View Poll Results: Which ISG Option Would You Choose?

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19. You may not vote on this poll
  • Set a timetable for withdrawal

    2 10.53%
  • Enter into negotiations with Syria and Iran

    4 21.05%
  • Encourage the legal trisection of Iraq

    5 26.32%
  • Replace Prime Minister al-Maliki with a "strongman"

    0 0%
  • Other, please explain below...

    8 42.11%
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Thread: Iraq: Strategic and Diplomatic Options

  1. #1
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Iraq: Strategic and Diplomatic Options

    The Los Angeles Times recently published an article outlining what they said are the strategic and diplomatic options being explored by the Iraq Study Group. The Westhawk blog recently posted a description of those options:

    1. Set a timetable for withdrawal. A report in today’s news states that the Bush administration will soon insist on a timeline of specific benchmarks and goals on security, associated with a timeline for turning security responsibility over to the Iraqi government. This approach amounts to brinkmanship with the Iraqi government. What if the Iraqi government is either unwilling or incapable of meeting the proposed U.S. timeline? Would the U.S. government then essentially be negotiating with itself? Would a timeline for handing over responsibility to the Iraqis lead inevitably to a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawals? Once those begun, they could not be slowed or stopped. If the U.S. commits to a withdrawal timetable, it must simultaneously accept the possibility of a worst-case outcome, because it would have conceded all control over events.

    2. Enter into negotiations with Syria and Iran. The theory with this idea is that Syria and Iran have an interest in a stable Iraq. Getting them involved in the Iraq problem will allow them to be part of a stabilizing solution, so it is argued. This is a terrible idea for several reasons. Going to your enemies for help when you are in a weak position is a very poor negotiating tactic. For the Iranians, such a course would formally legitimize Iranian subversion of Iraq, a completely opposite outcome from what the U.S. should be seeking. In addition, the Iranians would likely also seek to extract Western concessions on their nuclear program, in return for their cooperation on Iraqi security. Formally legitimizing a security role for Iran and Syria inside Iraq would be a betrayal of Iraq and a strategic debacle for the West.

    3. Encourage the legal trisection of Iraq. The natural forces of ethnic cleansing are already slowly bringing this about. The formation of a Shi’ite homeland in Iraq’s nine southern provinces, led by SCIRI’s Abdul Azziz al-Hakim, will be another large step down this path. However, the Sunni-Arabs will never formally agree to the legal breakup of Iraq, because they will be left with nothing from the deal. Therefore, they will resist this course, as they are doing everyday in Baghdad and Anbar. Iraq will become stable only when the Sunni-Arab population is reduced enough for it to no longer be a base for military activity. Hopefully this can come about through orderly international resettlement. Until that happens, large mixed cities like Baghdad and Kirkuk will be very violent places. Once again, the U.S. is highly unlikely to publicly back a policy of ethnic cleansing and resettlement, nor does Mr. Bush wish to be the Lord Mountbatten of the 21st century.

    4. Replace Prime Minister al-Maliki with a “strongman.” Who might be this strongman? And what would then happen to Iraq’s national unity government after he was appointed? If Iraq’s current national unity government and parliament want to replace Mr. al-Maliki, they can do so at any time. If such a better candidate for prime minister already existed, might not the parliament have chosen him in the first place? Appointing a strongman would certainly intensify the civil war; the strongman would have to be a Shi’ite, and if he were truly strong (stronger than the national unity government allows Mr. al-Maliki to be), then the Sunni-Arabs would walk away from legal politics. This reaction, combined with the ethnic cleansing of the Sunni-Arabs, we believe is necessary to stabilize Iraq. But they are not likely to be Bush administration policies.

  2. #2
    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    1. A phased withdrawal doesn't solve the problem it just moves us further away from it.

