Gen. Odierno's History of the Iraq War Released

rampant

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Back in 2013 Gen Ray Odierno commissioned a study into experience of the Iraq War, ready in 2016 its publication was delayed for two years, it has now been published as the Two Volume "The US Army in the Iraq War.

Army’s long-awaited Iraq war study finds Iran was the only winner in a conflict that holds many lessons for future wars

It won't be widely available, but you can find it through here

Publication

Publication

From the brief exerpts and reviews of it I've seen, it doesn't hold back.
 
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Downloaded, thanks.

I won’t hold my breath for a British Army/PJHQ version...
 

rampant

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
I saw some of the primary evidence for the HERRICK Campaign Study. Unsurprisingly, it never made it into the published HCS...
 
I saw some of the primary evidence for the HERRICK Campaign Study. Unsurprisingly, it never made it into the published HCS...
I'd suggest it's virtually impossible to get a well trained soldier [the enemy are wrong and it is my job to go and smite them for their wrongness] to look at himself and say 'I am wrong and I need to really question my own ideals and beliefs if I am to be any good at my job going forward'. It's not easy to get any leadership team to do this as leaders inherently have to believe they have the answers, but the military mindset is probably the least amenable to self criticism. It is one of the reasons the military should always be firmly under political control; bad as politicians are they can at least see the military's faults, even if only through tinted glasses.
 
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Yarra

Old-Salt
No UK Corp from Turkey. No Phase IV. Claire Short in charge of DFID. Brown as Chancellor.

What could possibly go wrong?
 
I'd suggest it's virtually impossible to get a well trained soldier [the enemy are wrong and it is my job to go and smite them for their wrongness] to look at himself and say 'I am wrong and I need to really question my own ideals and beliefs if I am to be any good at my job going forward'. It's not easy to get any leadership team to do this as leaders inherently have to believe they have the answers, but the military mindset is probably the least amenable to self criticism. It is one of the reasons the military should always be firmly under political control; bad as politicians are they can at least see the military's faults, even if only through tinted glasses.
Unfortunately, the never to be released primary evidence, there were some very reflective 1-3*s who had obviously some long hard looks at themselves in the mirror.

And they all reflected, candidly, on their failures, both direct and indirect. They were near unanimous in their reflections on APC Glasgow....
 

Yarra

Old-Salt
....but the military mindset is probably the least amenable to self criticism. It is one of the reasons the military should always be firmly under political control; bad as politicians are they can at least see the military's faults, even if only through tinted glasses.
Trouble is BP, Politicians also consistently prove to be poor critical thinkers too... Especially in the case of Brown and Short on TELIC. Between them, they completely hamstrung the UK's effort at the Strategic level, from the campaign plan forward. This left our (mil) leaders commencing ops on 'ground not of their choosing'. Blair lacked either foresight, political space or balls to grip the situation (sound familiar?), leaving the military to try and dig ourselves out of the hole those cockroaches dumped us in.... (eating soup with a knife, wasn't it?)

The trouble is, the half a decade of 'liberal interventionism' where the UK's military pulled it out of the bag in Macedonia and Sierra Leone, was merely a manageable prelude to an undertaking that required big boy's rules and big boy's commitment. Unfortunately, we were all too eager to go war-fighting without thinking it through.

Yarra
 
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Trouble is BP, Politicians also consistently prove to be poor critical thinkers too...
Agreed,although I'm not convinced the military VSOs did anything like enough to change political minds. Sadly I suspect when they started the campaign they thought they could do it, or they weren't going to risk their jobs to say no.
 

Yarra

Old-Salt
Agreed,although I'm not convinced the military VSOs did anything like enough to change political minds. Sadly I suspect when they started the campaign they thought they could do it, or they weren't going to risk their jobs to say no.
Given the circumstances, the in-Theatre VSOs did a sterling job on T1... as did their commands. The UK planners embedded back in US had been threadders with our political leadership for some time. At the time, the only thing, I recall that was of concern once we were well inside the Regime's OODA loop was the opaqueness over Ph IV. ...that concern gradually morphed into incredulity as we were told to halt prep for Ph IV.
 
