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Thread: What would a US withdrawal from Iraq look like?

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  1. #1
    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    Sep 2006
    Belly of the beast

    Default What would a US withdrawal from Iraq look like?

    We can argue that it will never happen. We can argue that Iraq is the new Korea. In fact we can argue that more troops are needed before fewer troops. There are arguments that political will can never sustain an actual withdrawal. There are those who would argue that any talk of withdrawal is ceding failure.


    Whether we should or should not withdraw troops is not the question (which would likely devolve into a political cess-pool). The question is how would you withdraw troops.

    I think it is possible to discuss the issues of a removal of troops in Iraq without invoking Vietnam as some specter of haunted failure. Those who engage in the fear mongering forget we walked away from many wars after the political capital was spent and the troops came home. There is a lot of political investment in keeping troops in the field and a withdrawal may never happen. But, what if it did? It is easy to support the status quo, but intellectually more stimulating to consider the contrary question.

    Google ‘What would a US withdrawal from Iraq look like?’ and you will find a substantial amount of punditry and near zero intellectual discourse on the topic.

    There are many questions. How would you draw down safely in what may be hostile terrain the number of troops? What would the impacts be on contractor staff and non-combatants? Where would the state department and associated green-zone elements find security? What would be the smallest level of troop engagement that would be safe? Can there be a draw down without a total walk away? How would you maintain security of one of the largest embassies on the planet? Where would you withdraw troops to, and how would you provide security for those troops? If violence escalates (as many predict) what would the rules of engagement be as troops are leaving?

    I am sure I have only glossed over the top of the questions. I suggest that in actually considering the issues like contract and non-combat staff there may be a humongous security issue. It may be necessary to increase troop levels to get the non-combatants out of the field first. Any time I move it takes no time to un-pack the boxes, but a huge amount of time to get all the stuff into boxes. The logistics train works really well going to war how well does it work coming home? With a reducing force on the “supply” end of the logistics train? How much troop strength and material would be moved to Afghanistan?

    Then there are the social political issues of bringing home a military force and contracting staff. Jobs and employment opportunities are constricting as the economy circles the drain. Unemployment rates for the repatriated contractor staffs, and soldiers who are now looking at reductions in force are going to be harsh. Political will turns on a clock of public support and that 18 month plan puts a presidential aspirant looking at huge issues at the beginning of a second campaign cycle. Where will the “stuff” go when it returns? Personal opinion I am opposed to any reduction in force for the military and think the contractor jobs should be inherently governmental positions owned by the military exactly so they are non-issues in deployment.

    How would you accomplish the task should it be necessary? Never mind the politics what would the methods look like?
    Sam Liles
    Selil Blog
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    The scholarship of teaching and learning results in equal hatred from latte leftists and cappuccino conservatives.
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  2. #2
    Council Member
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    Feb 2007
    Rancho La Espada, Blanchard, OK

    Default Oddly enough, Sam,

    I would look to the Vietnamization program of 1969 - 73. It worked pretty well and had no formal, public timeline for withdrawal. (There was a w/in govt timeline of ccourse, but it was not relaeased.) We also assured the RVN that we would defend them against overt NVA aggression but did not live up to our promise. The test of its success was the ARVN defense against the 1972 Easter Offensive where they did quite well with limited but important assistance from the US mostly in the air.



  3. #3
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Aug 2007
    Chapel Hill, NC

    Default Define the problem first.


    Outside of politics (or talking heads to us engaged in the fight), I dont think it's a question of would, but will. What will a pullout from Iraq look like? I'd submit that we must first define the problem set.

    “If you don’t know where you’re going, then any road will suffice. Eventually, the road must lead somewhere.” -Wise old man

    "If I had only an hour to answer a question, then I would spend 55 minutes defining the problem and 5 minutes answering it."
    -paraphrased Albert Einstein

    Enthropy's thread of "What is the Surge" may get us there.

