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SteveMetz
07-10-2007, 10:57 AM
On July 4th President Bush said (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/07/20070704.html):

Al Qaeda hasn't given up its objectives inside Iraq. And that is to cause enough chaos and confusion so America would leave, and they would be able to establish their safe haven from which to do two things: to further spread their ideology; and to plan and plot attacks against the United States. If we were to quit Iraq before the job is done, the terrorists we are fighting would not declare victory and lay down their arms -- they would follow us here, home. If we were to allow them to gain control of Iraq, they would have control of a nation with massive oil reserves -- which they could use to fund new attacks and exhort economic blackmail on those who didn't kowtow to their wishes. However difficult the fight is in Iraq, we must win it -- we must succeed for our own sake; for the security of our citizens, we must support our troops, we must support the Iraqi government, and we must defeat al Qaeda in Iraq.

For the sake of discussion, let's overlook the rather bizarre assertion that if the insurgents "win" in Iraq "they would follow us here." Instead let's look at what this line of thinking implies.

The President identified an al Qaeda "win" (defined as controlling Iraq) as the threat. I personally think that's impossible but if we accept it, it suggests a very different military strategy than our current one. If foreign fighters are the threat, our entire military should be focused on border control, leaving internal pacification to Iraqi security forces (an approach, by the way, that might have been effective in Vietnam).

I still insist, though, that the "center of gravity" in the Iraq insurgency--and in all insurgencies--is the morale and integrity of the state security forces. The Maliki government appears uninterested in or unable to assure the integrity of the state security forces. If history holds, this suggests that the counterinsurgency effort will fail.

tequila
07-10-2007, 11:14 AM
I disagree somewhat with that argument. The Maliki government is not a unified government but a collection of factions, united around certain goals but nearly or literally at war on many others, not least of which is the identity and mission of the Iraqi security forces. What should be noted is that almost none of these factions have a vested interest in the ostensible U.S. goal for said forces, which is as a unifying, non-sectarian, non-political force. Instead the factions are quite assiduously working to capture said forces for their own interests.

Note that this is the ultimate U.S. end-goal, and that U.S. policies in Anbar and Diyala aimed at aiding or creating Sunni tribal auxiliaries as a short-term solution are actually counterproductive towards this end-state.

SteveMetz
07-10-2007, 11:17 AM
I disagree somewhat with that argument. The Maliki government is not a unified government but a collection of factions, united around certain goals but nearly or literally at war on many others, not least of which is the identity and mission of the Iraqi security forces. What should be noted is that almost none of these factions have a vested interest in the ostensible U.S. goal for said forces, which is as a unifying, non-sectarian, non-political force.

Note that this is the ultimate U.S. end-goal, and that U.S. policies in Anbar and Diyala aimed at aiding or creating Sunni tribal auxiliaries as a short-term solution are actually counterproductive towards this end-state.

I agree with your take on the government, but that's what scares me. I can't think of a successful counterinsurgency campaign that was undertaken by an inept, factionalized government. If that's the best there is, then perhaps the whole endeavor is a losing cause.

By the way, I played with the idea that things that make sense in the short term may be counterproductive in the long term in my recent Rethinking Insurgency (http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/display.cfm?pubID=790) study.

SteveMetz
07-10-2007, 12:03 PM
Think, for a minute, of the basic logic of defense. Take missile defense. Experts tell us that at every stage in the flight of a missle--pre-launch, launch, boost, re-entry, impact--interception becomes more difficult. The earlier in the flight a missle is destroyed, the easier. The same holds for the influx of foreign fighters into Iraq. But, by focusing on securing Iraqi towns, we are attempting defense at its most difficult point--impact. The best strategy would be to staunch the flow of foreign fighters and funds at their source. But given the nature of the benighted suppliers of fighters and funds (Saudi Arabia, Syria, etc) that may be impossible. The next best strategy, then, may be to focus on the "re-entry" stage--border security.

tequila
07-10-2007, 12:25 PM
One wonders, though, just how much foreign fighters contribute to the myriad problems of Iraq?

One of the better examples (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/28/AR2007062802443_pf.html)of our general strategic confusion:


...

In another sign of a potential policy shift, Bush also said in his speech that one of the encouraging signs in Baghdad is that "citizens are forming neighborhood watch groups." It is not clear what the difference is between those groups and armed militias, which U.S. officials have said in the past must be disbanded or incorporated into Iraqi security forces.

The president had previously emphasized the role of troops and law enforcement in protecting citizens. "When Iraqi civilians see a large presence of professional soldiers and police patrolling their streets, they grow in confidence and trust," Bush said in a speech in Michigan (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/related/topic/Michigan?tid=informline) in April. "They become less likely to turn to militias for protection."

jcustis
07-10-2007, 12:26 PM
Think, for a minute, of the basic logic of defense. Take missile defense. Experts tell us that at every stage in the flight of a missle--pre-launch, launch, boost, re-entry, impact--interception becomes more difficult. The earlier in the flight a missle is destroyed, the easier. The same holds for the influx of foreign fighters into Iraq. But, by focusing on securing Iraqi towns, we are attempting defense at its most difficult point--impact. The best strategy would be to staunch the flow of foreign fighters and funds at their source. But given the nature of the benighted suppliers of fighters and funds (Saudi Arabia, Syria, etc) that may be impossible. The next best strategy, then, may be to focus on the "re-entry" stage--border security.

Steve,

The porous borders are not ours to staunch, and haven't been for some time. Even in 2004, the points of entry at the Jordan and Syrian borders were not manned solely by US forces. There were small US footprint elements that "backed up" the Customs and Border Police units. Granted, it was a delicate if not impossible task and I don't fully understand why we did not run the POEs, but that was the case nonetheless. Most, in not all, screening was handled by IZ Customs personnel with the expected results of graft, corruption, and of course illegal entry.

Without assembling another 5 Divisions in Iraq, we cannot control the borders from within Iraq - they are just too big. I therefore disagree that they are the next best area to orient on. If we focus security on the towns, cities, and populace - and do it well enough to the point that we are successful - we can build the upsurge of Iraqi sentiment that foreign fighters are not contributing anything to progress in Iraq. Although I am pessimistic of the reports, this appears to have happened among some of the Anbar tribes. Our track record on our own borders doesn't leave me inclined to think we could do it in a foreign sovereign state.

If we can achieve the proper synergy between PRTs, indigenous forces, coalition forces, and sustainable growth/security, we can reduce if not eliminate those FF elements that seek to impede the coalition through jihad. That's where I think the scales have yet to be tipped.

