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09 January 2007

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Michael

How is President Bush going to be able to force through a 'surge' in troops if congress isn't on side? Does he have the power to push it through even if the democratic controlled congress disagrees?

Lurch

There are only three decorations worth having. The CIB, jump wings and the NDSM.

Mike Moscoe

May God have mercy on us all.

kvenlander

Is it just me or are the battles getting bigger - the insurgents seem to be putting more boots on the ground, not just IEDs in the ground?

Wasn't the conventional wisdom some time ago that the militia groups could not challenge US troops in open combat?

I have no military experience, but am I wrong about this?

robt willmann

Leaving aside the legal problem of whether a country can ``lose'' its sovereignty after an invasion and then the occupying forces can ``hand sovereignty back'' to the occupied, this latest victory plan from the Bush jr. administration has a devious twist to it.

From the musings of Danielle Pletka of the unAmerican Enterprise Institute (AEI), to
other reports, part of the game now is to put the monkey on Maliki's back.

Col. Lang's post of yesterday, The Coming Crisis, quotes the meddling Ms. Pletka on television as saying that Malilki knows that if he does not perform . . . .

In other words, I have a fish wrapped in newspaper . . . .

An allegedly ``sovereign'' government of Iraq is being told by the U.S. government
and its policy backers on the outside that it must meet benchmarks and perform.

The Battle of Baghdad is gearing up. As has been discussed on this weblog, the
AEI powerpoint presentation by
that self-styled yet unknown military strategist Frederick Kagan gave us the first hint of what to expect from the White House. Kagan prefers to be called a ``resident scholar'', although how objective scholarship can exist at a foundation with an agenda requires a rewrite of the dictionary.

The powerpoint presentation was elaborated on a bit by one of its supporters, retired General Jack Keane, U.S. Army, on National Public Radio as a guest on the Diane Rehm show, Tuesday, December 19, 2006.

http://www.wamu.org/programs/dr/06/12/19.php#12323

That is where we first heard that ``securing the population'' (all 26 million Iraqis, or just the 6+ million in Baghad?) is to be done by
soldiers going to houses in each neighborhood, and then staying in the area and not going back to their bases at night. Where the soldiers will sleep each night, how they will be resupplied, what they will do with their prisoners, and so forth was not explained on the radio.

And now Fred Kagan, and General Keane behind the
scenes, have expanded the powerpoint presentation into an article of sorts. But rather than being the ``interim report'' in powerpoint, it is the ``phase I report'', of Choosing Victory, a Plan for Success in
Iraq.

http://www.aei.org/publications/pubID.25396/pub_detail.asp

The mask falls off the euphemism ``securing the population''. And what do we see? Our old friend, the proverbial ``cordon and search operation''.

Let's let Kagan and his co-authors say it:

``When the operation begins, joint U.S.-Iraqi teams isolate the district through checkpoints and other outposts, patrols, surveillance, and obstacles. American and Iraqi infantry
then sweep through the district. They cordon off each house or apartment block and then knock on the door, asking to examine the inside. If they are granted permission, they enter politely and then examine every part of the structure for weapons caches and evidence of enemy activity. The Iraqi forces with them provide a vital cultural interface with the inhabitants both by communicating with them and by sensing irregularities. On the rare occasions when the occupants attempt to refuse permission to examine the house, Iraqi and U.S. soldiers enter by force and continue their search.''

``When every structure in the district (including every mosque) has been searched and all weapons caches and suspicious individuals have been removed, neither the American nor the Iraqi soldiers leave the neighborhood. Instead, they establish permanent positions in disused factories, houses, apartments, government buildings, and, if necessary, schools (although coalition
forces prefer to avoid occupying schools because
it sends a bad signal to the neighborhood). American and Iraqi teams man each position
jointly. They allow traffic into the neighborhood to resume, although they continue to man joint outposts at critical intersections.'' (page 22).

