04 October 2006

Putting the Toxic Memes of Jay Garner to Rest

Bob Woodward in his book, State of Denial, looks at the early post-OIF work by Jay Garner and comes up with these following three things that Mr. Garner said were going 'wrong' when he was replaced as head of the Coalition Provisional Authority on May 11, 2003 and criticized his replacement L. Paul Bremer for doing:

1) First the order of Mr. Bremer banning the Ba'ath party bureaucrats from running the Government.

2) Disbanding the Iraqi Military.

3) Dismissing the Iraqi Leadership that had been 'eager' to help run the country so as to give it an 'Iraqi face'.

Lets look at this in reverse order: An Iraqi Interim Governing Council was set up on 23 SEP 2003 to give Iraqis a direct role in participating in the decisions to rebuild their Nation. This criticism, however, is *not* aimed at that but at putting in place the concept that was thought about before the fighting began of putting Ahmed Chalabi in charge of some sort of 'Iraqi Government returning from Exile' sort of deal. Mr. Chalabi had been a prime source of information on Iraq to the CIA and DoD and much of what he had put forth was coming out to be *wrong*. In point of fact he was beginning to be viewed with suspicion as a self-seeking and self-promoting individual that would be more than happy to do just about anything to get into a high status position. This small group of individuals would *not* have been seen as 'Iraqis coming home to lead a new government' but individuals who had fled the country for many reasons and did *not* understand the depth of ills that had been set upon them by Saddam Hussein.

By 2004 he had been revealed as the source of much of the information given by "Curveball" that had proven to be untrue or so deeply misleading as to be inaccurate. Mr. Chalabi had *also* taken part in the Oil For Food program and was implicated in its various scandals. In may of 2004 he was brought up on currency fraud charges in Iraq. This is the man that Mr. Garner wanted to have in charge right after hostilities ended, but could get no traction on because of his misrepresentations to the US Government. He was seen as damn lucky to get a place on the Interim Council and has since proven to be a politician willing to cozy up to anyone to gain credibility, fame and power.

For this there are two memes supported and pushed by the Leftists one after the Viet Nam war and the other in Iraq that come into direct dissonance mentally. These two memes are in direct and stark contrast between 'outlook' and 'action', between vituperation against the United States and then NOT supporting the United States when it acts in accordance with these two memes. If you are a believer in EITHER of these memes and then use the Jay Garner defense of not 'putting an Iraqi face' on the government, then you should see a mental health professional if you even so much as BEGIN to criticize the United States for its actual 'actions'.

Meme 1 is the oft-repeated refrain heard during the Cold War that instead of fighting Communism the US should have been fighting the petty dictators that were allies of the US. Mind you they at least supported the concept of freedom and liberty in verbiage, but those less than stellar allies were used as a criticism against the US.

So, when the US actually decides NOT to put an individual who is power seeking, self-serving and has all the hallmarks of wanting to be an autocrat and overrules putting such an individual into a position of power in a Nation, the one thing that anyone holding to Meme 1 cannot do is CRITICIZE that decision. The United States has taken those criticisms to heart and now supports liberty, freedom and democracy and REFUSES to put dictatorial 'sock puppets' in charge of Nations. You can criticize the US for many things if you hold to this Meme 1, but the one thing that you cannot ethically do is criticize *not* putting a 'sock puppet' in charge of Iraq or Afghanistan.

Meme 2 is that the CIA work on the lead-up to OIF was wrong. Badly skewed. Awful. To be condemned in its lack of having people on the ground to do HUMINT. And the source of all of that, which WOULD have been known to the President when time to appoint some sort of provisional government came around for post-war Iraq, was NOT put in charge of the Nation of Iraq because he was seen as UNRELIABLE. If you have vehement vituperation on the poor INTEL leading up to Iraq, then you CANNOT countenance wanting to put a PRIME SOURCE of that INTEL in *charge* of Iraq. That would be compounding a bad situation and making it worse.

Mr. Garner is dead-wrong on putting an immediate 'Iraqi face' on the interim government right after hostilities were basically over on a military to military scale. The individuals to choose from had been badly compromised and would have made matters worse by turning the interim government into one of cronies, lackies and individuals who would kowtow to them.

The other two things are actually very much part and parcel of the same phenomena. Mind you, that by the time that Mr. Garner was taken out of a position of control that he had 2.5 months to actually get these things STARTED. Complaining about them a full MONTH after being removed is sour grapes at best and absolute misdirection at worse. When in control he did NOTHING to get these two things going. Mr. Woodward somehow misses that nicety.

The actual war planning for post-war Iraq must have envisioned something like the orderly stand-down of the Iraqi military and government as had been seen in every large State to State conflict in which one State is defeated wholly and absolutely on a military level. This did NOT happen. Saddam Hussein hoped to 'live another day' and 'fight on' from holes in the ground and lead a 'victorious insurgence' with the backing of... well, the backing of his money for the most part. Unlike Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, the Ba'athist regime of Saddam Hussein did *not* survive defeat. Neither the military nor the government survived it.

