August 18, 2005

Precarious: The State of the Mosul Police

The state of police training in Mosul:

Under heavy protection of United States troops, the Mosul police are rebuilding. Compared with some nastier hot spots - like Anbar Province and Tal Afar - they are further along. But the effort to resurrect the police has encountered huge sectarian, cultural and even tribal obstacles, and now exemplifies a central question for American planners: Have the police force's improvements been contingent on careful and continual hand-holding by large numbers of American soldiers, and will they evaporate when American forces begin pulling out?

Many soldiers say the police will crumble unless large numbers of American troops stay for years. "Without that security blanket, the Iraqi police will be scared, and a scared Iraqi is a useless Iraqi," said First Sgt. Keith Utley of the First Battalion of the 24th Infantry Regiment, which patrols western Mosul.

The executive officer of one company in the battalion, First Lt. Dan Kearney, said Mosul could experience gang-style civil war no matter when troops leave. "While we're here, it's like they have Big Brother looking over them," he said, referring to the police. "I don't think the police are the kind of people who will stick it out."

Quite a few Iraqi officers also fear an early pullout. "The situation would blow up again," said the Mosul police chief, Maj. Gen. Ahmed Mohammed Khalif al-Jibouri, who says American forces need to stay for at least five years.

One problem is that Iraqi Army units - dominated by Kurds and Shiite Arabs - believe that insurgents have widely infiltrated the police, who are largely Sunni Arabs mostly from one tribe, the Jibouri. Many insurgents are Jibouri, according to the police and American officers.

If the job is rushed, the country will go to hell in a handbasket. I realize some of you believe this space has gotten too heated of late, and perhaps the temperature will ebb lower in the days ahead--but this is one point I plan to hammer in repeatedly in the coming months--at least as long as I feel there are swaths of the Republican Party and/or key Administration players pushing an Iraq withdrawal that is not truly linked to conditions on the ground.

Meantime in Iraq, 43 were killed today in a series of car bombings in a major Baghdad bus station. It appears the intent was to massacre scores of Shi'a heading south from the capital. Sooner or later, the Shi'a are going to start slaughtering Sunnis in large number too in retribution. In other words, Zarqawi's strategy might work--with large scale sectarian violence in the offing. Unless, of course, we can provide security in this country by decisively beating the insurgents. Can we? Who is convicingly explaining how? My confidence is waning. Perhaps we could start holding towns, really holding them, like Ramadi. Consolidating control so that the people realize their loyalty must be to coalition and Iraqi national forces. Right now, we're stuck trading towns and the locals are hedging their bets. Which means they are, more often than not, either voluntarily or involuntarily providing succor to the insurgents. The better to allow conditions for assembling materiel and methodically planning coordinated car bombings in Baghdad that kill scores now two years plus out from the American invasion. We can and must have a plan to do better. The rough status quo is becoming increasingly untenable in my view.


Posted by Gregory at August 18, 2005 12:11 AM | TrackBack (0)
Comments

I'm sure this is the stupidest comment on record, but don't you think it would help if we were all to get behind the war effort and push? Heaven forfend.

"How many divisions has the NYT?" More than one would think.

Posted by: Nichevo at August 18, 2005 01:06 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Hold the towns!" Are you insane? We held Saigon for 11 years (yes, I was there for part of it) and what friggin' good did that do anyone?

The current strategy is the only one that will work in Iraq. What'll work here with alarmists, as you've seemingly become, crying for a lollipop, "Right now, Mommy!, I don't have a friggin' clue.

Muzzling alarmists and the MSM for a year would be a reasonable place to start. Unfortunately that's not going to happen but would greatly improve the likelihood of success.

A RVN Riverine Rat

Posted by: RiverRat at August 18, 2005 02:01 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

River Rat - You're exactly right. This from the Sunday NYT, of all places:

The Taking, and Keeping, of Purple Heart Boulevard: Now an Iraqi Military Mission

August 14, 2005
By KIRK SEMPLE

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Aug. 13 - Soldiers called it the "Street of Death" and "Purple Heart Boulevard," a three-mile-long residential corridor in central Baghdad that had become a shooting gallery for insurgents. In 2004 alone, Haifa Street, once a coveted address for the middle class, was the bloody venue for more than 400 attacks on American and Iraqi security forces.