    2. This is laughable. "We have publicly denounced you for your current involvement in Iraq. We have brought or threatened to bring sanctions against you. Oh, and there was that whole Axis of Evil thing but, hey, can you help us out in Iraq now?" What do you think that their help would cost us? And then of course there is the fact that these are Israel's two biggest enemies.

    3. Trisection? This one has been examined and reexamined to death. Somebody is going to get the short end of the stick resources wise and likely it will be the Sunnis. They are already the most violent group and Trisection really wouldn't benefit them at all. Not to mention that the Shia section will probably be scarfed up by Iran and even if it is not it will still be heavily influenced and infiltrated by Iran.

    4. This is probably least undesirable but it still not desirable. I don't think this one will work for the simple fact that in order for it to work we would have to convince the the Iraqis that they want to change leadership and they don't seem particularly inclined to do so. We can't simply replace him because anybody that we put in place will have no credibility.


    Some of these courses may lead to us getting out, I don't think any of them will lead to success. Westhawk believes that setting the conditions for ethnic cleansing of the Sunnis might be the only solution but that ignores the fact that the majority of Muslims in the world are Sunni. I doubt very much that they will stand by let the Shia ethnically cleanse the Sunnis. I think that what we need to do is stop with the whole "We have plenty of troops on ground," meme and actually send enough troops to do what we need to do. Unfortunately, as Max Boot (who should probably be appointed SECDEF for life) points out, that is unlikely to happen and we will be left only with the option of getting out without cleaning up the mess that we helped create.

    SFC W

  3. #3
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    Default Strategic and Diplomatic Options

    Concur UBoat's conclusion...Strikes me the "light footprint" concept has, at least in this situation, been discredited--if it ever carried any weight historically.... (Sorry, but my only personal COIN experience was in Viet Nam, clearly not a light footprint kind of situation)...Further, it is hard to see what rational options remain at this point beyond deciding just how many additional US are needed.

  4. #4
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default Texas Hold'em

    We were talking about this last night (me and my Iraqi counterpart) over chai. One of the things I've learned is that if you want to know what is going on, you have to be open to listening to conversations where the dialogue may not be in line with what you think you should be hearing, or would like to hearing – which is why I think its probably going to be a combo of several, but the Iraqis get a vote - it does not matter if we acknowledge they do or not. I also don’t think its going to be nice and clear cut.

    -Feudalistic partitioning will only lead to more trouble - the Kurds just tested the water in Kirkuk, and found it too hot. However, there is some acknowledgment that within the areas they administer, local governments can have "some" autonomy. Nobody is happy if they get left out, nobody really trusts the other enough to believe they will get a fair share of the revenues - oh, and they have their own opinions about "fair" share.

    -Iran is not about to help establish a resurgent, strong Iraq in any shape or form. It is clearly not in their perceived interest - which should tell us something about what Iran really wants. They will however be happy to tell the international community what they want to hear. They will gladly sacrifice 1000s of Iraq's Shia (remember, this is the State that bussed up civilians with hand grenades to the Iraq/Iran front) for the maneuver room to improve their own position. They are currently able to keep Iraqi Shia armed and informed, and as long as Iraq is infighting it prevents any neighborhood competition. They would prefer us to decouple cooperation with the on Iran with the nuclear option - why do we think that is? In truth the two are solidly linked to the pursuit of Iranian power. Iran is very involved in regional politics to serve their own ends, we need to be honest about where ours interests and theirs diverge - it may be from the start point.
    -Syria, might be more willing if it can ever figure out what Iran is really up to, and acknowledge the danger it also poses to them. However, they are so concerned abut Palestine they were willing to cooperate with Iran in resourcing Hezbullah to hurt Israel (also a player in this equation), which to me indicates they will cut off their nose to spite their face.
    -Overall, if I were pursuing help, I'd turn to the border Arab states and Turkey, and quietly suggest that if they do not want to have to deal with an Iranian powerhouse, they'd better use their influence to help stabilize Iraq. Which leads to question of a "strong man"

