Tuesday, January 04, 2005


Army Historian

Army Historian Cites Lack of Postwar Plan
By Thomas E. Ricks, Washington Post Staff Writer

"There was no Phase IV plan" for occupying Iraq after the combat phase, writes Maj. Isaiah Wilson III, who served as an official historian of the campaign and later as a war planner in Iraq. While a variety of government offices had considered the possible situations that would follow a U.S. victory, Wilson writes, no one produced an actual document laying out a strategy to consolidate the victory after major combat operations ended.

"While there may have been 'plans' at the national level, and even within various agencies within the war zone, none of these 'plans' operationalized the problem beyond regime collapse" -- that is, laid out how U.S. forces would be moved and structured, Wilson writes in an essay that has been delivered at several academic conferences but not published. "There was no adequate operational plan for stability operations and support operations."

Similar criticisms have been made before, but until now they have not been stated so authoritatively and publicly by a military insider positioned to be familiar with top-secret planning. During the period in question, from April to June 2003, Wilson was a researcher for the Army's Operation Iraqi Freedom Study Group. Then, from July 2003 to March 2004, he was the chief war planner for the 101st Airborne Division, which was stationed in northern Iraq.

A copy of Wilson's study as presented at Cornell University in October was obtained by The Washington Post.

As a result of the failure to produce a plan, Wilson asserts, the U.S. military lost the dominant position in Iraq in the summer of 2003 and has been scrambling to recover ever since. "In the two to three months of ambiguous transition, U.S. forces slowly lost the momentum and the initiative . . . gained over an off-balanced enemy," he writes. "The United States, its Army and its coalition of the willing have been playing catch-up ever since."

It was only in November 2003, seven months after the fall of Baghdad, that U.S. occupation authorities produced a formal "Phase IV" plan for stability operations, Wilson reports. Phase I covers preparation for combat, followed by initial operations, Phase II, and combat, Phase III. Post-combat operations are called Phase IV.

Army commanders still misunderstand the strategic problem they face and therefore are still pursuing a flawed approach, writes Wilson, who is scheduled to teach at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point next year. "Plainly stated, the 'western coalition' failed, and continues to fail, to see Operation Iraqi Freedom in its fullness," he asserts.

"Reluctance in even defining the situation . . . is perhaps the most telling indicator of a collective cognitive dissidence on part of the U.S. Army to recognize a war of rebellion, a people's war, even when they were fighting it," he comments.

Because of this failure, Wilson concludes, the U.S. military remains "perhaps in peril of losing the 'war,' even after supposedly winning it."
Overall, he grades the U.S. military performance in Iraq as "mediocre."

Air Force Capt. Chris Karns, a spokesman for the U.S. Central Command, which as the U.S. military headquarters for the Middle East oversaw planning for the war in Iraq, said, "A formal Phase IV plan did exist." He said he could not explain how Wilson came to a different conclusion.

Army Gen. Tommy R. Franks, who as chief of the Central Command led the war planning in 2002 and 2003, states in his recent memoir, "American Soldier," that throughout the planning for the invasion of Iraq, Phase IV stability operations were discussed. Occupation problems "commanded hours and days of discussion and debate among CENTCOM planners and Washington officials," he adds. At another point, he states, "I was confident in the Phase IV plan."

Thursday, September 23, 2004


A Soldier's View

Here is an abridged version of an article by an American soldier that agrees with many of the things I have been saying in this blog. I will not comment on it and will leave that to the readers.

09/20/04 LewRockwell.com

" — Before I begin, let me state that I am a soldier currently deployed in Iraq, I am not an armchair quarterback. Nor am I some politically idealistic and naïve young soldier, I am an old and seasoned Non-Commissioned Officer with nearly 20 years under my belt. Additionally, I am not just a soldier with a muds-eye view of the war, I am in Civil Affairs and as such, it is my job to be aware of all the events occurring in this country and specifically in my region.

