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View Poll Results: Frederick Kagan's Plan for Iraq?
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Old 12-16-2006   #1
SWJED
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Default Victory in Iraq

25 December edition of the Weekly Standard - 'We're Going to Win' by Fred Barnes.

Quote:
It turns out you only have to attend a White House Christmas party to find out where President Bush is headed on Iraq. One guest who shook hands with Bush in the receiving line told him, "Don't let the bastards get you down." Bush, slightly startled but cheerful, replied, "Don't worry. I'm not." The guest followed up: "I think we can win in Iraq." The president's reply was emphatic: "We're going to win." Another guest informed Bush he'd given some advice to the Iraq Study Group, and said its report should be ignored. The president chuckled and said he'd made his position clear when he appeared with British prime minister Tony Blair. The report had never mentioned the possibility of American victory. Bush's goal in Iraq, he said at the photo-op with Blair, is "victory."

Now Bush is ready to gamble his presidency on a last-ditch effort to defeat the Sunni insurgency and establish a sustainable democracy in Iraq. He is prepared to defy the weary wisdom of Washington that it's too late, that the war in Iraq is lost, and that Bush's lone option is to retreat from Iraq as gracefully and with as little loss of face as possible. Bush only needed what his press secretary, Tony Snow, called a "plan for winning." Now he has one.

It's not to be found among the 79 recommendations of Jim Baker's Iraq Study Group. The ISG report was tossed aside by the White House. Nor was the scheme leaked by the Pentagon last week ever close to being adopted. That plan would pull thousands of American troops out of a combat role and turn them into trainers of the Iraqi army. The result would be increased sectarian violence and an Iraqi army not yet equipped to quash the swelling insurgency-leading to a gap of time in which there would likely be a further--probably fatal--collapse of civic order in Baghdad, and then elsewhere in Iraq.

Last Monday Bush was, at last, briefed on an actual plan for victory in Iraq, one that is likely to be implemented. Retired General Jack Keane, the former vice chief of staff of the Army, gave him a thumbnail sketch of it during a meeting of five outside experts at the White House. The president's reaction, according to a senior adviser, was "very positive." Authored by Keane and military expert Frederick W. Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute, the plan (which can be read at aei.org/publication25292) is well thought-out and detailed, but fundamentally quite simple. It is based on the idea--all but indisputable at this point--that no political solution is possible in Iraq until security is established, starting in Baghdad. The reverse--a bid to forge reconciliation between majority Shia and minority Sunni--is a nonstarter in a political environment drenched in the blood of sectarian killings.

Why would the Keane-Kagan plan succeed where earlier efforts failed? It envisions a temporary addition of 50,000 troops on the ground in Iraq. The initial mission would be to secure and hold the mixed Baghdad neighborhoods of Shia and Sunni residents where most of the violence occurs. Earlier efforts had cleared many of those sections of the city without holding them. After which, the mass killings resumed. Once neighborhoods are cleared, American and Iraqi troops in this plan would remain behind, living day-to-day among the population. Local government leaders would receive protection and rewards if they stepped in to provide basic services. Safe from retaliation by terrorists, residents would begin to cooperate with the Iraqi government. The securing of Baghdad would be followed by a full-scale drive to pacify the Sunni-majority Anbar province...
14 December American Enterprise Institute - Choosing Victory: A Plan for Sucess in Iraq by Frederick Kagan.

Quote:
Victory is still an option in Iraq. America, a country of 300 million people with a GDP of $12 trillion, and more than one million soldiers and marines can regain control of Iraq, a state the size of California with a population of 25 million and a GDP under $100 billion.

Victory in Iraq is vital to America’s security. Defeat will lead to regional conflict, humanitarian catastrophe, and increased global terrorism.

Iraq has reached a critical point. The strategy of relying on a political process to eliminate the insurgency has failed. Rising sectarian violence threatens to break America’s will to fight. This violence will destroy the Iraqi government, armed forces, and people if it is not rapidly controlled.

Victory in Iraq is still possible at an acceptable level of effort. We must adopt a new approach to the war and implement it quickly and decisively.