On Feb. 6, the American command handed over a cut of north-central Baghdad, including Haifa Street, to the First Brigade, Sixth Division, of the Iraqi Army. This transfer made the First Brigade the first - and only - Iraqi Army unit to control its own battle space, and put it on the leading edge of the Bush administration's plan to have Iraqi forces take responsibility for the country's security.

The good news for American officials, in a war where territorial gains have been elusive, is that the Iraqi troops have not lost ground on Haifa Street. Since the First Brigade took control, there have been only three insurgent attacks along the street, and those came in the first three weeks, commanders say.

"We feel the difference between the two forces," said Alaa Khadem, 41, the owner of a small store on Haifa Street.
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.

Posted by: Tommy G at August 18, 2005 03:30 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The simple fact is that the US cannot maintain current troop levels in Iraq for much past the end of next year without doing serious damage to the military.

Posted by: Tom at August 18, 2005 04:59 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The simple fact is, they won't have to. The Iraqis will come online. They fought for Saddam, they will fight for themselves. I could have certainly told you that the process of bringing them online would be slow and painful, as could people with actual knowledge of military affairs.

But as they take over the daily patrols and the coalition forces have fewer, better defined, higher-value missions, stability will be mated with progress in the campaign. US forces can ultimately dwindle to 1-2 divisions or the equivalent in brigades; redeployment from the German bases would be a logical shift of personnel for long-term sustainment.

You realize that like denazification, debaathification will never satisfy all its critics? That for the next thousand years, Iraqi cops will frequently take bribes, beat suspects, and deliver a standard of justice below that which we expect from ourselves? That government funds wil be misallocated through both malice and incompetence? They need not feel inferior on that account to at least 90% of the planet.

The running away, the abandoning police stations...that was bad. But that is the crazy stuff, the comic-opera aspect of the Middle East that any Orientalist worthy of being hounded out of a modern university would cite with precedent after queer precedent. That has not lasted. They are improving. They are growing. They keep getting bombed at recruitment drives, being pulled from buses and massacred, being shelled at night. But they keep coming back because there is no alternative for them. They will be there long after we are gone.

Either a million killers and hangers-on can defeat the other 24 million, or not.

Posted by: Nichevo at August 18, 2005 06:42 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Everyones right.

We have to stay and return it to stability. We broke it, we own it, and our credibility depends on it.

We have to trust the Iraqis to defend their own turf against the insurgents. What's the point of being in Iraq if the Iraqis won't stop attacking themselves.

We can't partition Iraq without a sectarian bloodbath.

Its impossible, given Iraq's sectarian and ethnic divisions, to create a politically viable unified Iraqi government.

We have to draw down our troop levels as more Iraqi security forces become available, because of military is already suffering a manpower crisis, and it will only get worse the longer troop levels are maintained in Iraq.

We must maintain our troop levels indefinitely, because the current security situation in Iraq is unacceptable, and a solution will only be achieved when the security situation is improved.

We should foreswear any interest in permanent military bases in Iraq, because the prospect of such bases fuels the insurgency.

Unless the Iraqi government and its people are confident of America's long term commitment to their security, the insurgency will be encouraged to continue fighting.

Contradictory truths....

The reality is that the only reasonable solution to Iraq is the announced withdrawal of all US forces over a reasonable quick period of time. This must be accompanied by an unequivocal admission that the invasion of Iraq was, in fact, a criminal act of agressive warfare, and that the people responsible, including the President of the United States, will be subject to prosecution by the International Criminal Court.

The problem of Iraq isn't "the insurgency", or "ethnic divisions" --- the problem is that NOBODY in Iraq or the international community trusts the intentions (let alone the competence) of the Bush admininistration. NOBODY wants to see Iraq fall apart and become a failed state, exporting violence and revolt throughout the world's chief source of exportable petroleum. But NOBODY is going to step up to the plate and prevent that from happening as long as there is excellent reason to suspect that by doing so, the Bush administration will feel it was justified in invading Iraq and pursue other military agression in the Middle East.