    -Bringing in a "strongman" may not be as easy as it sounds. First you have to find a guy that is willing and capable. This may not be easy as many candidates have been quietly eliminated - check out the New York Times , November 12, 2006, Pg. 1 article "Sectarian Rifts Foretell Pitfalls Of Iraqi Troops' Taking Control", by Richard A. Oppel Jr. - somebody is setting the conditions and are a couple of steps in front of us. If you do find this guy, the Iraqis may not welcome him with open arms - nobody is going to willingly give up what gains they have made for a guy who may not be an equal opportunity dictator - so its unlikely that the three groups would back a single candidate for Dictator for Life - there is some bad karma associated with the position.


    The United States is going to have to play this game of "Texas Hold'em" (no pun intended ref. Texas ) very close. We will have to call in favors, make some difficult choices, and find out what levers can be pulled to shape this to an acceptable outcome. I've read recently some opinions that our policy must consider first the regional future, and I agree. Too many things depend on the balance of power in the Middle East. Being shortsighted to serve political ends will only mean paying the long term consequences.
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 11-13-2006 at 05:55 AM.

  5. #5
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    Default Like it or not

    Like it or not Iraq's neighbors get a vote, and they have a voice. A voice that will be heard on the battlefield through surrogates, or a voice that could be heard in civil negotiations. We don't go into these conversations with a weak hand, but we will have to go into them.

    Every country that borders Iraq has an interest in a stable Iraq, since instability will eventually cross borders. Very few, if any, countries bordering Iraq has an interest in a democratic Iraq, which is a threat to their regimes, which some think was the purpose of the war to begin with. However, we missed the window of opportunity to achieve this.

    Al-Maliki obviously must go, but the trick is determining how. Do we throw him out? Do we quietly allow an Iraqi military coup? It is obvious that martial law needs to be implemented, and tough security measures implemented. We need carrots (hard to come by where the unemployment in many parts of Iraq exceeds 40 plus percent) and big sticks. Big sticks best carried by Iraqi security forces that are not burdened by our rules based on political correctness instead of necessity.

    As for a time table to withdraw U.S. forces, I think we need to push it hard. We can withdraw from the urban areas to remote desert locations where we can provide a credible military response to any Iraqi forces being overwhelmed. I think the security situation will improve when we pull out, despite all the empty rhetoric to the contrary. Let the Iraqis fight an all out war without our oversight, and they'll get to an end state. Al Qaeda will be desimmated after we pull out by the Iraqis. We are the center of gravity for the hostile forces, we pull out of the urban areas and turn the fight over to the Iraqis, we might take the wind out of their sails.

    As we all know there are no good answers at this point, but I recommend reaching common ground with all of Iraq's neighbors, getting professionals to advise to the Iraqi military and police instead of putting third string NG troops on the MiTTs, invest in the surge of the money and manpower needed to bring the Iraqi Army and police up to an acceptable Arab level (largely based on their previous organizations), then rapidly pull back, then pull out.

    Staying the course sounds nice, but we'll continue to waste human and monetary treasure to no end if we do. There are several other areas in the world that require our attention, we can't afford to let our pride tie us down needlessly.

  6. #6
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    As we all know there are no good answers at this point, but I recommend reaching common ground with all of Iraq's neighbors, getting professionals to advise to the Iraqi military and police instead of putting third string NG troops on the MiTTs, invest in the surge of the money and manpower needed to bring the Iraqi Army and police up to an acceptable Arab level (largely based on their previous organizations), then rapidly pull back, then pull out.
    Most of the TTs are about 50/50. Believe it or not, our 3rd stringers provide balance and some mature perspective that their counterpart AC professionals just don't have (we have not trained nor conditioned them to - its a matter of available resources). They also bring what Marc had referred to as life experiences to the table - when you are dealing with people who have an agenda that is different than yours, you better have some leadership experience that requires getting people to come to a consensus for reasons other then because you rate them.

