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Ski
06-21-2007, 11:36 PM
Don't know if anyone saw this last night, but it's an overview of the war in Iraq from about the middle of 2003 to the present. Looks at the military, diplomatic and political issues associated with Iraq. I like Frontline's coverage of many issues. Don't know how true some of this is, but a lot of rings true to what I have been told by those who have been there.

Link is at:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/endgame/view/

Tacitus
06-22-2007, 12:38 AM
Some of the interviews were pretty revealing, I thought.
We apparently didn't even imagine that there could be an insurgency in Iraq. The best case scenario seems to have been the ONLY scenario we ever imagined or thought worth planning for. How any serious student of war can think like that is a mystery.
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/endgame/interviews/keane.html
Here is a quote from Gen. keane:

Q:To whose feet do you lay this strategy? How did we get to the short-war strategy? Is that White House-driven? Is that Rumsfeld-driven? Is that [CENTCOM Commander, 2003-2007, Gen. John] Abizaid-driven?

A:I think it's complex. It's a shared responsibility, let me say up front, between the national civilian leaders and senior military leaders. I think it's driven in part by my own failures when I was there as a senior military leader contributing to [CENTCOM Commander, 2000-2003] Gen. [Tommy] Franks' plan that we never even considered an insurgency as a reasonable option. We took down the regime and thought all we had to do then was occupy the country, stabilize it, and in a matter of a few months we could reduce the force, and then in a matter of a few years we should be able to be out of there.

Well, obviously that was wrong to begin with. And once members of the regime decided not to surrender and the insurgency began to grow, the strategy that evolved in '04 was a considerably more thoughtful strategy than the one we had in '03. It was a shared strategy among the generals who were participating -- Gen. Casey and Gen. Abizaid -- and obviously Secretary Rumsfeld.

Now, it's operating within an ideology ... that you use the minimal amount of force because you do not want the host nation to be overly dependent on you. ... They looked at Bosnia and Kosovo and rejected those models, because we had a very large footprint there, and we created, in their minds, an artificial dependency from the host country on us to establish a rule of law, to get basic government services going, and we were doing too much. As a result of that, you protract your stay. ... So the strategy develops out of that basic, I believe, administrative ideology in how you apply force and how you stabilize the country with the minimum amount of force. And it's out of that that the military leaders are also designing a military strategy to help stabilize Iraq, get it to be secure, and also have a representative democracy that's not a threat to its neighbors. ...

So the administration, I think, had a role to play here with influencing the military leaders in terms of their ideology. But military leaders bear responsibility here as well in crafting a military strategy that turns out not to have worked.

Ken White
06-22-2007, 03:12 AM
Your Statement:

"We apparently didn't even imagine that there could be an insurgency in Iraq. The best case scenario seems to have been the ONLY scenario we ever imagined or thought worth planning for. How any serious student of war can think like that is a mystery."

may or may not be correct; all we know is what's been said in public and that's generally, in the national security arena, not a very good indicator of what actually happened.

Without being totally privy to the briefing sessions to the WH, we'll never know precisely what went on. However, based on the open source stuff I've seen (all should be easily Googled), I know:

- We had a massive failure of intelligence. Saddam gave two Russian Generals gold medals just before we attacked and they left town. The thinking at the time and until mid summer 2003 was that he'd wasted two medals. Then it became apparent that they suggested he open all his arm store, arm the entire populace, empty the prisons and let the Americans get to Baghdad because you will not be able to stop them conventionally -- then wage a guerrilla war. He did all that and he even announced publicly that he was going to do it. The Intel community either missed it totally or they propllry analyzed and reported it in a classified item not yet released and a command decision was made to go any way. We don't know which; we do know the authority exists for the President to do that.

- That the CIA, State, the Army War College, the J3 on the Joint staff and DCSOPS at DA all warned of the almost inevitability of the chaos that ensued. The CentCom war game two years earlier had included such problems.

- That the initial entry rumor mill had a "90 days and we're gone" mantra and that planners were told to low key the post attack planning effort.

