Thursday, December 07, 2006

Iraq Study Group's plan called into question

How realistic are the so-called realists? Not very. Do we have 20,000 troops that would be effective working with a sectarian-tilted, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, mulit-tribal, foreign language military and police forces? Nope.

The Financial Times has Carlos Pascual and Kenneth Pollack:
US policy in Iraq must come to grip with two realities: Iraq is in a civil war, and Iraq is a failed state. The Baker-Hamilton report issued Wednesday moves the debate on Iraq in a constructive direction. But if policymakers fixate on the formula of transferring responsibility to rapidly-expanded Iraqi forces with more embedded US trainers but fewer US troops, then expect more violence, more instability and more US casualties.

The term “civil war” is not just a matter of rhetoric. Bosnia, Kosovo, Somalia, Congo, Mozambique, Northern Ireland and countless other conflicts have shown that civil wars require a political solution. Even with a far greater force than we currently have deployed to Iraq, all that military forces can do is to keep a lid on the violence to make a political solution possible. Without that level of force (which in Iraq would amount to roughly 450,000 troops), only a new political compact among Iraq’s leading parties can end the violence.
The New York Times:
In essence, the study group is projecting that a rapid infusion of American military trainers will so improve the Iraqi security forces that virtually all of the American combat brigades may be withdrawn by the early part of 2008.


Jack Keane, the retired acting Army chief of staff who served on the group’s panel of military advisers, described that goal as entirely impractical. “Based on where we are now we can’t get there,” General Keane said in an interview, adding that the report’s conclusions say more about “the absence of political will in Washington than the harsh realities in Iraq.”

The experience of American commanders shows the difficulties in rapidly handing over security responsibilities to Iraq. In June, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the senior American commander in Iraq, developed a plan that called for gradually drawing down the number of American brigade combat teams by December 2007, to just 5 or 6 from the 14 combat brigades that were deployed at the time. In keeping with this approach, American troops in Baghdad began to cut back on their patrols in the capital, calculating that Iraqi security forces would pick up the slack.

But no sooner did General Casey present his plan in Washington than it had to be deferred. With sectarian violence soaring in Baghdad, the United States reinforced its troops there. More American soldiers are now involved in security operations in Baghdad than Iraqi troops.
The Washington Post:
The report's core military recommendation -- that almost all U.S. combat troops be withdrawn by the beginning of 2008, but that a large force be left to train and advise Iraqi forces -- struck some military experts as appropriate, but others called it overly ambitious.

Anthony H. Cordesman, a defense expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, criticized the recommendation to quadruple the current number of U.S. advisers and trainers to about 20,000 soldiers, saying: "The U.S. is to rush in more qualified trainer and embeds that it doesn't have and assign more existing combat forces unqualified for the mission." Indeed, among the lessons brought home by U.S. trainers over the past three years are that many were unprepared for the task and that the mission is extremely difficult. It requires knowledge not only of U.S. combat operations but also of foreign weaponry and, most of all, of Iraqi culture.

Quang X. Pham, author of a memoir about his service in the U.S. Marine Corps and his father's time as a pilot for the South Vietnamese military, said he considers the troop plan a thinly disguised form of quitting. "In one year, during the 2008 election year, the United States will abandon and betray Iraq as it did South Vietnam," predicted Pham, who was a pilot during the Persian Gulf War.
The Los Angeles Times:
Military officers and analysts say that the lessons of Iraq — and of Vietnam — have shown that combat brigades can be withdrawn only after advisors have helped improve the military might of Iraqi units.

"The U.S. combat brigades are currently keeping a lid on the violence in the country," said Stephen Biddle, a former professor at the U.S. Army War College and fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

He said that if combat units are withdrawn, insurgents' use of roadside bombs "will skyrocket, the civilian death rate will increase. And yet we are going to keep a bunch of troops in the country. Those convoys are going to roll through Indian country with no cavalry."


Blogger Praguetwin said...

I read the report and tried to summarize. I am bleary eyed from it. It aint great, but it is all we got.

Israel is already playing spoiler.

Oh well.

2:19 PM  
Blogger Chuck said...

... It ain't great,but it is all we got...

It would be better if we had nothing at all. This report is nothing but platitudes, wishful thinking and usless pap. If this is what concensus brings, give me a knock down, drag out fight any day.

It doesn't matter how we got into Iraq. We are there and the options are win or lose. I prefer winning and the only way to win is to defeat the enemy.

We need to put political correctness aside and clean house. The enemy only understands force so lets give him some.

5:05 PM  

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