On the military side there is one thing not mentioned *anywhere* in the timeline of OIF: the orderly surrender of the Iraqi Army and Government.

Perhaps this is just a 'mere oversight' or 'so small as not to be worth mentioning' in ANY OF THE HISTORIES written about OIF to date. Not a single historical account points to any leader of the Iraqi Army actually able to remain in control of cohesive units and *surrender* them. What was seen, instead, was that Iraqis were quickly shedding their uniforms and running *away* from battles in their underwear and sandals. Some had forethought to bring an overshirt, jeans and sneakers with them, but there are more than some few reports of empty Iraqi uniforms found next to tanks, along roadsides and off-road in the desert. The much vaunted Republican Guard got their sole attempt at forming a counter-attack destroyed by two 'miracle weapons': CBU-97. In under 5 minutes approximately one-third of their vehicles and some of the actual train rolling stock had been destroyed by two of these munitions and their sub-munitions packages. From all reports of the light Marine detachment that was preparing to fight a damn hard struggle of light infantry against an armored foray, they watched in stunned disbelief as the Iraq formation was SHREDDED by two of these bombs. There were so many vehicular hulks on the road and off it that they could not make any way forward until engineers could get there to move them. The Iraq Republican Guard unit *disintegrated*. They lost integrity as a UNIT and fled as individuals hard and fast from the scene leaving their INTACT vehicles behind them because they did not want to fight for 10 MORE MINUTES against a force that could do THAT to them.

The wonderful looking streetfighter T-72 tanks of Saddam Hussein had proven to be deathtraps. Gun camera footage of 'clever' tank commanders hiding their tanks UNDER bridges so that they could not be bombed came in for a rude surprise. They had thought that anything that could take their tank out would *also* destroy the bridge abutments they were directly pressed against. That was very clever of them! They could not be attacked from above without destroying the bridge! They could not be attacked from the side because the explosives necessary to take them out would take out the bridge! It was extremely clever of them! They had not counted on the United States using UK idea and fitted with JDAM capability. What was done was to take BDU-50 500 lb 'training' bombs made of concrete and vermiculite, and fit them with a JDAM package and then drop it from 15,000 feet or so. Those were guided right *under* the bridge and hit the tank with destructive force that demolished the tank. We threw rocks at them from a high places. The tanks were *destroyed* and the bridge remained unharmed.

These lovely terrorists and insurgents have not *learned* this lesson of the training bombs. We had started using them in Iraq in 1999 to great effect. They were used to 'crater' bridges in SEP 2005 that al Qaeda was using to move supplies over: the actual bridge span was left intact, but the road surface suddenly had huge holes in it. The F-22 has tested this and has been able to make trucks bounce with direct hits upon them. Somehow the 'shock and awe' of being able to do 'impossible things' like taking out ONLY the vehicles in an armored column or throw rocks under bridges to destroy armored vehicles caused individuals to FLEE from the Iraqi Army. The fact that when they stood up *anywhere* to fight toe-to-toe with the US Armed Forces that they were so badly hit that their unit morale failed led to a total and absolute dissolution of the Iraqi Army. They had met an enemy that did not *fight* like anything they had been taught about. They had experienced the 'Highway of Death' in 1991 and tried to make different plans against OIF. Saddam Hussein had actually not *believed* his bought and paid for agent in Russia and thought that the US would be unable to get its bearings and stage an attack any time soon and would depend upon insurgents to fight him. Even if they had tried to prepare to fight the US properly, they would have been destroyed.

So let us dispose of this bit of wisdom from Jay Garner once and for good and all: to get the Old Iraqi Army *back* it would have to be rounded up, retrained, re-equipped, re-supplied, re-fitted and its ranks 'cleansed' of the worst thugs, killers and murderers. Once that was done the HATED and UNTRUSTED Iraqi Army would then be seen with suspicion by Iraqis. The Old Iraqi Army, not used to actually keeping the peace beyond the use of terror and torture and murder would *not* have helped the situation. It would be seen as re-installing the exact same problem ALL OVER AGAIN. The United States would be seen as installing a thug-based army to do its dirty work. And we would need far more many 'boots on the ground' to KEEP that Old Iraqi Army in-line because no one, and I do mean NO ONE would TRUST THEM.

So even if 6 or 8 months were spent to do this, you would then have spent all that time putting something in-place that would need close supervision, much watching and, in the mean-time, find enough personnel to train the NEW Iraqi Army. You would not need the 380,000 boots on the ground that was quoted before OIF. You would need nearly double that just to properly train and supervise a hated, feared and mistrusted military that would then start to work on undermining *anything* that was not to their benefit. And at the EXACT SAME TIME a New Iraqi Army totally divorced from the Old one would need to be formed up.

