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30 October 2006

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taters

Welcome back, Col. Lang, I hope and trust all is well. This was a matter of grave concern when you mentioned it before, as it is now.

Leila Abu-Saba

How could any true patriot accept this state of affairs?

I am a liberal and I have to say that as a liberal who loves this country and wants to see it thrive, I am offended. Such incompetence verges on treason.

Conservatives - can you defend this? Is your only defense that it isn't really happening? Or maybe, just maybe, that it's an offense against conservative values to be so damn stupid?

'Cause nobody who actually loves American values really wants to see this disaster unfold.

McGee

Colonel,

Whatever happened to Worst Case Contingency Planning?

W. Patrick Lang

emptywheel

I would say that "the beast" is crawling toward a dark outcome. Does "the beast" know where it is headed?

Quien sabe?

PL

W. Patrick Lang

McGee

An art practised by generals unlike these. pl

backsdrummer

It is tragic how Iraq has provided a self-sustaining proving ground for all manner of militant anti-American movements. The insurgents can probe for our weaknesses while our aggressive military presence and overly-ambitious political goals create enough hostility to provide them a multitude of inexhaustable sources of eager replacements, supplies, and funding.

My guess is the US military could quickly re-establish any break in the supply lines, but the ongoing cost of military operations would increase dramatically for as soon as we reduced the protection, the insurgents would be back. This could well become a key event in convincing everyone Iraq is "unwinnable".

I agree nothing will change until Bush is gone. I believe the President's Iraq policy is overly-burdened by political baggage, but he will not change anything as it could risk his domestic political base.

So we will continue to spend billions forcibly searching and bombing homes we ensure everyone belong to "terrorists", maintaining sometimes trigger-happy check-points, and conducting occasional raids without the knowledge or consent of the "sovereign Iraq Government". We will keep these and other tactics up, while also ignoring any non-American government investigation of civilian losses or the conduct of our forces and/or our allies and contractors, until everyone in Iraq eagerly embraces "democracy".

Unfortunately, from what I've read Bush's "Iraqi Democracy" has a few strings attached: Willingly providing permanent American military bases, American control of the air-space, turning all allegations of criminal or civil wrong doing by Americans or their allies or contractors over to American authorities, granting Americans the right to warrantless searches and the use of deadly force, eliminating most if not all tariffs on foreign products, privatizing the economy, especially the oil industry, and whole-heartedly supporting the US and Israel against Iran, Syria, and Palestinian militant causes. Not much to ask for.

"Democracy" also means ignoring the hard-to-solve causes of ethnic tension like the history of ethnic cleansing at Kirkuk and control of the oil that lies beneath it.

So I'm not expecting a military solution, nor expecting this President to reduce his definition of victory for a sovereign" and "democratic" Iraq anytime soon.

DeWitt Grey

Colonel:

I trust that you are exaggerating in the hope that you will be proven wrong. After the PLA's attack on the Eighth Army in the fall of 1950, I would have thought our field forces would always have contingency plans for problems like these. I must say that the serious British talk of withdrawal from Basra makes me wonder who will be minding the LoCs. Is "redeployment" north through Kurdistan and Turkey a fallback option?

W. Patrick Lang

DeWitt

1950? These men were nearly all born after that.

Their ahistoricity is so bad that arguments that involve history have to be couched in other language in order to get them to listen. pl

W. Patrick Lang

backwhatever

I gather that you missed this lesson at the Staff College.

Yes, you can fight one convoy through. You can fight ten convoys through, or a hundred. What you can not do is keep a four hundred mile long LOC (line of communication) open through hostile human terrain unless you have enough resources to "outpost" the whole thing and still have enough left over to do whatever you have to do up in central Iraq.

Applied math:

one RPG + 1 guerrilla = 1 dead truck + drivers frightened to death.

Look up the concept of "friction in war" in Clausewitz. pl

Matthew

Col. Lang: Contingency planning? Unless that is a political attack ad, I ask--why would Bush start now?

confusedponderer

Under SecDef Rumsfeld an act of defaitism like Worst Case Contingency Planning will probably be punished severly. Sad enough.

