View Poll Results: Frederick Kagan's Plan for Iraq?

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Thread: Victory in Iraq

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  1. #1
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Sep 2005
    Largo, Florida

    Default Victory in Iraq

    25 December edition of the Weekly Standard - 'We're Going to Win' by Fred Barnes.

    It turns out you only have to attend a White House Christmas party to find out where President Bush is headed on Iraq. One guest who shook hands with Bush in the receiving line told him, "Don't let the bastards get you down." Bush, slightly startled but cheerful, replied, "Don't worry. I'm not." The guest followed up: "I think we can win in Iraq." The president's reply was emphatic: "We're going to win." Another guest informed Bush he'd given some advice to the Iraq Study Group, and said its report should be ignored. The president chuckled and said he'd made his position clear when he appeared with British prime minister Tony Blair. The report had never mentioned the possibility of American victory. Bush's goal in Iraq, he said at the photo-op with Blair, is "victory."

    Now Bush is ready to gamble his presidency on a last-ditch effort to defeat the Sunni insurgency and establish a sustainable democracy in Iraq. He is prepared to defy the weary wisdom of Washington that it's too late, that the war in Iraq is lost, and that Bush's lone option is to retreat from Iraq as gracefully and with as little loss of face as possible. Bush only needed what his press secretary, Tony Snow, called a "plan for winning." Now he has one.

    It's not to be found among the 79 recommendations of Jim Baker's Iraq Study Group. The ISG report was tossed aside by the White House. Nor was the scheme leaked by the Pentagon last week ever close to being adopted. That plan would pull thousands of American troops out of a combat role and turn them into trainers of the Iraqi army. The result would be increased sectarian violence and an Iraqi army not yet equipped to quash the swelling insurgency-leading to a gap of time in which there would likely be a further--probably fatal--collapse of civic order in Baghdad, and then elsewhere in Iraq.

    Last Monday Bush was, at last, briefed on an actual plan for victory in Iraq, one that is likely to be implemented. Retired General Jack Keane, the former vice chief of staff of the Army, gave him a thumbnail sketch of it during a meeting of five outside experts at the White House. The president's reaction, according to a senior adviser, was "very positive." Authored by Keane and military expert Frederick W. Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute, the plan (which can be read at is well thought-out and detailed, but fundamentally quite simple. It is based on the idea--all but indisputable at this point--that no political solution is possible in Iraq until security is established, starting in Baghdad. The reverse--a bid to forge reconciliation between majority Shia and minority Sunni--is a nonstarter in a political environment drenched in the blood of sectarian killings.

    Why would the Keane-Kagan plan succeed where earlier efforts failed? It envisions a temporary addition of 50,000 troops on the ground in Iraq. The initial mission would be to secure and hold the mixed Baghdad neighborhoods of Shia and Sunni residents where most of the violence occurs. Earlier efforts had cleared many of those sections of the city without holding them. After which, the mass killings resumed. Once neighborhoods are cleared, American and Iraqi troops in this plan would remain behind, living day-to-day among the population. Local government leaders would receive protection and rewards if they stepped in to provide basic services. Safe from retaliation by terrorists, residents would begin to cooperate with the Iraqi government. The securing of Baghdad would be followed by a full-scale drive to pacify the Sunni-majority Anbar province...
    14 December American Enterprise Institute - Choosing Victory: A Plan for Sucess in Iraq by Frederick Kagan.

    Victory is still an option in Iraq. America, a country of 300 million people with a GDP of $12 trillion, and more than one million soldiers and marines can regain control of Iraq, a state the size of California with a population of 25 million and a GDP under $100 billion.

    Victory in Iraq is vital to America’s security. Defeat will lead to regional conflict, humanitarian catastrophe, and increased global terrorism.

    Iraq has reached a critical point. The strategy of relying on a political process to eliminate the insurgency has failed. Rising sectarian violence threatens to break America’s will to fight. This violence will destroy the Iraqi government, armed forces, and people if it is not rapidly controlled.

    Victory in Iraq is still possible at an acceptable level of effort. We must adopt a new approach to the war and implement it quickly and decisively.

    Three courses of action have been proposed. All will fail.

