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Old 07-18-2012   #21
Steve the Planner
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Bob:

Right across the Board.

Options: Take out Saddam and his main deck of cards, and you are actually left with a mixed army including Kurds.

Kurds, however, were only one possible leverage point. Shia opposition? Internal Sunni dissent? Pressure through those that influence various parties in Iraq?

I, for one, believe that the attacks on Kurds and Shia were so virulent that absent us "Doing Something" Iran (and other neighbors) would have been drawn into that fight, and that a regional conflict was an important unrecognized consideration. The flip side of that is that these regional players were also leverage points.

I know, how stupid. Back Saddam to attack Iran, than spur Iran to attack Iraq.

Back to Dayuhan's point about what exactlyis our legacy in the ME. Divide and conquer? Play all sides against the middle? Whatever.

Lots of options, all of which evaporated once we went in.
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Old 07-18-2012   #22
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Originally Posted by Steve the Planner View Post
Back to Dayuhan's point about what exactlyis our legacy in the ME. Divide and conquer? Play all sides against the middle? Whatever.
"Our legacy in the ME" is a work in progress, and I wouldn't want to venture a guess on what it will eventually be. My point was that the specific legacy of the Iraq war and local perceptions of that war are likely to be irritants and stumbling blocks for some time.
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Old 07-18-2012   #23
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Come on, just because the people don't have a say in their governance, it does not mean it is not "their country." That is a dangerous bit of rationalization.
You are misreading what I wrote. I was responding to Dayuhun's assertion that engaging the people becomes extraordinarily difficult when the engagement begins with you invading and conquering their country. I would argue that how difficult engaging the people is situation dependent. We had no problems working with the French after Normandy. Each case has to be looked at as a unique situation.

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"We had to destroy the country to safe the country" Right? This is an easy trap to fall into, and we are better served by admitting that we did than we are by rationalizing away our most important lessons that we should be learning from this.
No, not saying that.

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There is a WIDE range of options between "sit on the sidelines and do nothing" and "Invade and occupy."
This is EXACTLY what I am saying (although, apparently very ineptly). There is a continuum between the two extremes and each situation has to be examined to determine what, if anything can be done. Then once those options are fleshed out determine what, if anything should be done, based on our interests.


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All the lessons learned I am seeing being captured are about how to do the wrong thing better. It is time we start putting a bit more wattage into thinking about how we could have done better things.
Agree, but we will never go there if our answer is "We should never do this again". That is the kind of cookie cutter solution I take issue with. That was the point of my comment.

I am not saying that "invade and occupy" was the right solution. But I will not concede that "invade and occupy" is the primary reason we are where we are in Iraq today. We did not need to apologize to every Iraqi for invading. We did need to have had a better plan for how we were going to occupy and how the transition was going to occur. It needed to take into account the various religious, ethnic, and economic variations and historical animosities. We could have split the country up into three separate nations rather than try to compound a mistake made when the lines were drawn by the British. We could have not engaged in DeBathification. Who knows if any of these would have worked better. But I do believe that we can learn from mistakes made after the invasion rather than see the invasion as the primary error and therefore dismiss everything that occured after as the natural cascade of events that occur as the result of that mistake.
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Old 07-18-2012   #24
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Ciurmudgeon:

Thanks to Joel Wing (Musings on Iraq), I was just re-reading his re-pubs of the SIGIR stuff on the planning for war part of Iraq. Everyone had a different picture, some had facts (that got left on the floor), some had Expat "opinions."

Reality, as we should have known, is that the entire Infrastructure and Public Systems of Iraq could be knocked over with a feather. Weapons of mass destructions? C'mon, they could hardly make a public food delivery, across a functioning bridge to a store with lights and power.

There were just so many options open under these systems level scenarios without even going down the road of mining dissidents and internal opposition.

The Kurds swept down on March 19, 2003 virtually un-opposed---ie, there were many "parts" of Iraq that could have been "liberated" leaving others to die on the vine.

How do you get revenue to Baghdad/Saddam, if the oild flows from Diyala to Basra, where those two areas are not under Saddam's control. Either he defends the Capital from Sadr, or he defends the oil revenue at threat from further erosion.

Just one dumb little thread that should have been abundantly obvious.

