17 October 2006

What is the strategy in Iraq?

I am a person who prefers to look at results and see if there is an underlying causation to them, so I really don't like to take a look at fantastical conceptions of actual events and then put forth ideas based on those fantasy views. That is, actually, the preferred method of al Qaeda and Iran and most terrorist organizations that use fantasy-based ideology: they are untethered to this world of actual reality and are, in the words of Adam Savage in Mythbusters 'rejecting this reality and substituting their own'. That is unpleasant in *any* organization or individual unless they can offer overwhelming proof and evidence that their conception has basis in the current reality contained within space-time. Time machines and invention thereof have yet to be proven so do, please, restrict things to the realm of the *possible* and, even better, to something that has a slight *probability* of being realistic.

Thus, in Iraq, many individuals are using the old saw from Vietnam of 'wrong war, wrong place, wrong time'. If you enjoy that meme then *also* sign up for all of the consequences of defeat and take responsibility for that idea that the US should *lose* wars because of it. Really, those millions of dead and hundreds of thousands of refugees, the expansion of tyranny, and the hard pressing by the USSR of the US afterwards, plus the expansion of terrorism into its current, noxious form are ALL the fallouts of that meme. If you like this meme, then do sign up for taking actual, real responsibility for doing *nothing better* when confronting the enemies of the United States.

And let us dispose with the other main themes of political thought that try to address warfare:

1) Jeffersonianism - Do you or do you *not* believe in the concept that "All men are created equal"? If you *do* then freeing people from unjust rulership and tryanny should be a prime concern for you and, in Afghanistan and Iraq, some 50 million people have been freed from barbaric rule to help end long-term problems that plague the World and the United States. You cannot turn around from the "All men are created equal" stance and then purport that Iraqi's or Afghani's are 'unready', 'unable', 'incapable' or 'not suited' to self-rule via democratic institutions. That is discrimination based on ethnicity and cultural background and should be abhorrent to *any* Jeffersonian. Even worse is using that as an *excuse* to retreat from terror and bullies. Is it or is it *not* a noble thing to free people and give them a chance at "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"? Fully half of the colonists at the START of the American Revolution were of *neither* opinion with the other half divided between the upstarts and the loyalists. The Founding Fathers had to *convince* that majority that this self-rule was a good thing and then had to re-do the entire concept of government *once* and put in place one that could change over time to better suit the People. That *alone* took nearly 5 years and that was after 7 years of fighting the Revolution. Where do YOU get off at the 3 year juncuture declaring these things?

2) Hamiltonians - You are the business and banking believers and think that the long-term solution is the best as it places less burden on the People and the business climate. You *adored* the Cold War. You like building 'arsenals of democracy' that are never USED and at high profit to businesses. In point of fact you have become so enamored of the Federal Government that you have gotten all sorts of subsidies in place which have drastically altered the business climate to one of *rewarding* illegal activities. Hamiltonians would *love* to turn terrorism into a 40, 50, 60 or 70 year enterprise that will greatly enrich the business climate... unless it gets blown up, of course. Hamiltonians really do have to get a grip and understand that long range plans are only as valid as the chance of lasting into the long-term. By supporting subsidies that reward inefficient businesses and support businesses in climates where they are not suitable on a normal basis, they have encouraged illegal aliens to undercut the job foundations of the United States and, in point of fact, put the entire Nation at risk in this doing. Further, they have promulgated the nasty idea of unaccountable trade or 'free trade as the basis of liberty' when decades of this conception have proven just the opposite in places like China. What has happened via these Hamiltonian conceptions is that the Nationa has become greatly divided internally by *not* supporting the common framework of laws of the Nation and empowered the enemies of the United States and liberty world-wide by letting them get arms on the cheap. You folks are one of the leading contributing causes to cheap terror networks spinning up to lethality in a short period of time. Further, you do *not* support harsh and robust means to END such trade to safeguard the Union. So, until you clean house of these unwelcome and smelly bits of detritus which is causing the maggot infestation, do *not* complain about those cleaning up the maggots before they turn into something worse. There are ways to do that via Foreign Policy, but on the domestic front, if you really, really *love* capitalism and healthy business climate, you may want to END all subsidies to companies including those of water and other raw materials, and, also, end tariffs targeted at 'industries'. The Nation *needs* a responsible business climate, not one that is on a permanent binge and living off of the Federal teat.

