View Poll Results: Are winning or losing the Iraq War?

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  • Inevitable: we've lost.

    3 9.09%
  • We're losing, but the end remains uncertain.

    16 48.48%
  • Even so far, both sides in play.

    3 9.09%
  • We're winning, but the end remains uncertain.

    8 24.24%
  • Inevitable: we've won.

    1 3.03%
  • Cannot determine at this time.

    2 6.06%
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Thread: Vote: have we lost in Iraq?

  1. #21
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default We Can Put More Forces in Iraq - and they Would Make a Difference

    4 December issue of the Weekly Standard - We Can Put More Forces in Iraq - and they Would Make a Difference by Frederick Kagan.

    Many months into the debate over finding a new strategy in Iraq, two myths continue to cloud the discussion. The Washington Post recently proclaimed: "The United States and its allies in Iraq would need at least 500,000 and perhaps more than 1 million troops" to bring order to the country. Incoming House majority leader Steny Hoyer declared: "As a practical matter, there are no troops to increase with." Neither of these statements is true. The persistence of these myths forecloses serious consideration of the only option likely to bring peace to Iraq.

    Relevant historical examples do not support the notion that hundreds of thousands more troops are needed to improve security in Iraq. A study of post-conflict operations in the Balkans, Afghanistan, and elsewhere conducted by Ambassador James Dobbins showed that success in those operations--characterized by severe ethnic and sectarian violence--required force ratios of 1 soldier per 100 inhabitants. Iraq poses challenges that are in some respects more severe, at the moment, but it also offers its own rules-of-thumb. Successful clear-and-hold operations in Tal Afar required a force ratio of around 1 soldier (counting both U.S. and Iraqi troops) for every 40 inhabitants. On the other hand, in 2004 Major General Peter Chiarelli suppressed a widespread uprising in Sadr City (an area inhabited by about 2.5 million Shiites) with fewer than 20,000 U.S. soldiers--a ratio of about 1 to 125.

    Then there's the question of the size of the population to be pacified. Most of Iraq is relatively calm. Instances of violence in the Kurdish north and the Shia south are rare. No responsible analyst advocates sending large numbers of troops into either area--they are not needed and would not be welcomed. Disarming the Shia militias is a process that must be undertaken only after the Sunni Arab insurgency is under control, and it cannot be undertaken primarily by American forces directly confronting the Shiite population. Using all of Iraq's 27 million people as a baseline for estimating force ratios is, therefore, an invalid approach.

    The U.S. command repeatedly and correctly points out that about 80 percent of the violence in Iraq occurs within a 35-mile radius of Baghdad, among a population of perhaps 10 million. Baghdad itself has roughly 6.5 million inhabitants, including the 2.5 million Shiites in Sadr City. These figures provide the basis for a more realistic estimate of the force levels needed. Applying the high-end ratio used in Tal Afar over the entire metropolitan Baghdad area would generate a requirement of 250,000 troops--both U.S. and Iraqi. There are currently about 100,000 Iraqi army troops that the U.S. command considers trained and ready. There are almost 150,000 American troops in Iraq now, including perhaps 70,000 combat troops. Conducting Tal Afar-type operations across the entire capital region all at once would require concentrating all available forces in the area and a "surge" of about 80,000 U.S. soldiers--a large number, to be sure, but very far from the "hundreds of thousands" or even "millions" generated by the use of specious historical examples.

    But the situation is not even this dire. Not all areas of the capital region require such an intensive deployment. Indeed, previous successful operations even in Baghdad did not require such high force ratios. What's more, skillful military planners conduct operations in phases, and that is exactly how this one should be prepared and executed. The recent unsuccessful effort to secure Baghdad, Operation Together Forward II, was broken into a series of phases. U.S. and Iraqi troops working together succeeded in clearing the neighborhoods they entered one after the other. But that is not why the operation failed. The problem, according to much anecdotal evidence and the recent testimony of the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, General Michael D. Maples, is that the U.S. military command did not leave American forces behind in the areas that had been cleared. That mistake allowed insurgents to reinfiltrate those neighborhoods and begin the cycle of violence again.

    There is every reason to believe that a reformulated operation, proceeding in phases to clear Baghdad neighborhood by neighborhood, but with sufficient force levels to leave significant American troops behind in the cleared areas, would be much more successful...
    Much more at the link...

  2. #22
    Council Member Culpeper's Avatar
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    The U.S. command repeatedly and correctly points out that about 80 percent of the violence in Iraq occurs within a 35-mile radius of Baghdad, among a population of perhaps 10 million. Baghdad itself has roughly 6.5 million inhabitants, including the 2.5 million Shiites in Sadr City.
    Well than for crying-out-loud, let them kill each other in that radius until they had enough. We're not talking about the entire country of Iraq. It's a 35 mile radius. What we have here is a riot taking place. Send in the LAPD advisors.

  3. #23
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    Default U.S. Didn't Have Enough Troops in Baghdad

    25 November The Australian - U.S. Didn't Have Enough Troops in Baghdad by Kate Legge.

    Australia's Commander-in-Chief, Governor-General Michael Jeffery, believes a lack of troops on the ground in the weeks after the US-led coalition went into Iraq hampered efforts to secure Baghdad.

    In an interview with The Weekend Australian Magazine, Major General Jeffery contrasted early tactics in Iraq with the counter-insurgency campaign he led in Phuoc Tuy province during the Vietnam War. "We were charged with winning the hearts and minds of local people and ensuring they were safe, which is the antithesis of what's happening in Baghdad. People aren't safe," he said.

    Major General Jeffery served in Borneo, Malaya, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam during a 40-year military career.

    As Commander-in-Chief he receives regular briefings from the defence chiefs on troop deployments, not policy.

    He will not say whether Australia's involvement in Iraq is right or wrong because he won't comment on operational matters. However, he defends Australia's intervention in Vietnam.

    "Going in there was right," said Major General Jeffery, who was awarded the Military Cross.

    Reflecting on the initial phase of the Iraqi conflict, in March 2003, the Governor-General said: "There weren't enough soldiers to seal Baghdad off."

    "Because that didn't take place everything went counter to the way the coalition and the Iraqi Government were hoping.

    "A lack of troops, a lack of police, the structures weren't there, the numbers weren't there and this is a vitally important time immediately after the first battles."...

  4. #24
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    Once again they rehash the obvious. Of course more troops should have been there. They were not. We can't turn back time and change that.

    I also agree with Jones_RE about victory. How we define our victory may be meaningless in the context of our enemies' view of victory. The US often seems adrift when victory is something other than (to paraphrase Conan) "to crush our enemies, see them driven before us, and hear the lamentations of their women." If we're pushed out of the total victory plane, we suddenly become clueless.

    Methinks yet again we're spending too much time looking at our definition and not enough looking at that of our enemies.

  5. #25
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    Default U.S. Tests Indirect Approach in Iraq

    25 November Baltimore Sun - U.S. Tests Indirect Approach in Iraq by David Wood.

    Tens of thousands of American troops are shifting from combat operations against insurgents to training, advising and supporting Iraqi security forces in what military officials say will require a long-term U.S. military presence in Iraq.

    Rather than allowing American troops to withdraw to the sidelines, the new campaign will keep them directly in the violent middle ground between Iraq's warring factions, as increasing numbers of soldiers and Marines embed as combat advisers with Iraqi army and paramilitary police units. Already, some 6,000 Americans serve as advisers with Iraqi police units, for instance, in high-risk operations similar to those that have killed 4,000 Iraqi police officers over the past two years.

    The latest strategic phase, which began this fall and will accelerate in the months ahead, may even require a short-term increase from the 141,000 U.S. troops currently serving in Iraq, senior commanders have said.

    In addition to the advisers, thousands of other U.S. troops are directly supporting Iraq's security forces with communications, logistics and transportation expertise, running convoys and maintenance depots, and providing air support and other assistance the Iraqi units need to operate.

    To protect all these American military personnel - the final numbers aren't yet determined - a sizable "force protection package" will be required in Iraq: quick-reaction combat forces, search and rescue teams, and attack and transport helicopters and strike fighters. These U.S. forces, in turn, will require their own maintenance, logistics, medical, administrative and other support...

  6. #26
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    Default What Military

    I hope this strategy works, but I still don't think the main issue is the ability of the Iraqi security forces to fight, rather it is their will. To borrow John Robb's phraseology from his global guerrilla website, the Iraqi people have converted to primary loyalties based on tribe, not nation. Perhaps our embeded advisors will encourage them to fight for Iraq. In a short period of time I guess we'll see.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore
    ... I still don't think the main issue is the ability of the Iraqi security forces to fight, rather it is their will. To borrow John Robb's phraseology from his global guerrilla website, the Iraqi people have converted to primary loyalties based on tribe, not nation...
    I agree 100%. The "lack of will" applies to loyalty to the nation of Iraq taking second place to sectarian/ethnic loyalty among members of the security forces. Unfortunately, with the continuing descent into ever more bitter sectarian conflict, this tendency will continue to expand and fragment the security forces.

