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CPT Holzbach
06-02-2006, 06:28 PM
I have been curious about this lately. What does the noble Small Wars Council think of the idea of using punitive missions in the future, in place of "regime change" and "nation building"? How about we replace "regime change" with simple "regime removal", meaning get rid of the bad guy, and let the people sort it out.

Many who contribute to this board understand the 4GW concepts of lose-lose situations that the US is forced into by getting involved in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. If we lose, we lose. If we win, we lose, because we're bullies, beating up on the little guy, and no one likes a bully. So why not conduct Operation Iraqi Freedom I, and then leave? Is it our moral responsibility to clean up the mess we make? I would say no. I would say it's the responsibility of the people of a nation to get rid of leaders who get their country into unwinnable wars, like conventional fights against the US. Does the democracy we've installed in Iraq and Afghanistan ensure our safety? Obviously not. They can vote in hostile regimes, as some other countries have (Venezuela). I also dont buy the idea that people like Hussein were so brutal that the people couldnt beat him. The Americans couldnt beat the British Empire during our revolution either. I know there are a host of differences, but you get my basic idea.

We could spend 100 years in Iraq and maybe accomplish nothing. We could leave, and the people could turn right around and elect a hard-line Islamic government that openly supports terrorism. And I would completely support the process that put them in place. But we would be right back at square one: a hostile regime that is employing violence against Americans. And if they did that, it would be a clear message: "We, the Iraqi people, violently oppose the USA, and want to see it's downfall." Or something to that effect. And there's nothing wrong with that. If thats what they want, I only ask that they make it happen democratically. Either way, such choices come with a price. Is it wrong for us to pummel them for that choice, and then leave them to try again? I say it isnt. People have to choose for themselves. Does such an approach still make us a bully? Probably. But life's tough. Id like to beat up Chuck Norris, but we all know that's not gonna happen because he can make water boil just by looking at it. It would be a waste of time to try to change that fact. Are we just wasting our time in Iraq?

So, I propose an end to nation building and regime change. In it's place, I put forward the idea of regime removal and punitive attacks. And not a couple cruise missiles. I mean ground invasion. But once the battle is won and the regime is smashed, leave. And let the people of that nation fix what they perhaps should have fixed in the first place. Will they put the same government back in power? Maybe. But they'll think twice about violently opposing the US.

1...2...3...discuss!

Tom Odom
06-02-2006, 07:17 PM
Thanks for an interesting post!

Direct strikes--whether limited or large scale--have their own cosequence sets. In many ways, Desert Storm was just that; set objective matched with containment afterward. Some have termed that a strategiic defeat, an argument I do not buy as the set end state was achieved and the spill over was contained.

Other examples are less clear in their results. Punitive expeditions are historically common; one can almost hear Kitchner assembling the Camel corps to march on Sudan. Take a look at Dan Reiter's paper "Preventative War and its alternatives: the Lessons of History.: It is avaliable on the SSI page for download athttp://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/display.cfm?PubID=651

On the issue of nation-buidling: I believe nation-building is doable if there is a "nation" (people that see themselves as a nation). But nation building in the absence of such a nation is a risk.

Another interesting article today on this subject was by Ed Luttwak. see number 51 on the early bird "Will Civil War Bring Lasting Peace To Iraq?" His point is quite simple: sometimes the people have to fight it out among themselves to set the conditions for peace. Here is an extract:


CIVIL WARS can be especially atrocious as neighbors kill each other at close range, but they also have a purpose. They can bring lasting peace by destroying the will to fight and by removing the motives and opportunities for further violence.

England's civil war in the mid-17th century ensured the subsequent centuries of political stability under Parliament and a limited monarchy. But first there had to be a war with pitched battles and killing, including the decapitation of King Charles I, who had claimed absolute power by divine right.

The United States had its civil war two centuries later, which established the rule that states cannot leave the union ó and abolished slavery in the process. The destruction was vast and the casualties immense as compared with all subsequent American wars, given the size of the population. But without the decisive victory of the Union, two separate and quarrelsome republics might still endure, periodically at war with each other.

Even Switzerland had a civil war ó in 1847 ó out of which came the limited but sturdy unity of its confederation. Close proximity, overlapping languages and centuries of common history were not enough to resolve differences between the cantons. They had to fight briefly, with 86 killed, to strike a balance of strength between them.

And so it must be with Iraq, the most haphazard of states, hurriedly created by the British after World War I with scant regard for its rival nationalities and sects. The sectarian hatred ó erupting during the Saddam Hussein era and at full boil since his ouster ó is now inflicting a heavy toll in casualties.

The key element that I find lacking in Luttwak's piece is that he does not account for the reality of the 21st Century Information Age. Like it or not, instant world wide media coverage is an element of modern war. How it plays depends on who is involved and where it is happening.

Finally I would say that regardless of current or future events, the word 'never" never works, whether one is swearing off regime changes or nation building or large scale armored warfare.

Best
Tom

Merv Benson
06-02-2006, 08:54 PM
Blackjack Pershing's Punitive Expedition into Mexico was hardly a ringing success, especially if you thinking capturing and/or killing Pancho villia was its primary purpose, since we never found him. What we basically proved is that if Mexican bandits raid New Mexico, US troops can raid Mexico.