    There is also the question of where you are going to resource the AC professionals from - as long as its a tasking your QA/QC on AC folks is going to be hit or miss - how many units really give up their best folks for a tasker? No, the problem is less about the people they send, then it is about how we are approaching the train up that puts people from disparate organizations into hastily organized teams and tries to educate them on everything from est. a TCP to political histories & culture in a short span of time. As one of the AC guys on the team, I can tell you that some of the RC guys have acquitted themselves far better then some of their AC contemporaries - professionalism extends beyond component and beyond technical competence. Professionalism originates from commitment.

    As for the part about regional neighbors worrying about Iraq's instability spilling over - I'd say equally important is is the recognition of how they perceive the consequences of the act vs. the perceived benefits. Their actions may not make sense in a western sense, but then again they don't really need to. What is the cost of Iranian assistance in stabilizing Iraq? Does Iran really need to worry about sectarian violence spilling over the border when they have the political, military and religious means to limit it in pursuit of their more primary goals? What do past actions and statements tell us about what Iran is willing to risk? I'm as frustrated as anybody, about the lack of a clean solution, but I am cautious about improving the position of a state whose agenda runs in clear opposition to our own.

    Iran recently ran a series of naval maneuvers in the Persian Gulf on the heels of our own for the purpose of making a statement - they consider the name of that body of water to imply ownership. They will also likely contest the rights to the Caspian in a louder voice as their military capability becomes stronger. They have aligned themselves with Russia and China in order to limit Western influence in the security council by using the promise of favored energy partner and regional influence. I'm not saying we cannot engage them, they do get a vote. I am saying that their motivations may not be what we think they are, just because we see them that way.
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 11-13-2006 at 09:12 AM. Reason: changed HTML tags to quotes

  7. #7
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    Default What The Baker Commission Is Ignoring

    13 November Newsweek commentary - Don't Punt on The Troops Issue by Fareed Zakaria.

    ... Here is the tough question: What are America's objectives in Iraq and how can we achieve them? More bluntly, what is to be done with the roughly 140,000 U.S. troops stationed there? What is their mission? If they have new goals, do these require more Americans or fewer? Not to tackle this issue is to present a doughnut document—all sides and no center.

    In answering this question, we need to keep three factors in mind:

    *This is not our chessboard. The Iraqi government has authority over all the political issues in the country. We may have excellent ideas about federalism, revenue-sharing and amnesty, but the ruling coalition has to agree and then actually implement them. So far, despite our many efforts, they have refused. There is a desperate neoconservative plea for more troops to try one more time in Iraq. But a new military strategy, even with adequate forces, cannot work without political moves that reinforce it. The opposite is happening today. American military efforts are actually being undermined by Iraq's government. The stark truth is, we do not have an Iraqi partner willing to make the hard decisions. Wishing otherwise is, well, wishful thinking.

    *Time is not on America's side. Month by month, U.S. influence in Iraq is waning. Deals that we could have imposed on Iraq's rival factions in 2003 are now impossible. A year ago, America's ambassador to Iraq had real influence. Today he is being marginalized. Thus any new policy that requires new approaches to the neighbors and lengthy negotiations carries the cost associated with waiting.

    *America's only real leverage is the threat of withdrawal. Many outsiders fail to grasp how much political power the United States has handed over in Iraq. The Americans could not partition Iraq or distribute its revenues even if Bush decided to. But Washington can warn the ruling coalition that unless certain conditions are met, U.S. troops will begin a substantial drawdown, quit providing basic security on the streets of Iraq and instead take on a narrower role, akin to the Special Forces mission in Afghanistan.

    And one last thing: for such a threat to be meaningful, we must be prepared to carry it out.
    Much more at the link.

  8. #8
    Council Member Culpeper's Avatar
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    Start using a little common sense and practice some realistic counterinsurgency tactics. Including, providing more information to the public on progress. That would include the rebuilding of Iraq as well as gains and losses against the insurgents. The insurgency should be hit hard and with extreme prejudice. The pressure should be kept up on them.

