Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A Few Good Men

The last couple of posts have been devoted to describing how Iraq's rivers, deserts and general geography influence what the insurgency and coalition forces do. Yet any plan, whether of the insurgency or the coalition, needs men to carry it out. Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and General George Casey gave a press briefing on September 30 focusing on the 'quantity of men' issue, a status report on the process of rebuilding the Iraqi Army.

First the raw numbers. Secretary Rumsfeld reports there are "technically 194,000 Iraqis" in the security forces. In terms of what may properly be referred to as the Iraqi army, General Casey said there were 100 battalions in all. These were divided, in terms of their capability into three categories: Category 1, 2 and 3 -- with Category 1 being the most capable.

Category Number of battalions
1 1 (as per leak in Congressional testimony)
2 classified
3 classified
Total 100

 

The widely circulated report in the press that of 3 Iraqi battalions that were formerly combat ready, only one is currently rated in that status is an example of how the 'quantity of men' issue has been misunderstood. That number turns out to be the number of Iraqi battalions in Category 1, which as we shall see later, is not the critical category at all. Here is the exchange that pertains to it:

Q: General, you and General Abizaid and the secretary, and others, have said that in large measure, our ability to pull American troops out of Iraq will depend on progress in training the Iraqi forces. You've just given a large number of figures there. But you said yesterday that only one Iraqi battalion, army battalion now, instead of the three previously stated, are able now to operate alone without U.S. military help. And yet you say that's not a setback to U.S. hopes to leave Iraq. Would you explain that? How is that not a setback, sir?

GEN. CASEY: Charlie, think about what you're saying; two battalions out of a hundred. One thing. Second, let me explain here the different levels and why we set them up like we did.

First of all, we purposely set a very high standard for the first level, because as we looked at our strategy, we said that whatever happens with the Iraqi security forces, when we leave them, we have to leave them at a level where they can sustain the counterinsurgency effort with progressively less support from us. So that first one is a very, very high standard. We set that standard knowing full well that it was going to be a long time before all Iraqi units got in that category. And so the fact that there's only one or three units, that is not necessarily important to me right now. Next year at this time, I'll be much more concerned about it. Right now I'm not.

General Casey emphasized that however one calculated what Iraqi battalions fell into which classification, in absolute terms the number of Iraqi units has increased enormously.

In May, Iraqi security forces conducted about 160 combined or independent operations at the company level and above, so about 100 people as company level, and about 160 operations. In September, that was over 1,300, and then our transition teams that we have put with the Iraqi security forces have greatly enhanced their development and their ability to operate with us. We are at the point now where 80 percent of all of the company-level and higher operations that are done are combined operations with the Iraqi or Iraqi independent operations -- big step forward.   

Secretary Rumsfeld later reiterated the switch in percentages to illustrate the effect Iraqi numbers were having on security operations.

but at one point we thought that they were doing about -- that U.S. was doing about 80 percent of the patrols and the activity, and the Iraqi security forces about 20 [percent]. And today it's probably roughly reversed, that the Iraqi -- independent and Iraqi combined are probably 80 percent, and maybe 20 percent are U.S.-coalition only. 

The eightfold increase in company-level operations in five months (from 160 company level operations in May rising to 1,300 in September) is one crude way to estimate the rate of training of Iraqi battalions . If operational tempo has not increased, this suggests that since there are 100 battalions now then there were only about 12 in May and the US military transition teams have been training about 18 new battalions each month. This is a very crude estimate, but it should in the correct order of magnitude.

Of these 100 battalions the truly important number are those in Category 2 (not the Category 1 batts the press was interested in) because it is on these that the operations over the next six months will be fought. The members of Press realized this in the course of the briefing and attempted to get the speakers to state this number without success.

Q: Category two is an important number. What is that number? Maybe we would chase that rabbit if you threw it out there for us. 

GEN. CASEY: The numbers are classified, but I -- 

Q: But why is the number "one" not classified, then?

GEN. CASEY: Because unfortunately it got out and was -- (laughter) -- in the media.

But the importance of the numbers of available Category 2 Iraqi battalions was emphasized time and again. General Casey noted that it was with Category 2 Iraqi forces that the battle of Tal Afar was successfully fought -- and it is with these Category 2 batts that the near term campaign will be waged.

GEN. CASEY: You mentioned the Tall Afar model. I think that's a good example. Three Iraqi brigades and a third Iraqi infantry division went in Tall Afar with one of our brigades. Urban fighting. I mean, the toughest type of combat. And these Iraqi units were right there with our guys. And what happens is more and more we're seeing them -- and General Vines told me this morning -- in about half the cases now our guys are providing the outer cordon, and it's the Iraqis that are going inside; frankly, because they're much more effective in understanding what it is they're seeing there. But that's kind of the Tall Afar model. And none of those brigades that went in there were level one. They were level two and three. And so I'm trying to give you some sense of the capabilities of these guys.

(Speculation alert) In hindsight, it seems probable that the river and border campaigns waged over the past few months could not have been undertaken until the means were to hand: adequate numbers of Iraqi troops trained by the military transition teams. Only then could the seize-and-hold operations we are witnessing be successfully undertaken. If this is the case then while the news headlines were focused on dramatic battlefield events, the military training teams were winning a silent victory offstage, together with those who were assisting the establishment of a new Iraqi state.

In retrospect the public debate over "adequate numbers" of troops in Iraq may have been too narrowly framed. The average person would probably take "numbers" to mean the count of combat formations deployed to Iraq as the metric of 'how serious' the US was about tackling the insurgency and some military analysts were recommending deployments of 500,000 men. But if the debate had been cast in terms of how much "military power" had to be deployed to Iraq, remembering that military power is a broader term which is the composite of tooth, tail and force generation components, the answer would have been subtly different because it would have included such nonobvious elements as combat support, Iraqi force generation, political warfare and technological innovation applied to solve the problem.

Update

A reader wrote to say that the classification of Iraqi units into categories depends on two things: capability and availability. Therefore the number of Iraqi battalions at any particular level of categorization could fluctuate according to such variables as whether the unit was on training. Going from level 1 to level 2 does not necessarily mean the unit has "gotten worse".

93 Comments:

Blogger WillyShake said...

To this wonderful analysis, I would reiterate that no military unit in history has ever attained peak combat readiness and remained permanently at that level. As commanders, NCO's and other personnel rotate in and out (along with other variables), a unit's proficiency--it seems to me--fluctuates.

10/05/2005 04:25:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie said...

And combat-readiness can be achieved in an atmosphere of offensive maneuver much more quickly than in a garrison setting, it (likewise) seems to me. Not only is combat pretty much the ultimate weeding-out tool for determining who has the temperament to lead, who to follow intelligently, and who to freeze up, but the learning curve is - has to be - pretty d*mn steep.

To say that overall American troop effectiveness is going to be greatly improved by combat experience in Afghanistan and Iraq is not a very popular point of view, but it's true nonetheless. I know that it's still only a relatively small percentage of US active-duty military who have been participating in combat in this conflict, but it's still a higher percentage, for a longer stretch, than we've seen in decades. Exercises are going to change. War College is going to change. Enlistment and reup patterns are going to change (are changing). None of this is bad; all of it is a real-world response to real-world conditions, something we ought to applaud if we remain committed to an effective rather than decorative military.

10/05/2005 04:45:00 AM  
Blogger Buffy said...

The Iraqi forces who make it through training and early operations will be trained and true. Trial by fire, it's the best way for a soldier.

10/05/2005 04:59:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

I've been trying to think through the force generation problem from Zarqawi's point of view. Like America, he also has the problem of drumming up a steady flow of men to fight his campaign. Hooking up with Al Qaeda may have provided short-term benefit at the cost of long term liability because it excluded the the Shi'ites and Kurds from his recruiting base. They were anathema to the Wahabi theocrats.

Nevertheless, Zarqawi too had his "military transition teams" in the shape of foreign jihadis and old Ba'athists who were engaged in providing OJT for his Sunni recruits. In some sense, you can tell the Iraqi war narrative in terms of a race between two rival force generation strategies. One reason why shutting down the flow of "foreign fighters" is so important is because it shuts down the enemy's training cadre.