One little side note on the expedition, was Patton's "mechanized" attack on a ranch house, i.e. he got there is an automobile, where they got some of the bad guys. He later leveraged this action into a leadership position in the new tank corps in World War I.

The problem with decapitation without regime change is that you leave a vacumn to be filled by the strongest war lord. In Afghanistan that turned out to be the Taliban who later hosted al Qaeda.

Stu-6
06-02-2006, 10:02 PM
I think punitive strikes can be effective in some circumstances; for instances raiding a terrorist camp where it would be impractical to occupy the area or similar action against the military of a state protector. However there are limitations for instance situations like Iraq where we have broken the existing state, there the options for attack and leave are somewhat limited not for moral reason but rather for practical ones. Leaving failed a failed state creates all kinds of problems (of course staying in one creates its own difficulties).

slapout9
06-04-2006, 04:15 PM
Capt. Holzbach, you may be on to something. One of the first books I read was called The Lessons of Terror by Caleb Carr. In the book he talks about such and operation. His model was Sherman's march to sea You want war, you want terror, we will give to you in spades. In the end we will make you hate war and terror. You also point out some weaknesses of elected officials, we may end up with somebody worse, all nice and legal. Your theory would also have the support of the american people quick, sharp and with a moral reason to do it. And then go home. Also as President Reagan said about Quidaffi(cain't spell)"We are prepared to do it again". I have doubts about this build em a new country and we will pay for it so they will like us theory. Respect first aid second. I am ranting and raving now. I meant to ask can you expand on your theory?

zenpundit
06-05-2006, 03:40 AM
Punitive expeditions make sense if there is an entity which can be held accountable for the behavior of its troops, agents, citizens or whatever. The idea is to communicate that the costs of state irresponsibility are higher than the internal political benefits of winking and nodding at difficult to control elements.

Launching a punitive expedition where there is no one who can effect changes desired may or may not make strategic or tactical sense.

CPT Holzbach
06-05-2006, 11:51 AM
Launching a punitive expedition where there is no one who can effect changes desired may or may not make strategic or tactical sense.

Good point. Yes, I was thinking more along the lines of nations. You cant exactly do this against Al Qaeda. What you CAN do this hammer any nation that harbors them, a la Afghanistan.


I meant to ask can you expand on your theory?

This isnt a very well developed theory, more of an idea. An idea based on the fact that I have never heard a rational argument for nation building. I assume such an argument would change from situation to situation, but every lame attempt at one Ive heard couldnt be called rational. Most were emotion based pleas for justice and responsibility and helping the hardworking, indigenous peoples of...where ever. There may be good reasons for it sometimes, but I dont think we're honest with ourselves or the rest of the world about why we do it. Are we rebuilding Iraq in our image in the hope of cheap oil? Or because we "owe it to them"? The only thing our government "owes" anyone is to spend American tax dollars for the benefit of Americans. Crushing another country and rebuilding it differently JUST to get cheap oil probably isnt morally right. But neither is spending American lives and money to make non-Americans' lives better. If Im going to lose my life in a war, it had better be to make American's lives better. Dying to help Iraqis is dramatic, and touching, and noble, and makes for a nice sound bite at my memorial service. But I want us to win there because I already spent a year of my life and lost a soldier there. And maybe, just maybe, it'll make my gas cheaper. Wow, if there's one thing I DONT care about, it's Iraqi's quality of life. Am I wrong?

Americans are dying in Iraq. What are we going to get for it? We need to be coldly rational when it comes to war. It's fashionable to say war must be a last resort, etc etc, and it should be. But when it serves American interests, we shouldnt even blink in using it. There is a considerable gray area here. We've all been brought up to believe that "might is right" is not the way to go through life. Still, Ive never heard a rational argument against it. It doesnt feel right to me either, but "feelings" arent the best thing to base decisions to go to war on. So, Ive been chewing on the idea of punitive expeditions as a way of securing America's interests without ultimatly defeating ourselves with casualty producing, pussyfooted attempts at nation building.

A related article:http://www.victorhanson.com/articles/hanson060206.html


A riskier proposition is to employ American ground troops to change the political situation — that is, to flip a hostile government on the theory the people are desirous of freedom and would welcome liberation...And once America enters such a risky landscape, the clock ticks. The question of victory or quagmire is decided by whether we can defeat the insurgents and set up a local government before the enemy can erode U.S. public opinion — either by killing enough Americans on the evening news to make us doubt the cost is worth the gambit, or by suggesting that the vaunted values of Western bourgeois society have become sullied in the conflict at places like My Lai or Abu Ghraib.

He is skipping over my point. He seems to be assuming that you must stay and rebuild. At other points he only equates punitive attacks with bombing.

slapout9
06-05-2006, 02:06 PM
Capt. Holzbach, very well said. Memorial day has just past and we owe it to all service members to make sure they are fighting and risking death for the protection of America or American interest.

Al Qaeda (all terrorist groups) are often given the status of being 10 feet tall and bullet proof. We forget the fact that they are human and they live,eat,sleep on terrain that belongs to a country that directly or indirectly supports them. These countries must understand that they do so at their own peril.

Punitive strikes are one valid option for doing this. It is our moral right to do this. If the supporting country does not take action to solve this problem on their own then they are part of the problem and need to pay a price. The moral responsibility to rebuild THEIR country is THEIR problem not ours if they choose to let their country become a base from which terrorist can attack us.

