View Full Version : In For the Long Haul

02-24-2007, 10:39 AM
22 February Newsweek commentary - In For the Long Haul (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17282867/site/newsweek/) by Michael Hirsh.

The British are leaving, the Iraqis are failing and the Americans are staying—and we’re going to be there a lot longer than anyone in Washington is acknowledging right now. As Democrats and Republicans back home try to outdo each other with quick-fix plans for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and funds, what few people seem to have noticed is that Gen. David Petraeus’s new “surge” plan is committing U.S. troops, day by day, to a much deeper and longer-term role in policing Iraq than since the earliest days of the U.S. occupation. How long must we stay under the Petraeus plan? Perhaps 10 years. At least five. In any case, long after George W. Bush has returned to Crawford, Texas, for good.

But don’t take my word for it. I’m merely a messenger for a coterie of counterinsurgency experts who have helped to design the Petraeus plan—his so-called “dream team”—and who have discussed it with NEWSWEEK, usually on condition of anonymity, owing to the sensitivity of the subject. To a degree little understood by the U.S. public, Petraeus is engaged in a giant “do-over.” It is a near-reversal of the approach taken by Petraeus’s predecessor as commander of multinational forces in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, until the latter was relieved in early February, and most other top U.S. commanders going back to Rick Sanchez and Tommy Franks...

Many U.S. military experts now believe that, if there is any hope of stabilizing Iraq, the Petraeus plan is the only way to do it. The critical question now, they say, is whether we have anywhere near enough troops committed to the effort, and whether America has the political will to see the strategy through to the end...

Much more at the link...

02-24-2007, 07:30 PM
Dream Team: Where Were These Guys 4 Years Ago? (http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/special_packages/sunday_review/16722794.htm) - Trudy Rubin, Philadelphia Inquirer.

... I've written before of Gen. Petraeus, who, as commander of the 101st Airborne in Mosul in 2003-2004, arrived with a plan to stabilize the city, provide jobs and security for Iraqis, and then turn responsibility over to them. Had that model been followed elsewhere in Iraq, the situation might not be so dismal.

Now Petraeus is back with a military brain-trust of outstanding colonels with expertise on counterinsurgency war. They include strategists like Lt. Col. David Kilcullen, an Australian with a Ph.D. in anthropology. His basic premise: You can't stabilize a country unless you "know your turf" -- the topography, economy, history, religion and culture. Only now, perhaps too late, has the Pentagon recognized the need to wage a counterinsurgency war.

So here you have the dream team, officers and diplomats who are free of ideological delusions, want to stabilize Iraq, create jobs, and make it possible for U.S. troops to leave.

They all understand that military action can only buy them time to work for an Iraqi political solution. "Successful military action can provide the space," Crocker said at his confirmation hearings. "But it is only political solutions that can resolve the conflict."

If they have the guts to take on this near-impossible task, I believe they deserve a chance, not just from Congress, but also from President Bush...

02-25-2007, 07:15 AM
25 February Washington Post commentary - He Wrote the Book. Can He Follow It? (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/23/AR2007022301741.html) by Sarah Sewall.

If anyone can save Iraq, it's David H. Petraeus, the ultimate can-do general. Installed in Baghdad earlier this month, he's bringing in his A-team and rolling up his sleeves. The question for the history books is before us: Will he be an alchemist, fusing existing elements of a moribund strategy with his knowledge and willpower to erase the United States' biggest mistake since the Vietnam War? Or does success in Iraq require more than is humanly possible?

Many of Petraeus's strongest supporters fear that his new assignment is a no-win mission, one that could not only stain his professional reputation but also, ironically, discredit the new counterinsurgency doctrine he spent the past year creating.

Petraeus is almost unique among senior Army leaders in fully embracing both the theory and practice of counterinsurgency. During two previous tours in Iraq, he provided relative security and fostered economic and political reform in Mosul and Nineveh province and later overhauled the coalition's training of Iraqi forces. He incorporated lessons from these experiences directly into FM 3-24, the revised counterinsurgency field manual whose preparation he oversaw. The new manual challenges the Army to think differently about how it conducts war...

On the surface, President Bush's new "surge" strategy appears to coincide with Petraeus's approach to counterinsurgency: providing security for the population and allowing the host government to take charge. But if you hold the president's strategy up to the light of Petraeus's doctrine, there's only one conclusion you can draw: You can't get there from here. The Bush plan is burdened with three main deficiencies: too few capable U.S., allied and Iraqi counterinsurgent forces; weak U.S. efforts at promoting political and economic reform; and corrupt or feckless Iraqi institutions and leadership. The administration's strategy may have changed, but the supporting components have not. And even if the general asks his chain of command to address these shortfalls, it's unlikely that fixes can be found...

02-26-2007, 04:54 PM
I've wondered from the get-go why manual labor jobs weren't created, namely hauling rubble and garbage the old fashioned way by hand and wheel barrow, loading it onto trucks, hauling it out in the desert and unloading it by hand, paying a good cash wage at the end of each day or week. Thousands of young men could be employed doing something constructive and earning a living for their families. In our Great Depression, the CCCs and WPA employed thousands of idle young men, giving them a purpose and income in life. My Dad was in the CCCs. The man in charge of the camp where my Dad was at was a US Army Captain. I'd like to see a small CAP somewhere where the unit oversees such a project - say 25 trucks in good shape to employ 125 men, and the CAP unit handles the whole thing, the hiring and firing and paying, the logistics, supervision, just to see how it would unfold and perhaps it could make a slight difference, maybe some better Intel could be generated in such a way, better public relations, that sort of thing. I'd hire crews, make them take an oath on the Quaran that they would work a full 8 hrs with time off for the noon meal and afternoon prayers, provide a water cooler, some MREs and a 1st aid kit for each truck, turn them loose, pay them at the end of each day and see how it goes. Our troops are supposed to be killers one day and social workers the next so they may as well try something like this too.

02-26-2007, 06:29 PM
In the early days there were no cap units. Line troopers didn't speak Arabic, and could maybe warn people to put their hands in the air. Line commanders didn't have access to money, either, or even trucks. And I'm sure no one told them that this stuff was supposed to be their problem.

It might still do some good to try something like that these days, but it would have to be in a safer area. Just imagine the media flap if fifty young men and the five or six Americans assigned to protect them all turn up murdered in a river somewhere. We'd look weak and incompetent to the Iraqis and worse than foolish back home. They should probably do it anyway - folk with real jobs are less likely to be militia recruits and folk who get paychecks from nice Americans that don't scream at them are more likely to be decent HUNINT sources.

02-26-2007, 06:56 PM
We were also trying to develop Iraqi contractors. For that reason, plus incompetence at the G.O. level, we kept nearly 2 battalions of construction engineers sitting on their asses for a year in LSA Anaconda.

02-26-2007, 07:16 PM
I've wondered from the get-go why manual labor jobs weren't created, namely hauling rubble and garbage the old fashioned way by hand and wheel barrow, loading it onto trucks, hauling it out in the desert and unloading it by hand, paying a good cash wage at the end of each day or week. Thousands of young men could be employed doing something constructive and earning a living for their families.

That actually did happen in many instances, although not the CAP system as you describe. In my own AO (NW Baghdad - Ghazaliyah, Al Mansour area) there were many projects that revolved around trash and rubble removal, irrigation ditch clearing, etc., where the provisions of the contracts (yes, Iraqi contractors) were to use manual labor - for the express purpose of drawing out the work and keeping people employed. Even with that, you can only do so much.

And with a lack of security, you can do even less.