3) Wilsonians - You folks have failed. Multiple times. Repeatedly. And in the same way. There is no such thing as 'International Law' because that requires a 'Law enforcement body' and 'World Government'. Those things all reek of Empire, anti-democratic institutions and bureaucracy in the extreme. I hate having to be beholden to LOCAL bureaucrats and detest it at the Federal level. Push for World Government and you will find a good fraction within the United States disagreeing and, most likely, taking up arms against you. On the *pure* diplomacy front, you have *also* failed, by being unable to put forward serious ways to hold foreign tyrants accountable for their promises. This corrosive dream *must* end or it will put an end to US. Nations are the sole basis for diplomacy and State to State agreements and those with larger frameworks either fall apart or, when they can hold together, become remotely officious like the proposed European Union. The United States has a Constitution that can be printed, in small type, on a card that fits into one's wallet.... printed on laminated paperstock. The EU Constitution needs an entire CD, index, look-up table, and is festooned with more junk than anyone can literally *read* in a week and *comprehend*. It is handing power to bureaucrats, which is fine if you are an Empire that needs continuity between regimes. It is, however, deplorable for a Free People. You folks have ZERO business complaining about the RESULTS of decades of YOUR handiwork as it has failed.

Now *that* should have properly insulted a good 70% of the Nation. So be it.

Onto the die-hard ideologues who will use any excuse to complain about anything.

Lets take apart the 'wrong war, wrong place, wrong time' argument, as it deserves a good taking apart.

On the 'wrong war' part: The US signed onto an agreement with Iraq that Iraq would voluntarily give up all WMD PROGRAMS and that it would do so under full cooperation and oversight to ensure that this was *done*. Saddam Hussein agreed to it and the moment the paper was signed he started to back away from that. Even if he DID destroy munitions, he did so in *secret* and continued to bluster as if he still HAD those weapons. In point of fact any destruction site for chemical weapons would have to be near the standards of the US to have low environmental impact levels. Lacking that there is no way to get rid of those things *without a trace*. They are in some multiple of categories: destroyed by distributed means, cached in secure hiding places, or, sent to neighboring Nations, like Syria. Even in doing that Saddam Hussein had squirreled away entire programatic setups to quickly and easily restart the entire thing if he *did* get rid of his current work. Thus the PROGRAMS were *not* ended with those seeds just waiting for the end of sanctions to sprout once more.

Beyond that the entire ceasefire that was signed was violated multiple times in an attempt to end observation and accountability via airpower over Iraq. Incursions into the northern Kurdish areas were repelled and Saddam then put al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations to work *there* to work against the Kurds and the West. The entire set of analysis done on the FMSO documents, both Iraqi Foreign Ministry documents and captured documents from Afghanistan, and translations done by a distributed community of individuals on the internet has shown this. Ray Robison is a central point for this and is a wonderful starting point for anyone looking to get caught up as I am now, at this point, months behind in that.

Given those things, please explain how actually ending this regime was a 'wrong war'.

Was Iraq the 'wrong place'? It happened after Afghanistan which was going to be a limited troop affair since it required and still DOES require highly specialized forces able to operate in highland and mountainous terrain. When one puts huge armies into such places you get one, and only one result: large losses, cutting of supply lines and demoralization of that large army as relatively small bands can tie them up for years with no end in sight. When the Germans marched into Yugoslavia they entered bravely and with all sorts of wonderful armored vehicles... and by the end they were operating out of fortresses and sending small groups out to counter the small groups that were attacking them and, also, killing civilians to get information and intimidate those that were fighting them. Didn't work out too well. Look at any *small band of brave fighters continuing on against all odds* and you will find them in: mountainous terrain. In point of fact the only successful campaign I can think of, right off hand, that *was* successful in such terrain was that of Alexander the Great. He kept to small unit tactics, also.... The reason that the US did not see the results of the USSR or the British Empire is that we did NOT put in a huge army there. By not doing that and using a much more flexible style of warfare the US succeeded.... and we also did not look to *rule* the Nation, but hand it over to 'responsible adults'.

If you complain that the US did not 'get bin Laden' in Tora Bora, you can put away the idea that *any* huge force would have gotten the job done. Look up the terrain yourself and start thinking about operational insertion, casualty removal, force sustainment, weather, overhead coverage, and so on. Mountainous terrain is a logistics and operational nightmare for huge forces. Using small forces is not only a good idea, it is *essential*. The US could not *win* in Afghanistan with such large numbers of people as they would cause that very same logistics nightmare. And as for Iraq being in the Middle East, it is the centroid for ALL of the major trade routes, clans, tribes, and centers of religious thought in the region. All of those are faultlines that need to be shifted in the region and it is a much better idea to give it some help and a more democratic outlook than to let Imperialists under the guise of Caliphate to take over. Keeping the status quo THERE was toxic to the US and to the region in the long run and it would need to get out of its tyranny based stasis sooner or later. Saddam ensured that it would be *sooner* because of his association with a broad spectrum of terrorist organizations that he gave aid, training and support to. Add that in with WMD programs and you get a mixture that needs to go away NOW, not later.

