November 9, 2006
The Thousand Fathers
A small group of officers assembled by Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to draw up alternatives to the U.S. military strategy in Iraq is expected to conclude its work in December, according to defense sources. Some observers anticipate the recommendations will call for a dramatic change of course in the Persian Gulf nation and perhaps in the war on terrorism more broadly...It's the secret group to develop a backup plan in case the president doesn't like the public group's plan. Or, the secret group, being close to the top, has maybe already gotten wind of the public group's plan and decided it's awful . . .
The Joint Staff review is being carried out in extraordinary secrecy. A spokesman for Pace said this week the group has no formal name but its role is “to assess what’s working and what’s not working” in Iraq and beyond. The spokesman did not respond by press time (Nov. 8) to a number of follow-up questions posed by a reporter.
Pace’s exploration of Iraq alternatives comes as a congressionally mandated study group, co-chaired by former Secretary of State James Baker and former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-IN), is conducting an independent review of the strategy to combat the insurgency and sectarian violence in the war-torn nation.
Some experts speculate the Marine Corps general decided to convene his own panel to develop new alternatives for Iraq in case the Baker-Hamilton “Iraq Study Group” offers recommendations the military or the Bush administration find unacceptable...
Participants include Army Col. H.R. McMaster, who until earlier this year commanded a cavalry regiment that pacified the Iraqi insurgent stronghold of Tall Afar, though violence has since returned to that town. Another team member is Army Col. Peter Mansoor, who directs an Army-Marine Corps counterinsurgency school at Fort Leavenworth, KS. The Marine Corps reportedly has sent Col. Thomas Greenwood, director of the Marine Command and Staff College, and the other services are represented on the study team, as well.
The Joint Staff strategy review kicked off in late September and was originally slated to last 60 days, though it now appears work will continue into December, according to officials familiar with the group who are not authorized to speak for it...
Meanwhile, Ralph Peters mentions the "all hands on deck" concept:
One proposal under discussion within the administration is to "send everything we've got" - to deploy every possible Army and Marine unit, no matter how worn and weary, for six months to "clean things up."Now there's an option for you!
John McCain said yesterday that Moqtada Al-Sadr needs "to be taken out," and that the "Mahdi Army continues to pose a threat."
Heck, even the preacher at the Duke Chapel is getting in on the game. I was out of town one weekend and missed it, but he delivered an eloquent sermon about Iraq on October 29th to what is probably a left-leaning congregation -- and he did it on parents' weekend to boot, just for maximum effect:
A number of people have asked me to preach a sermon about Iraq. Imagine you've let yourself into someone else's home and you find yourself in the kitchen. You reach up and open a cupboard door. Out fall a deluge of tightly stacked items, crashing down on your head and tumbling all over the floor. As well as being in a lot of pain, you may well feel pretty stupid. You may be saying to yourself, "I shouldn't be in this house. I certainly shouldn't have opened the door without checking what was inside." But feeling stupid and full of shame shouldn't stop you doing the one thing you simply must do. And that is, to get on your knees, clean up after yourself, and try to put everything back in the cupboard as best you can.He was kidding. Read the whole thing.
That's pretty much all I have to say about Iraq. [laughter]
This is the golden window for not only making significant changes, but for also building bipartisan consensus, before the show trials begin in January. If the Democrats are on board with an Iraq plan, even the media will drag themselves kicking and screaming toward slightly better coverage. They know where their bread is buttered.
As to my preacher, I have my differences with his view, but I'll take it. Whatever is necessary to not abandon Iraq.
James Baker is a brilliant diplomat and should not be misunderestimated. The events in the next week will spell salvation or doom in Mesopotamia.
Nancy Pelosi has her own take, recorded for posterity on HotAir. When interviewed by Fox News, "Asked if it was more important to win or leave Iraq, presumptive Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, told Fox this:"
The point is, this isn't a war to win, it's a situation to be solved. And you define winning any way you want, but you must solve the problem.
