IED attacks. So we use tanks and Bradleys to patrol routes and find IEDs.

Why don't we just stop using the MSRs? Hell if I know.

Are there any aviation knowledgable people here who can tell me why we cant move people and stuff by helicopter, like in Vietnam? We move a little by air, but not much. (Rather ignorant of this aspect, really. Please correct me if Im wrong.)

In the urban environment, I believe the Bradley to be the ideal vehicle. Lighter and more maneuverable than a tank. The tank has more firepower, but very rarely do you need 120mm sabot rounds on the flimsy structures here. The 25mm rounds are quite sufficient, and cause vastly less collateral damage. Best of all it carries it's own dismounts ("dirtmounts" according to one of my old section sergeants...). For these reasons, I'd keep at least some Brads around for heavy street fighting occasions, and some tanks too, in smaller numbers.

But a change in the way we operate would largly eliminate our need for them. We would stay off the MSRs almost entirely. My battalion has proven this works. Our LTC said "No more route security on this route. So, no driving on this route, except in an emergency or with my personal approval." Lo and behold, we freed up half the battalion for other things, there has been no interference with our operations, and no one's been hurt on that route since. Would this not work on a larger scale with a guy wearing stars making the same proclaimation? I think it would.

11-15-2005, 10:56 AM
Winning on the moral level in regards to armor is a matter of perception and feelings. Besides the possible consequences of how a civilian Iraqi perceives a war machine of steel and cannons in their streets, patrolling the streets on foot does not only eliminate such aspects - if not completely, so at least partially. It also moves it in the other direction as you have a much better opportunity to interact with the people on their level. Continuing this train of thought, you're signalling security and self-confidence, among other things.

Staying off MSRs... how about rolling out armor to staging points, which are changed to keep from ambush (would it be intelligent to ambush a heavy armor column?) and mining at its opening. Troops could then patrol from there or be inserted by chopper. Or with only heli/air support.

I don't know if that's possible or smart, but it's pretty interesting pondering what the insurgents would do if they have far fewer targets for their IEDs. Maybe more VBIEDs, or attacks on population, or they might be drawn out into the open - forced to fight to have effect.

Just another perspective... interesting discussion.


11-16-2005, 01:58 AM
While we're struggling to define and obtain the moral high ground, our enemy doesn't even understand the concept. In time the Iraqi people will see this, and we'll have a cascading success.

At the ground level(E-1 to E-6), we do not want to understand the concept :( Pop (http://www.wwe.com) culture (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088247/) demands (http://www.grouchymedia.com) it (http://www.ufc.tv) ! (http://www.store.yahoo.com/coolrags/whoopass.html)

The enemy exploits it

CPT Holzbach
11-16-2005, 01:51 PM
Mr. Moore said:

our enemy is his own worst enemy.

Indeed. We will win (or the Iraqis will) because the insurgents really are monsters. Many more people understand that then is recognized in the media.

Mr. Tex 6 said:

At the ground level(E-1 to E-6), we do not want to understand the concept

I find this to be one of the biggest tactical level problems over here, which can have strategic reach a la the "strategic corporal" effect. The soldiers and junior NCOs are not trained at all in this kind of war. My old unit (mortar platoon) really believed that hammering certain bad neighborhoods with HE rounds until the locals dropped dime on the bad guys would be an effective way of winning in Baghdad. I constantly had to tell them that such methods have never worked and wont work here either. Some of them just couldnt believe that. It revealed a drastic lack of training where it is (as always) needed most: at the soldier level.

Hysterical humor item: an ad by the United Nations Foundation in Foreign Policy magazine boasted that the UN "helped 8.2 million Iraqis make it to the polls" in 2005. Yeah...not so much. I dont remember seeing many blue helmets on the streets. The shamefully under-reported truth is this: the amazing turn out and security of the referendum was 99% the accomplishment of the Iraqi people and the Iraqi Army and Police.

11-16-2005, 08:09 PM
It revealed a drastic lack of training where it is (as always) needed most: at the soldier level.

Training is not the problem in this area; it is the socialization of the particular age/generation/era.

01-05-2006, 08:32 AM
Very recent history, but a good read, in this new product from RAND:

Developing Iraq’s Security Sector: The CPA’s Experience (http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/2005/RAND_MG365.pdf)

Soon after the coalition’s occupation of Iraq began in April 2003, it became evident that prewar assumptions about the security situation that would follow the ouster of Saddam Hussein had been unduly optimistic. The environment was not benign—in fact, it was deteriorating. Iraqi security forces had largely disintegrated, and those that remained were incapable of responding to rising criminality and political violence. In this environment, the coalition confronted three security imperatives: (1) to restore order and neutralize insurgents and terrorists; (2) to rebuild Iraqi security forces, which could eventually take on responsibility for Iraq’s security; and (3) to build security sector institutions, such as national security management institutions, the interior and defense ministries, and the justice sector, to ensure that the Iraqi security sector could be an effective bulwark for a democratic Iraq in the future.

At the time that the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) handed over authority to the Iraqi Interim Government (IIG) on June 28, 2004, it was clear that the coalition had made little progress in the first task. Insurgent and terrorist violence was escalating, organized crime was flourishing, and the security situation was threatening both the political transition and the reconstruction program. The coalition’s record on the second and third tasks, however, is somewhat less simply categorized. From April 2003, the coalition embarked on efforts to rapidly field Iraqi security forces and to build security sector institutions. This effort was broad in scope, but its implementation was patchy, its results were varying, and its ultimate success or failure remains difficult to determine.

Significant analysis has focused on the inability of the coalition to adequately counter political violence and crime in post-Saddam Iraq. There has also been considerable discussion about the coalition’s effort to develop Iraqi security forces. The matter of institutionbuilding, however, has been largely ignored by observers and policymakers; it is often seen as a long-term issue that is too far removed from immediate security needs. But the three efforts are interdependent: Iraq’s future security depends on its indigenous security forces, and these forces’ success and sustainability depend on the institutions that support them. This report concerns itself with the efforts to build both forces and institutions in Iraq. It provides a historical record of the coalition’s experience and seeks, insofar as is possible at this early stage, to draw lessons from the successes and failures of that experience.

01-05-2006, 05:03 PM
CSIS just published a report looking at the same topic from a different perspective: The Iraq War and Its Lessons for Developing Local Forces (http://www.csis.org/media/csis/pubs/060103_iraqiforcedevlessons.pdf)

Iraq, like so many other serious Post-WWII insurgencies, shows that successful counterinsurgency means having or creating a local partner that can take over from US forces and that can govern. Both Vietnam and Iraq show the US cannot win an important counterinsurgency campaign alone. The US will always be dependent on the people in the host country, and usually on local and regional allies. And to some extent, will be dependent on the quality of its operations in the UN, in dealing with traditional allies and in diplomacy. If the US can’t figure out a way to have or create such an ally, and fight under these conditions, a counterinsurgency conflict may well not be worth fighting.

This means the US must do far more than creating effective allied forces. In most cases, it find a ways to help its partners reshape their process of politics and governance so that the development of security forces is matched by the steady development of governance, and a matching civil presence and the provision of effective government services.

01-21-2006, 05:49 AM
21 Jan. Washington Post - Lessons Learned in Iraq Show Up in Army Classes (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/20/AR2006012001906.html) by Tom Ricks.

A fundamental change overtaking the Army is on display in classrooms across this base above the Missouri River. After decades of being told that their job was to close in on and destroy the enemy, officers are being taught that sometimes the best thing might be not to attack but to co-opt the enemy, perhaps by employing him, or encouraging him to desert, or by drawing him into local or national politics.

It is a new focus devoted to one overarching topic: counterinsurgency, putting down an armed and political campaign against a government, the U.S. military's imperative in Iraq.

Officers studying at the Army's Command and General Staff College here are flocking to elective courses on the subject, with three times as many enrolled this year as last. Soon the Army will require a block of instruction in counterinsurgency for all of the 1,000 or so majors who attend the college each year.

In an adjacent institution, the elite School of Advanced Military Studies, where the Army trains what are known colloquially as its "Jedi knight" planners, 31 of 78 student monographs this year were devoted to counterinsurgency or "stability operations," compared with "only a couple" two years ago, said Col. Kevin Benson, the school's director. In the college bookstore, copies of a 1964 book, "Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice" by David Galula, a French army officer who fought in North Africa, are piled on a cart and selling swiftly...

The new emphasis on studying how to respond to guerrilla-like campaigns underscores how the Army has been tempered, even chastened, by three years of fighting an unexpectedly difficult war in Iraq.

The air of hubris that some Army officers displayed just a few years ago, after victories in Panama, Bosnia, Haiti, Kosovo and Afghanistan (and an outcome in Somalia that they blamed on their civilian overseers in the Clinton administration) has dissipated, replaced by a sense that they have a lot to learn about how to operate effectively in Iraq, and about the cultures and languages there and in other likely hot spots...

"What we're trying to do is change the culture, to modify that culture, that solving the problem isn't just a tactical problem of guns and bombs and maneuver," said retired Army Col. Clinton J. Ancker III, director of the "doctrine"-writing office here that defines how the Army does what it does. He is involved in an effort to restructure the Army's "interim" manual on insurgency, which some insiders see as a mediocre stopgap.

Unusually, the Army and the Marines are collaborating on the new manual and also asking for input from the British army, which has had centuries of experience in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

Conscious that it largely walked away from counterinsurgency after the Vietnam War -- the subject was not mentioned in the mid-1970s version of the Army's key fighting manual -- the service now is trying to ensure that the mistake is not repeated...

01-21-2006, 08:34 AM
Most of all, they said, the key to victory is not defeating the enemy but winning the support of Iraqis and making the insurgents irrelevant.

01-21-2006, 11:37 AM
It makes sense. Why would we ever want to limit actions to only one form?

Sun Tzu says, "... the skillful leader subdues the enemy's troops without any fighting..."


"[T]o win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill."

Merv Benson
01-21-2006, 04:53 PM
Destroying the enemy and achieving victory still works, but it does not always take a kinetic form. When you read Bill Roggio and and Michael Yon's observations you see that US forces are already interacting with the locals and working with the shieks, building relationships that are helpful to the mission of destroying the enemy. Operations around Ramadi reflect this policy and when al Qaeda sends a human bomb into a line of police recruits, the people know who is responsible. It is al Qaeda that is losing the hearts and minds battle in Iraq.

But the kinetic operations till have their place and the Iraqis in Western Anbar seem glad that US and Iraqi forces removed the enemy from their cities. Some may still be lurking in the weeks and allies, but because of our work with the Iraqis and the Iraqi forces, our intelligence is improving and the enemy is having more trouble hiding his oeprations and resources.

Take a look at Michael Yon's latest post on Operation Iraqi Children. The link is on my blog in a Friday post.

It is a mistake to underestimate the intelligence of our military in Iraq. The enemy has made that mistake, but we should not repeat it. While the enemy in Iraq has been resourceful, his resourcefulness is not necessiarily the result of mistakes made by out forces our our prewar planning. One of the things that makes wars difficult is that unlike other productions, your enemy thinks and responds to your actions. You beat him by doing a better job of thinking and responding to his.