A minor argument can be made that North Korea is a bit more of a problem. Fortunately it is CHINA'S PROBLEM and not that of the US. Iran was not as far along on the WMD front, but more so on the terrorist front and it *still* needs to be addressed. Two embassy bombings in Beirut, the Marine Barracks bombing in Beirut and the Khobar Towers bombing are ALL laid at the feet of Iranian Foreign Legion Hezbollah. Saddam, by being militarily more active and a persistent threat in undermining the West was seen as the greater and more immediate problem. Strategically it was an *excellent* move to take out Iraq under Saddam. And still IS as it IS the center of the Middle East and, as these things go, controlling the center of any conflict is a leading cause to long term victory.

So, given all of that, please explain to me how Iraq was the 'wrong place'.

The 'wrong time'. I agree. The US should have gotten rid of Saddam in 1991 and taken the heat for an easy victory there. Spilled milk. Water under the bridge. All sorts of cliches. What is done, is done.

What? There is disagreement with that? Really? You mean that you would prefer to *never* go after tyrants, dictators and bullies that threaten you and give aid and comfort to those out to kill you? Getting rid of Saddam Hussein should have been done when his entire command structure was self-rolling up and the US was extremely ready to rip out the heart of the Republican Guard and leave it a smoking ruins on the highways of Iraq as they *retreated*. Perhaps Saddam would have just surrendered... It would have been cheap, easy, have isntant international support by *everyone* that was in Kuwait and President H. W. Bush could have used his handy-dandy rolodex to get cooperation for it. Terrorism would *still* have metastasized, but it would be much more accountable to Iran and not so widely distributed as it is *now*. Unfortunately that did *not* happen, and I really prefer it when wars can be fought well, quickly and with a *real* ending as the other way around, as we have seen, leads to no good whatsoever.

Also, the 'rush to war'. Eighteen months is a leisurely rush. Pretty much a stroll in this arena. A long amble. Lots of time to stop and smell roses and appreciate life.

That should take care of the pre-war excusatory memes. I am sure I have outraged untold numbers of people with that. So be it.

Next up, the immediate post-war memes. Luckily I handled that with a previous post so a quick summary is all that is needed: there was NO Iraqi Army left, the Government had fled, these folks could *not* be rounded up on a timely basis, they would still *not* be trusted by the populace, the US would be seen as replacing one puppet with another, the US would be seen as an Imperial ruler, and, most of all, the person putting forth the memes had over two MONTHS to find the Iraqi Army and Government and DIDN'T. All post-war plans were based on some sort of orderly stand-down or keeping some integrity to the Iraqi Army, Police and Government. NONE of those happened so ALL of the pre-war plans were trashed. Got a problem with that? As the old maxim goes: 'No battleplan survives contact with the enemy. That is why they are called *the enemy*'. In this case the total disintegration of the Army, Police and Government was something that NO ONE foresaw. All post-war problems of insurgents and such pre-supposed the existence of those vital organs of Government. They were not used for the simple fact that they were NOT THERE. Declaring them to be gone in JUN 2003 was recognition that starting in MAR 2003 they had already started to drift into oblivion. By the cessation of hostilities in MAY 2003 they could NOT BE FOUND. We spent a month and a half trying to find them to no avail.

That takes care of the immediate post-war memes. Those are extremely toxic waste products.

Next up, the false starts and 'wrong headed' handling of the insurgency.

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.

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.

That was a multi-fold choice in and of itself, but it was one that would guarantee that the US was not seen as taking a sectarian side. This is a critical, long term need in a Nation like Iraq coming out of 30 or more years of dictatorship and tyranny. Here the 'lesson learned' is that ending the sectarian violence can only be guided by Iraqis, not an outsider. For those wanting the US to have gone after the Mahdi Army early on, the question is: how can we do so and not be seen as anti-Shia? Ditto on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's al Qaeda infiltration and the Sunnis. No the weakest and easiest to target was taken on *first* during the mid-tier southern provinces campaign and the Riverine campaign to move up the major rivers and end strongpoints put up by ANYONE. By being non-aligned we hit *everyone* equally and established that we were in this fight FOR Iraqis, not for some faction.

As a part of this emerging strategy came the quieting of the quietest provinces. The Kurdish regions would remain, basically, self-governing with little more than token help at integrating them into the larger and emerging Iraq. After them came the next set of provinces in north-central border and north-western areas, along with some of the more southerly ones the British were looking after. In the direct central part of Iraq, the key job was to keep things quiet and demonstrate good faith in doing so while still getting the job done. This vital job was handed to the one strongly religious ally that is in the coalition and that would demonstrate Good Faith while still being forceful about showing how one could have Faith and still be Free. That job went to Poland.