Mr. Garner is welcome to his own opinions, but the facts were that there was NO Iraqi Army left to USE after the he was installed to help transition things. It was gone not only as a fighting force but as a concept. Trying to get any units back was actually *tried* in Falluja and FAILED miserably as those troops lacked morale, lacked training and returned to their thug-like ways. They were disbanded and so was this idea. It was a USELESS idea then and supporting it now is arguing against the 'facts on the ground' as Mr. Rumsfeld so aptly put it. It would have been a waste of time, a waste of resources, a HUGE false-start that would be to no good end and would be doing something that the folks supporting Meme 1 on the Left would then decry as 'just installing another sock puppet' to take over.

This exact same thing happened to the Ba'athist Government: the people who were in the Iraqi Government were thugs, petty politicians with greedy hands and had the capability to ruin *anyone* they did not like. They did NOT stick at their work when Saddam fled because they knew that to do so would have caused riots around their offices and endangered them *personally*. When the Iraqi Army disintegrated and the US Armed Forces came into Baghdad the Government itself disintegrated. People not only did *not* go back to work, they fled the city and headed to their homes and often to their original tribal groups in the Western provinces.

They were almost totally a Sunni derived Arab government that had caused no love to be gained between them and the Shia majority and the Kurdish minority to the North while they were in charge of things. The Kurds started pressing down from the North and relocating from their *forced relocation* under Saddam to reclaim their homes and lives. The Iraqi Government disappeared in a literal sense overnight. One day it was there, the next it was not. Everyone actually *believed* 'Baghdad Bob' and that any reports of US forces near Baghdad was the 'truth'... all the way to the point they heard and saw US Tanks and Armored Vehicles and soldiers going through the neighborhoods of Baghdad. The Government collapsed within a short period of time after that and the US Armed Forces were still mopping up the still disintegrating Old Iraqi Army. Once the tissues of lies and fabrications and denials were exposed, those in the Government understood that if they *stayed at work* they would be killed by the People of Iraq.

The Old Iraqi Army took a few more days to fully disintegrate and in that time the entirety of the Iraqi Government decamped and headed for home and hopes for some safety as they knew that the Shia would look to take power. There was no way to stop this. No announcement could be made to plead for people to come back to work: they were all seen as corrupt, as agents of Saddam, as oppressors. They had NO work ethic to keep civil society running. It was 'every man for himself and devil take the hindmost'. If Mr. Garner thought it was such a good idea to bring them back, he would then have to supply the tens of thousands of trained Iraqi police officers to do so. Those, being part of the government and military, likewise fled. There was no civil order to keep as there was no Government, no Army, no Police force.

Every critic of OIF and its aftermath said that there were 'not enough boots on the ground'. Here is the problem: we had expected there to be *some* order, somewhere outside of the Kurdish regions in the North and an orderly stand-down of the Iraqi Army once it was defeated. The entire predication of the immediate post-war conflict was to do the exact same things that Jay Garner points to: use the remaining Government, Police and Military to hold things together. Mr. Garner had TWO MONTHS to find them. He did NOT find them. When Mr. Bremer came in and took over then in JUN 2003 he disbanded the Iraqi Army and Government as a *formality*: they had both ceased to exist some months prior to then and *any* wishing for them to come back was insanity.

And since 2003 every critic has had *ample* opportunity to point directly to those Iraqi Army units that could have taken over, those Government officials that had remained at their jobs, those Iraqi Police that had kept up patrol work and not fled. And not in handfuls, but in tens of thousands, please. Point them out and the worthy command structure over them that could actually *control* them. These things are *necessary* to the ORIGINAL plans in which no organization, no Government Agency had predicted the complete and utter collapse of the Iraqi Army, the Iraqi Regime, the Iraqi Government and the Iraqi Police. The CIA did NOT predict that. DoD did NOT predict that. State Department under Colin Powell did NOT predict that.

They all pointed to some insurgency problems, but those would be *fringe* problems around the core of Iraqi civilization: the remnants of the old regime would be used to bolster things then a transition made and full de-Ba'athification done for the New Government. Instead the Ba'ath party self-de-Ba'athified Iraq for us! There would be religious and sectarian problems, but nothing that an orderly governmental transition could not handle.

And to those military critics of the 'lack of a plan' who had left just before or soon after this: you were the ones that were to PUT SUCH PLANS TOGETHER. In not trying to figure out how the US now fought wars, in condemning the modernization programs and not understanding what transforming the military actually DID to military operations, it was YOU who failed in creating contingency plans for 'catastrophic success'. Sour grapes about transformation make very poor whine about NOT DOING YOUR JOB.

Mr. Woodward is building upon quicksand and basing his criticisms starting at Jay Garner rests the foundations of all later analysis on ground that is not THERE. He may accurately report the facts of what was said, but the resulting analysis is faulty for not taking a look at this thing known as 'the real world' and seeing how events were playing out and how people like Jay Garner were performing CYA. It was misguided and self-serving THEN and it remains so until this day. I suggest that Mr. Woodward start learning about the military, the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and stop relying on cozy sources, 'secret documents', anonymous tipsters, bureaucrats performing CYA manuevers, and folks that have a deep agenda to make themselves look good at the expense of the Nation.

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