TCS Daily


The Golden Troop Mean

By Melana Zyla Vickers - March 29, 2006 12:00 AM

Last week's third anniversary of the Iraq war was marked with more calls for resignation than Donald Rumsfeld could shake a pair of wire glasses at. Retired Maj. Gen Paul Eaton, responsible for training Iraqi troops until 2004, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who voted for the war, joined the chorus, as did others.

The trouble is that those calling for change at the top want to replace current policy with something far worse. Feinstein wants 80,000 troops out in the next nine months, the rest in 2007: cutting and running. Meanwhile, Eaton and others, including Sen. John McCain, want to send more troops in: mission creep.

Cutting and running would be irresponsible and immoral. As for adding troops, that's wrong-headed as well.

Those who call for more troops want these fresh forces to go in and pacify the country, sit on the insurgency in the Sunni triangle, shore up the Sunni-Shia violence, provide security for the new Iraqi government, keep out belligerent influences from neighboring Syria and Iran, and otherwise mend, wash and fold Iraq's laundry. While they're at it, under this vision U.S. troops are also supposed to shine a new Iraqi beacon of peaceful democracy across the Middle East, perhaps indefinitely. Yet such a role for the United States military would be disastrous.

The U.S. role in Iraq was always bounded: Free the Iraqi people of their bloody-minded dictator, remove the risk that Weapons of Mass Destruction would get into terrorist hands, give a hand to the nascent government, and leave. Adding more troops is an attempt to expand that U.S. role far beyond what the American public agreed to, or ever will.

For those who don't buy that that's the case, consider this reason why more boots on the ground aren't necessary: The job of messing with Al Zarqawi and his foreign insurgents belongs mostly to U.S. Special Operations forces, while the domestic insurgency is increasingly the responsibility of Iraqi forces. Regular American forces, meanwhile, with 2,300 deaths behind them and deadly Improvised Explosive Devices littering their path, are increasingly focused on protecting their lives as they sit in the middle of a dangerous bull's-eye. The last thing these underutilized young men and women need is more American company.

The only company they need is that of more Iraqi troops. This war will not be won by American soldiers, it will be won, in future years, by the soldiers to whom the country belongs.

Given all that, here's how to move forward. The U.S. has to recognize that:

1) Iraqi soldiers must take over the fight: Stand up the Iraqi military and police. Redouble U.S. military efforts to train and advise the Iraqis, as a lot of time has been lost and wasted. Accept that the U.S. will likely hand over an Iraq in which there is fighting, rather than one in which there is peace. It's Iraqis who must take over the primary task of quelling the insurgency in the country, as the U.S. falls back to a role of training, advising, equipping and possibly supporting the Iraqi military with air power.

2) The focus must be on Al Qaeda/Al Zarqawi: After training and supporting the Iraqis, the task of the U.S. military, primarily U.S. Special Operations forces, is to destroy the Al Zarqawi/Al Qaeda insurgency that feeds on local-Iraqi, and Muslim-world, frustration with the U.S. presence in Iraq. It's this insurgency that risks fuelling the further global war on terror and that poses a risk to the U.S. It's the foreign fighters and masterminds behind it that need to be stopped. The quicker the U.S. lessens its footprint in Iraq, the easier this job will become, because right now that footprint -- made up of tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers -- is a giant magnet for these fighters, breeding them and drawing them in.

3) Sunni-Shia-Kurd struggles are the inevitable crucible in which a new Iraq will be born, and the U.S. cannot prevent them. Political struggles and even civil war and partition are real possibilities for a future Iraq. They would have been so whether the U.S stayed for ten years or left years ago. The U.S. cannot stop these struggles, only help a national-unity government try to minimize them by training, advising and equipping its military and continuing to support the new government financially. In the longer run, the ancient domestic tensions are not the United States' fight. The U.S. must distinguish between these sectarian struggles and the Al Qaeda insurgency which is the United States' fight, even though Al Qaeda on one side and Iran on the other may be fomenting the struggles. You can't build a new country without making huge compromises or breaking some eggs -- the modern experience of every non-homogenous society in the world shows that, from French-English Canada to Muslim-Hindu India broken into India-Pakistan-Bangladesh to, of course, the civil war-fused United States.

Ultimately, the U.S. role is to hand over the fight to the Iraqis as soon as the Iraqis are ready, and to use its remaining political capital to support the Iraqi government with money, weapons, training, and advice for years to come.

