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Thread: We Didn't Kill Enough Iraqis?

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    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Default We Didn't Kill Enough Iraqis?

    If I understand Maj Gen Dunlap's argument here, we could have prevented the Iraq insurgency if we'd only allowed the Air Force to kill more Iraqis during the conventional campaign.

    Can another 'Iraq' be prevented?

    What has not been analyzed much is the way major combat operations (MCO) were conducted and the effect of this on the subsequent insurgency. Thinking about a potential insurgency is vitally important....

    Unfortunately, during MCO for Iraq, airpower was not permitted to completely crush insurgent potentialities. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, then Central Command commander Army General Tommy Franks elected to cut the air attacks short in favor of an early start to ground operations, reportedly out of concern (later proven to be unfounded) that the Iraqis were destroying their oil fields...

    There is, perhaps, a counterinsurgency lesson here that runs completely counter to the philosophy, “the less force the better,” that pervades FM 3-24. Some societies are only prepared for radical change after they consider themselves truly defeated. William R. Weir offers in Turning Points in Military History (2005), his conclusion that “f the enemy population does not accept defeat, you can’t win until you kill every last person in that enemy population.”

    To reiterate, no one is suggesting that innocent civilians should be made the object of attack. Rather, it is merely to say that Operation Iraqi Freedom’s too-rapid transition from the air assault, which the coalition was conducting effectively and with impunity, to the ground campaign that stretched hastily established lines of communication to the point of vulnerability, permitted enemy forces to secure some success. That success, however meager, may have had a more seriously negative impact on the ultimate outcome than was apparent at the time...



    Oh my!

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Curtis LeMay lives on.....
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    From later in the same piece:
    Norman Friedman alludes to this in a fascinating essay published in the U.S. Naval Institute’s Proceedings in 2004. [8] In it Friedman discusses the air assault on Germany during World War II that psychologically crushed the population, and points out that the Nazi resistance movement “smoldered for some years” but died out because the bombing forced Germans to consider themselves “defeated and occupied.”

    Friedman concedes that bombing did “not change necessarily the hearts and minds” of the German people “but it did help preclude any post-surrender violence like what is now being seen in Iraq .” He rhetorically asks the question whether modern war has gotten “too precise.” The suggestion is that the insurgency took root, paradoxically, because “the kind of dramatic military victory achieved in 2003 was counterproductive precisely because it was so clean.”
    And I suppose the ground invasion and occupation of Berlin by the Soviets had nothing to do with it? Or the presence of occupying troops for many years after 1945? Bombing does not force a population to consider itself "occupied": being OCCUPIED does that.

    I'll second Steve's oh my.....
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz
    Oh my!
    ....but Steve, he cites a bit of your writing to support his argument:
    ....Consider the observation of Profs. Steven Metz and Raymond Millen, in their monograph Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in the 21 st Century: Reconceptualizing Threat and Response, that during the past century most insurgencies failed.[4] Why did they fail? Because, Metz and Millen argue, the “majority were crushed before they developed a critical mass of skill and support".
    Of course, it is a selective quote - a phrase out of a sentence out of context.....

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    Norman Friedman alludes to this in a fascinating essay published in the U.S. Naval Institute’s Proceedings in 2004. [8] In it Friedman discusses the air assault on Germany during World War II that psychologically crushed the population, and points out that the Nazi resistance movement “smoldered for some years” but died out because the bombing forced Germans to consider themselves “defeated and occupied.”
    Ahh, the good ol' days of firebombing Dresden... (etc)

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    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh View Post
    ....but Steve, he cites a bit of your writing to support his argument:

    Of course, it is a selective quote - a phrase out of a sentence out of context.....
    The citation is how I found the essay. I self-Google often (even though I've been told that will cause hair to grown on my palms).

    The reference is Air Force IO--since, unlike the Air Force, the Army actually encourages contrarian thinking from within in, he uses such contrarian thinking to try and delegitimize the Army position (which, as so astutely phrased above, holds that occupation actually entails occupation, not servicing a target and then playing the back nine).

