Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Machinations

Iraq

CNN:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Asked if he thought the United States was winning the war in Iraq, defense secretary nominee Robert Gates answered with a simple "no."

Incoming Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D- Michigan, asked the question during Gates' Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday.

The former CIA director also told Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, that the "status quo isn't acceptable" and said that the United States invaded Iraq with insufficient troop levels.

Without providing any specific timeline for the conflict, Gates suggested twice that the war would last another year or two.

"Our course over the next year or two will determine whether the American and Iraqi people and the next president of the United States will face a slowly but steadily improving situation in Iraq and in the region or will face the very real risk and possible reality of a regional conflagration," he said.

Shortly before that comment, Gates said that "developments in Iraq over the next year or two" would shape the Middle East and "greatly influence global geo-politics for many years to come."
The Los Angeles Times: "Shiite leader sees no role for Iraq's neighbors"

The quantity of trucks crossing into Iraq from Iran on a given day would beg to differ.

The New York Times:
Changes in troop assignments over just the past three weeks included moving about 1,000 American soldiers in Baghdad from traditional combat roles to serve as trainers and advisers to Iraqi units, senior American officers said in interviews here. Commanders say they believe that a major influx of American advisers can add spine and muscle to Iraqi units that will help them to move into the lead in improving security.

The troops have been reassigned by commanders, who have not sought additional combat troops to replace them. While the troops have not been through the special program for trainers set up by the military, they are working in their areas of expertise, commanders said.

American generals in Iraq have made the reassignments in recent weeks even though President Bush and his senior national security advisers have not yet made a formal decision about whether to expand the American contingent sent to Iraq specifically to serve on military training teams.
The Washington Post:
Across the military, scarce equipment is being shifted from unit to unit for training. For example, a brigade of 3,800 soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division that will deploy to Iraq next month has been passing around a single training set of 44 Humvees, none of which has the added armor of the Humvees they will drive in Iraq.

The military's ground forces are only beginning the vast and costly job of replacing, repairing and upgrading combat equipment -- work that will cost an estimated $17 billion to $19 billion annually for several more years, regardless of any shift in Iraq strategy. The Army alone has 280,000 major pieces of equipment in combat zones that will eventually have to be fixed or replaced. Before the war, the Army spent $2.5 billion to $3 billion a year on wear and tear.
(Best I can find right now) Sun Tzu:
2. When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men's weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be damped. If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength.

3. Again, if the campaign is protracted, the resources of the State will not be equal to the strain.

4. Now, when your weapons are dulled, your ardor damped, your strength exhausted and your treasure spent, other chieftains will spring up to take advantage of your extremity. Then no man, however wise, will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue.

5. Thus, though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays.

6. There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.
Afghanistan

There was a point early in Iraq when the Pentagon stopped listening to the advice of other agencies.

The Los Angeles Times:
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon, engaged in a difficult fight to defeat a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan, has resisted entreaties from U.S. anti-narcotics officials to play an aggressive role in the faltering campaign to curb the country's opium trade.

Military units in Afghanistan largely overlook drug bazaars, rebuff some requests to take U.S. drug agents on raids and do little to counter the organized crime syndicates shipping the drug to Europe, Asia and, increasingly, the United States, according to officials and documents.

While the Pentagon and the Drug Enforcement Administration, or the DEA, have been at odds, poppy cultivation has exploded, increasing by more than half this year. Afghanistan supplies about 92% of the world's opium, and traffickers reap an estimated $2.3 billion in annual profits.
USA Today:
U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry said in an interview that NATO countries need to contribute more troops and that some of them must drop "caveats" that prevent their forces from fighting freely.

The restrictions risk driving a wedge in the NATO alliance between forces that fight and those that don't, Eikenberry said.

"Could you have an alliance in which you have one group that is always going into the toughest places and fighting and taking casualties, and you have a second group that is in a different category?" Eikenberry said over the weekend. "Over the next several years, that is something that could be a challenge if it is not addressed."

The United States and other countries have been pushing for the removal of caveats as they try to send troops to fight the raging insurgency in southern and eastern Afghanistan. At a summit last week in the Latvian capital, Riga, the NATO countries operating in Afghanistan agreed to come to each other's aid in an emergency, ignoring any caveats. The NATO commander in Afghanistan defines what constitutes an emergency.

Eikenberry's comments indicate caveats remain a worry as NATO has assumed a larger role in Afghanistan. The United States this year handed over military responsibility for all of Afghanistan to a 32,000-strong NATO force, which previously had operated in the country's relatively secure north and western regions. Eikenberry said the transition to NATO command had gone smoothly. Afghanistan is the alliance's first deployment outside Europe.
A strained or broken NATO alliance in 2007 or 2008 would be catastrophic.

