There will be more of this…

"A suicide bomber rammed an explosives-rigged truck into a US military outpost near Baqubah on Monday, killing nine soldiers and wounding 20 in one of the deadliest single ground attacks on U.S. forces since the start of the war in Iraq, military officials said early Tuesday.

Suicide attackers rarely penetrate defenses that surround American troops, but a 10-week-old U.S. counterinsurgency strategy has placed them in outposts and police stations that some soldiers say have made them more vulnerable."  WAPO


I had a talk last week with an old Army friend who had a lot of experience as an airborne adviser in VN.  He has a son now in the Army.  We talked about the "quadrillage" and the establishment of the multiplicity of "Joint Security Stations" and "Combat Outposts" across Baghdad and apparently up into Diyala as well. 

The probability that the Kagan/Keene/Petraeus method will actually pacify parts of Iraq is not the subject of this post.

Here, I am concerned with the additional risks that this method imposes on the troops involved.  It is argued that  the previous deployment in large, fortified cantonments was ineffective.  That may be, but what is intuitively obvious to people with experience of combat against guerrillas or conventional forces fighting by infiltration is that all these small posts are prime targets for attacks by fire and by attacks on the ground in assaults.  They are also prime instruments for setting up ambushes.  These posts are in built up areas.  The streets necessarily canalize movement and limit it to predictable routes in and out of the position.  These positions require supply and are places from which operations are launched.  The use of predictable routes makes it an appealing idea for guerrilla commanders to watch these routes and establish patterns which can then be used in planning ambushes.  Such ambushes can be of the primary force going to or coming from the outpost and additionally of reinforcing quick reaction forces coming to the rescue.  The same process applies to air movements in and out of the post.  This potential is multiplied by large number of such posts.  Ambush requires fairly small forces.  Defending against them adequately requires a lot of assets.  This is especially true if many routes (however predictacble) are needed in and out of many posts.

There is going to be more of this…  pl

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30 Responses to There will be more of this…

  1. VietnamVet says:

    No one in the Pentagon stood back and thought out the consequences of placing foreign troops in isolated outposts scattered through an Arab city where the only semi-safe means of transport is a helicopter or an Abrams tank. If they did, they are retired now. No good will come of it.
    We disagree on the success of the pacification at the end of the Vietnam War but compared to Iraq it was a resounding success. US troops could drive and walk most anywhere during the day. Night was something else. The Vietnamese were never subjugated.
    Stomp and Search will never pacify the Iraqis. The Day belongs to Iraqi Insurgents. Incarceration and genocide will work. But, besides the lack of boots on the ground, the USA doesn’t have the will to do the dirty work necessary to control Iraq, already backing off walling off the Sunni enclaves.
    A crash program to wean the USA off of Middle East oil has to be a better future than a Forever War.