Jones_RE
06-05-2006, 09:12 PM
In the short term, punitive strikes will generate fantastic results. Those regimes we target will fall - and whether or not new governments arise in their place won't matter much. The US is protected from many of the more, interesting, effects of its foreign policy by physical separation from most of the world. Hence, the chaos and violence that follow a tumbling government won't be much of an issue. Yeah, a lot of the pissed off survivors will band together and try to harm US interests, but they've got a lot of ocean to get through to pull that off. Even those governments we don't target will walk a lot more softly - after we take out Tehran, you can bet the North Koreans will suddenly decide that nuclear power isn't the answer after all.

Long term, however, is that a policy of punitive strikes will result in a number of negative consequences for the United States.

1) International terrorism. There are about a billion Muslims in the world - our punitive strikes are bound to be unpopular with a very large fraction of them. If even one tenth of one tenth of one percent of that billion decide to violently target US interests that's one hundred thousand terrorists. Not good odds. There are thousands of Americans living, working and vacationing abroad. This kind of action puts Americans at risk everywhere in the South Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the former Soviet Union.

2) Domestic terrorism. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service, through some combination of professionalism and good fortune, just intercepted a terrorist plot involving 17 of their citizens with no connections to any other group. Rumor suggests that intercepted phone calls and email records tipped off the authorities. There are millions of Muslims living in the United States. Our surveillance and counterterrorism methods are no more advanced than the Canadians' and are likely hampered by greater bureaucratic hurdles even under the Patriot act. Worse, much of American infrastructure is essentially undefended.

3) Nuclear/Chemical/Biological weapons. Nations under threat from the US may well decide that having a viable nuclear deterrent is their only option. The ability to vaporize an aircraft carrier battlegroup with one bomb would like pretty attractive in this environment. Nations wouldn't necessarily have to do this alone. Israel developed its nuclear program with French help, for example. There are plenty of nuclear states who would like to have oil rich client states. The Chinese government seems to be limiting its energy security programs to long term natural gas contracts with Iran. Think about the deal they'd get at the pump if they tossed a couple warheads into the deal. Note that we're not attacking the People's Republic pretty much whatever happens. They're not worth the piece of our hide they'd tear off.

4) NBC terrorism. With more strategic weapons floating around, the chance of a mushroom cloud over an American city increases dramatically. Especially if other countries are currently in too big of a diplomatic tizzy to cooperate with us.

5) International relations. Believe it or not, but we in the USA are the principle beneficiaries of the international system and the UN. Most foreigners view international law, the UN, the Security Council and so forth as puppets of the US - not as shackles that hold us down. You might recall that we wrote these rules ourselves - and that the convention organizing the UN was held in San Francisco, an American city. We rely on cooperation in endless forms in order to pursue terrorist suspects abroad, for example. Should the Europeans decide to stop cooperating, our odds of getting hurt increase dramatically.

6) More international relations. Right now, we effectively subsidize the militaries of every European country. They benefit from our weapons designs and our prodigious logistics efforts. American dollars spent developing high tech body armor will save the lives of European soldiers. In an environment where we no longer supply communications, logistics, transportation, air support, electronic intelligence and countless other things to European militaries (because those sissified European governments keep complaining about our kickass way of war) the Europeans will damn sure develop their own capabilities. They'll become military peers, with every chance of becoming military competitors. If they're spending the money to develop new missiles and radars, the temptation will be awfully fierce to defray those costs by supplying them to third party consumers (who may well be our enemies).

Frankly, the current system with all its nation building, international consensus and other liberal crap has delivered a situation that totally favors the United States of America. Only a handful of regimes dare to openly challenge us, even in purely verbal terms. Virtually none of them are willing to actively sponsor attacks against American interests. Our biggest complaints right now are governments developing weapons that one day might be used against us and governments who say they're on our side but aren't fighting our enemies hard enough. The United States has a virtual monopoly on air power, sea power and high tech military equipment that no one else seems particularly motivated to challenge. The vast majority of people in the world don't want to fight us at all, even from countries whose ideologies virulently oppose us. Why the hell would you want to change that?

Xenophon
06-06-2006, 03:41 PM
You're definitly on to something, Captain, and I've been chewing on the idea myself specifically in regards to Iran. I would think that a concept like this would work particularly well in a region where the culture respects force over just about everything else. No nation in the world can come close to projecting the amount of death and destruction that we can, but trying to win a popularity contest isn't playing to that strength.

In regards to Iran: We obviously don't have the numbers to invade and occupy like we did Iraq and Afghanistan. But a punitive expedition there would send a message to the rest of the world that we are by no means defenseless because of Iraq and Afghanistan. Plus, both occupations would look like Utopia compared to the chaos ensuing in Iran. We go in, kill off any military or government opposition, break the the infrastructure capable of producing nukes, then leave. As mentioned above, there is that required sense of "nation" present in Iran along with opposition groups ready to sieze the oppurtunity.

Jones_RE
06-06-2006, 04:39 PM
Suppose we launch a punitive expedition to Iran. Put yourself in the shoes of their senior military planning staff: what would you do? What steps would you take to prevent a US invasion from toppling your regime?

slapout9
06-06-2006, 08:04 PM
Based upon what has happened to Iran's neighbors, I would surrender and tell the Americans everything they wanted to know and collect a multi-million dollar reward for it.