Lebanon

Bloomberg News:
Lebanon's power struggle has become a kind of civic trench warfare. Anti-government demonstrators led by Hezbollah, the Shiite Muslim party and militia, occupy a large plaza and parking lot just a hundred yards from the Grand Saray. They vow to stay until the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora falls. Siniora, in declarations broadcast from the Ottoman-era bastion, says the cabinet will remain.

Ten of 18 coalition ministers are living at the Grand Saray; the rest are holed up in their homes. Meanwhile, political killings, memories of a 15-year civil war that ended in 1990, white-hot rhetoric and mutual mistrust contribute to persistent fears of widespread violence.

On Dec. 3, a Shiite man was shot dead during street fights in the Beirut neighborhood of KasKas. It was the first fatality in the largely peaceful four days of anti-government protests. Lebanese television reported scuffles between youths roaming by car, on mopeds and on foot in other parts of the capital.
Pakistan the peaceful?

If you want to know what moves Musharraf, the BBC (answer is my emphasis):
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has suggested Pakistan would give up its claim over disputed Kashmir if India accepted his peace proposals.

Gen Musharraf called for a phased withdrawal of troops in the region and self-governance for Kashmiris.

[...]

The BBC's Barbara Plett in Islamabad says the remarks are being seen as a message to the Indian establishment that Pakistan is prepared for bold moves if Delhi is willing to reciprocate.

Analysts in Pakistan say it is likely that resolving the Kashmir dispute would be very popular among ordinary Pakistanis and would help to isolate the president's Islamist opponents.

It would almost certainly greatly improve economic relations with India, our correspondent says - something analysts believe could help the army retain its position as the dominant power in Pakistan
.

4 Comments:

Blogger RoseCovered Glasses said...

There are good points in the article. I would like to supplement them with some information:

I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.

If you are interested in a view of the inside of the Pentagon procurement process from Vietnam to Iraq please check the posting at my blog entitled, “Odyssey of Armements”

http://www.rosecoveredglasses.blogspot.com

The Pentagon is a giant,incredibly complex establishment,budgeted in excess of $500B per year. The Rumsfelds, the Adminisitrations and the Congressmen come and go but the real machinery of policy and procurement keeps grinding away, presenting the politicos who arrive with detail and alternatives slanted to perpetuate itself.

How can any newcomer, be he a President, a Congressman or even the Sec. Def. to be - Mr. Gates- understand such complexity, particulary if heretofore he has not had the clearance to get the full details?

Answer- he can’t. Therefor he accepts the alternatives provided by the career establishment that never goes away and he hopes he makes the right choices. Or he is influenced by a lobbyist or two representing companies in his district or special interest groups.

From a practical standpoint, policy and war decisions are made far below the levels of the talking heads who take the heat or the credit for the results.

This situation is unfortunate but it is ablsolute fact. Take it from one who has been to war and worked in the establishment.

This giant policy making and war machine will eventually come apart and have to be put back together to operate smaller, leaner and on less fuel. But that won’t happen unitil it hits a brick wall at high speed.

We will then have to run a Volkswagon instead of a Caddy and get along somehow. We better start practicing now and get off our high horse. Our golden aura in the world is beginning to dull from arrogance.

12:05 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

It's more than a little dull...

I appreciate your comments and invite you to visit this page as often as you can. I will visit yours now.

1:03 PM  
Blogger Chuck said...

When President Eisenhower left office, he warned us to be wary of the Military/Industrial Complex. He was right.

I was never assigned to the Pentagon but had occassion to go there several times. One of the first things that jumped out at me on my first visit was the number of people who work there. It seems to be hive of worker bees who have lost their queen.

I was a lowly Navy Lt. freshly returned from Vietnam and I was briefing Admirals and Generals who should have known a lot more than me but you would have thought I was delivering the Sermon on the Mount.

I did not then and do not now understand why it takes so much Military Brass to run the military. That Brass takes up a hell of a lot of the $500B cited by rosecolored glasses.

I won't even go into the procurement process other than to say it is rediculous. If the process were truly analyzed, we could save billions of $. Ever wonder why a B-1 bomber costs over a billion?

The military needs to get rid of 80% of the Generals and Admirals, 60% of the civilians and 100% of the Aides and concentrate on things military, not political.

As a point of interest, there are more Field Grade officers now than there were at the height of WWll. Go figure.
Chuck

5:50 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

That's a powerful conclusion, Chuck. I truly value your observations.

6:09 PM  

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