The highly Roman Catholic influenced people of Poland put forward a compact and competent fighting capability. They know how to take on tough jobs and get them done while still remaining adherants to their Faith and yet not persecuting *anyone*. The towns, villages, tribes and northern part of Baghdad all got to see how quiet competence guided but not blinded by Faith could be done. It was Polish troops that were able to find the first cache of chemical weapons shells left over from the Saddam regime. It was Polish troops acting as interlocutors and adjusters of vision that allowed MNF policy to take hold in those areas. The Riverine campaign started in that region and became a blinding *success* in rooting out terrorists because the people there had been let known *why* people were targeted. The Poles pointed out that enemies need to be stopped and some number of them ended for peace to come. In this, the most central Nation to the Middle East the United States handed over holding the very center of it to Poland. That quiet center was able to extend north and south along the rivers and divide the Nation east from west. Syria and Iran could no longer 'overland' supplies to each other. Further, the insurgency in the far north started to break up as actual trained military and police started to move in with MNF help and establish peace. The Poles have proven to be a vital resources to the United States as they blatantly hold their Faith to themselves, believe devoutly in it and chastise NO ONE for not holding it. They have weighed all out of proportion to their numbers for this battle of 'hearts and minds'. Poles remember, clearly, Communism and repression under it and have a deep understanding of what, exactly, Iraqis are feeling. Anyone overlooking this key to the entire equation of Iraq, is leaving out the true heart of how to bring a Nation together that is faith based, but not destructive.

The Riverine, west-central border, northern and central rebuilding and fighting campaigns demonstrated the 'three block war' concept from active combat to peace keeping to rebuilding. Further, however, it started to establish local and regional ties between US and MNF forces and Iraqis. This is entirely a part of 'transforming the military' but *not* in the way envisioned by the Administration. Untl Iraq the slowest part of military planning to change was training and doctrine, and with good reason: you don't like to leave things that work. This gets you things that are totally out of place, however, like the Maginot Line. In Iraq a *lot* of the Cold War doctrine needed to be scrapped completely as it had no foundational basis to work there. What took its place, however, was an entirely 'bottom-up' involvement of the training arm with the active combat arms of the military. The US was the first Nation to employ active training and scenario casting on a real-time basis between returning veterans, in-theater warfighters and replacement soldiers. Together the individuals involved pooled their experience, used comms and self-guided training, and then worked out the hard problems of actually understanding and fighting in Iraq. Logistics took first advantage of this and it spread quickly so that the second rotation of troops had 'hands on' knowledge and training in culture, linguistics, religion and the various tribal outlays in the area they were heading to. The second troop transition went smoothly and they go smoothly to this day because of that.

The 'three block war' has now morphed into a continuous military paradigm that *includes* training as an active military asset and keeps that updated on a daily basis. While there are many clever opponents on a tactical level, they cannot meet the tactical skill and dedication of this system of the United States. This became cross-unit and cross-service so that all services now shift in and out of roles in Iraq as needed. Rebuilding is done near simultaneously with warfighting and a separate mix of service personnel in each. It is not unusual to find Special Forces individuals serving as liasons with local tribes, army and navy construction personnel serving side by side, with air force personnel doing actual digging and fighting for force protection on the ground. This heady mix has been used in this inverted 'oil spot' to *contain* the spread of insurgency, interdict supply lines and build up localized forces and morale simultaneously. And in doing this the MNF employs *lots* of Iraqi Citizens to get the actual work done.

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.

Baghdad is the central ethnic hub of Iraq and it has suffered the worst during this: sectarian violence has concentrated there for the simple fact that it is no longer welcome anywhere else. Baquba, Basra and a few other major towns and cities are seeing this also. And the remedy for this is a much older one that is highly amenable to the modern world when you are surrounding an entrenched enemy: surround, cordon off the worst parts, interdict resupply, clean out the area, put in reliable troops as stabilizing forces and keep the combat troops around to make sure the job gets done before moving on. Section, quarter, clean, stabilize, move on... wash/rinse/repeat.

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.

Mind you, while all of *that* has been going on there have also been: rebuilding, creating political entitities, 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!

Criticizing the Administration? Fight too damn long? For all of THIS?

To the critics of how the fighting is going on, the fact that terrorists are still acting like, well, terrorists, and having one hostile nation on its borders and another that has supporters of a terrorist organization on another border I have a question or two for you:

Are you satisfied by ANYTHING in life?

Or are you just an anal-retentive perfectionist that loves to criticize?

Because the results of these things are *also* taken into account that all of this is ALSO going on in Afghanistan.

Never has so much, been done by so few, for so much positive gain for so many, for so much criticism.

As a Jacksonian I want the war done to victory so that we do NOT hand this problem to Our Children and that we do NOT have to come back and *fix* it again in a few years. And every single critic I have heard is prescribing exactly that and dressing it up as something else.

If you are not talking about ways to do the job better for the long term, in what way are you NOT an enemy of the Union?

Just asking.

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