Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The road starts here

Josh Manchester adds a fourth possiblity to strategies being considered by the Pentagon for victory in Iraq. "Go big," "Go long," or "Go home." The US military wants to "Go Long". Manchester adds "Go Native" which is "Go Long" plus the ability to tell the Iraqi government to "Go To Hell" if it hesitates to clean up its act. Here's how the Washington Post describes the strategies being considered "independently" of the Iraq Study Group -- and perhaps in competition with it.

The Pentagon's closely guarded review of how to improve the situation in Iraq has outlined three basic options: Send in more troops, shrink the force but stay longer, or pull out, according to senior defense officials. Insiders have dubbed the options "Go Big," "Go Long" and "Go Home." The group conducting the review is likely to recommend a combination of a small, short-term increase in U.S. troops and a long-term commitment to stepped-up training and advising of Iraqi forces, the officials said.

The military's study, commissioned by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace, comes at a time when escalating violence is causing Iraq policy to be reconsidered by both the White House and the congressionally chartered, bipartisan Iraq Study Group. Pace's effort will feed into the White House review, but military officials have made it clear they are operating independently.

Although the Pentagon prefers to "Go Long", which is suggestively on a collision course with actions said to be under consideration by the Iraq Study Group to "Go Cap in Hand to Iran", Chester notes that "Going Long" is not enough. It is also necessary to be able to tell fractious Iraqi politicians where to Get Off.  Manchester's program to "Go Native" contains these explosive additional elements.

  • Create a crash program to develop a massive Arabic linguistic capability within the US military.
  • Give Maliki 60 days to remove the Shi'ite militias from positions of influence in the government. If he asks for help of some kind in doing so, provide it. Give him one last chance to prove that stopping the sectarian killing is more important than satisfying those who hunger for it.
  • If he can't do it, then declare Iraq's security forces to be in receivership. What does this mean? It means that the security forces of Iraq no longer answer to the Iraqi government, they answer to the US military. The government will still exist. It will still be a democracy. But it will temporarily lose control of its military. After doing this, purge the Iraqi forces of those loyal to Shi'ite militias.
  • "Create combined US-Iraqi forces. Here's where the go native part really kicks in. Forget about standing our forces down as the Iraqi forces stand up. It seems to actually be working in Anbar province, but the American public and political class don't believe it. Instead, create a situation such that the American forces and the Iraqi forces are one and the same. American forces in small numbers live, eat, sleep, fight and die with their Iraqi counterparts. It will keep the Iraqis honest about not killing each other in wanton bloodshed. And it will earn incredible benefits for the Americans in terms of intelligence gained and cultural lessons learned. This doesn't just apply to the military. It applies to the police, the border patrol, heck, even the Iraqi boy scouts if there's a local chapter."

Clive of India would understand, and so too would al-Qaeda, which integrates their forces with the locals and for whom "going native" is second nature. But would anyone in Washington have a clue? The real problem with "Going Long" or "Going Native" is that certain politicians in Washington will start "Going Nuts" at the prospect. But then some of the major roadblocks to winning the War in Iraq are political, and if proof were needed the existence -- and possible rivalry between the Iraq Study Group and the Pentagon strategy review is Exhibit A. The war in Washington may be less bloody, less publicized and less distant than that in Iraq, but it is no less important. Historians of the future may one day write that the outcomes in Baghdad and Washington mirrored each other. There's more than one place to Go Native and more than one struggle in which to Go Long.


Blogger ShrinkWrapped said...

"Go native" is essentially "go Long" combined with "Go Big" though with a delay built in. The fact is that until we are willing and able to address the Iranians and Syrians effectively, in a way that will convince them it is in their interest to stop fomenting trouble in Iraq, there is almost nothing we can do that will prevent any strategy from eventually descending toward "Go Big."

11/29/2006 05:06:00 PM  
Blogger charlotte said...

The game of Go []:

“In game theory terms, Go is a perfect information, deterministic, strategy game... Although the game rules are very simple, the practical strategy is extremely complex.

“The game emphasizes the importance of balance on multiple levels, and has internal tensions. To secure an area of the board, it is good to play moves close together; but to cover the largest area one needs to spread out, perhaps leaving weaknesses that can be exploited. Playing too low (close to the edge) secures insufficient territory and influence; yet playing too high (far from the edge) allows the opponent to invade.”

I think we've played too high.

