Results 1 to 5 of 5

Thread: Stratfor's Approach to OIF phase 5,6,7?

  1. #1
    Council Member Ironhorse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    DC
    Posts
    96

    Default Stratfor's Approach to OIF phase 5,6,7?

    Does the option for policy in Iraq recommended by Stratfor in recent analysis provide the practical bridge for realistic policies considering geo-politcal realities, allowing this to become a less-military intervention?

    I think the following post from jcustis, deep in the Kilcullen thread, succinctly puts the fundamental issues of (non)alignment between the parties in the Iraqi "government."
    I think we've done all we can to advance this idea marct...the walls we are banging our head against is the fact the the various parties aren't buying what we are selling. For the Kurds, the future of Iraq remains semi-autonomous rule in the north. For the Shi'a, the future is an ascendency of power aligned with Sadr in Baghdad, and Sistani in the south, with a bit of help from Iran where necessary. For the Sunni of Al Anbar, they probably see their best future as an Anbar operating in a semi-autonomous realm as well.
    I outlined the Stratfor recommendation in my post in the "thoughts on a surge" thread, but it didn't seem to stick. Maybe poor timing, maybe my post sucked more than I thought. The meat of it re-stated here, summarizing the approach:

    ----------
    [I ponder whether the original US objectives in Iraq are] now feasible, and if so, what actions are necessary to gain and maintain the large surge needed to establish the presence that enables that security, and whether the resultant risks elsewhere in the GWOT and global environment are worth taking. Can we / should we go big enough, long enough?

    Still getting my head around the Stratfor Special Report, U.S. Options in Iraq, I recently read. I read a hard copy via a subscribed compadre, I don't know if it is available on the web via their free trial, it was one of their premuim reports.

    If I can do their analysis justice in this short summary, their assessment -- which is about the only one that has rocked me off my "we must win" position -- is as follows:
    • We don't have the forces to sustain a strategically significant surge.
    • We can't just leave and let the place implode (as Iran wins too much)
    • We can't just stay the course (not winning, slippery slope to losing).
    • We don't have any real allies left on the ground. (that make a difference)
    • Iran, not just Iraq and not really anyone else, is the key. And their influence (but not control) over Iraqi Shia.
    • Iraqi forces do not need training, they need loyalty and alignment of interests. We can't provide that.

    The fallback objective becomes CONTAIN Iranian power and PREVENT their regional hegemony, with the caveat that since we've screwed up as much as we have so far, they're going to gain a little status/power. Just stop them from gaining too much. If we shoot the moon in Iraq, we might lose and let Iran win big in the region.

    The tactics they propose:
    • Withdraw U.S. forces to containment positions:
    • Bulk in southern Iraq, in Shiite territory (watching them, esp for Iran influence) and buffering Shiite / Iran influence from Saudi Arabia.
    • Smaller force w/ Kurds (they have more organic capability, and aren't main effort)
    • Let the Sunnis have Al Anbar. Influence through diplomacy and local partners, esp. Saudia Arabia. Dicey, but less so than some of the other diplomatic miracles we're counting on.
    • Let the Iraqis solve their own problems, in a contained, mitigated environment. Maybe still ugly, but lightest shade of gray feasible.
    They suggest we should not maintain our myriad strongpoints anywhere but in the relative safety of our buffer zones, but note there will be political pressure to do so far more than makes sense. Compromise suggested is BIAP only.

    So...at first it pissed me off as defeatist. But the more I mull it over, the more I like it. What do you think?

  2. #2
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    3,098

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ironhorse
    ...The tactics they propose:
    • Withdraw U.S. forces to containment positions:
    • Bulk in southern Iraq, in Shiite territory (watching them, esp for Iran influence) and buffering Shiite / Iran influence from Saudi Arabia.
    • Smaller force w/ Kurds (they have more organic capability, and aren't main effort)
    • Let the Sunnis have Al Anbar. Influence through diplomacy and local partners, esp. Saudia Arabia. Dicey, but less so than some of the other diplomatic miracles we're counting on.
    • Let the Iraqis solve their own problems, in a contained, mitigated environment. Maybe still ugly, but lightest shade of gray feasible.
    They suggest we should not maintain our myriad strongpoints anywhere but in the relative safety of our buffer zones, but note there will be political pressure to do so far more than makes sense. Compromise suggested is BIAP only.