    • Withdraw immediately. This approach will lead to immediate defeat. The Iraqi Security Forces are entirely dependent upon American support to survive and function. If U.S. forces withdraw now, they will collapse and Iraq will descend into total civil war that will rapidly spread throughout the region.
    • Engage Iraq’s neighbors. This approach will fail. The basic causes of violence and sources of manpower and resources for the warring sides come from within Iraq. Iraq’s neighbors are encouraging the violence, but they cannot stop it.
    • Increase embedded trainers dramatically. This approach cannot succeed rapidly enough to prevent defeat. Removing U.S. forces from patrolling neighborhoods to embed them as trainers will lead to an immediate rise in violence. This rise in violence will destroy America’s remaining will to fight, and escalate the cycle of sectarian violence in Iraq beyond anything an Iraqi army could bring under control.

    We must act now to restore security and stability to Baghdad. We and the enemy have identified it as the decisive point.

    There is a way to do this.

    • We must change our focus from training Iraqi soldiers to securing the Iraqi population and containing the rising violence. Securing the population has never been the primary mission of the U.S. military effort in Iraq, and now it must become the first priority.
    • We must send more American combat forces into Iraq and especially into Baghdad to support this operation. A surge of seven Army brigades and Marine regiments to support clear-and-hold operations starting in the Spring of 2007 is necessary, possible, and will be sufficient.
    • These forces, partnered with Iraqi units, will clear critical Sunni and mixed Sunni-Shi’a neighborhoods, primarily on the west side of the city.
    • After the neighborhoods have been cleared, U.S. soldiers and marines, again partnered with Iraqis, will remain behind to maintain security.
    • As security is established, reconstruction aid will help to reestablish normal life and, working through Iraqi officials, will strengthen Iraqi local government.

    This approach requires a national commitment to victory in Iraq:

    • The ground forces must accept longer tours for several years. National Guard units will have to accept increased deployments during this period.
    • Equipment shortages must be overcome by transferring equipment from non-deploying active duty, National Guard, and reserve units to those about to deploy. Military industry must be mobilized to provide replacement equipment sets urgently.
    • The president must request a dramatic increase in reconstruction aid for Iraq. Responsibility and accountability for reconstruction must be assigned to established agencies. The president must insist upon the completion of reconstruction projects. The president should also request a dramatic increase in CERP funds.
    • The president must request a substantial increase in ground forces end strength. This increase is vital to sustaining the morale of the combat forces by ensuring that relief is on the way. The president must issue a personal call for young Americans to volunteer to fight in the decisive conflict of this age.
    • Failure in Iraq today will require far greater sacrifices tomorrow in far more desperate circumstances.

    Committing to victory now will demonstrate America’s strength to our friends and enemies around the world...

  2. #2
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Dec 2005

    Default Yeeeee!!!!!! Haaaaaw!!!!!!

    It is about damn time somebody said this is what we need to do!!!! He must have read the manual on Physical Security that is the real Center of Gravity.

  3. #3
    Council Member CPT Holzbach's Avatar
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    Oct 2005

    Default Hell yeah.

    Goddam right. Im skeptical that the military will actually secure the people properly. Id bet anything they'll just increase the number of patrols without having them stay with the poeple. But if they actually established a CAP like strategy over there, I would be the first to volunteer to be re-activated and demand a demotion to 2LT. I would sell my soul to be a part of that. This is the first piece of writing in the media Ive seen in a long time that actually gives me some hope.
    "The Infantry’s primary role is close combat, which may occur in any type of mission, in any theater, or environment. Characterized by extreme violence and physiological shock, close combat is callous and unforgiving. Its dimensions are measured in minutes and meters, and its consequences are final." - Paragraph 1-1, FM 3-21.8: Infantry Rifle PLT and SQD.

    - M.A. Holzbach

  4. #4
    Council Member
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    Oct 2005

    Default PRC must be the main effort

    PRC measures are intended to separate the population from the insurgents, or the insurgents from the population (there is a difference in my opinion), or both, and the "the" key to PRC is providing effective security to the populace. If you can't protect them, you can't effectively influence them. Speaking as if I was an Iraqi citizen (out of complete ignorance) my loyalty doesn't go to the U.S. military tribe because they build a well or a school in my village, but to the tribe that will kill my family if I don't comply with their wishes. Now if the U.S. military could protect my family 24/7, and still build those wells and schools, it would a completely different story.