    There is no easy solution - we are damn near being caught in a Catch-22.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh View Post
    I agree 100%. The "lack of will" applies to loyalty to the nation of Iraq taking second place to sectarian/ethnic loyalty among members of the security forces. Unfortunately, with the continuing descent into ever more bitter sectarian conflict, this tendency will continue to expand and fragment the security forces.

    There is no easy solution - we are damn near being caught in a Catch-22.
    That goes back to my adage I posed somewhere else on the forum that this is "Counter-Mess" warfare where Catch-22 is the bible and only doctrine. Actually, since the majority of the violence is occurring within about a 35 mile radius I'm beginning to look at this as a major violent riot and perhaps LAPD advisers along with military tactics would be better served. I read somewhere the other day that Iraqi forces sat by and watched as several Sunni Iraqis had petro poured on them and they were set on fire alive. I'm going to assume that the Iraqi forces watching were Shiites. And the violence is increasing in the area. You would think that sooner or later they would get tired of this lifestyle. But what can you do? The Shiites were beat up on for a long time and now these Sunnis are still attacking them. I'm surprised the Shiites haven't been organized enough to create a single majority atrocity similar in nature to Rwanda. There must be some type of security going on to prevent this? I don't know. Saddam certainly was able to create Rwanda style action.

  9. #29
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    Saddam also had several years to get his system running, and I think he did inheirit a functional system of repression. It's rather like Yugoslavia under Tito. He had his "machine" in place by the end of World War II and then kept it clamped down. Once he died, the hands fell away from the levers and things came apart. So with Saddam, even though he's not dead.

  10. #30
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    Default US advisors in Iraq

    I find this is all bit puzzling. Much of the Iraq Army will not fight for the Iraq State, so the US Army sends "advisors."

    What kind of advisors? Philosophers? Mullahs, priests and ministers?

    Who can give men the willingness to die for others? Do we have such people as officers and NCOs in the Army?

  11. #31
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    Default Good point

    Fabius your logic appears correct to me and it seems we're back to the old adage of the definition of insanity is doing the same behavior and expecting a different outcome. In this case we simply need to do more of the same behavior. If it wasn't so tragic it would be a great comedy.

    I guess we put the skill set of Mullah, Priest, Persuader, etc. in the rucksack of the strategic corporal. I can see it now, the politicians in the executive branch are lining up the stars, so they can blame this mess on the military.

    Reference the violence being restricted to Baghdad, this is a spin piece. While the majority of violence is taking place in the vicinity of Baghdad, there is plenty of violence taking place to far to the North and and far to the West, and more to come if Baghdad implodes. The internally displaced person problem that the violence in Baghdad will lead to additional problems far from Baghdad.

    We're shouting at driver who is about to drive his car off the cliff, but the driver has his windows up and his stereo blasting, so he can't hear our warning shouts and he just keeps going toward the abyss. We feel helpless, he (Iraq) is about to die and there is nothing left we can do. We can wake everyone up in the house and have them shout (send more trainers), but he still can't hear us.

    Furthermore insurgency is a form of democracy, as is civil war, it is the people taking collective action for change. We can't stand in front of it, either the Iraqi government provides for the masses, or the masses will replace the government. There are no good guys to support. We feel guilty because we created the conditions that led to this mess, but it is their fight now. What else can we do at this point?
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 11-25-2006 at 10:06 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fabius Maximus View Post
    I find this is all bit puzzling. Much of the Iraq Army will not fight for the Iraq State, so the US Army sends "advisors."

    What kind of advisors? Philosophers? Mullahs, priests and ministers?

    Who can give men the willingness to die for others? Do we have such people as officers and NCOs in the Army?
    When you talking about “Iraqi Army” or “Iraqi Government” or “Iraqi Police” you don’t count WHO those Iraqis ARE!? Shias? Sunni? Maybe not important to you or to hard to find the difference but it is VERY important to them… That’s reason why Iraqi government, police and army are failing… They are majority Shia, involved one way or another in killing Sunnis right now. Plus Shia majority want they state, in which US led invasion help allot I may say. They don’t want to fight for US “dream” state or “Iraqi state”… For me that is core problem.

