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Thread: Neo Challenges the Matrix

  1. #21
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Post In an attempt to clarify

    Quote Originally Posted by selil View Post
    Somehow I don't think stupid and Gian P Gentile belong in the same sentence. .
    I agree and would like to make sure there is not a misunderstanding.
    I read Macgregors first book in 2006 and started reading Breaking the Phalanx shortly thereafter. Unfortunately the cop I was reading was borrowed from my boss and at some point my children managed to get hold of it. Needless to say it wasn't pretty. I bought another copy for him since the one he had was autographed and have been waiting for a return lecture in order to try and get it autographed.

    Anyway I digress, I haven't finished reading it but I have mostly agreed with a lot of what he says. I simply find that we in the military must be careful in how we present analysis to those within the public because as they do not have our experience base from which to contextualize what they read we leave them to accept what they read along with any spin provided by the publishers sans our own common sense knowledge of factors which play into the long term situation.

    In this I feel some of the wisdom is lost in the translation or lack thereof

    As I believe I have stated before ,
    I simply try to present what I think I know while expecting to be taught where I am wrong.

  2. #22
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Thanks, Good point...

    Quote Originally Posted by Gian P Gentile View Post
    Ken:

    thanks for your thoughtful response. I agree that as you have said before the pendulum can swing back too far in the other direction too and we certainly dont want that. Actually I think Macgregor over the years has been trying to obliterate the institution then rebuild it in a way the provides better strategic flexibility. His two classics "Breaking the Phalanx," and "Transformation Under Fire," attest to that position.
    True. "Breaking the Phalanx" was important (have not read the other) and I've long admired Macgregor for that and for most of his articles. That book was needed and it did much good. I'd actually go further than he would in putting the army (all of DoD...) in a big bag and shaking it thoroughly -- but SGMs have little credibility and a long retired one has even less...

    I most appreciate Ken your humility and the proposition that you "could be wrong." That has always been the mantra that I lived by; that I might be wrong, that my next screw up is just hanging around the corner but if i work really hard, stay true to my values, and rely on my buddies on my right and left i might get through it. The overall value of Macgregor's piece is that it does poke a finger in the eye of those who are cocksure about things with their positive knowledge about the way ahead in Iraq and what the future holds. Even if he is read as an extreme, the extreme holds value if it reasonably challenges conventional wisdom, which i think this piece does.
    Amen to all that. Though I do know a lot of people who'd snicker at the humble bit applied to me.

    Didn't think the article was extreme, on the contrary, thought it was quite measured -- just on the pessimistic side but acknowledge that may have been done for emphasis. Anything that makes people think and challenges the conventional wisdom is a plus IMO so it may have just been my perverse nature -- when every one else is wet and miserable, I splash about laughing, yet if everyone is content, i've been accused of being able to cast gloom on a MOH ceremony. Not my most endearing trait...

    no worries

    gian
    Keep up the fire...

  3. #23
    Council Member Tacitus's Avatar
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    Neo had an easier choice. Neo only had one man offering the red pill. No promises that you are going to like what you end up seeing or will feel better because of it, but then you’ll know the truth about how things are.

    But we are confronted with various people (politicians, media, soldiers, writers, indigenous peoples, heck even Al Qaeda) offering their own red pill, which will show you the truth (as they see it) of the matter in this conflict.

    So even if you have the will to make the choice to reject the blue pill of comfortable ignorance in favor of the red pill of uncomfortable reality, you have to choose among competing pill pushers. Needless to say, each man offering a red pill is quite confident he has the real one (the one true religion, the way to win the Iraq war, most effective economic policy, etc.)

    I think a fair amount of people would gladly choose the red pill. They just can't figure out who's got it. You know what I mean?
    No signature required, my handshake is good enough.

  4. #24
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    I think a fair amount of people would gladly choose the red pill. They just can't figure out who's got it. You know what I mean?
    That's why Oprah's (or Chuck Norris') (or Barbara Streisand's) endorsement means so much...

    In the late 70's it was Jonestown Koolaid was it not?

  5. #25
    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    I think you guys are using the wrong movie to analyze American strategy making. To me, Beavis and Butthead provides greater insight.

  6. #26
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default F Troop

    Most realistic Army TV show...

  7. #27
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Most realistic Army TV show...
    well they were Cav...