  2. David E. Solomon says:

    Colonel Lang,
    This piece doesn’t speak directly to this problem, but it does seem to me to attempt to address what is wrong with this country.
    I should point out that I am generally not a great fan of Lee Iacocca, but I think this is worth reading.
    Where Have All the Leaders Gone?
    By Lee Iacocca with Catherine Whitney
    I Had Enough
    Am I the only guy in this country who’s fed up with what’s happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We’ve got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we’ve got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can’t even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, “Stay the course.”
    Stay the course? You’ve got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic. I’ll give you a sound bite: Throw the bums out!
    You might think I’m getting senile, that I’ve gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore. The President of the United States is given a free pass to ignore the Constitution, tap our phones, and lead us to war on a pack of lies. Congress responds to record deficits by passing a huge tax cut for the wealthy (thanks, but I don’t need it). The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we’re fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving pom-poms instead of asking hard questions. That’s not the promise of America my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I’ve had enough. How about you?
    I’ll go a step further. You can’t call yourself a patriot if you’re not outraged. This is a fight I’m ready and willing to have.
    My friends tell me to calm down. They say, “Lee, you’re eighty-two years old. Leave the rage to the young people.” I’d love to˜as soon as I can pry them away from their iPods for five seconds and get them to pay attention. I’m going to speak up because it’s my patriotic duty. I think people will listen to me. They say I have a reputation as a straight shooter. So I’ll tell you how I see it, and it’s not pretty, but at least it’s real. I’m hoping to strike a nerve in those young folks who say they don’t vote because they don’t trust politicians to represent their interests. Hey, America, wake up. These guys work for us.
    Who Are These Guys, Anyway?
    Why are we in this mess? How did we end up with this crowd in Washington? Well, we voted for them˜or at least some of us did. But I’ll tell you what we didn’t do. We didn’t agree to suspend the Constitution. We didn’t agree to stop asking questions or demanding answers. Some of us are sick and tired of people who call free speech treason. Where I come from that’s a dictatorship, not a democracy.
    And don’t tell me it’s all the fault of right-wing Republicans or liberal Democrats. That’s an intellectually lazy argument, and it’s part of the reason we’re in this stew. We’re not just a nation of factions. We’re a people. We share common principles and ideals. And we rise and fall together.
    Where are the voices of leaders who can inspire us to action and make us stand taller? What happened to the strong and resolute party of Lincoln? What happened to the courageous, populist party of FDR and Truman? There was a time in this country when the voices of great leaders lifted us up and made us want to do better. Where have all the leaders gone?
    The Test of a Leader
    I’ve never been Commander in Chief, but I’ve been a CEO. I understand a few things about leadership at the top. I’ve figured out nine points not ten (I don’t want people accusing me of thinking I’m Moses). I call them the “Nine Cs of Leadership.” They’re not fancy or complicated. Just clear, obvious qualities that every true leader should have. We should look at how the current administration stacks up. Like it or not, this crew is going to be around until January 2009. Maybe we can learn something before we go to the polls in 2008. Then let’s be sure we use the leadership test to screen the candidates who say they want to run the country. It’s up to us to choose wisely.
    So, here’s my C list:
    A leader has to show CURIOSITY. He has to listen to people outside of the “Yes, sir” crowd in his inner circle. He has to read voraciously, because the world is a big, complicated place. George W. Bush brags about never reading a newspaper. “I just scan the headlines,” he says. Am I hearing this right? He’s the President of the United States and he never reads a newspaper? Thomas Jefferson once said, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate for a moment to prefer the latter.” Bush disagrees. As long as he gets his daily hour in the gym, with Fox News piped through the sound system, he’s ready to go.
    If a leader never steps outside his comfort zone to hear different ideas, he grows stale. If he doesn’t put his beliefs to the test, how does he know he’s right? The inability to listen is a form of arrogance. It means either you think you already know it all, or you just don’t care. Before the 2006 election, George Bush made a big point of saying he didn’t listen to the polls. Yeah, that’s what they all say when the polls stink. But maybe he should have listened, because 70 percent of the people were saying he was on the wrong track. It took a “thumping” on election day to wake him up, but even then you got the feeling he wasn’t listening so much as he was calculating how to do a better job of convincing everyone he was right.