- That the original intent was to go earlier and that there was strong advice not to play the UN game, yet Bush decided to go back to the UN and delay the attack (Why is not known, my guess would be to support Blair). That delay allowed a Turkish election to transpire and the new government reversed Turkey's position and did not allow passage of the 4th ID (and all its attachments) to start a northern front, a very significant part of the original plan.

- That Franks wanted 350K troops and Rumsfeld wanted 90K and that the Decider compromised on 250K+

- That in early May of 2005, Garner was abruptly removed, Bremer was installed and the whole ball game changed. To include the disbanding of the Army and the Police, arguably really dumb and several other dangerous things inculding incompetent political appointee staffers in the CPA. The "90 days and we're gone" rumors ceased. What we do not know is why that major change occurred, all we know is what we've been told about and what on the surface appeared to occur.

The rest as they say is history.

So we did imagine -- what we did not do was train beforehand on how to fight such a campaign and we deliberately elected not to plan comprehensively for something that had been touted by many in the Armed forces as a possibility, even a probability.

I do not know -- you may -- what went on in the Tank and in the WH Situation Room or at Camp David. So I don't know why some of those things occurred. From the above my guess (informed type as opposed to WA type) is that CentCom dusted off the Contingency Plan which visualized post attack problems and was told by the well known American Civilian control of the Armed Forces to forget that, strike hard and fast and we're getting out quick. That is their prerogative.

The Armed Forces then have to rebel or say "Yes Sir." My guess is that Franks was given the word that the Guidon was planted and it was going to go; either he could lead it or someone else would. Given his ego, he knew he could take Baghdad quickly but didn't know what would happen next so he said "Okay but I want to retire as soon as we secure the city."

Much has been made of the intel on WMD and so forth. Spooks by nature are an unforgiving crowd and get perturbed when their product is ignored -- but the Commander, the decider, has a right and the authority to do that; intelligence is advisory, not prescriptive. Similarly, the decider has authority to overrule his military adviser on plans for combat, discard elements he does not like and go for the gold. He may be dumb to ignore the Intel and / or to change the best plan his military folks can provide but he absolutely has the authority to do so. If he's successful, no one cares and he's a hero; if not he become something else.

At this time we don't know enough about the lead in, we do not know what caused some of those apparent decisions -- and it ain't over yet.

walrus
06-22-2007, 05:14 AM
With the greatest of respect, I don't believe there was a "massive failure of intelligence" at all, at least certainly not in respect of weapons of mass destruction. Analysts resigned over the way their intelligence was presented and one British Analyst suicided.

There is also evidence that Intelligence was diverted through a special office that run by Feith that "fitted" it to the expectations of the Administration. I therefore have no doubts that there were people who would know the likely Iraqi reaction to occupation, but practiced self censorship for fear of losing their jobs.

Prudent risk management is part of the planning process of any activity and I have no doubt that there were plenty of people in the Pentagon who are aware of this. The question of insurgency must have been raised, and the risks assessed, but what happened to the risk assessment is anyone's guess.

I believe Powell certainly knew, hence his famous "You break it, you own it" comment to the Commander in Chief.

Ken White
06-22-2007, 06:41 AM
no mention by me of WMD, just intel with respect to Iraqi capabilities and possible intentions that might be inferred by planners from those capabilities.

Analysts resign frequently, it's a high turnover job. The majority of those from Langley are of an anti-Bush persuasion and are also in the process of defending their institution. If anyone retires from the CIA and goes public, you can bet they are either attacking (rarely) or defending (usually) the Agency.

The Brit who committed suicide did so for reasons we may never know but there is no doubt that a portion of his angst was directed at the fact that he had leaked some classified info to a BBC reporter. That should be easily Googled.

Yes, there is the probability that Fido Feith, who's intelligent but stupid and dangerous, tried to muddle some intel -- but that is irrelevant. The CIA and DIA stuff goes directly to the President; Feith's foolishness may or may not have gotten there. The point I made was that Bush almost certainly made a conscious decision to proceed regardless -- and that is totally legal. It may or may not have been dumb (and we do not know enough at this time to say whether it was or was not) but it was not illegal.