    Where are Ryan and Neal?

    Steve Metz: I think you guys are using the wrong movie to analyze American strategy making.
    You were the one who brought up a cartoon fish.

    Actually I think Beevis probably has a good grasp of strategy. It's Butthead who keeps giving him bumm advice...

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    I think you guys are using the wrong movie to analyze American strategy making. To me, Beavis and Butthead provides greater insight.
    Absolutely spot on; I should have named this thread Doug Macgregor "does America." In honor of course of the classic B/B movie.

    If there is anyone who has his pulse on America it is Mike Judge.

    gian

  9. #29
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    I think you guys are using the wrong movie to analyze American strategy making. To me, Beavis and Butthead provides greater insight.
    I suspect that Loyd and Garry from "Dumb and Dumber" may give B & B a good run for their money.
    However, in my heart of hearts, I'm sure that our strategic planners are really following the lead of Peewee Herman. The search for terrorists smacks of the search for the stolen bicycle in Peewee's Big Adventure. And, almost every White House press conference is a variant of the "Big Shoe Dance."

  10. #30
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    This article is a very great puzzlement to me.

    COL. MacGregor seems to decry the "Anbar Awakening" but what was the alternative to the men on the spot at the time? They adroitly took advantage of a political rift, a big one, in the Sunni community and induced the tribes to overtly join with the coalition forces to mostly destroy AQI; an AQI that was, contrary to a statement in the article, almost wholly composed of Iraqi, not foreign fighters.

    From what I've read there is much more too this than cash payments to sheiks. In Ramadi at least, AQI was very much disliked but the tribes weren't strong enough to overthrow them. An alliance with the coalition enabled them to get rid of AQI. If cash were the only incentive to stop attacking the coalition, how come this didn't happen in 2 or 3 years ago?

    There is a section in the article about Turkey and the Kurds. It seems to me this is almost a separate issue. It exists regardless. But he suggests that the Awakening may make it worse. Why? The closest thing to an answer I can find in the article is if Turkey invades Kurdistan it "could well embolden the Sunni Arab insurgents to renew the war against the U.S. military." Why? Some of them accrued an advantage by stopping that fight, why throw it away by renewing it?

    There are several "What if this happens? What then?" arguments in the article that don't tell us why "this" is likely to happen.

    I think too much is made of common religious affiliation. He states Turkey "is the natural leader of the Sunni Muslim world." Why? Turks aren't Arabs. They ruled over large parts of Arabia for a long time and the Arabs didn't like it. And why should the Gulf states look to a country without a big navy for protection?

    He states also that "Islam is inextricably intertwined with Turkish identity, culture and history." Yes it is. So is secularism, especially in the Turkish military. To mention the one without mentioning the other seems like cherry picking.

    Near as I can figure, his main argument is we should get out of Iraq quick or things will probably go bad. But from everything else I read, the stronger argument seems to be if we get out of Iraq quick, things absolutely will go bad.

    But again, my primary objection to the article is the carping about the "Awakening". The men on the spot played the hand they were dealt brilliantly to achieve a good result, at least up to now. If COL. MacGregor is going to caution us about this, he should at least suggest what should have been done instead.

  11. #31
    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    This article is a very great puzzlement to me.

    COL. MacGregor seems to decry the "Anbar Awakening" but what was the alternative to the men on the spot at the time? They adroitly took advantage of a political rift, a big one, in the Sunni community and induced the tribes to overtly join with the coalition forces to mostly destroy AQI; an AQI that was, contrary to a statement in the article, almost wholly composed of Iraqi, not foreign fighters.

    From what I've read there is much more too this than cash payments to sheiks. In Ramadi at least, AQI was very much disliked but the tribes weren't strong enough to overthrow them. An alliance with the coalition enabled them to get rid of AQI. If cash were the only incentive to stop attacking the coalition, how come this didn't happen in 2 or 3 years ago? .... If COL. MacGregor is going to caution us about this, he should at least suggest what should have been done instead.
    Quote Originally Posted by Theodore Roosevelt
    "It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the
    strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better.
    The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face
    is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs
    and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without
    error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great
    devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best,
    knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the
    worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his
    place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither
    victory nor defeat."
    Theodore Roosevelt
    Source:Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910
    Couldn't resist one of my favorite quotes. Thanks for the lead in. Hopefully I will be able to answer some of the questions addressed soon - COL MacFarland and I just finished the final edit of an article on the subject to be published in Military Review during the next months.