    So...at first it pissed me off as defeatist. But the more I mull it over, the more I like it. What do you think?
    It is not just defeatist; it is a set-up for a melt-down. It gives Iran more credit than it is due, and thus recommends devoting more resources than necessary to that aspect of the situation. And by essentially abandoning Al-Anbar to the bad guys it negates any real possibility of the "Iraqis solving their own problems". What about the cross-border infil of bad guys and operations of clandestine support networks from Syria, Jordan & Saudi Arabia? And I'm not talking just foreign fighters - Syria, especially, has a large Iraqi Sunni Arab expat population that it is doing little to monitor and control. Funny, given the general nature of the Syrian police-state...

    I suggest taking a read of Looking Beyond a Surge: The Tests a New US Strategy in Iraq Must Meet, by Cordesman at CSIS. Although not as "prescriptive" as StratFor attempts to be, it is far more insightful in its analysis.
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 01-08-2007 at 04:44 PM.

  3. #3
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    4,818

    Default

    Ironhorse, The Stratfor plan looks a lot like what Westhawk was recommending. I do not have access to the full Stratfor document but from what you have posted it is very close. How successful it would be I have know idea, but it appears they were thinking along the same lines. RTK did an analysis of the Westhawk plan on another thread pointing out some weaknesses.

  4. #4
    Council Member Ironhorse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    DC
    Posts
    96

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh View Post
    I suggest taking a read of Looking Beyond a Surge: The Tests a New US Strategy in Iraq Must Meet, by Cordesman at CSIS. Although not as "prescriptive" as StratFor attempts to be, it is far more insightful in its analysis.
    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    Ironhorse, The Stratfor plan looks a lot like what Westhawk was recommending. I do not have access to the full Stratfor document but from what you have posted it is very close. How successful it would be I have know idea, but it appears they were thinking along the same lines. RTK did an analysis of the Westhawk plan on another thread pointing out some weaknesses.
    Jedburgh, got it. Slapout, I believe you're referring to this post in this thread. Thanks both for expanding my view. Need something to read this afternoon, as the Pats are going to put a whoopin' on in 1st quarter, and it will be all over.

  5. #5
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    SOCAL
    Posts
    2,152

    Default

    Ironhorse,

    I'd intended to weigh in on the Stratfor mention in your reply, but don't know why I never got around to it.

    -Withdraw U.S. forces to containment positions:
    Bulk in southern Iraq, in Shiite territory (watching them, esp for Iran influence) and buffering Shiite / Iran influence from Saudi Arabia.
    -Smaller force w/ Kurds (they have more organic capability, and aren't main effort)
    -Let the Sunnis have Al Anbar. Influence through diplomacy and local partners, esp. Saudia Arabia. Dicey, but less so than some of the other diplomatic miracles we're counting on.
    -Let the Iraqis solve their own problems, in a contained, mitigated environment. Maybe still ugly, but lightest shade of gray feasible.
    I'd actually argue that we have essentially been in containment positions for the past three years, because a lot of operational employment has been containment in nature. I think I brought this up on the SWC before, but I sat in on a relief-in-place in-brief from the outgoing task force to my task force commander and staff. One of the statements made by the battalion commander was very telling. To paraphrase him, he said, "This agricultural area down here is full of bad guys. We don't go down here because you're guaranteed to get IED'd on these restrictive roads." Confused and pissed off is an understatement. Last time I checked, we were supposed to go after the bad guys and deal with the people. Now I understand the pressure that the Bn cmdr faced, because his primary mission was not winning hearts and minds, but ensuring that a LOC remained open for coalition movement. He could not effectively conduct operations to deal with the threat to his piece of the LOC, because he did not have enough troops (and those he did have were tasked poorly, in my opinion) to do more than site forces at OPs along the side of the highway, hoping to catch IED layers in the process.

    Moving to so called "buffer areas" is definitely a recipe for disaster, especially if we were to do so for force protection aims. That's part of our current problem as well...we've been so worried (and to some degree, rightly so) about wrapping troops in pillows that we've made them less effective at the business of engaging the population. I'll have to provide examples down the road, but tha's always been a burn with me.

    I don't know what they want us to do from these buffer positions, but if I had to move, say an infantry battalion, from one of these zones and travel 100 km to deal with a flare up where the ISF need help to mitigate the bad guys, I'm back in Street Without Joy mode. It's already bad enough because we cannot secure 100% of our LOCs. If we would be expected to orient outwards toward Iran and Syria, from these buffer positions, then the ISF would have take the lead on all their operations. Are they capable of that yet? If not, then when? The Stratfor assessment would have to wait until we've hit that benchmark.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •