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Joint Chiefs agree with Powell
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Yesterday I talked about the point Colin Powell was making concerning the lack of a clear mission for any increase in troops in Iraq.

It appears the Joint Chiefs of Staff agree:
But the Joint Chiefs think the White House, after a month of talks, still does not have a defined mission and is latching on to the surge idea in part because of limited alternatives, despite warnings about the potential disadvantages for the military, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the White House review is not public.

The chiefs have taken a firm stand, the sources say, because they believe the strategy review will be the most important decision on Iraq to be made since the March 2003 invasion.
Let's be clear about something here. This doesn't mean that I or anyone necessarily disagree with a surge. What I, Powell and apparently the JCS wants is to understand the mission being asked of the military and if the military and mission are a match. IOW, is it something that the military can accomplish with a surge? To this point, that is not at all clear:
"Of course, military leadership is going to be focused on the mission — what you're trying to accomplish, the ramifications it would have on broader issues in terms of manpower and strength and all that," the official said.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said military officers have not directly opposed a surge option. "I've never heard them be depicted that way to the president," the official said. "Because they ask questions about what the mission would be doesn't mean they don't support it. Those are the kinds of questions the president wants his military planners to be asking."
Bingo. And if they aren't asking them, then they're derelict in their duties. What we shouldn't do is reinforce failure, and if the plan is to just enlarge operation "Forward Together" then the JCS have to advise against it and ask for a more specific mission with a time frame for the deployment. The time for one-over-the-world nebulous missions is over.

It is important that politics don't dictate a move, but instead sound military planning is its impetus.

It is the leadership's job to properly utilize the military within their capabilities and capacity. That means providing a precise mission which fits those characteristics. The JCS are completely correct to oppose anything less.
 
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The JCS problem really doesn’t exist.

Powell is usually wrong when he goes for the media.
 
Written By: poloni
URL: http://
From reading Dr. Kagan’s thesis, a ’surge’ of American troops would take and HOLD the most violent neighborhoods in Bagdad and later the Anbar province, instead of just rolling on through (as in Fallujah twice, after an unconsciable delay). The thesis sets a firm deadline of nine months; succeed, or withdraw. Since our present policy is to leave a small ’footprint,’ insurgents immediately flood back into any area that we leave and the cycle of violence continues.

Essentially, under Dr. Kagan’s plan, the U.S. military is to become a police force. We won’t abandon a neighborhood to reinfiltration by insurgents. The Joint Chiefs and Secretary Powell have an excellent question: Just how, when, and for how long, are combat troops supposed to become MP’s? What are the ’Rules of Engagement’ for a trained combat soldier when he is asked to ’serve and protect,’ immediately after he has been deployed to ’seek and destroy’?

The thesis is an attempt to offer a suggestion for ’victory’ in Iraq, and all suggestions for a positive resolution are welcome. From this thesis however, it is clear that we continue to fight our wars by asking our troops to accomplish two tasks: find and kill the enemy, and be kind about it.

Our policy should separate the two tasks: send in Marines and Strykers first to catch and kill as many of the enemy as we can, and then replace them with Army troops trained for urban policing. Don’t ask the same trooper to perform both tasks, or we will have human rights problems galore. And every sweep into a hot spot should be done with Iraqi soldiers shoulder to shoulder with ours, and the policing afterward should also be with Iraqi soldiers side-by-side with Americans.

Nine months? Next September, 2007? Succeed, or withdraw? Sounds like a reasonable search for a pragmatic solution to me, and a sharp alternaive to the ’idealist’s’ and ’realist’s’ impossible solutions of either ’stay the course’ or the ISG’s ’defeat.’
 
Written By: a Duoist
URL: http://www.duoism.org
What I, Powell and apparently the JCS wants is to understand the mission being asked of the military and if the military and mission are a match.
Better late than never I suppose.
 
Written By: davebo
URL: http://
It is important that politics don’t dictate a move, but instead sound military planning is its impetus.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Bush has repeatedly said that he listens to the commanders on the ground in deciding what steps to take in Iraq. Now, they are asking what the mission is. So how in the world is this anything other than politics? (And haven’t we been repeatedly reminded that the commanders don’t need no troops.)

This is simply an effort to kick the can down the road in order for Bush to avoid looking like a loser. The "surge" won’t fully happen for several months (and then only on paper). That moves us farther into the the presidential election cycle. By then, Bush will be able to claim that he must simply "stay the course" so as not to interfere with the next president’s plan.

This is only politics.

The "surge" won’t work. Why would it? The US military is not going to disarm the Shia militias and death squads. Indeed, Kagan and the neocons don’t even think we should go after Sadr at this point. Along the same lines, the military is not going to defeat the Sunni guerillas, or even put a serious dent in their ranks. The only result will be more dead Americans and Iraqis.

Too little, too late.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
"What I, Powell and apparently the JCS wants is to understand the mission being asked of the military and if the military and mission are a match."

A bit late for that, don’t you think?
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
The primary responsibility of government is to protect its citizens. I accept any proposal that does that and if I have more than one proposal, I will choose the more effective.
As the occupying power,we assume the responsibility of citizen safety in concert with whatever trained native forces exist.
One step at a time: make streets safe, build infrastructure, build commerce, build government. (Don’t put the cart before the horse.)
I support more troops with a mission of making the streets safe and keeping them that way.
 
