For latecomers, first some of the views that I hold on the modern US Armed Forces and what they are capable of and doing.
One is that we no longer fight wars even as we did in Desert Shield/Storm, not to say Viet Nam, Korea or WW I or II. Or the Cold War. To some extent this is necessary as the large Nation State military enterprise is only remaining in-force for those Nations that use coercive force to get their ends or threaten their neighbors. So China holds the world's largest armed forces, but a quantity/quality problem with them actually puts their effectiveness per man heavily downwards. And while 'quantity has a quality of its own', that is only true when it can be *applied*. The United States on the diagonal side of this equation favors effectiveness and quality per man over masses of them. Thus a smaller but more highly capable force allows flexibility across situations giving some capabilities that others lack, like integrated battle space, but then shows up lack when pure numbers are needed. After combat there is no light infantry constabulary force to back up gains made and enforce law, thus leaving a vacuum that must be filled by the smaller, flexible forces. And this then causes asymmetrical effort where it is least effective: policing.
Second, the types of conflicts that the US is likely to see are asymmetrical ones requiring advanced forms of analysis and application of same in a continuous learning approach. This starts out with the Wizard Wars concept. The Shadow Warriors of Intel analysts and folks sifting through imagery, data, comms, HUMINT and other forms of information are now the new backbone in fighting asymmetrical organizations. Their flexibility is limited by how and where the US Armed Forces can actually be deployed, and what actual capability can be brought to bear remotely. Tele-presence by analysts sitting in the US and operating robots and interacting with military personnel was first seen in Afghanistan and saw limited use for HUMINT and ground truth analysis. By bringing more knowledge and background to the battlefield, fewer US Forces are needed because diplomatic arrangements with smaller social units can be formed. This capability was available due to the 1980's work in Afghanistan against the USSR, but was not available in Iraq. Today, however, we do have thousands of individuals that have seen time in Iraq who *could* use remotely operated and telepresence devices to give continuity of operations and understanding between social groups and the US Armed Forces. This requires flexibility on the part of the Command structure which is sorely lacking, as it would leverage non-theater troops to give continuity to understanding, which would be outside of the easy chain-of-command the Armed Forces prefer. This tool is *missing* from the US Armed Forces and Intel Community in Iraq and needs addressing.
Third are Goals on the Global War on Terror to give a framework to the entire foreign policy of the US and how it will seek to employ its Armed Forces and give hard and fast objectives to them is absolutely essential to all endeavors by the United States and, to-date, has not been done in either a coherent or incoherent form. To put it bluntly the United States has no overall Foreign Policy. Without that, achieving *anything* with any other Nation becomes a troublesome task as the US is seen as not knowing what it is doing and likely to change course on *anything* in mid-stream. To give coherency to Iraq, the US Administration, no matter which President is sitting in the Oval Office, must have a definitive Foreign Policy and STICK TO IT. And I give further thought on some of the Goals here.
My first thoughts on why there would not be an Iraqi Civil War still stands.
I still believe that a Dream Team of turn-around specialists in business, law, social work, policing and other such areas is absolutely necessary so as to give good and credible third-party advice to Iraqi's from respected figures in each of those areas. It is essential for the Iraqi people in each of those areas to gain some understanding of the types of messes they are in and how to approach such problems and hear what has and has NOT worked for other folks and WHY. The responsibility for the Nation of Iraq falls upon the Iraqi people and they are starting at Square One in many areas and are still there in a number of them.
With recent capture of Iranian militants and intelligence personnel in Iraq and their aid to the Sadr Militia, dealing with Iran is a large key to this puzzle. I took a first stab at a semi-traditional view of dealing with Iran via military means. It is the old 'fuddy-duddy' approach, with a twist or two. I more fully believe that the NetWar approach is more likely, and do note that save for the few Special Forces to track down Zarqawi and such, that the mass of them are no longer heard from. That gives a new spin on *everything* and requires a NetWar view of Iran, that uses the full-spectrum approach and non-traditional capabilities to achieve National and Military objectives. I go over that here. I also respond to the Cold War concept of containment for Iran, and why that is not a fit into this area of the world, against this organization at this time, and, basically, doesn't work as either a concept or schema.