Although Kagan describes the first Battle of Fallujah in April 2004 as a failure of a clearing and holding operation, and Tall Afar in September 2005 as a success, he doesn't mention the
second Fallujah operation in November and December 2004, which blasted the city and left a horrible humanitarian catastrophe. Today, Fallujah is not a pretty sight. And, ominously, Kagan admits that ``some sequels'' may be necessary after ``clearing and holding'' the center of Baghdad, namely, ``Redeploying forces from Baghdad to clear and hold Anbar, beginning with Ramadi and Fallujah . . . .''

Before we forget, let's go down memory lane to November 2005 and another plan for victory in Iraq called, surprisingly, ``National Strategy for Victory in Iraq'', by the National Security Council.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/iraq/iraq_national_strategy_20051130.pdf

All this talk about cordon and search, checkpoints, removing ``suspicious individuals'', the destruction in Fallujah and elsewhere, and the political ``leader'' of the area must do certain things or else, sounds like an echo of another horror story: the occupied Palestinian territories.

Mo

What will happen on the Iraqi side of this formula for victory? Yet again this administration, like the Israelis, thinks its dealing with the dumb Arabs of yesteryear, led by people more interested in getting back to their casinos and bordellos than winning a battle.

The fact is that Maliki and the Iraqi govt. are weak locally and only rule by virtue of the backing they recieve from others, most notably Muqtada al-Sadr. If this operation goes badly for the insurgents they may as a logical step reach out to Al Sadr for help. Sadr knows that after the Sunnis are done with he is next on the neo-con hit list and if Maliki takes it as an opportunity to remove him, Sadr will most likely agree and his price will be that the Sunni insurgency break ties with their Wahabi backers. The regional powers would be all too happy to see this; The Saudis would see the Sunnis protected without allowing the Wahabi elements to grow stronger (which is more of a threat to the royal family than Iran ever will be) and Iran will be happy as the Saudis will back off as part of the anti-Iranian alliance.

End result? End of the major secterian violence and new pan-Iraqi insurgency that is well funded, well trained and motivated by nationalist and religious fervour. Just ask the Israelis whats its like to fight people like that.

Of course this is just one possible outcome but I think a very realistic one, considering the goals of the Kool Aid gang, the Iraqi power plays and regional powers.

kevin

Or you get assigned to dumbass tankers and recieve the CAB-like me- a slap in the face to any infantryman.

W. Patrick Lang

Kevin

I feel your pain. Whenever I was in combat I never happened to be in the right MOS. pl

Will

i definitely earned my CIB (w/ oakleaf cluster just kidding about the cluster). And got my jump wings in lieu of three weeks of KP. Yes, there was some coercian involved. The NDSM? doesn't everybody get that one?

I could of have got some Kerry class purple hearts if i'd gone to the trouble of putting in for them, but thank God no serious injury until Agent Orange diabetes thirty years later.

A lot of people don't believe in the link. It's simple. Family (genetic) suceptibility plus environmental (dioxin) disruptor, Instead of getting it in my 70's, I got it in my 50's. All in all, a charmed outcome for a year on the DMZ.

I feel for these youngsters on second, third, and fourth(?) tours for the Great Decider in Irak.

Babak Makkinejad

I think you guys are missing the point.

As many experts in this forum have observed the US surge strategy is militarily point-less. So, one must search for a non-military, in this case, political explanation.

In my opinion, the President of the United States already knows that US project in Iraq is lost. He is pursuing a military strategy that he thinks will keep things limping along until the new president is in office in 2009.

lina

“Expeditions which are decided upon and organised with insufficient care generally end disastrously.” David Lloyd George

