Iraqi Army “years away” from independence

posted at 9:05 am on August 6, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

On two consecutive days, the New York Times has put forth arguments for the US to relax its expectations for a withdrawal of forces from Iraq.  Yesterday, Brookings Institute scholar Michael O’Hanlon joined Stephen Biddle and Kenneth Pollack in explaining the need for an extended American commitment after returning from their latest visit from Iraq.  Today, Campbell Robertson reports that the Iraqi Army has confidence in its ability to battle insurgents and militias, but is “years away” from being able to defend its borders against another army.

O’Hanlon et al say much the same thing:

The Iraqi security forces are simply not yet able to operate effectively without United States air support, combat advisers and help with logistics and intelligence. When Iraqi units with no American embeds tried to take the port city of Basra last spring, they were turned back in mass confusion, and it required United States combat help to save the day.

American combat troops are also critical for political progress in Iraq. There has been real political change in Iraq — but less from the grand bargains imagined by many Americans and more through thousands of informal, local decisions by war-weary groups and individuals opting to put the past behind them. The pressure from this “bottom up” process has also translated into top-down progress. Over the past year the Iraqis have passed critical amnesty, de-Baathification and provincial-powers laws, as well as a federal budget — all of which had been previously seen as hopelessly deadlocked.

But to capitalize on this progress the next two rounds of elections — provincial races this fall and a national contest next year — must go smoothly and be seen as legitimate. The elections will create losers as well as winners, breeding a grave risk of instability in an immature polity. American combat troops are needed to protect polling places from terrorism, and even more important, from voter intimidation, fraud and the perception that the results were rigged.

The American forces have begun a tough-love campaign, as Robertson puts it, to get the Iraqi Army to act independently on their own.  US forces have at times withheld logistical and tactical support to build self-confidence among their Iraqi partners.  That training helps, but there are cultural differences that keep flexibility low and therefore impacts that kind of training:

While Americans and Iraqi civilians alike are increasingly eager to see combat operations turned over to the Iraqi Army, interviews with more than a dozen Iraqi soldiers and officers in Diyala Province, at the outset of a large-scale operation against insurgents led by Iraqis but backed by Americans, reveal a military confident of its progress but unsure of its readiness.

The army has made huge leaps forward, most of the soldiers agreed, and can hold its own in battles with the insurgency with little or no American support. But almost all said the time when the Iraqi Army can stand alone as a national defense force is still years away. …

[A] major problem is lack of direction and coordination from higher levels [of the Iraqi Army].

That is to be expected in a young army being built from the ground up, particularly because the higher ranks are filled with veterans of Saddam Hussein’s rigid command structure.

“When you grow up in a very regimented system the lower you go, the easier it is to train,” said Lt. Col. Tony Aguto, an officer with the Second Stryker Cavalry Regiment, the main American force in the Diyala operation. “As you go up, it gets more difficult.”

Americans do not comprehend the difficulties in creating an army from scratch, which complicates not just our perception of Iraq but also Afghanistan, where we’re also building an army from nothing.  It takes years, and more likely decades, to instill a stable military culture — and when replacing a tyrant like Saddam Hussein, it takes years to unlearn the rigid, inflexible thinking that survival required.  The US has to do both at the same time, and it will take a long time to develop the kind of commanders who can effectively lead an army in battle independent of leadership from the US.

If we pull out too soon, we will not just leave an army leadership stuck in amber, either.  Poor leadership will beget bad morale and eventually rebellion.  That will leave Iraq vulnerable to its neighbors, and with neighbors like Syria and Iran, that’s a deadly outcome.  It will also create a center of instability within Iraq where the army might decide to play politics, or become factionalized all over again.

We have to remain as long as it takes to ensure the Iraqi Army develops into stable and proper independence — and we still have to help rebuild the Iraqi Air Force and Iraqi Navy as well.  With casualties dropping to almost nothing, the commitment should be easily shouldered, and the benefits should be apparent to anyone with their eyes open at this point.  Only obstinacy could cloud judgment now — and if the New York Times can get over that, so can Barack Obama and the Democrats.


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Americans do not comprehend the difficulties in creating an army from scratch

I love that about this country, and the gun owning folks that Obama finds contemptible. Americans are over there giving up the love of their families and living in the greatest nation in history to help these people (sound familiar?). Americans are a ‘can do’ nation and will fight for the freedom that God has given this great country, and to bring it to others. Nobody else on earth is capable or has the vision to do what our military has done in Iraq, and continue to do.

God bless this nation of heroes and President Bush.

Hening on August 6, 2008 at 9:20 AM

I was wondering how the US was going to work its way out of its contradiction. The goal is to stay in Iraq forever. But how do we do so while at the same time saying things are getting better and better? How many years straight can things keep getting better, but never get better to the point where we can leave? I guess the answer is that it takes forever to teach those brown people how to take care of themselves. I think it will work. Most Americans will believe it.

dave742 on August 6, 2008 at 9:22 AM

We’re going to be there a loooong time. Get used to it. And once the Iraqi military is good to go, it will be the only armed forces in the region –along with the Afghans- that has priceless battle experience. So they will be the regional bad asses with their Uncle Sam standing behind them with Apaches and F-16’s at the ready.

The longer this situation lasts, the weaker and more peaceful their neighbors will be. By occupying Germany, we (mostly) pacified Europe. Same deal. Too bad we didn’t enter and remain in Germany in 1918, in retrospect.

Akzed on August 6, 2008 at 9:22 AM

In our Army, it takes about 6 years for a good NCO to become proficient at a decent level. And the learning and training doesn’t stop until retirement. Officers are pretty much the same, but they depend on a professional NCO corps to assist all across the board.

An American squad of basic trainees in 9 weeks gets proficient enough to go on to branch basic school. Still not proficient, but have enough training to be led by proficient NCO’s. One can go into all sorts of depth as to the various levels of training required for our Army in order for it to be proficient as an independent unit (battalion or brigade) in a combat theater. And even then, the requirement for logistics and support is large, far larger than the Iraqis presently can muster alone, or even with our assistance.