Abu Buckwheat
07-10-2007, 12:39 PM
Think, for a minute, of the basic logic of defense. Take missile defense. Experts tell us that at every stage in the flight of a missle--pre-launch, launch, boost, re-entry, impact--interception becomes more difficult. The earlier in the flight a missle is destroyed, the easier. The same holds for the influx of foreign fighters into Iraq. But, by focusing on securing Iraqi towns, we are attempting defense at its most difficult point--impact. The best strategy would be to staunch the flow of foreign fighters and funds at their source. But given the nature of the benighted suppliers of fighters and funds (Saudi Arabia, Syria, etc) that may be impossible. The next best strategy, then, may be to focus on the "re-entry" stage--border security.

I agree with you on this component of the strategy. Border security has been ignored and neglected since day one. I have spoken to PM Maliki's staff about how to get the USA to help them resolve this issue but the love is just not there for us! :D The factions tie his hands on everything.

There are 29,000 Iraqi border "troops" but they do nothing to stop the infiltration of personnel into Iraq from Syria and Saudi Arabia. In fact, many at the BCPs are corrupt, which is why the smuggling issues we have exist.

Note that the Saudis are completing a massive 800km electronic & brick wall with Iraq because they know where AQ in SA is getting their leadership training, weapons and explosives. However border security is the only way to staunch the flow of manpower and money through western Iraq (oil smuggling is the number one fundraiser and captured American weapons sell like crazy at top dollar to the Lebanese mafia) but the internal strategy is not against AQ at all ... its against the other Iraqi insurgents who will persist in weakening the government until they get the cash concessions they want or attempt to overthow a future weak government and re-establish Baath domination ... near impossible but in the Sunnis minds, its possible and logical. No worries about what an AQ "win" would be ... the AQI Islamic Caliphate model is not even on the table for the Iraqis as I note here in my blog entry (http://http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2007/07/al-qaeda-in-iraq-heroes-boogey/).:D

SteveMetz
07-10-2007, 12:59 PM
Steve,

The porous borders are not ours to staunch, and haven't been for some time. Even in 2004, the points of entry at the Jordan and Syrian borders were not manned solely by US forces. There were small US footprint elements that "backed up" the Customs and Border Police units. Granted, it was a delicate if not impossible task and I don't fully understand why we did not run the POEs, but that was the case nonetheless. Most, in not all, screening was handled by IZ Customs personnel with the expected results of graft, corruption, and of course illegal entry.

Without assembling another 5 Divisions in Iraq, we cannot control the borders from within Iraq - they are just too big. I therefore disagree that they are the next best area to orient on. If we focus security on the towns, cities, and populace - and do it well enough to the point that we are successful - we can build the upsurge of Iraqi sentiment that foreign fighters are not contributing anything to progress in Iraq. Although I am pessimistic of the reports, this appears to have happened among some of the Anbar tribes. Our track record on our own borders doesn't leave me inclined to think we could do it in a foreign sovereign state.

If we can achieve the proper synergy between PRTs, indigenous forces, coalition forces, and sustainable growth/security, we can reduce if not eliminate those FF elements that seek to impede the coalition through jihad. That's where I think the scales have yet to be tipped.

But how much easier is it to secure every town and village than to control the border? What I'm trying to get it is that it's much harder to defend against them at the point of impact than on the infiltration routes since they are more dispersed and interspersed among civilians.

While we all know that foreign fighters are a small proporation of the insurgents, if you look at what the President says, he never identifies Sunni tribal insurgents as the threat, only AQ. What I'm saying is that IF that is the strategic threat, we need a military strategy optimized to defend against it. And I don't think we have one now. If AQ is NOT the primary threat, the President needs to stop saying that it is.

Tom Odom
07-10-2007, 12:59 PM
Excellent entry by the way, mate. Overall I see our strategy as matching our sensing of the enemy (or at least portrayal of the enemy). Both are driven in a sense by the realities of the force structure we put on the ground and how we can sustain it. That is to say in our strategy we continue to grasp individual pieces of the puzzle as 'the anawer" rather than putting the puzzle together. Here you guys are talking the subject of borders; the reality is that we don't have the force structure and the Iraqis don't have the will (or the competent forces). Take the subject of UXOs ordnance stocks. We went for months/years openly admitting that we had no idea how much was in Iraq; we simply knew that we could not control it die to a lack of troops. But we have emphasized exterior sources of supply instead as a source of the IED problem. Abu B, you make similar points about the enemy we face; we emphasize for a lot of reasons. But in the vein I am offering here, I would have to say it has much to do with what our force structure allows us to do. Clear, hold, build means staying. The use of company and platoon outposts was in my view long overdue; that said, without sufficient force structure to implement the need to protect many small outposts may ultimately reduce actual contact with the population as discussed below:


Iraq outposts plan may be flawed (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/washingtondc/la-fg-outpost8jul08,1,5454913.story?ctrack=1&cset=true)
Some troops say the shift of forces to Baghdad neighborhoods is not achieving its goal: to increase street patrols and build trust.
By Julian E. Barnes, Times Staff Writer
July 8, 2007

BAGHDAD The neighborhood outposts that the U.S. military launched with great fanfare in Baghdad early this year were supposed to put more American patrols on the streets and make residents feel safer. But some soldiers stationed at the posts and Iraqis who live nearby say they are doing the opposite.

The outposts, along with joint U.S.-Iraqi security stations, form a cornerstone of the current Iraq strategy. Following a classic counterinsurgency tenet, military planners are trying to take U.S. forces out of their distant, sprawling military bases and into the day-to-day lives of Iraqis.

Although senior U.S. commanders and mid-level officers say they believe the bases are starting to work, many soldiers stationed at the outposts are doubtful, arguing that the burden of protecting the bases means they spend less time on the streets.

"They say we are spending more time 'in sector,' which we are doing we live here," said Spc. Tyrone Richardson, 24, a member of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry, that operates in the east Baghdad neighborhood of Ubaidi, outside Sadr City. "But we aren't spending the time patrolling."

Best

Tom

Tom Odom
07-10-2007, 02:27 PM
Although his name still evokes controversy, this short column hits the mark:



Our Own Worst Enemy (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118403572723161796.html?mod=opinion_main_comment aries)
By ALEXANDER M. HAIG, JR.
July 10, 2007; Page A21

Let us not delude ourselves. The recent Hamas conquest of Gaza is a signal defeat for the United States that goes well beyond the particulars of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We have sought to deny the Islamic terrorists a territorial base in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and elsewhere. Now they have won one on the Mediterranean.