Written By: kindlingman
URL: http://
While Powell and the JCS agree that more troops ought not be sent, their reasons differ.

Powell doesn’t want Bush to ’succeed’ in Iraq, as this would undercut both Powell’s objections to invading in the first place and the famous Powell doctrine (if we succeed without having met all of his criteria, what use is his doctrine for defining the circumstances under which the US goes to war?). He’s just like the guy who opposes a new project at work and then, after the boss gives the go ahead anyway, spits on it every chance he gets... for fear that if it works, his credibility will have been shot. Powell’s future, as he sees it, is as the guy who was right about Iraq being wrong... how many talk shows will he be invited on as the guy who was wrong?

As for the JCS, my guess is that they’re objecting because, after all these years of Bush saying he defers to the generals on tactics, he is now attempting to micromanage the war effort, ala Johnson’s reportedly saying yeah or nay on specific bombing targets in North Vietnam. It’s also likely they see increasing troop levels as a tactic for tactic’s sake, and not as a tactic designed to accomplish the overall strategic goal.

The sad and unavoidable fact is that we can not accomplish what Bush set out to do in Iraq, building some wonderful democratic paradise that will inspire everybody throughout the world to sip cokes and live in peace and harmony with those with whom they have had thousand year old conflicts. Unfortunately, I still don’t think Bush realizes it. The best we can do now is to declare that we have some alternative, less ambitious goal in mind, one that we can accomplish, and go about doing that.
 
Written By: steve sturm
URL: www.thoughtsonline.blogspot.com
A bit late for that, don’t you think?
Absolutely not. Look, the mission to which troops were first committed to Iraq was clear and something which could be accomplished by the military. What came afterward is another story completely. Demanding that they rethink the whole thing before they commit more isn’t "late" at all. In fact, it may be right on time.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
While Powell and the JCS agree that more troops ought not be sent, their reasons differ.
Where do they agree that more troops "ought not to be sent"?

Both are demanding that if more troops are sent that they have a mission which is clear and attainable. They’re only saying more troops ought not to be sent if that can’t be done.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Who is complaining at JCS? There is no one there but Powell.

He’s been gone a long time.
 
Written By: Majestic Radio
URL: http://
Absolutely not. Look, the mission to which troops were first committed to Iraq was clear and something which could be accomplished by the military.
Absolutely correct.
What came afterward is another story completely.


You’re acting as if "what came afterward" started two weeks ago. Actually we’ve been in "what came afterward" for over 3 years.
Demanding that they rethink the whole thing before they commit more isn’t "late" at all. In fact, it may be right on time.
Sheer lunacy. We’ve known we have a problem for a long time. Is it too much to expect our leaders to address the problem without waiting three years?

Silent bigotry of low expectations indeed.

 
Written By: Davebo
URL: http://
Bad blockquotes. Sorry
 
Written By: Davebo
URL: http://
"the mission to which troops were first committed to Iraq was clear and something which could be accomplished by the military."

That was three years ago. Did they have any plan at all about what to do after the Iraqi army was beaten, other than stand around with their fingers up their noses? What have all those planners been doing since? What, for example, is the current mission, and why is it that this mission is not sufficient reason to bring in more troops? Have they been without a mission for a couple of years?

It looks to me like the generals are starting to lay the groundwork for some buckpassing. The old "We just follow orders" defense is alive and well in the Pentagon.

Speaking of mission planning, would I be incorrect in thinking it a normal practice to calculate an estimate of forces and time needed to accomplish the mission?
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
McQ,

I remember that u said earlier that, the chain of command is President->SecDef->Theater Commander

What is the theater commander, Gen. Pace saying ?
 
Written By: Ivan
URL: http://
What, for example, is the current mission, and why is it that this mission is not sufficient reason to bring in more troops? Have they been without a mission for a couple of years?
Those are good questions Tim. I can’t answer them, but I’m sure the White House could. Or not.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
What is the theater commander, Gen. Pace saying ?
Actually the commander in question (CENTCOM) is Gen. Abizaid (Pace is Chairman of the JCS) and he’s saying they don’t need more troops.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Actually the commander in question (CENTCOM) is Gen. Abizaid (Pace is Chairman of the JCS) and he’s saying they don’t need more troops.


Oops...my bad. If Gen. Abizaid is saying no more troops, how is he planning to counter the insurgency ? Or, by saying no need for more troops, he is perhaps suggesting that there needs to be a political settlement to the Iraq situation...I don’t know...but it is interesting..
 
Written By: Ivan
URL: http://
If Gen. Abizaid is saying no more troops, how is he planning to counter the insurgency ?
He’s not. That’s the point. He’s for training and transition. That means the insurgency’s Iraq’s problem as far as he’s concerned.

Now he might back off that if there was a viable mission for more troops, but my guess is he has concluded there really isn’t. And he should have some pretty good insight into that one would have to assume.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
" I can’t answer them, but I’m sure the White House could"

I rather doubt it. I would hope the JCS could also tell us what their current mission is, which is why I think their newfound concern about defining a mission is mostly cya bs.

If our mission is to be exclusively training and transition, and not fighting the insurgency, we should be able to bring home most of the troops fairly quickly.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://

 
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