To expect an Iraqi Army to start out with squad basic training and squad tactics training to then overnight blossom into effective battalion-size cohesive units (let alone a cohesive division or corps, forget the Army) is to indicate one knows nothing at all about the military. Given the learning curve for the Iraqi Army, they are doing well…but no where near well enough to act as a cohesive fighting force above company level…yet.

We leave now or next year…and all we have is a small number of Iraqi Army companies…with little in the way of trained experienced battalion or brigade structure…and one can take them apart one by one fairly easily over a short period of time.

The tactics taught under Saddam are not at all similar to the tactics our trainers and advisors are working hard to instil in these men. Even those who served under Saddam have to be re-trained, re-programmmed, so they can seamlessly flow into the new Iraqi Army.

This is going to take years. This is the reality of it all.

coldwarrior on August 6, 2008 at 9:23 AM

“Only obstinacy could cloud judgment now — and if the New York Times can get over that, so can Barack Obama and the Democrats.”
.
If the criteria for seeing the logic and morality of America following through is lack of obstinacy, then we can confidently forget about any commitment, cooperation or non-partisan patriotism from the New York Times, Barack Hussein Obama or the Capos running the Democratic Party.

DavePa on August 6, 2008 at 9:29 AM

coldwarrior on August 6, 2008 at 9:23 AM

In our Army, it takes about 6 years for a good NCO to become proficient at a decent level. And the learning and training doesn’t stop until retirement. Officers are pretty much the same, but they depend on a professional NCO corps to assist all across the board.

Pretty well says it all!

TooTall on August 6, 2008 at 9:40 AM

How many years straight can things keep getting better, but never get better to the point where we can leave? I guess the answer is that it takes forever to teach those brown people how to take care of themselves. I think it will work. Most Americans will believe it.

dave742 on August 6, 2008 at 9:22 AM

How’s that Kosovo thing working out? I didn’t realize they were brown. And, what happens after Obama invades Darfur as promised?

a capella on August 6, 2008 at 9:48 AM

al-Maliki showed his hand too easily thanks to Obama’s political odyssey. Maliki’s neither too good to be true nor completely awful. He’s doing his best, but he’s shown his hand that disdains America. Iraq’s Interior Minister who recently visited the US with a message of Iraqi thanks will be someone to vie with Maliki for their national leadership as time progresses.

maverick muse on August 6, 2008 at 9:54 AM

dave742,

The contradiction exists only in your mind. If I may use the term that loosely.

You apparently believe that the US wants to stay in Iraq forever. I’m guessing that is the result of your super psychic powers, that allow you to tell when people are not saying what they really believe.

Additionally, you once again highlight your utter ignorance of all things military.
Anybody who knows the military, knows that while it may take a few months to a year to adequately train the ground troops, it takes years to develop a quality NCO corps, and decades to train the higher echelons.

The training process is proceeding on schedule, and the Iraqi units are widely recognized as increasing in both quality and confidence.

The deadwood that is left over from the Saddam days have faced a choice of relearning, or of being replaced from below.
Both options are being followed.

Your desire to paint everything America does as evil, just indicates what a shallow thinker you are.

MarkTheGreat on August 6, 2008 at 10:17 AM

a capella:
Each specific case of imperialism requires its own somewhat unique justifications.However, they are all variations of the same theme of the White Man’s Burden.

dave742 on August 6, 2008 at 10:19 AM

MarkTheGreat:

and decades to train the higher echelon

Our fearless leaders must have know this before the war, since I am sure they are not utterly ignorant concerning military matters. Maybe us citizens who are utterly ignorant of military matters should have been told before the war that we will be there for decades.

dave742 on August 6, 2008 at 10:23 AM

dave742,

Anyone with the smallest smattering of brains knew this going in.
On the other hand, that would explain why it is news to most liberals.

Additionally, so what if we are there for decades?
As Bush said years ago, as the Iraqi’s step up, we stand down. This process has already started and it will continue.

We’ve been in Japan, Germany, and S. Korea for decades now, and nobody complains.

As to your fixation on skin color, you are just revealing yourself to be a racist. As are most liberals.

MarkTheGreat on August 6, 2008 at 10:28 AM

it takes forever to teach those brown people…

dave742 on August 6, 2008 at 9:22 AM

dave, Ariana Huffington and MarKOS called and they need you back there ASAP.

rightside on August 6, 2008 at 10:29 AM

MarkTheGreat:

The training process is proceeding on schedule…it takes years to develop a quality NCO corps, and decades to train the higher echelons

I am sure McCain knows about military matters. He says withrawal is “conditions based.” This means that it is possible, if the conditions are right, that we could leave in 18 months. But if it takes “years to develop a quality NCO corps, and decades to train the higher echelons,” then why doesn’t he tell us that? Why doesn’t he say that the minimum stay will be a decade?

dave742 on August 6, 2008 at 10:31 AM

It will not take hundreds of thousands of US troops to defend Iraq from a foreign army (ie Iran). All it would take is a token force to act as a tripwire just like the 2nd Infantry Division in South Korea. Everyone in the 2 ID understood they were just a speed bump, were the North Koreans to invade in earnest. Just like the NORKs, Iran will shy away from an invasion, not because they couldn’t take over Iraq in a heartbeat, but but because any attempt will mean open war with the US.

BohicaTwentyTwo on August 6, 2008 at 10:33 AM

Markthegreat:

Anyone with the smallest smattering of brains knew this going in.

Yes, I knew what our goals were. If I said on this blog on the day of the Iraq invasion that we would still be there in over a decade, the people here would have told me I was insane. You are able to change you worldview very quickly, however, without even knowing it is being done for you. I notice you have McCain’s talking points nailed. You should be working for the campaign.

dave742 on August 6, 2008 at 10:38 AM

When Iraqi units with no American embeds tried to take the port city of Basra last spring, they were turned back in mass confusion, and it required United States combat help to save the day.