11/29/2006 05:18:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

1). Go Home - Lefty moonbats would love it for awhile - until they realize they need to come up with some other reason to hate GWB, Forget about our investment in attempting to reform Islam by seeding democracy in the heart of Islam. We would kick the can down the raod for another decade.

2). Go Big - The old saws in the military would need to earn their pay for the next few years and the left left wordwide would go berserk. Forget about $3/gal gas. Try $10. Destroy Hamas, PLO, Muslim Bro-hood, Hezballah, Iranian guard, etc not to mention a quarter million complicit "civilians" and higher US casualties. The fast track to refroming Islam but, it seems to me it would need to be all or nothing unless the West is prepared to do i all over again on the next round.
3) Go Long. Seems to be the least popular choice right now with just about all the pundits - including those here. I'm thinking it would take a generation unless the left continues to snipe while their head is in the sand. If that, then in 20 years we'll be gone. Look at the demographics here and in Europe. We would need to keep up the pressure and the support here 'cause we won't get it from outside US.

11/29/2006 05:22:00 PM  
Blogger djs said...

"It means that the security forces of Iraq no longer answer to the Iraqi government, they answer to the US military."

From what source would the U.S. military derive the legitmacy to make such a declaration? What will it do when the security forces tell them to pound sand?

I like the bit about telling the Iraqi government to go to hell, but I don't see how we can get away with declaring the security forces under our control

11/29/2006 05:53:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...


Politics will play a big role. When you think about it, the ISG has no authority to negotiate anything with Iran and Syria starting from the premise that Iraq is a sovereign country. Objections will be found to telling an Iraqi Army unit what to do, but none will be raised to auctioning off parts of Iraq to foreign powers. But that's politics.

The Iraq Study Group findings will be out next week:

A bipartisan commission to examine future strategy in Iraq has reached a consensus and will announce its recommendations next week co-chairman former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind., declined to disclose any specifics about the Iraq Study Group's decisions. (

11/29/2006 05:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We thought of yet another possibility.

Maybe Mr. al-Maliki and the Iraqi government will tell the U.S. to just "Get Out!"

Mr. al-Maliki is caught in an unpleasant vise between Mr. Bush and his Shi'ite constituency. It may be far easier for the Iraqi prime minister to abandon the U.S. than to abandon his domestic supporters, as the Americans are urging.

Maybe the Iraqis need an exit strategy from America. And how would Mr. Bush handle such a rejection from the Iraqis? With a smile perhaps?


11/29/2006 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger Oengus Moonbones said...

GWoT I is over.

Everything that is happening now is just Kabuki Theater.

Enjoy the breather for a while, before GWoT II gets started up.

11/29/2006 06:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wretchard said, "When you think about it, the ISG has no authority to negotiate anything with Iran and Syria starting from the premise that Iraq is a sovereign country."

One of the hallmarks of a sovereign country is that the state has a monopoly on the use of force, so in the future, all negotiations with Syria and Iran must recognize the sovereignty of the state of "Green Zonia"

11/29/2006 06:23:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

The continued existence of Muqtada al-Sadr is a fatal gap in any plan that does not include it.

What is it with this guy, this fucking toothless punk? Do they believe, or do they fear, that his slaughter and the destruction of the Mahdi Army will "create a martyr" sufficient to outweigh the benefits making him an example would confer? This is ridiculous.

11/29/2006 06:25:00 PM  
Blogger djs said...

I'd sure as hell smile.

11/29/2006 06:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

djs: From what source would the U.S. military derive the legitmacy to make such a declaration?

"the city is restless,
it’s ready to pounce
here in your bedroom,
ounce for ounce
I’ve given you,
decision to make
things to lose,
things to take
just as she’s about ready to cut it up
she says wait a minute honey,
I’m gonna add it up

add it up…add it up…add it up…"

Which is to say, round-about, that one could plausibly claim the act justified under the international Law of Necessity.

Maybe Maliki's flight to Amman was a one-way ticket.

11/29/2006 06:30:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

The Go Away strategy has an interesting possibility.

One Man's Trash talks about a WA-PO article by a Saudi adviser noting if the US bugs out Saudi may have to bug in.

Great map destruction Batman! Nawaf states SA will not be able to sit down and let the Shias wantonly whack the Sunnis. It could possibly be Dibba all over again. However, Nawaf thinks the oil weapon could get Iran to knuckle under, but if not I see most of the GCC states uniting and Iraq being split among the Sunnis, the Shias, and the Turks much to the annoyance of the Kurds.