So many different options to play out. Water under the damn....
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Old 03-12-2013   #25
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Default Iraq war: six lessons we still need to learn

As the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq looms the UK press has had a series of articles, mainly historical and once more Emma Sky writes an article:http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisf...s-intervention

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Lesson one: interventions require legitimacy

Lesson two: interventions need to have limited, clear and realistic goals – and be well resourced

Lesson three: the collapse of the state leads to communal violence

Lesson four: an inclusive elite agreement is critical to gain widespread support for the new order

Lesson five: elections do not necessarily bestow legitimacy on the new order

Lesson six: interventions inevitably have unintended consequences
Almost tempted to use this as a check-list for Mali.
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Old 04-15-2015   #26
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Default The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq

Emma Sky, a British civilian political adviser, who served in Iraq 2003-2013, has finally written her book and it is due out next week. At one point she was regularly seen alongside General Odierno, a slight woman beside a man somewhat larger.

The book has three five star pre-publication reviews on Amazon:http://www.amazon.com/The-Unraveling...ct_top?ie=UTF8

The UK version:http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Unraveli.../dp/161039593X

Next month at London's Frontline Club she is speaking and withina few days a podcast is usually uploaded onto the website (I am going so will add an update):http://www.frontlineclub.com/in-conv...e-unravelling/
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Old 04-15-2015   #27
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Just ordered it. Should be interesting.
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Old 04-18-2015   #28
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A short Slate article by Emma Sky 'How Obama Abandoned Iraq: Why the rise of ISIS and the fall of Iraq weren’t inevitable':http://www.slate.com/articles/news_a...aq.single.html

She ends with:
Quote:
But what happened in Iraq matters terribly to Iraqis who hoped so much for a better future—and to those of us who served there year after year. If we refuse to honestly examine what took place there, we will miss the opportunity to better understand when and how to respond to the world’s instability.
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Old 04-18-2015   #29
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Like others who commented on her previous writings, she is often half-right, but she can be a simplistic at times.

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I had learned that violence was an extension of politics, that hatreds in this land were new not ancient, that alliances could be forged and fractured, and that friendships counted for more than flags.
This reminds me of Wolfawitz telling Congress before the war that there were was no ethnic hatred in Iraq because he saw Sunnis and Shia married to each other in Baghdad when he visited (when we were supporting Iraq with their fight against Iran). A half truth that created a perception that the regime change would be easier than more level headed people predicted. Sunnis and Shia were openly married under the protection of an oppressive government that was probably one of the most secular in the Middle East at the time. Hatred existed, but it was suppressed.

My engagements with Shia and Kurds that were influential and fairly high up would tell me in confidence that the only answer for Iraq was to have a strong Sunni in charge to keep the country together. They didn't want another mad man like Saddam, but they realized their society needed a strong, largely secular leader to suppress the religious/ethnic passions of the Shia and Kurds.

There was a long history of ethnic and religious conflict in Iraq, so while she is right that the current level and character of that hatred is new, hatred in that area is far from new. It is the ability to act on that hatred, to mobilized forces, and the rapid escalation in the conflict leading to greater hatred (because the government is part of the problem, not the solution) that is new.

As for her point that alliances could be forged and fractured, I agree, but hasn't that been true throughout history? I'm don't understand her next point that friendships counted for more than flags. If she is implying you that friendships can be formed between various individual actors below the group noise, that is true, but in what way does that count more than flags? Not clear of her intent here.
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Old 05-13-2015   #30
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Default SWJ Interview: The Accidental Counterinsurgent

Octavia Manea strikes again:http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art...unterinsurgent
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Old 05-21-2015   #31
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Default Emma Sky Q&A video

I attended last night's Q&A with Emma Sky @ The Frontline Club, London and there is 84 mins long video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_NACJsTl9A

Her explanation of how she found her own post @ Kirkuk (a place she did not know), as a provincial government coordinator; with no briefing from the UK FCO beforehand is simply bizarre and she explains her personal mission was to say sorry for the invasion. Later she became a political adviser to a US brigade commander and much later to General Odierno. In total she spent 50 months in country, with several long breaks - usually sabbaticals at universities.

I found some of her answers to the main questioner and in the Q&A session very terse. A couple of Iraqis in the audience, now in exile, made comments.

She identified an ex-Iraqi AF general and several UK military officers in the audience, one of whom was decidedly unimpressed, MG Lamb.