CPT Holzbach
06-06-2006, 09:25 PM
No nation in the world can come close to projecting the amount of death and destruction that we can, but trying to win a popularity contest isn't playing to that strength.

This is part of my reasoning. Playing to our strengths, rather than those of the enemy. I could probably break out my Sun-Tzu or my binder full of 4th gen warfare articles to support this idea (and make it fashionable and buzzword cool). Actually, it's a 3rd gen warfare holdover, I think. The idea of pitting your strength against your enemy's weakness. The USA's strength is conventional, 3rd gen warfare. The 4th generation just isnt our bag, baby. Not yet anyway. We CAN do counter-insurgency and win, but it SUCKS. We're not very good at it yet. But our enemies usually are. But what they cant do, not on our level, is kick ass with tanks and planes, etc etc. Hence the idea of punitive expeditions. They pit our strength against our enemies' weakness.


Suppose we launch a punitive expedition to Iran. Put yourself in the shoes of their senior military planning staff: what would you do? What steps would you take to prevent a US invasion from toppling your regime?

I'd nuke the hell outa the Great Satan, and resort immedietly to guerilla warfare.

Jones_RE
06-06-2006, 11:19 PM
I'd nuke the hell outa the Great Satan, and resort immedietly to guerilla warfare.

All right. How many nukes would you deliver? With what delivery system? A speedboat to the US fleet offshore? Or a tugboat full of "refugees?"

And in what way do you resort to guerilla warfare? How do you prepare your nation and your government for a guerilla struggle? What military techniques, tactics and procedures do you lay down for the troops to follow?

Xenophon
06-06-2006, 11:54 PM
resort immedietly to guerilla warfare

Exactly what they're planning to do, and have been for decades. The only way to meet our goals (regime change, lack of nuclear capability) without playing directly to their strength is a punitive expedition.

slapout9
06-07-2006, 12:05 AM
Mr. Jones it was widely reported that Iraqi genrals were recruited to either act on our behalf(allow troops to surrender) or agree to do nothing(don't destroy oilwells). Why cain't we do it in Iran? Anybody answer that would like.

Jedburgh
06-07-2006, 01:07 AM
The administration is having an extremely difficult time politically even maintaining current ground strength in Iraq, and is only able to increase strength by a tiny margin in Afghanistan because it is generally off the radar. So, given that regime change in Iran can't be forced without a ground component - where are they going to come from and how is it to be presented to the public?

Unless a major terrorist incident targeting Americans occurs and can be directly linked to Iran, it ain't gonna happen. A short, sharp, sustained air campaign targeting Iran's nuke facilities would probably be supported by the US public - if collateral casualties are absolutely minimized. But in today's political environment, commitment of ground troops to another target of regime change is not feasible.

Anyway, if somehow we foment the fall of the Mullahcracy - there is no government-in-exile or clear leader-in-waiting ready to take charge. The most likely outcome is factional fighting, with stronger elements perhaps being able to take control of Tehran and key central parts of the country, with the outlying regions falling under control of armed ethnic factions. Think for a moment upon the potential impact this could have upon our own ops in the bordering states of Iraq and Afghanistan. Not to mention the effects upon our fragile alliance with Turkey, as we take the blame when the PKK suddenly becomes better able to exploit that particular border area, widening their potential AO....

CPT Holzbach
06-07-2006, 01:02 PM
All right. How many nukes would you deliver? With what delivery system? A speedboat to the US fleet offshore? Or a tugboat full of "refugees?"

And in what way do you resort to guerilla warfare? How do you prepare your nation and your government for a guerilla struggle? What military techniques, tactics and procedures do you lay down for the troops to follow?

Not sure where you're going with this.


Unless a major terrorist incident targeting Americans occurs and can be directly linked to Iran, it ain't gonna happen. A short, sharp, sustained air campaign targeting Iran's nuke facilities would probably be supported by the US public - if collateral casualties are absolutely minimized. But in today's political environment, commitment of ground troops to another target of regime change is not feasible.

Your're probably right. Which is sad. I suppose it'll take a mushroom cloud over an American city before the people will support doing something about Iranian nukes.


Think for a moment upon the potential impact this could have upon our own ops in the bordering states of Iraq and Afghanistan. Not to mention the effects upon our fragile alliance with Turkey, as we take the blame when the PKK suddenly becomes better able to exploit that particular border area, widening their potential AO....

Good point about the negative impact on Iraqi operations. But maybe it would inspire us to head out to the Iranian border and get out of the Iraqi cities. Would that be a bad thing? As far as Turkey, I dont see what we owe them. They wouldnt let us in for the invasion of Iraq. And I wonder who would be a better ally, Turkey, or Kurdistan? But the internation intrigue really isnt my strong suit...

slapout9
06-07-2006, 02:01 PM
To my understanding the original objectives of OIF were no sadam,no WMD,Democratic framework installed. That has been done!! Why don't we seize and control the Oil facilities until they figure out THEIR politics. Cordon and protect the oil and get a share of the profits to pay america back!! I think if there is some positvie economic benefit to america from OIF support for a long term mission could be established or at least accepted. Every american understands oil prices and oil supplies, tie us military missions to this and maybe we have a chance. Yes /No/Maybe anybody respond.

