August 17, 2005

More From the Reality-Based Right

Frederick Kagan:

The Bush administration is making it clearer day by day that it intends to withdraw American troops from Iraq rapidly and roughly in step with the increase in the number of Iraqi troops deemed capable of taking over security responsibilities. Even while denying rumors of a rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces, President Bush has declared that "as Iraqis stand up, we will stand down."

This could be a big mistake. It is likely to simply sustain the current level of security in Iraq -- which is poor -- rather than take advantage of increasing numbers of Iraqi troops to improve the security situation. And, more important, relying on increases in the number of combat-capable Iraqi troops to make U.S. withdrawals possible ignores a serious set of challenges that have to be dealt with before the United States can depart with confidence in the prospects for victory.

The United States is engaged in creating a force of light infantry in Iraq that will ultimately number nearly 250,000 troops. This force will be well suited to conducting patrols in fixed locations, maintaining a presence in threatened areas, doing searches and sweeps, and performing high-end police functions. As more of these troops become available, we can expect improved intelligence and less friction between U.S. forces and local Iraqis. And although we can also be sure that these forces will be less effective than professional American soldiers and will suffer from conflicting tribal and sectarian loyalties and corruption, it will be generally true that the more such Iraqi troops there are on the streets the better.

But this light infantry force does not constitute an army. It will not be able, whatever its numbers, to conduct a counterinsurgency by itself for many years, and it will not be able to do so at all unless certain critical deficiencies are remedied. For example, it appears that efforts to establish Iraqi logistical elements are lagging badly behind the formation and training of light infantry units. Iraqis thus rely on coalition logistics when they must move from their home bases -- or, more commonly, they simply do not move from those bases at all. Their transportation assets are minimal, and so they lack the ability to project their forces within Iraq. As a result, they would not be able to concentrate force rapidly in particularly violent areas or to destroy insurgent concentrations quickly. For as long as these conditions hold, the U.S. military will remain an essential part of the struggle against insurgency in Iraq.

It is also important to understand that the current Iraqi forces rely heavily on the availability of responsive U.S. airpower. They do not have their own organic fire support (artillery or aviation), and so must wait for the American soldiers embedded within their formations to call in coalition air support when they run into any sort of serious opposition. The combined operations of Iraqi formations with embedded U.S. trainers and coalition troops have been excellent preparation for the Iraqis and have gone a long way toward creating a meaningful indigenous light infantry force. But they are also conditioning the Iraqis to rely on a capability that only a significant U.S. presence can provide. [emphasis added]

There's more. Read the whole thing.

P.S. The "reality-based" right, in case you're curious, is the non "last throes" wing.

Posted by Gregory at August 17, 2005 06:32 PM | TrackBack (2)

Hmmm. Did you bother to pick up the Sunday NYT beforee posting this?

Because the reporting on the 1st Iraqi Army Brigade - you know, from an embedded reporter, actually on the ground and working in the sector during the transition and now hand-off; as opposed to, say, some lawyer in New York on his computer, gleefully posting massive federal army missives from an Academy-wannabee hack - seemed to report (as opposed to, in your case, guess) the opposite: That aside from the higher-end logistic and intel that would ordinarily be part of the 3,000 man American Brigade, the Iraqi Brigades are doing quite well.

As to your/his 250,000 - how in the world would that not be more than enough? You're free to opine all you want on the politics of this front, but let's stay off the logistics until you've been on the ground. Try and imagine 250,000 "Light Infantry(men)" - leaving aside for the moment that Mechanized Battalions are not what is referred to as "Light" - crawling around Texas (approx Pop and Sq Mi) and then write about how they will be utterly ineffective at fighting squad and platoon sized irregular elements, before you squander the last of your credibility on the subject.

Posted by: Tommy G at August 18, 2005 02:53 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Here's your cite, Lazybones:

More importantly, since you've been slipping, let me do the hard work of distilling out the most important paragraph:

"He said that the American forces would rumble down Haifa Street with their enormous firepower and threats of death, while their Iraqi counterparts have adopted a more sensitive and effective approach. " The Iraqi forces have the power of listening and communicating ," he said."

That's worth more than all the high-tech gadgetry and logistics in all the western militaries combined. Something you ought to have guessed, and that shameful pretender Kagan should know.

Sounds like you owe a certain Naval Aviator (1954) an apology, given your last couple of months of posts. Seems he knows exactly what he's about - more than I can say for you lately.

I'll be looking for something that's not, shall we say, translated as: I'm not quite man enough to admit I was full of it, so instead I'll talk about 'dictionary meanings'...

Posted by: Tommy G at August 18, 2005 03:09 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Not to dogpile, but BD seems to know all about how apologies should be made. I didn't know he was a lawyer. That's interesting.

Posted by: Nichevo at August 18, 2005 07:04 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

...and I got it, on the "Last throes" thread update. Accepted.

BTW - Nichevo, just brilliant work on the "Mosul Police" thread - well done.

Posted by: Tommy G at August 19, 2005 06:55 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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