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    Oh, I will rebut this one.

    i was an OIF I Infantry companay commander. Redeployed summer of '03, went on AC/RC duty and 12 months later was on an AST (later MiTT) from Jan 2005 to Jan 2006. Spent my 12 months training e-brigades for Iraq. That being said, I will now rail against the RC/NG MiTT guys.

    When the Army resourced institutional training divisions to be MiTT's they went further back than the third string. When you have guys who have not been on active duty beyond PME or AT since Nixon was President, you have a problem. Furthermore, these guys constantly chnage MOS's for promotion they really don't know any very well. Example, you are a QM/trand/OD/MSC officer, get career course qualified, then a couple years down the road take the Infantry Captains career course by correspondance and get 11A as an additional skill identifier. The guy goes to Iraq, switches out collar insignia, has his reserve unit buddies staffing MNSTC-I to put him in charge of an Infantry battalion team. damn near gets evrybody killed in Ramadi. NCO's who are 55 years old, night blind, and haven't spent any time in the field (because they are TRADOC backfills) in 15 years. He doesn't know how to work anything on the team because he couldn't retain anything taught to him in the train-up. The reservists made a mess of the intial training program. I had a battalion team chief tell me staright out of the chute that the priorities were teaching the Iraqi's key control, a PY program, and helping them develop an OER system. I poinjted out that we weren't over there teach SIDPERS, MFT, or key control. that is what those jackasses thought we should be focusing on, never mind battle drills, marksmanship, basiic maintenance and actual leadership classes. The 98th DIV was a football bat and so was the 80th DIV. The guys from MTO&E units from the NG was considerably better than the federal reservists from the IT divs. The problem with the NG guys was what they did in their states. Guys who were working in their MOS's were pretty god, especially after getting brought up to speed on equipment. The guys they got out of IG offices and such ahd some issues. There were alot of RC people badge hunting, and they were doing at the expense of the mission. I can give examples, but I will give two. Two Army Reserve LTC's got promoted to COL while over there. The reservists I worked with pointed out that these guys only got promoted because they volunteered to stay in Iraq. One of them had to be forcibly sedated by a Navy corpsman when he lost it at his camp in southern Iraq. The Army Reserve messed the ISF up and I said in 2005 when I was over there that their incompetence probably put the Iraqi's 9 to 12 months behind where they could be.

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    I posted other;

    I would open dialogue with Syria. The Syrians misread alot of indicators out there. I think we should open com's with them as a counter to Iran, who is a regional power. Syria's complicity in the Iraq insurgency is based more on their ineptitude as state tha outright maliciousness. This is based off of some people I know who recently spent considerable time in Syria. furthermore, I think we can focus on some "conventional" military thought. The concept of isolating the objective. We know what areas wracked by violence and what isn't. I would isolate Anbar, Babil, and Baghdad utilizing our advantage to put ring around the area, something along the line of the French policy "quadrillege". I would shift Iraqi units to the bordwe of Anbar and Syria (the Shia ones), I would send the Kurdish unit to the southern border opposite the Iraninan border. If the congress wants to up troop levels to get it done, call up the NG, leave them in the U.S. as a strategic reserve. Send another 3-5 brigades AC to Iraq to assist in the cordon. The lesser populated and travelled region of the desert could be cordoned utilizing sensor and aerial surveillance. Two brigades running patrols to isolate the Anbar broders internal to Iraq. An additional MEB to help clear areas. The remaining Army BCT's would assist in Baghdad. I have more to this, but this is the cliff-notes version.

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    Default Culpepper's realism?

