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Thread: Six Questions for Doug Macgregor on Iraq and the Surge

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    Default Six Questions for Doug Macgregor on Iraq and the Surge

    2. Has the “surge” in troop levels played an important role here as well?
    Not really. Where once there was one country called Iraq, there are now three emerging states: one Kurdish, one Sunni, and one Shiite. More than two years of sectarian violence have left districts in and around Baghdad completely Sunni or completely Shiite, and that has significantly reduced violence in those districts and resulted in fewer bodies in the streets. This new strategic reality, combined with huge cash payments to the Sunni insurgent enemy, is what has given U.S. forces a respite from the chaos of the last four years. The introduction of a few thousand additional troops into Baghdad’s neighborhoods was never going to result in any kind of strategic sea change.

    Harpers Magazine online posed 6 questions on Iraq and the ongoing Surge to retired army colonel and author Doug Mcgregor. His answers are not of the "matrix" and as usual challenge conventional wisdom. Considering the MG Scales oped on culmination, Macgregor's answers offer up a different conceptualization of the war in Iraq and the way ahead.

    http://harpers.org/archive/2007/11/hbc-90001783

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    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gian P Gentile View Post
    Harpers Magazine online posed 6 questions on Iraq and the ongoing Surge to retired army colonel and author Doug Mcgregor. His answers are not of the "matrix" and as usual challenge conventional wisdom. Considering the MG Scales oped on culmination, Macgregor's answers offer up a different conceptualization of the war in Iraq and the way ahead.

    http://harpers.org/archive/2007/11/hbc-90001783
    It's nice to see a former student who transcended whatever damage I did to his brain.

    Actually, I think he's pretty much on the mark.

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    It's nice to see a former student who transcended whatever damage I did to his brain.

    Actually, I think he's pretty much on the mark.
    Agreed. His first 5 answers are excellent. In response 6, I think he pushes the oil angle too far but that is a question of degree. At the same time he is quite correct in saying the Middle East is a turbulent arena and long term forecasts are SWAGs at best.

    Best

    Tom

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    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Agreed. His first 5 answers are excellent. In response 6, I think he pushes the oil angle too far but that is a question of degree. At the same time he is quite correct in saying the Middle East is a turbulent arena and long term forecasts are SWAGs at best.

    Best

    Tom
    It's that high quality CGSC education at work. (A few others that I didn't mess up were Russ Honore, Dan Bolger, and Pete Leahy--now Chief of Army in Oz).

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    It's that high quality CGSC education at work. (A few others that I didn't mess up were Russ Honore, Dan Bolger, and Pete Leahy--now Chief of Army in Oz).
    hmmmm and I did not make the list....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    hmmmm and I did not make the list....
    Well, no one bats 1.000.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Don't know the other two but unless Russ

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    It's that high quality CGSC education at work. (A few others that I didn't mess up were Russ Honore, Dan Bolger, and Pete Leahy--now Chief of Army in Oz).
    changed a great deal after he made MAJ, he was virtually unmessable...

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    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    changed a great deal after he made MAJ, he was virtually unmessable...
    True story. He was having a bit of difficulty getting counterinsurgency, so I really had to work with him. Finally it clicked and he gave a pretty good presentation. I was commending him and someone in the back of the room piped up, "You know sir, you just took a perfectly good tanker and dicked him up."

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Heh. We worked together at Knox for about

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    True story. He was having a bit of difficulty getting counterinsurgency, so I really had to work with him. Finally it clicked and he gave a pretty good presentation. I was commending him and someone in the back of the room piped up, "You know sir, you just took a perfectly good tanker and dicked him up."
    a year before I left for another job. He'd wrestle with some concepts but he wouldn't quit 'til he got 'em locked. I kept meaning to run up to Atlanta to see him while he was at First Army; put it off too long.

    He was the Ragin' Cajun a long time before Carville got that tag...

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    I dont know if anybody here ever saw it but there was an Air Power book review where MacGregor was called the Army's Colonel Warden. I will have to see if I can find the review but in general the Air Force likes this guy. I have never read any of his books just a few articles but I guess I will have to change that. Has anybody on SWC read his books or have any comments about his transformation ideas?

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    I've read his books and found a great deal of it interesting. I think one reason the AF might like him is that he was arguing for a smaller Army in some ways...or at least smaller basic units. He's also very tech-driven, which of course they can empathize with. He's worth the read when you get the chance, but keep in mind that he's focusing mostly on larger, conventional conflicts with a great deal of what he says. There are some comments about his proposals for Iraq in Corba II that aren't exactly flattering, if memory serves.