I believe that Zarqawi has lost the force generation race. In the beginning, when he was directly attacking government police and army recruitment depots, he was still in the running. But at some point he gave up because he was not interdicting the system sufficiently. It's hard to shut down a system producing 18 new battalions per month. I think he realized he couldn't throttle the system building against him and that's when he switched to trying to start a civil war. If he couldn't win the chess game he was going to upset the board. But I think he's finding the table too heavy to lift.

10/05/2005 05:22:00 AM  
Blogger VRWconspiracy said...

It is a very good thing that we do not increase American forces in Iraq to achieve a quick tactical victory over the jihadis. It would likely lead to a strategic defeat.

We need to leave Iraq with an OJT trained army and police plus a logistics infrastructure to defeat the jihadis over the long term. That seems to be the strategy being followed.

10/05/2005 05:51:00 AM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

Or if they are in the transition to better equipment/major maintenance on current equipment, the readiness level will temporarily decrease.

10/05/2005 05:55:00 AM  
Blogger Minh-Duc said...

The rating of 1 is difficult even for an American unit. My unit lost rating 1 several times when I was in Iraq. When we had people who had to be evacuate dout of Iraq (injuries, sicks, or family emergency), our number went below 90 percent and we lost category 1 rating.

The problem with Iraqi units is most of them cannot handle their own logistic. Logistic is a very complicate piece of warfighting - even most Western battalions do not have the same logistical standard as the US. The rating as reported by the media is misleading.

10/05/2005 06:02:00 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Yes, I agree that what's different about these operations is there is a plan for a permanent security presence in the form of Iraqi troops. Already Iraqi troops are playing nontrivial roles in operations. By any measure, that is progress.

10/05/2005 06:16:00 AM  
Blogger ex-democrat said...

W - maybe i missed something, but isn't the issue that got the press excited that the number in cat 1 had decreased, suggesting that things were going backwards? Is the answer to this Minh-duc's point that cat 1 status comes and goes? If so, i don'y see where Casey (or your analysis) clearly states this.

10/05/2005 06:36:00 AM  
Blogger bioqubit said...

DESPAIR

Your depth of inquiry and the resulting knowledge puts me in a state of despair over the mind boggling idiocy of the so called commentators and experts on TV and cable.

As a biologist, I am trying to equate what species of life form would match the near lifeless level of intellectual inquiry expressed by those cretins. I am thinking sea slug (Aplysia?)here. They have among the fewest neurons of any living creature wiht a neural system and do exhibit intelligent behavior. Yeah, sorry, that would be insulting the sea slugs.

10/05/2005 06:41:00 AM  
Blogger Sophia Phoster said...

minh-duc is on the right track. If Casey is using US standards to rate Iraqi units then I doubt that more than a handful, if that, of NATO batallions would get a 1 rating.

One of the ironies of US miitary supremacy is that in large scale operations allies are a major disadvantage because staff has to spend as much time avoiding disaster from allies playing catch-up as it does with closing with the enemy.

10/05/2005 06:49:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The Iraqi Army is progressing on schedule. When their National Government is ready, so to will it's Army.
While I often wondered why it was taking so long to "stand up" the Iraqi military, the picture is now clear. We were operating on dual tracks, political and military, and wanted them to rendevous on the Electoral schedule.
With 9 days and a wake to the Constitutional Referendum the INA will be standing ready to defend it.

Further election news from Iraq, the change that porker for allah reported on yesterday has been reversed.

"... (AP) BAGHDAD Iraq's National Assembly voted on Wednesday to reverse last-minute changes it had made to rules for next week's referendum on a new constitution following criticism by the United Nations and a boycott threat by the Sunni minority.

After a brief debate and with only about half of its 275 members present, the assembly voted 119-28 to restore the original voting rules for the referendum, which will take place Oct. 15. Washington hopes a "yes" vote in the referendum will unite Iraq's disparate factions and erode support for the country's bloody insurgency. ..."
Iraqi Election Update

Seems a little back room pressure from US help reverse the previous change.

So it seems success is at hand, with free and fair elections and the Iraqi Army becoming combat ready all at the same time.

Better late than never.

10/05/2005 07:25:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10/05/2005 07:31:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Bill Roggio has further updates from Iraq. The combined US & Iraqi forces are rolling up Insurgent cells, not only in western Iraq, but in Baghdad as well.
Now that the Iraqi Security Forces are operating hand in glove with US troops progress seems to be growing exponentially.

10/05/2005 07:34:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10/05/2005 07:36:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

The question that comes to my mind is whether the soldiers filling out the Iraqi battalions are willing to die for Iraq. That is the key. Our men and women are proficient because they are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.

The Iraqis are killed in large numbers, many standing in line waiting to join, but that is different then risking your neck in combat.

If past history is an indicator I would think it is unlikely the Iraqi troops will ever reach this level of dedication. During Saddam's earlier wars the only troops willing to fight were is elite Republican Guards, whose loyalty came through their Sunni/Baathist background. The regular, shia troops performed poorly because of low-levels of training and quite frankly because their hearts were not in the fight.

If the average Iraqi soldier, Kurd, Sunni or Shiite cannot be convinced that a democrativ Iraq is in their best interest then they will melt away the minute US forces leave the area.

10/05/2005 07:42:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

I also have began to wonder about the logistics aspects. It is not as simple as adding the Iraqi Army to our logistics tail; except for some airplanes we operate equipment that is too different. They are hardly in a position to do it themselves, and the USSR is no longer around to provide everything they need.
However, we have on our side now virtually all of the once-captive nations of the defunct Warsaw Pact, who have plenty of the same type of equipemnt as the Iraqis and even considerable manufacturing and overhaul capabilities. With their entry into NATO, they have to get rid of much of this old hardware - and there is also the stigma of operating gear associated with their former oppressors - and the losers of the Cold War. Would it not be ironic if the "American Empire" is bolstered by the very people we both freed and defeated?

10/05/2005 08:06:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

The deployment of 500,000 troops into an urban theater would have been a blood bath. It would be nigh impossible to keep command and control of such large numbers of troops in cities that a foot patrol could turn a corner and be lost to the day. To those that are bitching now, such a huge foot print would have cast a wake through the region and itself would have been a show of weakness. Swarming tactics were always the strategy of our enemies.

I appreciate Wretchard’s “military power” metric because it takes into account many factors, such as B2’s in Diego Garcia. The argument over air verses boots on the ground has continued since WWI. The question as to whether US ground forces could effectively operate in urban terrain was in doubt, particularly by our enemies that used the example of Somalia to demonstrate the impenetrability of ME tyranny. I can’t help but think that this notion is being soundly defeated whether the American public gets it at all. American force structure goes wide and deep.

10/05/2005 08:14:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Doug,

It is an open question, that's for sure. However, more Iraqis have been killed by the insurgents than Americans, and yet Iraqis keep signing up to fight.

And if you think about it, standing in a recruiting line is actually more dangerous than fighting, as it is probably the first and last time these young men will have a target squarely on their backs while also defenseless and unarmed. That so many Iraqis have the courage to show up is reassuring.

10/05/2005 08:16:00 AM  
Blogger Papa Bear said...

One additional thing that may be responsible for a decrease from Category 1: the Iraqi army is rapidly building.

When it's time to form a new batallion, where are you going to get your officers and NCOs from? The obvious answer is to promote them out of the best units, and rotate in promising replacements. Thus, your top units are going to roller-coaster in their rating, but not from any deficiency in their men.

Training good officers and NCOs is a process that takes years. Instilling a good military culture is a process that can take a generation

10/05/2005 08:22:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

I think the new Iraqi Defense Forces will fight admirably. If you think the Sunni’s have a cause, imagine how invigorating it must be to fight for a nation that has been formed in your image.

As far as logistics go, the IDF has the extreme convenience of living in there own AOR. They, being a new government, are also making friends, have had armor donated by certain eastern Europeans.

10/05/2005 08:26:00 AM  
Blogger John Koman said...

FYI from a frequent reader - thanks for your efforts and your service. Belmont has been one of the best blogs for analysis and relevant links I have found in a year plus of avid reading.


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10/05/2005 08:37:00 AM  
Blogger Rick Ballard said...

Doug,

Isn't the only question from our side: "What type of Iraqi force structure best suits American long term interests?".