Gaza is partly a consequence of three bad habits bedeviling the war on terror:
Electing the anti-democrats.
Speak fast, act slow.
Too many generals. [in the Senate]

SteveMetz
07-10-2007, 02:29 PM
Although his name still evokes controversy, this short column hits the mark:


I even found today's Kissinger column worthwhile.

I never met Al but Brian was my student at CGSC.

BRUZ_LEE
07-10-2007, 04:05 PM
ILLOGIC OF STRATEGY vs. THE IMPORTANCE OF STRATEGY

Strategy is more important than tactics. That also applies perfectly to the US IRAQ intervention.
Had the US withdrawn forces after toppling Saddam the intervention had gone down as a big military success; but that would have called for an option of handing over to the UN which was not the case after unilaterally heading into IRAQ and simultaneously insulting allies and the UN as "debating society".
So the perfect timing for an exit-strategy passed and the initial success was not exploited due to all that failed (lack of?) phase-4/COIN-plans over 3 years which everybody is now aware of; add Abu Ghreib and it gets clear, that a big mess was the only logical outcome...
Today, all the invaluable COIN wisdom of Galula, Trinquier and others which has been (unfortunately too late) re-discovered will not help to turn back time, that is my opinion. (There is simply no second chance to make a good impression...) Just look back at the approach: "Garner as a Military Gouverner-no, doesn't work; Bremer and the dissolving of the IRAQI army- maybe a bad idea; Sanchez-mmh, not really the best man; .... lets try a COIN expert like Petraeus at last!" - Is that professional? Is that course of action the best what the greatest military superpower can show up with? Trial-and-error Strategy?

Is there anybody else who has this "deja-vu" feeling when comparing the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and the US one in IRAQ? Even the struggling with a normally "simple" tactical threat (Soviets in AFG: anti-air-missiles/Stinger; US in IRAQ: IEDs) is strikingly similar.
For the Soviets the seemingly easy and unimportant AFG-adventure turned out to be the beginning of the end, not at least because of the huge costs of the war in the end...
Like them we went to IRAQ to topple the government at first place (the Soviets toppled Hafizullah Amin in Kabul, we toppled Saddam Hussein in Bagdad) and are now dragged into an attrition conflict in which we resemble the occupier and make a good "bad guy" and foreign fighters see IRAQ (as AFG before) as a playing ground for their form of jihad.
There is a book on the Soviet-Afghan war called "The Bear Trap". Maybe somebody will write a book about IRAQ calling it "The Eagle Trap"...

Summing up, I personally think that all the debates on tactical and operational level COIN-employment (even if they are good and useful - by the way SWJ is an excellent website!) fall short of answering the real question: the question for the grand strategy for IRAQ!
My opinion: a good strategy would definitely include a really good Iraqi government and the UN...

BRUZ

SteveMetz
07-10-2007, 04:49 PM
ILLOGIC OF STRATEGY vs. THE IMPORTANCE OF STRATEGY

Strategy is more important than tactics. That also applies perfectly to the US IRAQ intervention.
Had the US withdrawn forces after toppling Saddam the intervention had gone down as a big military success; but that would have called for an option of handing over to the UN which was not the case after unilaterally heading into IRAQ and simultaneously insulting allies and the UN as "debating society".
So the perfect timing for an exit-strategy passed and the initial success was not exploited due to all that failed (lack of?) phase-4/COIN-plans over 3 years which everybody is now aware of; add Abu Ghreib and it gets clear, that a big mess was the only logical outcome...
Today, all the invaluable COIN wisdom of Galula, Trinquier and others which has been (unfortunately too late) re-discovered will not help to turn back time, that is my opinion. (There is simply no second chance to make a good impression...) Just look back at the approach: "Garner as a Military Gouverner-no, doesn't work; Bremer and the dissolving of the IRAQI army- maybe a bad idea; Sanchez-mmh, not really the best man; .... lets try a COIN expert like Petraeus at last!" - Is that professional? Is that course of action the best what the greatest military superpower can show up with? Trial-and-error Strategy?

Is there anybody else who has this "deja-vu" feeling when comparing the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and the US one in IRAQ? Even the struggling with a normally "simple" tactical threat (Soviets in AFG: anti-air-missiles/Stinger; US in IRAQ: IEDs) is strikingly similar.
For the Soviets the seemingly easy and unimportant AFG-adventure turned out to be the beginning of the end, not at least because of the huge costs of the war in the end...
Like them we went to IRAQ to topple the government at first place (the Soviets toppled Hafizullah Amin in Kabul, we toppled Saddam Hussein in Bagdad) and are now dragged into an attrition conflict in which we resemble the occupier and make a good "bad guy" and foreign fighters see IRAQ (as AFG before) as a playing ground for their form of jihad.
There is a book on the Soviet-Afghan war called "The Bear Trap". Maybe somebody will write a book about IRAQ calling it "The Eagle Trap"...

Summing up, I personally think that all the debates on tactical and operational level COIN-employment (even if they are good and useful - by the way SWJ is an excellent website!) fall short of answering the real question: the question for the grand strategy for IRAQ!
My opinion: a good strategy would definitely include a really good Iraqi government and the UN...

BRUZ


One thing that frightens me is the extent to which the absolutely nonsensical elements in the Administration's explanation of Iraq resonate among the general population. For instance, here's a comment posted just a few hours ago to a general discussion board I sometime look in on:

Let's assume we pull all of the troops out of Iraq. Civil War insues and the Al Queada and other terrorist groups take over the country and the oil supplies.

What do you then do?

Do we just wait on them to organize buy weapons with Iraq's oil money and fight them in the US and other countries when they attack?

So, if I understand, if the United States leaves Iraq, those 500 or so AQ guys are going to take over a country of 23 million, then they are going to launch attacks against the United States.

On one hand we can laugh at this. But it's clear to see where these ideas come from--they were lifted directly from the President's July 4th speech.

Ultimately I'm afraid discourse on Iraq has shifted to the surreal.

tequila
07-10-2007, 04:55 PM
Without getting off track too much, I have to disagree about the Haig article. It's a sloppy piece that trafficks overmuch in generalities and shows a lack of seriousness.

1) Conflation of Hamas with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, global jihad, etc. A key insight of Kilcullen is disaggregating local conflicts from the main fight. Hamas vs. Israel/Fatah in the Palestinian territories is a prime example of this.

