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Elite officers in Iraq fear Vietnam-style collapse

#1
http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,2023865,00.html

An elite team of officers advising the US commander, General David Petraeus, in Baghdad has concluded that they have six months to win the war in Iraq - or face a Vietnam-style collapse in political and public support that could force the military into a hasty retreat.
...
the next six months are make-or-break for the US military and the Iraqi government. The main obstacles confronting Gen Petraeus's team are:
- Insufficient troops on the ground
- A "disintegrating" international coalition
- An anticipated increase in violence in the south as the British leave
- Morale problems as casualties rise
- A failure of political will in Washington and/or Baghdad.
...
According to a British source, plans are in hand for the possible southwards deployment of 6,000 US troops to compensate for Britain's phased withdrawal and any upsurge in unrest.

Morale is another concern in the Green Zone headquarters: American forces are preparing for a rise in casualties as the crackdown gathers pace. In a message to the troops after he assumed overall command last month, Gen Petraeus praised their sacrifices while warning of more "difficult times" to come.
 
#3
If I were an American military planner then my decision would be to make American military presence in Iraq almost invisible. Leave Anbar province - this fruitless oilless desert. There are the 'Green zone', Airport, aroad between them in Baghdad. That's all. Concentrate efforts on these strategic objects and don't try to enter such places as Sadr city. Oil fields, pipe-lines, main roads other strategic objects should be controlled. But only they. Stop so called 'routine patrols', 'offensive operations'. They are senseless.

This approach would reduce abilities of the insurgents to attack the troops. Number of killed would drop. Of course some areas would be under control of the insurgents but it is not too important now.
 
#4
An elite team of officers advising the US commander, General David Petraeus, in Baghdad has concluded that they have six months to win the war in Iraq
They still don't get it. "Winning" in COIN is bloody difficult and more than anything takes time.

I hope and pray that this is a misplaced journalistic interpretation of what actually has been said. However, if this is the attitude these advisors have, their ideas for dealing with insurgency really haven't moved from the previous "administration".
 
#5
KGB_resident said:
If I were an American military planner then my decision would be to make American military presence in Iraq almost invisible. Leave Anbar province - this fruitless oilless desert. There are the 'Green zone', Airport, aroad between them in Baghdad. That's all. Concentrate efforts on these strategic objects and don't try to enter such places as Sadr city. Oil fields, pipe-lines, main roads other strategic objects should be controlled. But only they. Stop so called 'routine patrols', 'offensive operations'. They are senseless.

This approach would reduce abilities of the insurgents to attack the troops. Number of killed would drop. Of course some areas would be under control of the insurgents but it is not too important now.
Problems, Sergey. In this kind of op, it isn't enough to just fail to lose, you have to actively win. Pulling back to 'strategic areas' would cut down the casualty list in the short-term, but would be disasterous in the long term.

Apart from emboldening the enemy and handing them a tremendous propaganda opportunity, this would cede them freedom of movement within the civilian population and effectively surrenders control of their support to the insurgents.

Your troops would then be left in small fixed locations surrounded by a highly mobile and virtually invisible enemy who could hit at will.

Of course, this does rather presume a willingness to adequately man and equip the occupying forces for a long-term campaign, which produces it's own short-term problems for professional politicians with elections looming...
 
#6
smartascarrots said:
KGB_resident said:
If I were an American military planner then my decision would be to make American military presence in Iraq almost invisible. Leave Anbar province - this fruitless oilless desert. There are the 'Green zone', Airport, aroad between them in Baghdad. That's all. Concentrate efforts on these strategic objects and don't try to enter such places as Sadr city. Oil fields, pipe-lines, main roads other strategic objects should be controlled. But only they. Stop so called 'routine patrols', 'offensive operations'. They are senseless.

This approach would reduce abilities of the insurgents to attack the troops. Number of killed would drop. Of course some areas would be under control of the insurgents but it is not too important now.
Problems, Sergey. In this kind of op, it isn't enough to just fail to lose, you have to actively win.
Actively win? It is impossible now in Iraq. Attempts to make an impossible thing are senseless.

smartascarrots said:
Pulling back to 'strategic areas' would cut down the casualty list in the short-term, but would be disasterous in the long term.
I'm not sure that you are right. If USA would have few Guantanamo-style bases then casualities would be minimal both in the short and long term.

smartascarrots said:
Apart from emboldening the enemy and handing them a tremendous propaganda opportunity, this would cede them freedom of movement within the civilian population and effectively surrenders control of their support to the insurgents.
The insurgents have freedom of movement just now and they in fact control some parts of Iraq. As for propaganda war then the only way is a counter-propaganda. Military measures don't work

smartascarrots said:
Your troops would then be left in small fixed locations surrounded by a highly mobile and virtually invisible enemy who could hit at will.
I dare say you are not right. Now, the enemy is everywhere and nowhere. Namely present military strategy gives the insurgents an excellent possibility to use their mobile units. Any attack against big heavily fortified base require significant forces that could be detected and annihilated from air or/and by gun-fire.

In any war offensive and defensive operations are used. It is a right time to turn to a tough defense in Iraq, minimising the casualities while keeping a strategic control over the country. Of course this U-turn should be done without any declarations. But the apparent result - sharp drop in casualities would be anyway a victory in the domestic propaganda war.

And the Americans can return to previous strategy in any moment.
 
#7
Sergey...

That thinking and doctrine has ended in..

1. Dien Bien Phu

2. The US Embassy in Saigon

3. Gandamack.
 
#8
PartTimePongo said:
Sergey...

That thinking and doctrine has ended in..

1. Dien Bien Phu

2. The US Embassy in Saigon

3. Gandamack.
But there was N.Vietnam with its trained armed forces, tanks, planes, missiles. Unlikely the insurgents would have even one tank soon or jet-fighter or anything to storm (in fact invincible) American 'castles' in Iraq.

I fancy that there exists a naive hope (in Washington) - just one more offensive, one more special operation or raid and the insurgency would be defeated. This strategy is not working. It is a bare truth.
 
#9
One of the persons mentioned in the Guardian article is Aussie LTC David Kilcullen and he responds today in his blog Small Wars Journal.

http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2007/03/guardian-article-misrepresents/

The article is littered with inaccuracies:

• the “advisers” are not bunkered down in the Green Zone, but in another location, and frequently out on the ground.

• the article (incorrectly) describes me as a serving military officer – I’m a civilian diplomat, as any source truly familiar with the team's thinking would be well aware.

• while recognizing the severity of the challenge, the team's mood is far from pessimistic. Success will take months or years, not weeks or days, and although early signs are somewhat encouraging it's really far too early to say how things will play out. The war has been going for four years, the new strategy for less than four weeks. Give it time.

• the State department is not failing to meet its personnel targets. On the contrary, more than 90 % of civilian positions in Iraq are filled, and we will grow to 20 Provincial Reconstruction Teams soon.

• the coalition is far from disintegrating – British redeployment from the South reflects improved security, not lack of will, and the same day the British announced their move the Australians announced a force increase in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

• The plan is not “unclear” or “constantly changing” – we all know exactly what the plan is. The article seems to be mistaking the freedom and agility which have been granted to us, allowing us to respond dynamically to a dynamic situation, for vacillation.
 
#10
Mr. Kilcullen however confirms the main point.

And yes, there is a risk that home-front political will might collapse just as we are getting things right on the ground.
Can we ever speak about the 'Coalition' in Iraq? Mr.Kilcullen wrote

The coalition is far from disintegrating
He is right. The Coalition had disintegrated long before and now is dead (so it is far from the point of the disintegration).
 

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