Three courses of action have been proposed. All will fail.
  • Withdraw immediately. This approach will lead to immediate defeat. The Iraqi Security Forces are entirely dependent upon American support to survive and function. If U.S. forces withdraw now, they will collapse and Iraq will descend into total civil war that will rapidly spread throughout the region.
  • Engage Iraq’s neighbors. This approach will fail. The basic causes of violence and sources of manpower and resources for the warring sides come from within Iraq. Iraq’s neighbors are encouraging the violence, but they cannot stop it.
  • Increase embedded trainers dramatically. This approach cannot succeed rapidly enough to prevent defeat. Removing U.S. forces from patrolling neighborhoods to embed them as trainers will lead to an immediate rise in violence. This rise in violence will destroy America’s remaining will to fight, and escalate the cycle of sectarian violence in Iraq beyond anything an Iraqi army could bring under control.
We must act now to restore security and stability to Baghdad. We and the enemy have identified it as the decisive point.

There is a way to do this.
  • 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.
  • 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.
This approach requires a national commitment to victory in Iraq:
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The president must request a substantial increase in ground forces end strength. This increase is vital to sustaining the morale of the combat forces by ensuring that relief is on the way. The president must issue a personal call for young Americans to volunteer to fight in the decisive conflict of this age.
  • Failure in Iraq today will require far greater sacrifices tomorrow in far more desperate circumstances.
Committing to victory now will demonstrate America’s strength to our friends and enemies around the world...
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Old 12-16-2006   #2
slapout9
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Default Yeeeee!!!!!! Haaaaaw!!!!!!

It is about damn time somebody said this is what we need to do!!!! He must have read the manual on Physical Security that is the real Center of Gravity.
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Old 12-17-2006   #3
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Default Hell yeah.

Goddam right. Im skeptical that the military will actually secure the people properly. Id bet anything they'll just increase the number of patrols without having them stay with the poeple. But if they actually established a CAP like strategy over there, I would be the first to volunteer to be re-activated and demand a demotion to 2LT. I would sell my soul to be a part of that. This is the first piece of writing in the media Ive seen in a long time that actually gives me some hope.
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Old 12-17-2006   #4
Bill Moore
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Default PRC must be the main effort

PRC measures are intended to separate the population from the insurgents, or the insurgents from the population (there is a difference in my opinion), or both, and the "the" key to PRC is providing effective security to the populace. If you can't protect them, you can't effectively influence them. Speaking as if I was an Iraqi citizen (out of complete ignorance) my loyalty doesn't go to the U.S. military tribe because they build a well or a school in my village, but to the tribe that will kill my family if I don't comply with their wishes. Now if the U.S. military could protect my family 24/7, and still build those wells and schools, it would a completely different story.

I am not sure how to categorize PRC, but at this moment I'm going to call it a line of operation (LOO). A LOO that must be the main effort in Iraq and Afghanistan, as it should have been in any COIN, Stability and Support Operations, Peace Enforcement (Haiti, Liberia, Bosnia, Kosovo, etc.), or the majority of other irregular warfare or 4GW environments we find ourselves in, and yet there is a serious dearth of information in our military manuals (please prove me wrong) on how to implement PRC. All I have found to date are short annexes or a couple of paragraphs in various military publications, which is definitely not enough to develop an effective training program. I fully realize that PRC is situation specific and there cannot be a cookie cutter approach, but we can do better than this. Perhaps this is what we have failed miserably at it, especially protecting the local population? Worse, if we’re not successful at PRC, all the others fail, because it their success depends on successful PRC. If there is a center of gravity in this war, then this may be it (those who have read my previous posts will notice a change of attitude here), and it transcends tactical through strategic.

We obviously need more troops to do this, but it isn't just man power, we need troops well trained in PRC. The worst thing we could do is put a bunch of poorly trained and ill disciplined U.S. troops amongst the Iraqi population where every misstep will be exploited successfully by our foes. Well trained in what? Obviously cultural awareness is critical along with some language skills, and then a heavy dose of PRC skills. Again how do we train for it? How important is this mission? In my opinion if we get it right we have a good chance at victory, if we don't we can't win.

CPT Holzbach I admire your muddy boots, common sense perspective, and would appreciate it if you (and others) would please read my request for information on population and resource control (PRC) measures under request for information category (note, my actual post is now the 5th one down) and comment on it as you see fit.

