Radio Four interview with Gen. Paul Eaton on Iraq strategy

Also, interviewed, Rory Stewart, author of Pince of the Marshes, Occupation Hazards of a Year in Iraq:

"The whole agenda that Mr Rumsfeld had... was to streamline the military... that translated to fewer soldiers on the ground... and that paid off badly in phase Four..." - Eaton

Strong argued critique of Rumsfeld's record:

"...I would expect that the senior generals should have stood their ground in the face of poor decisions on Mr Rumsfeld's part" - Eaton

"Fundamental problem was lack of consent by the Iraqi people... not numbers of troops... Iraqi society was damaged by Saddam... the numer of troops is not the fundamental problem... complex society... Iraqi politicians and leaders were unwilling to co-operate" - Stewart


The real issue remains the change in US defence policy and the replacement of Rumsfeld, if we're to see strategic change.


Book Reviewer
I caught a bit of this....for one glorious second I thought Rummy had actually had the grace to resign....

Eaton mentioned in passing that Shinseki had clearly articulated the real troop requirement to the Senate Armed Forces Committee before the invasion....and Rumsfeld duly fired him.

Parallel with AFG in that Eaton said the major mistake early on Iraq was not having enough troops in place to guarantee Iraqis personal security - the Reign of the Ali Babas shortly after Saddam fell.

Interesting piece.

Le Chevre

Eaton and Stewart disagreed since Eaton thought more bods on the ground could have been successful, whereas Stewart said that the occupation itself was fundamentally doomed to failure since the Iraqis would never have agreed to it.

I think the general was probably right since there was that post-invasion lull in the violence which the US/UK could have exploited to ensure a more successful occupation. However, the cardinal error was not the failure to deploy more US troops, but disbanding the Iraqi army and de-Baathising government - which meant that the state apparatus of command and security collapsed. They should have stuck to the old colonial strategy of propping up an existing regime but replacing the top echelons with new men.
If anyone wants any more on this, read Cobra 2. Quite how Rumsfeld / Franks managed to keep their jobs at all is quite astounding.

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