    A leader has to be CREATIVE, go out on a limb, be willing to try something different. You know, think outside the box. George Bush prides himself on never changing, even as the world around him is spinning out of control. God forbid someone should accuse him of flip-flopping. There’s a disturbingly messianic fervor to his certainty. Senator Joe Biden recalled a conversation he had with Bush a few months after our troops marched into Baghdad. Joe was in the Oval Office outlining his concerns to the President˜the explosive mix of Shiite and Sunni, the disbanded Iraqi army, the problems securing the oil fields. “The President was serene,” Joe recalled. “He told me he was sure that we were on the right course and that all would be well. ‘Mr. President,’ I finally said, ‘how can you be so sure when you don’t yet know all the facts?'” Bush then reached over and put a steadying hand on Joe’s shoulder. “My instincts,” he said. “My instincts.” Joe was flabbergasted. He told Bush, “Mr. President, your instincts aren’t good enough.” Joe Biden sure didn’t think the matter was settled. And, as we all know now, it wasn’t.
    Leadership is all about managing change˜whether you’re leading a company or leading a country. Things change, and you get creative. You adapt. Maybe Bush was absent the day they covered that at Harvard Business School.
    A leader has to COMMUNICATE. I’m not talking about running off at the mouth or spouting sound bites. I’m talking about facing reality and telling the truth. Nobody in the current administration seems to know how to talk straight anymore. Instead, they spend most of their time trying to convince us that things are not really as bad as they seem. I don’t know if it’s denial or dishonesty, but it can start to drive you crazy after a while. Communication has to start with telling the truth, even when it’s painful. The war in Iraq has been, among other things, a grand failure of communication. Bush is like the boy who didn’t cry wolf when the wolf was at the door. After years of being told that all is well, even as the casualties and chaos mount, we’ve stopped listening to him.
    A leader has to be a person of CHARACTER. That means knowing the difference between right and wrong and having the guts to do the right thing. Abraham Lincoln once said, “If you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” George Bush has a lot of power. What does it say about his character? Bush has shown a willingness to take bold action on the world stage because he has the power, but he shows little regard for the grievous consequences. He has sent our troops (not to mention hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens) to their deaths˜for what? To build our oil reserves? To avenge his daddy because Saddam Hussein once tried to have him killed? To show his daddy he’s tougher? The motivations behind the war in Iraq are questionable, and the execution of the war has been a disaster. A man of character does not ask a single soldier to die for a failed policy.
    A leader must have COURAGE. I’m talking about balls. (That even goes for female leaders.) Swagger isn’t courage. Tough talk isn’t courage. George Bush comes from a blue-blooded Connecticut family, but he likes to talk like a cowboy. You know, My gun is bigger than your gun. Courage in the twenty-first century doesn’t mean posturing and bravado. Courage is a commitment to sit down at the negotiating table and talk.
    If you’re a politician, courage means taking a position even when you know it will cost you votes. Bush can’t even make a public appearance unless the audience has been handpicked and sanitized. He did a series of so-called town hall meetings last year, in auditoriums packed with his most devoted fans. The questions were all softballs.
    To be a leader you’ve got to have CONVICTION a fire in your belly. You’ve got to have passion. You’ve got to really want to get something done. How do you measure fire in the belly? Bush has set the all-time record for number of vacation days taken by a U.S. President˜four hundred and counting. He’d rather clear brush on his ranch than immerse himself in the business of governing. He even told an interviewer that the high point of his presidency so far was catching a seven-and-a-half-pound perch in his hand-stocked lake.
    It’s no better on Capitol Hill. Congress was in session only ninety-seven days in 2006. That’s eleven days less than the record set in 1948, when President Harry Truman coined the term do-nothing Congress. Most people would expect to be fired if they worked so little and had nothing to show for it. But Congress managed to find the time to vote itself a raise. Now, that’s not leadership.
    A leader should have CHARISMA. I’m not talking about being flashy. Charisma is the quality that makes people want to follow you. It’s the ability to inspire. People follow a leader because they trust him. That’s my definition of charisma. Maybe George Bush is a great guy to hang out with at a barbecue or a ball game. But put him at a global summit where the future of our planet is at stake, and he doesn’t look very presidential. Those frat-boy pranks and the kidding around he enjoys so much don’t go over that well with world leaders. Just ask German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who received an unwelcome shoulder massage from our President at a G-8 Summit. When he came up behind her and started squeezing, I thought she was going to go right through the roof.
    A leader has to be COMPETENT. That seems obvious, doesn’t it? You’ve got to know what you’re doing. More important than that, you’ve got to surround yourself with people who know what they’re doing. Bush brags about being our first MBA President. Does that make him competent? Well, let’s see. Thanks to our first MBA President, we’ve got the largest deficit in history, Social Security is on life support, and we’ve run up a half-a-trillion-dollar price tag (so far) in Iraq. And that’s just for starters. A leader has to be a problem solver, and the biggest problems we face as a nation seem to be on the back burner.