JF Meyer

What we surely hear this evening is yet another tortured appeal for time and understanding from the great Decider. The reshuffling of previous used words will try again to frame desired outcomes and assuage current doubts and previous mistakes. Hours before the speech, the outcome is certain-- without a rational and feasible military strategy which defines a fixed military objective, the forthcoming surge is meaningless.
One known outcome of the troop increase is the further stretching of an already over-extended military. It will be interesting to see this summer’s re-enlistment figures.
I am particularly disgusted and dismayed with the collective active flag officer ranks that refuse to go against this obvious aimless effort costing blood and future readiness against real threats. Where is the one officer who will publicly resign in protest to the administration’s continued folly? Grousing from the retired ranks is meaningful, but what is now needed is an engaged hard-chargin, fed-up three star with a set of stones resigning and then publicly telling the nation why he did what he did. The actions of LTGen Newbold, the former USMC J-3, came close but no cigar. I’m talking about one active leader willing to jeopardize himself in a hazardous act of patriotism. One officer who will stand and draw fire. Is there a Singlaub in the ranks?
My chagrin was born almost forty years ago when no uniformed star resigned and then reported to the public on the futility of the administration’s SEA adventure. And make no mistake; many stars knew the stupidity and pointlessness of our policy years before the Paris peace pow-wows. (Oh, an as aside, be damned McNamara’s late attempts at redemption.) Then over the following decades there was a mantra from the uniform service’s best that their soldiers would never again suffer a protracted flawed war. Stars as Swartzkoff, Powell and others who’d slogged the paddies promised to hold the line on useless ill-defined adventures. Apparently this once ingrained value seems to have been shed by today’s stars.

Kevin

I accually declined the CAB during the awards ceremony, but it is still in my records. I refuse to replace my EIB with a poge badge.

JF Meyer

While the whole year wearing armor brass, I got the CIB as a MAVC advisor for chasin’ Sir Charles thru I Crops. Yup, proud of it and all that, but it was and is the EIB which remains the infantry standard. In my time the CIB was haphazardly awarded. Some units required only one time under fire while others had a time in the bush requirement.
There are stringent award criteria the EIB. The EIB test often culls the aspirants to half who receive the award. I spot a troop with the EIB and I know what I see; a proficient professional combat solider. I’m not impressed with the creation of the CAB, but understand the itch which was scratched. Regardless, badges and awards are just that: badges and awards. Some of my best commanders were non-combat types while I had more than one multi-valor bozo call sign ‘six’. It’s the man not the uniform.

tequila

Idle thoughts - has the Army considered going to a more USMC/Navy-style Combat Action Ribbon, which is awarded regardless of MOS?

Kevin

"has the Army considered going to a more USMC/Navy-style Combat Action Ribbon, which is awarded regardless of MOS?"

Yes, the CAB is awarded to all other MOSs- to include members from the other U.S. Armed Forces serving in US army units, foreign soldiers assigned to a US Army unit, and infantrymen assigned to non-infantry units. It is a crock of shit badge that is given away freely. There are plenty of poges out there sporting the badge without ever comming under fire- paperwork is very easily pencil whipped.

Requirements for the CIB, CMB, and CAB

Chris Marlowe

Carl Connetta has written an excellent analysis on why surging more American troops won't work here:

http://www.comw.org/pda/0701bm39.html

Peter Principle

"When the operation begins, joint U.S.-Iraqi teams isolate the district through checkpoints and other outposts, patrols, surveillance, and obstacles. American and Iraqi infantry
then sweep through the district. They cordon off each house or apartment block and then knock on the door, asking to examine the inside. If they are granted permission, they enter politely and then examine every part of the structure for weapons caches and evidence of enemy activity."

Because, of course, 10,000 or so U.S. combat soldiers who don't speak Arabic and are hyped up on adrenaline, plus their reluctant Iraqi sidekicks, can and will search every room, every closet, every attic and every crawlspace in Greater Baghdad, a city of 6 million people.

Oh yeah, that'll work.

Cloned Poster

While targeting the Sunni on Haifa Street, it would appear that some F16's did some target practice on Sadr city in the process. CBS have reported the story but my IE crashes when I try to link it.

The whole problem for this process is that Sadr is not willing to become the playboy.