01-21-2006, 06:19 PM
It is a mistake to underestimate the intelligence of our military in Iraq. The enemy has made that mistake, but we should not repeat it. While the enemy in Iraq has been resourceful, his resourcefulness is not necessiarily the result of mistakes made by out forces our our prewar planning. One of the things that makes wars difficult is that unlike other productions, your enemy thinks and responds to your actions. You beat him by doing a better job of thinking and responding to his.

Sometimes called the strategy of the fighter pilot thanks to Col. John Boyd. The following is from the LexNotes (http://www.lexnotes.com/index.shtml) web site:

It is strange that John Boyd should be unknown. His ideas have been profiled in a plethora of publications, including Forbes, Fortune, Time, The Economist, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Dallas Morning News, and The Los Angeles Times. (OODA: Col. Boyd's description of the OODA Loop as derived from his original briefing slides) "Carried into the private sector, [Boyd's theories have] been adopted and adapted by businesses such as Toyota, General Electric and Wal-Mart." (Dale Eisman, Air Force Col. John R. Boyd: The man who shaped the military, The Virginian-Pilot, December 9, 2002.) Just this past summer, Fast Company carried an article saying Boyd, "focused his tenacious intellect on something grander, an expression of agility that, for him and others, became a consuming passion: the OODA loop ... an elegant framework for creating competitive advantage." (Keith H. Hammonds, The Strategy of the Fighter Pilot, Fast Company, Issue 59, page 98, June 2002.) Hammonds says Boyd "enjoyed distinctive unpopularity in official Pentagon circles. But even among critics, his OODA loop was much harder to dismiss. The concept is just as powerful when applied to business." Google "john boyd" "ooda loop" and you'll have a few days of reading ahead of you. Google just "ooda loop" and the reading expands to a week or more.

Boyd was not only a pilot who gave the enemy fits in Korea. Nor was he only the first person ever to codify air-to-air combat techniques. Nor was he only "the original Top Gun" teaching air-to-air combat at the Fighter Weapons School, Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. Not was he only the pilot nicknamed "40-Second" Boyd because of his standing challenge to all comers: Starting from a position of disadvantage, he'd have his jet on their tail within 40 seconds, or he'd pay out $40. Legend has it that he never lost. Nor was he only the Georgia Institute of Technology student of thermodynamics who applied his knowledge as a fighter pilot to create his Energy-Maneuverability Theory that gave us the F-16. Small, cheap and simple, the F-16 used only enough technology to make it more efficient -- fly-by-wire control systems to save the weight of hydraulics, one engine to keep it small, cut costs and make it hard to target. He had to design it clandestinely because the military-industrial complex did not want cheap weapons just because they were effective. "It was one of the most audacious plots ever hatched against a military service and it was done under the noses of men who, if they had the slightest idea of what it was about, not only would have stopped it instantly, but would have cut orders reassigning Boyd to the other side of the globe." (Biographer Robert Coram quoted by Dale Eisman, Air Force Col. John R. Boyd: The man who shaped the military, The Virginian-Pilot, December 9, 2002.) Nor was he only the commander of a top-secret intelligence center in Thailand so sensitive that for the first three years of its operation it did not officially exist. Nor was he only a leading voice in the post-Vietnam War military reform movement. After rewriting the air combat rulebook, he began looking at the broader flaws in U.S. military theory.

Boyd's OODA Loop is the product of a singular, half-century-long autodidactic journey through the realms of science, history, and moral philosophy. He devoured the writings of Heisenberg and Newton, and he read thousands of books, journal articles, and newspapers. Boyd studied warfare from the beginning of time, engaging history's strategists such as Hannibal, Belisarius, Genghis Khan and von Clausewitz to find the vulnerabilities of their ideas. The only theoretician Boyd did not attack was Sun Tzu, author of the oldest book on war. Instead he used contemporary ideas from diverse disciplines such as mathematics, physics, anthropology, biology, economics, and philosophy to update and reaffirm Sun Tzu's work.

The acronym OODA represents Observe-Orient-Decide-Act. Boyd's biographer, Robert Coram, says, "Simply rendered, the OODA loop is a blueprint for the manoeuvre tactics that allow one to attack the mind of an opponent, to unravel its commander even before a battle begins." (Robert Coram , Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War, Little Brown & Company: 2002. ISBN 0316881465. Amazon sales rank at time of writing, 102) The target is not the troops or weapons of the enemy. The target certainly is not the civilians of the enemy. "In Boyd's notion of conflict, the target is always your opponent's mind," says Grant Hammond, director of the Center for Strategy and Technology at the Air War College and author of The Mind of War: John Boyd and American Security (Smithsonian Institution Press, 2001). Victory comes by destroying an opponent's frame of reference, not necessarily by destroying so much of the opponent's materiel or personnel...

01-22-2006, 03:02 PM
Off topic a bit but I have to mention _Boyd the Fighter Pilot who Changed the Art of War_ by Robert Coram, ISBN: 0316796883.

It is a great introduction to Boyd's life and work. I have a good friend who president of a company that teaches law enforcement and military - he is himself a former Navy SEAL. He once said to me, "The OODA cycle is the holy grail of combat." I think he is right on the money.

01-23-2006, 09:28 AM
23 New York Times Commentary - Fighting Ourselves in Falluja (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/23/opinion/23bingwest.html) by Bing West.

The persistence of the insurgency in Iraq has divided America in a way not seen since Vietnam. Now the blame game among the principals has begun. The former presidential envoy to Iraq, L. Paul Bremer III, has written in his new memoir that he informed President Bush that the military did not have "a strategy to win."

Quite. The lesson the Pentagon should learn from Iraq is to avoid another L. Paul Bremer. This is less a reflection on Mr. Bremer, who accurately described himself as "the American viceroy" in Iraq and "the president's man," than on the position he and the American military commanders in Iraq were placed in by the White House's failure to put one person in charge.

In 1967, when confusion among military and civilian officials in Vietnam was undermining the war effort, President Lyndon B. Johnson placed all civilian reconstruction and security functions under the top general, William Westmoreland, insuring unity of command under Westmoreland's successor Creighton Abrams. Confronting similar confusion in Iraq, President Bush unfortunately assigned to the military the responsibility for security but gave Mr. Bremer the authority to shape, recruit, train and finance the Iraqi military and police.

This disunity of command reached its tragic apex in the spring of 2004, during what Mr. Bremer calls "the most critical crisis of the occupation." When four American contractors were killed and their bodies mutilated in Falluja on March 31, Mr. Bremer joined with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. John Abizaid, the commander of American forces, in ordering the fractious city seized.

Five days later, however, Mr. Bremer changed his mind after Sunni members of the Iraqi Governing Council threatened to quit in protest. He prevailed on General Abizaid to order the Marine battalions that were advancing through Falluja to halt. Mr. Bremer acknowledged that this "temporary cessation of offensive action" would be "rough on the military."

Secretary Rumsfeld, for his part, disagreed with the halt and urged General Abizaid to finish the attack. But as the military prepared to end things quickly, Mr. Bremer changed his mind about the "temporary" cessation. He told President Bush that the assault would "collapse the entire political process"; the president sided with his viceroy and told General Abizaid "to let the political situation there develop."

Develop it did. The insurgents' morale soared and their defenses toughened...

01-24-2006, 06:03 PM
This is not the first time Boyd has been mentioned on this board

He also stated that there were three other levels to war: Physical, Psychological, and moral. Moral being the strongest and physical the weakest. This is key to understanding the moral weaponry of guerrilla warfare(ie david vs goliath) and the inverse relationship of physical and moral actions.

03-12-2006, 12:56 PM
The 12 March issue of the London Daily Telegraph contains several items on this subject...

The Fatal Divide at Heart of the Coalition (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2006/03/12/do1201.xml&sSheet=/news/2006/03/12/ixhome.html) commentary by Max Hastings.

...There is a widespread belief in both British special forces and line regiments that American tactics are heavy-handed and counter-productive; that firepower continues to be used as a substitute for a "hearts and minds" policy; that local people will never be persuaded to support Coalition forces unless Americans, in uniform and out, treat ordinary Iraqis vastly better than they do today.

Historical parallels should be cited cautiously. But it is impossible to study any informed critique - including some written by Americans - of operations in Iraq without recalling the Vietnam debacle. There, too, most Americans treated ordinary Vietnamese with contempt, whatever their political allegiance. American convoys forced Vietnamese vehicles off the road, killed peasant livestock with impunity, brought down fire on suspected enemy positions heedless of civilians in the target zone, and treated even educated, professional Vietnamese with condescension.

All this is being repeated in Iraq, with predictable and identical consequences. Iraqis feel a bitter resentment towards foreign troops, whom few would call liberators without irony. US special forces are perceived as behaving, if anything, worse than line combat units because they have a wider and more aggressive mandate, an intensely macho ethos, and less accountability....

In fairness, we should acknowledge that when Britain was "top nation" in the last days of empire, the British Army was sometimes less good at "hearts and minds" than we delude ourselves. Things happened in Kenya during the Mau Mau insurgency, in Cyprus, Aden and elsewhere that would today result in an orgy of war crimes trials.

Counter-insurgency experts and many special forces officers of all nationalities would assert that it is impossible to fight a campaign of the kind being waged in Iraq with completely clean hands. The enemy strives to goad or deceive Coalition forces into actions that will harm innocents. In Northern Ireland, the British Army learned over 30 years how hard it is to fight insurgents without alienating the civil population.

In Iraq, the problem is multiplied many times by the gulf of language and culture, and by the fact that the declared allied aims are probably unattainable. With wholly inadequate forces on the ground, the Americans and British are striving to hold the country together as a unitary state; to restore economic and social activity; and to enable local forces to provide security against criminality as well as terrorism. All this, in place where historically law and order has been enforced exclusively by terror, torture and summary execution.

There is a further dimension, even more fundamental. From the day the first American forces crossed the border into Iraq in 2003, neither they nor their government have resolved the issue of whether they are there to serve Iraqi interests, or those of the United States. Whatever Washington may say, most Americans think they are working for their own country...

It is often justly said that the US army respects the British, and in particular our special forces. But mass matters, and we do not have it. There is no way of getting around this. If Britain, with its tiny armed forces, chooses to engage alongside the US in Iraq or anywhere else, we should never again delude ourselves - as have so many British prime ministers - that the mere fact of throwing a few chips on the table will enable us to call the turn of the wheel.

Reading all that I have written above, I dislike it because British bleating about our position vis a vis the United States sounds so unattractive. There is a case for putting up and shutting up, acknowledging that we are in Iraq whether we like it or not, and should simply persevere.

Yet are the things true, said by people like Ben Griffin and John Geddes? The answer is almost certainly "Yes". They are what make it so hard to be optimistic about Iraq and what our forces are trying to do there, hanging on to American coat tails.