    You can’t be a leader if you don’t have COMMON SENSE. I call this Charlie Beacham’s rule. When I was a young guy just starting out in the car business, one of my first jobs was as Ford’s zone manager in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. My boss was a guy named Charlie Beacham, who was the East Coast regional manager. Charlie was a big Southerner, with a warm drawl, a huge smile, and a core of steel. Charlie used to tell me, “Remember, Lee, the only thing you’ve got going for you as a human being is your ability to reason and your common sense. If you don’t know a dip of horseshit from a dip of vanilla ice cream, you’ll never make it.” George Bush doesn’t have common sense. He just has a lot of sound bites. You know˜Mr.they’ll-welcome-us-as-liberators-no-child-left-behind-heck-of-a-job-Brownie-mission-accomplished Bush.
    Former President Bill Clinton once said, “I grew up in an alcoholic home. I spent half my childhood trying to get into the reality-based world˜and I like it here.”
    I think our current President should visit the real world once in a while.
    The Biggest C is Crisis
    Leaders are made, not born. Leadership is forged in times of crisis. It’s easy to sit there with your feet up on the desk and talk theory. Or send someone else’s kids off to war when you’ve never seen a battlefield yourself. It’s another thing to lead when your world comes tumbling down.
    On September 11, 2001, we needed a strong leader more than any other time in our history. We needed a steady hand to guide us out of the ashes. Where was George Bush? He was reading a story about a pet goat to kids in Florida when he heard about the attacks. He kept sitting there for twenty minutes with a baffled look on his face. It’s all on tape. You can see it for yourself. Then, instead of taking the quickest route back to Washington and immediately going on the air to reassure the panicked people of this country, he decided it wasn’t safe to return to the White House. He basically went into hiding for the day and he told Vice President Dick Cheney to stay put in his bunker. We were all frozen in front of our TVs, scared out of our wits, waiting for our leaders to tell us that we were going to be okay, and there was nobody home. It took Bush a couple of days to get his bearings and devise the right photo op at Ground Zero.
    That was George Bush’s moment of truth, and he was paralyzed. And what did he do when he’d regained his composure? He led us down the road to Iraq a road his own father had considered disastrous when he was President. But Bush didn’t listen to Daddy. He listened to a higher father. He prides himself on being faith based, not reality based. If that doesn’t scare the crap out of you, I don’t know what will.
    A Hell of a Mess
    So here’s where we stand. We’re immersed in a bloody war with no plan for winning and no plan for leaving. We’re running the biggest deficit in the history of the country. We’re losing the manufacturing edge to Asia, while our once-great companies are getting slaughtered by health care costs. Gas prices are skyrocketing, and nobody in power has a coherent energy policy. Our schools are in trouble. Our borders are like sieves. The middle class is being squeezed every which way. These are times that cry out for leadership.
    But when you look around, you’ve got to ask: “Where have all the leaders gone?” Where are the curious, creative communicators? Where are the people of character, courage, conviction, competence, and common sense? I may be a sucker for alliteration, but I think you get the point.
    Name me a leader who has a better idea for homeland security than making us take off our shoes in airports and throw away our shampoo? We’ve spent billions of dollars building a huge new bureaucracy, and all we know how to do is react to things that have already happened.
    Name me one leader who emerged from the crisis of Hurricane Katrina. Congress has yet to spend a single day evaluating the response to the hurricane, or demanding accountability for the decisions that were made in the crucial hours after the storm. Everyone’s hunkering down, fingers crossed, hoping it doesn’t happen again. Now, that’s just crazy. Storms happen. Deal with it. Make a plan. Figure out what you’re going to do the next time.
    Name me an industry leader who is thinking creatively about how we can restore our competitive edge in manufacturing. Who would have believed that there could ever be a time when “the Big Three” referred to Japanese car companies? How did this happen˜and more important, what are we going to do about it?
    Name me a government leader who can articulate a plan for paying down the debt, or solving the energy crisis, or managing the health care problem. The silence is deafening. But these are the crises that are eating away at our country and milking the middle class dry.
    I have news for the gang in Congress. We didn’t elect you to sit on your asses and do nothing and remain silent while our democracy is being hijacked and our greatness is being replaced with mediocrity. What is everybody so afraid of? That some bobblehead on Fox News will call them a name? Give me a break. Why don’t you guys show some spine for a change?
    Had Enough?
    Hey, I’m not trying to be the voice of gloom and doom here. I’m trying to light a fire. I’m speaking out because I have hope. I believe in America. In my lifetime I’ve had the privilege of living through some of America’s greatest moments. I’ve also experienced some of our worst crises: the Great Depression, World War II, the Korean War, the Kennedy assassination, the Vietnam War, the 1970s oil crisis, and the struggles of recent years culminating with 9/11. If I’ve learned one thing, it’s this: You don’t get anywhere by standing on the sidelines waiting for somebody else to take action. Whether it’s building a better car or building a better future for our children, we all have a role to play. That’s the challenge I’m raising in this book. It’s a call to action for people who, like me, believe in America. It’s not too late, but it’s getting pretty close. So let’s shake off the horseshit and go to work. Let’s tell ’em all we’ve had enough.
    Excerpted from Where Have All the Leaders Gone?. Copyright © 2007 by Lee Iacocca. All rights reserved.