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    airpower was not permitted to completely crush insurgent potentialities
    Since everything and everyone is an "Insurgent potentiality", I guess carpet bombing Tehran is now on the agenda? "Insurgent potentiality" is a meaningless term.

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Everytime I start to think I am too hard on this guy and his line of thinking, he writes something even more atrocious and absurd.

    I wonder if he really has ever even had a whiff of what mega-death looks, smells, and tastes after the cloying stink gets in your throat and your own vomit is an improvement in taste.

    Truly disheartening

    Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Everytime I start to think I am too hard on this guy and his line of thinking, he writes something even more atrocious and absurd.
    You're over-reacting, Tom. Dunlap isn't, after all, a war-planner--he's Deputy Judge Advocate General. You know, one of the guys responsible for insuring the USAF abides by all those pesky IHL and laws of armed conflict restrictions...

    (Maybe I missed the Geneva Convention on "Making People Internalize the Power and Ferociousness of their Conquerors"... was it in one of the optional protocols?)

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
    You're over-reacting, Tom. Dunlap isn't, after all, a war-planner--he's Deputy Judge Advocate General. You know, one of the guys responsible for insuring the USAF abides by all those pesky IHL and laws of armed conflict restrictions...

    (Maybe I missed the Geneva Convention on "Making People Internalize the Power and Ferociousness of their Conquerors"... was it in one of the optional protocols?)
    Dunlap is, however, a frequent commentator on this issue...and one who does seem to command an audience. I also suspect that he speaks for some folks (not all, of course) within the AF who view any conflict as simply a matter of deciding how much of what ordnance to deliver on any available target.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    Dunlap is, however, a frequent commentator on this issue...and one who does seem to command an audience. I also suspect that he speaks for some folks (not all, of course) within the AF who view any conflict as simply a matter of deciding how much of what ordnance to deliver on any available target.
    That was sarcasm, Steve

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    I've been wondering for some time if it is possible to be a "moral" occupier? Throughout history most occupiers have relied on Secret Police instead of "hearts and minds" campaigns. Secret Police "work."

    If you look at occupiers who refused to terrorize the population - Britain, Israel, the French in Algiers - they've been subjected to never ending terrorism.

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    The scary thing is, Dunlap's basic thesis isn't just confined to an Air Force general, but has also been expressed in far wider political circles. Someone, I think it was John Podhoretz, made the same argument in National Review a year or two back, that the Sunni insurgency sprung up because they were never "conquered." I can maybe see the point if he's referring to troop levels and a sense of occupation, but there was a heavy implication that we simply hadn't killed enough.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Granite_State View Post
    The scary thing is, Dunlap's basic thesis isn't just confined to an Air Force general, but has also been expressed in far wider political circles. Someone, I think it was John Podhoretz, made the same argument in National Review a year or two back, that the Sunni insurgency sprung up because they were never "conquered." I can maybe see the point if he's referring to troop levels and a sense of occupation, but there was a heavy implication that we simply hadn't killed enough.
    I am certain that Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff
    Dan Halutz made the same argument last year ... how did that work out for them? No so good I recall.
    Putting Foot to Al Qaeda Ass Since 1993

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rank amateur View Post
    I've been wondering for some time if it is possible to be a "moral" occupier? Throughout history most occupiers have relied on Secret Police instead of "hearts and minds" campaigns. Secret Police "work."

    If you look at occupiers who refused to terrorize the population - Britain, Israel, the French in Algiers - they've been subjected to never ending terrorism.
    RA,

    What constitutes "terror" is first of all defined in the eyes of the reciever and secondly in the eyes of the onlookers. Often those inflicting "terror" are the last to see it as such.

    Britain, France, and Israel have used "terror" in occupying territory. Secret police may work depending on your purpose and especially selectivity in their use. But the bill for such use--if and when it comes--can be steep.