Jedburgh
06-07-2006, 03:16 PM
To my understanding the original objectives of OIF were no sadam,no WMD,Democratic framework installed. That has been done!! Why don't we seize and control the Oil facilities until they figure out THEIR politics. Cordon and protect the oil and get a share of the profits to pay america back!! I think if there is some positvie economic benefit to america from OIF support for a long term mission could be established or at least accepted. Every american understands oil prices and oil supplies, tie us military missions to this and maybe we have a chance. Yes /No/Maybe anybody respond.
If you recall, among the civilian planners of OIF, there were repeated statements that Iraq's oil profits would pay for rebuilding the country. Yet another example of blinkered ignorance ignoring existing intel. Iraq's oil not only is unable to pay for the costs of the rebuilding (let alone the occupation), to date it has yet to be able to even completely fund the cost of restoring and modernizing Iraq's oil facilities to full operating capacity. Of course, a part of this is the bad guy's regular targeting of oil infrastructure...

slapout9
06-07-2006, 03:25 PM
Jed that's my point. It is an assest that we could seize and protect and turn into something that would benefit the US and Iraq. Yes, I read everyday how they are attacking oil infrastructure and how poorly maintained it is. But again that's my point, they don't know how to run and they cain't protect it we should do it. Crazy,yes,no,maybe,change it around some?

Jones_RE
06-07-2006, 04:19 PM
Where I'm going with questions about the (hypothetical) Iranian response is this: they're going to have one. Right now the assumption is that nothing can defeat our conventional assault. In the sense that they can't deny our soldiers the use of territory or maintain a body of troops with the capacity to conduct maneuver warfare that's absolutely right. In the sense that maneuver warfare will get us what we want, I think it's absolutely wrong.

Our problem isn't with the Iranian Army (which would be the target of maneuver war). We could certainly deploy engineers to destroy centrifuges, reactors and other equipment - when we can locate it.

Given the operational limitations your plan puts on our forces, mainly that the mission has to be quick, we can't do some other things.

1) We can't surprise them. A fast, lightning operation that can defeat the Iranian army and accomplish our objectives would call for a massive ground force. That takes a long, long time to deploy. Many months. They'll certainly see this coming - and make a variety of plans to deal with it. You obviously haven't given any real thought as to the specifics of those plans - a few minutes of concentrated effort on your part would reveal a lot of ugly things that they could do to harm our interests and kill our troops.

2) We can't target named individuals. History suggests this: Pancho Villa, Fidel Castro, Gen. Aidid, Osama bin Laden, Zarqawi, etc. The list of guys we've caught is also instructive: Che Guevara, Pablo Escobar, Saddam Hussein. Each one of these individuals took months or years of effort to catch - even when our best troops were involved with no political constraints on their search methods. Take it as given that we haven't particularly improved in this regard.

3) We can't completely abrogate the laws of land warfare. In a media saturated environment, where the US military has taken enough PR hits from abu Ghraib, Fallujah, GITMO and Haditha we're going to have to remain somewhat sensitive in our targeting.

Given those limitations, even the most massive military invasion force will only accomplish so much for us. In fact, I think the accomplishment is worth so little that it's not worth doing.

Jones_RE
06-07-2006, 05:07 PM
Some possible counter tactics.

1) Global terrorism. There are Shiite communities throughout the Arab world - Iran is probably in touch with their dissidents even if Tehran doesn't support them. These communities would provide ready support for terrorism and sabotage through Saudi Arabia, for example.

2) Trouble in Iraq. Many Shiite militias (who are the most powerful group there, right now) have significant backing from Iran. With a porous border, the Iranians can run weapons and agents through there with no problem. Currently, Iraqi militias lack the will and equipment to fight US troops. Given a motivation, and more advanced RPG warheads, small arms ammunition and body armor they could prove a major threat to our troops in most of the country.

3) Preemptive strike. Our forces take months to build up to strenght. The Iranians could easily decide to launch a suicidal ground, air or naval assault figuring they have nothing left to lose. Such an assault wouldn't have to be targetted at our soldiers to screw us, either: the oil infrastructure in the region can't take that many cruise missiles to shut down.

4) Continuity of Government. They'd certainly put a plan in place to keep their government operational. Unlike Iraq, which was a dictatorship, they can put such a thing together. Iran is governed by an elected leadership with a broad base of support - they can have enough successors on hand that they can replace whatever Mullahs we do catch. Moreover, they'll make efforts to hide their people and protect them.

5) Infrastructure protection. Camouflage, Hardening, redundancy and reparability. We can fly a plane over anything and bomb it. But of course, first we have to find it. Then the bomb has to actually destroy it. They have to care about losing it. And they can't just fix it two days later. This applies to pretty much anything you can name.

6) Consolidation of Power. They're not going to let a lot of insurgents hide our in their own population. In the run up to war, the smart move is to neutralize these people by whatever means necessary, because they're certain allies of the invader. Likewise, you're going to purge your armed forces of any disloyal, unprofessional or unmotivated elements ahead of time. The lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan should be obvious.