  3. Ronald says:

    Col. Lang,
    Not only will there be more of this, it may get worse, no? What do you think the possibility of a more spectacular attack on an outpost is? More specifically, one in which the post is overrun and/or we suffer a high number of deaths/captured. I know our people are excellent, but they are not invincible (and our enemies are not incompetent buffoons).
    If something like this happens, the calls for withdrawal will rise more and the confidence in the leadership will fall further because the American people are not appropriately prepared for such risks, I fear.
    I personally believe that Americans have plenty of “stomach” for war until the costs rise in the context of an unclear mission. However, we may end up with another Blackhawk Down situation where the US is seen fleeing when the going gets tough. What I am trying to say is: I would rather get out on our own terms (beginning now) and not in response to some specific event for which our leaders have not prepared us. If we are going to stay, the President needs to be specific about the risks of the surge and tell us ahead of time that the risks are worth it.
    Many thanks for a great blog,

  4. johnieB says:

    To what extent are these observations built into the plan? How do you predict, with anything like accuracy, the scale and effects of such obvious counter moves? What could a competent administration do, at this point or in almost two years’ time?
    Perhaps that was the “risk” which was, or is, a theme from some time back. It’s shaping up to be anther of those interesting Presidential Campaign years, less for those running than for the problems they must dodge to be elected.

  5. anna missed says:

    Isn’t it safe to say that with the Patraeus plan, there has also been a significant change in the policy of the “force protection” priority? Why hasn’t it been reported, by anyone, that this is a fundamental change (in tactics) that almost certainly will dramatically elevate causalities? Its hard for me to see the point of shifting into such overt counterinsurgency (and its certain higher causality rates)mode after the country has already evolved into a civil war state. Seems a little late for all that, unless that, what we are seeing is indeed a genuine ” last ditch effort” to turn things around. In which case, the “surge” equates to an eagerness on Bush’s part to sacrifice yet more American blood to postpone the inevitable.
    This is unforgivable.

  6. confusedponderer says:

    Do I get you right if I say that the strategy makes sense in the countryside where such fortified posts have a good command of terrain, much like the fortified Special Forces camps of Vietnam?
    Interesting follow up would be how to duplicate the strategy in a city in a way that the advantages such camps had in the countryside can be retained. Can it be duplicated? Or is the question rather wether the US are willing to pay the price in loss of troops this strategy carries?