2) Haig's point about elections not being a panacea is correct, but he acts as if the U.S. had any real say over whether or not the Sadr movement, Hizbullah, or Hamas was going to run in their respective elections. This was not the case in any of the aforementioned examples. Bashing neocons is even more pointless here since the neocons agree with him about the necessity of excluding just those 3 movements from political involvement.

3) The point about the slow speed of the "surge" and overstretch of our armed forces is valid, but by this point is something of a banality.

4) Haig apparently believes that Congressional leaders have no role in foreign policy other than backing the president.

Haig has not even the ghost of a solution, beyond calling for a debate on "how to win." Thanks for the insight, sir.

edit: Steve, he's not the only one. I groan every time I hear Tom Ricks, when flogging his book (which has many good qualities), predict the rise of a new Saddam in Iraq who will somehow magically unite the country, buy nukes (I suppose all the ones the Iranians haven't snapped up, since you know they're just lying around), and inaugurate the Caliphate.

Ski
07-10-2007, 04:58 PM
Sounds like a neighborhood watch group is just another form of a militia...



One wonders, though, just how much foreign fighters contribute to the myriad problems of Iraq?

One of the better examples (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/28/AR2007062802443_pf.html)of our general strategic confusion:

Tom Odom
07-10-2007, 05:44 PM
Without getting off track too much, I have to disagree about the Haig article. It's a sloppy piece that trafficks overmuch in generalities and shows a lack of seriousness.

Perhaps but as short opinion piece it serves to prompt discussion.


1) Conflation of Hamas with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, global jihad, etc. A key insight of Kilcullen is disaggregating local conflicts from the main fight. Hamas vs. Israel/Fatah in the Palestinian territories is a prime example of this.

Conflation is too strong a term. Does he draw linkages between the two? Yes and I would say that is fair.


2) Haig's point about elections not being a panacea is correct, but he acts as if the U.S. had any real say over whether or not the Sadr movement, Hizbullah, or Hamas was going to run in their respective elections. This was not the case in any of the aforementioned examples. Bashing neocons is even more pointless here since the neocons agree with him about the necessity of excluding just those 3 movements from political involvement.

He does indeed act like we could have influenced the process. That should not surprise anyone because we claimed the elections proved that our pushing demcocracy works. Neocons now agree that the forces he lists should have been excluded. They were not so vocal before it became clear those elements would win.


3) The point about the slow speed of the "surge" and overstretch of our armed forces is valid, but by this point is something of a banality.

Banality? I don't believe that anyone looking at troop strengths and commitments regards this issue as banal.


4) Haig apparently believes that Congressional leaders have no role in foreign policy other than backing the president.

Here I would agree. But again this is Al Haig, who told everyone to relax when Reagan got shot because he was "in charge".


Haig has not even the ghost of a solution, beyond calling for a debate on "how to win." Thanks for the insight, sir.

I would say that Haig is saying what we have said on this thread: develop a strategy with objectives achevable with the means we have in hand or the means we are willing to develop.

Best

Tom

tequila
07-10-2007, 05:59 PM
Banality? I don't believe that anyone looking at troop strengths and commitments regards this issue as banal.

Bad wording on my part. I was trying to say that Haig is making a point that has been made by others since 2003, just in a slightly different way.


Here I would agree. But again this is Al Haig, who told everyone to relax when Reagan got shot because he was "in charge".


Ha! Thanks for reminding me of this moment. Not Haig at his brightest.

Tom Odom
07-10-2007, 06:52 PM
Bad wording on my part. I was trying to say that Haig is making a point that has been made by others since 2003, just in a slightly different way.

Ha! Thanks for reminding me of this moment. Not Haig at his brightest.

It was very much the beginning of the end for Haig as Sec State as I recall; he had a very Rumsfeldian approach when it came to the press and lesser beings.

The truly sad thing is that you are correct on the issue of overreach but it predates 2003. Had it been seriously considered in 2002 or 2003 we would not be having this discussion.

Best

Tom

BRUZ_LEE
07-10-2007, 07:15 PM
Ultimately I'm afraid discourse on Iraq has shifted to the surreal.

Looking at what's being discussed right now one can divide the parties into two big groups:
1) I'm fed up with this war, constantly bad news from Iraq, too many casualties and too expensive. Get out there quickly. Let's have the Iraqis deal with this mess. Though pulling out may look a little bit like Vietnam we can still point out to liberating Iraq from Saddam; at least that's something. And what becomes of Iraq....I don't care.
2) The fate of Iraq is not important. The only important thing for the US is not being "defeated" and humiliated by these Islamists. Not another Vietnam-Trauma again. We have to win that at any cost! Hang on! Lets keep up supporting the war until the right moment when we can somehow claim a win; for achieving this let us intimidate the US citizens with the image of Jihadists coming to CONUS to place IEDs in front of the Capitol; every trick is welcome just to get the necessary support for the war...

Common to both options is that they don't care about Iraq and the Iraqi people.
By the way, why was the war started ...?

BRUZ

RTK
07-10-2007, 08:29 PM
Looking at what's being discussed right now one can divide the parties into two big groups:
1) I'm fed up with this war, constantly bad news from Iraq, too many casualties and too expensive. Get out there quickly. Let's have the Iraqis deal with this mess. Though pulling out may look a little bit like Vietnam we can still point out to liberating Iraq from Saddam; at least that's something. And what becomes of Iraq....I don't care.
2) The fate of Iraq is not important. The only important thing for the US is not being "defeated" and humiliated by these Islamists. Not another Vietnam-Trauma again. We have to win that at any cost! Hang on! Lets keep up supporting the war until the right moment when we can somehow claim a win; for achieving this let us intimidate the US citizens with the image of Jihadists coming to CONUS to place IEDs in front of the Capitol; every trick is welcome just to get the necessary support for the war...

Common to both options is that they don't care about Iraq and the Iraqi people.
By the way, why was the war started ...?

BRUZ

Not sure where the two groups you've stereotyped are coming from. Looks like the political spectrum. I don't think you're talking about people here.

My problem with leaving is that I will feel like I lied to every Iraqi I came in contact with over 2 years if we don't help them establish the safety and security they deserve. Maybe I'm the only one around that is dumb (or is that patient?) enough to still believe it can happen.