Self censorship and job protection are a common phenomena in all walks of life in my observation. Even in the Priest / Rabbi / Preacher hood. Politicians, elected or appointed are masters at it. Civil Service folks are notorious for it. Unfortunately, the Armed forces are a reflection of the society from which they come so some folks in uniform also practice job protection. Far fewer than in an equivalent number of civilians in my observation but there's no question that service people at all levels are guilty of it. Human foible.

As you say, the risk assessment was almost certainly made. My guess is that Bush overruled Rumsfeld (who did not want to go to Iraq and hated the mission) and the JCS recommendation (The Staff recommendation; Myers was an Air Force guy and couldn't even spell land warfare -- that, BTW was part of the overall problem; three aviators; Bush, Rumsfeld and Myers nominally in charge and none of them with the first idea of what ground combat looked like) and said "Go." He undertook a calculated risk. We'll see in a few years how good his instinct was, too early to tell now.

Powell's 'famous' quote isn't a Pottery Barn rule but you're right, he knew -- so did most people in the Army. Only the Politicans refused to heed or consider the problem. However, they're the ones that were in charge, they did nothing illegal and while none of us are happy with what's going on right now, it could've been far worse and we'll have to see what happens when the fat lady sings before we can write the Critics Review.

Tom Odom
06-22-2007, 01:47 PM
As you say, the risk assessment was almost certainly made. My guess is that Bush overruled Rumsfeld (who did not want to go to Iraq and hated the mission) and the JCS recommendation (The Staff recommendation; Myers was an Air Force guy and couldn't even spell land warfare -- that, BTW was part of the overall problem; three aviators; Bush, Rumsfeld and Myers nominally in charge and none of them with the first idea of what ground combat looked like) and said "Go." He undertook a calculated risk. We'll see in a few years how good his instinct was, too early to tell now.

Ken

while I agree with much of what you say, I have seen nothing and heard nothing that indicates that Rumsfeld was anything but enthusiastic about taking on Iraq, especially as a test case for transformational shock and awe, doubly especially after the CIA and Tenet embarrassed him with the take down of the Taliban in Afghanistan. I do agree that after Baghdad fell, Rumsfeld lost all interest aside from maintaining his control over things, something he had done publicly even before the war kicked off, insisting that Iraq was a DoD project until the last minute when they hired General Garner.

On intell flow into the White House, CIA and DIA cables go to the White House. They do not go in the Presidential Brief without the normal process. Tenet's book, however, makes it clear that Feith's stuff did circulate there as put forward by Cheney and Rumsfeld. Nothing that has come out so far indicates Feith's efforts were irrelevant. To the contrary, insistence on creating linkages using doubtful intelligence and dubious sources is a matter of record.

Finally when it comes to intelligence failures, many are failures to heed intelligence. That is an operator failure and the decider as you call him is operator number 1. WMD is a mixed picture. Likely reactions of the Iraqis is equally mixed. But one thing I know for sure is the Iraqis acted in 2003 and continued to act in 2007 pretty close to what the intelligence community said they would had we gone north in Desert Shield.

Anyway, good debate on a diifficult subject

Best

Tom

goesh
06-22-2007, 02:38 PM
Had the 4th ID been allowed to advance from the north, I believe many future insurgents would have been taken out initially and more weapons caches been destroyed thus saving a goodly number of lives. The cumulative lessons of history are never fully learned and leave the false assumption that today's mistakes are the worst ever. Our enemies and detractors were sure that Viet Nam would cripple us for generations but we are already in Gulf War II plus Afghanistan with Kosovo, Bosnia, Grenada, Panama, Haitti, Lebanon, Somalia well behind us and a Homeland Security system instituted and evolving. Weapons development seems on course and the DOW stands today at 13.5. The recovery from 9/11 is just short of miraculous and our Military seems no less inflexible and adaptive than in Washington's time. Things could be much, much worse.

Ken White
06-22-2007, 05:17 PM
I can recall at least two articles alluding to the fact that Rumsfeld was focussed on his plans to force the Army and Air Force to speed up the transformation process and thought that Iraq would be inimical to that but he was outflanked by the Wolfotwits to Cheney onduit. Broadly immaterial in any event, as I said "my guess..."