  7. JfM says:

    If, when in combat, the principle-pacing element in determining operational risk is avoiding casualties vice defeating the enemy, it’s probably time to pack it up and come on home. Further it must be noted we as a nation and the military as an institution historically have not been casualty avoidant IF we understand the cause as righteous and necessity. Throughout WWII in the conduct of the island campaign against the Japanese, concern for friendly causalities was a decidedly secondary consideration behind the aim to decisively defeat the enemy. We as a nation and the military as an institution knew throughout that period what had to be done, and the blood and treasure lost was simply accepted as the cost of getting that end done. What we as a people have not historically accepted is the unnecessary loss of blood in less than a rational imperative. Iraq is now widely seen as a misguided and futile effort little worthy of further casualties.
    I remember well the closing days of our Vietnam involvement when the same futility was apparent, and the Army was disintegrating. In the first few years of our commitment there the Army rolled up their sleeves and went to work. By the end, the problem laden Army was dispirited and confused, and an enemy we could have roundly crushed ultimately prevailed. The reasons for our demise then are very similar to today’s flagging cause. Employing a sophisticated, technology-based army against an uninhibited mystifying foe relying on lethal weapons fashioned from garage door openers and vintage Datsuns is almost a lost cause from the get-go IF the modern army is unable or unwilling to become like uninhibited. We can never and will never fight like the enemy back then and certainly now. Therefore, in time, we will be driven home as we were then. The current tactic of diffusing the force into smaller Alamos will like accelerate that predictable process and end.

  8. W. Patrick Lang says:

    “The Vietnamese were never subjugated.”
    A glittering generality which implies that it was us against “the vietnamese.” It was us and the anti-communist vietnamese against the communist

  9. VietnamVet says:

    The Iraq War is the direct consequence of the Ronald Regan right wing propaganda in the 1980s that sold Americans on the belief that Walter Cronkite and Jane Fonda lost the Vietnam War. The USA lost because we were unwilling to invade North Vietnam because of the threat of nuclear war. The Communists sold the Vietnamese on the belief the Americans were a continuation of Western colonization and foreign occupiers because it was true. The Vietnamese resistance may have been battered but they never quit. The Vietnam War would have continued forever until the day the last American soldier left.
    All over again, the USA has invaded another country and again is unwilling to resort to genocide which is the only possible way to conquer Iraq. Once more, the war will continue forever, until the last US trooper leaves Iraq.

  10. zanzibar says:

    I believe a huge problem is apathy among us the citizens of the USA.
    How many of us have participated in a candle-light vigil for a fallen soldier? How many have confronted our elected representatives demanding honesty at a town hall meeting? How many of us have acted in response to the complicity of the corporate media in the selling of the invasion?
    What is clear is that we the citizens of the US have not expressed concern in a meaningful way as our liberty has been stripped, our jobs exported, our children saddled with debt and our soldiers getting killed in a war initiated on false pretenses. How far off the cliff do we fall before we wake up and act?

  11. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Funny. I don’t remember any propaganda like that in the Reagan period. Got any citations?
    What unit, exactly, were you with in VN? Are you sure you really were there?
    I notice you did not respond to my comment about the alignment of forces in VN.
    If you think that our departure will end the war in Iraq, you are mistaken.
    Once again you are quite mistaken about why the war in VN was lost. I wont repeat my previous comments about it.

  12. Montag says:

    Another problem is that the U.S. forces don’t trust the Iraqi soldiers they live with. One news report had the U.S. soldiers living on the top floor with the Iraqis below them–hardly a good situation.
    There’s a very exclusive club in the United Nations, composed of France, the U.S. and China. These are the Great Powers that took on the Vietnamese people and lost.