7) Preparation for guerilla warfare. This involves teaching troops infantry, hit and run tactics, sabotage and tradecraft. It also involves caching weapons and supplies throughout the countryside and the cities. Sniper training is a big deal here - most armies don't focus on it the way they should.

8) Scorched earth. They may well decide to destroy anything that could be of use to us. The road nets in and out of the country probably aren't good to begin with - once the enemy takes to them with everything from bulldozers to sledgehammers you're going to find the fuel, ammo and rations necessary for high intensity maneuver war a lot harder to supply.

9) Preparation for the latest US ground technology. Old style (single warhead) RPGs don't reliably get effects on US ground vehicles. Newer tandem warhead models are effective against Bradley Fighting Vehicle and Stryker with slat armor. Steel core AK-47 rounds can't penetrate Interceptor with SAPI. The ammo that can is a little hard to improvise or get ahold of, but not impossible. It wouldn't take much of this stuff in the right hands to make their snipers highly dangerous. Night vision gear is handy stuff, too. Older generation gear isn't as effective as what US troops use, but its main purpose is to show soldiers (in training) the kind of thing they're up against.

10) Preparation of citizen militias. These groups are there to help you regain control after US forces leave. Their job isn't so much to fight back, as to prevent whatever cheapass native forces we leave in place from being a problem later. Factional fighting won't happen if you murder all the factions anyway. They can also suicide bomb our troops on the side.

11) Evacuation of key personnel. What happens to your brilliant plan if half the Mullahs turn up in Moscow or Beijing? You think the Russkies will hand them right over? You think we'll invade Red China to get them? Or would you rather stick around and nation build in Iran to keep them from coming right back in. Hey, why stop at the Mullahs? Ten thousand Revolutionary Guards could suddenly go on leave in the third party country of your choice. What then? If they picks folks with clean backgrounds, who've never been implicated in any kind of war crime, they could even vacation in Europe!

That's eleven steps I'd recommend - and any one of them could throw a real kink in our plans for a short victorious war.

slapout9
06-07-2006, 05:58 PM
I'll play blue team. My backround 3 years 82nd airborne,2 special assignments with 5th Special Forces. Semi-retired Police Officer. Went to college for a little while,fell asleep alot. Should take you 10 minutes to win. I fight unconventionally you do what ever you want. Keep it civil nothing personal learning experience for all. Deal?? I am work now may not be able to respnd fast.

CPT Holzbach
06-07-2006, 06:28 PM
This thread is getting mired (quagmire?!) in the specific instance of Iran, which was not it's intention, but thats cool, it makes for an interesting scenario. Here's my thoughts on your post, Jones. Im gonna avoid quoting the whole thing to shorten the post.


Some possible counter tactics.

1. Global terrorism is happening anyway. To not act for fear of terrorism is surrender.
2 and 3. These are closely tied. The Iraqi Shiite militias are big, and thats it. If they want to go toe to toe with us, they would be crushed, same as before. Some body armor and better RPGs would not change that. And a spoiling attack on the part of Iran would be a DREAM scenario. Because if there's one thing Iraqis, both Shiite and Sunni DONT want, it's Iranian interference. Iraqis and Iranians hate each other. Remember, this isnt just a religion thing. The Iranians are Persian, the Iraqis are Arabs. That's very important to both groups. I can only wish the Iranians would do this. Some short term damage would be more than worth the trade off in Iraqi unity. Might go a long way towards even reducing the Iraqi insurgency, giving them a nationalist cause to unite behind.
4. The point with Iran isnt necessarily to kill leaders. Getting Ahmadinejad (hell yeah thats spelled correctly) would be great, but unnecessary. Destroying the nuclear capability would be the mission.
5. Point conceded about FINDING the stuff. But destroying it? We're the USA. Firepower is, unfortunatly, what we do.
6. This can backlash. The regime's enemies are surely adept by now at hiding. This can also increase support for our effort if we ally ourselves with these people.
7. Is this in reference to American troops? Well, the point isnt to exterminate the Iranian Army, merely render them briefly ineffective. Let them run. They'll have to leave behind all their heavy equipment. Guerrilla warfare is ineffective against the type of attacks Im talking about. It takes time and weak targets. Neither will be made available.
8. The US Army is overwhelmingly tail heavy. We can support ourselves. This is just basic warfare. This would be well anticipated. I will say that any fighting in Iran's mountainous regions would be tough.
9. No one views the Iranian Army as incompetent or obsolete. All the more reason to hit as hard and fast as possible.
10. I've already said that we should let them fight it out after we've accomplished our mission and left.
11. This one is extremely hypothetical.

Attacking Iran would be tough. So what? So was Omaha beach. Any scenario, even just air strikes is a bad plan for a variety of reasons. But it's time to choose the least of several evils. And a punitive attack would be vastly preferable to regime replacement and nation building. And it's a damn sight better than letting nukes fall into the hands of a guy who talks to the 12th Imam at the bottom of a well.

slapout9
06-08-2006, 02:54 AM
Capt. Holzbach, well I see you survived the sneak attack by refugees in tugboats with nuclear weapons, whew that was close. Don't worry I never got the reward money after my defection. But back to the point. I think your idea has a lot of merit.

1)So forget Iran, can you expand your idea by explaining a scenario you have or had in mind?

2) Care to comment on my suggestion about seizing the oil wells.