I'm aware of the flow into the WH. I erred in tacking DIA to the CIA in the 'direct to the Prez' column, should have said direct to the MLO and thence to the NSC. :(

I figured Feith's stuff probably got to the President; Wolfowitz and Cheney would have insured that, my minor point was (Tenet the Unbelievable not withstanding) we do not KNOW what the President actually saw or was told. Again, my salient points were; (a) that Bush almost certainly made a conscious decision to proceed regardless and (b) I have no reason to doubt that some people made a case for the potential problems. Been there done that, WH briefings are pretty free flowing, more so than are military briefings.

We can differ on the relevance of any intelligence cooking or manipulation. Yes, "...creating linkages using doubtful intelligence and dubious sources is a matter of record." but that does not pass the 'so-what' test. You know as well as I do that intel is not the be all and end all, at that level it is totally understandably rarely precise and that the Boss (historically far beyond Bush) can pick and chose what's presented to suit himself.

Simply, we do not know what intel Bush was briefed and what he heeded or discounted. As time passes, more will be revealed and we'll know more but we cannot know what went on in his head -- whatever it was did what it did and we are where we are. I'm sure some think that by "shining a light on the process" we can insure no future debacles. Heh. Good luck with that. A key and indisputable fact in the whole thing is that Bush said outside the Ranch to a CNN reporter in January of 2002 that "Regime change in Iraq is a goal of my administration." Most of the intel perversion or obfuscation took place after that. Regardless, regime change in Iraq has been effected...

Over many years I've seen many intelligence failures and many failures to heed intelligence. My WAG is that the ratio of failures due to those two factors is pretty close to 50:50 overall with a distinct preponderance toward pure failures of intel to provide the picture at the strategic level, about par at the operational level and with considerable variance at the tactical level, situation and personality dependent. That is not to fault the Intel guys, obtaining info is not easy, analysis is talent dependent, personalities intrude; lot of factors impede the perfection we would all like.

Having worked both sides of that issue, I understand the problems and processes and absolutely do not fault the Intel community in general for not always being able to produce the finite recipe or answers that some idiot Commanders want. I've been a collector and an analyst; I've also been a planner and an operator. I know it isn't easy and isn't perfect on either side. War's like that...

I also know that the conclusions are frequently drawn on the pessimistic side just to be safe. ;)

And that the system essentially works.

Going north after DS would have been interesting; probably been far easier then than it was in 2003. We certainly had more people and a better tail and Saddam would have been far less prepared in all aspects. The Arab Armies would not have gone with us, they would have loudly objected to the invasion of a Muslim nation (but cheered us on under the table) and, regardless of what happened in Iraq, if we had gotten all the way to the Turkish border and then said "You guys take over"...

We didn't, what if games are sort of a waste of time and effort IMO.

Ah yes, but the question is, had we gone north in DS, would that intel have proven accurate at that time ??? :)

Tom Odom
06-22-2007, 06:18 PM
We can differ on the relevance of any intelligence cooking or manipulation. Yes, "...creating linkages using doubtful intelligence and dubious sources is a matter of record." but that does not pass the 'so-what' test. You know as well as I do that intel is not the be all and end all, at that level it is totally understandably rarely precise and that the Boss (historically far beyond Bush) can pick and chose what's presented to suit himself.

The so what comes from the decider himself when he declared on more than one occasion that bad intelligence was to blame -- the infamous Tenet "Slam Dunk" remark. I agree that the Jan 2002 remark was telling in its timing and its rare clarity.

Going north after DS would have been interesting; probably been far easier then than it was in 2003. We certainly had more people and a better tail and Saddam would have been far less prepared in all aspects. The Arab Armies would not have gone with us, they would have loudly objected to the invasion of a Muslim nation (but cheered us on under the table) and, regardless of what happened in Iraq, if we had gotten all the way to the Turkish border and then said "You guys take over"...

Having sat on the NIE sessions and the debates between the military and everyone else on this issue, I would say you are probably correct on the ease of military action and absolutely dead wrong on assuming support (under or over the table) from the Arab states. The Army lead the debate in favor of action against Iraqi forces in Kuwait when DIA, the CIA, and State were pretty much unnanimous in declaring the sky would indeed fall if we attacked. this debate ultimately led to Powell's "we are going to cut them off and kill them" brief.