  13. Salsabob says:

    Our Dien Bien Phu seems inevitable. It’s because we remain stalemated, suspended on the two hooks of stay-the-course and cut-and-run, or whatever crap you want to call ‘em. (e.g. “The Surge,” funding denials). We’re stalemated because we can’t get it through our heads that an alternative has to work not only on the ground but in Bush’s head. Bush has a near pathological concern for the perception that he can be pushed around,. Sure, the Dems can take advantage of that and score political points making this obvious over and over again, but in the meantime our kids remain in the grinder, waiting for the big DBP-like event (my most-likely scenario — the Shia get fed up, turn on us in mass and cut our two supply arteries coming up from the south – game over).
    Someone with clout as well as brains has to get to Bush’s ear. First thing, buck up his confidence that at the nation-state level, we have no peer; we can more than cope. The purpose? Take away the Persian boogeyman. Take that away, and an Iraqi (Arab not Persian, by the way) Shiastan, even if it emerges more Islamic than Iran, is OK; shoot, we’re the frickin USA, we contained the Soviets and the Chinese for 50+ years – we can cope with Iran and Shiastan. Let’s not be frickin cowards!
    That opens the door for us to systematically rollback from Shiastan, give them some benchmarks for security and minority protection, but eventually and fairly quickly turn everything east of the Tigris to them. IMHO, they will get it done. They will emerge as a nation-state, maybe not so friendly to us, but so what; big deal. Can’t someone sell this to Bush; appeal to his nation-building lunacy?
    Then let’s focus on ‘Sunnistan’ — that’s where OUR bad guys are. And when I say “focus” I mean get our footprint out of Baghdad’s ass. Redeploy all of our non-combat and admin out-of-country, turn the Emerald City over, and pull out all those ill-suited combat troop units (e.g. National Guard, artillery divisions) and get lean n’ mean again. Get our needed supply lines down to a fraction of what they are now, and cut a deal with Turkey (i.e., EU entry) to bring those supplies down from the North and back the Kurds off or threaten their demise. Then work Sunnistan as the desert tribal area that it is; get in the mix of deals and betrayals — militarily a lot simpler than Afghanistan 2002 and a whole lot simpler politically that northern Pak is right now. Can’t someone sell this to Bush, appealing to his testosterone lunacy?
    Do this, and relatively fast, our presence can be down to SpecOps.
    Yea, there’s a lot of nuisances (purposely) skipped over, but does any one think that this partitioning into areas of Shia, Sunni and Kurd dominance isn’t’ going to happen eventually. Do we have to wait for our Dien Bien Phu to get our asses out of the way of this inevitability?.

  14. TR Stone says:

    How many of us have met the Charlie Beacham’s of this world. They know more about the interactions of people than all of the think tankers, pundits, and associated bloviators that pass themselves off as experts.
    I still remember my Charlie Beacham and wish I had met him much earlier in life.
    I wonder who GB’s Charlie Beacham is? Dick Cheney perhaps?

  15. JFM says:

    plp, beside the two offered outcomes, there is a third and it’s what I see coming; namely a defeat for the moral or modernization. Yes, I do offer that this current fray probably won’t be a decided win for the forces of immorality (read regression) and certainly not a resounding loss for the side of morality, but rather an ambiguous conclusion for all with us wandering away more wounded than the insurgents. In time social forces for greater personal freedom and some national construction (albeit possibly still divided along religious lines) throughout Iraq may again arise and further conflict explode in efforts to resolve what today is clearly too premature and alien. We folded because in part we did not fight the ugly war today that may have contained the insurgent. Why? Because we as a people cannot stomach-thank God- using like tactics to fight an intractable uncompromising foe.
    As I said many times to my friends in the mid-70s about our experience in Vietnam and the belief that we-the military-lost the war. No, Washington lost the war. On any weekend throughout the last half of the sixties, our military could have decided the issue and sufficiently defeated the North Vietnamese as to allow the effort in the South to germinate for a year or two unthreatened and perhaps prosper. We didn’t do that because we couldn’t (our civilian master’s restraints) and we wouldn’t (our moral inhibitions). It may have risked a widening conflict (although now we know China probably would have not intervened) but we sure as hell could have cut the nuts off Ho and Bac Viet. Again, the necessary methods used to achieve this neutering would have taken the breath away from most here at the time, but it could have been done…and a like outcome could be down today.
    Lastly I offer that if we get out of the way and let the historical process unfold, then Iraq in time will be all the better for it. It may not become an Iraq that we like or that even does our bidding, but it will be an Iraq that can live with itself. It may not even be a whole Iraq as we’ve envisioned but rather three semi-autonomous loosely aliened states. It matters little at this time and the outcome remains clouded for all. We can support our chosen contender in time and bolster the factions that appear to be our best bet, but these maturations are best done from over the horizon and out of sight. Make no mistake: we are the invader and hated by all because of it. We are the re-embodiment of the Crusaders and immeasurably add to the already core sense of humbling shame pervasive in the region. We have screwed this up by the numbers and it was all so preventable and predictable. I cry at our loss of the ten good soldiers today and I cry for us.