What will an Intra-Islamic war do to the GWOT? Short circuit it? Postpone it? No change whatsoever?

Anyway I turn in for a snowy Midwestern US night. Cheers.

11/29/2006 06:39:00 PM  
Blogger HK Vol said...

Max Boot showed how this was done during the Phlippine War. Put 3-5 Americans with each 25 or so person Iraqi brigade. You keep the local troops honest, while garnering local information. It is all in his book, "The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power." I wish we'd try that strategy again, and Josh seems to be pointing the same way....

11/29/2006 07:29:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Wisdom by Desert Rat.

11/29/2006 07:34:00 PM  
Blogger Mark Buehner said...

I've been pontificatating a bit about how to make this plan palatable to both the Iraqi people and the international community.

My thought was this: because we have decided politically that enough US forces are not going to be found to secure Baghdad (much less Iraq), the development of the Iraqi Army into a viable nationalist force is our single most important goal. The Iraqi elected governments survival is contingent on this, and therefore in a sense we cannot allow the government to commit slow suicide by allowing the IA to continue degrading under their control. Ironically, we need to wrest control of Iraq's armed forces from the elected government in order to save democracy in Iraq.

In order to do this, i have proposed that we insist on appointing a Supreme Allied military commander with complete ultimate authority over all forces in Iraq. The Iraqi government can sell this as an emergency measure to secure Baghdad, which will save face. Technically we wouldnt be slapping Maliki down, we would simply be creating a unified command structure, which happily will allow us to get IA forces out of the corrupt and co-opted ministries control. The cover for doing this would also be the embedding of American advisors into as many Iraqi units as possible, in fact an integration of forces.

This plan is good for 3 critical areas:
1.Unity of command: this will provide a good opportunity to assign a single individual to be completly responsible for the Iraq theater polically and militarilly. No more of this idiotic Centcom splitting power with State and whatever the NSA dips his fingers into. That has been forseeably disasterous.

2.Cover for the Iraqi government to turn the IA from a net liability in Baghdad to the kind of force that can bring the city back under control. It also allows the allied command to go after the militias without Iraqi government interference via the Sadr political channels. We and the Iraqis need that cushion between politics and warfare desperately.

3.The survival of the Iraqi Army, which at the moment is devolving every day. We spent 3 years building the IA to handle this job and a combination of corruption, graft, and flat out treachery have compromised everything we have done in less than a year. We must recognize that under the corrupt Iraqi ministries the IA is getting worse every day. All of our stated stratagies are intimately reliant on the IA to step up sooner rather than later, and hence saving the Iraqis from themselves is simply not optional if we still expect any measure of success.

I don't think we have any choice any more.

11/29/2006 08:06:00 PM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

My vote:

Go Home (with the oil supply inviolate)


Go Back.

Nothing like a few years of sectarian violence to make the local population adopt a massive English linguistic capability and volunteer to join the saviours.

Repeat as often as necessary.

Never say "I care" to somebody who feels entitled to it.


11/29/2006 08:20:00 PM  
Blogger Flavius Maximus said...

I like the Go Native strategy up to the point where he gives Maliki one last chance to Get Serious about the militias. If not, then Get Out. The Arabic crash course should have been started long ago if it hasn't already. The idea about embedding small numbers of US troops in Iraqi units to keep them "honest" strikes me as one of the dumbest ideas I've ever heard and an invitation for them to die in even great numbers. Besides, who in the US Army, other than maybe Green Berets, signed on for that type of duty? No, you train as a unit and fight as a unit. If I'm 1st platoon, A company, 3rd battalion of some regiment in the 3ID, do I want to be broken up and sprinkled in with the locals? I don't think so.

11/29/2006 11:32:00 PM  
Blogger Mark Buehner said...

If I'm 1st platoon, A company, 3rd battalion of some regiment in the 3ID, do I want to be broken up and sprinkled in with the locals? I don't think so.

Does he want to be shipped over for a 3rd tour in Iraq to begin with? I don't think so. This strategy isnt predicated on the safety of our troops- its predicated on what gives us a chance to reach our goals in Iraq. That may sound harsh, but its the only way to fight a war.

11/30/2006 07:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hk vol said, "Put 3-5 Americans with each 25 or so person Iraqi brigade. You keep the local troops honest, while garnering local information."

Many years from now, when their grandchildren ask, "What did you do in the War on Terror?" our soldiers will grin sheepishly, fidget for a little bit, and finally answer, "I kept the local troops honest."

11/30/2006 07:04:00 PM  

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