Still, it is possible that there is some planning going on on this, as an unofficial and unordered back-up plan for the generals, just to cover all bets.

They may be spineless, but they aren't stupid (at least I hope so). When finally the shit hits the fan Rumsfeld will be refusing any responsibility.

emptywheel

Pat

I'd be curious to hear your comments about the British evacuation of the consulate in Basra. Between that and Sadr's forces taking Amara, it seems like the Sadr's men are accomplishing what the Sunnis are talking about. How dangerous are the developments in the south?

Grimgrin

Col. Lang, this discussion of supply lines brought to mind this incident.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQBLsoOngA0&eurl=

To my mind, the supply lines in Iraq are uniquely vulnerable because they're manned by civilians. What happens when the danger gets to be such that they can no longer find qualified drivers at any price?

Walrus

Col. Lang,

Once again it seems we are in furious agreement.

With all the talk of "options" in Iraq I'm afraid no one has thought of the Walrus "option five". I refer to my comment under the "Follies" Thread:

""Option Five" is that the insurgents coordinate well enough to cause our defences in Iraq to collapse and they then kill every single one of the 140,000 troops there and boot our sorry ass right out of the Gulf."

I have always been concerned and a little envious about the amount of material the American army requires to fight a war, and the expectations the troops have of their living conditions.

While I would not characterise these conditions as "soft", and soldiers are entitled to the best food and accomodation they can scrounge, I think a considerable amount of logistic load is stuff that other armies might consider unnecessary. In my opinion this is the army's achillies heel and it seems the insurgents have woken up to it.

One has to wonder what the effect on morale and fighting ability will be like if the creature comforts are removed.

P.S. But way back in 1970, I still would have loved to have had one of those rinky dinky Government issue Coleman stoves to heat my rations instead of a soggy cube of hexamine.

Cheers! Walrus.

Walrus

Re: Basra and the evacuation of the British Consulate.

Word from a soldier on the ground in Basra who is two months into a six month deployment: "Situation is unpleasant, and getting worse by the day."

fasteddiez

Walrus, It's not the grunts who need dining facilities with enlarged lobster tails, LCD tv's, it's the REMF's and or Fobbits, and the bloated, parasitic headquarters staffs
who need such puffery. And if there is a God it is they who will suffer the most, come the downfall "Untergang"

Jaime Gormley

..."planning guidance" from our national leadership to the military focuses altogether on excluding any thought that there is a possible outcome other than a complete victory in Iraq...

This can only mean that Barbara and Jenna Bush, Elizabeth and Mary Cheney, Nick Rumsfeld, Andrew Rove and the entire vast untapped pool of hypocritical war enthusiast youth, formerly exclusively focused on personal aggrandizement and chauvanist exhortation, will soon commit themselves in overwhelming numbers to the fray, enlist in the Army and Marine infantry and begin patrolling Dora, Sadr City and Anbar by Spring '07.

Not that their participation will turn the tide. Far from it; this war was lost before the first Downing Street memo was written. But when the national security elite's children return from this strategic disaster of epic proportions in flag drapped transfer tubes or maimed and wounded in body and spirit the same as the economic conscripts they've so carelessly spent, it will finally become viscerally obvious to them that this deceitful war's not only lost but also to be quit.

Then our national leadership will graciously permit our military other thoughts than complete victory in Iraq.

ali

I do wonder about this.

We are outnumbered by heavily armed and by now combat experienced militiamen. We've trained a sectarianly divided Iraqi army. Mortar teams attack our bases down South every night.

An arrogant assumption of innate superiority lead to Isandhlwana, weary desperation came before Dien Bien Phu. Complacency lead to bloody messes like Spionkop.

There is a military disaster waiting to happen and it probably will be in Southern Iraq.

MarcLord

Halliburton/KBR has resorted to employing non-US drivers for their convoy trucks. Drivers from Burma and the Phillipines are not only much cheaper, they complain less when they're killed.

Michael D. Adams

emptywheel,

About Basra; Perhaps the British remembered a lesson about not evacuating too late that they once learned at great cost in the Khyber Pass circa 1850. Perhaps...