Those are the simple but tragic facts. Iraq is an insoluable problem for the Bush Administration, because Iraq is really only a sympton of the larger problem that is George W. Bush and his government.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at August 18, 2005 01:15 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Well I trust the intentions and competence of the Bush admin

Of course I am not running around saying the sky is falling all the time - sitting in the backseat of the Admins car asking "Is it Vietnam yet? Is it Vietnam yet? Is it Vietnam yet? Is it Vietnam yet? "

As for the trust in others - why do you assert the Iraqi's ( the ones who's trust is most important to gain ) would prefer to be under the kind auspices of the UN ( who cut and ran after 1 bombing - after taking bribes from Saddam for 10 years ) or the Europeans - who preferred to have kept Saddam in power.

Posted by: Pogue Mahone at August 18, 2005 02:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

P.L.-

"NOBODY wants to see Iraq fall apart and become a failed state, exporting violence and revolt throughout the world's chief source of exportable petroleum"

NOBODY wants to see Iraq fall apart?

Hmmm. Except perhaps Assad, Iran's mullahs, the ISI, Hamas and Hezbollah, and a large chunk of the 18-40 year old male Arab population etc. etc. Once again, who/what is the "larger problem" here?

And what was Iraq when Saddam had control if not a failed state? Perhaps not a textbook definition, but close enough for me.

Posted by: paul at August 18, 2005 02:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

greg - the police arent going to stand up to insurgents fighting in groups. Theyre police, not army, and are going to need army backup.

Now the question comes up whether Iraqi army forces can substitute for US forces. Which really gets to the question of whether Iraqi nationalism is stronger than sectarian/ethnice rivalries. If nationalism is as strong as some have said, then Iraqi forces, even mainly Shiite/Kurdish ones (and the IA will ALWAYS be mainly Shiite/Kurdish, as the Sunni Arabs are only 20% of the population) will do a better job of winning local trust than Americans. They will need US backup in logistics, airpower, etc for a long time, but those arent the units we're talking about taking out.


If, on the other hand, the nationalism is NOT so strong, then US troops may be more effective. Of course this contradicts much of the narrative we've heard about the war, and about how the presence of US forces provokes Iraqis.


Of course its also possible that the Sunni Arabs are provoked by BOTH American troops, AND by Iraqi forces that arent controlled by Sunni Arabs. In which case they may simply be unreconcilable, and may be beatable only with massive force. That would of course require lots of boots on the ground - but it wouldnt require ONLY that. It would require a general admission of what we face, of the impossiblity of a political solution, and willingness to take more aggressive policies on rules of engagement, interrogation of prisoners, etc.

Posted by: liberalhawk at August 18, 2005 02:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Painful as it may be to contemplate (at least for those of us who know history), the clock is ticking down toward U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. The twin tolls of U.S. casualties and huge dollar expenditures are wearing down the resolve of the "swing voters" who decide our elections.

In a year or two, either enough Republican congressmen will finally decide enough is enough, or the Dems will regain the presidency. Either way, the U.S. will eventually leave.

Up to and including the last day of the American presence in Iraq, terrorists/insurgents will continue to detonate a few car bombs a week. Moreover, given the huge stores of conventional explosives owned by Saddam's army, they can maintain that rate indefinitely.

Thus when the U.S. does eventually withdraw--even if five years from now, with a well-trained Iraqi police force and army in place--what will the world hear *endlessly*? That the Americans were "defeated," by the power of Islamic jihadists--including suicide bombers. Moreover, the Islamic faithful will be told that this great victory over the so-called "superpower" was assured by Allah's support for the One True Faith. And they'll believe it.


In reviewing the ten sentences above, do any of you see something that doesn't seem completely certain?