Outside this path lies the Vietnam abyss of cutting and running and allowing Congress to pull the plug on the nascent Iraqi government on one side, and the Vietnam abyss of mission creep on the other side. President Bush needs to carve out its path with great care, speed, and focus. He said Tuesday that the real drawdown from Iraq will probably fall to his successor. Meanwhile, the job of sharpening the focus of the U.S. mission, building up the Iraqis, and reducing the U.S. footprint in Iraq is rather urgently his.

Melana Zyla Vickers is a TCS contributing writer.

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122 Comments

Syria and Iran
Agree with the author, but she barely mentions Syria and Iran. These two countries are providing logistics, bases, weapons, and manpower to the terriorists in Iraq.

To give the Iraqis a decent chance at determining their own future (however that may turn out), Iran and Syria must be dealt with. It doesn't have to go as far as a full scale invasion, but they need to know that if they meddle in Iraq, a high price will be paid.

Small pulldown OK -- only Iraqis can stop terrorism
Great article. Certainly no increase is needed or desirable, though neither is a huge drawdown. Perhaps small replacement rotation as the normal rotation goes.

One way to utilize the army more, both in and out of Iraq, is to have more language lessons -- finding those Army folk who have a talent for learning languages and enough of an interest so that some additional pay ($100/month?) would have them study it. So in a couple of months they can talk with natives in their native language.

minor typo: LINK to past colms on training LINK
prolly should be a hyperlink.

You might like my own call for the Iraqis, like Harry Potter, to solve their own problems. http://tomgrey.motime.com/1083000026

No help for Iraqi people
The Iraqis are big folk; they’re adults. OK, they’re not ready to take care of themselves – ready or not, if they don’t do it, it ain’t gettin’ done. Maybe less US force now means more Iraqi responsibility, sooner.

How about the competent managment mean?
The problem has developed because the administration simply refuses to believe any intelligence coming back from Iraq that does not fit its preconceptions.

This pattern has persisted since the invasion and before. Nobody could tell bad news to superiors, and particularly, to the White House.

The number of troops is on issue. The more important issue is the culture of incompetence and denial at the White House. Cobra II, the Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq, tells part of the story. The problem is not "the Golden Troop Mean," but that nothing has changed.

Now Bush says it's a problem for his successor. Is this good news?

How about the effective reconstruction mean?
WASHINGTON, Feb. 8 — Virtually every measure of the performance of Iraq's oil, electricity, water and sewerage sectors has fallen below preinvasion values even though $16 billion of American taxpayer money has already been disbursed in the Iraq reconstruction program, several government witnesses said at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Wednesday.

Of seven measures of public services performance presented at the committee hearing by the inspector general's office, only one was above preinvasion values.

Those that had slumped below those values were electrical generation capacity, hours of power available in a day in Baghdad, oil and heating oil production and the numbers of Iraqis with drinkable water and sewage service.

Only the hours of power available to Iraqis outside Baghdad had increased over prewar values.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/09/international/middleeast/09hearing.html?ex=1297141200&en=59ca112ddf7eaa4b&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss

How about the competent management mean?

"The problem has developed because the administration simply refuses to believe any intelligence coming back from Iraq that does not fit its preconceptions..."

Gee, Fortunato, your statement above sounds an awful lot like the pot calling the kettle black. When was the last time you accepted as truth any intelligence either about Irag or the Bush Administration that does not fit your preconceptions.

Like Pogo said, "We has seen the enemy and he is us..."

Two points
>When was the last time you accepted as truth any intelligence either about Irag or the Bush Administration that does not fit your preconceptions.

1. I'm not running the war. My beliefs, preconceptions or whatever do not cost lives and taxpayers dollars if they're wrong: they're just my opinion.

2. I've been following the build up to this war since the beginning, through the statements pre-war, to the "Mission Accomplished" landing through the 9/11 commission and the Kay and Duelfer reports. I'm not relying on "preconceptions" to form my opinons, I'm gong on the record and official investigations.

It seems to me that accepting the idea that things are going well and as planned would require a near-impervious bubble of rejection of contrary evidence. But if you have concrete contrary evidence as opposed to just comment about me, do bring them.