    I have good memories of what he did with 1/4 Cav when he was with the 1st ID, at least from a unit pride/history standpoint. I'd assume he was a decent commander as well, since I don't recall hearing any major whining when I was working at Ft Riley. Of course, he was in Germany at the time but word does tend to travel....
    "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 slapout9 View Post
    I dont know if anybody here ever saw it but there was an Air Power book review where MacGregor was called the Army's Colonel Warden. I will have to see if I can find the review but in general the Air Force likes this guy. I have never read any of his books just a few articles but I guess I will have to change that. Has anybody on SWC read his books or have any comments about his transformation ideas?
    Hi Slap,
    I've read Transformation Under Fire and it's worth the read. It expands on his first book Breaking the Phalanx. Last time I checked the book was on the CSA Reading List. Many of his transformation ideas have been considered and some adopted in part. His big theme is having RCTs (larger than current BCTs) and headed by a BG. Hope that helps.
    Best--
    Kreker

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    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    I dont know if anybody here ever saw it but there was an Air Power book review where MacGregor was called the Army's Colonel Warden. I will have to see if I can find the review but in general the Air Force likes this guy. I have never read any of his books just a few articles but I guess I will have to change that. Has anybody on SWC read his books or have any comments about his transformation ideas?

    Breaking the Phalanx was written when Doug was doing a senior service college fellowship (the equivalent of war college) at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. It was one of the things that helped prep the battlefield for the Army's modularity concept. I don't think Doug invented modularity any more than John Warden invented effects based operations, but both are very bright and powerful, articulate writers who helped popularize the ideas. (Doug is a UVA Ph.D.)

    As indicated above, he does tend to focus at the operational and tactical level rather than the strategic. So the question is still open as to whether what the nation needs is an Army focused on fast, flexible conventional warfighting.

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Here's a FRONTLINE interview with COL Macgregor where he clarifies a bit the scenario he was looking at for OIF I. I remember in Cobra II that he was ID'd as one of the main inspirations for Rumsfeld's concept of going in light. Specifically he said that it would only take 50k troops to knock over Saddam and that going in with over 120k was needless overkill.

    In the interview he specifically advocates shooting straight through to Baghdad as fast as possible to topple the regime. He emphasizes that the IA would not fight, and that it was of paramount importance to get reconstituted Iraqi Army and police back into action as soon as possible for internal security. Essentially a decapitation strategy, but holding the rest of the regime, or at least its security forces, in place.

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    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    Here's a FRONTLINE interview with COL Macgregor where he clarifies a bit the scenario he was looking at for OIF I. I remember in Cobra II that he was ID'd as one of the main inspirations for Rumsfeld's concept of going in light. Specifically he said that it would only take 50k troops to knock over Saddam and that going in with over 120k was needless overkill.

    In the interview he specifically advocates shooting straight through to Baghdad as fast as possible to topple the regime. He emphasizes that the IA would not fight, and that it was of paramount importance to get reconstituted Iraqi Army and police back into action as soon as possible for internal security. Essentially a decapitation strategy, but holding the rest of the regime, or at least its security forces, in place.
    By the way, Franks and the CENTCOM staff thought that was a VERY bad idea and had to disabuse Rumsfeld of it. Kind of hard to imagine how we could have gone as fast as we did with a smaller force. Even a 50K force would have needed resupply and someone had to control the LOCs.

    And, it's worth noting, the actual plan also emphasized getting the Iraqi army and police back in place as quickly as possible. Didn't work out.

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    Default No debate?

    I think CO Macgregor's statements/arguments were only half truths at best. I can't help but think he has an agenda to undermine the current strategy in Iraq, and if he was one of the 10lb brains that suggested we go to Baghdad with 50,000 troops, because the Iraqi Army won't fight, then it sounds like he has an axe to grind, because he now knows with the benefit of hindsight he gave terribly flawed advice. It was a best case course of action only recommendation with no depth. Obviously he had "no" plan for securing a post-Saddam Iraq, so he seems to delight now in poking holes in the current strategy, which admittedly is far from perfect, but still a good approach to perhaps undue the damage done by the initial "failed" strategy, which he apparently helped shape/influence.

    A troop surge is not strategic? He downplays the great awakening, without offering a better strategy. Seems a little out in left field to me.

    Again I don't necessarily disagree with the underlying logic of most of his arguments, but I do disagree with his tone, and his failure to offer a better approach. Oddly enough the one answer that is not debatable was six, and you guys disagreed (lol). His tone again failed him, as he portrayed it as plunder, rather than trying to secure an important source of oil for the global economy.

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the responses....looks like I have some reading to do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    Thanks for all the responses....looks like I have some reading to do.
    It will give you something to do during those long, dull days in between the mosquito season and the armadillo mating season in Central Alabama.

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    Steve, in your adventures in Slapout do you remember a place called Boon- Dockers? If not just wanted to let you know it burned down under mysterious circumstances. I have a friend on the Sheriff's department who responded to the call and he said it was the first time in his life he ever saw two (drunk) rednecks trying to put a building fire out with pool cues

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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    Steve, in your adventures in Slapout do you remember a place called Boon- Dockers? If not just wanted to let you know it burned down under mysterious circumstances. I have a friend on the Sheriff's department who responded to the call and he said it was the first time in his life he ever saw two (drunk) rednecks trying to put a building fire out with pool cues
    Don't remember it. But isn't that a redundant name for a place in Slapout?

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