Wrong, wrong, wrong! Argh, #$%& I was there – the reason the 52nd BDE flopped has nothing to do with a lack of US MiTT involvement. They had just come from Unit Set Fielding, they had not one day of adjustment, training or even finishing up their weapons draw/issue. The BaOC (Basrah Area Command) commander was advised by his own officers not to send them in, but he did. BTW, he doesn’t command there anymore…

As for dave742 – having MiTT teams there, or even just advisors at Besmaya CTC, IGFC and the RTC/DTCs is going to be enough to keep them on their way. When anyone – politician or commander – says a withdrawl is condition based, they are talking about the major combatant formations, their log footprint and the aviation support, contractors, etc. If we had 5,000 advisors and support people, with maybe a BN QRF, would that be too much for you?

major john on August 6, 2008 at 10:51 AM

I guess the answer is that it takes forever to teach those brown people how to take care of themselves.
dave742 on August 6, 2008 at 9:22 AM

Yeah, really. We’re still in Germany and those people are white.

Kafir on August 6, 2008 at 10:52 AM

Each specific case of imperialism requires its own somewhat unique justifications.However, they are all variations of the same theme of the White Man’s Burden.
dave742 on August 6, 2008 at 10:19 AM

Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution empowers congress to define and punish crimes against the law of nations. It is no more imperialistic than the man in the moon. Iraq has a budget surplus and we don’t: we’re paying $4 for gasoline. So how is this war imperialistic again?

And your comment about “brown people” is funny in the same way New Yorker covers are funny: say something racist and assume that everyone will know that you’re impersonating a conservative. Know what? If liberals would just stop saying racist things, there would be a lot less racism goin around.

Akzed on August 6, 2008 at 10:55 AM

If I said on this blog on the day of the Iraq invasion that we would still be there in over a decade, the people here would have told me I was insane.
dave742 on August 6, 2008 at 10:38 AM

How do you know that? I assume you didn’t bother to listen to Bush’s SOTU message when he talked about how long the WOT would take. I took that to mean it wouldn’t be over in my lifetime and probably not in your own. Iraq is just a small piece. Hey, I’ll bet you think it’s just a law enforcement issue best handled here in the States, right?

a capella on August 6, 2008 at 10:57 AM

That is to be expected in a young army being built from the ground up, particularly because the higher ranks are filled with veterans of Saddam Hussein’s rigid command structure.
“When you grow up in a very regimented system the lower you go, the easier it is to train,” said Lt. Col. Tony Aguto, an officer with the Second Stryker Cavalry Regiment, the main American force in the Diyala operation. “As you go up, it gets more difficult.”

This is why I never understood those who complained about the disbanding of Saddam’s military. I just don’t see how his army that was staffed with Bat’thists in the upper ranks would have been of any help to us at all. It seems to me it would have been an invitation for disaster.

Texas Gal on August 6, 2008 at 10:59 AM

major john:

If we had 5,000 advisors and support people, with maybe a BN QRF, would that be too much for you?

Wow. I knew withdrawal meant combat troops, but I thought that would leave at least 50,000, not 5,000. Yes, 5,000 is too much. One is too much.
How many Chinese troops would be too much for you to have stationed in the US?

dave742 on August 6, 2008 at 10:59 AM

“You apparently believe that the US wants to stay in Iraq forever. I’m guessing that is the result of your super psychic powers, that allow you to tell when people are not saying what they really believe.”

Well I guess I have super psychic powers too, that and it is common knowledge that our government is building permanant bases. Let me tell you from the experience of living in DC and many big cities you will meet plenty of people who don’t say what they really believe, from the street hustler, to the thinktank scumbag, to the high powered lawyer. Why should the probability of finding liars decrease as the stakes get higher? Why do they all of the sudden become “virtuous” when the stakes get higher? What kind of sense does that make, sense for common ignorants maybe?

LevStrauss on August 6, 2008 at 11:07 AM

Akzed:

So how is this war imperialistic again?

Imperialistic motives can be more diverse than wanting to lower the price of gasoline. I am never one of those people who thought Iraq was a “war for oil.” As for the brown people thing, let’s pretend I didn’t say that. I have no desire to get in a conversation about racism. Insinuating that someone else is racist, though, does not mean that person is racist. When Jewish groups call people anti-Semitic, are they being anti-Semitic by doing so? Also, the New Yorker cover was not racist, it was making fun of racists. Also, did you know racists don’t think they are racist? You seem confused by the whole thing.

dave742 on August 6, 2008 at 11:10 AM

Markthegreat:

Anyone with the smallest smattering of brains knew this going in.

Yes, I knew what our goals were. If I said on this blog on the day of the Iraq invasion that we would still be there in over a decade, the people here would have told me I was insane. You are able to change you worldview very quickly, however, without even knowing it is being done for you. I notice you have McCain’s talking points nailed. You should be working for the campaign.

dave742 on August 6, 2008 at 10:38 AM

What about the rest of MarkTheGreat’s comment?

Additionally, so what if we are there for decades?
As Bush said years ago, as the Iraqi’s step up, we stand down. This process has already started and it will continue.

We’ve been in Japan, Germany, and S. Korea for decades now, and nobody complains.

…even though our leaders at the time failed to inform us of our decades-long commitment on the day we went to war.

“There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.” –Machiavelli

glendower on August 6, 2008 at 11:18 AM

“Imperialistic motives can be more diverse than wanting to lower the price of gasoline.”

I am always amused by people who actually think that a so called “war for oil” would mean that we as consumers will reap the benefits of a “war for oil”, that our “leaders” are so worried about the price of gasoline for the ignorant schmucks that make up this country. Would not a “war for oil” be a “War for oil revenue and profit”? Imperialistic ventures based on natural resources or cheap labor almost always come down to profit and power, not what the idiots that support their own plundering think is best for themselves. But of course this is just a hypothetical “war for oil”, things are not that simple.