Divided They Stand-up
The problem with your argument is that #3 negates #1 -- the iraqi troops are already divided into sectarian loyalties:

Iraqi Gunmen Kidnap Workers, Rob Business
AP, March 28, 2006

Masked gunmen, MANY IN MILITARY UNIFORM, stormed into a currency exchange and two electronic stores in broad daylight Tuesday, kidnapping 24 Iraqis and making off with tens of thousands of dollars. With 40 Iraqis taken hostage in less than 24 hours, politicians returned to talks on forming a government after a one-day boycott by Shiite leaders. The United Iraqi Alliance, the largest bloc in parliament, shunned talks Monday to protest a U.S.-backed raid on what Iraqis say was a mosque. At least 16 people were killed in the assault, which freed an Iraqi hostage...

...Police discovered 17 more corpses Tuesday, all men from Baghdad who were handcuffed and shot in the head. A majority had been dumped under a bridge. Hundreds of bodies have been found since the shrine bombing, most believed the work of sectarian killers or DEATH SQUADS OPERATING INSIDE THE SHIITE-DOMINATED INTERIOR MINISTRY...

http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/0306/314304.html

Training Iraqis is the key
This article is right on and the stance of the Whitehouse since the beginning was right on. Two mistakes were made, but aren't able to be fixed now. 1. The U.S. military did not properly secure the borders as a part of the invasion and 2. infrastructure was not secured and upgraded immediately.
There is still a problem with border security and infrastructure development and security. These jobs could be performed much better if the training and deployment of iraqi troops is improved.

Training for a Civil War
Analysis: Sadr Clash Ominous for U.S.
UPI, March 29, 2006

The killing of between 16 and 37 members of Moqtada al-Sadr's Shiite militia by U.S. forces Sunday may herald a massive escalation of the Iraq conflict. And it could prove extremely dangerous for U.S. forces there ... the more U.S. forces clash with the Mahdi Army militia force of Sadr, the more they risk alienating major elements within the majority Shiite community of 15 million Iraqis, or 60% of the total population, that U.S. policy has systematically empowered over the past three years.

Bush administration policymakers recognize that Sadr is ferociously anti-American and is determined to drive U.S. forces out of Iraq. They also correctly assess him as being strongly supported with funding and even weapons by neighboring Iran.

But even the current Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad has refused to tow Washington's line and has openly and energetically been building close security and diplomatic ties to Tehran that have been unprecedented in the entire independent history of Iraqi throughout the past century...

...This means that U.S. forces in Iraq are not free to act against Sadr's forces in a local political vacuum. Indeed, within a day of the clash that killed more than a score of Sadr's followers, the Shiite governor of Baghdad announced that he was suspending cooperation with U.S. forces...

http://www.nationalledger.com/artman/publish/article_27264448.shtml

Perhaps…
But they did act against Sadr's forces and i hope they continue to do so. If this means training one side in a civil war, so be it.

eric will believe any lie
This shiboleth has been shot down so many times.

Though I'm not surprised that eric keeps trotting it out.

Bush, like any president, is presented with a wide variety of advice every day.
Those who support the losing side, always prefer to believe that the president isn't getting the proper advice, rather than believe that they failed to make their case.

It's always easier to blame a conspiracy, rather than your own incompetence.

In eric's case, that's the only argument he has left.

in eric's case
competent management means that Bush would do whatever the Democrats tell him to do.

and reliable sources
say just the opposit.

please stop spamming this site

please stop spamming this site.
If you have specific information that contradicts the Duelfer, Kay and 9/11 commission report, or cases down on the newbook, please bring it.

please stop spamming this site.
if you have a reliable source that contradicts what the Senate Foreign Relations committee was told by knowledgeable US expert, please bring it. Otherwise, please stop spamming this site.

We need the crack Clinton-Albright Team to terrorize the Jihaddies
Look at the wonders they achieved in....... Haiti, no I mean the Sudan..... no I mean at the Buddist monks temple in LA..... ah just fdrop Billary on them. That will scare the hell out of them.

Fortunato's intelligence background
Attended the Busy bee day care center.

Speaks in tongues.

Has visions.

Has a vast collection of GI Joes enabling him to comment on military matters.


Is Briefed by Al Franken daily.

Acts as advisor to Al Gore on national security matters.

Recommended Abdual's camel park in Afghanistan as the target that would nail Bin Laden based on a vision he had after indulging in his favorite recreational pharmaceuticals.


Did I miss any other qualifications regarding your vast qualifications to comment on national security?

Can't be Eric
Eric would have included at least three four letter words.

Bosnia and Kosovo are not having a civil war
And Clinton and Albright are not in office. But thank you for your suggestion: why not phone the White House and tell them?

