Bing West reports on Iraq Posted by: McQ
on Saturday, March 03, 2007
Good, honest, tough, no holds barred in-depth look at Iraq by a guy who I think does a terrific job. It's a good news/bad news report, but then that's the nature of any conflict. Bing West gives you an overview and then his specific thoughts on specific problems and areas/issues.
A few things in the report caught my eye. One is Al Anbar where we're essentially fighting al Qaeda:
In Anbar about 60% of the tribes are tilting toward the Marines and fighting the al-Qaeda types. Police ranks are swelling with tribal members. Anbar is improving, but how the Sunni tribes will work with the Iraqi Army, let alone the central government, is moot.
Prognosis for the next six months: Progress but no breakthroughs. The central government has to woo the sheiks and offer terms, figure out how police chiefs and Iraqi army commanders share power in the cities, and crack down on the insurgents captured in Anbar (put them away for life). Jails in Anbar are filling up, and the central government is not stepping up.
Our Marines are swinging the tide over to our favor, but the Iraqi government must, as West says, step up. None of this works unless that happens. But you have to be proud of the Marines. They invented the word 'grit' and proudly display it every day.
As mentioned, West has some specific suggestions and this one was interesting:
“Catch and release” swells the ranks of the opposition. Every battalion I spoke with was convinced the “rules of law” for arrest, imprisonment and release favor the insurgent. The Iraqi judiciary system cannot be straightened out for another five years. At higher levels, this is disputed. I remain on the side of the battalions. We must lock up tens of thousands until the violence subsides.
Essentially his point is "catch and release" is a great recruiting tool for the bad guys. Catch and keep is how it should be done for a number of reasons. Grab them, put them in prison until the violence subsides. That's reason number one. Then gradually, with a good screening process, either release them or put them on trial. But at this point the priority there has to be to take bad guys, or suspected bad guys, off the street and keep them off the street.
Which brought another point of his into focus:
Improving metrics for a police war. In essence, Iraq is now a police war. Yet our briefings, our metrics and our frame of reference – how we organize, analyze and solve problems – are military. Our basic tool to combat this insurgency and sectarian war is the patrol, too often mounted. In contrast, a police station – the equivalent of our Combat Outpost – is divided into patrolmen and detectives (of which we are woefully short because we have not thought in those terms.)
It would be interesting to invite a few senior cops from the States to visit, say, Ramadi and three districts in Baghdad. Then ask them to present how they would organize their daily brief – what metrics they would demand from their police subordinates and what conops they would put in place.
He has a point. Somewhere along the line this must transition into a police action vs. a military action. How and when does that transition take place and what are the metrics and frame of reference for that kind of action? I like his final paragraph. It's a good idea and would help in the development of those metrics and that frame of reference, allowing the transition to be planned and executed efficiently.
Anyway, read the whole thing. It's a different look at things you'll never see mentioned, much less considered in any depth in the MSM.
We have not only already failed in Iraq, but I don’t think people realize the scope and extent of this failure. I think the Bush Administration is starting to realize this (hence the opening to Iran and Syria, a deal with North Korea, and a shift in policy — they want to script a way to ’declare victory and leave’ before 2008’s elections) but the real cost of this dramatic and severe foreign policy fiasco (in both Afghanistan and Iraq) will become apparent to the public in coming years. (I blogged more about this in my blog today, March 5th).
Hey Scott, send your foreign policy concerns to Europe, because Afghanistan is officially a NATO problem (as you like to say, failure) too. D*mn those Europeans and their imperialist plans.
The Europeans don’t have the military strength to be imperialist any more, and many are refusing to allow their troops deployed in dangerous areas of Afghanistan. I doubt the US will get much help from Europe there. Of course, if we hadn’t decided on a big government social engineering program in Iraq, there would have been ample resources to avoid the current disaster.