LevStrauss on August 6, 2008 at 11:28 AM

We have to remain as long as it takes to ensure the Iraqi Army develops into stable and proper independence — and we still have to help rebuild the Iraqi Air Force and Iraqi Navy as well. With casualties dropping to almost nothing, the commitment should be easily shouldered, and the benefits should be apparent to anyone with their eyes open at this point. Only obstinacy could cloud judgment now — and if the New York Times can get over that, so can Barack Obama and the Democrats.

And here’s your example of that obstinacy, Ed.

Wow. I knew withdrawal meant combat troops, but I thought that would leave at least 50,000, not 5,000. Yes, 5,000 is too much. One is too much.
How many Chinese troops would be too much for you to have stationed in the US?

dave742 on August 6, 2008 at 10:59 AM

Obama’s supporters are hearing 16 months withdrawal and that is what they are going to demand. To them that is complete withdrawal with a Murtha redeployment to Okinawa. Obama will do as he said he would do before he moved towards the center of this issue. He is completely committed to being right about Iraq and since the fighting will be mostly ended by the end of Bush’s term, Obama will get no personal return for staying in Iraq. Personally, I believe that Obama is willing to withdraw all military from Iraq as a negotiation with Iran on their nuclear program.

Texas Gal on August 6, 2008 at 11:40 AM

Condi Rice and Don Rumsfeld, shortly after our invasion of Afghanistan stated clearly that this war was going to last a decade, if not more. Anyone who studied the region, had studied Islamofacism before it became a popular meme here in America, or had an ounce of common sense, understood completely that this war was goning to be different than any in which we have engaged in our history.

Why Afghanistan? To crush the Taliban, destroy the AQ infrastructure in Afghanistan and I might add, that the Taliban had made OBL their “defense minister” prior to 9-11. Establish ground for further interactions within Central Asia should the need arise. Enable a stable government, a generally secular government in Afghanistan, something it hadn’t seen since the King was deposed decades ago, other than the Soviet-backed Karmal regime.

Why Iraq? To depose Saddam. To establish a base (in the military and political sense) in the region. To get our troops and air forces out of Saudi Arabia. To end the blood and money drain both Northern Watch and Southern Watch were exacting from us. To remove that burr that staging our forces in the lands of Mecca and Medina was having across the region. To establish the ground to enable a secular state, a self-sustaining secular state in the region to counter the growing number of Islamist states in the region –in particular Iran.

These goals are not to be achieved overnight. To some they may smack of imperialism. To others they are a common sense approach to finally ending a half-century of contentment with the status quo in the region, which did no one any good at all. It was the elephant in the living room for far too long.

Yes, we were not met with touchy-feel good feelings from a lot in the region…Iran, Hamas, Hezzbollah, inter alia, but frankly, who in their right mind is content with the likes of these calling the shots with impunity?

As for attacking Pakistan…that would enable us to do what? Achieve what? Precisely?

We coopted Pakistan, well, their military at least, and have had a lot of success in that effort. Pakistani military and air bases were and are being used in the logistics train for Afghanistan and Iraq. Most serving officers in Pakistan do not have a problem with our being there (sub rosa, for the most part) as it affords them the opportunity to hone skill sets they’d otherwise only read about in military texts, and help counter what they see is the rise in Islamism in the entire region.

There are dozens of multiple layers that are ongoing simultaneously in our involvement in Afghanistan, and Iraq, and yes, in Pakistan, that will have long range positive results, provided of course, that simple minded politicians and the American public at large, is not allowed to conduct politico-military affairs on the basis of polls and sound bites.

Next time you need to have major surgery…poll your barber or the guy at the newsstand, or send out a flyer to all your neighbors, but for heaven’s sake, do not listen to any qualified medical authority…just take a poll. Foreign policy run like American Idol. No wonder it is damn difficult to get sane rational actors to support us.

coldwarrior on August 6, 2008 at 11:43 AM

I see dave742, still thinks that one conservative (I’m a libertarian actually) speaks for all conservatives.

I personally have always said that it will take decades before the last advisor left Iraq. But that doesn’t matter to the omnicient dave, one conservative allegedly insulted him for the position he now believes is the one he took, therefore this is the position of everyone dave believes to be conservative.

It must be nice to be a liberal. Never having to think for oneself.

MarkTheGreat on August 6, 2008 at 11:44 AM

dave742,

If you listen to what McCain is saying, not what the Kos kids are telling you about what McCain is saying, you will find out that McCain has never said that all troops would be out, even in the 18 month time frame.

MarkTheGreat on August 6, 2008 at 11:46 AM

As for the brown people thing, let’s pretend I didn’t say that. I have no desire to get in a conversation about racism. Insinuating that someone else is racist, though, does not mean that person is racist. When Jewish groups call people anti-Semitic, are they being anti-Semitic by doing so? Also, the New Yorker cover was not racist, it was making fun of racists. Also, did you know racists don’t think they are racist? You seem confused by the whole thing.

dave742 on August 6, 2008 at 11:10 AM

Why should we pretend you didn’t say it? Now, you claim to have no interest in a conversation about racism because you realize how it sounded and try to weasel word your way out of the quicksand. It wasn’t satire and we all, including you, know that. I think you don’t have the balls to apologize or explain your meaning, so you claim we are confused. LOL!

a capella on August 6, 2008 at 11:47 AM

dave742,

It may have escaped your all seeing attention, but China is not an ally of the US. They range from adversary to neutral, depending on the issue and the time of the month.

If you think that the position of the US vis a vis Iraq is analogous to the position of the US vis a vis China, then you are even more delusional than you have given us reason to believe before.

BTW, there are Chinese troops stationed in the US.

There are also German, Japanese, Korean, etc. troops over here doing training all of the time.

The US currently has troops in most of the countries of the world. You seem to believe that this should be automatically offensive?

MarkTheGreat on August 6, 2008 at 11:51 AM

LevStraus,

Do you honestly believe that our “permanent” bases in Germany, Japan, Korea, Iceland, etc. are evidence that we are occupying those countries as well?