Got A Watch

Gen. Odierno speaks:

"A top U.S. commander in Iraq said Sunday that previous attempts to halt sectarian killings in Baghdad had failed in part because of a shortage of Iraqi troops and a tight focus on Sunni Arab neighborhoods, and that those lessons would be incorporated into a new strategy to slow the violence in the capital.

Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno . . . said the new approach would be "balanced," targeting insurgents and other fighters regardless of their religious affiliation.

"You have to go after both Sunni and Shia neighborhoods," he said. "Together Forward was mostly focused on Sunni neighborhoods, and we've got to do both.""
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/07/AR2007010700444_pf.html

With a recent poll saying some 80% of Iraqi's in the Baghdad area (not sure if this is Sunni's, Shia's or a mix) support attacks on American troops, there seems little chance of any "hearts and minds" being won.

Meanwhile, on the ground:
watching TV news clips of the fighting yesterday (mostly CBS cameras it was said, but saw other views on other channles), I saw a lot of small-arms fire, American troops taking cover and firing back intermittently, while presumably waiting for an air-strike or artillery. No Iraq forces were in sight, whether Kurd or Shiite. Given this is supposed to be "led" by Iraqi's, they must be leading from a rearward position. From the volume of fire coming from Sunni positions, I can't really blame them. But if those are the "allied Government forces" Bush is depending on, lookout below.

Another thing I noticed is that after the 10 hour plus fire-fight, other than dubious casualty figures provided by "Iraqi officials", who probably can't be found anywhere near the actual fighting, there were no claims that Haifa Street had been "pacified" or the area was now under Government "control". A British military analyst (didn't catch his name, was just on the radio here) says the Iraqi government soldiers were seen firing wildly in all directions, and when asked had no idea where the "enemy" was, they were firing because explosions had been heard nearby.

Arabic (Sunni) press reports say the same area was attacked by Mahdi Army "death squad" Shiites on Sunday, who were driven off after heavy fighting. The "attacks" on "Iraqi government" forces which supposedly triggered this operation were probably the Sunn's retaliating for the events of the day before. It was just another day in Baghdad, and today I hear the same battle is continuing.

I suppose peace could break out when all sides run out of ammo, but that (running out of ammo) seems unlikely.

Frank Durkee

Is it possible that the US is choosing the 'Pro-Shia' strategy advocated by the VP and others?

Happy Jack

In my opinion, the President of the United States already knows that US project in Iraq is lost. He is pursuing a military strategy that he thinks will keep things limping along until the new president is in office in 2009.

Nail. Head.
The only question left is, who gets to play Gerald Ford.

FDChief

Let me hear an "amen" for JF's observations. Yeah, I got a Combat Medical Badge for wandering around in a life fire exercise. Machts nichts - the same badge hangs off some guy who went through a year of hell in the RVN. Or some guy whose "combat" consisted of driving hot chow from battalion HQ to the company CP...

I tend to agree with the Brits - the US Army tends to hand out badges, awards and decorations a little too much, and with a surprisingly high degree of randomness.

This may be embarrasing to say, but part of the problem is that, frankly, the CIB "looks cool". You notice that not many people talk about craving an EIB or EFMB, which, as JF also points out, have fixed standards and are far more revealing about the person wearing them. The Pathfinder Badge may be the ultimate example of the "cool badge" syndrome...

John Howley

In a PBS interview, Michael Ware describes Moktada as the only Shia leader who is really independent of Iran. He stayed behind and suffered rather than escape to Teheran and this contributes greatly to his support among the Arab Shia who are not so hot about the Persians.

So, if we "take out" Moktada, we will be left with Shia leaders who are beholden to Teheran. Perhaps the thinking is that it simply becomes a bidding war at that point and we can make bigger deposits into their Swiss bank accounts than the Iranians can.

Except the Iranians aren't going anywhere.

Ware interview here:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/insurgency/interviews/ware.html

Kevin

"This may be embarrasing to say, but part of the problem is that, frankly, the CIB "looks cool"."

Or infantrymen without a CIB are treated like outsiders.

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