See you in Gitmo,
Mike Adams

Recondo

In mod-April of '04 when Sadr's forces had cut Baghdad off from the south and Fallujah went off the charts the 'dream zone' was down to 10 days rations, if they served MREs for breakfast.

Those that were there in NOV '03 will remember how the lines for chow in the palace went from 45 minutes to walk in after a credible threat of a sizeable force being assembled to overrun the 'dream zone. Bremer mysteriously departed the country leaving the Polish Ambo waiting for a meeting that never took place. When he returned and held a town-hall meeting, he told people to hide under their desks and shoot anyone that came through the door.

Not only is it plausible thatBaghdad, or any of the other 'super-bases', could be cut off, it is eventually going to take place and then you are going to see planes and helos falling out of the sky in large numbers, particularly as we move back into the cooler months of the year.

confusedponderer

If I'm not mistaken, the US army additonally has outsourced logistics to a good extent to civilian contractors. IIRC a good deal of the US convoi truck drivers are turkish. The 'new army' is 'lean' and has reduced the number of combat capable logistic troops.

The primary stake the hirees have in this conflict is (a) their hide and (b) their money. In that order. They wouldn't fight. If attacks on the supply lines increase in intensity and focus, the US will be preoccupied saving US hides.

The US will end up bribing everyone: The drivers, waylaying insurgent groups (who will find US vulnerability opens great business opportunities) as well as their allies (who want, reasonably enough, only get out of the mess in Iraq asap).

PS: For completeness, PL's article from the CSMonitor
http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0721/p09s01-coop.html

And one on the lines of communication in North Iraq
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/HC22Ak02.html

"... more commonplace concerns such as the fear of being struck by anti-US insurgents abound among the thousands of truck drivers working to keep the occupation supplied. Abdullah Ramadan Guli, a 57-year-old driver, said he has never felt more endangered in 28 years of criss-crossing Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula than now.

Guli is currently employed by the US Army, whose military base in Mosul he supplies with aircraft fuel. Turkish truck drivers such as Guli are some of the last professionals in the region to accept the risky business of working for the Americans. But even Guli is critical of the lack of security that the US Army provides on the often lethal three-hour drive down from the border to the strife-torn city of Mosul.

"Should there be an attack, the Americans just run away," he complained. "They only come back to tug the damaged trucks off the road."

In two years of driving his highly flammable truck within the 1.5-kilometer-long US convoys that cross the northern Iraqi countryside, Guli has been caught up in three attacks. So far he has been lucky, never having had his truck directly struck by insurgent fire. "Six months ago they hit us with mines and rockets, but more usually we're just pelted with stones," he said."

etuska sieben

Scary. I'm a liberal arts, apolitical (until 9/11/01), absolutely-unschooled-in- military-tactics woman, and I've been worried about that 400-mile supply line in hostile territory, and the position of our troops, and some awful disaster. Now I read that military thinkers have same concern. That says a lot about the level of competence being applied to administration of this war; it makes me really sad that I wasn't being overly imaginative. I've mentioned it to friends, no one had a comment...guess they think the planners are on it. Yeah.

zanzibar

"What happens when the danger gets to be such that they can no longer find qualified drivers at any price?" - Grimgrin

I have read reports that most of the drivers for the convoys are now South Asians - Pakistanis, Indians and Sri Lankan. I am sure Halliburton aint paying them $100K. And as the video you linked to stated they can be fired if they are "injured on the job" - no wonder Halliburton profits are doing so well. It seems there would be a pretty large pool willing to risk their lives to feed their families who may otherwise live in squalor.

jonst

Pl,

On occasion here i have suggested that the Bush Admin must, for some unexplained, or even unimagined reason, WANTED the end result it got in Iraq. That it ACTIVELY sought, and planned, for the reaction it got. This opinion of mine...radical enough, and nearly impossible to prove, has been respectfully dismissed. But I still hold it only because, as incredible as it may seem, a great deal of evidence backs it up. Here is the latest. And IMHO it is damning.

http://tinyurl.com/y5kc28

These guys wanted this to happen. At some level. They are encourging the chaos.

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