MarkTheGreat on August 6, 2008 at 11:54 AM

MarkTheGreat on August 6, 2008 at 11:54 AM

Well obviously, due to the definition of the word occupy, the government occupies parts of those countries. Iraq is a different animal, because of the culture, history, and circumstances, but mainly because it was a country that we pre-emptively attacked and your examples don’t seem to fit that scenario. We also occupy Afghanistan, which is not considered a pre-emptive invasion, but both Afghanistan and Iraq border Iran who we are actively taking belligerent footing with, in addition to advisers that have been with Cheney since Gulf War I and have an interest in not just stopping with Iraq but trying to change the Middle East under the guise of democracy spreading BS, a guise that has killed more people than religion since the state took its place some time ago at establishing nomos. But to answer your question, our government would like to stay there forever, but such hubris will make us China’s Great Britain, for they once had an empire that would never set, and at least they had the b@lls to call it an empire, but their hubris of maintaining installations have made them our lapdog because of the imperial overstretch and its inability to maitain what was left of it after WWII.

LevStrauss on August 6, 2008 at 12:13 PM

Glendower:
You’re talking about this?:

Additionally, so what if we are there for decades?

I am against it for the same reason I would be against Chinese troops being in the US for decades. I am against it because the Iraqi people are against it.

Texa Gal:

“Personally, I believe that Obama is willing to withdraw all military from Iraq”

Obama will do no such thing. Obama will do nothing different than McCain in Iraq.

Markthegreat:

The US currently has troops in most of the countries of the world. You seem to believe that this should be automatically offensive?

You think we have a thousand bases around the world for defensive purposes, and I am delusional. Very funny.

If you think that the position of the US vis a vis Iraq is analogous to the position of the US vis a vis China, then you are even more delusional than you have given us reason to believe before.

So Iraq is our ally. Can they have a base in the US? How about Japan and Germany? If we only have bases in countries that are our allies and they are for defensive purposes, why can’t all of those countries have bases in the US as well?

dave742 on August 6, 2008 at 12:20 PM

dave742 on August 6, 2008 at 11:10 AM

I think that the rapid backpedaling in your response indicates that you are the one who is confused.

Akzed on August 6, 2008 at 12:24 PM

Our overall problem is that there are very very few who look at the long range. Instant gratification seems to be the norm.

In 1968, the Soviets tried to airlift sufficient forces into Czecholsovakia to put down an obvious rebellion against Soviet rule. Less than one Soviet airborne division (smaller than a US or NATO division) was able to successfully take part in the initial airlift into Prague. The rest of the Warsaw Pact moved in over roads and highways, with equipment breaking down, a strung out logistics train behind them, and a population that wasn’t all that thrilled to have them around.

Jump ahead. In 1977 and into 1978, the Soviets conducted a series of large military airlifts from the Soviet Union to and from Ethiopia. A massive show of airlift capacity. Marshall Grechko made it clear that this was a significant departure of the USSR from defense of the homeland towards global power projection. During these Ethio-USSR airlifts, the Soviets tweaked systems, evaluated aircraft and logisitcs, and also monitor US, NATO and world response. Just an airlift exercise lasting months and months. The only negative response from any public quarters was from Somalia, which tossed out the Soviets, costing them a huge expense of funds spent to build a Soviet navy and air base at Bebera. But other than that. Barely a ruffle…anywhere.

Then, after a year of tweaking, and introduction of more modern aircraft, and streamlining logistics, after over a year of watching a Soviet-backed regime in Kabul taking serious hits from within its own borders, the Soviets conducted a rapid airlift into Kabul using more than 200 giant AN-22 and AN-12 aircraft…without depleting aircraft necessary for anti-NATO defense. Ground troops, to include several brigades removed from East Germany just a month or two before, crossed the northern border of Afghanistan. BTW, these same troops removed from East Germany shortly before appearing in Afghanistan had been heralded by the Carter Administration. The Sovietrs were being good guys and reduction of their forces in East Germany was to be applauded.

This from the largest military force ever assembled in the history of mankind. Also from a military that was not previously known to have any efficiency at all in any quarter.

Why bring this up? Because the Soviets, for all their faults, thought long range. As do the Chinese presently. We? If it ain’t over by Christmas…well, that is pretty much how we seem to view things.

Iraq had better understand long range thinking. I hope they do. Even with way too many short-range thinkers here in America crying out all sorts of conflicting garbage, I hope Iraq is looking long range.

Those in the Pentagon, at CENTCOM, AFRICOM, and in the Spec Ops realm are thinking and planning long range. The latest general officer promotion lists indicate that the Army as a whole is.

But what of the rest? The politicians? The civilian control over our military? The electorate? The electorate that places the politicians in positions where they exercise Constitutional authority over the military?

Since 9-11 I have seen only short-range solutions offered. Have only seen a massive endemic desire for instant gratification within the electorate.

Funny thing. I have noticed it. So have the jihadis.

Now, if you were a recently promoted or appointed Iraqi Captain…this would motivate you how?

coldwarrior on August 6, 2008 at 12:29 PM

Texa Gal:

“Personally, I believe that Obama is willing to withdraw all military from Iraq”
Obama will do no such thing. Obama will do nothing different than McCain in Iraq.
dave742 on August 6, 2008 at 12:20 PM

That is very doubtful.

Iran wants us out of Iraq. Obama wants to put the Iran feather in his cap, he will sacrifice Iraq for that Iran feather. If there would ever be a president that could rival Clinton for concern over a legacy, it is Obama.

Texas Gal on August 6, 2008 at 12:29 PM

Robertson appears to be using a paragraph from this article. Maybe LWJ should charge him a fee…
http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2008/08/iraqi_security_force_18.php

DJ Elliott on August 6, 2008 at 12:36 PM

a capella:

I think you don’t have the balls to apologize or explain your meaning, so you claim we are confused.

Akzed:

I think that the rapid backpedaling in your response indicates that you are the one who is confused.

My lord. OK, here you are:

You people are racist.

There. I said it. You could not be anything but and believe the things you believe in. My point is that this is not something worth discussing. So say that you are not racist, call me racist, and let’s end this, please.

