It really was startling to realize that one could, indeed, get actual information from a President and that what he said could actually demonstrate things put out earlier. I had, truthfully, not expected that, but, buried in the address to the Nation, was something that sounded strangely familiar to me.
President George W. Bush, 10 JAN 2007 (bolding mine):
The most urgent priority for success in Iraq is security, especially in Baghdad. Eighty percent of Iraq's sectarian violence occurs within 30 miles of the capital. This violence is splitting Baghdad into sectarian enclaves, and shaking the confidence of all Iraqis. Only Iraqis can end the sectarian violence and secure their people. And their government has put forward an aggressive plan to do it.That is a relatively succinct way of summing up the following:
Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons: There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents. And there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have. Our military commanders reviewed the new Iraqi plan to ensure that it addressed these mistakes. They report that it does. They also report that this plan can work.
The 'false starts' on all sides of the problem from civil to law enforcement to military, all grow out of the lack of the previous one surviving in any way, shape or form. We were, indeed, making it up as we went along. We knew what we would like to see, but had to find if there was any basis for that to actually *work* in reality. You may remember trying to bring back one of the old Army units in Fallujah (H/t: Greyhawk and this article on the entire Abu Ghraib mess and the part of the Fallujah Brigade). They went back to their Saddamist ways and *that* was a failure. So there were lots of problems trying to give a good definition to the 'problem space' so that we could see if the 'solution space' of our ideals and proposals could fit in as an answer. That needed time, and lots of it.From What is the Strategy in Iraq? 17 OCT 2006.
To GAIN that time the US was chastised for not going after the 'oil drop' strategy: get peace in the cities and then spread out into the countryside. What this does, however, flies in the face of every government that has tried to do just that, which is that their opponents move into the countryside for refuge and the insurgency does not only NOT go away, but metastasizes as local, city forces, are sent into the countryside. It rarely succeeds. Look at South America and Africa for the results of the 'oil drop' strategy at work. Instead the US proposed to do the inverse of the 'oil drop'. First off it actually treated cities as 'holding actions' to be addressed at a later time. This did two things: made the violence more telegenic and also concentrated it. As it concentrated the US changed its strategic goal to cutting off the easiest to remove part of the insurgency: the Ba'athists.
Yes, many people in those weeks before the election were asking if there actually WAS a strategy in Iraq. A bit further on in my What is the Strategy in Iraq? piece:
What this does, however, is leave the major cities in an uneasy state: not really at war but not at peace, either. Sectarian violence, however, no longer finds a home in the outlying areas of Iraq and is becoming more concentrated in Baghdad and points to the east and south of it. The Ba'athists can no longer be supplied by Syria or via Jordan and the al Qaeda members have been inflicting Sharia law on some of the tribes. After experiencing the US forces, MNF and other coalition forces, these tribes are getting fed up with al Qaeda and are rejecting them. Similarly, in the eastern portion of Iraq, central to north, the slow influence of Poland and the MNF troops working hard to secure the border and get things up and running are *also* showing a similar effect. Tribes in those regions have gotten Iranian Sharia law inflicted on them and they don't much care for that, either. As of last month most of the major tribes are signing on to the Government, ending support for insurgents of ALL STRIPES and dedicating their forces to local security needs. I expect in the coming months a portion of those forces will be trained for *real* work and within a year that set of local policing units will be fully integrated into an overall policing and military strategy for all of Iraq.What, that wasn't obvious?