So to this point, unless we do something radically different, we're looking at a fairly unwelcome outcome. It's unwelcome for 3 reasons:
* It will motivate Islamic nutcases to start pulling triggers in other countries;
* It will cause a bare majority of American voters to oppose confronting Islamic terrorists for the next decade or so;
* Finally, it will almost certainly put liberals back in control of the U.S. government for the same period. (Can you say "President Hillary"?)


In flying there's a maxim that if the plane is going down and you've done everything the book says to do and nothing's helped, do something different even if it's wrong. It's an older version of 'think outside the box'.

I think the best approach for the U.S. now is to announce that we will withdraw out some time next year even though we openly acknowledge that the 'good forces' in Iraq may not be able to prevent a civil war.

Yes, Europeans and the U.S. Left will jubilantly point out that they warned everyone this would happen--and suddenly both groups will become intensely (and unexpectedly) concerned about the prospect of Iraqis killing each other on a Saddam-like scale. But then, Europeans and Leftists already hate conservatives and Bush in any case. And of course the animosity of the Left is trivial compared to the overriding objective here, which is to force the 'good people' in Iraq to step up to the plate and fight for their own freedom.

I don't want to see a civil war in Iraq--but if the terrorists/insurgents, including Iranian-backed Shi'ites, are determined to fight indefinitely for control of the place, how else are they to be dissuaded?

One of the military lessons we learned in Nam was that as long as the Americans are willing to do your fighting for you, virtually all locals will be happy to let us do so. Clearly, that's not a viable long-term strategy for us.

Once we took out Saddam's army--including the highly loyal Republican Guard and presidential guard units--the playing field was levelled. At that point, we should have publically started the clock counting down to withdrawal. And of course it's not too late to do that even now.

Even if there is a civil war in Iraq and the "bad guys" (however you want to define that term) win, that's not a total disaster, because the world will get to see just what life under wacko Sharia law is like. Plus, the next time the U.S. says "You need to get your shit together because we're leaving next year," people are more likely to believe it.

Bottom line is, there are several weapons that are much more destructive than anything we've used so far. One is an Iraqi civil war. We didn't want that--hell, we've been spending billions to rebuild the place--and the world needs to be crystal-clear that Iraqis themselves have the power to avoid that outcome. Totally up to them. But I suggest we announce that we're gonna' leave, and if they're dumb enough to trigger civil war, it's something that was bound to happen eventually.

Posted by: sf at August 18, 2005 02:55 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"We have to draw down our troop levels as more Iraqi security forces become available, because of military is already suffering a manpower crisis, and it will only get worse the longer troop levels are maintained in Iraq."

actually some could do a service by really analyzing this. IIUC the shortfall in regular army recruitment is versus targets, which have increased to meet a congressionally mandated INCREASE in the size of the army. We're NOT below the recruiting needed to maintain the army as it was in March 2003. We simply cant expand the army as fast as we want to. We ARE having worse problems with the NG - but, IIUC, the increase in the number of army brigades, will mean a significant reduction in the number of NG brigades next rotation. Soon, even with 138,000 troops, we can end deployment of NG to Iraq. and of course the expansion of the Army leads to a virtous cycle - the more brigades we have, the less frequently any given brigade needs to deploy, which makes recruitment easier. and we can then deal with things like deferred training.

So its not clear to me that 138,000 troops is not sustainable indefinitely. a force of 118,000, assuming a 20,000 drawdown in mid-2006, should be even more likely to be sustainable.


Would it be possible to analyze these questions, without heat and politics?

Posted by: liberalhawk at August 18, 2005 03:00 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Painful as it may be to contemplate (at least for those of us who know history), the clock is ticking down toward U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. The twin tolls of U.S. casualties and huge dollar expenditures are wearing down the resolve of the "swing voters" who decide our elections.

In a year or two, either enough Republican congressmen will finally decide enough is enough, or the Dems will regain the presidency. Either way, the U.S. will eventually leave.

Up to and including the last day of the American presence in Iraq, terrorists/insurgents will continue to detonate a few car bombs a week. Moreover, given the huge stores of conventional explosives
owned by Saddam's army, they can maintain that rate indefinitely.