SteveMetz
07-10-2007, 08:52 PM
Looking at what's being discussed right now one can divide the parties into two big groups:
1) I'm fed up with this war, constantly bad news from Iraq, too many casualties and too expensive. Get out there quickly. Let's have the Iraqis deal with this mess. Though pulling out may look a little bit like Vietnam we can still point out to liberating Iraq from Saddam; at least that's something. And what becomes of Iraq....I don't care.
2) The fate of Iraq is not important. The only important thing for the US is not being "defeated" and humiliated by these Islamists. Not another Vietnam-Trauma again. We have to win that at any cost! Hang on! Lets keep up supporting the war until the right moment when we can somehow claim a win; for achieving this let us intimidate the US citizens with the image of Jihadists coming to CONUS to place IEDs in front of the Capitol; every trick is welcome just to get the necessary support for the war...

Common to both options is that they don't care about Iraq and the Iraqi people.
By the way, why was the war started ...?

BRUZ


My point was that we need a realistic notion of what our interests in Iraq are and what the threats to those interests are. Only in this way can we assess when the costs of engagement surpass the expected benefits. But when the President makes his case using absolute nonsense like this idea that if we disengage, AQ is going to take over the place and use it as a base for attacks on the United States, it's hard to develop a realistic notion of what is at stake.

tequila
07-11-2007, 09:05 AM
Iraq: Go Deep or Get Out (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/10/AR2007071001424_pf.html)- Stephen Biddle, 11 July.


... Without a major U.S. combat effort to keep the violence down, the American training effort would face challenges even bigger than those our troops are confronting today. An ineffective training effort would leave tens of thousands of American trainers, advisers and supporting troops exposed to that violence in the meantime. The net result is likely to be continued U.S. casualties with little positive effect on Iraq's ongoing civil war.

The American combat presence in Iraq is insufficient to end the violence but does cap its intensity. If we draw down that combat presence, violence will rise accordingly. To be effective, embedded trainers and advisers must live and operate with the Iraqi soldiers they mentor -- they are not lecturers sequestered in some safe classroom. The greater the violence, the riskier their jobs and the heavier their losses.

....

The result is a vicious cycle. The more we shift out of combat missions and into training, the harder we make the trainers' job and the more exposed they become. It is unrealistic to expect that we can pull back to some safe yet productive mission of training but not fighting -- this would be neither safe nor productive.

If the surge is unacceptable, the better option is to cut our losses and withdraw altogether. In fact, the substantive case for either extreme -- surge or outright withdrawal -- is stronger than for any policy between ...

SteveMetz
07-11-2007, 10:28 AM
Iraq: Go Deep or Get Out (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/10/AR2007071001424_pf.html)- Stephen Biddle, 11 July.


I was just reading that. Steve and I often agree to disagree but I think he's right here. In fact, I made a similar argument about "splitting the difference" in our initial approach to Iraq in a study published earlier this year (http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/display.cfm?pubID=752):

The United States could have approached Iraq in one of three ways: as a liberated nation, quickly creating a transitional Iraqi government and giving it sovereignty; as a defeated nation which would have required a massive and long-term occupation like that of Germany and Japan after World War II; or as a failed state which could have been addressed by passing control to the United Nations. Each would have had political disadvantages or significant costs, but each would have avoided entangling the United States in a protracted counterinsurgency campaign. By splitting the difference among them rather than committing to one, the United States became a half-hearted occupier, inspiring armed resistance without deterring it.


This, I think, illustrates an enduring problem with American strategy. Our entire political culture and ethos is based on finding compromise between diverse positions. In domestic politics, that works. In strategy, it often does not.

tequila
07-11-2007, 10:48 AM
I'm not sure if the root is necessarily in American consensus politics. Foreign policy is generally made and executed in the executive branch, and certainly Iraq policy for the last four years has been the sole purview of this Administration until Democratic Party Congressional victories a few months ago.

The problem, I think, was that the post-invasion planning for Iraq was unrealistic, unresourced, and generally unserious. Plan A was halfass, and Plan B didn't even exist and was tossed together on the fly, without even a proper chain of command or communication between the civilian and military elements. Rather than dictating a course we ended up responding to events, and the end result has been chaos, waste, and the current wonderful situation we have now. What was always going to be very difficult ended up becoming much, much worse than if proper grownups had been in charge.

SteveMetz
07-11-2007, 11:10 AM
I'm not sure if the root is necessarily in American consensus politics. Foreign policy is generally made and executed in the executive branch, and certainly Iraq policy for the last four years has been the sole purview of this Administration until Democratic Party Congressional victories a few months ago.

The problem, I think, was that the post-invasion planning for Iraq was unrealistic, unresourced, and generally unserious. Plan A was halfass, and Plan B didn't even exist and was tossed together on the fly, without even a proper chain of command or communication between the civilian and military elements. Rather than dictating a course we ended up responding to events, and the end result has been chaos, waste, and the current wonderful situation we have now. What was always going to be very difficult ended up becoming much, much worse than if proper grownups had been in charge.

But the American tradition has always been that public and congressional opinion matters, even in national security. I think that is one of the defining features of our strategic culture, and one which leaves us ill equipped for ambiguous, protracted conflict. There may be a period of deference to the executive during a crisis, but it is always short lived. The Bush administration should have known in the summer of 2003 that it had about three years to make demonstrable progress or it would start losing public and congressional support. If it couldn't meet this timeline, it should have started looking for a way out at that point.

Of course, you're right about the failure of Phase IV planning. I was knocking around with the CFLCC Phase IV planning cell in April 2003 and saw it. But this is not unusual--states often don't anticipate or recognize insurgency until they have coalesced. Look at the British experience in Malaya or the French in Indochina or Algeria. The difference there, at least in the British case, was that their strategic culture gives much more deference to the government and entails a greater tolerance for protracted small wars.

BRUZ_LEE
07-11-2007, 02:16 PM
THE CHINESE DRAGON LAUGHS

Grand Strategy matters. The Chinese develop their economic power (just buy something here in CONUS and read where it was made...) and refrain from these types of military engagements we love to take on hot-blooded and hastily again and again.
As I wrote in an earlier post here, the Soviet fate in Afghanistan should be studied in respect to Grand Strategy (and not only on a Lester/Grau tactical level as it has been done excellently), because our strategic dilemma in IRAQ (Stay there-very bad; Leave-even worse) seems to be very similar to the "Bear Trap". The current ongoing Stay/Withdraw-discussions are proof of that dilemma.
Now it seems the Eagle is trapped while the Dragon rises slowly and laughs.

I am surprised that the most frequent military book in all bookstores here in the US is Sun Tsu's "Art of Warfare", as obviously nobody reads that. Maybe people buy it just for their bookshelf because Michael Douglas mentioned the book once in "Wall Street"?
At least the Chinese read and follow their doctrine: winning without fighting.
They are smart, we are cavemen.