P.S. Slapout, thanks for the tip, I'll get a copy of the physcial security manual this week.

Bill
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Old 12-17-2006   #5
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Default Wrong target

This plan is attacking strength with strength. We hit the militias and the insurgents right smack in the middle of the biggest city in the country. This is the rough equivalent of charging dug in machine guns with unsupported infantry - like they did at the Somme. We take the worst possible troops for the job (American heavy brigades), and send them unsupported into the enemy's best environment against their best fighters. The operational environment in Baghdad is hugely favorable to insurgents, al Qaeda and Shi'ite militias or they wouldn't be there.

A better approach would be to support our attack properly with money and language support - and to make that attack in a place where the enemy is weak.
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Old 12-17-2006   #6
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Default

Bill, go to small wars journal library, go to security and stability section, download multi service ttp's for peace ops (manual has no number just title)
go to section 3 for ops design for good overview.

Go to the army digital library and you can down load the fm3-19.30 on physical security, also mission training plans are there. I can not access these but you can.

PS if you don't mind sending me an address (you can PM me) I have more stuff I can send you but they are physical documents, so they would have to go snail mail.
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Old 12-17-2006   #7
Bill Moore
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Default Found it

Slapout you're the heat, this is an excellent reference for starting a program, and I now recall reviewing these TTPs a few years back when I working on another contingency. I'll download the Physical Security Manual next.

Jones RE, I don't want to guess what your position is, can you please expand on your thoughts? I think I agree up to a point, but I believe the reality is the local population must be protected. In some cases, that may require rather large, yet semi-surgical, sweep operations to clear the area of insurgents. After that we have to stay and secure the people, or we will lose them again. This is for areas where insurgents coerce support.

It is a different challenge when the insurgents are willingly supported by the local population, as appears to be the case in some of the Shi'a neighborhoods. In that case we need to isolate those areas, and aggressively as possible control everything entering and exiting (manpower intensive, and it won't be perfect), to include fuel, electric power, information, food, water, etc. If we can do it, we're then in a position to try using carrots and sticks to persuade the population. If this fails (war is hell), then "perhaps" we can attempt a mass relocation program of the non-reformists? I realize that none of these options are easy, and some, perhaps all, may not even be possible, I simply throw them out as food for thought.

However, confronting their strength with ours (if we're willing to do the tough work, and make some tough decisions) just may be effective, as we are stronger, so we shouldn't hesitate to use our strength (our asymmetric advantage) if it is an effective option.

What other options/strategies would you recommend?

Do you disagree that protecting the local population is essential to winning this conflict? If so, why?

Thanks, Bill
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Old 12-17-2006   #8
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Default

Colin Powell came out today and said it was a bad idea. I wish this guy would make up his mind on troop levels on any given decade.

Powell on troop increases

Quote:
U.S. forces 'losing' in Iraq, Powell says
By Brian Knowlton
Published: 2006-12-17 14:55:48

WASHINGTON: The former secretary of state Colin Powell said Sunday that badly overstretched U.S. forces in Iraq were losing the war there and that a temporary U.S. troop surge probably would not help.

In one of his few commentaries on the war since leaving office, Powell quickly added that the situation could be reversed. He recommended an intense coalition effort to train and support Iraqi security forces and strengthen the government in Baghdad. Powell was deeply skeptical about increasing troop levels, an idea that appears to be gaining ground as President George W. Bush weighs U.S. strategy options.

"There really are no additional troops" to send, Powell said, adding that he agreed with those who say that the U.S. Army is "about broken."
I've always been a proponent of this guy but I'm getting a little tired of his consistent naysaying. I'm going to start referring to him as General Burnside.
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Old 12-18-2006   #9
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I think this is a pretty good plan. However, I would like to see the guiding document instead of a power point where the points come out like a MDMP brief. But, on the whole it’s not bad. We have done a sorry job at protecting the population and reconstructing the country.

Further, going in to these areas with a Mech force will not cause significant problems. It is most likely the insurgents and militia fighters would pull out leaving some rear guard to fight us. The only real problem I see in this plan is even with massive reconstruction aid flowing in to immediately rebuild these areas, is the reorganized offensive these groups are bound to mount to drive up casualties and push us out of these areas.