Thus when the U.S. does eventually withdraw--even if five years from now, with a well-trained Iraqi police force and army in place--what will the world hear *endlessly*? That the Americans were "defeated," by the power of Islamic jihadists--including suicide bombers. Moreover, the Islamic faithful will be told that this great victory over the so-called "superpower" was assured by Allah's support for the One True Faith. And they'll believe it.


In reviewing the ten sentences above, do any of you see something that doesn't seem completely certain?

So to this point, unless we do something radically different, we're looking at a fairly unwelcome outcome. It's unwelcome for 3 reasons:
* It will motivate Islamic nutcases to start pulling triggers in other countries;
* It will cause a bare majority of American voters to oppose confronting Islamic terrorists for the next decade or so;
* Finally, it will almost certainly put liberals back in control of the U.S. government for the same period. (Can you say "President Hillary"?)


In flying there's a maxim that if the plane is going down and you've done everything the book says to do and nothing's helped, do something different even if it's wrong. It's an older version of 'think outside the box'.

I think the best approach for the U.S. now is to announce that we will withdraw out some time next year even though we openly acknowledge that the 'good forces' in Iraq may not be able to prevent a civil war.

Yes, Europeans and the U.S. Left will jubilantly point out that they warned everyone this would happen--and suddenly both groups will become intensely (and unexpectedly) concerned about the prospect of Iraqis killing each other on a Saddam-like scale. But then, Europeans and Leftists already hate conservatives and Bush in any case. And of course the animosity of the Left is trivial compared to the overriding objective here, which is to force the 'good people' in Iraq to step up to the plate and fight for their own freedom.

I don't want to see a civil war in Iraq--but if the terrorists/insurgents, including Iranian-backed Shi'ites, are determined to fight indefinitely for control of the place, how else are they to be dissuaded?

One of the military lessons we learned in Nam was that as long as the Americans are willing to do your fighting for you, virtually all locals will be happy to let us do so. Clearly, that's not a viable long-term strategy for us.

Once we took out Saddam's army--including the highly loyal Republican Guard and presidential guard units--the playing field was levelled. At that point, we should have publically started the clock counting down to withdrawal. And of course it's not too late to do that even now.

Even if there is a civil war in Iraq and the "bad guys" (however you want to define that term) win, that's not a total disaster, because the world will get to see just what life under wacko Sharia law is like. Plus, the next time the U.S. says "You need to get your shit together because we're leaving next year," people are more likely to believe it.

Bottom line is, there are several weapons that are much more destructive than anything we've used so far. One is an Iraqi civil war. We didn't want that--hell, we've been spending billions to rebuild the place--and the world needs to be crystal-clear that Iraqis themselves have the power to avoid that outcome. Totally up to them. But I suggest we announce that we're gonna' leave, and if they're dumb enough to trigger civil war, it's something that was bound to happen eventually.

Posted by: sf at August 18, 2005 03:02 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

" Dems will regain the presidency"

so? Biden and Clinton have both advocated victory in Iraq, and have opposed withdrawl.


If the administration determines that avoiding a democratic presidency (even of a democratic hawk( is more important than winning in Iraq, and decides to pull out prematurely for political reasons, and Iraq falls apart, history will judge this presidency, and all who defended such an action, very harshly.

Posted by: liberalhawk at August 18, 2005 03:05 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
In a year or two, either enough Republican congressmen will finally decide enough is enough, or the Dems will regain the presidency. Either way, the U.S. will eventually leave.
SF, IMHO the best case scenario is that we don't quite "leave" - that in 2-5 years, we draw down our troop committment to the 20,000-40,000 troop level that we are using in Afghanistan, and that our troops continue to provide assistance to the Iraqis when they need advice, weapons, major combat operations, transportation, or air power. Posted by: J Mann at August 18, 2005 03:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"So its not clear to me that 138,000 troops is not sustainable indefinitely. a force of 118,000, assuming a 20,000 drawdown in mid-2006, should be even more likely to be sustainable."