Turning Iraq's Tribes against al Qaeda By Mark Kukis, The Times via iraqupdate.com 05 JAN 2007:
Soon an agreement was struck. U.S. forces would build and secure a series of police stations in Ramadi, where insurgents had run off the cops almost entirely. In return, Sittar would send recruits, hundreds of them, to join local security forces, which MacFarland wants to see take the lead in the battle to regain control of the city. MacFarland admits that he was a bit skeptical about Sittar's commitment to cooperating with U.S. forces. But month after month through the fall, police volunteers turned up, just as Sittar promised. An estimated 500 recruits joined the revamped police training program for Ramadi in November, bringing the number of overall new volunteers to around 1,500. Compare that figure to enrollment in May, when roughly 40 men signed on to a police force then numbering only about 150 officers in Ramadi. "Sheik Sittar has delivered on every single thing he has promised me," says MacFarland. "He's a leader."Why, there almost might be a strategy or something going on here! Now, why was the Iraqi Army, in particular, taking so long to spin-up? Well, for that let us move over to Creating an Army 16 NOV 2006 and see what I got from Norvell de Atkine on that from Why Arab Armies Lose Wars:
Training tends to be unimaginative, cut and dried, and not challenging. Because the Arab educational system is predicated on rote memorization, officers have a phenomenal ability to commit vast amounts of knowledge to memory. The learning system tends to consist of on-high lectures, with students taking voluminous notes and being examined on what they were told. (It also has interesting implications for a foreign instructor, whose credibility, for example, is diminished if he must resort to a book.) The emphasis on memorization has a price, and that is in diminished ability to reason or engage in analysis based upon general principles. Thinking outside the box is not encouraged; doing so in public can damage a career. Instructors are not challenged and neither, in the end, are students.And a bit further on from that he also gives us:
Most Arab armies treat enlisted soldiers like sub-humans. When the winds in Egypt one day carried biting sand particles from the desert during a demonstration for visiting U.S. dignitaries, I watched as a contingent of soldiers marched in and formed a single rank to shield the Americans; Egyptian soldiers, in other words, are used on occasion as nothing more than a windbreak. The idea of taking care of one’s men is found only among the most elite units in the Egyptian military. On a typical weekend, officers in units stationed outside Cairo will get in their cars and drive off to their homes, leaving the enlisted men to fend for themselves by trekking across the desert to a highway and flag down buses or trucks to get to the Cairo rail system. Garrison cantonments have no amenities for soldiers. The same situation, in various degrees, exists elsewhere in the Arabic-speaking countries — less so in Jordan, even more so in Iraq and Syria. The young draftees who make up the vast bulk of the Egyptian army hate military service for good reason and will do almost anything, including self-mutilation, to avoid it. In Syria the wealthy buy exemptions or, failing that, are assigned to noncombatant organizations. As a young Syrian told me, his musical skills came from his assignment to a Syrian army band where he learned to play an instrument. In general, the militaries of the Fertile Crescent enforce discipline by fear; in countries where a tribal system still is in force, such as Saudi Arabia, the innate egalitarianism of the society mitigates against fear as the prime mover, so a general lack of discipline pervades.Notice that Iraq is mentioned as one of the *low lights* in that pre-war listing? And that people look to their Tribes *first* even above religion?
Then my follow-on analysis:
Starting up a New Iraqi Army that did not have these defects was paramount and would lead to the first cohesive force in Iraq: an Army aligned to a Nation. It would not be aligned to: religious factions, tribes, families, provinces, control structures and would even look to its *enlistees* for support. This is a revolution in affairs in the Arab Middle East which NO NATION THERE HAS TRIED. Every single Arab Nation, and even the Iranians are afraid of this. A non-aligned Arab Army that stresses competence and loyalty to the Nation, not to politics or any other minor dividing force.Not only did we not want the old Army around in any way shape or form, but also recognized that a new one had to be created unlike anything else existing in the Middle East outside of Israel. Not even Turkey tries for what the US is trying to help Iraqis to do. To get US levels of competence and cohesion one must emulate US styles of society and military operations, and have civilian control over the Army, but the Army non-aligned to any faction or group.
Back to the President for this next part:
A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations. Ordinary Iraqi citizens must see that military operations are accompanied by visible improvements in their neighborhoods and communities. So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced.Yes, to have the Iraqi Army do these things well and competently will help bolster the building of Civil Society. It is a damned hard thing to build an Army based on merit when your society is still riven by Tribal, clan, regional, familial and sectarian differences. Here is the point: if the People of Iraq can see their ARMY do these things, then why are *they* being such slackers? Even worse they will have to *live* with men who are in the armed forces telling of their accomplishments and rising via merit and capability and start to wonder just how the hell they can get *that* built into their society.
To establish its authority, the Iraqi government plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq's provinces by November. To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country's economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis. To show that it is committed to delivering a better life, the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs. To empower local leaders, Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year. And to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation's political life, the government will reform de-Baathification laws, and establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq's constitution.
And here is what they will hear, taken from Iraq the Model and Mohammed talking to one of his cousins *in* the New Iraqi Army:
By treating the men in the Army as Citizens who have come to the aid of their Nation, these men are finding a new way to think and view the world. These men are coming to expect something *different* of themselves and their society, and by enforcing the rules upon officers and soldiers *alike* and respecting all religions, the Army is no longer a toy to trot out for shows and a bout of repression now and again. It comes to represent something *new* but not alien. Because these are the sons, husbands and fathers of Iraq."For the first time in my life, I feel I’m somebody. I’m not a trash as Saddam and his gang tried to make me believe” as he finished his last words his voice went faint as if he was chocking. I felt his pain and tried to change the course of our talk,
“how much do you get paid” I asked,
“Oh, pretty much, more than enough, thank God”
“and what about your meals” I added and he said with a smile,
“Oh you won’t believe it. Everything that we couldn’t get in our own homes before and that we only saw when the officers in the old army made a feast to honor a guest! I mean we have everything; meat is essential in every meal, vegetables, fruits apples and bananas. It’s still unbelievable to many of us!” he went on,
“One of the most important things that the Americans concentrate on in our training is physical fitness. A month ago I could hardly jog for one kilometer before falling to the ground exhausted and out of breath, and now I can run 4-5 kilometers without being exhausted.”