I'm not sure where "Willingness to die for Iraq." fits into the equation. My personal pick would be a force structure that is trained to surrender to Americans as soon as requested to do so by an American of the rank of E-5 or higher.

10/05/2005 08:49:00 AM  
Blogger Reg Jones said...

W-

Level 2: Ability to take the lead

1. "Right now there are over 80 army battalions fighting alongside coalition troops... There are over 30 Iraqi battalions in the lead."
[Bush, Press Conference, 10/4/05]

2. Ret. Gen. Barry McCaffery recently said his sources put the number closer to 36 battalions.

3. Status Iraqi Army's 80 battalions :
1 "Level 1"
29-35 "Level 2"
44-50 "Level 3"


As a final note, I seem to recall hearing that the one "level 1" battalion was actually not one of the original three "level 1 " battalions.

10/05/2005 09:09:00 AM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

Minh-Duc states:
The problem with Iraqi units is most of them cannot handle their own logistic. Logistic is a very complicate piece of warfighting - even most Western battalions do not have the same logistical standard as the US. The rating as reported by the media is misleading.

Logistics is indeed a tough one. Logistics is why Wal-Mart rules and why K-Mart was code-blue. It also explains why OMC (Outboard Motor Corporation) died the way it did. KMart nor OMC had to worry about bombs and people shooting at them and they still screwed up logistics.

10/05/2005 09:17:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Doug an aristides: Relative to recruitment and motivation, it is difficult to see how you could be be a Shiite or a Kurd and not be thoroughly, totally P.O.ed at what has happened to your people at the hands of a select group of Sunnis and foreign Jihadists. No doubt that there are quite a few Sunnis who feel the same way.
Willingness to die is not the issue. No one signs up to die.
Willingness to kill - indeed eagerness to do so - is probably the biggest single motivating factor.
Some U.S. leaders have said "it is fun to kill these kind of people" and "there is no better enemy that we should be fighting."
You can bet that there are many Iraqis who feel the same way.

10/05/2005 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Fabio said...

Another question - which is not really military in nature - is, How likely (or unlikely) is Iraq to become just another Islamic theocracy?

This point is for me the most worrisome of the whole enterprise, and if Iraq goes theocratic not everything but a lot of what has been fought for will be lost.

I do not think it is very likely, but certainly is far from impossible.

10/05/2005 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger PresbyPoet said...

Combat can both strengthen and weaken a unit. The experience strengthens, the casualties weaken. Also at some point the stress starts to cause damage. Several of those are hard to quantify. How do you know what stress a unit, or its individuals have experienced? When do you pull a unit out for refit, and resupply?

One major disadvantage the Jihadi's have is that they are like the Japanese units fighting in WWII, it was a fight to the death, and no one was going to be left as a cadre to teach the new recruits.

I do wonder if one thing we need to keep careful watch for is training facilities in out of the way places in North Africa, Asia, South America, where the Jihadi cadres teach the next wave.

One OT question:
We implant id chips in dogs. What about a requirement everybody gets one in Iraq? You would be able to detect someone coming in from the outside because they didn't have the chip, and it makes id of friend or foe easier. Is the 666 controversy worth the hundreds/thousands of lives it might save?

10/05/2005 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger Rick Ballard said...

Presbypoet.

Wrt training centers in desolate areas I think we have to rely on the unbarking dog. SpecialOps is operating and we are very unlikely to know where and when until we are much older.

S'OK with me. I'm sure we'll hear about the hordes of jihadist's trained and waiting in a Super Secret Location to be unleashed by a cunning mastermind hiding with his favorite goat in a cave in Waziristan but I believe that I'll wait for some tangible proof before buying in to any further loser rantings. I know that is not what you are proposing and I don't doubt that training is occurring but right now all we're seeing is splodeydopes. Not much training involved in becoming a splodeydope.

10/05/2005 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger cjr said...

Not sure what the mystery is. The number of level 2 battalions(able to lead operations) has presented several times by Generals and now Bush. The number presented has been >30
http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Oct2005/20051005_2942.html

10/05/2005 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger cjr said...

Why did the number of Level 1 battalions fall from 3 to 1? This was explained in a new conference. The initial survey went out to the field. And the answers that came back was 3. The survey results were then examined/reviewed in detail and it was found that some errors were made. After the errors were fixed, the number was 1. And the 1 was actually different than the original 3.

As someone who has had to implement business processes in my company, all this seem fairly routine and unremarkable: nothing works perfectly the first time you try it.

10/05/2005 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger William Knight said...

I'm just curious Wretchard, do you get paid to do positive spin on the failed Iraq war, or are you just doing it to try keep all of your previous analysis from looking silly?

Bing West
is so discouraged about this mess that he's ready to declare martial law in the Sunni triangle and just give up on the whole democracy thing.

At some point, your typical Fox viewer will also wake up and recognize the failure of George Bush's little mess over there, no matter how high the spin factor gets cranked up on the right wing news machine.

10/05/2005 12:32:00 PM  
Blogger cjr said...

Reg Jones

Keep in mind that 80 battalions is just Iraqi army units. There are another 27 battalions of Special Police: Police Commandos(9 bat), Police Public Order battalions(15 bat), Police mechanized brigade(3 bat)

10/05/2005 01:01:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

William:
What Wretchard presents is objective data. That you see it as positive spin tells me where you are.

Throwing a rock is impossible for a dog. He is as discouraged to not trying as your friend Bing. (Not a bad name for a dog actually)

This will take the courage and perseverance of may like the fine young men serving in that theater. And it will take the unexhaustable support of many like Wretchard who see the glass half full.

If it takes a generation to get the mess in Iraq straightened out, and it may well, it will still be worth it. The alternative is more of the same.

You obviously still don't see that the events leading up to and including 9-11, Madrid, London, Bali and even Norman, OK dictate a firm response by the west.

This is our war! The Jihadis did not attack Iceland or Mars or Patagonia.They attacked US and everything we hold to be virtue.
We should prosecute, therefore, at least as aggressively as our enemy.

William: Face reality. Your denial is dangerous at such times.

10/05/2005 01:01:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

William Knight,
Although I will let Wretchard answer for himself, I feel compelled to tell you that the analysis presented herein is not positive spin. It is analysis that attempts to make light of the disparate events, so shoddily reported by the MSM. You can not doubt that the US military is trying to be successful in their operations and have specific goals in mind. We would applaud there efforts when they succeed. The complex and ongoing operations of late have given most Belmonters reason to be hopeful.

Your constant negativity is reflected well in the vat of cool-aid that you drink from on a daily basis, Slate, et a, including Fox.

We true Americans on the periphery of this conflict may be guilty of a little cheer leading for our side, and perhaps to validate the American cause in Iraq. But you sir, are clearly aligned with the enemies of democracy philosophically for the purposes of politically motivated vitiation against your enemy, GWB and party. You are a craven, preening, turd.

As for the linked article, consider the source and its facts are mostly pulled from 2004.

10/05/2005 01:01:00 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

Prima facie evidence of why some people can't be trusted to win a food fight.

10/05/2005 01:03:00 PM  
Blogger cjr said...

William Knight:
Wow, talk about spin. After reading Bing's article, it is clear that you completely misrepresenting what he wrote.

A little advice. Whatever you believe: hypocrisy, misrepresentation and empty emotional retoric is a poor way to influence peoples' opinion.

10/05/2005 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10/05/2005 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Wretchard,

Just watched the Petraeus interview, and these are the numbers of battalions as of October 5, 2005:

Over 197,000 trained forces.

Level 1 -- 1
Level 2 -- 36
Level 3 -- 80

Total: 115 (both police and army battalions).

A substantial number of the 36 Level 2 (leading), including 7 in Baghdad, have their own areas of operation.

Now, you'll notice that the numbers add up to more than 115. The reason: some battalions occupy both Level 2 and Level 3, depending on the circumstances, so REG JONES's numbers are probably more realistic as they highlight the uncertainty of exact labels. The designations are constantly in-flux, as Commanders and other variables are added or subtracted.

Of course, as William Knight points out, none of this information is valid if it can possibly be construed as positive.

10/05/2005 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger William Knight said...

annoy mouse says:
But you sir, are clearly aligned with the enemies of democracy philosophically for the purposes of politically motivated vitiation against your enemy, GWB and party. You are a craven, preening, turd.

