Friday, November 10, 2006

War planning from the ground up

While Donald Rumsfeld attempted to impose transformation on the Defense Department, the commanders on the ground have developed their own contributions for war planning.

Retired General Paul Eaton, today in the New York Times, has repeatedly referenced an article published over the summer by Military Review. In the Times, Eaton wrote (my emphasis):
At the same time, we need a Manhattan Project-level effort to build the Iraqi security forces. A good blueprint can be found in an article in the July-August Military Review by Lt. Col. Douglas Ollivant, a former operations officer with the Army’s Fifth Cavalry Regiment in Iraq, and Lt. Eric D. Chewning. The plan is to create new multifaceted battalions — blending infantry, armor, engineers and other specialists — that would live and work beside Iraqi security forces and civilians. Some of our troops, working largely at the platoon level, have had great success along these lines; but as the authors note, such small units “lack the robust staff and sufficient mass to fully exploit local relationships.” It’s time to replicate that success on a larger scale.

Democrats in Congress must also demand that the administration abide by the old adage, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” in the Middle East. We should return our ambassador to Syria and re-establish diplomatic relations with Iran as first steps in building a coalition of Iraq’s neighbors to plan the way forward. While their motives may not be identical to ours, they have little desire to see Iraq dissolve into civil war.

It is also vital to reinvigorate the military leadership. First, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace, must begin to act in the role prescribed by the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986. This requires the senior man in uniform to have direct access to the president, a role denied to him and his predecessor, Gen. Richard Myers, by Mr. Rumsfeld.

As for the next secretary of defense, he must stand up to his own party. Congressional Republicans have told the Army that 512,000 troops are enough, and that the Pentagon should pay for them with the money already allocated, a zero sum game. This would mean raiding the funds that are supposed to go toward the first real Army modernization program since the Reagan years. (Today, military spending is 4 percent of gross domestic product, as opposed to 6.2 percent during the hugely successful Reagan build-up and more than 9 percent during the Vietnam War.)

The Army must rise to at least 570,000 troops to meet the demands placed on it. Before he was forced out as Army chief of staff in 2003, Gen. Eric Shinseki warned us to “beware the 12-division foreign policy with a 10-division Army.” That was a spot-on prediction of the problem we face today.
Ollivant and Chewning wrote in Military Review:
Upon returning from Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), we began to search older works on COIN, hoping to find hints of a larger framework in which to ground our observations. The work we both (independently) found indispensable was Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice, a 1964 book by David Galula. Based on his firsthand knowledge of insurgencies in China, Greece, Southeast Asia, and Algeria, Galula derives numerous lessons, several of which reflected our own experiences.

The first lesson is that successful COIN operations require assistance from the community. To earn such support, the counterinsurgent must sell the host-nation population on an idea. As Galula writes, “[O]n the eve of embarking on a major effort, the counterinsurgent faces what is probably the most difficult problem of the war: He has to arm himself with a competing cause.”4


Blogger mikevotes said...

Okay, but what cause does the US have to offer?

Do we really expect the people of Iraq currently fighting for their sectarian tribal interests to suddenly pivot to fight for a a unified government?

Is our cause to have them fight for US interests, and then we leave? What happens to them then?

It's in their interests to fight for "their people."

The option that I see coming is that by giving the government to the Shia and making it theirs, suddenly, they'll fight for the government and the legitimization that government will give their claims to power.

I'm tired, I hope that makes sense.

11:42 PM  
Blogger dave bones said...

might work...

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rummy was just using up the nation's surplus population. Brits lost 20,000 dead on the first day of the Battle of the Somme during WWI and didn't even blink. Always knew that whenever they were to bite off more than what they could chew, then they could always sucker the good ol' US of A into baling them out.

2:43 AM  

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