    Sadly, I will say it is too late to reverse all those bad decisions and mistakes, or willingly made steps, that bring Iraq in such a bloody state of affairs.

  13. #33
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    Default who are the "Iraq Army"

    Good points, with which I agree.

    When we look at units of the US Army, we no longer sort them by loyalty. New Yorkers over there! Catholics over there! Afro-americans there! Of course, it took generations to lose those loyalties, but even at the founding there was loyalty to the nation-state.

    Without that greater loyalty, building an army becomes difficult. Esp. an army whose primary task is to fight and kill “their” own people -- a vital note usually overlooked in these discussions.

    Unfortunately it is worse than just Shiite vs. Sunni. There are equally strong ethnic divisions in Iraq.

    I believe the only national Army indigenous to Iraq is the Kurdish Peshmerga. Many or most accounts of effective fighting by the “Iraq Army” are no such thing, but by the Peshmerga fighting Arabs and Turkman. I doubt they are fighting for an “Iraq” state.

  14. #34
    Council Member Ray Levesque's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tc2642 View Post
    Trouble with that analysis is that public support was lost in Vietnam and has been lost in Iraq, pretty much game set and match for the insurgents. I am sure the military would have wanted to keep the conflict going, but without the support of the people it's a moot point. The Hearts and mind's strategy was needed at the beginning of the (Iraq) conflict, while it may have some small impact now, I think its a case of shutting the gate after the horse has bolted.
    First I think we'd both agree there's more than one factor in winning or losing, and that "public opinion" is only a single factor. However, sticking to the "public opinion" factor -- I do agree that it's down, but I also believe it can be regained. The problem is that there is a perceived lack of success in Iraq and the administration's primary message for the last six-eight months has been "stay the course." (Yes, I know the phrase has been deleted from the administration’s vocabulary, but the reality is that an alternative to "stay the course" has yet to be articulated.

    In order to regain public opinion a new strategy has to be identified, so people can believe change is coming, and we need to play the "information war" better. There are bright spots, and the reality is that the violence is mostly confined to 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces IIRC.

    However, as long as we don't change the way we do business and as long as anecdotal evidence without context is presented as reality in the press, we will continue to have a public opinion problem.
    Ray

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    [QUOTE=Ray Levesque;6217]However, sticking to the "public opinion" factor -- I do agree that it's down, but I also believe it can be regained. The problem is that there is a perceived lack of success in Iraq and the administration's primary message for the last six-eight months has been "stay the course." ... In order to regain public opinion a new strategy has to be identified, so people can believe change is coming, ...QUOTE]

    "Perceived lack of success"? Quite an optimistic formulation!

    I agree that a new strategy is needed. Here is the opening for part II of my Iraq Sitrep (now in the hands of the DNI editing team, as they munch leftover turkey in the secret bunker) Comments greatly appreciated!

    How can we tell that we have lost in Iraq?

    * The cost in money? Perhaps a trillion dollars, including the costs of not only the war but also the long tail of post-war costs – in essence, borrowed from the Central Banks of Asian and OPEC nations.

    * The cost in blood? Almost four years of war have resulted in thousands of Coalition dead, hundreds of thousands of dead Iraq civilians, and countless more wounded and disabled.

    Neither are reliable indicators. More significant is the total disconnect between our tactics and strategy. That is, our daily actions in Iraq produce no good long-term outcome – and the war’s proponents have no reasonable ideas how to achieve victory.

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    The “best” solution for US (if you pay attention I am saying for US, not Iraq or everybody) would be to divide Iraq in 3 parts for easier control and conquer. But, that’s not what Some Iraqi wants. Division will just lead to more war after… Plus, I do believe neither Iran neither any other nation around wish for division of Iraq (no matter how much some of American Congress would prefer to see “Balkan Solution”).

    But, Middle East and Iraq it’s a different game… That’s cradle of civilization and source of Islamic dream for great Islamic Caliphate (was true and not a dream in one point of time). Going in without those knowledge of history, religious or ethnicity/tribe customs and differences was big mistake… Mistake that US lead coalition made but Iraqi paying with they lives enough brutal and bloody that many now saying it was better under Saddam!?

  17. #37
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    Default Want a used car?

    Ray you could sell ice to Eskimos, I loved your approach "the insurgency is only in 14 of 18 provinces". So the insurgency is "only" in 78% percent of Iraq's provinces?

    I'm not convinced that the American people should support a conflict without a viable strategy. As stated above the dollar cost is astronomical, and we're sacrificing America's finest to no end.