BRUZ

wm
07-11-2007, 04:10 PM
THE CHINESE DRAGON LAUGHS

Grand Strategy matters. The Chinese develop their economic power (just buy something here in CONUS and read where it was made...) and refrain from these types of military engagements we love to take on hot-blooded and hastily again and again. [SNIP]. . .


I am surprised that the most frequent military book in all bookstores here in the US is Sun Tsu's "Art of Warfare", as obviously nobody reads that. [SNIP]
. . .
At least the Chinese read and follow their doctrine: winning without fighting.


Very interesting Chinese writing from the Warring States period is attributed to Mo Tzu. He has sometimes been described as the original Utilitarian. He was also much in demand as an expert on fortifications and defensive war. He has an extended argument against the use of offensive war. Ostensibly his work was much studied by the early Chinese Communists. One wonders how true that is and what is his current status with regard to Chinese policy makers and planners.

If, as BL suggests, the Chinese read and heed their own ancient authorities, then a close reading of the Mo Tzu is definitely in order for Western strategic planners.

The following are sources for his writing: Mei, Y. P.. 1929 The Ethical and Political Works of Mo-tse (London: Arthur Probsthain). Columbia U Press also has a stand alone translation of the Mo Tzu by Burton Watson as well as a compilation of the Mo Tzu, Hsun Tzu, and Han Fei Tzu.

SteveMetz
07-11-2007, 09:18 PM
Iraq: Go Deep or Get Out (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/10/AR2007071001424_pf.html)- Stephen Biddle, 11 July.

Just for chuckles, grins and general jocularity, here's Herr Biddle and me at lovely Camp Bucca, April 2003.

http://s72.photobucket.com/albums/i162/ssif21/?action=view&current=CampBucca2424.jpg

tequila
07-12-2007, 05:59 PM
A lesson in Iraqi illusion (http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2007/07/08/a_lesson_in_iraqi_illusion/?page=full)- Robert Malley, Peter Harling from ICG in the Boston Globe, 8 July.



TO IMAGINE what Baghdad will look like after the surge, there is no need to project far into the future. Instead, just turn to the recent past. Between September 2006 and March 2007, British forces conducted Operation Sinbad in Basra, Iraq's second largest city. At first, there were signs of progress: diminished violence, criminality, and overall chaos. But these turned out to be superficial and depressingly fleeting. Only a few months after the operation came to an end, old habits resurfaced. Today, political tensions once again are destabilizing the city; relentless attacks against British forces have driven them off the streets; and the southern city is under the control of militias, more powerful and less inhibited than before ...

So, what happened? While British forces were struggling to suppress the violence, the parties and organizations operating on the public scene never felt the need to modify their behavio r. Militias were not defeated; they went underground or, more often, were absorbed into existing security forces. One resident after another told us they witnessed murders committed by individuals dressed in security force uniform. This, of course, with total impunity since the parties that infiltrate the security services also ensure that their own don't get punished.

For militia members, it's an easy call: By joining the security forces, they get a salary, government-paid weapons, and political cover to boot. Security services are divided along partisan lines. Fadhila -- the governor's party -- controls the Oil Protection Force, responsible for safeguarding oil wells, refineries, and pipelines; the small Hizbollah party has a strong presence in the Customs Police Force; the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council dominates the intelligence service; and the Sadrists have penetrated the local police force ...

In short, Operation Sinbad, at best, froze in place the existing situation and balance of power, creating an illusory stability that concealed a brutal and collective tug-of-war-in-waiting. Once the British version of the surge ebbed, the struggle reignited ...

First, the answer to Iraq's horrific violence cannot be an illusory military surge that aims to bolster the existing political structure and treats the dominant political parties as partners.

Second, violence is not solely the result of Al Qaeda-type terrorism or sectarian hostility, however costly both evidently are.

Third, as Basra shows, violence has become a routine means of social interaction used by political actors doubling up as militiamen who seek to increase their share of power and resources. In other words, perpetuating the same political process with the same political actors will ensure that what is left of the Iraqi state gradually is torn apart. The most likely outcome will be the country's untidy break-up into fiefdoms, superficially held together by the presence of coalition forces. Washington and London should acknowledge that their so-called Iraqi partners, far from building a new state, are tirelessly working to tear it down.

Iraq is in the midst of a civil war. But before and beyond that, Iraq has become a failed state -- a country whose institutions and, with them, any semblance of national cohesion, have been obliterated. That is what has made the violence -- all the violence: sectarian, anti coalition, political, criminal, and otherwise -- both possible and, for many, necessary. Resolving the confrontation between Sunni Arabs, Shi'ites, and Kurds is one priority. But rebuilding a functioning and legitimate state is another -- no less urgent, no less important, and no less daunting.

Tom Odom
07-12-2007, 07:10 PM
New U.S. intelligence assessment casts doubts on Bush's Iraq policy (http://www.mcclatchydc.com/homepage/story/17854.html)

From the above report the following defines zero-sum politics based on sectarian and tribal forces:


The new intelligence findings were contained in a 23-page Global Security Assessment presented to the House Armed Services Committee by Thomas Fingar, the chairman of the National Intelligence Council, the intelligence community's top analytical body.

"The struggle among and within Iraqi communities over national identity and the distribution of power has eclipsed attacks by Iraqis against (U.S.-led) Coalition Forces as the greatest impediment to Iraq's future as a peaceful, democratic and unified state," said the report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.


A former senior military official who advises the Pentagon said there is mounting concern that hard-line Sunni and Shiite leaders, believing their side can prevail over the other in an all-out conflict, do not intend to implement the benchmarks so they can hasten a U.S. troop withdrawal.

"Both sides believe there is no point in having part of the pie if they can have the whole pie, and they are both convinced they can overwhelm their opponent," said the official, who requested anonymity to protect his relationship with the Pentagon.

Ken White
07-13-2007, 04:57 AM
ILLOGIC OF STRATEGY vs. THE IMPORTANCE OF STRATEGY

Strategy is more important than tactics...
. . .

...Today, all the invaluable COIN wisdom of Galula, Trinquier and others which has been (unfortunately too late) re-discovered will not help to turn back time, that is my opinion. (There is simply no second chance to make a good impression...)...

. . .

Just look back at the approach: "Garner as a Military Gouverner-no, doesn't work; Bremer and the dissolving of the IRAQI army- maybe a bad idea; Sanchez-mmh, not really the best man; .... lets try a COIN expert like Petraeus at last!" - Is that professional? Is that course of action the best what the greatest military superpower can show up with? Trial-and-error Strategy?

