Pentagon: Three options for Iraq. OK, four. Posted by: McQ
on Monday, November 20, 2006
As I said in yesterday's podcast, our policy in Iraq is presently adrift as various parties try to understand the political lay of the land while the administration and Pentagon attempt to come up with a new strategy for that war.
Well apparently the Pentagon is presenting three options for consideration, characterized as "Go Big", "Go Long", "Go Home".
"Go Big," the first option, originally contemplated a large increase in U.S. troops in Iraq to try to break the cycle of sectarian and insurgent violence. A classic counterinsurgency campaign, though, would require several hundred thousand additional U.S. and Iraqi soldiers as well as heavily armed Iraqi police. That option has been all but rejected by the study group, which concluded that there are not enough troops in the U.S. military and not enough effective Iraqi forces, said sources who have been informally briefed on the review.
Now, given the vague number of "several hundred thousand" I have no idea what they considered as a "go big" plan. I'd simply say that without that understanding I can't really remark in any depth about this option. On the surface, however, any such increase of our troop levels in Iraq would mean we're again asserting complete control over the situation. I can only echo what I've said for some time ... it isn't our job to break the insurgency. It is our job to train the Iraqis to do that. So given the implied mission that the Pentagon has assigned this option, I agree.
Option two, "Go Long". Obviously that means a long term commitment to Iraq at a certain troop level. Some may call it "Go Status Quo".
"The 'Go Long' approach is one that can work if there is sufficient strategic patience, resources appropriated and [if] leadership executes effectively," a military intelligence official said.
Another potential obstacle to the "Go Long" option is that it runs counter to the impulse of many congressional Democrats to find a way to get out of Iraq quickly. Planners envision taking five to 10 more years to create a stable and competent Iraqi army. Because it wouldn't lead to a swift exit, some Democrats could criticize this option as a disguised version of "staying the course."
The second paragraph, at least politically, describes the most formidable objection to the "Go Long" option.
So that's an equally unacceptable option.
Of course the last option is "Go Home", and is pretty self-explanatory:
"Go Home," the third option, calls for a swift withdrawal of U.S. troops. It was rejected by the Pentagon group as likely to push Iraq directly into a full-blown and bloody civil war.
Hence, a fourth or hybrid option is also being proffered:
The group has devised a hybrid plan that combines part of the first option with the second one — "Go Long" — and calls for cutting the U.S. combat presence in favor of a long-term expansion of the training and advisory efforts. Under this mixture of options, which is gaining favor inside the military, the U.S. presence in Iraq, currently about 140,000 troops, would be boosted by 20,000 to 30,000 for a short period, the officials said.
The purpose of the temporary but notable increase, they said, would be twofold: To do as much as possible to curtail sectarian violence, and also to signal to the Iraqi government and public that the shift to a "Go Long" option that aims to eventually cut the U.S. presence is not a disguised form of withdrawal.
Even so, there is concern that such a radical shift in the U.S. posture in Iraq could further damage the standing of its government, which U.S. officials worry is already shaky. Under the hybrid plan, the short increase in U.S. troop levels would be followed by a long-term plan to radically cut the presence, perhaps to 60,000 troops.
This is the plan I talked about yesterday on the podcast which has 20,000 more troops (about a division) put in country for a short period and concentrated in the Baghdad area to take on the sectarian violence. But the problem here is that to end such violence it would require a confrontation with the Shia militias, something PM Maliki has made very clear numerous time he doesn't want. So if you flood Iraq with troops but you can't go after one of the major sources of the violence, what can you actually accomplish?
Again, perhaps if there is any "troop increase" those increases should be among the embedded US trainers within Iraqi military units. We should be with them in strength so the training aspect of this is as well covered as possible and helps move such training to a conclusion. To me that should be the top priority within our military right now.
Obviously you can tell that the hybrid option is the one to which the Pentagon is leaning. And, in fact, while it may be the best option among those being discussed, it is far from the perfect option:
That combination plan, which one defense official called "Go Big but Short While Transitioning to Go Long," could backfire if Iraqis suspect it is really a way for the United States to moonwalk out of Iraq — that is, to imitate singer Michael Jackson's trademark move of appearing to move forward while actually sliding backward. "If we commit to that concept, we have to accept upfront that it might result in the opposite of what we want," the official said.
When we realistically define that acceptable end-state (yes, I know all of those things President Bush outlined early on, but most of those have been overcome by events or are no longer in our control). Until you know the goals, it's pretty hard to decide on a plan.
To me, the criteria for success in Iraq have changed. It is time we recognize that and articulate those goals we can achieve or think we can achieve. I think the best we can hope for now is a stable Iraq, able to defend itself, economically viable and at least neutral. And I think we should put a plan together to accomplish those goals.
And that brings us to a bit of irony:
On the other hand, the hybrid version of "Go Long" may be remarkably close to the recommendation that the Iraq Study Group, led by former secretary of state James A. Baker III and former representative Lee H. Hamilton (D-Ind.). That group's findings, expected to be issued next month, are said to focus on changing the emphasis of U.S. military operations from combating the insurgency to training Iraqis, and also to find ways to increase security in Baghdad and bring neighboring countries into talks about stabilizing Iraq.
As I've been saying for some time, militarily, the emphasized line is the key to success. It is time to focus heavily on accomplishing that training mission and pushing the Iraqis to take the job of policing the country. Once that is done, the timetable for withdrawal will become self-evident.
Ugh, Now there are 4 mystery doors to the Iraq puzzle. Door 4 - The inverted backward loop with a triple twist, is such smell test failure, it deserves no extended comment. The definition of success is simply, NO MORE DEAD BODIES. The bodies will not stop piling up till the US goes back to TX & wherever else they get these occupation forces. If the Iraqi factions need to fight it out for dominance or a mutual arrangement, So be it! It will happen, it will be done. It will be over...and it will probably not take long. The sooner the better, so....
@ Flacy, "I guess they’ll fight it out without producing any dead bodies. Or something."
Lemme see if I can restate so a 2nd grader can grok:
Success = NO MORE DEAD BODIES.
If Amerikanz leave Iraq, they will stop making DEAD BODIES. (strike one gang of killers from the equation) Whether or not Iraqis fight, they will eventually, (sooner more likely than later) stop making DEAD BODIES. (Strike more killers from the equation) They will then quickly rid their country of al queda & whomever else is making DEAD BODIES therein.
See Flacy, there is no contradiction. It’s just that someone has to stop making DEAD BODIES first. Since the US started it with their unlawful war of aggression, it is fitting that they should GET OUT FIRST, GET OUT NOW!!!! Then the US will be the first to be making NO MORE DEAD BODIES. Voila, Success for the US!
If that puts someone’s goddamn oil portfolio in jeopardy,... well, that’s tough. ...and it is preferable to what we are doing: http://bagnewsnotes.typepad.com/bagnews/2006/11/marked_as_allie.html
One more thing,
We should be talking about CAPITAL PUNISHMENT for this administration! Have they ever done anything that doesn’t deserve a death sentence? Give ‘em a fair trial, then HANG ‘EM !!! No good ‘thumpin’ is complete without some executions.