It will be a very smart move to make some major changes to our strategy in Iraq before January, when this woman becomes the Speaker. At the same time, get as much buy-in from her posse as possible.
McCain's right too: No American voters are going to be upset if al Sadr goes away. In fact, best to kill The Man With One Red Shoe now, because if we do pull out of Iraq, he'll probably be the next dictator of Shiastan.
Bob Owens notes that the new Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, was an advisor the the first President Bush when he screwed the Shi'ites, leading to the deaths of nearly a hundred thousand of them.
The obvious question is, "Did Bob Gates have a hand in shaping Bush's call for rebellion?"
If so, would he also partially responsible for failing to support the rebellion, leading to one of Saddam's greatest genocides? I do not know the answers to these questions, but they must be asked before he is confirmed as the next U.S. Secretary of Defense.
Posted by Chester at November 9, 2006 10:06 AM
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Like i've said before we need someone with the
skills of Carlos Hathcock to remove aL Sadar!
2400 yds I shot one kill...
Posted by: Tincan Sailor at November 9, 2006 12:38 PM
The USMC has dozens of snipers with that skill..........making many 1200 yd plus "kills" with 308 rounds....I recently heard of a 1400 yd plus "kill" in the vicinity of al Qaim
but I think it would be better to corner the rat in a mosque with his top soldiers and kill a bunch of them in combat, as should have been done in Spring '04
Posted by: senorlechero at November 9, 2006 2:36 PM
Senorlechero,Not wanting to get into a whizzing
contestbut dozens,1 or 2 mabey, dozens no way!!!!
Hathcock would eventually be credited with 93 enemy confirmed killed, including one Viet Cong shot dead by a round fired from a scope-mounted Browning M-2 .50 caliber machine gun at the unbelievable range of 2500 yards.
Posted by: Tincan Sailor at November 9, 2006 4:00 PM
Perhaps we should be looking north a bit; the current record(s) for one-shot kills have been by Canadian snipers in Afghanistan.
Maybe a cultural exchange program of sorts is called for here.
Posted by: steveH at November 9, 2006 4:14 PM
Killing Muqtada al Sadr would not have helped us in the past and won't help us now. In the future maybe. He has his own political agenda and is trying to keep a lid on his own "followers". He isn't terribly bright but he does hold some sway due to his father - Sadr City is named after him not the son. I believe that the Iranians would too easily take advantage of his death - especially if we killed him. In this case the tree needs to be killed from the roots up not the other way around.
As for new plans – the current one is working. I learned an old adage in my engineering days: Good, Fast, Cheap – pick any two. We have been going the Good/Cheap route. It appears that the American electorate wants us to trade Fast for one of them. I’m not sure which one will be chosen but in my experience Fast/Good rarely works out.
BTW when I reference “Cheap” I'm talking in relative terms and at a national level – it does not diminish the sacrifices we have made.
Posted by: ccplanner at November 9, 2006 5:18 PM
We have already missed the opportunity to take out Sadr unless he is dumb enough to get into a direct engagement with our forces. Recall that in recent weeks we have had to release some of his command structure that were captured because the Iraqi government said to. To kill Sadr now would be to ignore Iraqi sovereignty, which we have spent so much effort to put in place. This is not to say that he and his organization do not need to be destroyed. They do, but we do not have the flexibility we had 18 months ago. The Iraqi government could be given an ultimatum of destroying and disarming his militia or we will pull out. It will take something like that at this point.
As for additional troops, the current plan is to add additional Iraqi troops. That is more of a long term effort and perhaps adding additional US troops in the meantime might help. We have always had a force to space problem in Iraq, but Rumsfeld has not been the architect of that plan. This is Gen. Abizaid's plan that we have been executing. Perhaps the joint chiefs have some better ideas on how to proceed, but they are not in the chain of command. It could be they may want to change personnel at Centcom.