Jedburgh
06-08-2006, 03:20 AM
Jed that's my point. It is an assest that we could seize and protect and turn into something that would benefit the US and Iraq. Yes, I read everyday how they are attacking oil infrastructure and how poorly maintained it is. But again that's my point, they don't know how to run and they cain't protect it we should do it. Crazy,yes,no,maybe,change it around some?
You are assuming that we aren't already trying to protect the oil infrastructure. The problem, as has been discussed previously, is the lack of sufficient manpower. To protect mulitiple dispersed oil facilities and long miles of isolated pipeline is extremely manpower intensive. Given the limitations of both Coalition and Iraqi forces, and the competing security demands in fighting the insurgency, hunting down the terrorists, and securing the urban centers - then we throw in protecting the oil infrastructure (along with the power and water infrastructure) and, for good measure, CA ops along with it, and all contributing allied forces, as well as the Iraqis, are stretched to the limit. Hell, we haven't been able to effectively secure Baghdad itself from the very beginning.

As far as "they don't know how to run" their oil facilities, well, I disagree. Iraq had (although I'm sure the ranks are thinning these days) a very talented group of people responsible for those facilities who have managed to hold them together with almost bailing wire and duct tape for a long time. The damage is not due to ignorance - it is due to years of sanctions and the Iraqis being forced to jerry-rig equipment to continue working long past its wear-out date. Its beyond simply needing true repairs - their facilities need a major overhaul and modernization. That very expensive bit of labor has barely begun.

Finally, as far as "seizing" Iraq's oil assets - well, I believe the first part of my response illustrates the practical lack of capacity to effectively execute that option. But, on the IO note, "seizure" of Iraq's oil assets would be perhaps the worst thing that we could do as regards relations with Iraqis and the rest of the world. It would simply finally confirm to all the cynics and those who hate the US that oil really was the reason we invaded Iraq. Plus, distribution of oil revenues is a key component of the negotiations going on within the current Iraqi government - it is hoped that an agreement on equitable distribution will help bring some of the key disaffected Sunni Arab leaders into the fold, and quieten down at least a part of the insurgency. Such a "seizure" by us at this point would simply throw oil on the fire and give added impetus to the problems we already face. Not a good thing.

CPT Holzbach
06-08-2006, 01:48 PM
1)So forget Iran, can you expand your idea by explaining a scenario you have or had in mind?

2) Care to comment on my suggestion about seizing the oil wells.

Well, I had been thinking mostly about Iraq as a scenario. If we had ended the war after the first month, I cant think of how we would be worse off. Well, stick around until we got Saddam, anyway. How about that as the "break contact" signal? We discovered (to the C in C's dismay) that there were no WMDs. Check. We got Saddam. Check. What more was there to accomplish? The experiment in democracy is noble, but a bit naive. I mean, I have one of the ballots from the December 05 election framed on my wall. Im proud to have played a part in giving those people a chance to use those ballots, and the constitutional referendum ballots before that. But, as Ive stated, they can use democracy against us. I fail to see the utility of spending so much money and so many lives for it.

As far as the oil goes, I would have to agree with Jedburgh. Unless we only focus on doing that, and abandon the cities and everything else, it wouldn't be feasible. We cant keep IEDs from exploding on the streets, so Im sure we couldnt keep bombs blowing up along pipelines. And it would definatly be a political disaster. But thats allright, the hell with Iraq's oil. Its been mostly embargoed for a decade. Were used to not having it.

slapout9
06-08-2006, 01:52 PM
Jed, I was assuming that we were trying to protect them(oil wells) but not being very effective because of what you have said before and I have read in the papers (not enough manpower). Since we cannot be everywhere and do everything why don't we concentrate on protecting the most vital economic asset there? That is in the Iraqi interest and US interest.

As for IO ops I don't think we are fooling anybody but ouselves, we are there because of the oil. Bush 1 and 2 are Oil people, why don't we admit that. My opinion, you are better at that sort of thing then I am.

Seizure of assests, ok your right. call it"protective custody"(but you new what I meant you have LE experience) If you cain't hit them in the face, hit them in the pocket book. OBL is always suggesting economic targets. I hate it but that is smart strategy on his part.

Which is my final point we are running out of manpower and MONEY. We need to do something. I am seeing public reactions not present since Vietnam. WE don't need that to get started.

slapout9
06-08-2006, 03:42 PM
Capt. Holzbach, I was responding to Jed while you were online. So to follow up on your reponse. I am suggesting that we concentrate on the oil fields and the let the Iraqi's figure out the rest of it. I just read where rebels have or are about to sieze the oil fields in Nigeria. If this becomes an example for other groups worldwide we are in trouble. You may not be old enough to remember the Arab oil embargo of the early 1970's and the effect on America but it was not pretty. I think it is our long term interest and Iraq's to see the oil wells protected.

CPT Holzbach
06-09-2006, 02:49 PM
Strickland posted an excellent article from CSIS. (Actually Dave Dilegge posted it, but Strickland brought attention to it first. Semantics!) The section of the introduction entitled "Is Counterinsurgency the Right Means to the End?" on page 20 of the introduction is applicable to this discussion. Recommend reading that. But maybe not the entire BOOK that they wrote. My kingdom for some friggen BREVITY. Does Cordesman actually write this stuff? Or does he just stamp his name on some poor staffer's work? Might be a good BOOK though, I dont know. I dont have time to read the entire BOOK.

