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Thread: An Army of One Less

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default An Army of One Less

    10 November New York Times commentary - An Army of One Less by MG Paul Eaton (USA Ret.).

    ... First, on Iraq, the Democratic leadership needs to push the administration to move immediately on whatever recommendations come from the Iraq Study Group led by James Baker and Lee Hamilton. The decision to hold the commission’s report until after the election was political idiocy — every day we wait risks the lives of our soldiers and our Iraqi allies.

    At the same time, we need a Manhattan Project-level effort to build the Iraqi security forces. A good blueprint can be found in an article in the July-August Military Review by Lt. Col. Douglas Ollivant, a former operations officer with the Army’s Fifth Cavalry Regiment in Iraq, and Lt. Eric D. Chewning. The plan is to create new multifaceted battalions — blending infantry, armor, engineers and other specialists — that would live and work beside Iraqi security forces and civilians. Some of our troops, working largely at the platoon level, have had great success along these lines; but as the authors note, such small units “lack the robust staff and sufficient mass to fully exploit local relationships.” It’s time to replicate that success on a larger scale.

    Democrats in Congress must also demand that the administration abide by the old adage, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” in the Middle East. We should return our ambassador to Syria and re-establish diplomatic relations with Iran as first steps in building a coalition of Iraq’s neighbors to plan the way forward. While their motives may not be identical to ours, they have little desire to see Iraq dissolve into civil war.

    It is also vital to reinvigorate the military leadership. First, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace, must begin to act in the role prescribed by the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986. This requires the senior man in uniform to have direct access to the president, a role denied to him and his predecessor, Gen. Richard Myers, by Mr. Rumsfeld.

    As for the next secretary of defense, he must stand up to his own party. Congressional Republicans have told the Army that 512,000 troops are enough, and that the Pentagon should pay for them with the money already allocated, a zero sum game. This would mean raiding the funds that are supposed to go toward the first real Army modernization program since the Reagan years...

    The Army must rise to at least 570,000 troops to meet the demands placed on it. Before he was forced out as Army chief of staff in 2003, Gen. Eric Shinseki warned us to “beware the 12-division foreign policy with a 10-division Army.” That was a spot-on prediction of the problem we face today.

    One thing everyone in Washington should agree on is that we must not allow Iraq to become a failed state...

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    I have not read the Mil Review article ref. by MG Eaton (ret), but any effort such as he outlines must be considered in the context of the most likely enemies the Iraqis will face over the next decade. I think the IA has already had to explore the organizational structure they were given in the light that they cannot resource General Purpose forces the way we can. For them, full spectrum warfare on the grand scale is a non-starter for awhile. They need to focus on COIN and limiting external influences, not repelling a conventional attack across the Iraq/Iran border for the time being - fix one problem at a time.

    When stability comes, and the IPs or a para-military filler like the Spanish Guardia Civil is in place, then transition IA to a conventional role of defense. We're beating ourselves up over here trying to est. an almost US like capability for logistics -why? Do we really want or think the Iraqis need expeditionary logistics capabilities? When the oil comes through (and eventually it will), they will do what every other oil rich Arab state does for LOG - they will out source (consider our own reliance on contractors). For the time being we need to help them build capabilities which mirror the long term conflict they are in to provide stability and security. Later, when the foundation is set, we will have built a relationship with a regional security partner that can begin to invest in a conventional capability.

    If we send people over here that try to build a mirror of US capabilities we set the Iraqis up for failure, if we send people over here who use their experiences to help the Iraqis build sustainable solutions to their security problems, we will assist them in succeeding. In text it may seem a minor difference, but on the ground its vast. It takes a different skill set to see somebody else’s' problems through their eyes, while maintaining objectivity and the fresh perspective of being an outsider. Take that to the next step and communicating to them sound advice that helps them develop, and your average unit will have difficulty making the adjustment.

    I agree with the statement that we need to make a heavy investment, but I've seen from past experience that a big investment does not always guarantee success unless its applied with an understanding of Murphy’s law in regards to how people perceive task, purpose, end-state and the fulfillment of CDR's intent. Its the proper application of resources that need to be considered.