SAS Soldier Quits Army in Disgust at 'Illegal' American Tactics in Iraq (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/03/12/nsas12.xml&sSheet=/news/2006/03/12/ixhome.html) by Sean Rayment.

An SAS soldier has refused to fight in Iraq and has left the Army over the "illegal" tactics of United States troops and the policies of coalition forces.

After three months in Baghdad, Ben Griffin told his commander that he was no longer prepared to fight alongside American forces.

'I Didn't Join the British Army to Conduct American Foreign Policy' (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/03/12/nsas112.xml&sSheet=/news/2006/03/12/ixhome.html) by Sean Rayment.

As a trooper in the Special Air Service's counter-terrorist team - the black-clad force that came to the world's attention during the Iranian Embassy siege in 1980 - Ben Griffin was at the pinnacle of his military career.

He had already served in Northern Ireland, Macedonia and Afghanistan as a member of the Parachute Regiment, and his sharp mind, natural fitness and ability to cope with the stress of military operations had singled him out as ideal special forces material...

Unknown to any of his SAS colleagues at their Hereford-based unit, however, Mr Griffin, then 25, had been harbouring doubts over the "legality" of the war. Despite recognising that Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator and posed a threat, albeit a small one, to the West, he did not believe that the case for war had been made. The events he witnessed during his three-month tour in Baghdad, and especially the conduct of the American troops, would force him into making the most difficult decision of his life.

During a week's leave in March 2005 he told his commanding officer in a formal interview that he had no intention of returning to Iraq because he believed that the war was morally wrong. Moreover, he said he believed that Tony Blair and the Government had lied to the country and had deceived every British serviceman and woman serving in Iraq...

Your thoughts please... Disgruntled soldier + "if it bleeds it leads" liberal press or the tip of an iceberg?

03-12-2006, 02:24 PM
On the SAS guys, my guess would be you will see them again as contractors. I have talked to friends that reported they are leaving in droves for better money. Either that or they are closet libs.

There was an article in the english press a while back about their Spec Ops guys leaving in bunches.

Merv Benson
03-12-2006, 03:50 PM
What seems to be missing from these stories is context. For the most part the Brits have their area of operation and the US has its, which it is rapidly turning over to Iraqi forces. It does not give much detail of joint operations, but instead seems to rely on scuttlbutt and hearsay.

What these people are suggesting is also inconsistent with reports from both bloggers and reporters who have been embedded with US forces in Iraq. It also is inconsistent with reports of the close working relationships between Iraqi forces and their US advisors, where most have reported a strong sense of cooperation and a warm working relationship.

I suspect some lowlevel rivalry compounded by left wingers in London who want to lose the war and would like to blame such a loss on the US.

03-12-2006, 07:54 PM
FYI, a quick Bio on the author of this new SAS book is below. I just cut and pasted this from a Brit book seller. I accidently deleted the seller but I believe it was countrybooks.com or something along those lines.

[/B]This item has not been published yet
You can pre-order a copy now

Highway to Hell
by Geddes, John
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Published Price: £17.99
Our Price: £14.39
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ISBN: 1846050626
Published By: Century

Publication Date: 06 April 2006

Format: Cloth / Hardback, 326pages

Author Information
John Geddes fought in the Falklands War with the Parachute Regiment and saw action in the ferocious Battle of Goose Green. He was then selected for the SAS where he served in Air Troop with distinction. He is a veteran of covert operations worldwide including the Balkans where he intervened to prevent a massacre and ethnic cleansing , Northern Ireland and Africa. His last tour in the SAS was in South America where he conducted devastating, lethal undercover operations against cocaine cartels. Since leaving the SAS as a Warrant Officer he has been involved in security work in the Congo, Nigeria, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. He now runs a company training personnel mainly for security work in Iraq and Afghanistan. Alun Rees has worked as a correspondent for the Daily Express in the Middle East, Africa, South America, the Indian sub-continent and Northern Ireland.He was the only correspondent to file from the Scud attacks in Israel and from Kuwait and Iraq during the Gulf War. Home assignments include the Brighton Bombing, the Brixton Riots, the Hungerford Massacre, the Air India bomb outrage,the Yorkshire Ripper case and the Fred and Rose West case. He has also been named Campaigning Journalist of the Year in the British Press Awards and was the first journalist to reveal the whale hunting controversy on the Faroe Islands.

03-13-2006, 02:49 PM
13 March New York Times - Dash to Baghdad Left Top U.S. Generals Divided (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/13/international/middleeast/13command.html) by Michael Gordon and LtGen Bernard Trainor (USMC Ret.).

The war was barely a week old when Gen. Tommy R. Franks threatened to fire the Army's field commander.

From the first days of the invasion in March 2003, American forces had tangled with fanatical Saddam Fedayeen paramilitary fighters. Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace, who was leading the Army's V Corps toward Baghdad, had told two reporters that his soldiers needed to delay their advance on the Iraqi capital to suppress the Fedayeen threat in the rear.

Soon after, General Franks phoned Lt. Gen. David D. McKiernan, the commander of allied land forces, to warn that he might relieve General Wallace....

The firing was averted after General McKiernan flew to meet General Franks. But the episode revealed the deep disagreements within the United States high command about the Iraqi military threat and what would be required to defeat it....

The paramilitary Fedayeen were numerous, well-armed, dispersed throughout the country, and seemingly determined to fight to the death. But while many officers in the field assessed the Fedayeen as a dogged foe, General Franks and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld saw them as little more than speed bumps on the way to Baghdad. Three years later, Iraq has yet to be subdued. Many of the issues that have haunted the Bush administration about the war — the failure to foresee a potential insurgency and to send sufficient troops to stabilize the country after Saddam Hussein's government was toppled — were foreshadowed early in the conflict. How some of the crucial decisions were made, the behind-the-scenes debate about them and early cautions about a sustained threat have not been previously known.

A United States Marines intelligence officer warned after the bloody battle at Nasiriya, the first major fight of the war, that the Fedayeen would continue to mount attacks after the fall of Baghdad since many of the enemy fighters were being bypassed in the race to the capital.

In an extraordinary improvisation, Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi exile leader who was a Pentagon favorite, was flown to southern Iraq with hundreds of his fighters as General Franks's command sought to put an "Iraqi face" on the invasion; the plan was set in motion without the knowledge of top administration officials, including Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence.

Instead of sending additional troops to impose order after the fall of Baghdad, Mr. Rumsfeld and General Franks canceled the deployment of the First Cavalry Division...

Early Resistance Wasn't Foreseen...

Relying on Speed Over Manpower...

Seeking an Iraqi Face for the War...

Harsh Criticism From a General...

Merv Benson
03-13-2006, 04:31 PM
I think the reporters thought Gen. Wallace's statements were more significant thatn they were in reality, and that is why he ultimately kept his job. I comment on the article at length here (http://prairiepundit.blogspot.com/2006/03/war-game-battle-in-middle-of-iraq.html).

In Rick Atkinsons book on his experience with the 101st in the invasion (He was one of the reporters who wrote about Wallace's wargaming statement.) He later tells Wallace about the support he is getting from editors in Washington, to which Wallace dryly responds, "I'll put it on my resume."

Ranting Prof (http://www.rantingprofs.com/rantingprofs/2006/03/rewriting_histo.html) also makes a good point. The original kerfuffle was caused by the NY Times leaving out a key qualifer in Gen. Wallace's statment.

"The enemy we're fighting is a bit different than the one we war-gamed against, because of these paramilitary forces," General Wallace had said to The New York Times and The Washington Post. "We knew they were here, but we did not know how they would fight." Asked whether the fighting increased the chances of a longer war than forecast by some military planners, he responded, "It's beginning to look that way." (Emphasis added.)

03-16-2006, 11:12 AM
15 March National Review commentary - Baghdad Tet (http://www.nationalreview.com/robbins/robbins200603150741.asp) by James Robbins.

...Imagine news coverage of al Qaeda fighters in the American embassy. The story line would be irresistible — Tet Offensive, the Sequel. The press is already fixated on comparing the Iraq war to Vietnam, despite the numerous and significant differences. An attack like this, a surprise urban guerilla assault on a key symbol of American power, would immediately be cast as a replay of the January 31, 1968, Viet Cong attack on the U.S. embassy in Saigon.

Then, 19 VC sappers blew a hole in the wall surrounding the embassy grounds and shot down the guards inside the gate. A sharp firefight ensued, and enemy forces failed to occupy the embassy proper; but early erroneous reports, relayed by Asoociated Press reporter Peter Arnett, credited the VC with taking the first floor of the building. Moreover, while the attackers had been either killed or captured within hours of the assault, film of the attack ran and reran on network news programs, giving the impression of a much more significant action. Furthermore, the press quickly credited the enemy with a "psychological victory," even though they had failed even to come close to meeting their military objectives. In this respect, the Embassy attack was a microcosm of the entire Tet Offensive...

03-16-2006, 11:44 PM
I agree Wallace’s comments were much ado about nothing, but it is the nature of modern society to sensationalize things like that.

Tom Odom
03-28-2006, 03:03 PM
The JFCOM Iraqi Perspectives Report--cited often in Cobra II by Gordon and Trainor--is avaliable for download at http://www.jfcom.mil/newslink/storyarchive/2006/ipp_pg.htm.

Looks to be an interesting read judging by the intro.


Tom Odom
03-29-2006, 04:04 PM
To all,

Completing the trilogy of Cobra II, the Iraqi Perspectives Project, here is the link to Paul R. Pillar's article in Foreign Policy March/April 2006, "Intelligence, Policy, and the War on Iraq." Pillar was the NIO for NESA (Near East and South Asia); as such he chaired the inter-agency process which developed NIEs in Iraq. You can see the article at: http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20060301faessay85202/paul-r-pillar/intelligence-policy-and-the-war-in-iraq.html.

Pillar makes the argument for maintaining the divide between Intelligence analysis and policy, using the Iraq War to prove his case. As a former intel officer--and one involved in writing NIEs for Desert Shield and Storm--I agree that is the ideal. From the perspective of an intel operator, I would say that is almost impossible to do in the world of instaneous information. What you report on--and Pillar makes this point--is in essence political in its implications. And how that reporting is recieved is ABSOLUTELY political according to the agenda of the recieving agency.

In any case, this article is well worth the read, especially in tandem with Cobra II and the IPP.


Tom Odom:)

04-11-2006, 04:25 PM
11 April Los Angeles Times commentary - A Path To Success In Iraq (http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-khalilzad11apr11,0,2558544.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions) by Zalmay Khalilzad and George W. Casey Jr.

... Supporting political transformations in distant regions has never been easy or inexpensive. But when free nations have persevered, these efforts have paid dividends that justified the investment. After World War II, the U.S. and its allies helped Germany and Japan become engines of postwar economic prosperity and vital democratic allies in the Cold War. The rebuilding of South Korea enabled that country to emerge as an Asian leader.

As we look at Iraq today, it is in the middle of a difficult transition. During the last year, Iraqis elected a transitional government, drafted and ratified a sound constitution and held successful elections for their new national assembly. About 75% of Iraq's registered voters cast ballots in December, and the new assembly will represent all of the country's major communities.