How do you secure the borders of a nation like Iraq?
You realize their land borders are larger than the CONUS? You may have noticed a slight problem in securing our own borders.

The failure was in not disarming all adults and retaining in custody all those individuals likely to cause problems. Do you realize how long most Axis POWs remained interred after WWII?

Please stop spamming this site
>Did I miss any other qualifications regarding your vast qualifications to comment on national security?

Did I miss a noted saying that the topic here is me, rather than Iraq policy?

If you have someting to say on the topic of Iraq policy, by all means share it. Otherwise, please stop spamming this site.

Don't Spam This Site
Don't (4 letters) Spam (4 letters) This (4 letters) Site (4 letters)

Fortunato's spewing
Unfortunately in the adult world bold assertions based on the visions one has while indulging in your recreational pharmaceuticals do not qualify as reasoned nor informed. As you say if you have something to say with reasoned evidence and supported by logic. Otherwise please continue to blow it out your arse.


Its clearly all you are capable of doing.

I do love it when some sophomore who has never been 20 miles from where he was born and thinks Pizza Hut is the height of exotic cusine allows us to marvel at his incredible national security insights.

Truly I am astounded, nay amazed at your access to classified data and the inner sanctum of the highest in the nation and being able to share with us after years of study and labor such wisdom.

Do you plan to spew alot more?

And whose fault was this?
>You realize their land borders are larger than the CONUS

Maybe someone should have thought of this before we invaded.

>The failure was in not disarming all adults and retaining in custody all those individuals likely to cause problems. Do you realize how long most Axis POWs remained interred after WWII?

With 150,000 troops,few of whom spoke Arabic?

But thank you for admitting a failure.

Ah yes the dullard speaks
Yes everyone knows the American Army was composed entirely of people speaking German in WWII.

One need not close borders the standard procedure is to eliminate sancturies. But numbnuts like you would have ever so keen to bomb the Iranians or Syrians.

Thanks once again for demonstrating the depth of ignorance and amazing ability of the American education establishment to turn out certins who cannot think nor analize the simplest data.

Loved your response regarding the length of time the Germans were held after WWII ende3d demonstrating again why you are held in such awe and why we await your every comment.


You just are determined to make everyone feel like an intellectual giant aren't you? Don;t you think confining your comments to the DU would be more appropriate for someone with such obvious limitations Forty.

Mark you're right
Only Eric could utter so many platitudes and bear them up as if they were orginal thought.

keep it on topic, please
responding to the fragments of issues you present before sailing off into in ad hominem:

>Yes everyone knows the American Army was composed entirely of people speaking German in WWII

Pretty thin. We had lots more German speakers than we now have Iraqi Arabic speakers, and, much more important, we had millions of troops available.

> One need not close borders the standard procedure is to eliminate sancturies. But numbnuts like you would have ever so keen to bomb the Iranians or Syrians.

Eliminate crossboder sanctuaries? You mean, widen the war, don't you? Great idea! Worked so very, very well in Vietnam.

>Loved your response regarding the length of time the Germans were held after WWII ende3d demonstrating again why you are held in such awe and why we await your every comment.

Our troops are still there, and so what? How many casualties did American troops suffer after VE day? How many Germans died in uncontrolled violence?

stop spamming this site.
If you have something to say on topic, say it. Your namecallng just reflects on your own inability to contribute on topic.

>ruly I am astounded, nay amazed at your access to classified data and the inner sanctu

I made no such claim. If you have information contradicting the sources I cited (the Kay, Duelfer, 9/11 reports and other material) do so. Otherwise,please stop spamming this site.

Excellent point
But using helicopters, drones and fighters to overfly the borders with orders to shoot anything that moves would have been a step in the right direction, especially right after the invasion.

But, yes, I have to agree with all the rest. Alas, there were some mistakes.

please stop spamming this site
I'm not aware it's about "eric"
If you can't talk about Iraq, maybe you should take it to email

notice how he always has to have the last word
even if it's only to tell you to shut up

It's eric

Maybe his mom has changed his meds.

stop spamming this site
The topic is "The Golden Troop Mean."

If you have something to say on topic, by all means do so. If not, please stop spamming the site

Are you paid by the word or the pound Forty
Come on ace amaze us all with your education and those amazing experiences of yours.