I offered the comparison of 90-91 to 2003 because the intelligence picture are actually quite close, especially after related 2003 estimates were recently released which called what was likely to happen in the near term fairly close. I would say that is not an exercise in "what if" but a relevant comparison to make, given the lack of transitional planning.

Over many years I've seen many intelligence failures and many failures to heed intelligence. My WAG is that the ratio of failures due to those two factors is pretty close to 50:50 overall with a distinct preponderance toward pure failures of intel to provide the picture at the strategic level, about par at the operational level and with considerable variance at the tactical level, situation and personality dependent. That is not to fault the Intel guys, obtaining info is not easy, analysis is talent dependent, personalities intrude; lot of factors impede the perfection we would all like.


Agree on the WAG. Tracks with my experiences. The devil in the intelligence world is in the assumptions of both analyst and listener.

Again good discussion

Tom

Ken White
06-22-2007, 06:36 PM
Had the 4th ID been allowed to advance from the north . . .

Couple of thoughts. Military forces are conservative and very slow to change for a reason. If the Eastinghouse Corp. screws up a production run of 'Interrible Widgets (TM)' they sell 'em to a discounter, take a tax write off and simply make more widgets; if a military force starts a new process and it's flawed, people get killed; thus they tend (to a fault) to stick with what's proven.

That has long been true and our failure to draw the correct message from the post WW II conflicts led the Army to proscribe IW doctrine and training for most folks from 1975 until 2004. Terrible goof. In any event, the point is that while we can all decry the lack of agility and innovation, and while we can acknowledge that DoD et.al. have grown far too bureaucratic, there is at least some overriding logic to the resistance to change

The second item is that I think you may be pleasantly surprised in the not too distant future, for the first time in my memory (which is overlong. Sigh...) there's a lot of innovation and thought that are harbingers of a real renaissance. Good news is that it's within the services; bad news is that the massive elephant of DoD bureaucracy will be harder to move. At least it's happening. Hopefully, we'll work at it and not regress.

Ken White
06-22-2007, 06:49 PM
Point 1 -- a politician tried to CHA and deflect blame. This is news? :o Re: the 2002 remark, yep, rare indeed..

Point 2 -- if Langley and Foggy Butt were opposed... I rest my case. :D In any event we'll never know what the Arabs would have done. I was not then and am not now convinced that the masters of saying one thing and doing another would have not been quiescent if not supportive; they did not like Saddam at all and they did not like Iraq at all; they would have seen it as an opportunity to dismantle Iraq. Still do...

Point 3 -- Unfortunately, we Americans, mostly, tend to think linearly and too often discount the impact of personalities on events; we look for the idealized, 'book' solution and that's rarely attainable in practice. Egos also are a huge factor. "Indications lead me to believe..." is guaranteed to grate on a 'kill 'em all and let god sort 'em out" type and goad him into doing something stupid. Yea verily on the devil...

Thanks, agree, good talking to you.

Stevely
06-22-2007, 10:07 PM
Had the 4th ID been allowed to advance from the north, I believe many future insurgents would have been taken out initially and more weapons caches been destroyed thus saving a goodly number of lives. The cumulative lessons of history are never fully learned and leave the false assumption that today's mistakes are the worst ever. Our enemies and detractors were sure that Viet Nam would cripple us for generations but we are already in Gulf War II plus Afghanistan with Kosovo, Bosnia, Grenada, Panama, Haitti, Lebanon, Somalia well behind us and a Homeland Security system instituted and evolving. Weapons development seems on course and the DOW stands today at 13.5. The recovery from 9/11 is just short of miraculous and our Military seems no less inflexible and adaptive than in Washington's time. Things could be much, much worse.

I think the strengths of the insurgency follow out of the sort of super-empowerment of small, armed bands that John Robb talks about, so I don't think this thing could have been nipped in the bud by having 4th ID invade from the north as originally planned. It's just too easy for insurgents to wreak the havoc they do, with limited resources and manpower. One extra division sounds like a silver bullet solution.

You may be right, but there is also no guarantee that things don't become much, much worse. It's early yet.