In the last 12 months, Iraqi security forces have grown from 127,000 members to more than 250,000. Fifty Iraqi army battalions, 13 brigades and two divisions have security responsibility for thousands of square miles of territory, and another 12 battalions and three brigades are poised to assume their own security responsibility soon. By the end of summer, the goal is 75% of Iraqi army battalions and brigades will be leading counterinsurgency operations, with coalition forces playing only training and supporting roles.

When faced with the harsh test of sectarian violence following the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra in February, Iraqi leaders and Iraqi security forces held together. The Iraqi government called for unity and calm and implemented security measures to prevent sectarian violence. Though not all Iraqi security forces reacted with the needed firmness and evenhandedness, the vast majority took the initiative early on in moving to full alert and securing key areas.

Despite progress, Iraq is recovering from more than three decades of neglect. We confront serious challenges that are evolving, and we must be able to adapt our means to pursue our goals.

First, the principal threat to stability is shifting from an insurgency grounded in rejection of the new political order to sectarian violence grounded in mutual fears and recriminations...

Second, the coalition and Iraq's increasingly effective security forces are working hard to protect the Iraqi people...

Third, Iraq's leaders must develop security institutions that not only are effective but also trusted by all groups...

Fourth, the U.S. and the new Iraqi government will work together to create a regional environment supportive of stability in Iraq...

05-12-2006, 04:07 PM
The current issue of RAND Review: Iraq and Beyond (http://www.rand.org/publications/randreview/issues/spring2006/RAND_Review_spring2006.pdf)


Recognizing Shortfalls in Performance, Identifying Options for Improvement (http://www.rand.org/publications/randreview/issues/spring2006/cpiece.html)

Among the issues sparked by the Iraq War are three distinctly practical ones: sustaining U.S. Army forces in combat, promoting reenlistments across the services, and rebuilding Iraqi security forces and institutions. At times, these efforts have been hampered by shortfalls in U.S. performance. As outlined in this series on “Iraq and Beyond,” the lessons learned can help to reduce the risks and costs in future contingencies...
Sustaining Army Forces (http://www.rand.org/publications/randreview/issues/spring2006/sustain.html)

By virtually every account, the major combat operations of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) that toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime in the spring of 2003 were remarkably successful in terms of achieving the military objectives. Yet there is a general belief within the U.S. Army and the broader defense community, supported by our analysis, that this success was achieved despite numerous logistics problems...
Promoting Reenlistments (http://www.rand.org/publications/randreview/issues/spring2006/reenlist.html)

The ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have placed unprecedented strains on the all-volunteer U.S. military force, requiring an application of power that is more intensive and more prolonged than at any time since the era of the draft during the Vietnam War. Moreover, the one-third cut in active-duty personnel since the end of the Cold War, from 2.1 million to 1.4 million, has necessitated longer and repeated deployments, especially for the army and the Marine Corps.

These deployments have posed extraordinary challenges for service members and their families. Personnel are sometimes deployed for 12 months in nontraditional, hostile conditions, with only six months at home before their next deployment. The strains have been borne by nondeployed personnel as well. Like deployed personnel, nondeployed personnel frequently work long days to support the heightened pace of military operations. Both deployed and nondeployed personnel report rising levels of stress as the result of the increasing frequency of working long days.

Of particular concern to defense policymakers, the added stress from working long days has lowered the intentions of personnel to reenlist...
Rebuilding Iraqi Security (http://www.rand.org/publications/randreview/issues/spring2006/rebuild.html)

From May 2003 to June 2004, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq sought to reconstruct Iraqi security forces and to develop Iraqi security institutions. We examined these attempts in the defense, interior, and justice sectors. We assessed the CPA’s successes and failures so that we could draw lessons from the experience, insofar as currently possible...

05-14-2006, 01:54 PM
... added to the SWJ library's Iraq Page (http://www.smallwarsjournal.com/ref/iraq.htm).

06-07-2006, 10:09 AM
The ones who started Iraq also lost it

Published on: 06/05/06

The pithiest analysis I've seen of our occupation of Iraq — its epitaph, really — comes from the Web site of John Robb, a former Air Force intelligence officer now working as a security and anti-terror consultant.

"The problem," Robb writes at globalguerrillas.typepad.com, "has become bigger than our will to fix it."

That about sums it up. In fact, as public disenchantment grows —and revelations of apparent U.S. atrocities aren't going to help — and as the Iraqi government proves itself incapable of ruling, the gap between the size of our problem and our will to fix it will grow larger still, just as it did in Vietnam.

And just as with Vietnam, those who pushed hardest for this war will blame its failure on their usual set of villains — a traitorous media, critical politicians, etc. — who supposedly undercut the national will we needed to fight and win it.

And it will all be nonsense. . .

07-03-2006, 09:58 PM
What to Do in Iraq - Foreign Affairs Roundtable (http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20060701faresponse85412/larry-diamond-james-dobbins-chaim-kaufmann-leslie-h-gelb-stephen-biddle/what-to-do-in-iraq-a-roundtable.html) with a hat tip to the Belmont Club blog - Vietnam as a Mental Quagmire (http://fallbackbelmont.blogspot.com/2006/07/vietnam-as-mental-quagmire.html).

There's an excellent account of a roundtable discussion at Foreign Affairs entitled What To Do In Iraq? A Roundtable featuring Larry Diamond, James Dobbins, Chaim Kaufmann, Leslie H. Gelb, and Stephen Biddle. Most of the reaction appears to be based on a Stephen Biddle article Seeing Baghdad, Thinking Saigon in which he argues that the proper analogue to Iraq is not Vietnam or postwar Germany but the former Yugoslavia. Much of the debate over Iraq has been subconsciously formed around the assumption that Iraq = Vietnam. Not so, Biddle says...

... Biddle argues that Iraq is fundamentally different, a fact that policymakers and commentators, with their Vietnam baggage, are ill-equipped to see. The conflict in Iraq is not about nationalist aspirations, it revolves around group identities. And the key to Iraq is to provide an environment that will ensure "group survival"...

The roundtable discussion appears convinced of Biddle's central thesis -- that Iraq is not Vietnam. But they remain divided on his central prescription...

Read both links...

07-06-2006, 01:59 AM
I read both articles, and selectively cut out points made by the participants and Biddle. I think the momentum behind the round table is headed in the right direction, but haven't drunk the kool-aid just yet.

For more than two years now, Washington has had the opportunity to open negotiations, with the help of international mediators, with these elements of the insurgency and then draw Iraqi government leaders into those talks. The result could have been -- and might still be -- an agreement by key elements of the resistance to wind down the insurgency: Sunni political and religious leaders could send clear messages to their constituencies to suspend the war of resistance and pursue their political interests through the emerging game of peaceful politics and governance instead.

Faulty logic point. Although this may be an emerging game, we are dealing with a people (and yes, I generalize) who have no frame of reference for peaceful politics.

The United States, however, did invade Iraq with the intention of making that state a model for the Middle East, promising that success in Iraq would be followed by efforts to transform the political systems of Iraq's neighbors. This was not a vision any of those regimes was likely to embrace. Nor have they...

...Much as one may regret and deplore such activity, neighbors can be neither safely ignored nor effectively barred from exercising their considerable influence. It has always proved wise, therefore, to find ways to engage them constructively.

...The central objective of U.S. diplomacy, therefore, should shift from the transformation of Iraq to its stabilization, with an emphasis on power sharing, sovereignty, and regional cooperation, all concepts that Iraq's neighbors can reasonably be asked to endorse.

What is Turkey’s say in this, with a relatively autonomous Kurdish enclave on its border? It already forced our hand with the 4th ID matter. Do we risk, by pushing Turkey into accommodation now, sowing the seeds of future regional conflict in a different area? Also, we cannot resolve our impasse over Tehran’s nuclear aspirations, so approaching Tehran towards regionalization of the Iraq problem may be a protracted matter we simply do not have the time to resolve, following this formula.

And the situation will get worse, because communal atrocities have hardened sectarian affiliations. Before 2003, virtually all Iraqi Arabs identified themselves as Arabs, in opposition to Kurds and others.

It may be better to generalize that all Iraqi groups identified themselves as “Iraqis”. Sectarian affiliations may have already hardened years ago, but they were merely suppressed by the central power of Saddam’s regime.

There is a third way: for the United States to stop its futile resistance to the inevitable sectarian tides now rolling over Iraq and help the Iraqis channel these forces into a viable political settlement -- uniting Iraq by decentralizing it. This deal would be driven into place by bringing the Sunnis in with an offer presenting them with prospects far better than any of their present ones and by promising U.S. troop withdrawals and redeployments before 2009, all backed up with regional diplomacy.

A question remains, by what yardstick can we measure victory in Iraq? A second admonition I’d offer is that we would be advised to avoid approaching the problem as a social and demographic experiment, because we cannot afford to lose. To that end, we may have to cater to what each group (Sunni, Kurd, Shiite) wants, and follow through. The fine line here is that the administration would have to give up any arguments that our current operations are aimed in part at preventing Iraq from becoming a future Al Qaeda training ground.

Helping decentralize Iraq is also more honorable and realistic than either hanging in there or getting out. This policy has five elements. The first is to establish, consistent with the current constitution, three strong regions with a limited but effective central government in a federally united Iraq. Doing so would build the post-Saddam Hussein Iraq around Kurdish, Sunni Arab, and Shiite Arab regions, each largely responsible for its own legislation and administration. Each region's government could pass laws superseding those passed by the central government, as stated in the present constitution, except in areas of the central government's exclusive jurisdiction. The central government would have the deciding responsibility for foreign affairs, border defense, oil and gas production and revenues, and other countrywide matters, as agreed to by the regions. Its writ would be limited and restricted to areas of clear common interests, which would allow Baghdad to meet its responsibilities effectively. The oil provision, in particular, would strengthen the central government beyond its present powers. The underlying principle behind this policy would be to hold Iraq together by allowing each group to satisfy its real ethnic and religious aspirations…Big cities with highly mixed sectarian populations, such as Baghdad, Kirkuk, and Mosul, pose a huge problem now and would continue to do so under a federal solution -- or any other solution...The factor that will most determine the fate of these cities, however, will be whether the sectarian groups find the overall political settlement fair and viable. And as painful as it may be, the United States will have to assist those Iraqis who wish to relocate to safer terrain, temporarily or permanently. It is essential to realize that this proposal will not cause ethnic cleansing or the country's breakup. These terrible things are already happening. Regionalism may be the only option left to stop them.

I can’t articulate why, but this course of action holds the most promise in my mind. The highway connecting Baghdad and Jordan/Syria becomes an issue though, primarily because of the amount of commerce that travels it every day. Much of the long haul transport is currently secured by coalition escorts. If it were to fall under the control of a Sunni dominated Al Anbar, without coalition access, it may pose unseen problems for the central government.