    As this debate evolves, I'll interject with further editorials. Your question is the subject of my thesis, and yes, I have no problem with cherry-picking SWJ elites to provide legitimacy to my work(appropriate footnotes included of course). I appreciate the question, and I have no doubt that an SWJ collaboration between academics and grunts may provide a feasible solution.



  4. #4
    Council Member Hacksaw's Avatar
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    Oct 2007
    Lansing, KS

    Default Always more difficult to get out as opposed to in...

    As MikeF points out, its critical to define the problem before seeking a solution...

    A few assumptions -

    - a framework of QRF/combat, logistic and air support will remain far beyond a withdrawl
    - the withdrawl will not occur under enemy pressure -- we'll turn and fight, before we jump on the last helicopter evacing the embassy
    - significant advisor footprint

    So what we are looking at is a reduction in force (combat & support) as opposed to a complete withdrawl.

    Off the top of my head, it'd look like is...

    - Begin with a thinning of forces (as is happening now) either transfer of land to IA with QRF capability or reduction of BDE to BN then transition

    - retain three BNs of QRF in country (north-center-south) each with heavy light mix and lift assets

    - Plus establishment of a Camp Doha type facility at TAJI - with Discom and ready set responsibilities

    Wow think of all the time I just saved GEN Petraeus and his staff
    Say hello to my 2 x 4

  5. #5
    Council Member MSG Proctor's Avatar
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    Feb 2008
    Ft. Meade, MD


    Until the ISF can develop its own ISR, C2, Sustainment, Aviation, AF and leader academies, this withdrawal question is just a morale boost to the (mostly demoralized) insurgency.

    The Iraqis are doing the lion's share of the maneuver mission now - that's a win. But their top GOs have stated that they will need help in the above listed categories to secure the inner cordon - Iraq's 18 provinces - until 2012. They also added that they will need external support (read: CF) to secure their own borders against extranational threats until 2018.

    What will withdrawal look like? If its done according to the estimates of the combined Iraq and CF commanders, withdrawal will be a reverent military ceremony with lots of speeches and parades. If its done as the political Left in our country are forecasting, it will be a fight-your-way-out-while-it-all-unravels-debacle.

    Maneuver forces are your meat/potatoes, but without sustainment, INTEL, infrastructure and seasoned leadership, maneuver forces alone are not enough to sustain the gains made in 2007-08. Pulling the rug out from the Iraqis by withdrawing prematurely may be a win for one US political party, but it will be a strategic defeat and seriously erode trust in the region for any future US-led intervention.
    Last edited by MSG Proctor; 07-28-2008 at 08:02 AM. Reason: spelling
    "Its easy, boys. All we have to do is follow my simple yet ingenius plan..."

  6. #6
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Oct 2005
    DeRidder LA

    Default Are the chickens roosting?

    Ok we have had a fairly steady diet of good news for the past several months. Many have taken to crowing that we have "won" without offering what the term means when applied in a setting like Iraq. This AM the news reported that the US-Iraqi negotiations had come to satisfactory terms. Maybe as that agreement is released we can use that to define success.

    But there are remaining questions. They are long term and they are not being addressed. Notably they deal with the very same sectarian divisions we sought to dampen through measures like the Awakening.

    Iraq Takes Aim at Leaders of U.S.-Tied Sunni Groups

    BAGHDAD — The Shiite-dominated government in Iraq is driving out many leaders of Sunni citizen patrols, the groups of former insurgents who joined the American payroll and have been a major pillar in the decline in violence around the nation.

    In restive Diyala Province, United States and Iraqi military officials say there were orders to arrest hundreds of members of what is known as the Awakening movement as part of large security operations by the Iraqi military. At least five senior members have been arrested there in recent weeks, leaders of the groups say.
    “These people are like cancer, and we must remove them,” said Brig. Gen. Nassir al-Hiti, commander of the Iraqi Army’s 5,000-strong Muthanna Brigade, which patrols west of Baghdad, said of the Awakening leaders on his list for arrest.

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