Given the circumstances, the in-Theatre VSOs did a sterling job on T1... as did their commands. The UK planners embedded back in US had been threadders with our political leadership for some time. At the time, the only thing, I recall that was of concern once we were well inside the Regime's OODA loop was the opaqueness over Ph IV. ...that concern gradually morphed into incredulity as we were told to halt prep for Ph IV.
We failed, dress it up in all the acronyms you like but whatever we went in to do [and I don't think we really knew, except suck up to the Yanks'], it didn't work.
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
I'd suggest it's virtually impossible to get a well trained soldier [the enemy are wrong and it is my job to go and smite them for their wrongness] to look at himself and say 'I am wrong and I need to really question my own ideals and beliefs if I am to be any good at my job going forward'. It's not easy to get any leadership team to do this as leaders inherently have to believe they have the answers, but the military mindset is probably the least amenable to self criticism. It is one of the reasons the military should always be firmly under political control; bad as politicians are they can at least see the military's faults, even if only through tinted glasses.
You do talk unalloyed tosh. Go back and see what was being posted on this site 2005-7 and on not a few threads since. Look how many high flyers have left the Army in the last fifteen years before achieving their anticipated rank because they disagreed with what was going on.

The military learned to be self-critical years ago, and to a far greater extent than anything the civilian public sector or academia achieves. It's how the puzzle of trench warfare was finally solved and how we got ashore on D-day, among other things. That capacity is impaired today because of the unquestioning, PC, civilian public sector mindset that's creeping into the armed forces because of government and civil service pressure.

If you'd like a couple of examples of self-criticism, British and American, at the highest level, here's Bill Slim:

Like so many generals whose plans have gone wrong I could find plenty of excuses but only one reason--myself. When two courses of action were open to me, I had not chosen, as a good commander should, the bolder. I had taken counsel of my fears.

Here's Stilwell:

No military commander in history ever made a voluntary retreat. All retreats are ignominious as hell. I claim we got a hell of a beating. We got run out of Burma-- and it is humiliating as hell. I think we ought to find out what caused it, go back, and retake it

And that's just two commanders in the same theatre of war - there are hundreds of other examples; go and read Schwarzkopf's memoires for example or, if you want lower level self-criticism, Phil Caputo.

Of course the Army has its share of people who are often wrong but never in doubt but I assure you that well-trained soldiers think long and hard about how to get the job done and stay alive, why do you think topics such as women in GCC roles generate such a correspondence on ARRSE? Professional inquisitiveness and the ability to accept constructive criticism is one of the hallmarks of a decent soldier - or a decent anything come to that.

I know that many post-TELIC PORs were coruscating, including the one I wrote, and I also know that they were bowdlerised in Main Building and not at the point of their creation.
 
You do talk unalloyed tosh. Go back and see what was being posted on this site 2005-7 and on not a few threads since. Look how many high flyers have left the Army in the last fifteen years before achieving their anticipated rank because they disagreed with what was going on.

The military learned to be self-critical years ago, and to a far greater extent than anything the civilian public sector or academia achieves. It's how the puzzle of trench warfare was finally solved and how we got ashore on D-day, among other things. That capacity is impaired today because of the unquestioning, PC, civilian public sector mindset that's creeping into the armed forces because of government and civil service pressure.

If you'd like a couple of examples of self-criticism, British and American, at the highest level, here's Bill Slim:

Like so many generals whose plans have gone wrong I could find plenty of excuses but only one reason--myself. When two courses of action were open to me, I had not chosen, as a good commander should, the bolder. I had taken counsel of my fears.

Here's Stilwell:

No military commander in history ever made a voluntary retreat. All retreats are ignominious as hell. I claim we got a hell of a beating. We got run out of Burma-- and it is humiliating as hell. I think we ought to find out what caused it, go back, and retake it

And that's just two commanders in the same theatre of war - there are hundreds of other examples; go and read Schwarzkopf's memoires for example or, if you want lower level self-criticism, Phil Caputo.

Of course the Army has its share of people who are often wrong but never in doubt but I assure you that well-trained soldiers think long and hard about how to get the job done and stay alive, why do you think topics such as women in GCC roles generate such a correspondence on ARRSE? Professional inquisitiveness and the ability to accept constructive criticism is one of the hallmarks of a decent soldier - or a decent anything come to that.

I know that many post-TELIC PORs were coruscating, including the one I wrote, and I also know that they were bowdlerised in Main Building and not at the point of their creation.
Interesting that your examples of self criticism are from two officers from 70 years ago, neither of whom, despite their military credentials were really part of the 'proper British army' and who would have very probably remained in obscurity but for a world war.
You point out that many officers leave due to dissatisfaction with policy. I'm sure that's the case and it leaves the mindless yes men in place.
Finally you quote ARRSE as an example of self criticism. Aside from the lack of VSOs on ARRSE [are there any] do you read ARRSE. The number of closed minds evidenced on here is massive.
I do deliberately present a 'hard line', there are undoubtedly bits of the military that are not as bad as all that, but those that are need their cages rattling.
 

Yarra

Old-Salt
We failed, dress it up in all the acronyms you like but whatever we went in to do [and I don't think we really knew, except suck up to the Yanks'], it didn't work.
No 'dressing' here old fruit. My comments are purely re T1 and the planning preceding it. There was a very great deal of critical thinking going on in the immediate aftermath of T1. Like Fyrdman above, my POR pulled no punches. I was even taken to dinner by the local MP...