It's unsustainable if you don't want to break the army. Recruiting would get even worse and retention would start plummeting. The pressure from spouses will be not to sign on agan if it means yet another year long tour. Not to mention having 138 000 troops in Iraq would severely effect training and readiness. Rumsfeld's modular reforms will ease the pressure off a bit if they free up personnel for duty in Iraq but not enough to make a signifigant difference.

Posted by: Rob at August 18, 2005 03:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

rob


interesting points. So youre saying we shouldnt focus on current recruitment and retention - there is erosion from repeated deployments, that makes current rates of retention unsustainable, even with a slightly improved rotation schedule.

This would seem to provide backup for the rumsfelding approach of getting 20,000 to 30,000 out even at some risk to Iraq. (your response, Greg?)

The next question is what about say 110,000 (assuming a drawdown of 28,000) does that reduce the level of deployment enough to avoid a retention collapse, and further recruitment problems? On the other side, is 110,000 enough to provide enough US troops to provide back up in places like Mosul, to keep hand holding iraqi forces that need it, to provide logistics and air support etc?

Posted by: liberalhawk at August 18, 2005 04:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Unless, of course, we can provide security in this country by decisively beating the insurgents. Can we?"

Who is "we"? I have not done a single thing to provide security in Iraq. So count me out. Can you identify an action you have personally taken to provide security in Iraq?

I note 4 American gentlemen who were in fact personally attempting to provide that security were killed this date in Samarra. Their names have been added to a list.

I still don't see any "security" in Iraq though. A terrorist attack dwarfing July in London just happened yesterday in Baghdad. Sadly, not a unique event. Time to end the grotesque charade. Our continued presence is benefitting neither the "Iraqis" nor the American and Coalition forces in country.

Posted by: Martin at August 18, 2005 05:21 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

liberalhawk wrote:
If the administration determines that avoiding a democratic presidency (even of a democratic hawk( is more important than winning in Iraq, and decides to pull out prematurely for political reasons, and Iraq falls apart, history will judge this presidency, and all who defended such an action, very harshly.

In September of 2004, the Onion ran the following (extremely prescient) blurb:
Bush Campaign More Thought Out Than Iraq War
WASHINGTON, DC—Military and political strategists agreed Monday that President Bush's re-election campaign has been executed with greater precision than the war in Iraq. "Judging from the initial misrepresentation of intelligence data and the ongoing crisis in Najaf, I assumed the president didn't know his ass from his elbow," said Col. Dale Henderson, a military advisor during the Reagan Administration. "But on the campaign trail, he's proven himself a master of long-term planning and unflinching determination. How else can you explain his strength in the polls given this economy?" Henderson said he regrets having characterized Bush's handling of the war as "incompetent," now that he knows the president's mind was simply otherwise occupied.

Posted by: Guy at August 18, 2005 05:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

SF --

I agree with most of what you say, even though President Hillary sounds like a good idea to me.

However, re:
"... what will the world hear *endlessly*? That the Americans were 'defeated,' by the power of Islamic jihadists--including suicide bombers."

-- although this will happen in much of the world, I think it is also likely that: after some kind of flimsy constitution has been stitched together, we will "declare victory and get out" long before a well-trained Iraqi police force and army are in place, and -- in the US -- the MSM and most people will stop thinking about or paying any real attention to Iraq. In the minds of many, the voices will prevail that say "Look, we liberated them and helped them get on their feet, and then got out." And then they'll go back to thinking about Madonna falling off a horse, or whatever. Even if the whole thing goes straight to hell, as it very well might.

Also, re:
"Even if there is a civil war in Iraq and the "bad guys" (however you want to define that term) win, that's not a total disaster, because the world will get to see just what life under wacko Sharia law is like."

-- The world has already gotten to see, and continues to get to see, what that is like. But, again, if it doesn't directly concern us somehow (of course it does, but most people don't see that unless they are seeing our troops getting blown up on TV), most people, and most media, in the US just don't care enough to pay attention.