    Regards Rob

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    Having helped with the first Iraqi Army logistics unit that was formed. The master plan for the Iraqi Army and logistics is self-suffciency for internal usage, not expeditionary. The initial formation in 2004 of the Army was centered on the idea of forming a 3 to 6 division army to defend against external threats (short-sighted and unrealistic goal). You talk of the Guardia civil, yeah that is great and true, but who does it as far as the training? The Army, well then fine, but the problem is as soon as you hang a police label on anything people get their noses out of shape. The Special Police Commando/Public Order Brigade/BN/Local police construct is a good one. The problem is the time and resources needed to recruit, vet, and train these guys coupled with an impatience present with the Iraqi populace and more importantly the American population .

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Jimbo,
    I think you are right on it.

    You talk of the Guardia civil, yeah that is great and true, but who does it as far as the training? The Army, well then fine, but the problem is as soon as you hang a police label on anything people get their noses out of shape. The Special Police Commando/Public Order Brigade/BN/Local police construct is a good one. The problem is the time and resources needed to recruit, vet, and train these guys coupled with an impatience present with the Iraqi populace and more importantly the American population .
    Its a question of ends and means. If you tell and Army to stand up an army, what is the default? What is in the realm of realistic? What is politically acceptable? The problem is that answer to all of those three does not always equal the needed solution. If military assistance by conventional forces is going to be an "economy of force" option for use as part of a broader GWOT strategy to assist failing or failed states (or ones that we've changed), then we may want to broaden our options for what we build, or help them build. A para military may be more dificult for us to train and accept politically, but it is considerably cheaper. We may need to start learning about para militaries (could be an exchange with one, or attending some of their OES; maybe we could do some of it within our own federal agencies?). I'm not stuck on para militaries, only looking for options that may be better suited to the problem, and more sustainable for the security force(s) we help build.

    The folks who stood up and trained ISF (IA & IPs) have, and are doing everything they could within the limits of knowledge and resources - my question is, what could we do different in the future with the benefit of our recent experiences?

    Having helped with the first Iraqi Army logistics unit that was formed. The master plan for the Iraqi Army and logistics is self-sufficiency for internal usage, not expeditionary. The initial formation in 2004 of the Army was centered on the idea of forming a 3 to 6 division army to defend against external threats (short-sighted and unrealistic goal).
    Part of the problem is lack of continuity and new CF units coming in to pick up where the outgoing units left off. MTRs for example are great organizations, but every time a new TT comes in, they may have a different perspective for where that MTR should be going. CF partner units will also have a opinion about what is right and good - lots of cooks making the soup.

    The Iraqis themselves may have changing perspectives about where it should be going. You know "Deploy" is no where on most IA units TRA task lists, however, the push was on to send everything screaming to Baghdad - which is why one BN out of 4/2 arrived to Ramadi with a company minus for available combat power - 2/3 quit at notification, more quit enroute. These organization's level of proficiency and effectiveness for the time being are tied to their specific locations.

    If you think Army, you require an army type of LOG system (no matter if you build it or if you buy it). If you think Police Force, its different. Currently IA and IP are doing roughly the same tasks. When these guys transition to doing conventional Army tasks because the external threat is greater then the internal one (could be decision for us to redeploy, or other), then they will need to have a conventional LOG system. Do the current requirements generate the need for a conventional LOG system? Maybe, maybe only certain classes of supply, mayby all classes, but not services.

    What we are doing here feel more like we are feeling our way through rather then falling in on a continuity plan that was well developed and mature when it was issued. Given the conditions where we (big Army) started in 2003, and given where we are, we're doing pretty good. However, if we do this again (maybe on a different scale), or do it again in several locations at once (all on varying scales) what can we do better?

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    Default What was wrong with the old Army?

    While the Iraqi could not stand up to the U.S. Army or its coalition it was one of the better Armies in the region. The system they had worked well enough for them to protect their borders, suppress insurgencies, occupy Kuwait, but not good enough to win a war with Iran, nor was Iran good enough to win the war with Iraq. Sounds to me that is just where we would want them to be, since no one can predict what type of government (if any), or how friendly it will be towards the U.S. years down the road.

    Armies are reflections of cultures, and we're not going to stand up a Western Army in Iraq, so lets stop chasing the dream that could become a nightmare anyway.

    Al Qaeda couldn't operate in Iraq prior to us destroying its security apparatus, so they were probably doing something right. The only Al Qaeda network group AAI was in Kurdistan prior to the invasion.

    We could save a lot of money, and avoid the challenge of trying to make cultural changes by bringing back the old formations.

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