    I am not sure how to categorize PRC, but at this moment I'm going to call it a line of operation (LOO). A LOO that must be the main effort in Iraq and Afghanistan, as it should have been in any COIN, Stability and Support Operations, Peace Enforcement (Haiti, Liberia, Bosnia, Kosovo, etc.), or the majority of other irregular warfare or 4GW environments we find ourselves in, and yet there is a serious dearth of information in our military manuals (please prove me wrong) on how to implement PRC. All I have found to date are short annexes or a couple of paragraphs in various military publications, which is definitely not enough to develop an effective training program. I fully realize that PRC is situation specific and there cannot be a cookie cutter approach, but we can do better than this. Perhaps this is what we have failed miserably at it, especially protecting the local population? Worse, if we’re not successful at PRC, all the others fail, because it their success depends on successful PRC. If there is a center of gravity in this war, then this may be it (those who have read my previous posts will notice a change of attitude here), and it transcends tactical through strategic.

    We obviously need more troops to do this, but it isn't just man power, we need troops well trained in PRC. The worst thing we could do is put a bunch of poorly trained and ill disciplined U.S. troops amongst the Iraqi population where every misstep will be exploited successfully by our foes. Well trained in what? Obviously cultural awareness is critical along with some language skills, and then a heavy dose of PRC skills. Again how do we train for it? How important is this mission? In my opinion if we get it right we have a good chance at victory, if we don't we can't win.

    CPT Holzbach I admire your muddy boots, common sense perspective, and would appreciate it if you (and others) would please read my request for information on population and resource control (PRC) measures under request for information category (note, my actual post is now the 5th one down) and comment on it as you see fit.

    P.S. Slapout, thanks for the tip, I'll get a copy of the physcial security manual this week.


  5. #5
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Default Wrong target

    This plan is attacking strength with strength. We hit the militias and the insurgents right smack in the middle of the biggest city in the country. This is the rough equivalent of charging dug in machine guns with unsupported infantry - like they did at the Somme. We take the worst possible troops for the job (American heavy brigades), and send them unsupported into the enemy's best environment against their best fighters. The operational environment in Baghdad is hugely favorable to insurgents, al Qaeda and Shi'ite militias or they wouldn't be there.

    A better approach would be to support our attack properly with money and language support - and to make that attack in a place where the enemy is weak.

  6. #6
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Dec 2005


    Bill, go to small wars journal library, go to security and stability section, download multi service ttp's for peace ops (manual has no number just title)
    go to section 3 for ops design for good overview.

    Go to the army digital library and you can down load the fm3-19.30 on physical security, also mission training plans are there. I can not access these but you can.

    PS if you don't mind sending me an address (you can PM me) I have more stuff I can send you but they are physical documents, so they would have to go snail mail.

  7. #7
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005

    Default Found it

    Slapout you're the heat, this is an excellent reference for starting a program, and I now recall reviewing these TTPs a few years back when I working on another contingency. I'll download the Physical Security Manual next.

    Jones RE, I don't want to guess what your position is, can you please expand on your thoughts? I think I agree up to a point, but I believe the reality is the local population must be protected. In some cases, that may require rather large, yet semi-surgical, sweep operations to clear the area of insurgents. After that we have to stay and secure the people, or we will lose them again. This is for areas where insurgents coerce support.

    It is a different challenge when the insurgents are willingly supported by the local population, as appears to be the case in some of the Shi'a neighborhoods. In that case we need to isolate those areas, and aggressively as possible control everything entering and exiting (manpower intensive, and it won't be perfect), to include fuel, electric power, information, food, water, etc. If we can do it, we're then in a position to try using carrots and sticks to persuade the population. If this fails (war is hell), then "perhaps" we can attempt a mass relocation program of the non-reformists? I realize that none of these options are easy, and some, perhaps all, may not even be possible, I simply throw them out as food for thought.

    However, confronting their strength with ours (if we're willing to do the tough work, and make some tough decisions) just may be effective, as we are stronger, so we shouldn't hesitate to use our strength (our asymmetric advantage) if it is an effective option.

    What other options/strategies would you recommend?

    Do you disagree that protecting the local population is essential to winning this conflict? If so, why?

    Thanks, Bill


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