    Carl captures the facts (from my seat) correctly regarding the Awakening. It was not about money, and money was not the instrument used to convince the tribes. Really it came down to interest and power (of which a component is money). Money was/is used to sustain the effort through reconstruction projects in areas friendly to coalition forces. Money is a weapon system as well, to be used judiciously.

    When I first arrived in Baghdad in May 2003, you could hire an Iraqi laborer for $2/day, a king's ransom at the time. ($60/mo was 4x the average Iraqi's salary at the time). We tried to start employment programs (cleaning trash, repairs, etc) to employ the masses of unemployed, especially the poor Shia. We ran into roadblock after roadblock from CPA, who was opposed at New Deal style programs and scoffed at mass employment programs to otherwise occupy idle hands that may be recruited to the devil's work.

    Flash forward to April-May 2004. My BN is killing these same poor, unemployed, uneducated Shia by the hundreds during the Sadr rebellion. In two months we expended over 200,000 rounds of 7.62, over 300 tank rounds, and an unbelievable amount of maintenance funds to sustain an Armor BN during a three month extension. For a fraction of those costs I could have employed several thousand people and addressed one of the root causes of the Sadr rebellion.

    I know we can't directly correlate cause to effect on this, but I still believe that if we had employed the masses early we wouldn't have faced the Sadr problem, and worse, we knew that at the tactical level in 2003. Not even 20/20 hindsight, in my opinion.

    I digress into the path of what might have been.

    I am with Carl though - for the critics - what is the alternate COA that SHOULD have been done? Would an Anbar in chaos actually be of greater benefit to the USA than one at peace? I personally don't see how, and make no apologies for what we did. It was good for Iraq and good for the USA, and had transformative effects on Baghdad and Dialaya.
    "A Sherman can give you a very nice... edge."- Oddball, Kelly's Heroes
    Who is Cavguy?

  12. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    I am with Carl though - for the critics - what is the alternate COA that SHOULD have been done? Would an Anbar in chaos actually be of greater benefit to the USA than one at peace? I personally don't see how, and make no apologies for what we did. It was good for Iraq and good for the USA, and had transformative effects on Baghdad and Dialaya.
    I agree. You did an excellent job playing the hand dealt you. Professional poker players fold: frequently and quickly. Strategically, it seems to me that we just keep upping the ante.
    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    Sometimes it takes someone without deep experience to think creatively.

  13. #33
    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    Why was it not possible to extend the Anbar model to the rest of Sunni-held Iraq? Or did the generals in Baghdad begin cutting deals with the Sunni insurgents only when the mounting casualties from the surge in the spring and early summer of 2007 compelled them to do so?
    As a matter of fact the Sawah has spread to other parts of Sunni Iraq. I know this for an absolute fact because I was there at the beginning. Granted it is not on the same scale as Anbar but then the realities on the ground are much different. I can't speak to the situation in Anbar, I haven't been there, but I have been in the North. Up there, the Sawah has arisen primarily in response to an ineffective/biased/corrupt military and police force. It was already showing some early successes when I left in October. It has been slow to get started in the North in part because of resistance by some US military comanders who do not understand tribalism and also some local political/tribal leaders who feel their power threatened by the Sawah.

    By the way, can someone explain to me how Turkey is the is the "natural leader of the Sunni Muslim world"? Did I miss something? I have yet to hear an Arab say anything nice about the Turks. That would seem to be somewhat of an obstacle to "natural leadersip."

    SFC W

  14. #34
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default They aren't.

    Quote Originally Posted by Uboat509 View Post
    . . .
    By the way, can someone explain to me how Turkey is the is the "natural leader of the Sunni Muslim world"? Did I miss something? I have yet to hear an Arab say anything nice about the Turks. That would seem to be somewhat of an obstacle to "natural leadersip."

    SFC W
    Turks are even more hated than the Iraniha. There is no leader of the Arab world because it is so fractured, every potential 'leader' has adverse historical events that preclude any leadership in that sense. Just look at all who've tried in the last 60 years or so to assume that position from Nasser forward -- all failed.