Your name-calling smacks of desperation, annoy mouse. But to address your previous assertion, that I'm calling this a failure for purely political purposes, you are simply wrong. I am deeply concerned about the future of my country (USA) and I'm doing what I can to get it back on track. The FIRST and MOST IMPORTANT way to do that is to get people to realize that we are in this mess because of the incompetence and arrogance of our current political leadership. That's not just partisan politics. The first step in trying to achieve some success in the middle east is to get rid of the failed leaders who got us into the unnecessary mess in the first place. Only when we have competent political leaders at the helm do we have any hope of progress.

You may disagree with my assessment of the war and the best response to it, but to assert that I am part of some philosophical alignment with the 'enemies of democracy' is just so much pathetic blather.

10/05/2005 01:46:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Another thing you don't hear much about:

Petraeus gave an example of what kind of "support" America gives the Level 2 battalions: we let them through the checkpoints as they leave on their mission, and let them back in when they get back. That's it.

The Level 2 battalion will mostly decide, act, and fight on its own. They use their own recon and intelligence, and answer only to Iraqis. We are there for logistical needs, and only help when they get into trouble.

Level 2 is the designation for a battalion that can take their own battle space, and we now have 36. That, my friends, is progress.

10/05/2005 01:55:00 PM  
Blogger William Knight said...

cjr said...

Wow, talk about spin. After reading Bing's article, it is clear that you completely misrepresenting what he wrote.

Uh, where exactly is my misrepresentation? The subject line of the guy's article is 'It's Time To Declare Martial Law in the Sunni Cities'. Secondly, I do not detect a great deal of optimism as he comes to this rather sad conclusion, hence the use of the word 'discouraged'. Finally, martial law is most certainly incompatible with democracy.

Perhaps you can clarify what you mean by the phrase completely misrepresenting what he wrote.

10/05/2005 01:58:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

William Knight,

Why don't you write down and post what you would have done in the Middle East, starting in 2000, the year the incompetents came to power.

I must warn you, if your preferred Middle East would still have Saddam Hussein sitting atop a crumbling inspection regime and a criminal Oil For Food, I am not going to agree with you. I would even disagree with Brit Hume, if you can believe it, if he put forth such an alternative strategy. And you know how much Fox News influences my mind.

10/05/2005 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

I haven't seen Wretchard doing any "rah!rah!" cheerleading, Knight. He has just been giving some objective, well-written analysis. If you had been following Belmont Clubs threads, rather than just sniping and trolling, you would see lively discussions of the USA's failure to engage the enemy in other essential areas, such as diplomacy and strategic communications.

There are posters here that DO thing high tech toys and tactical superiority mean automatic, eventual American victory without having to confront the real war - the war of ideas - but their military jingoism is obvious.

Your link to Bing and "Return to Fallujah" was actually a very good example of showing how high tech and great troops winning tactical superiority really don't matter when you have utterly failed to change the internal "hearts and minds" dynamic of the Sunnis there.

Without the guns of the occupier, it is certain that the "noble, freedom-loving Sunni Iraqis" would happily shift to doing the insurgents bidding tomorrow. You could have made that point without baiting Wretchard or a few of the gung-ho posters.

The truth is the neocons are pretty well discredited. We lost a whole year because they believed the Iraqi exiles that all of Iraq would be a bunch of happy campers following liberation. There is no real remaining American support for the neocon's dream of expanding the war and starting invasions of Iran or Syria or other nations Israel would like to use American blood and treasure on. Even "surgical" bombing strikes of Iran's nuclear program to decrease Israel's risk of losing it's regional WMD monopoly, nuclear assets very popular with all elements of Iranian society, would ensure the US suffered tremendous blowback.

But we should stay until Iraq has some semblance of stability.

There are still Americans that somehow associate 9/11 as Iraq's doing, but they are diminishing in numbers.

enscout is still one: If it takes a generation to get the mess in Iraq straightened out, and it may well, it will still be worth it. The alternative is more of the same. You obviously still don't see that the events leading up to and including 9-11, Madrid, London, Bali and even Norman, OK dictate a firm response by the west. This is our war! The Jihadis did not attack Iceland or Mars or Patagonia.They attacked US and everything we hold to be virtue.

Given no Iraqi involvement with 9/11, Bali, the Taliban --Iraq was always not about terrorists but ensuring a state we didn't like could not covertly amass WMDs or flout the UN security council resolutions, while we ignored the same by our "special friend" Israel. If Saddam had only been as smart as the Zionists were and greased enough American politician's palms, we would have gone after some other WMD, UN flouting threat.

And yes, there are Americans that equate anything less than bootlicking loyalty to America's Great Beloved Maximum War Leader and Awarder of Cronies, Dubya Bush - as being unpatriotic:

Anoy mouse: But you sir, are clearly aligned with the enemies of democracy philosophically for the purposes of politically motivated vitiation against your enemy, GWB and party. You are a craven, preening, turd.

I'd prefer a little more loyalty to America and the West, and a little less to Bush's cronies who made a series of disastrous mistakes. Did a single head roll for the botched post-war? No! That would be disloyal to the boob that August and Godly Bush did so ordain as dear to his Greatness and Vision. Less loyalty to Bush and a little more to America's and the West's best interests is as imperative as the Left getting behind those interests and a little less Bush-bashing. Try it, enscout. It's not like Bush is calling you a cute nickname like "pit bull" or "brownie-boy" and getting set to appoint you to some slot two levels above your Peter Principle Limit...

10/05/2005 02:08:00 PM  
Blogger Red River said...

A BN in steady state will have two companies up, one in training and refit, and one pulling guard duty and resting.

A whole BN can surge into combat but it will be exhausted in 2-4 weeks and then the whole unit will have to stand down.

Operations have to be paced. Equipment has to be paced and maintained.

I think the hardest part is taking care of people and hardware. People like systems need depot level refit and repair.

AQ in Iraq faces the same issues. They can surge like the Sioux in 1876, but if harried, will not be able to rest and recover.

If you look at El Salvador, the same thing occurred. The US and Local forces fought several hard campaigns but the exponential increase in Salvadoran's numbers and capacities overwhelmed the Soviet/Cuban's abilities to build units to replace those lost. We were inside the Soviet's logistical cycles.

10/05/2005 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger Fernand_Braudel said...

William Knight, it's time to go back to school.

Infantile ranting will only get you ignored here. We Belmonters long ago realized what a waste of time it is to listen to professional cranks like you!

10/05/2005 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

William Knight,

As for your concern for the future of this country, that is a vague place to start the discussion.

If I thought our country would best be served by killing off all the Jews, I would advocate such an action out of concern for our future. A crude analogy, perhaps, but not unprecedented, yes?

The interesting question is what you want you country to be. What kind of country, and what type of world, should we leave for our children.

Strong and powerful, feared and respected, fair and virtuous, safe and prosperous, happy and free: these are the words that come to mind when I ask myself these questions. I could take the war in Iraq and advocate its worth in regard to each of these terms. More importantly, I cannot do the same for non-OIF.

Even if Bush went into Iraq for oil wealth, or for his Daddy, or for Israel, or whatever--you cannot argue that, amongst the effects of OIF, we must include the following: a ruthless dictator is in jail, his sons are dead, Iraqis are free and self-governing, Saddam's rape-rooms and wood-chippers are out of business, and the entire Arab world is watching what comes from democracy, and demanding their own rights in their own countries. Instead of being forced to look outside, which is what political oppression does and is what brought 9/11, millions of Arabs are finding the power and courage to look inside. Inside their own lands, at their own leaders, their own problems, their own solutions. Instead of being belligerently extrospective, Arabs are becoming thoughtfully introspective. THAT is why we went into Iraq, and in that respect, C4, the neocons were right. America is safer when people are free and self-governing because people who are free and self-governing don't give a shit about America--kind of the same way I think about California.

So put aside your political proclivities, and let us talk as free men. Why do you think what we have done in Iraq is a disaster?

10/05/2005 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger William Knight said...

Cedarford said...

I haven't seen Wretchard doing any "rah!rah!" cheerleading, Knight. He has just been giving some objective, well-written analysis. If you had been following Belmont Clubs threads, rather than just sniping and trolling, you would see lively discussions of the USA's failure to engage the enemy in other essential areas, such as diplomacy and strategic communications.