    Finally I would say that in this thread we were discussing Iraq and the dim possibility of pre-empting insurgency through greater use of airpower. it is possible and morevover it is legally mandatory that we seek to maintain the moral highground in our operations. I believe that we have overall set very high standards in doing that even as certain cases have overshadowed those efforts. Where I have real problems with what is proposed here is that there are no limits on the application of force ad its theoretical use in forestalling an entirely predictable (and thoroughly predicted) Iraqi insurgency. There is a chilling almost clinical detachment in such advocacy, sustainable from 20,000 feet but very different when experienced face to face.

    Tom

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    The Stern gang and Irgun could get bloody and brutal and were clearly labeled as terrorists and I recall the uproar over Brits using sensory deprivation tanks on IRA men and the French in N. Africa makes Abu Ghraib look very mild, my .02 worth

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by goesh View Post
    The Stern gang and Irgun could get bloody and brutal and were clearly labeled as terrorists and I recall the uproar over Brits using sensory deprivation tanks on IRA men and the French in N. Africa makes Abu Ghraib look very mild, my .02 worth
    Quite. The Brits in particular pioneered a number of nasty psychological tactics against the IRA. One of the better quotes I've got floating around (and I think it was from a Frederick Forsythe novel...though he could have gotten it from someone else) was to the effect of: "The first thing an English gentleman learns is precisely when to stop being one."
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Quote Originally Posted by goesh View Post
    The Stern gang and Irgun could get bloody and brutal and were clearly labeled as terrorists and I recall the uproar over Brits using sensory deprivation tanks on IRA men and the French in N. Africa makes Abu Ghraib look very mild, my .02 worth
    I was thinking the same as Goesh. During their efforts to put down the IRA in 1920-21, the British auxiliary Black and Tans sometimes burned down entire villages. The Israelis forcibly displaced around 711,000 Palestinians in 1947-49, representing about 80% of the Arab population within its borders. Casualty figures for Algeria vary widely (between 350,000 and 1.5 million), but the war of liberation was certainly a very bloody eight years.

    A peaceful occupation? British colonialism in Belize (well, the later period) comes to mind: fearing Guatemala, many in Belize didn't want full independence, and the British had to push them a little out of the door.

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    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Everytime I start to think I am too hard on this guy and his line of thinking, he writes something even more atrocious and absurd.

    I wonder if he really has ever even had a whiff of what mega-death looks, smells, and tastes after the cloying stink gets in your throat and your own vomit is an improvement in taste.

    Truly disheartening

    Tom
    You know, I actually met MG Dunlap a few weeks ago at a seminar - even bought me a beer. Believe it or not, he's more moderate in person than his writings suggest. It's almost Ralph Peters like - the writing is red meat for discussion.

    More disturbingly, there was an AF advocate (academic) who gave a speech that makes MG Dunlap look like a regular hearts and minds fanatic. Thesis was along the lines of "we're not letting the Iraqis drop enough bombs, the Army/USMC completely inept, the surge has failed, and this war would be over if we used more airpower". I told him afterwards his speech was not only wrong, but dangerously wrong. Unfortunately, he also occupies a position near some high level influencers in the AF.

    <sigh>
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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    You know, I actually met MG Dunlap a few weeks ago at a seminar - even bought me a beer. Believe it or not, he's more moderate in person than his writings suggest. It's almost Ralph Peters like - the writing is red meat for discussion.

    More disturbingly, there was an AF advocate (academic) who gave a speech that makes MG Dunlap look like a regular hearts and minds fanatic. Thesis was along the lines of "we're not letting the Iraqis drop enough bombs, the Army/USMC completely inept, the surge has failed, and this war would be over if we used more airpower". I told him afterwards his speech was not only wrong, but dangerously wrong. Unfortunately, he also occupies a position near some high level influencers in the AF.

    <sigh>
    This doesn't really surprise me...but all too often it's the content that comes across and sticks rather than what the individual says once the lights are off or the article's gone to press. Peters is similar, but I'd say different in that he's retired and thus doesn't come off as sounding like he's speaking for an institution. IMO, anyhow.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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