    That's really good news of a sort, though we weren't smart enough to exploit it. The West finds the ME thought processes so very different they cannot get their arms around the monster. Few in the west are willing to accept that an entire nation will do something that is antithetical to itself out of pride or that the western art of compromise is seen as a glaring weakness in the ME...

  15. #35
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    "Few in the west are willing to accept that an entire nation will do something that is antithetical to itself out of pride or that the western art of compromise is seen as a glaring weakness in the ME..."

    I am not sure the peoples of the Mid-East have a monopoly on warring for prideful reasons. The War of 1812, WWI&II, the Argentine attack on the Falklands, the Succession of the Southern States and others might well fall into that class of conflict.

  16. #36
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Just look at all who've tried in the last 60 years or so to assume that position from Nasser forward -- all failed.
    Well, Nasser is the only one who really tried. Even Saddam, despite his bombast, never really took such things seriously - the seizure of Kuwait, for example, was an Iraqi nationalist dream since Qasim. As for the inscrutable mind of the Arabs - the spectacle of local rulers scrambling for power and advantage to the detriment of the ruled combined with constant and violent intervention by foreign powers is a tableau repeated throughout history, including in the West - the examples of pre-unification Italy, pre-Bismarck Germany, Poland, and other such unhappy lands comes to mind.

    Up there, the Sawah has arisen primarily in response to an ineffective/biased/corrupt military and police force.
    Uboat - without violating any OPSEC, could you provide a little more detail in this respect? In your experience, is this viewed primarily as a local rising against corrupt forces imposed by a national government, or is it seen through a sectarian lens: i.e. the Shi'i militias acting through the government are seen as the enemy? What time period are we talking about, and what about the recent movement of AQI-blamed attacks to Salahuddin and Nineveh?
    Last edited by tequila; 12-13-2007 at 09:08 AM.

  17. #37
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    Default Sitting in a catbird seat

    I've been following the discussions on Iraq and the COIN doctrine from my desk and computer in the International Zone (I want to say in the bowels, but I do have a window). While I'm definitely not doing tactical stuff, I've had the opportunity to get out and listen to what BCT and battalion commanders are saying on the ground.
    I guess I need to go back and re-read the COIN manual. What I see are commanders making the pragmatic decisions along kinetic (kill/capture) and non-kinetic lines (support services, support local security efforts, support local governance). I don't sense that the new COIN doctrine has shied people away from military action, its just they may be viewing it from a more comprehensive lens--and its not that the commanders before did any less, its just that there's been some more thought and doctrinal guidance put into place over the elapsed time.
    With regards to the Awakening and whether we caused it or we were just lucky, I'd say yes to both (and recall which type of General Napoleon would have rather had). I don't think that you can discount our presence in Iraq, and in Anbar, fighting over the past years. It was a part of the calculation that tribal leaders made when they decided to fight AQI. it wasn't the only factor, but I think it ranks pretty high up there--as I've seen it written, they realized that we were the really strong tribe in the region and we weren't going away.

  18. #38
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default True...

    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    ...
    I am not sure the peoples of the Mid-East have a monopoly on warring for prideful reasons. The War of 1812, WWI&II, the Argentine attack on the Falklands, the Succession of the Southern States and others might well fall into that class of conflict.
    People are people -- there are indeed other examples -- just that the ME provides so many in the last half century. That and the seeing compromise as weakness factor in combination...

    Tequila said:
    "Well, Nasser is the only one who really tried. Even Saddam, despite his bombast, never really took such things seriously - the seizure of Kuwait, for example, was an Iraqi nationalist dream since Qasim. As for the inscrutable mind of the Arabs - the spectacle of local rulers scrambling for power and advantage to the detriment of the ruled combined with constant and violent intervention by foreign powers is a tableau repeated throughout history, including in the West - the examples of pre-unification Italy, pre-Bismarck Germany, Poland, and other such unhappy lands comes to mind."
    Gamel may be the only one that tried in your book but I think you're selling the goals and delusions of everyone from the Shah of Iran through the Al Sauds to the Assads and the odd Egyptian or two -- not to mention our friends Ruhalla and Muammar -- a little short. Perhaps what you meant was that Nasser was the only who who was overt and said it aloud and publicly; we could agree on that.

    As for the only one? We can disagree on that.

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