Protect the population yes, reconstruction yes, but can we maintain that stance when insurgent and militia forces turn up the heat in their backyards. If we can do that and implement the points of this plan then it may work. However, if we get in there and fail to proceed in implementing any kind of reform and fail to gain the trust of the people then it could get real nasty, real fast.

But, on the odd chance we can get in there and secure the area, develop relationships with the populace, and have an IA force that is respected and trusted, we may be able to do some good work. Moreover, I think a CAP style program is better than what is proposed in over circles where we insert advisers. I don’t particularly care for that approach and believe it would mean pulling to many SF and Ranger types from executing operations against foreign fighters.

Also what do you all think of trying to bring down Kurds to be the bulk of the Iraqi Army forces in this area? They would be neutral, it would tie them into the politics of the country, and might came some of the tensions we have seen caused by Shia dominated forces used throughout Baghdad. It may also help to put Shia and Sunni officers over them to help ease tensions and improve their situational awareness on the ground. Anyway, tell me what you think.

Last edited by J.C.; 12-18-2006 at 12:54 AM.
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Old 12-18-2006   #10
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* 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.

* The president must request a substantial increase in ground forces end strength. This increase is vital to sustaining the morale of the combat forces by ensuring that relief is on the way. The president must issue a personal call for young Americans to volunteer to fight in the decisive conflict of this age.
I believe this will get done - at least the first half of the statement. However, its effects will not be felt operationally in time to significantly affect the outcome in Iraq.

* Failure in Iraq today will require far greater sacrifices tomorrow in far more desperate circumstances.
This statement reflects my feelings as well. The old OFDA/DART joke about being between Iraq and hard place has a real bitter taste to it.

Last edited by Jedburgh; 12-18-2006 at 03:25 AM.
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Old 12-18-2006   #11
Fabius Maximus
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Default Why not wish for a time machine?

If we're wishing for the impossible, wish for a time machine -- go back and fix the mistakes of the past four years.

Without a time machine, little on this thread seems relevant or possible.

Some wars are decided on the field of battle, others at home due to exhaustion, bankruptcy, or loss of support for the war. We look to be headed for the last of these.

If the war had strong support in the US, why would this deployment of troops to Baghdad produce results different than those of the past 3 years? We still lack local intel sources and reliable translators -- both of which were so important for the Brits in Malaysia.

How do we "clear" Baghdad without good intel?

Tactically, we fighting an enemy that has developed the use of stand-off weapons to an extent not seen since the Mongols. Without good intel, our troops ride just thru the streets -- more targets.

Last, if we could "clear" Baghadad what would we clear it for? Are their Iraq troops willing to fight and die for their nation, as Union soldiers did during the Civil War?

This is different role for an Army than fighting to defend their homes from a foreign invader. It requires a spirit and loyalty that appears quite rare in Iraq, and that we know of no way to provide.
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Old 12-18-2006   #12
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Default Question for Fabius

Fabius, how do you know how many Intell assets we have over there?
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Old 12-18-2006   #13
Fabius Maximus
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Default How many intel assets do we have over there?

They are obvious by their absence.

The first year -- perhaps 11/03 - 11/04 -- we (both inside and outside) were guessing about even the basic elements and characteristics of the Iraq War. After three years, the general outlines of the war have become clear.

Esp. illuminating have been our big "wins" in Fallujah and Tal Afar, allowing comparison of Iraq vs. the long history of similar wars, from the Boer to Malaysia.
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Old 12-19-2006   #14
Bill Moore
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Default Rome is falling

Fabius, Rome is not falling yet, but the hordes at the walls. I think your comments on our intelligence assets are probably misplaced. I think we have plently of intelligence assets, and I think they do a fairly good job of tracking and rolling up high value targets; however, that doesn't mean much in the end. It isn't necessarily our intelligence that is flawed, but the strategy that it supports.

