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Old 12-15-2011   #1
Steve the Planner
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Default End of Mission-Iraq

This morning, I watched General Austin "case the colors" in a walled off enclave at the side of BIAP.

As I understand it, a few hundred soldiers will be packing the last bags this week, and then, the Iraq Mission is over.

Juan Cole ran a piece a few months ago answering the "How Will It End?" question as "with a whimper."

Based on the low level of press coverage and news accounts, the speculation is over as to whether he was right. No ticker tape parades, memorial ceremonies.

Austin, like many of us will just arrive somewhere else, and start a new mission.

The COINISTAs like Nagl are all now saying,"Oh, I always knew that wouldn't work."

Some wiser folks like Barry McCafferty are bringing up the important failures which he and others raised throughout: lack of resources, manpower, etc...

But my sense is even more strongly when I exited in 2009 that the US just won't want to hear about Iraq any more.

I had expected to be very happy when this day came, but instead am Somber, a bit uncomfortable, and a bit disappointed in the lack of pomp and ceremony for those whose placed much greater offerings on the alter...

Comments?

Anything learned? Any follow-up?
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Old 12-15-2011   #2
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Steve,

I feel the same way. This morning, like for so many, OUR war ended. I should be glad. Rather, I sit and think if I did enough to help get the Iraqis back on their feet and help improve their way of life.

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Old 12-15-2011   #3
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Default Not being a fan of pomp and ceremony, I didn't miss it in two earlier wars.

Some did and some will regret its absence now but the kids will do what every generation before them has done -- just get on with life. Some will stay but most will leave the services and they will contribute more than their non serving peers, that too is historical fact. In another twenty years or so, reasonably accurate histories will appear and we may get a good book or two out of it. Iraq is better off if only slightly at this point but the prognosis is good. The ME has changed a bit and change for the better continues by the people there. Hopefully for the better, anyway. Not sure the ME can change much with any degree of rapidity. How much our action contributed to that is to be determined...

I thought after both those earlier wars, the Army (not the Nation or the politicians but the Army) would have learned lessons. It learned little from either -- and many lessons it did learn were the wrong ones. More correctly, lessons were learned and then selectively discarded so the institution would not have to budge much from its 1919 mentality. Maybe, just maybe, three Army failures in a row will lead to better thinking and some positive results for a change.

What cannot be done by the Army is to change Congress -- they are a big part of the institutional inertia problem -- and were a part of the Iraq in totality problem. I doubt they learned anything from Iraq. Makes little difference, we just need as a people to continue to vote them out until they reform themselves.

Other than that, another day, another dollar -- million days, a million dollars...
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Old 12-15-2011   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
Some did and some will regret its absence now but the kids will do what every generation before them has done -- just get on with life. Some will stay but most will leave the services and they will contribute more than their non serving peers, that too is historical fact. In another twenty years or so, reasonably accurate histories will appear and we may get a good book or two out of it. Iraq is better off if only slightly at this point but the prognosis is good. The ME has changed a bit and change for the better continues by the people there. Hopefully for the better, anyway. Not sure the ME can change much with any degree of rapidity. How much our action contributed to that is to be determined...

I thought after both those earlier wars, the Army (not the Nation or the politicians but the Army) would have learned lessons. It learned little from either -- and many lessons it did learn were the wrong ones. More correctly, lessons were learned and then selectively discarded so the institution would not have to budge much from its 1919 mentality. Maybe, just maybe, three Army failures in a row will lead to better thinking and some positive results for a change.

What cannot be done by the Army is to change Congress -- they are a big part of the institutional inertia problem -- and were a part of the Iraq in totality problem. I doubt they learned anything from Iraq. Makes little difference, we just need as a people to continue to vote them out until they reform themselves.

Other than that, another day, another dollar -- million days, a million dollars...
As always, Ken mentors me towards a better way of thinking.
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Old 12-15-2011   #5
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Ken, RTK:

Right.

I read a piece from SWJ today. Two Army folks talking about how the State Department should change its approaches to better prepare for the next (?) contingency op (new civilian agencies, new cadre and staff, lots of congressional funding). I won't hold my breathe for that.

I'll take my wife out to dinner on this rainy night and give a toast to those who didn't return, and those who did after paying a very big price. A quiet prayer for those relatives left only with photos and memories.

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Old 12-15-2011   #6
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Default Have an extra drink

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I'll take my wife out to dinner on this rainy night and give a toast to those who didn't return, and those who did after paying a very big price. A quiet prayer for those relatives left only with photos and memories.
For me for them all
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Old 12-16-2011   #7
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I particularly appreciated the gravity, reverence and respect offered by Nightwatch:

Quote:
NightWatch

For the night of 15 December 2011


Administrative note: NightWatch will not be published this night in honor of the official end of the US intervention in Iraq. Now Iraq can rediscover a new Arab normality and identity.