. . .

Is there anybody else who has this "deja-vu" feeling when comparing the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and the US one in IRAQ?...

. . .

Summing up, I personally think that all the debates on tactical and operational level COIN-employment (even if they are good and useful - by the way SWJ is an excellent website!) fall short of answering the real question: the question for the grand strategy for IRAQ!


My opinion: a good strategy would definitely include a really good Iraqi government and the UN...

BRUZ

From the Top, Bruz...

Depends on the situation. A creek can be an obstacle to my tank; the Battalion will ignore it. A river can be an obstacle to a Battalion; the Corps will ignore it. If I am committed in a country, that is an operational commitment and the Strategy that put me there, is by the time I arrive, broadly irrelevant -- but when I'm there tactics are very important. Strategy put us in Iraq and that strategy has not been publicly announced (for good reason). What's going on now is operational and tactical stuff.

Galula (I've got a first edition copy) is only marginally relevant. Trinquier did not have to contend with the internet. This is not a war of national liberation and the Iraqi is neither an Algerian or a Viet Namese. I'm aware that Marc and all the Psychologists will tell you there are no such things as national or group traits -- they're wrong. Pride in all three areas manifests itself differently as does religion and do fighting techniques and degree of personal commitment. If your point was the the US Army wrongly ignored counterinsurgency doctrine and training for years, we can agree -- but that's not what you said. Galula fought a very different war against a very different enemy; while some lessons are certainly appropriately lifted from him, others are not.

On Garner, Bremer et. al. Welcome to US Decision Making 101. Our government and our armed forces are a reflection of US Society. We are politically correct, sensitive and concerned for others. All People, indeed all Generals, are equally competent and we do things in strictly fair rotations. Had anyone said Sanchez was not the right man for the job, the Hispanic caucus in Congress would've gone bonkers. DOPMA Rules (Don't like it? See Congress, it's their baby). Sorry, that's the way it is. Nope, not professional but it is the American way -- Until we really get hacked off than we quickly fire half the Generals, pull Lieutenant Colonels up to two stars overnight and all are advised to get out of the way...

Re Deja Vu, Afghanistan and Iraq? No.

The grand strategy for Iraq was - (1) Muss up the ME and deposit forces in a geographically central location. That's been done. (2) Remove Saddam from power. That's been done.

Then, in early May of 2003, we had an afterthought - (3) To install a functioning secular government. We'll have to see how that goes, not done yet, that's operational and tactical squirreling around.

John T. Fishel
07-13-2007, 12:39 PM
Ken--

You are quite right when you argue that Iraq is not (fill in the blank). It does, however, bear some similarities to a war of national liberation - see Abu Buckwheat/Malcom Nance's fine work on the Iraqi insurgents. It also has elements of of religious fanaticism, jihadist conquest, and state sponsored "terrorism." Thus, as you point out, some of Galula's et. al. lessons are relevant, some are not. I suspect that we would disagree on how much of previous learning is relevant and sometimes on which lessons, but that is arguing details. Yet, in most cases, what we are looking at and need to consider carefully, is how long standing tactics are adapted to new situations and technology, and recombined in different ways. The new is often found in the recombination and adaptation rather than in some "new generation of warfare." If this line of reaoning is correct, then reading Galula, Trinquier, Thompson, Kitson, Callwell, and the USMC 1940, etc. is valuable as sources of COIN adaptation.

The other issue you raise is that of organizational learning. We have known for generations that the war isn't over until a liberated or successor government is in place and capable of exercising sovereignty over its national territory. That was the reason General Marshall developed the Civil Affairs/Military Government capability during WWII along with plans to implement both liberations and occupations. Yet, even Marshall felt this was not a military function and his plan called for that capability to be transferred lock,stock, and barrel, to State Dept after the fighting ended. As we all know, it never happened. Fast forward to planning for Panama in 1988 and 89. Gneral Woerner planned for the post fighting period which he believed was the most important part of his plan. General Thurman accepted that resposnibility and implemented the plan with adaptation (of course). In planning for Iraq, General Franks felt he had dodged the bullet when OSD took responsibility for the occupation - planning and execution - and Franks went so far as to remind Wolfowitz of that decision. Given all the prior experience and the existence of relevant doctrine, I fail to see how senior commanders like Franks and senior DOD officials like Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Feith could have ignored it all. But, then, I guess I remain too optimistic about the human race. Still, I strongly believe that we should be able to find ways to instituionalize organizational learning that will make it more difficult for human stupidity to screw things up.:wry:

JohnT

Pragmatic Thinker
07-13-2007, 01:59 PM
Ken,

You sort of glossed over the Garner and Bremer periods...I believe. From what I have read and heard, Gen. (ret.) Garner quickly found himself unpopular with Cheney, Rummy, and crew when he reported back his recommendation of bringing Baathist military back into action from hiding. He understood at the time the priority should be getting a handle on the quickly detoriating security situation within Iraq. He also realized that the best way to do this was to bring back the cops and soldiers who knew Iraq best and were most experienced in keeping some sort of law and order within their own country. I think we lost an opportunity there to create some much needed stability which would have allowed a fledgling post-Saddam government to take shape...just my thoughts. As for Bremer, I truly believe no worse candidate could have been selected but like most political and even senior military appointments, he was not selected because he would contradict the strategy of neo-cons who wrote this war plan but because he was a careerist who would do as he was told from the White House. Again, my opinions but I think one of the problems we have within our system of government is who REALLY dictates overall military strategy..the Pentagon?...the White House?? You're right we created a change of scenery in the Middle East alright, this war has created shifts in power and influence throughout the region, however, I am not convinced it is working out in our favor. I see us creating another Shia Islamic Republic with strong ties to Iran, which was one of the three players in the now infamous "Axis of Evil" so I am doubting the neo-cons are still as rosey in their post-war assessments as they were in February 2003. To quote the VP, "we will be seen as liberators....", we sure were for about six weeks (liberal assessment) and then once the ensuing security vacuum or power grab started there was no looking back. Every ethnic and political group started vying for what they perceived was rightfully theirs. Today we are mired in a complex and very violent situation where numerous actors inside and out of Iraq are attempting to create the country in their image. I will caveat my final thought with the fact that I am an admitted pessimist but I believe civil war will follow in Iraq. No matter the course we choose, our country will not commit to the next 10 or more years needed to (maintaining the current troop levels or increasing them) to ensure the Iraqi security forces and government are able to maintain control of the entire country. I get securing Baghdad...if nothing else we leave the government a central capital in which to "rule" from even if they don't control the outlying provinces. It gives the perception of success without really meeting those goals. I believe counter-insurgency doctrine runs contrary to our military and political culture. We are an instant gratification society and unless someone markets it correctly to the American public (to include our Senators and Congressmen/women) we will not have the endurance to see it through. I think Tequila was right in that everything now seems like "too little, too late" the "surge" should have happened much earlier than now. Also, we lost at least a year trying to figure out what our post-war "strategy" was...there lies the real tragedy. I personally think folks like Garner and Shinseki will never get the credit they deserve for providing their assessments and then being summarily dismissed from our civilian leadership as having the audacity to question the "strategy"...