    Once again explain your realistic approach? Share more good news with the Iraqis? Our military has been infiltrated by extremely liberal political correct princes who have the gull to call themselves practical and realistic. Building schools is not good news, when you can't put your kids on a school bus because they're not safe. We failed to defeat the insurgents, stood up an Iraqi government much too quickly (should have a ver stringent martial law in place), and made numerous other mistakes. The quality of life in Iraq has been decreasing month by month, and guess what what guys? That bad news that you think the media is making up, is actually happening on the ground. I guess if we found 75 bodies that were tortured in Dallas yesterday, we would acuse the media of bias reporting if that was the headline news? The media didn't lose this fight, we did. You can build all the schools you like, but until you can provide security (the real issue, thus the real news) you haven't completed squate except wasting tax dollars on some politically correct version of counterinsurgency. This is the Iraqis' fight now, we just have to find a way to transition it to them that is more responsible than the way we got to this point. As for the MiTTs, again I hear political correct leanings, when I see postings that the NG is as good as our active component. When it comes to nation building skills our NG and RC may bring more relevant skills and life experiences, but when it comes to standing up an Army, they can't compare with a soldier who has been doing full time for several years. The Iraqis in many units have lost respect for their MiTTs, because they know more they do. Yes, the pre-mission training was a failure and a "part" of the problem, but if the MiTT is our primary effort to get out of Iraq, then we should send our best people, and of course they'll be kicking and screaming, so be it, too bad, too sad.

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    Default U.S. Has Many Options in Iraq, None Easy

    19 November Los Angeles Times - U.S. Has Many Options in Iraq, None Easy by Paul Richter.

    Go to the link for a listing of five options, the advocates and pros and cons for each option.

  13. #13
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    Default The "Last Big Push" Option

    20 November Christian Science Monitor - U.S. Troop Levels in Iraq May Rise, Then Decline by Howard LaFranchi.

    It's being dubbed by some as the "last big push" option, and it appears increasingly to be what President Bush favors on Iraq.

    Despite growing expectations of a troop withdrawal from Iraq in the wake of Democratic gains in Congress, the White House appears to be leaning in a different direction: at least a temporary rise in US troop levels.

    The numbers would not be huge, perhaps 20,000 on top of the 144,000 US soldiers already fighting the war. But the idea would be to stabilize Baghdad - a priority that has proved dishearteningly elusive since September - and to allow for a major diplomatic push aimed at drawing Iraq's neighbors into resolving the spiraling violence.

    Implicit in the perspective of the officials and experts who see this as a kind of military "Hail Mary" pass is the assumption that a phased reduction of US troops would begin next fall - whether or not Iraq had been brought back from the brink of all-out civil war.

    Some experts who have favored increasing the number of US troops in the past say conditions have deteriorated to such a degree that before any steps are taken, the United States must first differentiate between a knee-jerk act of desperation and something that can really improve the situation in Iraq...

  14. #14
    Council Member Culpeper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Once again explain your realistic approach? Share more good news with the Iraqis? Our military has been infiltrated by extremely liberal political correct princes who have the gull to call themselves practical and realistic. Building schools is not good news, when you can't put your kids on a school bus because they're not safe. We failed to defeat the insurgents, stood up an Iraqi government much too quickly (should have a ver stringent martial law in place), and made numerous other mistakes. The quality of life in Iraq has been decreasing month by month, and guess what what guys? That bad news that you think the media is making up, is actually happening on the ground. I guess if we found 75 bodies that were tortured in Dallas yesterday, we would acuse the media of bias reporting if that was the headline news? The media didn't lose this fight, we did. You can build all the schools you like, but until you can provide security (the real issue, thus the real news) you haven't completed squate except wasting tax dollars on some politically correct version of counterinsurgency. This is the Iraqis' fight now, we just have to find a way to transition it to them that is more responsible than the way we got to this point. As for the MiTTs, again I hear political correct leanings, when I see postings that the NG is as good as our active component. When it comes to nation building skills our NG and RC may bring more relevant skills and life experiences, but when it comes to standing up an Army, they can't compare with a soldier who has been doing full time for several years. The Iraqis in many units have lost respect for their MiTTs, because they know more they do. Yes, the pre-mission training was a failure and a "part" of the problem, but if the MiTT is our primary effort to get out of Iraq, then we should send our best people, and of course they'll be kicking and screaming, so be it, too bad, too sad.