That's a fair criticism and I'll plead guilty to the sniping and trolling charge. However, Wretchard's posts (which I have been following for some time now) definitely seem to me to be more focussed on short-term, tactical analysis. That's fine if you're into that sort of thing, but I question it's ultimate relevance to any long-terms solutions to the situation in Iraq.

Maybe Wretchard is doing lots of good, long term strategic analysis, but it seems to me like there is an awful lot of emphasis on
things like monthly stats on IED attacks (often taken out of context from things like changes in patrolled areas and the like). It just gives me the impression of a kind of low-level number-crunching that is missing out on the big picture.

10/05/2005 02:36:00 PM  
Blogger Fernand_Braudel said...

Aristides,

Maybe 'Billy Squire' (he's been demo'd) thinks we should have only gone to war against Japan and left Germany alone in Europe?

10/05/2005 02:39:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

WK
The Big Picture is that the Iraqis are beginning to take responsibility for themselves. After 35 years of Saddam their self governing skills were more than rusty, they were nearly nonexistent.
Perhaps we should have replaced Saddam with a srong man. Mr. Chilabi comes to mind as a likely candidate, but that would not have caused a change in Lebenon or helped to stimulate Presidental elections in Egypt.
We could, possibly, have withdrawn sizable forces from Iraq by now if we had followed the Realpolitik of Stability, following Saddam's removal.
But than I doubt Mr. Blair would have described that as Progressive.

10/05/2005 02:50:00 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

Earthy statistics are hard facts. It is one thing to attempt to extrapolate "short-term, tactical" meaning from hard facts that are "short-term" and "tactical" in nature, e.g. numbers, diagrams, and maps. Yet William first accused Wretchard of subjective analysis; subsequently William demanded that Wretchard expand the scope of his analysis and make subjective assumptions and extrapolations subjectively relevant to "long-term solutions". You can't have it both ways. If you want objective and unbiased analysis this is naturally going to stick close to what the numbers, diagrams and maps can readily provide.

10/05/2005 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Aristedes:

Why don't you write down and post what you would have done in the Middle East, starting in 2000, the year the incompetents came to power. I must warn you, if your preferred Middle East would still have Saddam Hussein sitting atop a crumbling inspection regime and a criminal Oil For Food, I am not going to agree with you.

At 1971 dead, almost 15,000 wounded, and 220 billion dollars spent on Iraq, what part of that sacrifice was worth "freeing the passive noble Iraqi Shia from the noble Iraqi Sunni?"

When do we invade Burma to free their noble, oppressed people? Sudan? Ivory Coast?

What part was "worth" ending "oil for food".

Last I remember, both the UN and most nations wanted 3-6 more months for the "crumbling inspection regime" to verify no WMDs existed.

Clearly in hindsight, if we had known no WMDs existed, that there was no "liberation" welcome awaiting us - no way would have Congress authorized war on Iraq. Preferring instead to focus US energy on forcing the Road Map process, going after the real reserviors of radical Islam in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Iran - and finishing up business in Afghanistan.

We know know that the botched postwar in Iraq was not a standalone screwup by the Bushies, but part of a larger pattern of incompetent boobery shown in the Terri Sciavo scandal, glabal decline in US prestige, failure to acknowlege the immigration crisis, rampant corruption and pork, the Katrina Fiasco, Chavez Fiasco, Deficit recklessness, and the Big Pharma entitlement.

It is hard to say what Gore, McCain, a Jeb Bush would have done if elected in 2000, or a Lieberman or Warner in 2004, but at this point, a lot of people are thinking we didn't elect the best candidate possible in either 2000 or 2004.

I do imagine there would have been major strategic communications efforts, open sit-downs with the Saudis demanding they end their backstabbing ways, 9/11 would still have happened, Afghanistan still done and a triumph, and likely, no war with Iraq. Other than Bush, the deficit would be lower, lower levels of corruption and cronyism. The reputation of the US would be far higher than it is now.

10/05/2005 03:13:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

C4,

Irrelevenat. W won in 2000 and 2004 finis.

10/05/2005 03:52:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

C4,

Also many people say Gore would have gone after the Taliban. Maybe, maybe not its conjecture and I am inclined to believe he would have done the same as his predecessor. Tough talk a few cruise missiles and finis.

10/05/2005 03:54:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

C4:
Play with the cards you're dealt.

I'll take candidate Bush over gore or kerry any day. He wasn't the best man avilable for the job but certainly the best candidate in the respective presidential elections. In fact one could argue that there have been few times in history when the best available man was in charge of a crucial event.

In fact there are tons of reasons for us "neocons" to be frustrated with Bush. If you would stop your boring hate Bush rhetoic and open your mind to reality you would hear it.

Fact is we can play coulda shoulda all day long and it doesn't change what's happened.

I watch this blog all the time & seen where so many have aked for your suggestions to how you would have executed differently. Well, we're stiil waiting.

You are a talented and intelligent person. I hope someday you will grow up, stop whining and make something of yourself. We could use a few good men.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." Theodore Roosevelt
Paris, France
April 23, 1910

10/05/2005 04:34:00 PM  
Blogger Sophia Phoster said...

C4

Your scope is too small. After 9/11 pushing back on Islamism was a strategic imperative. Whether or not Saddam had WMD or anything to do with 9/11 would have been good press but was irrelevant to the big picture. Others have mentioned that Iraq's geography alone would have made it our beachhead into the ME. That Saddam was an international criminal made the choice easy.

The size of the allied force was a strategic decision. Big enough to defeat the Iraqi military but not so big to occupy every city and scream conqueror. The risk of that decision was the insurgency blowback. Perhaps if the 4ID had not been blocked Anbar would have been pacified earlier. Nonetheless the legitimization of a represetative Iraqi government is underway and the combination of Al Qaeda and domestic Sunni fighters is incapable of stopping or even influencing that outcome. It ain't over but we're leading by 10 runs in the 9th inning.

Causation or coincidence? Libya turned into a pussycat. The Syrian occupation of Lebanon has ended. Kuwait and other Gulf states are delinking themselves from Palestine. Other problems remain but every responsible Admininstration spokesman has said from the beginning that the GWOT was a long process. I suggest that Bush's poll numbers are down not from making too much war but for too little. The chance of anybody running Left of the GOP on war issues in '08 and winning is slim to none.

10/05/2005 04:51:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Wonder if Mr. Knight is one of them there journalists looking to stir up a discussion he can take and spin into a story elsewhere. Or use to discredit the blogosphere since he seems pretty good at spinning what's happened.

10/05/2005 04:56:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

For all the pro war and anti-war analysis that flows forth y'all seem to fall back on what Cedarford worte:

"But we should stay until Iraq has some semblance of stability"

Is this not simply a representation of our conceit? Our ability to deliver the goods should be called into question. Are we not more part of the problem rather then a part of the solution?

10/05/2005 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

ANALYSIS-Gory attacks on civilians alienate some Jihadis:

From Baghdad to Bali, suicide attacks on civilians are dividing ideologues of global jihad, some of whom worry that the carnage is alienating even Muslims once sympathetic to the militant cause.

Jailed Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, believed to be the spiritual leader of the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah network, condemned Saturday's suicide bombings in Bali.

The debate over violence is argued out in theological terms, citing the Koran, sayings of the Prophet Mohammad and examples from Islam's early years, which Salafis, a purist group among Sunni Muslims, seek to emulate as literally as possible.

http://today.reuters.com/News/CrisesArticle.aspx?storyId=L05406331

10/05/2005 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

William Knight,
Head hunting Bush will not undo the war in Iraq. If I was offered a chance to vote on the Iraq war, I can say with certainty that my vote would have been no. Now once we were getting close to action and France and Germany started going ape sh*t, I got pissed and started backing it. May seem like faulty reasoning to you but France and Germany have not been right about anything in history lately.

Now that we have established that we are in Iraq, let us consider how to get out. You, WK assert that it is your patriotic duty to attack Bush so that he can be put out and new, competent leadership can be installed. Well, there was a thing called an election and I think you know how that came out, but for the purposes of argument, let’s say that J Kerry was president. There is little doubt that his leadership would be different but as he openly acknowledged, he would not force a hasty retreat of US forces, so once again the way out is forward and not backwards.