Ken White
07-13-2007, 08:37 PM
Ken--
You are quite right when you argue that Iraq is not (fill in the blank)...

. . .

The new is often found in the recombination and adaptation rather than in some "new generation of warfare." If this line of reaoning is correct, then reading Galula, Trinquier, Thompson, Kitson, Callwell, and the USMC 1940, etc. is valuable as sources of COIN adaptation.

The other issue you raise is that of organizational learning...
. . .

Given all the prior experience and the existence of relevant doctrine, I fail to see how senior commanders like Franks and senior DOD officials like Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Feith could have ignored it all. But, then, I guess I remain too optimistic about the human race. Still, I strongly believe that we should be able to find ways to instituionalize organizational learning that will make it more difficult for human stupidity to screw things up.:wry:
JohnT

Agree with all you wrote; didn't mean to imply that Galulla et.al. should be totally discarded, merely that some of the older stuff was not totally applicable and it has been my experience that many tend to hew entirely too closely to the written word -- most of which, after all, is like my scritching, just the thoughts of one guy at one time -- and not truly THINK about what needed to be done. Thus I was suggesting only that they do not have all the answers. I agree that the basics of war of any type aren't all that changeable and the basics (which we do not do well) are important.

I strongly agree on the institutionalizing of organizational learning. I have for over 60 years watched us constantly reinvent wheels -- and the current crop of 'great thnkers' (scare quotes advisedly used) you mention have seemingly invented square ones.

My personal take on that particular failure is that four massive egos collided and imploded. Very seriously. I have no particular liking or respect for any of them and they all failed the nation in pursuit of personal pet rocks IMO.

Anything we can do to avoid that needs to be done. Egos frequently get in the way of effectiveness. In my view they are the most significant detriment to attempts to use our history to good advantage. I recall watching a young Engineer Company Commander get dressed down by a GO in Korea mid 70s because the CPT didn't know if he had enough pontoons to cross the Imjin at a particular point. The Gen-gen said "We've been here 25 years..." the Captains reply was a classic, "No Sir. We've been here 25 one year tours and mine is a week old." That about sums it up.

Yes, we definitely need to codify organizational learning, the failure to do so is killing us. Literally.

Ken White
07-13-2007, 09:01 PM
Did gloss over but only because I though the history was pretty well known. Garner probably had the right idea, it wasn't politically acceptable to the powers at the time. Bremer was indeed an unmitigated disaster (predictably, he said, smugly... :cool:). My belief is that until ealy May, we planned on leaving rapidly, that got changed and Garner was replaced by Bremer and I'm not sure just what drove the change in plan -- whatever it was, it also drove the change with those two.

I agree with you that the system does not sort out the issue of who's in charge very well. Theoretically, the Prez with the advice of the NSC determines strategy and the Geographic CinC is reponsible for the implementation and the Operational aspects. However, as we know, strategy, operational level and tactics all intertwined and Congress intrudes as does the JCS so the results are messy. IMO, that is the price we pay for the government and life style that we have and, while not ecstatic about the resultant conflicts and confusion, I can understand and accept them.

As for this working out in our favor; too early by far to tell IMO. While there have been a lot of foul ups at many levels, military and civilian, it'll take another fifteen or twenty years to sort out. Having lived in Iran and traveled the ME -- admittedly BC :) -- I will be surprised if the Iranians end up with that much influence in Iraq. The two nations hate each other and have for a long, long time. One of the gravest insults one can accord and Irani is to call him or her an Arab.

Cheney IMO was a lousy SecDef and I was still at work then. I cringed when Bush said he was the VP pick. I think Cheny as VP was the big Republican donor's price for support to Bush and Dick is just bad news; his clones he brought with him, particularly Wolfotwits are equally bad. Still they're there -- and the Nation has survived worse...

Agree with you on the difficulty of running a CI effort given the US penchant for speed and sound bites. That is a significant problem. My preferred solution is rather crass. We go in, kill and destroy which we do quite well and outsource the cleanup.

The failure of the US Army to train for occupation, nation building and counterinsurgency for the 1975-2004 period is nothing short of criminal malfeasance IMO -- and I'll note that Powell, Wes Clark and Franks are among those responsible for that failure -- and Sanchez was definitely the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time. Still, gotta give the Army credit. In Viet Nam it took 'em seven years to figure out they were fighting the wrong war; in Iraq, it only took eighteen months -- that is progress...:)

Tom Odom
07-13-2007, 11:41 PM
In Viet Nam it took 'em seven years to figure out they were fighting the wrong war; in Iraq, it only took eighteen months -- that is progress...

Ken,

In a week of benchmarks spun, sifted, and just plain missed, it is good to know we made progress on that one! :wry:

Best

Tom

Ken White
07-14-2007, 01:19 AM
Ken,

In a week of benchmarks spun, sifted, and just plain missed, it is good to know we made progress on that one! :wry:

Best

Tom

most everything better now than in my day.

To the issue, Sanchez was simply the wrong guy for the job and he tried to hunker down just as he had done in Kosovo. My spies told me that the 82d in Kosovo had 2LTs out playing Mayors in the villes and doing great and that Ricardo came in (over a week late because he wouldn't let his Engineer bridge the flooded river; "too dangerous...")and insisted that everyone gather in forts -- and that no patrols would leave the wire without a Field Grade officer, if true, IMO, that is damning.

So we took 18 months to figure it out and it took another 18 to turn it around, training wise but I've been proud of the way the Army has switched gear, reorganized and gone to work on it. Be interesting to see if the new CSA (I always use that abbreviation ever since DA came out and said not to) can continue the momentum.

On the benchmarks, I paid little attention. I don't think they mean much, they are after all what Congress (a think tank with a stellar reputation...) wants and not what the Iraqis are capable of or want to produce, so there will be posturing on either side. The really annoying thing is that none of this has zip to do with Iraq, it's all about the 2008 US election.