    Once again? I didn't even know there was a previous attempt by you to get me to define, "realistic". You've got so many silly analogies in there that I'm afraid to even attempt to answer your first question. Would you prefer I had used the word "basic" instead of "realistic"? If so, then take a couple of hours and read, "Counterinsurgency Warfare", by David Galula. Your post is a rant.

    Edit:

    If so, then take a couple of hours and [re]read, "Counterinsurgency Warfare", by David Galula.
    Last edited by Culpeper; 11-20-2006 at 12:30 AM. Reason: Emphasis added

  15. #15
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    Default Just getting caught up on this entire thread...

    ... let's all stay on topic and table any personal digs, etc. Thanks.

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    I would shift Iraqi units to the bordwe of Anbar and Syria (the Shia ones), I would send the Kurdish unit to the southern border opposite the Iraninan border.
    Unfortunately, it's this exact force deployment process that has led to high desertion/AWOL rates, and the lack of true combat power. At any given time in month, a third of my TF's Plt (+) of Shewanis (pure Shi'a) wanted to be on leave (for 10 days). It was next to impossible to muster enough forces.

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    Default Pentagon Review Sees Three Options in Iraq

    20 November Washington Post - Pentagon Review Sees Three Options in Iraq by Tom Ricks.

    The Pentagon's closely guarded review of how to improve the situation in Iraq has outlined three basic options: Send in more troops, shrink the force but stay longer, or pull out, according to senior defense officials.

    Insiders have dubbed the options "Go Big," "Go Long" and "Go Home." The group conducting the review is likely to recommend a combination of a small, short-term increase in U.S. troops and a long-term commitment to stepped-up training and advising of Iraqi forces, the officials said.

    The military's study, commissioned by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace, comes at a time when escalating violence is causing Iraq policy to be reconsidered by both the White House and the congressionally chartered, bipartisan Iraq Study Group. Pace's effort will feed into the White House review, but military officials have made it clear they are operating independently...

    "Go Big," the first option, originally contemplated a large increase in U.S. troops in Iraq to try to break the cycle of sectarian and insurgent violence. A classic counterinsurgency campaign, though, would require several hundred thousand additional U.S. and Iraqi soldiers as well as heavily armed Iraqi police. That option has been all but rejected by the study group, which concluded that there are not enough troops in the U.S. military and not enough effective Iraqi forces, said sources who have been informally briefed on the review.

    The sources insisted on anonymity because no one at the Pentagon has been permitted to discuss the review with outsiders. The review group is led by three high-profile colonels -- H.R. McMaster and Peter Mansoor of the Army, and Thomas C. Greenwood of the Marine Corps. None of them would comment for this article...

    "Go Home," the third option, calls for a swift withdrawal of U.S. troops. It was rejected by the Pentagon group as likely to push Iraq directly into a full-blown and bloody civil war.

    The group has devised a hybrid plan that combines part of the first option with the second one -- "Go Long" -- and calls for cutting the U.S. combat presence in favor of a long-term expansion of the training and advisory efforts. Under this mixture of options, which is gaining favor inside the military, the U.S. presence in Iraq, currently about 140,000 troops, would be boosted by 20,000 to 30,000 for a short period, the officials said.

    The purpose of the temporary but notable increase, they said, would be twofold: To do as much as possible to curtail sectarian violence, and also to signal to the Iraqi government and public that the shift to a "Go Long" option that aims to eventually cut the U.S. presence is not a disguised form of withdrawal...