    I think at the moment we have two options. Option one: Prepare for the loss of central government in Iraq and start planning on how to mitigate the negative effects on our allies and our national interests. What does that mean to our allies in the region and beyond the region? How do we help them? I can't help but think some of this radicalism will cross the borders into Saudi. Saudi has actually done a decent job lately on cracking down on their extremists, now they have severe border problem. NASA we have a problem, most of the world's oil supply is exposed to extremist attacks now, or in extremist hands in the case of Chavez in S. America. This option allows us to focus our military efforts on other important areas where we can make progress. Since AQ is reportedly moving into N. Africa next, we should be there waiting for them as one example.

    Option two: We don't want to lose Iraq because it will destablize the entire region, but sending more trainers won't fix it. It is a training problem, they won't fight period for this government, so we need to get rid of the government. Hopefully there is an ambitious Iraqi General who wants to save his country, and we need to turn a blind eye to any coup attempts (it is Iraqi business, not ours). I know it isn't PC, but this is a war. I also know it goes contrary to the neocon dream of one big happy democracy in Iraqi that would then spread throughout the Middle East. We need to get over it, and focus on our real national security interests, not democratizing the Middle East. In return for allowing a strong arm government (perhaps military) to take the lead we may get a reasonably stable Iraq that doesn't threaten its neighbors and helps stabilize our (the West, India, China) access to oil. We probably need to pull out shortly after the coup, because the way they are going to stabilize the country won't fall in line with our ROE.

    I'm sure smarter guys will come up with other options, but my simple mind has narrowed it down to chaos which equals regional instability or a strong arm government that brutally restores order. Saddam? No, another butthead. Doing a little bad to do a lot of good.

    In time we could work with the government and attempt to direct them towards democracy, but first and foremost security, then economic development, then we'll talk about the government.

  18. #38
    Council Member Ray Levesque's Avatar
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    Default Slap in the head!!

    Ok, first, I'm a gonna' slap myself in the head...I meant to say that 14 of 18 provinces are insurgent free for the most part....darn, I hate it when I do that. :-)

    As for the strategy thing and keeping in mind that I was only discussing the issue of "public opinion"....I definitely agree we need a new strategy. As I mentioned, the "stay the course" strategy is a failure. If we continue doing the same we can expect the same results. If we want different results, we have to do something different.

    As for the 4 of 18 provinces with serious insurgent problems....I don't want to minimize the issue, but not all the provinces require the same "strategy" or the same number of troops.

    I do believe the bottom line is this -- unless the people of Iraq feel secure; unless they feel they can support the government today without having to worry about the radicals taking revenge on them tomorrow any strategy will fail. It is about security. The military must have the numbers required to provide a security screen behind which the government can provide social services, insfrastructure development, power, safe shopping, garbage disposal, etc.

    Unfortunately this is not easy. The government must provide security 24x7 and you can't do this with raids and short term military actions.
    Ray

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Levesque View Post
    unless the people of Iraq feel secure; unless they feel they can support the government today without having to worry about the radicals taking revenge on them tomorrow .
    What radicals?

    Iraq has ethnic divisions. Arab vs. Kurd vs. Turkman. It has religious division, obviously. But whatis the basis for assuming that the fighters are not mainstream representatives of these groups?

    There are foreign elements, which I agree can be considered "radical", but most sources consider them marginal at this point (although perhaps important in setting Iraq afire).

    Also, what is this Iraq "government" of which you speak?

    Unfortunately, there is no longer an Iraq polity, no political structure holding the allegiance of Iraq army and police. There are only regional, ethnic, and/or religious leaders.

    The Green Zone placeholders pretending to be a government are mostly either representatives of these groups or colonial satraps. We pretend that there is an Iraq government so that we have something through which to implement our policies.

    The US can give Prime Minister al-Maliki air power, but not what he most needs: legitimacy in the eyes of the Iraq people.

    There may no longer even be either an Iraq State or Nation, just a brightly colored space on our maps.

    Reassembling its shards is a task for Iraq’s people; doing so is beyond our power and ability. Hoping for Iraq to reappear is a dream, not a strategy.

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    They [radicals] are self sustaining through illegal activities such as smuggling, kidnapping, corrupt charity, counterfeiting, and so forth. I find it hard to believe that you think Iraq has a pretend government when countries like Syria and Iran are holding summits with it. Not to mention that the United Nation has recognized it. But you can't approach this problem with a flair of history and op/ed aspersion. No offense.

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