I have come to the conclusion that we cannot win here for a number of reasons. Ideology and idealism will never trump history and reality.

Here are the specific reasons why we cannot win in Iraq.

First, we refuse to deal in reality. We are in a guerilla war, but because of politics, we are not allowed to declare it a guerilla war and must label the increasingly effective guerilla forces arrayed against us as "terrorists, criminals and dead-enders."

This implies that there is a zero sum game at work, i.e. we can simply kill X number of the enemy and then the fight is over, mission accomplished, everybody wins. Unfortunately, this is not the case. We have few tools at our disposal and those are proving to be wholly ineffective at fighting the guerillas.

The idea behind fighting a guerilla army is not to destroy its every man (an impossibility since he hides himself by day amongst the populace). Rather the idea in guerilla warfare is to erode or destroy his base of support.

So long as there is support for the guerilla, for every one you kill two more rise up to take his place. More importantly, when your tools for killing him are precision guided munitions, raids and other acts that create casualties among the innocent populace, you raise the support for the guerillas and undermine the support for yourself. (A 500-pound precision bomb has a casualty-producing radius of 400 meters minimum; do the math.)

Second, our assessment of what motivates the average Iraqi was skewed, again by politically motivated "experts." We came here with some fantasy idea that the natives were all ignorant, mud-hut dwelling camel riders who would line the streets and pelt us with rose petals, lay palm fronds in the street and be eternally grateful. While at one time there may have actually been support and respect from the locals, months of occupation by our regular military forces have turned the formerly friendly into the recently hostile.

Attempts to correct the thinking in this regard are in vain; it is not politically correct to point out the fact that the locals are not only disliking us more and more, they are growing increasingly upset and often overtly hostile. Instead of addressing the reasons why the locals are becoming angry and discontented, we allow politicians in Washington DC to give us pat and convenient reasons that are devoid of any semblance of reality.

We are told that the locals are not upset because we have a hostile, aggressive and angry Army occupying their nation. We are told that they are not upset at the police state we have created, or at the manner of picking their representatives for them. Rather we are told, they are upset because of a handful of terrorists, criminals and dead enders in their midst have made them upset, that and of course the ever convenient straw man of "left wing media bias."

Third, the guerillas are filling their losses faster than we can create them. This is almost always the case in guerilla warfare, especially when your tactics for battling the guerillas are aimed at killing guerillas instead of eroding their support. For every guerilla we kill with a "smart bomb" we kill many more innocent civilians and create rage and anger in the Iraqi community. This rage and anger translates into more recruits for the terrorists and less support for us.

We have fallen victim to the body count mentality all over again. We have shown a willingness to inflict civilian casualties as a necessity of war without realizing that these same casualties create waves of hatred against us. These angry Iraqi citizens translate not only into more recruits for the guerilla army but also into more support of the guerilla army.

Fourth, their lines of supply and communication are much shorter than ours and much less vulnerable. We must import everything we need into this place; this costs money and is dangerous. Whether we fly the supplies in or bring them by truck, they are vulnerable to attack, most especially those brought by truck. This not only increases the likelihood of the supplies being interrupted. Every bean, every bullet and every bandage becomes infinitely more expensive.

Conversely, the guerillas live on top of their supplies and are showing every indication of developing a very sophisticated network for obtaining them. Further, they have the advantage of the close support of family and friends and traditional religious networks.

Fifth, we consistently underestimate the enemy and his capabilities. Many military commanders have prepared to fight exactly the wrong war here.

Our tactics have not adjusted to the battlefield and we are falling behind.

Meanwhile the enemy updates his tactics and has shown a remarkable resiliency and adaptability.

Because the current administration is more concerned with its image than it is with reality, it prefers symbolism to substance: soldiers are dying here and being maimed and crippled for life. It is tragic, indeed criminal that our elected public servants would so willingly sacrifice our nation's prestige and honor as well as the blood and treasure to pursue an agenda that is ahistoric and un-Constitutional.