Posted by: Merv Benson at November 9, 2006 6:29 PM
Any plan to 'stabilize' Iraq must deal with the fact that the external suppliers for the terrorists are: Iran, Syria and al Qaeda KSA. The first two, fielding their Foreign Legion of Hezbollah do not appear too interested in 'stability' in the region. And, if Ray Robison's article is correct, Iraqi nuclear scientists that went missing post-invasion have shown up... in Syria with Syrian, Iranian and ex-Russian Republic nuclear scientists.
And after Hezbollah took out that Egyptian merchant freighter, they have put that area on notice that they do not overly care about nicities of diplomacy and 'rules of war'. Cleaning out the current batch of insurgents will give breathing space, until the three mentioned shift more people into the country. Taking out al-Sadr at the time would have been nice, and be seen as a wholly partisan killing by the US taking sides against the Shia unless we could have gotten strong backing from Sistani.
By going after the Ba'athists *first*, cutting off the main riverine supply routes and working to reinforce the quietest of the provinces, the limited forces there have maximized their impact and show that we favored *neither* sect. At rough guess after the last MNF briefing on turnover of territory to Iraqi control, the country by land amount is 70% or so under Iraqi control. The major cities were left for last to do two things: constrain violence to those places and to finally cut off other places to run *to*. Work the tribes first, get them to have their taste of Sharia law under al Qaeda or Iran and they do not like it. It is a slow process to build trust as an 'honest broker', but after 1992 that work is necessary.
The path to Peace in the Middle East and addressing the long term stability of Iraq lies directly through Damascus.
Posted by: ajacksonian at November 9, 2006 7:25 PM
If it's deniability you want, use proxies. Or send in your Hathcock with a Dragunov instead of a Remington. Or a captured Iranian IED.
Or first snatch him, sit him down in a room for a few hours with a couple of Iraqis and Americans who can make his options clear to him. (No torture! Just talk, but in an environment where he can most easily shut up and listen.) Then send him home and see if he acts like a good boy.
Posted by: nichevo at November 9, 2006 7:41 PM
Meanwhile, "all hands on deck" (or what I call "flood the zone") is I think a clear and constructive option. Balls to the wall, no more excuses on troop strength, saturate the hot zones and root 'em out but good. Handover to the Iraqis, rinse, repeat.
As many at a time as possible, but balanced with putting all needed strength on the borders, supplanted by every Predator, Hunter, and and every other prototype drone that can take to the air with a warload. Supplant also with minefields, smart sensors, etc. Stop the infiltrations, stop the militias, stop the 'resistance.'
Prepare campsites outside these hot zones - no not concentration camps, more like short-stay concentration motels. For when you move everybody who doesn't want to die out of the zones, don't just send them off into the countryside, pen them up and comb them before releasing (or transporting to their stated destinations, or returning them to the city once pacified).
Dear genius Dem Congress, please budget extra $ for the deployments, also:
$ for local walking-around money - I forget the name of that effective US program.
$ for reconstruction as I imagine there will be an awful lotta rubble when complete.
Since ISTM language skills are so crucial to doing the job, where can we whip up some language experts for short tours? Can some CIA, NSA, etc., people be spared for a little while? (Uh, don't tell Osama, Waxman.)
Obviously this can only be a short term effort. Six months? As much as a year? Pelosi meanwhile is I hope/wish joking when she offers 30K troops in exchange for withdrawal in six months. However, once done (and with continued IA growth) perhaps we can draw down to 100K troops? Then to 50K or so?
PS Let's secure the energy supply while we are at it. Coopt tribes; patrols; sensor/minefields.
PPS Am I crazy to think that we will not be totally 'bugging out' for, like, a generation? Where better to situate a Middle Eastern QRF than in lily-pads in Iraq?
Posted by: nichevo at November 9, 2006 7:55 PM
I know it's permanently cemented into history but the Bush 1 administration never called on Iraqi civilians to march lock step to their doom into trying to overthrow Saddam. All they said was it was up to the Iraqi army to overthrow the regime for bringing on the catastrophe of the First Gulf War and the 8 yr Iran/Iraq war. And they never stated if they did so we would provide them any support.