Occupation of germany
The occupation began in 1945 and, the main military occupation lasted until 1949. Germany was still considered an occupied country, by most accounts, until 1955 and, to some, remains a occupied country to this day.
Casualty figures are not available anywhere I can find, but I would imagine that the casualties due to accident, sniper fire, mines and booby traps were much higher than the total casualties in Iraq; if for no other reason than the numbers involved. the fact that no one, after major hostilities ended, worried abut the one here and five there lost as the occupation went on is no surprise. to me.

Forty's meds
He's referring to them as his recreational pharmaceuticals now I believe.

Forty has nothing to say
What's the matter Eric, just because you still yell from the rooftops and no one listens do you think anyone cares what you have to say. No logic, no content, no evidence and you still deny you're Eric?

Nice comment about the occupation
Most German troops were held till mid 1947-48 but some weren't released by the Russians until 1955. There were as you pointed out a number of troops killed not only by ordinance, mines, etc but by a die hard German resistance that was mercilessly wiped out by the American Army.

Its odd the US failed to disarm the populace in Iraq. Failed to use the Kurds to eliminate the Baathists. Failed to seal off the borders by closing the choke points in the west and east and by mining the vast central border with Iran. The failure to use Spooky and Spectre gunships for this purpose highlights how the military was straved under the Clinton administration. There are still a relative few number of these special ops aircraft in active service.

Finally since the jihaddies have used mines its only reasonable to assume that some of these individuals might get lost and night and plant mines inside the borders of Syria, Saudi and Iran. Say within their capitol cities.

Bold assertions based on your visions do not constitute
reasoned discourse. Lack of education, experience or specisalized knowledge do not qualify as expertise.

Pray tell what then do you base your spewings on?

Drooling some more
What genius on display. If one agrees the Taliban had to be eliminated for allowing the planning, organization of 9-11 you now tell us we mustn't widen the war if another state does the same thing.


BINGO the Leftist drooling on full display. The mentality that denies reality that tells us that the truth doesn't matter the only thing that matters is an American defeat.

As for the language issue I'd bet that Arabic speakers were represented in greater numbers for the Iraq war within the armed forces than German speakers were in the military in WWII (in the ETO). But then again you such a braying jackass you can't even tell us where the military trains its personnel in languages or what the program consists of.


Just so8und off in complete ignorance. You just have to demonstrate your stupidity. One day you'll be able to come up with a reasoned argument by reading it in some adult publication. But then you'd have to give up your crayons and coloring book.

Then there is the 53 years in Korea
It's not technically an occupation, but there are still Americans getting hurt and killed on the DMZ.

I'm not sure it is odd. our last 50 years has been to fight this way. What is odd is that we would take a page from Korea or Viet Nam and use it in this conflict. Once the occupation was underway, Germany was the example to follow.

As for mines; well, I suppose, accidents will happen! ;)

stop spamming this site
I've cited my sources. You've posted nothing but lame adhominems.
Stop spamming this site.

Stop spamming this site
I am not the subject of this discussion. If you have something to contribute, do so. Otherwise, stop spamming this site.

stop spamming this site
on your substantive non-point:

>If one agrees the Taliban had to be eliminated for allowing the planning, organization of 9-11 you now tell us we mustn't widen the war if another state does the same thing.

The Taliban was not in Iraq. But we invaded anyway, based on very bad intelligence. If your idea is we should invade lots of other countries neighboring Iraq based on more bad intelligence, by all means share it with the Pentagon.

The Defense Language Institute and its Foreign Language center are in Monterey, California. Their ability to train linguists have not kept pace with demand, as you know.

Your infantile insults add not crediblity to your posts.

If you have numbers...
A very small number of 'Werewolves" tried to put up some resistence. They got nowhere. see:
http://hnn.us/articles/1655.html

>Casualty figures are not available anywhere I can find, but I would imagine that the casualties due to accident, sniper fire, mines and booby traps were much higher than the total casualties in Iraq;

You can imagine anything you like. The fact is the resistence was militarily insignificant. If you can find different sources, do so.

Relevance??
Sure, the North Koreans have done all kinds of things. But we're not occupying NOrth Korea. In South Korea, where troops are still stationed, no Koreans take shots at them. I really don't see the relevence here.

So your bottom line is that the Bush administration blew it.
I don't disagree.

Blaming it all on a shortage of one single weapons system is absurd, but considering the source not surprising.

stop spamming this site

Bosnia
After having lived there for three years I can tell you that they are not having a civil war bcause there have been heavly armed US/EU troops protroling there for 10 years.

Lame adhominems R'Us goes Forty
Yes we observed how adept you are at lameness of all types.

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