If it were to remove such constraints and provide the security forces with liberal quantities of modern tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery, body armor, night-vision equipment, armed helicopters, and fixed-wing ground-attack aircraft, the capacity of the Kurds and the Shiites to commit mass violence against the Sunnis would increase dramatically -- and very visibly. Threatening such a change could provide an important incentive for the Sunnis to compromise.

I can’t buy this as being remotely possible. In this very complex of complex wars, “threats” that would normally induce a rational response among states (who’ve been at the negotiating game for a while) are only going to galvanize the communal and nationalistic violence. The response of the Sunnis need not be rational nor practical, so long as (in their mind) they retain their honor as they go down fighting. Let’s not forget the notion of tribal honor, and how it is interwoven into everything Iraqi.

Conversely, a U.S. threat to cease backing the Shiites, coupled with a program to arm the Sunnis overtly or in a semi-clandestine way, would substantially reduce the Shiites' military prospects. Iran might provide more aid to the Shiites to compensate them for some of their loss, but the United States' military potential so far outstrips that of Iran that rational Shiites could hardly welcome the prospect of being abandoned by Washington and having to confront U.S.-armed Sunnis...An official U.S. threat of military realignment would be hard for the Shiites to ignore. On the other side, some Sunnis already view the United States as a potential protector against Shiite violence, as the fighting in Tal Afar last spring suggests. Effective leverage need not take the form of clumsy ultimatums, which risk forcing the United States into corners, or the kind of blunt expositions that analysts like me put forward in the interest of clarity. Diplomats enjoy a rich palette of subtler signals with which they can indicate incremental movement in one direction without irrevocably committing to a maximum use of force.

Biddle’s looking at this through the wrong lens, applying Western thought to the problem. “Rational Shiites” is a relative term. Rational in what way; realist actor theory, or brinksmanship? We have to stop applying Judeo-Christian thinking in this scenario. Our track record of progress on the streets of Iraq does not portray any greater military potential over Iran, at least not from the viewpoint of the average man on the street. Perhaps we should start polling that guy to see what he thinks. As for the rich palette of subtler signals, I’m the pessimist and say, “show me the paint.”

In summary, I think the FA roundtable did a good job of bringing together analysts who hold a range of COAs dear. Is anyone taking these analysts seriously? What is happening in the back corridors of the Pentagon, State, and other cabinet offices? They still don’t hold practical application in my world of block and tackle tactics, but I enjoyed reading the different points of view.

I like the statement posed by Strickland on another thread: If we are truly against the idea of amnesty, then we are truly not trying to "end" the insurgency, but rather we are seeking to "win" the counterinsurgency. I apply it as a question on other forums, to counter the “kill ‘em all and let god sort ‘em out” crowd who propose only kinetic solutions to our growing problem. Are we going to continue to apply kinetic solutions?

07-11-2006, 10:57 AM
11 July New York Times commentary - Send in the Advisers (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/11/opinion/11krepinevich.html) by Andrew Krepinevich.

The United States has more than 130,000 troops in Iraq, 14 combat brigades in all. But as sectarian violence rages in Baghdad, it is increasingly clear that success or failure in this war does not rest solely, or even primarily, on the efforts of American combat troops. Rather, it lies in the hands of some 4,000 soldiers — the American officers and sergeants embedded as combat advisers in the new Iraqi security forces.

These advisers are the steel rods around which the newly poured concrete of the Iraq military will harden. They will determine whether President Bush can keep his pledge to “stand up” Iraqi forces so that American forces in Iraq can “stand down.” And it is the Iraqi military that will in turn play the crucial role in girding Iraq against the chaos that now threatens to engulf it.

Given the importance of the advisory effort, one might expect it to be a top priority for the Bush administration. But there are worrisome signs that this is not the case.

Despite their critical part in this war, the advisers are thinly spread. Every Iraqi battalion, made up of some 500 troops, is assigned roughly a dozen advisers, although the true requirement is closer to 30. Sadly, the Army’s best officers avoid serving as advisers if at all possible. The reason is simple: the Army is far more likely to promote officers who have served with American units than those who are familiar with a foreign military.

Because of the resulting shortfall, some Army units have been given the task of augmenting the advisory teams. Yet often these units simply send their “problem children” — their most marginal officers and sergeants — to support the advisers. This places an additional burden on the advisers, who must not only coach the Iraqis but also deal with their less-than-capable American colleagues.

Some American brigade commanders further compound the problem by imposing extensive reporting requirements on the advisory teams. While the Army has scores of “PowerPoint rangers” (the title given to officers who prepare briefings and reports), the Iraqis have none. And so the advisers often spend hours doing paperwork when they could have been working with their Iraqi counterparts instead.

The advisory effort is too important not to succeed...

Steve Blair
07-11-2006, 02:35 PM
Granted the source may be biased, but this is sounding all too familiar.

Tom Odom
07-11-2006, 03:56 PM
For those with access CALL has an IIR just out on transition teams that is worth the read.


07-14-2006, 08:42 PM
Just posted on the Marine Corps Gazette web page... The Iraqi Marine Corps (http://www.mca-marines.org/Gazette/2006/06walger.html) by Captain Giles Walger, US Marine Corps.

The Iraqi Marines

by Capt Giles D. Walger

Assistance for a fledgling Marine organization.

Starting as the Iraqi Coastal Defense Force (ICDF) during the initial phases of the reconstruction of Iraq, the Iraqi Marines have undergone several name changes. At one point the ICDF was split in two. Half became the Iraqi Navy while the other half became the Iraqi Naval Infantry Battalion. In May 2005 the Iraqi Navy Board and the Iraqi Ministry of Defense agreed to expand the Iraqi Naval Infantry Battalion and its mission. With those changes a decision to formally change the title to the Iraqi Marines was reached. The Marine Corps should foster a relationship with these new Marines and in doing so consider their mission, operational tasks, training, and the development of a future relationship with them.


It is no secret that Iraq’s economy revolves around oil. Most of Iraq’s oil is distributed to the world via two offshore oil terminals in the Persian Gulf. The Al-Basrah oil terminal (ABOT) is the economic center of gravity for Iraq. It is directly responsible for 75 percent of Iraq’s economy. It is two-thirds of a mile long and located approximately 50 miles from the Iraqi Naval Base at Umm Qasr. When demand is high—and the pipelines from the north are secure—the second terminal, the Khawr Al-Amaya oil terminal (KAAOT), meets the demand. The KAAOT borders Iran and sits 5 nautical miles (nm) from ABOT.

Iraq’s oil terminals are vital to its future. Together, ABOT and KAAOT are directly responsible for distributing 65 million barrels of oil to the world and contributing more than $12 billion annually to Iraq’s gross national product. There is a constant threat to the terminals from terrorist attack. The two terminals are targets representing the highest economic value for terrorists in Iraq. The two terminals were the first targets seized during the coalition invasion. The terminals have been targeted by al-Qaeda on three separate occasions since the invasion. They are of such critical value that U.S. forces (SEALs, fleet antiterrorism security team (FAST) company, and the U.S. Navy’s maritime security detachments) have been providing security on the terminals, while Coalition Task Force 58 (CTF–58) maintains a vigilant security posture in the sectors surrounding the terminals.

The Coalition Military Assistance Training Team (CMATT) for the Iraqi Navy and Marines is based in Umm Qasr. Since 2003 the Australian Commandos, Dutch Marines, Royal Marines, and U.S. Marines have all provided individual augments to the CMATT. The CMATT for the Iraqi Navy and Marines has been focused on three objectives: (1) to man, train, and equip them; (2) to assist the Iraqis in developing a roadmap to meet the requirements for handover of oil terminal responsibility, sustaining a Navy and Marine force capable of defending Iraq’s coast and protecting Iraqi national interests out to 12nm; and (3) to advise them in meeting the coalition’s operational requirements. Due to the drawdown of the CMATT for the Iraqi Navy and Marines, no U.S. Marines remain on the team, and the Royal Marines will draw down to termination in early 2006...

Remainder of article covers mission, operations, training, engagement and future...

07-16-2006, 01:27 AM
I so want an Iraqi Marine t-shirt.

07-16-2006, 01:29 AM
I so want an Iraqi Marine t-shirt.

How much are you willing to spend?:)

07-31-2006, 12:14 PM
30 July Atlanta Journal-Constitution - Building Iraqis' Trust a Difficult Mission (http://www.ajc.com/news/content/news/stories/0730airborne.html) by Moni Basu and Ron Martz.

Soon after Doraville's police chief, Lt. Col. John King, arrived with his soldiers in Iraq's treacherous Triangle of Death last summer, they set about the civilian task of nation-building.

Within months, the Georgia Army National Guard's 48th Brigade Combat Team began earning trust from the residents in Mahmudiyah, a small, rural town 45 minutes south of Baghdad that had become notorious for insurgent attacks and criminal activity.

The citizen soldiers knew that the key to their success would be their ability to nurture relationships with the Iraqi people.

"They were telling us where the bad guys were, where the IEDs [improvised explosive devices, or makeshift bombs] were put in so that we could destroy them instead of hitting them," said Brig. Gen. Stewart Rodeheaver, commander of the 48th Brigade.

But, after just five months on the job, the Army replaced the Georgians in Mahmudiyah and southwest Baghdad.

Brigade officers found themselves handing over control to the 101st Airborne Division, the storied regular Army unit out of Fort Campbell, Ky., that has a well-respected history dating back to the beaches of Normandy.

What happened after the 101st Airborne units moved in, however, has raised questions among military analysts about what type of combat unit is best suited for Iraq.

The 48th Brigade's 1st Battalion of the 108th Armor Regiment, a unit that had roughly 800 soldiers, suffered six deaths in the Mahmudiyah area -- three of them from non-combat vehicle accidents. By comparison, the two 101st battalions of about 1,400 soldiers patrolling the same area have been hit hard, losing 35 soldiers in eight months...

It would be impossible to pinpoint exactly why violence has escalated in Mahmudiyah since the 48th's departure. Both the U.S. military and the insurgents are known to commonly change tactics in Iraq's war of one-upmanship. And in recent months, spiraling sectarian violence has contributed to the chaos.

But as the United States tries to shift more of the burden for Iraq's defense onto the Iraqi army and police, some have questioned whether reservists -- part-time soldiers who are generally older and bring more life experience to their military jobs -- are more appropriate than their regular military counterparts for a counterinsurgency mission.

"I think by the nature of the beast, most National Guard forces are better in what actually needs to be done," said Piers Wood, a retired lieutenant colonel whose 28 years in the Army included duty in the Vietnam War...

Military officials won't say why the 48th Brigade was replaced less than halfway into its deployment. But there was concern within the National Guard and Congress that citizen soldiers were bearing too much of the load in Iraq.

At one point last year, U.S. troops in Iraq drew 40 percent of their numbers from the National Guard and Army Reserve. The Department of Defense estimates that now has dropped to 20 percent.

Wood said the decreasing dependence on reservists is counterintuitive. They believe aggressive operations by combat-centric soldiers have escalated a primarily political battle that requires a vast amount of noncombat skills.

"In a counterinsurgency, aggression just gets you deeper in trouble," Wood said. "You are going to create more enemies than you are able to kill."