What went on thereafter is not within my immediate experience (stand fast 2 & 3* HQ staffing). ...which is why I stick to what I experienced first hand.

Your little 'flash' also fails to provide any real analysis of why we WERE there in the first place. The Geo-strategic issues have not in essence changed since T1.

Y
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
Interesting that your examples of self criticism are from two officers from 70 years ago, neither of whom, despite their military credentials were really part of the 'proper British army' and who would have very probably remained in obscurity but for a world war.
You point out that many officers leave due to dissatisfaction with policy. I'm sure that's the case and it leaves the mindless yes men in place.
Finally you quote ARRSE as an example of self criticism. Aside from the lack of VSOs on ARRSE [are there any] do you read ARRSE. The number of closed minds evidenced on here is massive.
I do deliberately present a 'hard line', there are undoubtedly bits of the military that are not as bad as all that, but those that are need their cages rattling.
There are closed minds everywhere, however, you specifically wrote:

I'd suggest it's virtually impossible to get a well trained soldier [the enemy are wrong and it is my job to go and smite them for their wrongness] to look at himself and say 'I am wrong and I need to really question my own ideals and beliefs if I am to be any good at my job going forward'.

You don't have to be VSO to be a well trained soldier and well trained (and operationally experienced) soldiers are represented on this forum. Nor did you specify British, though numerous examples abound - how about Wellington from the Napoleonic Wars "We learned what not to do, and that is always something". If you read the memoirs of Montgomery, you'll find criticism of British policy towards the Free State and how the British Army was used in Ireland at that time.

Further I would suggest that ARRSE is one of the most pluralist sites on the internet and, while people may respond in robust fashion, your post will not be deleted because it defies accepted wisdom or the prevailing prejudices. That rather suggests a breadth of view and tolerance among both the ownership and the membership. The common thread of the ownership and membership is service, or at least an interest, in the armed forces, which is a fair indicator of where such an outlook comes from and what the armed forces were looking to recruit when we joined up.

I suspect that ARRSERs in twenty years' time will be less truculent simply because military culture is coming under increasing pressure from our political masters to place a disproportionately high value on conformity. Paradoxically, it's those with similar political views to yourself that do the most to inhibit free thinking.

Disagreeing with you does not necessarily equate to having a closed mind, it's often a combat indicator of the opposite.
 

Yarra

Old-Salt
You're AC Grayling aren't you? ;-)

Where to start...

I'm personally not that in awe of Stillwell, but Slim is rightly held up as one of our greatest ever field generals for good reason. To dismiss Slim as (not) part of the 'proper British Army' is to court ridicule. .. I also assume you confuse Vinegar Joe (an American) with Orde Wingate?

As for your interesting assertion (insult?) that only the mindless are left behind once the enlightened and cynical leave is, to put it mildly, disingenuous. Perhaps you should write to CGS and tell him your concern? After all, he is exhorting us to take more risk and allow failure (in trg), become more innovative and become more emotionally intelligent as an organisation. He will no doubt welcome your wise councel.

I'm a bit disappointed tbh.

Y
 
Army’s long-awaited Iraq war study finds Iran was the only winner in a conflict that holds many lessons for future wars
There's a surprise. Its always made my head ache trying to work out why America was doing so many things that benefited Iran while simultaneously being so very hostile towards the place.
 
Your little 'flash' also fails to provide any real analysis of why we WERE there in the first place. The Geo-strategic issues have not in essence changed since T1.
Please do explain why we were there.
 
Slim is rightly held up as one of our greatest ever field generals for good reason. To dismiss Slim as (not) part of the 'proper British Army' is to court ridicule.
Slim was Indian army and if you're not aware of the gulf between the two forces I'll enlighten you. Some regular army messes would not allow Indian army officers to share the main table. Slim was one of our greatest generals, up there with Haig and Marlborough and well ahead on Montgomery and Wellington. Had there not been a war I doubt he would have achieved half the rank and status he did.

As for your interesting assertion (insult?) that only the mindless are left behind once the enlightened and cynical leave is, to put it mildly, disingenuous. Perhaps you should write to CGS and tell him your concern? After all, he is exhorting us to take more risk and allow failure (in trg), become more innovative and become more emotionally intelligent as an organisation. He will no doubt welcome your wise counsel.
The assertion is a generalisation but it's based on observation of a number of organisations over several decades. Maybe the army is unique in begin different, but I'm unconvinced. I'm pleased to hear the current incumbent is doing some of the right things. It will be interesting to see if they are sustained after his departure in 2 years time.
 

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