If our our intelligence community has a weak point, it is that it has failed to correctly identify the nature of the war that we're in. In their defense, there is obviously political pressure to do so. Our intelligence community definitely has its warts, and I think a key problem is they are clinging to legacy analytical models, which simply don't work, such as using named areas of interest (NAIs), which is useful construct in maneuver warfare, but of limited value in this type of warfare (yet there are still some viable uses). They are very poor at mapping human terrain, but with the support of the anthropologists coming on board, they should improve there immensely. But, contrary to your claim, I think we have the intelligence to roll up a number of bad actors.

What we do NOT have is appropriate rules of engagement (ROE). If you read Ralph Peters' latest article, I think you may agree with me that we're fighting a war with politically correct war ROE. We need more authorities and freedom of action at the tactical level to take the fight to the enemy, and if we don't get them any strategy we have is doomed.

It is late in the game, but I'm not convinced that it is too late if .....we implement a radical change in our strategy (definitely not articulated in the ISG) and in our ROE. This could still result in an acceptable endstate (not necessarily a stable democracy in Iraq). If we're not willing to change our strategy and ROE, then I concur that we're wasting our time, money, and most importantly our Soldiers' lives. We can't claim that this fight is critical to our national interests and then attempt to fight it with one arm tied behind our back.

Last edited by Bill Moore; 12-19-2006 at 05:36 AM.
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Old 12-19-2006   #15
Fabius Maximus
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Default ... the hordes are at our walls.

These are all hard issues, far beyond the scope of anything suitable for a blog. Also, they are important issues wrapped in fog -- so that many views are reasonable and can be well supported.

I disagree with you on most of these points (but could easily be wrong). As I have written, we're in great danger -- but mostly from our own arrogance, hubris, and suicidal economic policies. For more on that see …

http://www.d-n-i.net/fcs/fabius_enemies.htm

http://www.d-n-i.net/fcs/fabius_fore...2006_part2.htm

Re: intel & ROE’s

I suspect -- based mostly on history and news accounts, not a reliable base -- that our intel assets in Iraq are grossly inadequate to our need. In Malaysia the Brits had a century to develop familiarity with the people, and build intel sources. We've had at most 3 years, assuming we started fast (which I doubt).

The ROE debate has been hashed over in Iraq and almost every previous colonial war. The loser -- the colonial power -- ratchets up the ROE's. It never works. It's a sign of failed strategic and tactical thinking, in my opinion.

The French fought the Hundred Years War using outdated doctrines. Three great defeats on battlefield, almost carbon copies of each other, monuments to human stubbornness and inability to change.

Let's not try to beat their record. 4GW is here, and the old methods no longer work. Radical change is necessary. Are we up to the challenge?
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Old 12-19-2006   #16
Fabius Maximus
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Default a look at some of our options in Iraq (fyi)

These overlap with those discussed in Kagan's proposal.

part 1 (only the first page is relevant here, as an overview))
http://www.d-n-i.net/fcs/fabius_iraq...006_part_I.htm

Part 2 -- options for Iraq
http://www.d-n-i.net/fcs/fabius_iraq...06_part_II.htm

Part 3 -- more options
http://www.d-n-i.net/fcs/fabius_iraq...6_part_III.htm

Part 4 -- my proposal, coming soon.
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Old 12-20-2006   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fabius Maximus View Post
They are obvious by their absence.

The first year -- perhaps 11/03 - 11/04 -- we (both inside and outside) were guessing about even the basic elements and characteristics of the Iraq War. After three years, the general outlines of the war have become clear.