U.S. military officials are developing a new counterinsurgency manual (http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/army/fm3-24fd.pdf), the first in more than 20 years, designed to aid troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A draft copy of the manual was posted recently on the Web site of the Federation of American Scientists, an organization that researches issues of global security and nuclear arms control. It appears to make the case that Iraq and Afghanistan require more nation-building skills to support the local government than combat skills.

Co-written by Lt. Gen. David Petraeus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Petraeus), who commanded the 101st Airborne on the initial invasion of Iraq and later led the training of Iraqi security forces, the manual indicates the U.S. military has forgotten the counterinsurgency techniques it learned in Vietnam.

In one section titled The More Force Used, the Less Effective It Is, the co-authors write, "The more force applied, the greater the chance of collateral damage and mistakes. It also increases the opportunity for insurgent propaganda to portray lethal military activities as brutal. The precise and discriminate use of force also strengthens the rule of law that needs to be established."...

08-06-2006, 03:28 PM
6 August New York Times - Baghdad’s Chaos Undercuts Tack Pursued by U.S. (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/06/world/middleeast/06baghdad.html?) by Dexter Filkens.

Over the past year, as American commanders pushed Iraqi forces to take over responsibility for this violent capital, Baghdad became a markedly more dangerous place.

Now the Americans are being forced to call in more of their own troops to bring the city under control.

The failure of the Iraqis to halt the slide into chaos in Baghdad undercuts the central premise of the American project here: that Iraqi forces can be trained and equipped to secure their own country, allowing the Americans to go home.

A review of previously unreleased statistics on American and Iraqi patrols suggests that as Americans handed over responsibilities to the Iraqis, violence in Baghdad increased.

In mid-June 2005, Americans conducted an average of 360 patrols a day, according to statistics released by the military. By the middle of February this year, the patrols ran about 92 a day — a drop of more than 70 percent. The first Iraqi brigade took over a small piece of Baghdad early last year. Now, Iraqi soldiers or police officers take the leading role in securing more than 70 percent of the city, including its most violent neighborhoods. They control all of Baghdad’s 6,000 checkpoints.

Even after the attack on the Askariya shrine in Samarra on Feb. 22 unleashed a wave of sectarian violence, the American patrols remained at a level lower than in the past. At the end of July, Americans were patrolling Baghdad 89 times a day — a quarter of their patrols in mid-June last year.

Thirteen months ago, Baghdad had about 19 daily violent events, like killings. Today, the daily average is 25 — an increase of more than 30 percent. Many of these attacks cause more than one death; some cause many more, like the rampage by Shiite gunmen in western Baghdad last month that left as many as 40 people dead.

On Thursday in Washington, senior American military commanders pointedly warned that Iraq was heading toward civil war.

To stop the slide, the United States has decided to double the number of American troops in the city, to about 14,200 from about 7,200.

American officials have declared Baghdad the country’s “center of gravity,” an arena that must be won if they are to succeed. The Americans and Iraqis say they are also preparing to bring in more Iraqi troops and spend at least $50 million for jobs and public services like electricity...

08-08-2006, 04:22 AM
Well, since the NY Times is into statistics another way to look at this is that American forces have reduced their own casualty rate by reducing patrols in Baghdad by over 70% at the cost of 6 other "violent events, like killings" per day. An average of 25 "violent events, like killings" per day up from 19 one year prior also at the expense of the Iraqi security forces learning curve. I like how they bring in civil affairs as a brief note in the last paragraph.

08-25-2006, 12:25 AM
25 August Christian Science Monitor commentary - Learning from Iraq: In a War, Think Big - at Least at First (http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0825/p09s03-cojs.html) by Jeffrey Shaffer.

... Did the Bush administration blunder by not sending in a larger force at the start? Proponents of this idea say it would have created security and stability as Iraq transitioned to a new government. During a discussion of the issue some time ago, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld offered a different scenario by suggesting that more troops in Iraq would have risked alienating the population and creating more potential targets for the bad guys.

There are plenty of facts on both sides to sustain fascinating theories and lively classroom debates. It's like arguing about whether the South would have won the Civil War if Stonewall Jackson had escaped death at Chancellorsville (the theory being that he would have been present at Gettysburg, turned the tide of battle in favor of the Confederates, and eventually the North would have given up the fight). But history is a done deal. Any discussion of alternative outcomes is just speculation, and the Middle East is a place where logical assumptions often turn out to be wrong.

One assumption I do feel confident in expressing is that nobody in Congress or the White House will seriously push the idea of sending in reinforcements. That window of opportunity was probably open for the first two years of the occupation. In fact, during that period Paul Bremer and other officials have said they tried to make a case for additional troops and got turned down.

Now the window is closed. After a certain point, Americans begin to ask themselves, and each other, "Why isn't this thing done yet? What's really happening over there?"

This fact annoys military analysts, but it's a reality of modern war. The best time to escalate is early. Waiting until late in the day undercuts all previous assurances that everything is under control. President Lyndon Johnson understood this when he turned down Gen. William Westmoreland's request for 200,000 more troops in Vietnam after the Tet offensive in 1968.

I'm sure someone close to President Bush suggested that a modest-size invasion force would be an easier case to make in the court of public opinion. Had I been present at that moment, I could have pointed out the public relations advantage of a massive force: If the campaign goes well, you can start pulling some troops out right away and keep public opinion on the positive side. Sending soldiers home is always good for homeland morale...

08-25-2006, 02:39 AM
This writer states that there on "facts" on both sides to support both a small force and a large force theory. This is nonsense. The only facts are that if you leave a physical opportunity (open space) or mental opportunity (brutality) the enemy will occupy it!!!
I have read all three of the new COIN manuals and I did not see any comments about a sound calculation of force to space or force to population requirement. If we don't learn this we or going to do it again (or chicken out when we should go) but this time we will have some nicer high tech toys and some really cool sunglasses.
In the end I think COIN should be changed from Counter Insurgency to Counter Infantry!!!
Boots on the ground, Eyes on the population, Mind on the mission.

08-25-2006, 10:12 AM
If the situation in Iraq could have been prevented then the best time was obvious early on. The need for more troops was hardly unforeseeable General Shinseki had clearly articulated the need for a large occupation force. But we took short cuts, tried to find the easy way; in the end we did not truly occupy Iraq but rather just destroyed the existing order, creating a vacuum. What we are dealing with now is what filled the vacuum as we ponder what might have been.

08-25-2006, 10:38 AM
Could there have been a larger force? Perhaps initially, but the services are incredibly taxed already as it stands today. You see it in stop-loss, contracting, etc.

Sometimes when the people in charge are saying that the generals did not ask for more troops, I wonder if long-term sustainability and possibly the alleged discussion climate at the Pentagon may have something to do with it.

Merv Benson
08-25-2006, 02:52 PM
Someday Gen. Abizad is going to have to explain why he did not request additional troops. When the issue was raised early on, both the President and the Secretary of Defense said that if the commanders say they need additional troops we will see that they get them. Yet, everytime Gen. Abaizaid was given the opportunity at congressional hearings and in interviews he said he did not need them. Early on the explanation was that they did not need more troops they needed better intelligence. The fact is they probably needed both, and they did not get both until the new Iraqi army forces were trained. There still seems to be some reluctance to admit the importance of force to space ratios in counter insurgency operations, but if you look at the impact of additional troops brought into Baghdad in the last few weeks, it is pretty clear that it works.

It also saves lives, since you do not have to buy the same space more than once.

The fear of being seen as an occupying army also seems over blown by the proponents of the small foot print strategy. It is clear now that the Iraqis in Baghdad were happy to see the US forces come in to protect their neighborhoods. It could be that this is just the results of the enemys campaign against non combatants waged for the last two years, but at this point the Iraqis know who is the bigger threat to non combatants and it is not the US troops.

Too much of the debate on this issue has been politicized by the media, war opponents and former generals. The man who was ultimately reonsible for the decision on force levels was the Centcom commander and he still needs to do a better job of explaining his decisions.

08-25-2006, 10:15 PM

That's a good statement at the end, 'Boots on the ground, eyes on the population, mind on the mission." I may reference that in the future, attributed to you of course.

08-26-2006, 12:06 AM
jcustis,thanks for the compliment. Send me of a copy of what ever you use it for if you can. All the way,Sir

09-08-2006, 06:42 PM
Heard this analogy, loosely paraphrased here, by Tim Russert in his teaser interview on this morning's local CBS new radio statio...

Republicans are trying to make the case to the public that the war in Iraq is central to the GWOT. Parallel to Berlin/Moscow in the Cold War.
Democrats are trying to make the argument that the war in Iraq is a distraction from the GWOT, sort of like Vietnam in the Cold War.

Forget the political parties for a second and consider from the warfighter's perspective -- which do you think? What would GWOT look like if we weren't in Iraq? Would we be better off? Take it from now going forward...should Iraq be the GWOT Main Effort, or shift to a Supporting Effort, in which case where would the Main Effort be?

I believe Iraq may have started as a distraction but has grown to the point where it is now central. Some folks have attributed a certain Machiavellian wisdom to it all, like that was the plan all along. I think imperial hubris is at least as likely. But that was then, this is now, and it is as core to GWOT as core gets. Main effort.

09-08-2006, 09:10 PM

I'd argue that the war in Iraq is a distraction from the War on Terror simply for the reason that the President has yet to define a comprehensive strategy for what we hope to achieve there. Are we aiming for stability in the region? Are we attempting to democratize the area? What are our goals? Who are our enemies and our allies in the region? What resources are we willing to commit to achieve our goals? Are our military forces being used to further some greater purpose, or are they merely being used as bait to draw terrorists to Iraq?

None of these questions has been seriously answered by the administration and without a true strategy the war in Iraq serves no real purpose of any kind. It's just a conflict without an agenda. You could also make the argument that the insurgency in Iraq isn't actually about attacking America either, but is more about merely filling the power vacuum left when Saddam Hussein was removed...a vacuum we quite frankly didn't do a great job of filling after we removed him. In that scenario the killing of Americans is more of a secondary goal than a primary one.


09-08-2006, 10:00 PM
First, I promise not to stalk this thread and reply to every single reply like an incessant nag.

Second, excellent point re absence of clarity, a winning strategy, and a vision of what winning means. I think that rings as true for GWOT as for the War in Iraq as you stated.

I'd argue that the war in Iraq is a distraction from the War on Terror simply for the reason that the President has yet to define a comprehensive strategy for what we hope to achieve there...

My claim that I believe they are now inextricably linked (whatever they are) does not mean that either are being prosecuted with WWII clarity strategically. With the water that is under the bridge, though, I do claim that we can not now "lose" Iraq without a fatal body blow to the broader GWOT.

09-08-2006, 11:02 PM
True, but with the War on Terror as it existed before Iraq, the mission was to remove direct threats against the U.S. (al-Qaeda) and capture the leaders responsible for 9/11. We're further from that goal than ever before right now.