I synopsize much of my views on the actual problems with the US Armed Forces as resting in the central echelon of folks in the Pentagon and *not* at the highest levels nor Theater Command level. The fossils are preventing dramatic changes and are causing the most of the problems for actual capability of forecasting the need of forces for situation analysis and, generally, falling out of the command operations adjustment loop by not thinking ahead. And training. If they spend less than 1/8 of their on-duty time training, then they cannot ever hope to cope with the real world. Their troops now CONTINUALLY TRAIN with help from their peers around the world. The central command echelon does not do this and adjust to the modern world. And I vituperate upon this here.
I further continued these lines of reasoning by putting forth that all of the trend-lines for Iraq are good and getting better continuously, and that its Military refuses to be a part of any Civil War. Also note that the Kurds have had a decade to get a governing capability together and fiercely protect themselves and look deeply askance at a Civil War. Also the Shia majority is divided and not a monobloc, so any attempt to actually *seize* power gets one the non-sectarian Armed Forces, the Kurds and everyone else who doesn't like you forming a long, long line to bring you down. And then post, yet again, on why the things we are seeing do not fall into the category of Civil War in Iraq.
So, I have thought on this just a bit.
With Act I closing, having opened in 1979 in Iran, it is closing with Iraq and Afghanistan getting to a metastable environment with all the trend lines there looking good, while all the political and governmental trend lines in the United States in decline. Iran continues to be the major supporter of terrorist organizations both against its neighbors and globally, while Saudi Arabia continues to be the main source of funds for Wahabbist Islam and its attendant jihadi outlook. The United States did not know that in 1979 it was entering a new global struggle that would pick up soon after the Cold War, but by the inactivity of multiple Adminstrations and the loss of rigor in approaching Foreign Policy and adhering to standards, Transnational Terrorism as a whole flourished.
As the fine folks at the Foreign Affairs roundtable on Iraq point out, the need for a workable solution for Iraq is manifest. Their solutions, however, by limiting themselves almost entirely to Iraq, do not address the deeper regional problems that are causing the problems within Iraq. Without more than glossing over terrorism and concentrating more on Sectarian differences, they miss the fine point that to solve the Sectarian problems in Iraq requires that they be ended elsewhere *first*. Iraq can serve as a mutual accommodation solution for Iraq, but that is not extensible to more homogeneous regimes or those that are Authoritarian in nature. Indeed, even that simple solution is garnering the ire of Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran, each of which is working to destabilize Iraq. The military solution of cutting off the means of entry overland is necessary but not sufficient to this problem, although it ensures that one means and methodology of continuing interference is cut off. And those DO need to be cut off.
Syria has found itself to be less and less able to influence events via the exfiltration of people and money. With the cooperation of Jordan, the Ba'athist funds stolen from Iraq are now being traced, although the Jordanians are not so fast at actually yielding up individuals for prosecution.
Iran is reacting harshly via sending bombs, personnel and intelligence gathering capabilities into enclaves that support them or have been paid off to look the other way. Iran's own internal problems are starting to push it apart at the seams and an effort to *export* its religious/political system will actually hurt it in the long run as it will be unable to use those resources at home. The net result of this could be a destabilization of the territory of both Iran and Iraq and a localized conflict that will be cross divided: Persians, Kurds, Arabs, Sunni, Shia, Wahabbi, Azeri and many other crossing social categorizes would be involved. One cannot discount the Kurds with a highly stable and capable government and military reaching out to the Azeri and other put-upon ethnic groups in Iran in a way to suddenly secede from Iran and form more contiguous and ethnically pure States.
Saudi Arabia remains a vexing problem as its regime is married to the Wahabbi branch of Islam. It is funded by the flow of money from oil export, but the Saudi's are also facing longer term caps on their production and actual production decreases as their oil fields play out. So, while global oil prices are high, they will gain less percentage market share and be unable to fund their economy AND their deadly brand of Islam. Here, the US can support vigorous use of the Athabasca oil sands and actually open up oil drilling on the Continental Shelf under US control. Together these would add new oil supplies onto the market, shift the market percentage slowly from Saudi Arabia and actually reduce the cost per barrel of oil. Thus, US Domestic Energy Policy needs to align itself with Foreign Policy. By doing these things the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will slowly lose capability to dictate market prices of oil and, in actuality, begin to have its entire society undermined due to lack of actual oil income. It is a house of cards that will fall in upon itself if it is shaken that way and totally out of the hands of anyone save the President and Congress of the United States to do.