Texas Gal:
If Obama wins, there will still be over 100,000 soldiers in Iraq at the end of his term. I guarantee it. Only time will tell. (IF he wins. Of course, maybe he won’t and we will not get to find out. I know I am not voting for the freak.)

dave742 on August 6, 2008 at 12:40 PM

LevStrauss:

such hubris will make us China’s Great Britain

History repeats itself.

dave742 on August 6, 2008 at 1:00 PM

a capella:
Each specific case of imperialism requires its own somewhat unique justifications.However, they are all variations of the same theme of the White Man’s Burden.

dave742 on August 6, 2008 at 10:19 AM

Imperialism - the policy of extending the rule or authority of an empire or nation over foreign countries, or of acquiring and holding colonies and dependencies.

Are you honestly asserting that Iraq is a colony? Or that we currently rule Iraq? You mean they don’t have a parliament or Constitution, and that they didn’t really vote for other Iraqis?

Good Lord man, you’re embarrassing yourself. Words have meanings. Learn to use them.

dominigan on August 6, 2008 at 1:11 PM

It sends a thrill up my leg thinking about our military vs. other world milititaries. I read an article last week about an eastern european country that had just purchased its first 8 helicopters. That’s barely half as many as my Battalion, for their whole country!

You just can’t build the kind of military it takes to defend a place like Iraq overnight. We need to stay until the job is done. We owe it to them and to the memory of our brothers and sisters who’ve already sacrificed so much.

BadgerHawk on August 6, 2008 at 1:15 PM

dominigan:
Yes, we currently rule Iraq, meaning that the puppet strings of the Iraqi government are currently being pulled primarily by the US. That may change, however, as Iran gains more and more influence in the country. If Iran succeeds in becoming the string-puller, then the US will call the government a bunch of terrorists, throw them out, and install a new puppet. This is called “extending the rule of an empire over a foreign country.”

dave742 on August 6, 2008 at 1:19 PM

You people are racist.

dave742 on August 6, 2008 at 12:40 PM

And he goes off the deep end…

and I am delusional.

dave742 on August 6, 2008 at 12:20 PM

Wow, and here I thought we wouldn’t agree on anything.

dominigan on August 6, 2008 at 1:20 PM

My lord. OK, here you are:

You people are racist.

There. I said it. You could not be anything but and believe the things you believe in. My point is that this is not something worth discussing. So say that you are not racist, call me racist, and let’s end this, please.
dave742 on August 6, 2008 at 12:40 PM

Well,..no,…lets’s not end it. I have no idea who is racist and who is not, as is also the case with you. However, you introduced the concept that we are going to remain in Iraq because our policies are racist. You apparently feel U.S. policy is based on the expectation that dark skin makes people genetically incapable of running a decent govenment. Isn’t that what you were trying to say in your original post regarding brown skin? Or, were you just claiming HA posters feel that way? I don’t care what you call me, but you’ve made a claim regarding the basis for our Iraqi policy and I’d like to hear you defend it. What facts do you have to support it?

a capella on August 6, 2008 at 1:23 PM

What is and has been “racist” has been our ongoing policy (in government but moreso on the street, here in America) that “swarthy” Middle Easterners are totally incapable of running their own government or of defending their own nation. Thus they need to be ruled by dictators or well-heeled sheiks and kept in the darkness, even as we move well into the 21st Century.

Seems to be quite clearly anti-racist to actually get involved to enable these same Middle Easterners to build their own government from the ground up, and (as is the theme of this thread) build their own defense structure to enable the stability they require to establish a government of the people, for the people, and to be able to live and breathe free.

In no way, thus, can our overall actions in Iraq be called racist. Period.

Can we get back to the military aspects of this thread?

coldwarrior on August 6, 2008 at 1:32 PM

a capella:

You apparently feel U.S. policy is based on the expectation that dark skin makes people genetically incapable of running a decent govenment.

I don’t think our policy is based on racism. Our reason for going into Iraq is not based on racism. Our justification to the public for why we must stay there, though, is heavily reliant on racism. That, to me, was the topic of this thread. How does the US justify to the public staying in Iraq forever and at the same time talk about how it is getting better there every day? The answer the US will use is that the backwards, primitive people with their strange religion and funny names cannot exist without killing us or each other, so the benevolent white master race must show them how, and that will take a while, because they are really screwed up brown people. I am saying that US citizens will buy this line, because most US citizens are racist.

dave742 on August 6, 2008 at 1:35 PM

coldwarrior:

Can we get back to the military aspects of this thread?

It’s not always my idea to get on these tangents, and make it “all about me.” (from the last thread) I tried to get out of this. At a certain point I am doing nothing but responding.

dave742 on August 6, 2008 at 1:39 PM

dave742 on August 6, 2008 at 1:35 PM

So, you are saying our real goals are imperialistic but the administration disguises it with rhetoric of lowered expectations for people of different ethnicity or religion, because the American public is predominately racist and will buy into it? Is that about right? Is this always the case?

a capella on August 6, 2008 at 1:58 PM

Americans do not comprehend the difficulties in creating an army from scratch

Well in the first place it is not exactly “from scratch” as that would mean that no one who is now in the Iraqi army ever had any army experience before.

In the second place – see U.S. Army in 1941 – then U.S. Army in 1944 or 1945. Not exactly “from scratch” but pretty close.

It has now been well over 5 years with Iraq – that is enough time to train a doctor.

MB4 on August 6, 2008 at 2:01 PM

It takes years, and more likely decades, to instill a stable military culture

Years OK, but decades? Decades? As in Earth decades? Tens of Earth years? Multiples of 3,652 days? Earth days? Have these people ever been in the Army?

MB4 on August 6, 2008 at 2:06 PM

a capells:

Is that about right?

About.

Is this always the case?

No. Different circumstances require different justifications. That’s why the justifications change constantly even within the same case.
Look. I am done with this. I made my point. I reiterated it several times to you and your friend and made my point abundantly clear. I don’t want to make this thread “all about me” and get coldwarrior mad at me, so I can be done now.

dave742 on August 6, 2008 at 2:13 PM

The training of the Iraqi Army began closer to 2006.