Lesson for new analysts: Whenever a senior official of any government feels the need to assert in public that a nine-year military commitment was worth it, that assessment obviously is not self-evident.
www.kforcegov.com
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Old 12-16-2011   #8
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Default Look Backward, Move Forward

Of things I have read lately, the most interesting is a Small Wars thread from 2006: "Victory In Iraq," where the Jack Keane/Fred Kagan Plan for the Iraq Surge is described and analyzed

http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=1627

Of all the comments, Jedburgh's 12/18/2006 ones, IMHO, gets the Gold Star for understanding the scope and limitations of what was being proposed; the bullet (asterisk) is the plan; the unbulleted paragraphs below it are Jedburgh's comments.

Note: Much relevance to similar current/recent threads on Afghanistan.

Quote:
* We must change our focus from training Iraqi soldiers to securing the Iraqi population and containing the rising violence. Securing the population has never been the primary mission of the U.S. military effort in Iraq, and now it must become the first priority.

Securing the population should have been the first priority once we destroyed the regime. However, given that we completely dismantled all existing security force elements in Iraq, training Iraqis to secure and police themselves is inextricably linked with the goal of securing the population. One cannot be ignored in favor of the other - but we have yet to develop an effective combined focus of execution.

* We must send more American combat forces into Iraq and especially into Baghdad to support this operation. A surge of seven Army brigades and Marine regiments to support clear-and-hold operations starting in the Spring of 2007 is necessary, possible, and will be sufficient.
* These forces, partnered with Iraqi units, will clear critical Sunni and mixed Sunni-Shi’a neighborhoods, primarily on the west side of the city.
* After the neighborhoods have been cleared, U.S. soldiers and marines, again partnered with Iraqis, will remain behind to maintain security.
* As security is established, reconstruction aid will help to reestablish normal life and, working through Iraqi officials, will strengthen Iraqi local government.

Baghdad is a critical center of gravity. If we - meaning the coalition and the nascent Iraqi government - cannot secure the capital, we cannot succeed in the larger conflict. Unfortunately, resolving the Baghdad issue will require a far more complex fusion of kinetic and non-kinetic factors than the easy rhetoric of "sending in more troops" and paste in some reconstruction aid as they do their thing.

* The ground forces must accept longer tours for several years. National Guard units will have to accept increased deployments during this period.
* Equipment shortages must be overcome by transferring equipment from non-deploying active duty, National Guard, and reserve units to those about to deploy. Military industry must be mobilized to provide replacement equipment sets urgently.

Has this guy been paying attention to the state of the force? These would have been great had they been the standard in '03 - along with all the other common sense factors that were ignored through a unique fusion of utter stupidity and criminal negligence. However, in my personal opinion, at this stage of the game executing those recommendations effectively is not doable (except for the part about mobilizing industry for more rapid replacement of equipment).

* The president must request a dramatic increase in reconstruction aid for Iraq. Responsibility and accountability for reconstruction must be assigned to established agencies. The president must insist upon the completion of reconstruction projects. The president should also request a dramatic increase in CERP funds.

This goes back to the very first bullet. We've already poured uncounted billions into Iraq reconstruction aid. But our abject failure to secure the population has rendered much of it moot (the few exceptions proving the general statement). Of course, we must continue to repair and improve and repair again basic infrastructure - the people must have clean water, sewage, electricity, etc. But, repeating myself, that is all part of securing the population. First things first.
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Old 12-16-2011   #9
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Anthony Cordesman's grousings and sabre rattling on The End of War in Iraq:

Quote:
The Obama administration cannot be blamed for most of the failures that led to the insurgency in Iraq and the problems Iraq now faces. It cannot be blamed for failing to negotiate an effective strategic framework agreement. It inherited a legacy of Iraqi anger, sectarian divisions, and Sadrist influence that was a product of U.S. decisions made before the Obama administration came to office. The same is true of the uncertain structure of Iraq's present government and politics, which are largely products of the rush to a constitution and elections without laying the proper groundwork.

********

The Obama administration can, however, be held accountable for the fact that the Iraq War has no meaningful end state, and no one can as yet predict its strategic aftermath. It is nice for President Obama and Prime Minister Maliki to join in thanking U.S. forces for their accomplishments and sacrifices. Thanks do not give these achievements strategic meaning.
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Old 12-16-2011   #10
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Quote:
It inherited a legacy of Iraqi anger, sectarian divisions, and Sadrist influence that was a product of U.S. decisions made before the Obama administration came to office.
Good to learn that it was all "a product of US decisions". For a while there I thought Iraqi history had something to do with it.
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Old 12-16-2011   #11
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Dayuhan:

That was good enough to earn a writer's slot on John Stewart, Steven Colbert....
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Old 12-16-2011   #12
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Default Grousing

and rattling are good words.