So who is running the war? Well, mostly the Pentagon, with some stewardship by Donald Rumsfeld. But a new Secretary of Defense couldn’t make a huge difference in Pentagon policy (the DOD has too much mass) unless they were going to pull a McNamara and micromanage the whole process.

So your whole premise of rubbing sh*t in the presidents face here at the Belmont Club is a farce for broadcasting your political philosophies. Realizing the “mess” we’re in doesn’t get it done.

Finally, your insinuation that Wretchard is on the take to disseminate propaganda is a disingenuous slam that is totally uncalled for.

As far as loyalty to Bush, I have none. I am not in uniform and have sworn no oath of allegiance. Truth told I hate cronyism wherever it may be found. But in the milieu of such scathing criticism, don’t be surprised that someone will defend him. I stand by all my opinions and under the circumstances consider them mild.

10/05/2005 08:14:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

General Panic:

WITH RECENT U.S. and British allegations that shipments of explosives similar to those used by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) are being shipped into Iraq from Iran for use by the insurgency, it is long past time for American policy-makers to examine the role of Iranian Brigadier General Qassem Suleimani and the Qods (Jerusalem) Force unit under his command in fomenting and facilitating anti-American terrorist activity since the September 11 attacks.

Thus far, discussions over the proper course of US policy towards Iran have primarily focused on the regime's nuclear program. Perhaps the activities of General Suleimani and Qods Force should be included in that discussion, too.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/006/156kncex.asp

10/05/2005 08:21:00 PM  
Blogger Super 6 said...

Marcus Aurelius said...
Also many people say Gore would have gone after the Taliban.

I am of the opinion that had Gore become POTUS, that he would have been on television this week asking for thirty more days to give the sanctions against A'stan a chance to work or ELSE.....

10/05/2005 08:37:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

ash
Yes, to some degree our presence in Iraq is part of the overall challenge. It is also the cause and core of the solution.

As the Iraqi Government and it's Army begin to excercise their Soverign power we should be able to begin withdrawal, in the Spring and Summer of '06. I saw Mr. Biden speak today about "What we leave behind" in Iraq.

If we have not achieved success and commenced a draw down of our force, in Iraq, by the early Summer of '06 look for Public support to drop enough to affect the US Election in the Fall.

10/05/2005 08:39:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

I argued the along the same lines as Wretchard did immediately after the DoD briefing by Gen. Casey and Rumsfled (on a different blog). Basically, leaking the level 1 status was a calculated political hit job aimed that discrediting the Military during the Hill testimony It sure garnered the headlines and gave the enemy information that should have been kept secret. Now, I (as did Wretchard did) reiterated the switch between 80/20 ratio to 20/80 ratio (of American forces during operations) and other items.

I agree with WillyShake, Jamie, Minh-Duc, exhelodrvr, Rat, RWE, Sophia Phoster, and bioqubit and others. You have covered the subject of readiness, and the dovetailing of the Iraqi military and the Iraqi political system well.

There is a couple of points that I can add. First, the level 2 and level 3 Batts are in the fight and doing well. I recall Gen. Casey saying that in many operations the US was just providing the outer Cord and the level 2 and level 3 Iraqis were in the center fighting. That says a lot.

GEN. CASEY: You mentioned the Tall Afar model. I think that's a good example. Three Iraqi brigades and a third Iraqi infantry division went in Tall Afar with one of our brigades. Urban fighting. I mean, the toughest type of combat. And these Iraqi units were right there with our guys. And what happens is more and more we're seeing them -- and General Vines told me this morning -- in about half the cases now our guys are providing the outer cordon, and it's the Iraqis that are going inside; frankly, because they're much more effective in understanding what it is they're seeing there. But that's kind of the Tall Afar model. And none of those brigades that went in there were level one. They were level two and three . And so I'm trying to give you some sense of the capabilities of these guys.

see 80% down briefing.

Second, Rumsfled highlighted the sophisticated propaganda cells and their effectiveness at swaying American opinion.

GEN. CASEY: It is your question. But look, you guys read the polls just like I do. And this is a terror campaign, and they are trying to create the impression that we and the Iraqis cannot succeed in Iraq. And what do you think? Is it having an impression back here at home, the levels of violence? I think it is.

SEC. RUMSFELD: There's no question but what the general says is correct, that they have a media committee, multiple media committees, the terrorists do. They know what they're doing. They're focusing on public opinion in the United States. They're trying to do things that are dramatic and affect that. And they're looking for allies and ways that they can get the echo chamber going. They work closely with Middle East networks and arrange to have cooperative arrangements with them.

No, I mean, they can't win a battle, they can't win a war out in the field. The only place they can win is in a test of wills, if people say the cost is too high and the time is too long.


See 75% down DoD Briefing

10/05/2005 08:39:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Hakimi being quizzed:

“We are questioning him to find about his contacts and where he got his information from,” a senior security official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to discuss the arrest.

The official said “communication intercepts” had led to the arrest of the Taliban mouthpiece, who used a mixture of satellite phones and Afghan and Pakistani cellphones to talk to reporters.

http://www.dawn.com/2005/10/06/top4.htm

10/05/2005 08:43:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

sam
If there was a state, beyond Afghanistan, that was influental or involved in 9-11 it was Iran.

There are any number of reasons to challenge Iran, beyond helping C4's Special Friend or neo-con conspiracy.
Their current ruling elite have been at war with US since before they deposed the Shah. They siezed our Embassy, while Mr Carter was President. After the Iranians heaped humiliation and Electoral defeat upon Mr Carter, they released our people.
They then sponsored the attack on the USMC in Beruit, after which Mr Reagan abandoned the field.
Now they are sponsoring Insurgent Forces in Iraq, again without consequence from US.
Iran, the problem that has been kicked down the road for over twenty years.
There are REAL reasons why.

Why not Osama?

10/05/2005 08:56:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Rat,

Why didn't we kick the problem of Osama down the road? Probably because an attack on home soil is just too much to ignore. I'm in total agreement that we should have done something about Iran long ago.

10/05/2005 09:13:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Enscout - I have made plenty of suggestions in the past on Belmont Club on what we should be doing differently - they fall primarily in categories of strategic communications, reapproachement with America's former friends, involve the citizenry past saying "love the troops, enjoy your tax cuts China is financing", settling the Israel-Pal boundary, and adressing the real war - the war of ideas, not the war of creating a better IED-detector.

You must have missed that.

Or perhaps you have also missed the frustration of the public with an Administration that is arrogant and refuses to listen to conservatives, moderate Republicans, centrist Democrats, and blows off suggestions from ordinary citizens and our former allies. Just in my circles I know of people that tried finding employment or even being unpaid volunteer Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and Pashtun translators. I have tried getting a suggestion to appropriate officials in the Administration about creating corps of translator resources, corps of ex-military expert in NBC response that could be mobilized, through my Rep and one Senator (both thought the proposals were good and personally endorsed them) but said even with their endorsement the Administration had absolutely no interest in any suggestions coming from them or other Republican associates in Congress - that the only time the Bushies LISTEN is when an investigation is about to be launched or a law or funding vote is coming up.

I am convinced that nothing much different will happen for the next 3 years. It will still be WoT, "evildoers" rather than naming the radical Islamist enemy - it will still be stay the course in Iraq, with us winning more each year we are there - it will still be uncontrolled Borders and lip service to strategic communications until we get whacked with a terrorist type Katrina.

My read is we will have to wait for Bush not to control both Bodies of Congress, or a new President in 2008 before any new ideas or tactics are listened to.

10/05/2005 09:14:00 PM  
Blogger Super 6 said...

Rat' you seem impatient in going after Iran. Now is not the time, let the shadow warriors do their work. Their time will come as will the KSA..........

10/05/2005 09:17:00 PM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

Sophia is right. The war in Iraq only makes sense when viewed on the biggest scale.

Take a look around your immediate vicinity, WK. If you like what you see, it is probable that it has been provided to you by western ideas that go back to the Greeks.

Those ideas have been under attack for 3000 years, and largely from the same quarter. This time, they have the financial means to wipe you and all your futures off the planet.

A good long is a series of good short terms. That's why tactical situations along ME river banks count.

ADE

10/05/2005 09:19:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

William Knight said...
It just gives me the impression of a kind of low-level number-crunching that is missing out on the big picture.