Anyway worth listening to.
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Old 06-15-2015   #32
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Just published an interview with Emma Sky. We discussed her time in Iraq working for the CPA, during the Surge and afterward during the withdrawal. Also tried to evaluate how the U.S. did intervening in and trying to rebuild Iraq. Here's a link.
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Old 06-16-2015   #33
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Just published an interview with Emma Sky. We discussed her time in Iraq working for the CPA, during the Surge and afterward during the withdrawal. Also tried to evaluate how the U.S. did intervening in and trying to rebuild Iraq. Here's a link.
Joel,

Congratulations on the interview, Emma Sky for you gave far clearer answers than she did when I listened to her. I have copied your post to the Emma Sky thread.
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Old 06-23-2015   #34
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Default Not Emma, one of her (splutter) friends

An excerpt from Emma Sky's book entitled 'A tip from the bad ass: don’t have friends' and sub-titled 'The blunt, foul-mouthed British general whose job was to ‘turn’ insurgents in Iraq baffled Americans with his bizarre expressions, but Emma Sky watched as he won his allies over by strength of personality'. Who is this? General Graeme Lamb, the British deputy commander of coalition forces in Iraq 2006-7.

Quote:
General Graeme Lamb, the British deputy commander of coalition forces in Iraq 2006-7, was given the task of exploring outreach to insurgents. This was not an easy matter as it meant dealing with people who had killed our soldiers.
But “Lambo”, as he was known to all, had served as commander of the SAS and with his experiences in Northern Ireland and elsewhere he could not be accused of being soft on terrorists.
To those senior officers who said we should not deal with people who had blood on their hands, Lambo pointed out that he and others had very bloody hands.
There was only one General Lamb — and he was like no other. He would never have survived in the US military culture of political correctness. His emails were usually a stream of consciousness.
He frequently sent me words of advice: “Take a tip from the head of the bad ass and resident president of the bunch of bastards club — do not have friends. PS: you’re doing alright for a bird.”
Every six weeks Lambo announced he was heading back to the UK to “spank the wife”. General Ray Odierno, Lambo’s boss and mine, shook his head. He, like all US military, was permitted just a week off in a 15-month tour.
Strutting around, sleeves rolled up, swearing, Lambo looked and behaved like a thug. But it was all theatre, all an act, to make the Americans confront the need to change their approach and to take calculated risks. By the sheer strength of his personality, Graeme Lamb won over others to his ideas.
Lambo used his official residence at Maude House in the Baghdad Green Zone to convene discussions on how to get insurgents to stop fighting. He always included me. He had few staff of his own, needed allies and sensed that I could be a useful one. At one of these dinners I explained to Lambo that General O, who was seated between us, had encouraged his soldiers not to live like pigs, which made me feel guilty as I was untidy.
Lambo asked: “Have you heard my pig story?” I hadn’t, I admitted. “There I was on the eve of battle in 2003,” he said, “talking to the boys. I gave a rip-roaring address and ended with: never forget, the faint-hearted have never f***** a pig.”
General O looked at Lambo, then at me. I shrugged my shoulders. What could I possibly say?
Lambo appeared in General O’s office one day with his small team. He sketched out a diagram on a whiteboard, referring to a “squeeze box”, “pipe-swingers” and “wedges”. No one had a clue what he meant. When he lost his train of thought, Lambo would repeat “f***, f***, f***” as if he had Tourette’s syndrome until he remembered what he wanted to say.
He responded to General O’s questions with anecdotes that went off in all directions and left us more perplexed than when he had started. But the need to separate those who were prepared to stop using violence from those we deemed “irreconcilables” resonated. The question was how to do it.
Lambo had a range of ideas. One involved releasing insurgents from our detention camps if they agreed to try to persuade members of their group to stop attacking us. This approach was obviously fraught with risk. How was it possible to assess whether we had genuinely “turned” these insurgents?
General O was sceptical about releasing captured insurgents who had killed Americans, fearing it would only lead to the deaths of more US soldiers. He was also concerned that it would be perceived by soldiers as a “catch and release” programme, hence providing greater incentives for the US troops to kill rather than to detain.
I worked with Lambo and his staff to help them understand General O’s concerns and urged them to integrate their work within the main effort, rather than keeping it as a separate British initiative.
“This work at the moment appears to be a Lambo one-man show,” I warned. “It needs to be brought into the fold. And it must not be seen as a Brit thing (remove the Union Jack flag on the cover!) if it is to gain traction.”
Lambo responded: “Emma, How could you possibly suggest that we haul down the Union Flag — my dear girl we do not do that sort of thing. You have obviously spent too long in the company of Americans, but since I know how sensitive the female sex is to any ‘upset’ messages, we will in this case condescend and remove the offending symbol which we should not forget flew over an Empire on which the sun never set etc, etc.”