Esp. illuminating have been our big "wins" in Fallujah and Tal Afar, allowing comparison of Iraq vs. the long history of similar wars, from the Boer to Malaysia.
Sounds "PowerPoint Deep". From my perspective there wasn't much considered as far as a post war Iraq. The plan was to develop one after we got there. Rumsfeld wanted a cheap war and even convinced Tommy Franks to buy into it. In hindsight, the original plans, viewed as overkill by the Defense Dept. would have been sufficient to guard sensitive sites, provide security for supply routes, and maintain security for a few months until the State Department could come in on the rebuilding. There was no fall back plan for Phase IV. Phase IV was that the Iraqis would be the cheapest method fulfilling these types of rolls. The United Nations, rightly so, was and is left out of the game after the regime collapsed. I see no comparison to the Boer or Malaysia conflicts. Iraq stands alone. If the USG simply stuck to the simple formula of $8 for rebuilding for every $2 on military activity we wouldn't be in this total waste of time and energy. In typical bureaucratic fashion the formula, 8+2=10, was changed using "miraculous governmental algebra" to 10=2/x. The variable x being Phase IV. Though I don't damn the current increase in troops plan, I do think it is just putting a finger in a hole in the dike if there is no fall back plan with this one as well. The original goal was to avoid a ten year Clinton style nation building scheme. Looks like once we got there it is what we are stuck with. Looks like Rumsfeld took a gamble and lost. So, now we will just use "patches" to fix problems. All problems. What else can we do? At sometime soon after Saddam was captured, Rumsfeld came to this same conclusion and started pubicly stating that it typically takes about 9 years to restore order. If he was referring to the Boer War and the conflict in Malaysia then I stand corrected.
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Old 12-20-2006   #18
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Default Points of Agreement

Fabius I just read your part III, and while I concur with many of your points, I don’t necessarily concur with your conclusions. They are a bit premature for me at this point, but you could very well prove to be right. We are in agreement that our military doesn’t understand 4GW (and 5GW is emerging), and failed to adapt to it, though it has been prevalent since the end of WWII. GEN Shinseki’s philosophy probably accurately reflected the conventional army’s leadership’s, which was we could afford not win in a counterinsurgency, but we could not afford to lose a conventional fight. In many ways I think he is right, as I can’t recall any of our non-wins in the COIN realm doing irreparable damage to our national interests. There were set backs and pride issues, but still no other country was able to impose their will on ours through military force, or the threat of military force, because we had the best conventional force in the world. That is one reason I think he cautioned (along with GEN Powell) not to get involved in insurgencies unless absolutely necessary. He stated that the realm of counter terrorism belonged primarily to law enforcement, intelligence and special operations. The more I reflect on what he said the two times I heard him talk, the more I think he was one of our greatest leaders. Obviously his wisdom didn’t mesh well with the SECDEF.

A couple years back I read that that our current CoS of the Army, GEN Schoomaker commented that we somehow have became the British Redcoats. I can only assume he was making reference to our current crop of officers who blindly embrace doctrine, have alienated the local population with our conventional tactics, and have almost formed our Army into a caste system where we have developed an unfounded arrogance in our officer corps. A corps that simply out of touch with reality.

Our officers (young and old alike) seem incapable of disregarding the doctrines of the past, and cling to them like a low income worker would cling to a winning lottery ticket, with same results in the long run, a apparent quick victory, and then end up broke again.

I recall a young Army CPT, working in W. Point (the Kool-Aid factory), so this should be no surprise, writing that the terrorists didn’t know their own doctrine as well as we knew it. Please park the arrogance on the shelf and take another look.

We're slow to adapt, and dangerously so. We are now embracing an updated counterinsurgency manual that unfortunately is a few years too late for Iraq, because the conflict has morphed into a civil war like conflict similar to Bosnia and Kosovo. Once we figure that out and adapt, we'll be in another environment.

All that said, if we could get the right military leaders into Iraq, get Karl Rove out of the strategy business, and impose martial law (the current government probably needs to go), and change the ROE I think there still may be time to make something out of it, other than a complete loss.
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Old 12-20-2006   #19
Fabius Maximus
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Culpeper -- you are right, these comments are at BEST powerpoint deep. That's why I point to articles which discuss these issues in greater depth (although still just sketches, inadequate to their importance).

Bill --

You are of course right that Iraq is not over, hence my conclusions are just guesses ("forecasts" in the trade, sounds better). Thought-starters, nothing more.

You raise some great issues, ones that I am working on (3 or so articles out).

Here is something I think you will find of interest:

The US Army Learns from its Mistakes in Iraq
Der Spiegel
December 18, 2006

URL:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/...455165,00.html

Worth reading, esp the interview (link at the end of the article).

Wonderful example of taking the wrong lessons from a failed war, running with exactly the strengths that failed us.
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Old 01-01-2007   #20
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... blog concerning this thread and US strategy in Iraq - US Strategy in Iraq for 2007?
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