Iraq is an irrelevant sidebar into interfering with Middle Eastern politics. I agree that we can't immediately cut and run from Iraq and just let the country fall apart. But I disagree with the idea that we can somehow force them to adopt Western democracy like communists attempted to force communism on other countries during the Cold War. True democracy comes from internal desire of the people, not because another country invades and tells you that you're now a westernized republic with a market economy. The smarter move, I'd argue, would be to stabilize the area enough for the Iraqi military and police to control it themselves, then leave the Iraqis to find their own path. If you do that a fundamentalist failed state in Iraq, such as the one that existed in Afghanistan, is unlikely due to Iraq's geographic location, demographic makeup and its utility as an oil producer (all very different than Afghanistan's). If the country fragments after stabilization, it will likely do so in a much less disruptive fashion, and if it succeeds the Iraqi people would be more likely to appreciate us for letting them find their own way, rather than forcing our ways upon them. At least we wouldn't be throwing money and troops' lives down an unproductive hole like we are right now.

The biggest threat to us is independent non-nation affiliated players like al-Qaeda anyway, not state-sponsored terror groups.

09-09-2006, 05:08 AM
True, but with the War on Terror as it existed before Iraq, the mission was to remove direct threats against the U.S. (al-Qaeda) and capture the leaders responsible for 9/11. We're further from that goal than ever before right now

The arguement for the original invasion was that Iraq possessed WMD and connections to terror groups. If the administration belived this intelligence than it acted in such a manner as to further the GWOT. There is much debate about their actual beliefs but their perception is what mattered.

I also agree with Bill that the war in Iraq is now central to the WOT. Iraq continues to feed Islamic resentment of the U.S. and limits our ability to pursue other areas of the WOT because of resource constraints but losing now would provide the Islamic insurgency a victory of immense significance. So regardless of the original motivations or wisdom of the War in Iraq it is now central to the U.S. WOT for as long as it continues it breeds more terrorists and limits the U.S. ability to utilize resources on other targets.

09-09-2006, 01:46 PM
....So regardless of the original motivations or wisdom of the War in Iraq it is now central to the U.S. WOT for as long as it continues it breeds more terrorists and limits the U.S. ability to utilize resources on other targets.

I'm afraid I have to agree with you on this. In my darker and somewhat more paranoic moments, I really couldn't think of any US action that would be better suited to al Qaeda's needs except, possibly, a US led assault on Iran :( .

As far as the GWOT is concerned, at least at the level of grand strategy, Iraq has, unfortunately become central to all sides. The frustrating thing about it is not only the mismanagement and blunders involved in OIF, many of which are being corrected, but also the shifts in international diplomatic perceptions resulting from the flawed reasons for the invasion in the first place.

Bill's phrase "imperial hubris" really captures what I am getting at here - the US has lost a lot of face (and diplomatic credit) in the international scene as a result of starting the war using flawed intel, and is loosing more credit based on poor overall operations. One of the effects this is having is making it harder in the future to put international coalitions together while, at the same time, making it easier to split the existing ones.


09-09-2006, 02:10 PM
Yesterday, the Senate Intelligence Committee released their report on "postwar findings about Iraq's WMD programs and links to terrorism and how they compare with pre-war assessments." http://intelligence.senate.gov/phaseiiaccuracy.pdf

In today's CBC story on the report(http://www.cbc.ca/story/world/national/2006/09/08/senate-cia-report.html, Senator Kit Bond is quoted as saying

Yet to make a giant leap in logic to claim that the Bush administration intentionally misled the nation or manipulated intelligence is simply not warranted.

My initial reaction to that quote was something along the lines of "never ascribe to malice what can be explained by stupidity". Then I started to get really scared....


Merv Benson
09-09-2006, 03:24 PM
There are still some undeniable facts about what led the US and its allies to war in Iraq. Saddam was required by his cease fire agreement and 17 UN resolutions to account for his WMD. It was his burden and not the CIA or US intelligence's burden to account for his WMD and have the weapons inspectors supervise their destructions.

He wholly failed in this obligation and played a cat and mouse game with the inspectors and thumbed his nose at his obligations under the cease fire agreement and the UN resolutions. He could have avoided the war simply by complying. While the post war analysis could not find most of his WMD what it really means is that much of it is still unaccounted for. This should be a bigger worry than the political second guessing of those who did not want to use force in Iraq to make him comply with his obligations.

He also brutalized his own people in violation of his obligations under the UN resolutions and paid money to the families of terrorist Palestinians. Many of the thugs that he used to brutalize the population of Iraq are still doing it under different management.

A non politicized look at intelligence failures is worthwhile, but this second guessing and name calling is not productive to dealing with our foreign enemies and it should not be used to make bad faith charges against political opponents in this country.

09-09-2006, 04:26 PM
I agree with those of the opinion that while Iraq may not have been central to our successful prosecution of the GWOT in 2003 and earlier - it is now. Cutting our losses and pulling out would be perceived as an enormous victory to the extended Islamist terrorist network; provide yet another terrorist 'safe haven' (failed-state) for planning, training and logistical support; and further destabilize a region vital to our national security interests. Yet another vacuum would follow a withdrawal and most certainly this vacuum would be filled by Iran, Syria and non-State actors hostile to the West.

I also have to agree with Merv, if not for the same reasoning, that a 'healthy’ look at our past mistakes to enable needed adjustments in strategy and TTP is desirable – an ‘unhealthy’ look for simple political gain in an election year is borderline treason and does much to further potential defeat in Iraq and elsewhere. While the Democrats seem more prone to using the GWOT as a political tool there is enough blame on both sides of the aisle to go around.

While I am on the soapbox - I am also miffed about criticism heaped on those who have written about our strategic, operational and tactical mistakes in Iraq. In some cases their patriotism has been questioned and to put it bluntly that is a bunch of bull.

I concede that there are many of the 24-7 anti-U.S. crowd who revel in our mistakes to justify their misguided notions; but I will also offer that there are many who look at those mistakes as lessons learned, relearned and unlearned. These are lessons that must be addressed to enable successful operations in the future.

09-09-2006, 05:06 PM
Hi Merv,

There are still some undeniable facts about what led the US and its allies to war in Iraq. Saddam was required by his cease fire agreement and 17 UN resolutions to account for his WMD. It was his burden and not the CIA or US intelligence's burden to account for his WMD and have the weapons inspectors supervise their destructions.

True, at least as far as it being his burden to account for his WMD according to both the cease fire agreement and the UN resolutions. I would certainly not argue that he acted in "good faith" in the matter at all :).

As to the CIAs analysis or, rather, the one that was used as the justification to the war, I would certainly argue that it was both the CIA and the Bush administration's burden to make sure that they had the most accurate analysis available. The problem I was trying to point out was that using that analysis as a causus belli and, most importantly, having it publicly proven that the analysis was slanted, has

reduced the credibility of similar claims in the future;
led to a lot of international questioning of the motives of the administration; and
has squandered a lot of international, grass roots support for the GWOT.

He wholly failed in this obligation and played a cat and mouse game with the inspectors and thumbed his nose at his obligations under the cease fire agreement and the UN resolutions. He could have avoided the war simply by complying.

Sure he did - and so have North Korea and the Sudan to name just two other countries. In and of itself, that is not an internationally recognized justification for war that has the effect of binding international allies.

While the post war analysis could not find most of his WMD what it really means is that much of it is still unaccounted for. This should be a bigger worry than the political second guessing of those who did not want to use force in Iraq to make him comply with his obligations.

Hmmm, that's the logic of the excluded third :). I certainly remember coming across rumours that a fair number of WMD raw materials and components had been smuggled out via Syria to the Sudan. Should it be a major concern? Yup, no question about it.

He also brutalized his own people in violation of his obligations under the UN resolutions and paid money to the families of terrorist Palestinians. Many of the thugs that he used to brutalize the population of Iraq are still doing it under different management.

Again, I really have to respond with a "so what?" So do the North Koreans, the Sudanese and a whole host of other countries including China. Would you argue that that is enough justification for an invasion and occupation in and of itself? I would agree that it is a good secondary claim - more of a secondary justification really - but it certainly isn't enough in and of itself.

A non politicized look at intelligence failures is worthwhile, but this second guessing and name calling is not productive to dealing with our foreign enemies and it should not be used to make bad faith charges against political opponents in this country.

I certainly agree that a non-politicized look at intel failures is quite worthwhile - no question about that :). I would argue, however, that one of the effects of this particular intel failure has been a series of political repercussions at the international level and that is also worth looking at. The sheer fact that there are questions being asked both inside the US government and by other governments and media outlets about whether it was an "intelligence failure" or a case of slanting available intel to meet pre-existing administration desires impacts on the international perceptions of both the credibility and effectiveness of US intelligence and any claims that may be made stemming from that intelligence.

Is it a "bad faith charge" when you examine why your allies question the validity of your intelligence and start questioning the motivations behind your requests?

Merv, in order to effectively pursue the GWOT, we have to think about it as a global form of counter-insurgency warfare, and part of what that means is that there has to be a fairly high level of international trust in US intelligence and in the motivations behind suggested opperations. That means that an intelligence "failure" of this type has an importance far beyond the borders of the USA.

I think Bill hit the nail on the head in his first post of this thread when he said

I believe Iraq may have started as a distraction but has grown to the point where it is now central (to the GWOT).

Part of the centrality I see centers around the justifications based on the "intelligence failure" and the public administration responses to the increasingly public, at least internationally, belief that it wasn't a failure but, rather, a purposive slanting of available intelligence. *That* really concerns me and, in truth, I think that the loss of international credibility and trust is much more important than finding the location of any remaining WMD. I'm certainly not advocating that we stop looking for them, but I think claims that since we haven't found them they must be hidden even better than we though are pretty damaging.

Personally, I don't believe what most politicians say anyway (although there are a few exceptions to that). I do, howver, find the idea of a Republican senator implying that it was stupidity on the part of the Bush administration to be very worrysome - certainly that was how I interpreted the remark of his that I quoted.


09-09-2006, 07:09 PM
Democrats are trying to make the argument that the war in Iraq is a distraction from the GWOT, sort of like Vietnam in the Cold War.

I fail to see how Vietnam was a distraction from Cold War. If one defines US mission as preventing communists from coming to power in non-communist countries then Vietnam was exactly that. If US mission was to prevent spread of Soviet influence then vietnam was that as well.

That those missions weren't accomplished is irrelevant here, Vietnam fitted neatly into US policy during cold war.

To invest my own €0,02 into Iraq/GWOT, I think it's a distraction. That it's now portraited as important part of GWOT shouldn't hide the fact that it's not the only one and it was an addition to existing ones. Unecessary opening of another front when original one (Afghansitan and capturing OBL) is far from quiet.