Thus the sectarian faultlines need to be addressed in Iraq in such a way as to gain some form of understanding that peaceful screaming trumps the AK-47 and roadside bomb. This requires actual hard border control and lethal enforcement of same, using the New Iraqi Army to clean up militias and using US and Coalition capabilities to help rebuild the internal infrastructure of Iraq. On TOP of that there needs to be a full court press by the United States to address all major ethnic, social, business and governmental areas by bringing in those people who have the know-how and hands-on experience of turning those areas around. The expertise and depth of experience in Iraq to do this is *missing* and is a key piece of the puzzle. This should also include a non-US military advisory group made up of Coalition Nations that have moved from authoritarian regimes to democratically based ones. Thus a set of high level military and military affairs experts from the following should be found: Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Romania and Bulgaria. These folks know how to re-build or build a stable military organization with many internal differences and make sure that their Nations are supported in that doing.
Again and first: A Dream Team for Iraq. This is absolutely critical and needs be done immediately, if not yesterday. People who can go out, see the problems, listen to the townsmen and tribal leaders and *learn* about the different ways and THEN apply their understandings of how things *work* to Iraq.
Second: Adjusting US Foreign and Domestic policy to something the World can understand and that the Citizens of the US can support. These must include a clear statement of the major sources of problems for the US and the World, but address ONLY what the US can do about them. Once done it must be adhered to and pressed *hard* so that those seeking appeasement solutions with those that would kill them are put on notice that that is surrender. This must include Energy Policy and oil drilling, along with heavy support of the FRIENDS of the US that are also oil exporters.
Third: Clearing Iraq of outside influence. Seal the borders to controlled entry, work hard to clean out the last of the militias and Ba'athist redentists and generally work with the Iraqi Government and its Army to get both fully operational in this key area. Without this there will be *no* peace in Iraq. And those that wish to kill their fellow countrymen should be given the peace of the grave.
Fourth: Close the banking loopholes and set up a strict regimen of trade controls based in the US for all goods coming to the US. This is an orthogonal approach, but will require the full stopping of every non-verified vessel and its inspection. Control regimes worked out via Treaty with US Friends and Allies will only put a minimal burden on them as they join in a closed and secure banking and trade system. This effects Iraq in that it opens up the entire US market to its goods and makes it a safe haven for investment so long as Iraq adheres to keeping illegal money laundering and transfers out of its Nation *and*, with the help of the US, puts in an inspection regimen for all of its outbound shipping to the US. This must be coupled with the US Foreign and Domestic Policy so that all funds transfers between illegal organizations will no longer flow through legitimate banking services and that trusted goods have little overhead upon them for being verified as what they *are*. Over time this lowers the number of network points where money can flow freely and makes them easier to monitor. This helps Iraq by ensuring that it grows legitimate businesses and works within a secure community of trade and regulation to keep itself safer in its affairs. This will take a decade to stand up and should have started in 2001, but didn't.
Fifth: De-stabilization of Iran and Syria via covert or even overt means. Public Diplomacy adhering to clearly set goals needs be given to Iran and Syria. Their interference in adjoining States is to be ended or face reprisals as they are threatening FRIENDS of the US and the US itself. Dust of the old Jus ad bellum and let all Nations know that there are repercussions for starting problems with the US. This needs be adhered to like nothing else as it is the BASIS for Civilization and ensuring the rights of individuals. Without the Nation State and that unit of governance being held to diplomatic standards and their attendant consequences, the United States and, indeed, the entire world of Nation States will collapse. By holding Iran and Syria accountable for their past actions, the US can gain legitimacy in its grievances and look for support in that doing. Direct State based diplomacy needs to be re-asserted and international bodies diminished in their global role. This will give what Iraqi's do meaning and give them just recompense and recognition for being a Friend of the United States and give grief to Our mutual foes.
Without the Dream Team, the rest becomes nearly impossible to do as the social and political and business means to address a Nation and turn it around will not be available. Leading figures in each of these areas bring skills, knowledge and know-how and should be employed in the Grand Settlement of Iraq for Iraqi's. What Iraq needs cannot be prescribed by the US, but we can help them to look through what they *can* do and understand the differences of various paths to take. The final decision will be theirs, but it will not be blinkered and blinded by a single faction within the US, but will look at how problems at the National level can be approached and solutions found. National know-how is a hard won commodity and is in extremely short supply in Iraq.
The greatest good the US and its Coalition Partners can do is help Iraqi's understand how to stand up on their own, so they can be a Free People in their own way and appreciate that freedom and protect it.
So we won't have to.
08 July 2006
For latecomers, first some of the views that I hold on the modern US Armed Forces and what they are capable of and doing.