A frown crossed his face as he said “ I remember when they used to train us at the most hot hours of the day for hours without allowing us to rest for a while under a shade or drink any water, and when we get almost killed by thirst, we would be forced to drink from the dirty contaminated ditch water. Now we don’t even drink tap water! Each one of us gets more than enough an amount of that healthy bottled water everyday”
To some people this may mean little if anything, but my relative looked at it as something huge, and indeed, before the war, drinking bottled water was really a luxury that a very small percentage of Iraqis could afford. In my house we used to boil the tap water and cool it before drinking it, because we knew it was not safe and we couldn’t afford buying bottled water everyday.
Back in my What is the Strategy in Iraq? article I look at this:
And the ONLY forces that can actually stabilize and maintain things are Iraqi forces, and they have a set amount of 'spin-up' time after training and a long training cycle before that and the induction to combat cycle before that and the basic training before that. That entire pipeline varies from Army to Police, but is *months* long and it is actually preferred if there is some combat experience involved at each level. Thus fresh troops get rotated into nasty areas and are supported by existing, veteran troops, until the fresh ones 'learn the ropes'. The veterans are then taken out, given newer recruits and sent on stabilization and peacekeeping duty. Once they get used to that, they get back into the fight again. This is known as 'spiral design capacity' in which proven troops and capabilities are re-inforced, recognized, given time to rest and help bring the entire capability of the whole force up to speed.Yes, it is a veritable miracle that the Sons and Daughters of Liberty are working in a far off land to help up those that have been under the boot and heel of tyranny not just for decades... centuries... but millenia. Which takes me to my summation in the Creating an Army article:
Mind you, while all of *that* has been going on there have also been: rebuilding, creating political entities, registering people to vote, elections, creating a constitution, ratifying a constitution, getting things put back together economically, and getting these brand spanking new politicians used to the rough and tumble of National and International politics. That is a HELL OF A LOT for just over three and a half years! It is a lot for TEN YEARS and way beyond my personal expectations.
In point of fact it is a MIRACLE!
In 1974 the process of 'hollowing out' the US Armed Forces started after the dishonorable leaving of an Ally to twist in the Communist Winds. The US went to an all-volunteer force and the NCO corps basically LEFT the US Army as it downsized. By 1979 the US Armed Forces could not pull off a small rescue operation in Iran without disaster striking. It was obviously hurting from the decisions of the previous 5 years. It took until 1991 to battle-test the US Armed Forces in Desert Storm and the new, all-volunteer Army worked extremely well.Just *why* exactly would anyone expect a People who had never experienced a Free Society, never built one and never had to build an Army to defend it be expected to do so much better than a Nation that had one for nearly two centuries and still bobbled when a change-over happened in force composition via recruiting?
Seventeen years after it had been 'hollowed out'.
Five years was TOO SHORT a time for that to correct and seventeen was obviously enough.
Just WHY do we expect BETTER of the New Iraqi Army which did not EXIST before 2003?
Yea and verily doth the Tree of Liberty take time to put down roots and take hold.
So that brings us up to those who don't want to fight and here I will close with my closing from The Long Term Consequences of Defeat 02 SEP 2006:
Every thing I have heard as 'a reason to leave' is an excuse for cowardice and indecision.And it is sad that is exactly what those wanting to leave will get if they continue trying to push that.
If you do not like the way We are fighting then hand out a way that WORKS better. Retreating and calling barbarians to be 'misunderstood' has gotten us death and more death and death all the way to Our Shores.
Want to leave Iraq? Tell you what, lets leave Germany, Japan and South Korea FIRST! Support that so we can get more people to FIGHT and we may need to leave them in a time frame like those three: decades of being there and peace being established. Push for this FIRST and you may be able to stress something close to a valid case. There that is a valid construction of what to do that will not endanger the Nation and, possibly, put enough 'boots on the ground' to eliminate ALL enemies in short order in Iraq.
But to do so, that means that you would not mind seeing THOSE troops committed to fighting actively. Otherwise you are asking for another Vietnam. And no good has come at that, except to make Our enemies bolder and diminish the Union and undermine it to the point of near collapse.
If you have no honor for the FIGHT then do not tell me of your honor for those doing OUR FIGHTING FOR US. That is dishonorable in the extreme. We have civilian control of the military and We the People honor Our commitments until We change Our mind through valid means.
Too bad the enemy that started all of this is gone.
The current ones would still enjoy our demise immensely.