09-10-2006, 01:59 AM
My .02 cents,

I do believe that Iraq is very important to the GWOT. To begin with, I think that the whole argument that Iraq is a distraction from our efforts in Afghanistan or that it is draining resources that could be better used in the hunt for UBL, is a straw man. First of all, more troops wandering around the mountains isn't going to make much difference, numbers will not take the place of reliable intelligence. We need to break the code on how to win hearts and minds, particularly along the border with Pakistan. We can send all ten divisions and all the reserves and national guard but until we can make some headway in the populace it won't matter a hell of a lot. In any case more troops in Afghanistan won't help in the search for UBL anyway because all the data that we have (open source anyway) suggests that he is not even in Afghanistan anyway. And unless we are contemplating invading Pakistan and either forcing Musharef to fight against us or fomenting a coup that would depose Musharef and probably put nuclear arms in the hands of Islamic hardliners, then the rhetoric about not doing enough to find UBL is a bit disingenuous.

As for Iraq, I believe we were in the position that we had to demonstrate our resolve. The President laid out who the enemy with the Axis of Evil. Afghanistan was a reaction to a direct attack on our soil, it is hardly a test of national resolve. To prove to our enemies as well as our allies that we can be proactive as well as reactive we had to take action against one of the members of the Axis of Evil. The UN has repeatedly proven that talk is cheap. Dictatorships and Islamic fundamentalists are not impressed by talk or weak measures like sanctions. America needed to act and the President had given us three possible targets. Iraq was the obvious choice. We had legal grounds, we had experience fighting the Iraqis and we had already weakened the Iraqi army significantly. I suppose that an argument that we should have gone to Iran first but that would have been much harder to justify legally and I have yet to hear any military person suggest that we should have gone to North Korea first.

In any case, as has been stated elsewhere, whether or not we should have gone to Iraq is moot. To fail now would be a huge victory for the enemy. The enemy deals in perceptions and the perception that we are weak would be nothing more than blood in the water.


09-19-2006, 05:55 PM
Iraq is obviously a distraction, since the so called war on terror is war against the global jihadist movements of which the Iraqi government was never apart of, furthermore the war in Iraq not only took away US resources from the war against the jihadist it alienate allies and became a recruiting tool for the jihadist. The catch is due to our poor persecution of the war we have created a situation where our withdraw could very easily lead to large uncontrolled section of country which could the become operating areas for the jihadist (though it might be fair to argue that this has already happened)

10-13-2006, 04:46 PM
Today a JAG and I had a debate over wording in Descision Support Matrix (DSM) he used the phrase pre-conflcit leaders, and argued that it should say legitimate "host nation" leaders. The scenario was based on the U.S. providing assistance to a country threatened by a neighbor that utilized an internal gurilla movement as well to try and grab territory from our ally. I contended that in "Phase IV" of a conflcit where there is an existing central government, that the governement is going to have the say so on who the regional and governmental officials are, and that they might not be the guys who had the job before hostilities broke out. My armor compadre pointed out that this wasn't an Iraq scenario, and we, as a military, had to understand that in many situations where we might execute COIN/FID/SRO/SASO (it's a small war, regardless of what letters you call it) that we would not be starting with either blank slate or blank slate that we as the U.S. are creating. He pointed out that we had to respect the wishes of the government we are supporting. Only about 3 or 4 out of 10 really understood what the tanker was saying initially. As he and I headed to the parking lot, he opined to me that he felt the U.S. Army was to wrapped around the axle with Iraq, and that we were developing a whole crop of leaders and staff officers who just "weren't going to get it" the next time we have to fight a small war. I agreed whole heartedly with him.

What is the opinion that you guys have or are seeing out there?

Steve Blair
10-13-2006, 04:55 PM
I would say he's correct, and it's a trend that historically we've seen before. All too often these things fall into either an ideal state discussion (such as the NTC/Fulda Gap type scenarios) or the current situation discussion (such as we saw during Vietnam and then again with Iraq. Back "in the day" you saw Army officers more concerned with refighting the Civil War instead of focusing on the situation they had at hand (the Indian Wars in this case).

It's a difficult trend to overcome, but it's one that we need to tackle.

10-13-2006, 08:46 PM
... As he and I headed to the parking lot, he opined to me that he felt the U.S. Army was to wrapped around the axle with Iraq, and that we were developing a whole crop of leaders and staff officers who just "weren't going to get it" the next time we have to fight a small war. I agreed whole heartedly with him.

What is the opinion that you guys have or are seeing out there?

From what I have gathered Ricks' quote in Fiasco may be very close to the mark...

One senior officer in Iraq told me earlier this year that about one-third of his subordinate officers "get it," one- third are trying but not really getting it, and one-third just want to kick a little butt. That means your force is probably less than half effective, and part of it is counterproductive.

Lots of stuff to think about here: (1) How do we ensure the one-third who get it are empowered; enabled to influence plans, policy, doctrine, training and TTP and how do we retain this one-third? (2) How do we train and educate the one-third trying to get it and how do we keep them out from under the influence of the one-third who just want to kick a little butt? (3) How do we get rid of the butt-kicking third who need to find a new line of work.

10-13-2006, 09:05 PM
I go back to my good friend Andy Krepinevich's book The Army in Vietnam describing the blind adherence to the "Army Concept" and I still belive that most of our military is paying lip service to the insurgency, while tucked in the back of their mind is the idea that this is a blip and they should still be preparing for the "big one' with all of its toys and technology.

Perhaps we need to take a part of the Marine Corps and train it as a constabulary/civil action/antiguerrilla force to focus on the small dirty wars that will be the main action for the foreseeable future.

To see what a good job we are doing winning the hearts and minds in Iraq, I direct you to the Brookings Institue briefing, "Iraq Public Opinion Amidst Increasing Violence." (http://www.brook.edu/comm/events/20060927.htm)

10-13-2006, 09:23 PM
They are experienced, studied and motivated. The problem set is how to keep them and ensure they move up the food chain. I am talking about the "one-third" company and field-grade officers and NCO and SNCO's that get it. They are our best and brightest and can find success in any field they choose. How do we ensure they choose our line of work - for the long-term?

10-13-2006, 10:22 PM
Thanks for the replies so far. When I referred to wrapped around the axle with Iraq, what I am seeing is that alot of field grade officer's want to apply Iraq as a cookie cutter solution to other small war scenarios. What myself and a few others were pointing out, that each situation has to be evaluated on it's own merits, and that policies utilized in Iraq might not be feasible or acceptable in a different secnario. The funny thing is that the split was a breakdown between Combat Arms guys(it ain't Iraq) and CS/CSS guys.

10-15-2006, 02:03 PM
The funny thing is that the split was a breakdown between Combat Arms guys(it ain't Iraq) and CS/CSS guys.

That is interesting as Combat Support and Combat Service Support have a huge part to play in the successful prosecution of COIN operations. Any more on this that you might like to share here on the Council?

10-15-2006, 03:50 PM
They are experienced, studied and motivated. The problem set is how to keep them and ensure they move up the food chain. I am talking about the "one-third" company and field-grade officers and NCO and SNCO's that get it. They are our best and brightest and can find success in any field they choose. How do we ensure they choose our line of work - for the long-term?

Well, there is a model for retaining them. Put simply, you create a new service which specializes in Small Wars. If you look at the historical evolution of the military in the West, we have tended to build our institutions around particular technologies of combat - e.g. infantry, cavalry, artillery, air, etc. Sometimes, mainly due to politics, a particular technology-oriented group becomes powerful enough to grab an institutional monopoly on some aspect of combat. Anytime when reality impinges on these institutional monopolies, we find them creating "special units" which are under their institutional control to handle reality.

The process of how this happens is, actually, quite simple and predictable. If anyone is interested, it was worked out by Andrew Abbott in his The System of the Professions (http://www.amazon.com/System-Professions-Division-Expert-Labor/dp/0226000699/sr=1-1/qid=1160927045/ref=sr_1_1/002-2372465-8461604?ie=UTF8&s=books) - a truly brilliant work. While Abbott does not deal with the military, his analysis of the medical profession is a very good analog.

So, back to the retention question - create a service that owns an institutional monopoly on small wars with its own promotion ladders, etc. By basing a service on a task set or conflict type rather than on a technology, you can avoid the idiocies that come from an institution defending a clearly useless technology. Of course, given the current climate, I doubt that you would get much political support for this idea...


10-16-2006, 03:56 AM
Well, to sum up the combat arms vs. CS/CSS guys has to do with experience and organizational cultures. These are all majors in this group. In my experience, CSS guys are focused on process over product while Combat Arms guys are focused on the end product. Experience in regards to fighting the war in Iraq/Afghanistan was pretty even, however, all of the combat arms guys had alot of deployment experience, independent of OIF/OEF, and had served in OC and AC/RC trainer roles. The CSS guys with the exception of one have been either in DC or advanced civil schooling.

Retention, everybody in my peer group is pretty much in for the long haul, and I have seen alot of positives. There is still huge institutional bias in the militayr. The Army has jumped on the small war bandwagon, but what happens when the level of operations drops off. Hopefully, we do not do the boneheaded things we did in the 1970's; call it an aberration and forget it.

10-16-2006, 04:53 PM
Tech based units and professional skills based units work really well for what they were designed to do but often they are called to do other things. And due to the ubiquitus use of individual augmentee and frequent rotational nature of these deployed units they are handicapped when the mission changes they handle transitions particularly poorly. At best they rise to the occasion and at worst effectively degrade their capability from lack of cohesion and risk aversion. Instead support units should see their role as adapting apporpriate skill sets to conditions as percieved in order to achieve mission accomplishment for the combat commander.

It seems when the line asks the CSS to provide expertise for a job other than logistics the response is fine we will assemble a new team or create a new unit for the task. The strategic leadership in the subgroup professional fields thinks its job is to merely identify skill sets and assign and train the individuals in question in fairly traditional civilian professions. It seems that the applied use of the skill sets is left entirely up to the professionals sent, few guidlines are given verbally and no formal critique of unit performance is undertaken during or after deployment. Before doctrine or even guidlines for how units might deal with changing battlefield conditions are developed the unit configuration is changed.

by institutional design these CSS subcomponents rarely get it and when they do the experience is lost.

The professionals within the community as a result often see the whole deployment as an aberation in an otherwise standard career tract. Rather than asking themselves how can I help this or the next combat commander they support achieve his goals many are asking themselves how do I get through this. Consequently they by decision narrow the scope of capabilities they offer the supported commander. From the subgroups view risk is also controlled by this measure of limiting scope. I fear this is not unique to my field and as a result opportunities for success and support of mission goals are too often lost.

The Small Wars Manual stresses CSS generally but remains thin on practicle applications when looking at subgroups in CSS. Does the Army have anything in this regard or is there another source on CSS subgroup management? I am particularly interested in Medical/Surgical unit support and civil affairs roles And Casualty Evacuation management.

10-17-2006, 12:46 AM
I agree, I actually alot of the Army is "getting it" at the tactical level. The problem is when you get into the operational and strategic levels. The problem I am observing with my CS/CSS peers doesn't have to do with these guys and their core competencies, it is their understanding of the big picture and how little things can lead to major failures. IMSAO, I feel that the Army as organization traditionally put the "big picture" understanding on the Combat Arms guys. I feel that the CS/CSS branches have got spend more time preparing their officers for life after battalion staff time. My $.02