Posted by: cah at August 18, 2005 07:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Martin,

You ask who is this we? Duh, I think it's the American people as expressed by the House and Senate, voted 10 October 2002. Here's the link:

http://www.yourcongress.com/ViewArticle.asp?article_id=2686

In a democracy it used to be considered bad form to hamstring the effort once troops were in the field, but that was a more naive time.

Posted by: wayne at August 18, 2005 08:08 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Come now, Gregory. There is simply no way the terrorists can win, and time is on our side, not theirs. Every month goes by, more Iraqis sign up to the Iraqi government and the insurgency, at best, stays exactly the same; not a good situation to be in for them.

And President Bush came out firmly against premature withdrawals last week (“…stay the course” ), so the whole thing is a straw-man.

The US can sustain another year with current numbers. In the next several years, some 50,000 troops will return to the US, fifty thousand in strategic reserve to counter the effects of overseas deployments.

Much of the reason that the Iraqi army is not capable of sustaining fighting on its own is that it lacks logistics (only three ready supply regiments of ten proposed at last count), but can you seriously argue that at no time within the next year(s) that another six regiments of this type will be stood up. Are you going to seriously argue that the insurgency, split between jihadis that kill kids and Baathists that blow up police stations, could somehow mount a jiu-jitsu campaign that would defeat even the reduced power of just US air and fire support with Iraqi forces.

The whole thing just strains credulity, and worse, calls into question the very concept of peace-keeping which almost by definition requires a modern army to secure a war-torn, or at civil war, region.

And are you really arguing that the old Baathist guard are infiltrating the Iraqi military because we screwed up by dismanteling the Old Baathist guard military when we 'botched' it up in the first place...

Posted by: Brad at August 18, 2005 09:00 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Wayne, really-when your daughter asks "what did you do in the war daddy" you actually say-"I followed the roll call vote carefully honey."

As for hamstringing our troops' efforts-if getting their asses home is hamstringing them-I plead guilty. As for your "bad form"- here's some quotes from your assumed pals re: our intervention in Bosnia when "the President" meant Bill Clinton:

"[The] President . . . is once again releasing American military might on a foreign country with an ill-defined objective and no exit strategy. He has yet to tell the Congress how much this operation will cost. And he has not informed our nation's armed forces about how long they will be away from home. These strikes do not make for a sound foreign policy."
--Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA)

"I cannot support a failed foreign policy. History teaches us that it is often easier to make war than peace. This administration is just learning that lesson right now. The President began this mission with very vague objectives and lots of unanswered questions. A month later, these questions are still unanswered. There are no clarified rules of engagement. There is no timetable. There is no legitimate definition of victory. There is no contingency plan for mission creep. There is no clear funding program. There is no agenda to bolster our over-extended military. There is no explanation defining what vital national interests are at stake. There was no strategic plan for war when the President started this thing, and there still is no plan today"
--Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)

"Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is."
--Governor George W. Bush (R-TX)

A lot of people on the left are citing these quotes as Republican hypocrisy-but I actually agree with everything said above-and think it goes double for Iraq.

Posted by: Martin at August 18, 2005 09:03 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Can you identify an action you have personally taken to provide security in Iraq?

Paid my taxes to support the troops the federal government has sent there.

Posted by: Al at August 18, 2005 09:05 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It's unsustainable if you don't want to break the army. Recruiting would get even worse and retention would start plummeting. The pressure from spouses will be not to sign on agan if it means yet another year long tour.

This seems to me to be completely wrong. Retention is ABOVE normal, not below. I don't see any reason to think that this pattern should change.

And judging by retention, our soldiers (as a broad generality) seem to be supportive of our Iraq project.

Posted by: Al at August 18, 2005 09:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Martin,

(sigh) Just for the record, I served two years in the USAF, then transferred to two years in the NY Nat'l Guard to complete my commmitment. I enlisted many years ago, when serving in the military was much more unfashionable than it is today.