2:36 P
////////////////////////////
the big picture is that both the the wahabi power grab in saudi arabia and the shia mullah power grab in Iran came at the time of the first great oil crises in the 1970's.

This is the second great oil crises. What we are doing is insuring that none of religious kooks in either saudi arabia or iran profit politically from the current high oil prices.

More importantly, we are seeking to roll back their gains of the 1970's .

Finally, every lab federal/university/corporate lab in the entire industrialized world is working overtime to come up with replacement powersources for oil. Unlike, the 1970's both the research tools and the will to use them are present.

10/05/2005 09:22:00 PM  
Blogger Super 6 said...

Anointiata Delenda Est said...
Sophia is right. The war in Iraq only makes sense when viewed on the biggest scale.

Iraq is but a tactic in the greater strategic plan, a whole new paradigm for the ME.

10/05/2005 09:27:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

No sam, you misunderstand by rhetorical question.
The challenge of Iran has both covert military and less than lethal solutions. We do not deploy them.
The Osama challenge, it seems to me, HAS been kicked down the road.

It has been my belief, for a while now, that if the War on Terror is to remain a serious thing, that after we declare Victory, in Iraq, this coming '06, we have to take on Osama, up close and personal.
If we do not, the War on Terror will be over. It will have evolved out of being a Military War. It will become a Criminal Campaign. It will become analogous to the War on Drugs.

Porter Goss has said he knows where Osama is.
It is well past time to put his head on a pike and roast the rest of his remains wrapped in pig skins on a giant bonfire.
Send him to Valhalla in style.
No virgins there.

10/05/2005 09:29:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

If there was a state, beyond Afghanistan, that was influental or involved in 9-11 it was Iran.


Saudi Arabia has, is and will be involved.

And if you're after bin Laden, Saudi Arabia is a pretty good place to start for that too.

However, I do think we need to take out Iran first.

10/05/2005 10:41:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

nahncee
the only way to "take out" the Iranian Rulers is through their internal political system. There is not rational military option. The rusult of any significant use of force against Iran will result in $6-10 dollar gas in the US. At $3 there are reallocations made in budgets, at $6 you'll see recession and above that, New Orlean's present economy will seem vibrant.
The oil infrastructure in KSA, Kuwait, Mexico, Panama, Venezuala, Boliva, Russia, Turkey is vunerable to attack and disruption. The Iranians will strike back in that manner, their people and antiAmerican allies predeployed.
Where is Shah Jr's Government in Exile? That would be a first step.
There are many other non military ways to rattle their power structure, yet we do less than nothing, while freedom's activists stage hunger strikes in Iranian prisons.
It's shameful

10/05/2005 10:57:00 PM  
Blogger raymondshaw said...

At 3:13 PM, cedarford said,

It is hard to say what Gore, McCain, a Jeb Bush would have done if elected in 2000, or a Lieberman or Warner in 2004, but at this point, a lot of people are thinking we didn't elect the best candidate possible in either 2000 or 2004.

At the risk of pointing out the obvious, by definition, the best possible candidate got elected. Everyone else is just an also ran.

10/06/2005 04:52:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

Cederford:
Your point about the administration not having it's ear to the graound on many issues is valid. However, given GWB is without a doubt the most reviled man in the history of the world by the left and the MSM, he probably has to ignore more than any man in history.

Your point about translators is valid as well. When news came out about an Iraqi invasion I truly thought the war would be waged by greyhairs (intel & special ops) rather than military types. Trouble was our intel infrastructure couldn't support it. (Bush lied). We need better intel throughout the ME to protect our interests. Seems like it would be easier nowdays with all the telecom technology available but it still takes time to establish and money to maintain. Aside from that, indegents in that part of the world are just plain unreliable to a large degree.

10/06/2005 05:12:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

enscout
Our allied indigs in the Middle East are at least as reliable as Marine Corps Sergeants working in the White House.
Why do you think that our allied Arabians are unreliable, but the aQ a worthy adversary, needing 140,000 US troops to combat aprox. 20,000 Insurgents?
Why do you think the enemy competent and reliable, but our allies inept.

The ISF had better be reliable, or our efforts will be for naught.

Your prejudices are showing.

10/06/2005 06:36:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

desertrat - I think we (or Israel) are going to (1) nuke Iran, (2) pull out of Iraq and send soldiers into Iran to stabilize it, and then (3) go after Saudi Arabia.

What we are seeing and being told is that there *will* be a pull out of troops by next summer, which leaves Bush a couple of more years to finish toppling domino's before his term expires.

I see no reason to think that Bush is changing his mind, or pulling back on the war on terrorism, nor that he will leave office with the current Wahhabi/Saud power structure in place in the Magic Kingdom.

Finally, if oil does reach $6-$10 a gallon, we can start refining our shale reserves for less than that, so the doom and gloom of a financial catastrophe seems decidedly over the top.

Besides, if we're in Iraq AND Iran AND Saudi Arabia and we still can't manage to find cheap oil, then we *deserve* to have to pay $10 a gallon.

10/06/2005 06:57:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

nahcee - I think we (or Israel) are going to (1) nuke Iran, (2) pull out of Iraq and send soldiers into Iran to stabilize it, and then (3) go after Saudi Arabia.

Why would we serve as lackies to Israel's "Clean Break Plan"? You added the "nuking" Part, left out the invasion of Syria Israel wants us to do, and didn't mention how "Clean Break" has Israel doing Racial Purification to achieve Transfer of all non-Jews from Eretz Israel once the US has waded into Saudi Arabia and triggered Global Jihad..

As for US nuking Iran, that is saying only "special friends" of the money-hungry US politicians may defy UN resolutions and amass a secret and vast, WMD stockpile. And, others must be attacked by the US, even with nukes - to help our "special friend" keep it's monopoly.

It - won't - happen! Not for all the money in the Jewish Diaspora, not for all the begging of America's 30 million Christian Zionists who wish to hasten Armegeddeon and the Rapture.

Enscout - Desert Rat is right on the capabilities of the "indigs". If we had had a few realtime indigs working for us in Humint, perhaps we would have not had to invade, and certainly we would have had a postwar plan better than the neocons "They greet us with rosepetals as their liberators, people return to work under American guidance, award oil contracts in gratitude, and we are out in 3 months as happy Iraqis build pipelines Chalabi promised to Israel".

As for the enemy, Special Ops has high respect for the courage and intelligence of many they have faced in Afghanistan or Iraq. They are clearly in a better position to make that judgement than you or I, Enscout.

Just listening in on Bush's speech. After 4 years and a month, it appears he finally has developed the balls to move past "Religion of Peace", "War on the Tactic of Terrorism", and "evildoers" to identify Radical Islam - not ETA, the Tamil Tigers, or the IRA as the real enemy.

Better late than never.

Raymondshaw - At the risk of pointing out the obvious, by definition, the best possible candidate got elected.

Hah! By definition, democracy is what Party works best with the best use of money. Putting up the best candidate to the masses helps sometimes, but is hardly imperative. I know, I was elected.

Sincerely yours, the Ghosts of Warren Harding, Adolph Hitler, Huey Long.

Hey, don't forget the power of cronyism and corruption to wither decomcracy! We are most amused watching French and Filipino politics, and "Brownie" and Harriet Miers truly warm our hearts in Hell.

Yours, Honest Abe Fortas, Warren and Huey (again), and Francois Mitterand.

10/06/2005 07:29:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

At 1971 dead, almost 15,000 wounded, and 220 billion dollars spent on Iraq, what part of that sacrifice was worth "freeing the passive noble Iraqi Shia from the noble Iraqi Sunni?"

You mistake our goals, and understate what we have accomplished, but I'll let it be. From many different perspectives our sacrifice was worth it. And before I get any chicken-hawk blowback, I would point out that the re-enlistment rate seems to prove that those who are sacrificing think it is worth it, too.

Our goals remain the pacification of a strategic area, and the destruction of a strategic enemy. Freedom and democracy are tools to use to accomplish them. That they are also virtuous ends in themselves is a bonus. However, if the only way we can defeat the enemy is by other, not-so-virtuous means, then I'll argue those when the time comes. It is not here yet.

10/06/2005 09:05:00 AM  
Blogger Vercingetorix said...