As to the present situation. We need to give the Iraqi government an ultimatum - arrest and try Sadr for the murder he orchestrated a couple years ago, disband, destroy or better yet coopt the militias into the Iraqi army under Iraqi army command, and get our forces back into the Sunni areas where they belong rather than playing cops and robbers in Baghdad - if they refuse or vaccilate - begin a final pulldown of troops at 25,000 a month - and also tell those political leaders no sanctuary in America is available if the country collapses. Do or die time.
Posted by: Don at November 9, 2006 9:23 PM
Don's idea is the best. Flooding the zone with more soldiers doesn't sound very effective. I think reducing our footprint to spec ops and intel with a few other units makes the most sense.
Because in the end, it's the Iraqis that can solve their own problems, and its only the advisors, intel, and elite troops that can assist them without giving them too much of an excuse not to perform.
Posted by: Aaron at November 9, 2006 10:24 PM
The best way is more troops on the ground, all-out to wipe out the insurgents in Anbar province and during the cleansing take out al Sadhr as well during the commotion. He'll surely get into it exposing himself. Fat targets are easy to hit.
Posted by: JimboNC at November 10, 2006 12:52 AM
John McCain said yesterday that Moqtada Al-Sadr needs "to be taken out," and that the "Mahdi Army continues to pose a threat."
Now that the NYT is running the country whoever gives the order will face an onslaught of accusations of murder and incessant demands that he be prosecuted.
Given his role in undermining the Bush administration and the war effort it's only right that McCain give the order.
I have no idea how this can be arranged.
Posted by: Terry Gain at November 10, 2006 9:00 AM
You might have a look at "Armed Liberal's" piece "Iraq is F****d" over at Winds of Change. Neither the piece nor its author were what I expected, and it has a lot to say in terms of what to do to salvage Iraq.
Posted by: El Jefe Maximo at November 10, 2006 12:16 PM
Wow, what a useless bunch of drivel from the Duke Chapel.
Posted by: Joshua Chamberlain at November 10, 2006 1:58 PM
Ah well, you can't please them all. Like I said, "I have my differences with his view, but I'll take it. Whatever is necessary to not abandon Iraq."
Posted by: Chester at November 10, 2006 2:17 PM
The bad guys in Iraq have not decided that the war is over. Ralph Peters said it best: A war is over when the person who loses says it is. That means that the loser feels defeated and asks for the pain to stop.
It would appear we are saying it is over, so guess what? We are the losers. alQ, al Sadr & Co. know this basic truth. Hey, ya'll they told you just this. A vote for a Democratic US Congress was a vote for them - that they had won.
It appears to me that the US has lost the will and resolve to lead in the world.
I agree, to win in Iraq it is "All Hands On Deck". Throw everything we have at the place, clean out the vipers, secure the borders. (I have long written and wondered when someone would wake up that fact.) Make the bad guys in Iraq feel defeated and then and only then, will we have won this particular war.
The same goes for Afghanistan. Clean out the vipers, secure the borders (yes, even that one!) and make the bad guys feel defeated.
Winning the War Against Fascist Islam is going to take lots and lots of dead Muslims, but I would rather it is them than us. I think that the people in this country just cannot believe that the Jihadis really, really mean it when they say that their goal is our submission or death. How many times do the Jihadis have to say that:
They literally want to destroy the White House.
OBL believes he has the right to kill 10 million Americans.
That they seek the return of the Caliphate and dominion of Islam over the world.
One of the goals is the return of the supposed 12th Imam and the accompanying Apocalypse.
C'mon folks, they have a 25 year plan to destroy Western civilization because they believe we are decadent and sinful. It is long past time for the world to awake to this threat and all I see is more of the same self absorbed drivel.
/soapbox mode off
Posted by: Robohobo at November 11, 2006 10:04 AM