As for the 1941 reference, what type of army was that? Overall, it was but a slight departure from the WWI model, with the exception of the addition of armoured vehicles as cavalry and bringing in more aircraft.

It is not our desire, nor theirs, that we simply parrot the Saddam Army, just to be able to say the Iraqis have an Army.

We are talking about an entire sea change in small unit tactics and employment and training, company and battalion tactics and employment and training, brigade and higher integration and command, professionalization of command, staff, logistics and support, all of which did not exist under Saddam. The current Iraqi Army is in no way inter-operable with ANY aspect of Saddam’s army…with the exception of arming units with AK-47′s/AK-74′s.

Our “from scratch” army in 1941 had an established cadre, had established logistics, had a significant established national guard and reserve structure, had common military schooling, from West Point to the Ft. Leavenworth School of Infantry to other professionalization schools, and a lot more. So, no, we weren’t starting from scratch. As for Iraq…we are starting totally from scratch. A tabula rasa from which we are establishing each and every requirement and from the most rudimentary levels to the higher levels of national command.

In 1941-1945, we merely expanded the numbers to about 5 million from a pre-war level of a few hundred thousand. Most of the Divisions that fought in WWII were National Guard or Army Reserve Divisions. Pre-established long before 1941, and previously trained, poorly as it was for most, notwithstanding.

An Army is not just about numbers. Not any more. It is also a lot more than just giving a guy a rifle and telling him where the enemy is…a lot more.

Amatuers talk about tactics and numbers.

Professionals talk of logistics and training.

coldwarrior on August 6, 2008 at 2:27 PM

I was wondering how the US was going to work its way out of its contradiction cognitive dissonance. The goal is to stay in Iraq forever – fifty years – make it a hundred 16 months sounds pretty good, could be OK. But how do we do so while at the same time saying things are getting better and better? How many years straight can things keep getting better, but never get better to the point where we can leave?

dave742 on August 6, 2008 at 9:22 AM

Well it’s kind of like having a goal and every year the remaining distance to the goal is cut in half. That’s about it.

MB4 on August 6, 2008 at 2:32 PM

People need to understand that you can’t just create an effective army out of whole cloth. We basically started from scratch … twice … with that army. Practically none of the officers have more than a couple of years experience at what they are doing and the few that do have experience in the old army are finding that experience of little use in the new army.

It is going to take years to promote the most effective officers into position as they gain experience and a track record. The top brass at this point are little more than politically appointed placeholders. As effective leaders gain experience and demonstrate their capabilities, they will move into positions of greater leadership. And again, that takes years to happen. Yes, some of that can be accelerated in combat units but logistics and maintenance are what keep an army alive. It takes experience to get effective logistics types into place and get effective procedures and mechanisms built to keep soldiers alive.

It isn’t the “tooth” part if it that takes so long as much as it is the “tail”. Right now the Iraqi Army is all tooth and little tail, we are performing that function for them. It will likely take years to develop a self-sustaining infrastructure on which the rest of that army is built.

crosspatch on August 6, 2008 at 2:40 PM

And I’d add establishing an Army from scratch while fighting an insurgency and AQ-I at the same time.

I can only imagine the effect on Syria, Iran, Hez and Hamas, not to mention KSA, on having a US trained professional military mentored and equipped right smack dab in the middle of the ME.

You’re right about the big picture coldwarrior. It’s always been one of my few dissatisfactions of our Constitution that our foreign policy is dictated by the changes in the WH. It’s a real wonder that we are able to even get any country to ally with us longer than 4 years max.

I have to give a lot of credit to Bush for quickly recognizing that to only way in the long term to safeguard our national security was to introduce the Middle Eastern people to democratic government. What was down side of doing so?

dave742

You evidently haven’t been listening to Bush or you just assume he’s lying. If there was ever a President that stood against the bigotry of low expectations, it is Bush. He has got to be the most positive, glass half full President we have had since Reagan. And I can’t really think of any others in my lifetime.

I also disagree with you that most Americans are racist but I do understand why you would think that.

Texas Gal on August 6, 2008 at 2:52 PM

And I will add that there is more to creating an effective military than just an army. Iraq’s air force currently has nothing more than some trainer aircraft, some observation platforms, a few helicopters and a couple of C-130′s and that is it. They have no fighters whatsoever. That entire air force needs to be re-built and re-equipped from scratch and people taught to supply and maintain those airplanes.

The IA is only now beginning to get any significant amount of artillery and armor. They are pretty much a light infantry outfit at the moment with little in the way of artillery and armor support.

The Iraqi navy is a couple of patrol boats and that is it. How can they defend their interests in helping keep the Straits of Hormuz open so they can ship their oil without any navy at all?

We are a LONG way from Iraq being able to defend itself on its own considering the capabilities of its neighbors in Iran and Syria which have large forces on land, air, and in the case of Iran, at sea. Iran builds their own main battle tanks, the only country in the ME outside Egypt that does that.

The people are not being given an accurate picture of things by our news media. We seem to have some expectation that we can just leave and have an army of light infantry with no support mechanism be able to stand on its own. That is just plain nuts.

crosspatch on August 6, 2008 at 3:03 PM

The training of the Iraqi Army began closer to 2006.

Closer to 2006? What does that mean? Closer to 2006 than to what? 2003?

During WWII the vast majority of guys were in the Army less than 4 years.

Our “from scratch” army in 1941 had an established cadre, had established logistics, had a significant established national guard and reserve structure, had common military schooling, from West Point to the Ft. Leavenworth School of Infantry to other professionalization schools, and a lot more. So, no, we weren’t starting from scratch.

As I said, not from scratch, but pretty close. In 1941 we had little more than a “cigar store” Army. Back then they actually started their training after Pearl in some cases with sticks instead of rifles. Ask some of those who entered the Army in 1942 what it was like. They will probably laugh. We probably had a smaller army, and less well equipped, in 1941 than Italy. I think that we did have a bigger army than Switzerland though, maybe. I am almost certain that we had a bigger army than Lichtenstein.