  18. #18
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    Default General Odierno Discusses Goals of His Return to Iraq

    20 November New York Times - General Discusses Goals of His Return to Iraq by Thom Shanker.

    Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, who returns to Iraq next month to take charge of the day-to-day fight as commander of the Multinational Corps-Iraq, says he departs for Baghdad with a clearer, perhaps even diminished, set of expectations of what the military can be expected to accomplish now, more than three years after the invasion.

    “You have to define win, and I think everybody has a different perspective on winning,” General Odierno said during an interview at the Army’s III Corps headquarters here.

    “I would argue that with Saddam Hussein no longer in power in Iraq, that is a partial win,” he said. “I think what we need is an Iraqi government that is legitimate in the eyes of the Iraqi population, an Iraq that is able to protect itself and not be a safe haven for terror. That’s what I think winning is.”...

    “Notice I left out a few things, such as a democracy in the sense that we see a democracy in the United States. We have to allow them to shape their own democracy, the type of democracy that fits them and their country.”

    It has become a truism of the war in Iraq that there can be no military victory without a political solution, which requires the coordinated efforts of the entire United States government and of the Iraqi one, as well.

    “The longer we stay in Iraq, the less of a military fight it becomes,” the general said. “We have to understand that.”...

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    Default

    “I would argue that with Saddam Hussein no longer in power in Iraq, that is a partial win,” he said. “I think what we need is an Iraqi government that is legitimate in the eyes of the Iraqi population, an Iraq that is able to protect itself and not be a safe haven for terror. That’s what I think winning is.”...

    We can’t develop a strategy without an overall achievable objective.

    LTG Odierno's stated objectives liberates us from the stable democracy end state (if it is accepted) which is helpful, but I’m still wrestling with how we “the military” facilitate establishing a government that is seen as legitimate by those it governs and how we deny Iraq from becoming a safe haven for terrorists. I don’t think that the U.S. military can do much more to facilitate these objectives. While drawing parallels can lead to misleading conclusions, it is worth noting that the more stable governments of Columbia, Pakistan, and Philippines as a small example all have large ungoverned areas that are safe havens to various extents for terrorists. How long will it be until the Iraq government is prepared to effectively provide security throughout its entire territory? Saddam couldn’t do it with a large Army and no rules of engagement. While I admire LTG Odierno’s attempt to narrow down the objective to the achievable, I think we need to go back to the drawing board and do the hard, yet basic, work of clarifying our realistic end state objectives.
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 11-22-2006 at 11:39 PM.

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    Default "...the way we did it in Vietnam."

    Gen Wayne A. Downing (USA, Ret) said to Tim Russert, Rep Duncan Hunter (chairman of the House Armed Services Committee), and Rep Ike Skelton (ranking member, House Armed Services commitee) on the November 26, 2006 Meet the Press:

    “But what we don’t want to do, Tim, and, and, and, you know, my congressmen here, don’t let us go out of this thing the way we did it in Vietnam. Let’s not sell these people down the river the way we did the, the, the South Vietnamese. Let’s do this smart.”
    Gen Downing’s heartfelt plea to the congressmen was to avoid a "Vietnam situation" in Iraq and do it the “smart” way. So much of our current national discussion is rightfully about what the Iraqi’s are able to do (or not able to do), what military decisions the US will make regarding force levels, force composition and military strategy and tactics and what Iraqi politics and middle east issues are in play. The one issue that is not given enough discussion time and planning is the deliberate cultivation of a “unified national will.” Leadership decision making is well and good, but unless there is a intentional and effective mobilization of a supportive US constituency, how can any American decision or plan succeed?

    Simply put, any plan regarding Iraq that is not integrated with a successful plan to motivate domestic political support will fail and we will be “doing it” again exactly the way we did “it” in Vietnam.

    This kind of foreign policy that is integrated with domestic politics demands a higher quality of political leadership than the US has had to date. Unless and until the American People have this kind of excellence in domestic political leadership the US will be tragically unequal to the task that is Iraq.

    (http://sundayschoolforsinners.blogspot.com/)

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