Ah, that's rich, C4 is for waging "the war of ideas."

What ideas? Oh, solving the Israel-Arab problem, rapprochement to our former friends, strategic communications...

Except, all of those things were tried and failed. 2nd intifada, anyone? Oil For Food, anyone? I suppose it was the US fault that France was selling anti-air missiles to Iraq on the sly? We should apologize for embarassing them by revealing their culpability? This war of ideas isn't a war and its fresh out of ideas.

So now we are left with the actual war and for decisive engagement with our enemies, which is the culture of radical Islam and the incompatibility of the modern world with the Arab world. Better IED detecters are a hundred times more effective in Iraq than the best feel-good 'rapproachment,' tactical squeezing of the insurgents will win far more dividends than any infomercial your (nonexistent) war of (discredited) ideas can come up with.

10/06/2005 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

Rat:
You are correct sir. I am having trouble with this love your enemies thing. I don't know where it all began. The Olympic park in Munich, Khobar, watching the Arab street erupt in celebration at the news of 3000 innocents murdered on 9-11. I really can't say. I'm just a work in progress.

Anyway, I wasn't referring to competencies but to loyalty to a cause.

10/06/2005 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Verc -

The War of ideas is not lacking ideas. It is still only the provence of the pundits and intellectuals, and not carried out on the level of state policy.

After 4 years of mealy-mouthing, Dubya has finally decided to define who the enemy is.

As for "the experts", the Israelis, who have only shown expertise in enraging Muslims....remember the 2nd Intifada started after years of peace feelers, but also years of provocations that derailed the peace process. Peres was assassinated. The Likudniks shoved another 200,000 Colonists into the West Bank with more land and water grabs. The Israelis refused to even discuss the paying of one precious shekel of theirs for past land and property stolen in 1948 and 1967, and refused to address alternatives to the Pal "Right of Return" that only mirrors Zionism's Right of Return for any Jew in any nation outside Israel. Yes, plenty of blame, even a majority of it is with the Pals - their lies, corruption, targeting of civilians, intransigence on Right of Return...but saying "even all-wise Israel" tried, tried so hard for Peace! Well, that is laughable.

The last groups we should look to for inspiration in the war of ideas are the crappy little Pals and the crappy little ISraelis.

The war of Ideas requires the West to get it's Left and Right factions to agree on what they oppose with radical Islam. Some on the Left may stay with their flirtation with Islam and coming under Sharia, but I suspect they are marginal. It requires Christian solidarity in the face of Christian-destroying jihad and quiet invasion of an irreconcilable culture into their homelands. And the same with Asia. They must also have solidarity in opposing negative thoughtstreams of Islam.

For Islam's part, it needs to define moral limits. It needs to forge consensus if Beslan was indeed unIslamic, and consensus on what sort of Islam will be in existence 100 years from now as a goal. If they can't convince themselves or the West that they can craft an unexistential threat of Islam to modern Western or Asian civilization - then we can begin WWIII in serious, vs. desultory fashion.

Meanwhile, don't pretend that IED-sniffers and other toys and even the "Heroes sacrifice" even begins to address rolling back the spread of radical Islam through over 70 countries or counter the ideas that many Muslims and converts are embracing.

10/06/2005 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger TJ said...

Last night on C-SPAN Lt. General David Petraeous spoke in detail about the classifications of these 3 Iraqi security forces categories. This information brought into scope exactly what you are talking about and added even more context. It was very informative and the press actually asked really good questions for once that the General was very happy to answer. I have searched and searched for the transcript but can't find it. Maybe you will have better luck. It was a pentagon briefing by the way.

10/06/2005 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger Super 6 said...

Petraeous briefing

http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2005/tr20051005-4021.html

10/06/2005 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger Sophia Phoster said...

C4

Your obsession with Israel displays a malevolent heart.

10/06/2005 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

C4:
"As for "the experts", the Israelis, who have only shown expertise in enraging Muslims".

Israelis have not cornered the market on this skill. In fact, the Muslims themselves appear to have become so adept that they've actually precipitated the killing their own.

I would challenge any body to live alongside such neighbors and not become "expert[s]..at enraging Muslims".

10/06/2005 04:30:00 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Cederford,

For what it's worth I think you're a pessimist.Personally, I'm an optimist by nature, pessimist by experience.

On the subject of linguists, hasn't the pool from which we can select native speakers been vastly widened by both Iraq and Afghanistan? Not to mention adding the entire Iraqi army to our roster as fighting troops.

10/06/2005 05:34:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

I would challenge any body to live alongside such neighbors and not become "expert[s]..at enraging Muslims".

I actually sat at a round table discussion last night. Didn't speak a word, just listened. In one series, I heard a European [Dane], Indian, and Filipina [all Westernized, politically correct] describe the increasing friction between Muslims and non-Muslims back home. All three treated this as if it was merely a phenomenon rooted in nothing but misplaced prejudice on the side of non-Muslims. Only the Hindu raised the notion of the clash between Danish liberal values and Islamic fundamentalism. Otherwise, just a pity party of ways to address Muslim grievances as purely rational.

I thought about raising the idea that it might be something a bit deeper and more fundamental. And that it might not be a coincidence that Muslim populations generally aren't getting along with Orthodox in the Balkans/Chechnya, Catholics in France/Phillipines, Protestants in Holland/Denmark, Jews in Israel, Hindus in India/Indonesia, Chinese in Xingjang, and Buddhists in Thailand, but decided best to keep my mouth shut for the time being. Of course there's underlying factors, territorial grievances, but the common denominator is quite obvious. People have been conditioned not to realize it, or to consciously ignore it.

It's going to be a difficult war, so long as the majority of people do not realize or do not want to believe the scope of the problem.

10/06/2005 11:57:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

I'll note that in some of the above examples, I even agree with the Muslim POV. But even in those conflicts, fundamentalists are making them much more bloody and intractable than they need to be.

10/07/2005 12:00:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

Cutler:

I'm no expert but it seems the cuture of Islam just leads to hate. We had the extremist jihadis claiming the right to proudly slit the throat of any non-muslim, all the while have "moderates" within the religion running interference for them by means of greivences. And grievnces for what? For a social climate they themselves created, so bereft of hope for the future that this death culture persists.

The GWOT must address this issue, get the moderates and liberals (if there are any) to depart from their current state of denial, and stop the cycle before it destroys the entire Muslim world.

This is not so much a war with bullets but a war for hearts and minds.

10/07/2005 04:51:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Enscout - The GWOT must address this issue, get the moderates and liberals (if there are any) to depart from their current state of denial, and stop the cycle before it destroys the entire Muslim world.

This is not so much a war with bullets but a war for hearts and minds.


Now you're thinking! One other thing is to consider dropping usage of the term Global War on the (Tactic) of Terror. I doubt this President is up to the War of Ideas, but perhaps the next President will be after 6 years of American policy mainly focused on uplifting the Noble Iraqis. A good start will be the next President taking the lead on getting global resolution of what terrorism is, and what acts are exempt as legitimate armed resistance to a repressive regime or an occupier/colonizer.

Sophiaposter - Your obsession with Israel displays a malevolent heart.

No, that is simply a worn-out tactic of describing all criticism of Israel as obessive or malevolent whereas criticism of the other 191 countries on the planet is freely allowed, including our own country. The reason it is discussed, why it is not just one more crappy little squabble of two peoples we rightly shouldn't give much of a hoot about, is the Israel-Pal conflict is central to the radicalization of Muslims worldwide. Israels vast secret WMD stockpiles are driving the WMD arms race in the ME. Only Israel, of all the countries including real allies we have real pacts with (none exist with our "special friend") - only Israel wants America to expand into a major regional military war involving bombings or invasions of Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.

The neocons are fairly discredited, little support exists within the American public for war genius Bush to do more "cakewalks" - but given the power of Zionist money and influnce in various internal centers of power in the USA - blocking the Israeli Right's strategy of using the US as a tool to accomplish their "Clean Break Strategy" requires persistence, or the neos will come back. The American public, not just Tony Blair, must stop the Zionists and Bush and his Christian Evangelical Zionists from initiating a widespread ME war the country and the world plus all our real allies. are not prepared to fight at this time.

10/07/2005 12:37:00 PM  

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