I wrote back: “General Lamb. I know it may be hard for you to come to terms with, but Great Britain lost Her Empire (as well as the Great) some years ago. These days we have to be more skilled and subtle, and rule indirectly through our cousins. We should therefore embrace the Stars and Stripes as our own.”
Once we were close to consensus, Lambo convened a session in Maude House with the top US generals. At dinner he seated General Stan McChrystal opposite me. It was the first time I had had a proper conversation with McChrystal, who was in charge of special forces in Iraq. I was impressed by how thoughtful, liberal and well read he was — for someone who specialised in hunting down humans.
He spoke to me about the effect of counterterrorism operations on those who prosecute them. He asked how I could participate in the work in Iraq if I did not believe in the whole premise of the global war on terror, the GWOT. I told him I could have remained an armchair critic in the UK. But I had chosen to be here on the ground trying to shape our approach. I recognised that working with the military was changing me. But if I wanted to influence others, I had to be prepared to change my own ideas.
On St Patrick’s Day, Lambo again invited us over to Maude House. We sat in the garden drinking tea while the bagpipes played in the background. General O lounged in a chair, smoking a cigar. Lambo reflected on his outreach to the Sadrists. It was not going well, he told us. “Skinny has been whacked and the Sadr City mayor wounded. (Lambo could not pronounce Arabic names easily so had given nicknames to the people he worked with.) He complained that he was short-staffed: “I only have five blokes and a bird doing all this ####.”
“One bird,” I reminded him, “is worth 10 blokes.”
Tony Blair paid his farewell visit to Iraq in mid-May. Lambo invited me over to Maude House to be part of a small group to meet him. “I will have my tomatoes ready to throw,” I said.
“And I have warned the guards to shoot you on sight and claim that you had a shifty look,” Lambo responded.
The British embassy was rocketed in the morning, minutes before Blair arrived — he was running 10 minutes late. Two vehicles were destroyed. At Maude House I stood in line waiting my turn. Lambo introduced me, saying I was a star and that I looked after the Big Man. There was no mistaking who the Big Man was as he was standing right there.
General O explained that I had been working with the US military since 2003. General David Petraeus, the overall commander, came forward and told Blair that I was “a national treasure”.
At this stage Blair got confused. “Are you British?” he asked. I assured him that I was British born and bred. “What are you doing working with the American military?”
I shrugged my shoulders. “Stockholm syndrome,” I offered.
At that moment the sirens went off. “Incoming. Incoming. Take cover,” boomed the big voice. Everyone moved away from the windows. Blair’s security team took him off to the safe room. “Stay under cover.”
We heard a thud — the rocket landed close by. The “enemy” was fully aware of Blair’s itinerary. We found out how when Jalal Talabani, the Kurdish leader who was now president of Iraq, phoned to apologise that he might have made a mistake in informing the Iranian ambassador about Blair’s visit. So in my one and only interaction with Blair I never did get to have a discussion with him about the decision to go to war.
Lambo left Iraq in style. At the battle update assessment, which was held daily at 7.30am in the large auditorium of the joint operations command and was attended by row after row of staff and liaison officers from multinational corps Iraq, he stood up on a chair and removed his shirt, revealing his muscular and incredibly hirsute torso.
It was not immediately clear that he was trying to show off the Texan belt buckle General O had given him as a farewell gift. He ended by saying, “One Team!”, flicked the finger at us all and strode out of the room.
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Old 10-25-2015   #35
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A new article by Emma Sky, id'd by a "lurker" and her penultimate paragraph is:
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Despite its faults, the Army does at least try to learn and improve, to understand the utility of force and its own limitations. I think of Odierno and Ciotola: friendships formed on the battlefield through sweat and tears, and loss and loss and loss, in an effort to give Iraqis the hope of a better future—the only purpose that made any sense as to why we were there.
Despite its faults, the Army does at least try to learn and improve, to understand the utility of force and its own limitations. I think of Odierno and Ciotola: friendships formed on the battlefield through sweat and tears, and loss and loss and loss, in an effort to give Iraqis the hope of a better future—the only purpose that made any sense as to why we were there. - See more at: http://www.armymagazine.org/2015/10/....4tNGf7Pz.dpuf

Link:http://www.armymagazine.org/2015/10/...an-move-ahead/
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Old 10-28-2015   #36
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More suited to this Iraq thread than the other Iraq thread.

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Five other service members have been “wounded in action” since the U.S. first sent troops back into Iraq last year, according to statistics from the Pentagon and interviews with officials in Iraq (PDF). But how and when they were injured, the Pentagon refuses to say.
http://www.thedailybeast.com/article...DB&via=FB_Page
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