As for Santorum and Delay, I readily concede that I consider them slugs and would be unaffected by their removal from public office - I'd like to add Trent Lott to that list, but he's already been neutered. As for GWB, I would agree you have a cute quote above if he had not announced an exit strategy for Iraq, but the fact is that he has, its just not the one you want to hear. We are there until a functioning gov't is given every reasonable chance to stand up, and those options will not be exhausted until well after his term expires, ergo, we are there until at least 2009. The only quibbles are what we bat around at this site and comments section -- some want more troops, some want no troops, and some subscribe to the Goldilocks solution - a gradual drawdown of 20,000 to 40,000 as the Iraqi Army comes on line.

Posted by: wayne at August 18, 2005 09:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"...we are there until at least 2009."

No "we" aren't, but I'll let it go. Thanks for your service, Wayne.

Al-I'm sure you're heartened that your Republican overlords are working doubletime to ensure that even your minimal contribution to the war effort, i.e. paying your taxes, will no longer be required in "our" glorious future.

Posted by: Martin at August 18, 2005 09:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"...we are there until at least 2009."

No "we" aren't, but I'll let it go. Thanks for your service, Wayne.

Al-I'm sure you're heartened that your Republican overlords are working doubletime to ensure that even your minimal contribution to the war effort, i.e. paying your taxes, will no longer be required in "our" glorious future.

Posted by: Martin at August 18, 2005 09:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

In the long term, I think that it would be for the best if the Sunnis did face the results of their support of Saddam and the terrorists. Up to this point, they have gotten away scot-free, and have never had to pay for what they have done for the past 35 years.

Posted by: exhelodrvr at August 18, 2005 09:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

re Brad at 9:00 PM:

"Every month goes by, more Iraqis sign up to the Iraqi government and the insurgency, at best, stays exactly the same..."

That's just woefully misinformed. Have you not heard about the Syrian border, for example?

"but can you seriously argue that at no time within the next year(s) that another six regiments of this type will be stood up"

It is certainly not at all clear that they will be.

"Are you going to seriously argue that the insurgency, split between jihadis that kill kids and Baathists that blow up police stations, could somehow mount a jiu-jitsu campaign that would defeat even the reduced power of just US air and fire support with Iraqi forces."

This is just a wrongheaded idea of the nature of the confrontation. There isn't going to be a pitched showdown between The Insurgents on one side and The US / Iraqi Team on the other. The insurgents aren't seeking a definitive military defeat in the field of the US/Iraqi forces. They are just going to keep doing what they are now doing indefinitely.

Posted by: blah at August 18, 2005 10:02 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

That is simply wrong headed. As more Iraqis, including Sunnis, consider themselves to be part of the newer, freer Iraq, there will be more informing on the criminals and foreign terrorists who keep the murder of civilians in Iraq going. Time is against the terrorists. As for civil war, that is what has been going on for the past two years with ample foreign input from Darwin Award Winners previously alive and living in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Palestine, Yemen, Chechnya, France, Britain, Spain, Germany, Pakistan, and other rat holes of the world.

Posted by: Rafael Merada at August 19, 2005 01:46 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

blah, in taking account of the border between Syria et al, I've also taken account of the number we are killing and capturing. By most accounts the insurgency is around 50,000, the upper bound it has been for nearly two years. Not to quibble over numbers, I have little patience for it, but I think it is fairly reasonable to assume that the number we reduce them by is fairly equal to the number they can increase, and I think it is reasonably diplomatic.

I'll let your pessimism slide on the ability to stand up six SUPPLY regiments, for chrissakes, not SEAL Teams.

And the Jiu Jitsu part, well, that pretty much is code for "not a pitched battle." How many jiu jitsu matches resemble say a football game? Not many. That's the point, it is unlikely that the insurgency can use LEVERAGE to win, militarily, socially, philosophically, or politically. Thank Zarqawi and his head "liberators" for that.

Posted by: Brad at August 19, 2005 02:42 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Brad,

actually, I had (mis)read you to mean that there was a fixed pool of insurgents, not being replenished, that we were progressively killing off.

my bad, as the kids say.

Posted by: blah at August 19, 2005 05:14 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

De nada ;), mi hermano blah

Posted by: Brad at August 19, 2005 07:42 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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