In 1941-1945, we merely expanded the numbers to about 5 million from a pre-war level of a few hundred thousand. Most of the Divisions that fought in WWII were National Guard or Army Reserve Divisions. Pre-established long before 1941, and previously trained, poorly as it was for most, notwithstanding.

Merely? Merely? Something like what, a twenty fold increase in the Active duty Army from 1941 to 1944 is merely? Merely? I guess it all depends on what the meaning of sex is and what the meaning of is, is and what the meaning of merely is.

An Army is not just about numbers. Not any more. It is also a lot more than just giving a guy a rifle and telling him where the enemy is…a lot more.

And that’s why it’s hi! hi! hee! In the field artillery.
The Artillery, King of Battle, rides, the Infantry walks.

Amatuers talk about tactics and numbers.

Professionals talk of logistics and training.

coldwarrior on August 6, 2008 at 2:27 PM

Talk, talk, talk.

The Iraqis have had over 5 years and they now have, what $87 billion that the Iraqi government is sitting on? That all ought to have been buying them a lot of training and logistics. No one, that I know of anyway, is even talking about setting them up to invade another country or conduct bombing runs thousand of mile way.

MB4 on August 6, 2008 at 3:14 PM

And I’d add establishing an Army from scratch while fighting an insurgency and AQ-I at the same time.

Texas Gal on August 6, 2008 at 2:52 PM

The fight in Iraq is as nothing compared to WWII. Even compared to RVN. That’s why the vast majority of Americans in this war are out shopping or cruising the internet instead of being in the Army.

I have never seen any estimates for AQI strength at more than 2,000 at the top of the estimated range. A lot are suppose to have been killed of driven out of country by now. How many left?

MB4 on August 6, 2008 at 3:21 PM

{Islamic] Iraq’s air force currently has nothing more than some trainer aircraft

crosspatch on August 6, 2008 at 3:03 PM

Much better for Israel that way.

MB4 on August 6, 2008 at 3:27 PM

The fight in Iraq is as nothing compared to WWII. Even compared to RVN. That’s why the vast majority of Americans in this war are out shopping or cruising the internet instead of being in the Army.

MB4 on August 6, 2008 at 3:21 PM

Yea I’d agree with that. It’s disturbing just how disconnected the majority of the general population is from the reality. I guess we could fill up several threads with why that is the case and how it came to be.

But I’m not one of them. Nor am I out shopping or cruising the internet. And since I am too old to join the military, I’m right now on a break from making cooling ties and sand scarves for a battalion of Marines in Iraq.

Texas Gal on August 6, 2008 at 3:29 PM

Akzed:

I think that the rapid backpedaling in your response indicates that you are the one who is confused.

My lord. OK, here you are:

You people are racist.

There. I said it. You could not be anything but and believe the things you believe in. My point is that this is not something worth discussing. So say that you are not racist, call me racist, and let’s end this, please.

Proven by the fact that you brought up race in a thread about the Iraqi army. Riiiggghhht.

Like I often say, liberalism is an emotional problem.

Akzed on August 6, 2008 at 4:13 PM

What was that about mud wrestling with a pig? Oh, yeah…

Anyway…

Yes, merely…for the most part our initial mobilization in 1942 was “merely” ramping up numbers (weapons and supplies and training came later). Thousands and thousands of soldiers in 1942 waited and waited, painted rocks and did all sorts of make work, waiting for weapons and trainers to show up. There were Congressional inquiries many many times between Pearl Harbor and our dispatch of the first units to Europe and the Pacific because the rampant idle soldiering going on across the military. Ask ANY vet who was drafted or enlisted in 1942…ask them about how germane most of their training was. And when sent overseas, “deployed” in today’s parlance, they took massive, really massive casualties…many of them for the most stupid of reasons, not being able to channel fear into something more powerful, but also because their training was inadequate.

Ask vets of Kasserine how effective their leadership and training was. Then, look at the casualty figures for every combat engagement in which we were involved until VE and VJ day. The concept of throwing large numbers of troops at an objective was pretty much the norm. Thank God, we don’t do that any more. The replacements sent overseas to Europe and to the Pacific were often avoided at all costs by the guys who had been through one or two good scrapes. Why? These officially trained but totally untested repo’s got people killed, often. Moreso, if they were officers.

At least we didn’t spend a year or more teaching Iraqi soldiers the manual of arms using broom handles, and using bags of flour to simulate bombs and grenades.

Not much up on your military history, and I can tell that. It is also safe to assume you never served, never commanded, never led in uniform. Oh, well, its a free country. Might want to give some thought to why that is so. And on whose back that is possible.

MB4, it is obvious you have an agenda, a weltgesichtpunkt that you intend to hold on to regardless. You don’t like the war in Iraq. Fine. I can’t think of anyone I know who does. I can’t think of anyone, save for one particular second lieutenant, who wanted to fight a war. You want us out of Iraq. Fine. So do I. But not because one or two politicians or a Congressional majority decides that they know better from apples. I’d much prefer the war be over when the job is done. It is not just a bumper sticker slogan to me, either. When Iraq is able to fend off threats to her sovereignty it’ll be pretty much done. When other nations in the region accept the notion that their people can run their own countries, and sheiks and despots are driven out of Dodge, it’ll be a bit closer to being over. When conditions exist in the entire region so much so that none of my grandchildren, nor any American’s grandchildren, will ever be called to fight there, then, I will admit, that the job is indeed done.

And it isn’t going to happen in 16 months, and it isn’t going to happen because a bunch of know-nothings elected to Conbress by a lot of other know-nothings arbitrarily decide that it is done.

coldwarrior on August 6, 2008 at 4:40 PM

Texas gal, just noticed your comment about cooling ties and sand scarves. May wish to send a few cans of “Silly String” along as well. It has saved many lives, American, Iraqi and Afghani.

coldwarrior on August 6, 2008 at 4:46 PM

Thanks for that suggestion!

Texas Gal on August 6, 2008 at 5:59 PM