It is all the more ironic that this un-Constitutional mission is being performed by citizen soldiers such as myself who swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, the same oath that the commander in chief himself has sworn."

September 20, 2004

Al Lorentz ( alorentz@truevine.net ) is former state chairman of the Constitution Party of Texas and is a reservist currently serving with the US Army in Iraq.

Friday, June 18, 2004


More Disgruntled Prominent Americans

A bipartisan group of former senior U.S. diplomats and military commanders said Wednesday that President Bush needs to be defeated in November for pursuing an overbearing, insensitive and ideology-driven foreign policy that has cost America credibility around the world.

The 27-member group, Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change, didn't endorse Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, but members said the only way that U.S. policy is going to change is by removing Bush from the White House.

The group's statement read: ``From the outset, President George W. Bush adopted an overbearing approach to America's role in the world, relying upon military might and righteousness, insensitive to the concerns of traditional friends and allies, and disdainful of the United Nations. Instead of building upon America's great economic and moral strength to lead other nations in a coordinated campaign to address the causes of terrorism and to stifle its resources, the administration, motivated more by ideology than by reasoned analysis, struck out on its own.''

Members include:

Ret. Adm. William Crowe Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Reagan and ambassador to Great Britain under President Clinton;
Charles W. Freeman Jr., ambassador to Saudi Arabia under George H.W. Bush;
Arthur A. Hartman, ambassador to the Soviet Union under Reagan;
Ret. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph P. Hoar;
Jack F. Matlock Jr., ambassador to the Soviet Union under Reagan;
Ret. Air Force Gen. Merrill A. McPeak, former Air Force chief of staff under former President Bush, and
Ret. Adm. Stansfield Turner, head of the CIA under President Carter.

Thursday, June 03, 2004


American Top Brass

“There has been poor strategic thinking in this. There has been poor operational planning and execution on the ground. And to think that we are going to ‘stay the course,’ the course is headed over Niagara Falls.”

“I give all the credit in the world to Ambassador Bremer as a great American who's serving his country, I think, with all the kind of sacrifice and spirit you could expect. But he has made mistake after mistake after mistake.”

Retired General Anthony Zinni, the former commander-in-chief of the United States Central Command.

"I believe we are absolutely on the brink of failure. We are looking into the abyss."

General Joseph Hoar, the former head of the Marine Corps.

Asked by the Washington Post whether he believes the United States is losing the war in Iraq, replied, "I think strategically, we are."
The Commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, Army Major General Charles H. Swannack, Jr.

"Unless we ensure that we have coherence in our policy, we will lose strategically." …" noting that Vietnam featured a pattern of winning battles while losing the war.

Army Colonel Paul Hughes, who directed strategic planning for the US occupation authority in Baghdad.

Amazingly, even active duty military officers are speaking out against the Administration. For example, the Washington Post quoted an unnamed senior General at the Pentagon as saying, "the current OSD (Office of the Secretary of Defense) refused to listen or adhere to military advice." Rarely if ever in American history have uniformed commanders felt compelled to challenge their commander in chief in public.

The Post also quoted an unnamed general as saying, "Like a lot of senior Army guys I'm quite angry" with Rumsfeld and the rest of the Bush Administration. He listed two reasons. "I think they are going to break the Army," he said, adding that what really incites him is "I don't think they care."

Sunday, May 30, 2004


Ambassadors' Letters

I have frequently wondered over the past year why people in the US and the UK did not see the damage being done to their countries, to their standing in the world and to their credibility by their administrations.

This time, it is more than 110 senior British and American former diplomats who think that the present US policies are wrong!

These people are not “revolutionaries” or even “leftists” or “anti-establishment”; for all intents and purposes, these are pillars of the “establishement”!

Well, there are people who can see that damage and have the courage to say something about it.

It is gestures like these that keep hope alight in the hearts of people who have no “natural” animosity to your countries and who do not believe that your countries are “naturally” evil!

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