Slapout, I think if we just concentrated on the oil infrastructure, we might be able to pull it off. But it would be political kryptonite. No, I wasnt around for the gas rationing, although I heard stories and have seen pictures of the lines. I think it would be more acceptable to avoid a serious situation like that. In the present day, there's no gas shortage or rationing, it's just expensive, which is perfectly fair. Just to avoid high gas prices, the American wont support a war. Myself included. I dont know if there's a cutoff for that. $10 a gallon? Who knows. But I wonder how much of a "punitive strike" it is if we get stuck hanging around protecting oil facilities for who knows how long.

slapout9
06-10-2006, 02:38 PM
Maj. Strickland, well between you and Jedburgh and as I have admitted I suck eggs when it comes to a political solution. But here is my police viewpoint I think terroist/insurgents are just Gangs or Crime families or both.The religious or political fronts are just recruiting tools, in the end it's about money and power, protection. The danger I see in Iraq and the oil wells is this. If the biggest and meanest gang gets the oil wells they will control 94% of Iraq's national income according to the paper you talked about.(interesting paper) That means they are in fact the GOVERNMENT, no matter how many elections are held. This is a chnage in there MO(method of operation) instead of just stealing it or attacking it, they will OWN it. This is how gangs become respectable in the US. If this is seen as successfull by other gangs/terrorist/insurgents around the world we(US) have a big problem.

Valid point about the situation becoming long term as opposed to a punitive strike in Iraq, might be an option at another time and place, like south of the border ?!?!

Bill Moore
06-11-2006, 07:07 PM
CPT Holzbach I concur that our foreign policy (especially the policies that drive military employment) must be based on reality, and it is obvious that we grossly excessive idealistic objectives in Iraq. I donít know what the right answer is now, but I suspect weíll find a solution that we will settle for, but it wonít be the utopian one that we originally agreed to.

What we tend to poke fun at the most in this forum, big conventional units, air force, etc. actually worked well during OIF phase III, and I would be very careful of losing this capability in exchange for more MPs, Civil Affairs, UW capacity, etc. These less direct methods have their place, but their application is limited to select environments that are receptive to them. For example, going in with the hopes of starting an insurgency doesnít work if there isnít an existing resistance in place with a plan for change, you just donít go in and start from scratch. If you do youíll be seen as unwanted occupiers. In certain situations where there is a viable resistance movement in place, and the people are hungry for change such as Burma (perhaps) or France (under Nazi occupation) then we would probably be seen as liberators.

I am not advocating tying our policy makers hands when it comes to employing military force, but I am advocating for employing military force correctly to achieve realistic goals. Punitive strikes definitely fall within that category. The punitive strike that Clinton launched against Saddam after they tried to assassinate Bush Sr was a perfect example, as was the punitive strike Reagan launched against Libya. While both were far from perfect options (perfect being installing a friendly government), they were realistic, and cost effective (money and blood).

There have always been definite limits to what the military can accomplish. We can destroy, secure, and begin the rebuilding piece, but we donít have the means to implement social change unless we plan to implement draconian population control measures like Mao did in China.

Taking it a step further, should we really redesign our military to be nation builders? Where do we think we can effectively do this? How many successful models have there been throughout history? I can only think of Japan and Germany, both previously industrial nations with an educated work force and limited corruption. Our nation building efforts during the Philippine insurrection were short lived, and probably not a good example. Our nation building efforts in Vietnam were even shorter lived. We have been attempting nation building in Columbia and elsewhere for how many years to what end?

Steve Blair
06-11-2006, 07:24 PM
Punative strikes are an interesting option, provided that your target actually has something that would be worth striking. As others have pointed out, they can also have some rather messy long term consequences.

Both Clinton's and Regan's strikes were interesting short-term successes, but their long-term results are at best debatable. They are obviously great "feel good" peices and involve little immediate risk to the forces being employed, since they almost always use resources that the U.S. is strong in (airpower, for example) and target areas that do not have strong defenses (a great application of 3GW). I would argue that in the long term they do not have much in the way of lasting effect, on the average. Pershing's expedition, already mentioned, was certainly intended as a punitive strike, and one of its results was the requirement to station a large number of National Guard cavalry regiments along the border both during and after World War 1. There are other examples from this period (mainly in Central America) of Wilsonian punitive expeditions that just didn't go as planned and resulted in troops (usually Marines) being tied down much longer than originally anticipated.

To discuss the tangent about the U.S. military's design: I don't think we need to retailor the entire military to fit the nation-building idea, but we also need to stop building a force for an enemy that doesn't exist. The B-2 is one of my pet peeves in this area, but there are numerous other defense projects that fit into the same category. With all the real-time evidence indicating that we need a strong conventional military (by that I mean a force that can rapidly deploy many "boots on the ground"), the defense heirarchy seems fixated on high-tech "silver bullets" that may or may not be worth their huge price tags. Both the "silver bullet" and the punitive strike (at least to me) seem to be manifestations of the American tendency to want a single, preferably simple, solution to problems that may not have any single or simple answers.

This is a very interesting discussion, Cpt Holzbach. Thanks for bringing it up!