Wednesday, March 28, 2007

An Important Sitrep on Iraq

Retired General Barry McAffery has authored a must read report based on a recent tour of Iraq and meetings with all of the top level of leadership throughout the area. To call it the good, the bad and the ugly would be an understatement. He pulls no punches at all –starting out his report with the statements:

Iraq is ripped by a low grade civil war which has worsened to catastrophic levels with as many as 3000 citizens murdered per month. The population is in despair.

. . . Three million Iraqis are internally displaced or have fled the country to Syria and Jordan. The technical and educated elites are going into self-imposed exile---a huge brain drain that imperils the ability to govern. The Maliki government has little credibility among the Shia populations from which it emerged. It is despised by the Sunni as a Persian surrogate. It is believed untrustworthy and incompetent by the Kurds.

There is no function of government that operates effectively across the nation. . . .

. . . Since the arrival of General David Petraeus in command of Multi-National Force Iraq--- the situation on the ground has clearly and measurably improved.
The report is a real gut-check that spells out the challenges we face. But McCaffrey is not waiving the French national flag, nor is he shilling for the Democrats. His ultimate conclusions are:

We have brilliant military and civilian leadership on the ground in Iraq. . . Our cause is just. The consequence of failure will be severe.

The American people hold that the US Armed Forces are the most trusted institution in our society. The polls also show that domestic opinion is not calling for precipitous withdrawal. However, this whole Iraq operation is on the edge of unraveling as the poor Iraqis batter each other to death with our forces caught in the middle.

We now need a last powerful effort to provide to US leaders on the ground ---the political support, economic reconstruction resources, and military strength it requires to succeed.
McCaffrey goes onto to foretell that, in the current political climate, we have approximately 36 months before the plug will be pulled on operations in Iraq. I think that he is being optimistic myself. Regardless, some of his most interesting observatons:

The US Tier One special operations capability is simply magic. They are deadly in getting their target—with normally zero collateral damage—and with minimal friendly losses or injuries. Some of these assault elements have done 200-300 takedown operations at platoon level. The comprehensive intelligence system is phenomenal. We need to re-think how we view these forces. They are a national strategic system akin to a B1 bomber. We need to understand that the required investment level in the creation of these forces demands substantial dedicated UAV systems, intelligence, and communications resources. These special operations formations cannot by themselves win the nation’s wars. However, with them we have a tool of enormous and decisive strategic significance which has crucial importance in the global war on terrorists.

. . . The wariness, adherence to ROE, and discipline of the involved air and ground forces are awe-inspiring. I watched with fascination the attack video of an Apache whose pilots held fire at absolutely the last second ---when what they suspected (correctly) was an innocent farmer appeared in the foreground of a pending Hellfire launch against 5-6 armed insurgents. The pilot painstakingly changed his attack angle--- and sailed the Hellfire over the farmer’s head and successfully nailed the insurgents.

. . . There is a real and growing ground swell of Sunni tribal opposition to the Al Qaeda-in-Iraq terror formations. (90% Iraqi.) This counter-Al Qaeda movement in Anbar Province was fostered by brilliant US Marine leadership. There is now unmistakable evidence that the western Sunni tribes are increasingly convinced that they blundered badly by sitting out the political process. They are also keenly aware of the fragility of the continued US military presence that stands between them and a vengeful and overwhelming Shia-Kurdish majority class--- which was brutally treated by Saddam and his cruel regime. There is now active combat between Sunni tribal leadership and AQI terrorists. Of even greater importance, the Sunni tribes are now supplying their young men as drafts for the Iraqi Police. (IP). AQI is responding with customary and sickening violence. Police are beheaded in groups; families of IP officers are murdered (or in one case a 12 year old boy was run over multiple times by a truck in front of his family)—all designed to intimidate the tribes. It is not working. The Takfiri AQI extremism of: no music, no photos, no videos, no cutting of beards, etc does not sit well with the moderate form of Islam practiced among the western tribes. This is a crucial struggle and it is going our way—for now.
Read the whole report here. McCaffrey provides dire warnings about our undersized military - I did not realize we had cut back to the point of it being the smallest since World War II - force readiness, reserves, national guard, and a host of other issues. But he also retains optimism that each of the challenges can be met.

I would also strongly urge you to read this article that strongly compliments McCaffrey's report by its detailed explanation of counterinsurgency opertations in Iraq.


suek said...

>>There is no function of government that operates effectively across the nation. . . .>>

Was there an effective functional government during Saddam's reign, or did one exist in Bagdad only? I'm embarrassed that I know so little - other than that Saddam was a tyrant - but my understanding at this time is that he was pretty much ruler of Bagdad(and maybe Tikrit), and the rest of the country pretty much existed as a source of pillaging if there was anything of value left. In other words, are we trying to regenerate what was there previously, or we starting totally from scratch? I'm suspecting the latter, but I don't really know...

town commons said...

To the best of my knowledge, Hussein had pretty much total control of Iraq up to the no-fly zone north of Tikrit - ie., Kurd country. The 12 years of peace and self-rule from 91 to 03 allowed the Kurds to develop all facets of self government and peaceful civic life. There is a good site that has discussed this in deail - You might want to go there and search for "Kurds." Hope that helps some, Suek.

Dinah Lord said...

Suek, You raise an interesting point. If you listen to people today, Saddam Hussein's Iraq was a land of milk and honey and everyone was eating rainbow stew. They forget about the genocide, the violence of the regime and all the sorties flown to maintain the no-fly zone. (In the tens of thousands IIRC)

I also find it interesting how everyone forgets all the heat that Bush 41 got for not finishing the job back in 92. Remember in the run up to the latest war how everybody was lamenting that fact? Now it looks like we are doomed to repeat our earlier mistake...if the Dhims have anything to say about it, that is.

suek said...

I will check it out.

I understand that Saddam had total control - but I'm wondering if that control provided what we consider governmental services. I kind of suspect it doesn't, and that what we're trying to build is something entirely new to the Iraqis. The Kurds have done it, the rest can - but they had 12 years, and the Dems expect an army to be built, a police force to be trained, and all governmental functions set up in 3-4 years.
Sometimes the assumptions we make in expecting things in other countries to run like they do in the US are pretty astounding - and arrogant, and just plain _stupid_!


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