Those guys should be smart enough to realize that blaming US policy on any one President is always going to be only minimally correct.

Tank Thinkers really believe their own guff. If it isn't done their way, whatever it is, it is unbelievably evil...
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Old 12-17-2011   #13
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Gotta love paragraphs like these...

Quote:
The Obama administration can-and must-be held accountable for its success in achieving "clear" and measurable successes in recovering from the past failures to implement a strategic framework agreement. It must take action to encourage real representative government in Iraq that actually bridges sectarian and ethnic differences on stable basis. It must make efforts to ensure that Iraq does not become a Shi'ite state or see a new strong man emerge in Maliki or some other figure, and it should take action to make the United States a leading investor in Iraq's oil sector and the rest of its economy.

The United States must succeed in limiting and countering Iranian influence in Iraq and in creating Iraqi forces that can defend the country. The United States must also restructure a mix of forward-deployed U.S. forces and ties to regional powers that can contain every aspect of Iran's military forces and political ambitions.
...especially since the author either doesn't know or doesn't want to say how all of these things are to be achieved. I hope somebody has a really effective magic wand.
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Old 12-17-2011   #14
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Dayuhan:

Like Ken says, Tank Thinkers like Mr. Cordesman should very much no better than to be pushing/blaming Obama for all the SOFA deficiencies (in his opinion) and past Iraq issues which were not otherwise accomplished in eight years. Now that we are gone, we must make things perfect?

Tom Odom and I were chatting about the 16,000 US Embassy Mission, now couped up in the no-longer-secure Green Zone. A police training and NATO mission that the Iraqis apparently don't want.

A few years ago, as a DoS civilian, I could go to a ministry building in the Red Zone in a low-key movement. Now, they can't even leave the New Embassy Compound without the kind of security we used to drive from Tikrit to Baghdad in early 2008.

UNAMI has a large hoteling operation operated out of Amman, Jordan. Critical staff are rotated into Baghdad as and when needed (like they do for Afghanistan) for two week cycles. The administrative stuff like payroll and paperwork is done by staff in Amman.

If the US followed this hoteling practice, the majority of admin and support staff would be gone, and the huge security and logistic apparatus to support it. 16,000 down to, perhaps, 5,000 and, for Mike Few's benefit, a $6 billion cost dropped to maybe $4. (What's a billion or two here and there?).

This would do a lot to allay Iraqi concerns (and street rumors) that there is more going on in the Embassy than is appropriate. Despite that, in truth, like when the troops were moved out of the cities, little is actually going on but a lot of people standing by.
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Old 12-17-2011   #15
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Default As an aside...

Having seen the WaPo picture gallery of that completed Taj Mahal of an 'embassy' I can say with certainty it is now official:

We have lost our cotton picking minds.
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Old 12-17-2011   #16
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Ken:

Nothing more telling than to see it from the other side of the Tigris (the Red Zone).

It is, with all portents, a broad and highly visible edifice.

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Old 12-17-2011   #17
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Default The 16,000 US Embassy (Baghdad) guards

Steve The Planner,

You referred to:
Quote:
.. the 16,000 US Embassy Mission..
Please confirm sixteen thousand Marines are the US Embassy guard. That is incredible, I don't have my IISS Military Balance to hand, but IIRC there is a SWJ article that refers to the Corps being 240k.

The logistics for the mission must be - well - interesting.
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Old 12-17-2011   #18
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David:

No, there is a marine contingent, but half are embassy staff and half private security (the thing Iraqis objected to the most).
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Old 12-17-2011   #19
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Default A typical Embassy has about 10-20 Marines.

The large ones, London, Paris, Tokyo, Beijing etc. have more while most smaller nation have less than a dozen. (LINK). In addition to the Marines, Embassies also have State Department Diplomatic Security officer, DoS civilian employees (LINK) and may also have civiilian contract security elements.

I think the total footprint in Iraq next year for US DoS and DoD (military training missions and military equipment delivery teams, no combat elements) and other agencies like Commerce, Agriculture and so forth (to include Contractors) is purported to be less than 6,000. Still a bunch, though Iran back in the days of the Shah had over 3,000 at times.
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Old 12-17-2011   #20
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Default As a further aside...

Quote:
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Having seen the WaPo picture gallery of that completed Taj Mahal of an 'embassy' I can say with certainty it is now official:

We have lost our cotton picking minds.
I wonder if the roof is suitable for helicopter landings...
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