  16. wisedup says:

    re. the meme from Vietnam applied to Iraq.
    Cheney attempted to slam Reid with “To accept the bill proposed by the Democratic leadership
    would be to accept a policy that directly contradicts the judgment of
    our military commanders.”
    Reid should have immediately reotrted with “You’re the one who directly contradicted the
    judgment of Shinseki — with 300,000+troops we could have won. Your poor decisions lost us the war in Iraq”

  17. Chris Marlowe says:

    Here is my interpretation of recent American history over the past 40 years.
    A Democratic president (Johnson) started the US presence in Vietnam, then a Republican president (Nixon), realizing that victory would require too high a price for an unpopular war, decided to withdraw (Remember “Vietnamization” and “Peace with Honor”?)
    Nixon and his successor Ford then blamed the fall of South Vietnam on a democratically controlled Congress.
    In 2000, an idiot faux Texan, George Bush, was elected president, and decided that he would show off his cojones by invading Iraq. His neoconservative advisers encouraged this view for reasons of their own. Contrary to popular military wisdom, his defense secretary thought that it could be done on the cheap with 150K troops.
    They were wrong, and lost, as has become apparent to all Americans and the world.
    In 2004, the majority of voting Americans voted to re-elect the idiot faux Texan who had never fought in VN but thought he knew about winning wars. The majority of voting Americans showed to the world that they, like their elected leader, were idiots too.
    “And that was how the United States lost its mojo. Good night.”

  18. TR Stone says:

    I read all the comments here and am overwhelmed by the intelligence and knowledge of those who add their comments.
    The real question (for all)is—how do we keep that last soldier (my brother, your nephew, etc.) from dying for a flawed(failed) policy?

  19. Will says:

    Gen. **** Keene on Good Morning America answering Diane Sawywer’s Q on the 9 casualties in Irak.
    A. Our troops are actually safer in the small outposts b/c they have more info on the insurgents. They prefer it that way.

  20. searp says:

    I can see the military rationale for these posts, albeit I think it is several years too late for success.
    Question: could this be the only way of assuring that the Iraqi Army/Iraqi Police actually take up the security burden? That is, we’re there as mentors with the notion that we leave they stay? The Iraqi public needs some kind of reasonably effective security presence.

  21. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    TIME magazine reports:
    “Increasingly across Iraq, U.S. forces are leaving the comfort and safety of their fortified mega-bases and establishing small combat outposts and patrol bases like the one insurgents struck outside Baquba that left 20 soldiers wounded as well. Some patrol bases are well protected with blast walls and large numbers of troops. Others are little more than abandoned houses that a few platoons circle with Humvees while hunkering down inside. As a reporter frequently embedded with U.S. forces, I’ve visited many such patrol bases, and the sense of vulnerability at them is all too palpable…”,8599,1614091,00.html
    Bearing in mind history, culture, and all that, for those who wish to compare Iraq today and Iraq under the Brits in the 1920s here is some backgound reading:

  22. ked says:

    to answer Lee’s inquiry… Our leaders grew up selfish about their own prospects and disgusted with the direction of America’s civil culture. So, they went to Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and our Blue Chip Corporations, where they remain… busy accumulating wealth in order to assuage their guilt and fear.

  23. tons15 says:

    Chris Marlowe,
    for sake of historic truth,
    to my info the VN war was originated under JFK, who listened intently to the late David Halberstam’s reports about Diem regime. So, ironically, the catholic Pres went on to topple the catholic Diem. This piece of info leads to another thread of history and other conclusions as well, space here does not allow for.

  24. jamzo says:

    RE: there will be more of this
    and since the general (petraeus) will meet with congress in closed session tomorrow there will be no “transcripts” or “recordings” or “live tv” of what they ask him and what he tells them

  25. VietnamVet says:

    The NewsHour last night discussed Diyala Province, outposts and counterinsurgency. I admire Captain Phil Carter. But, Frederick W. Kagan represents all that is screwed up with the current White House and the Iraq War; propaganda, ideology and no combat experience.
    Due to racial tensions, drug use and dealing with draftees like me, Officers who served in the 70’s and Donald Rumsfeld hate the draft. But more importantly ending the draft allowed the Pentagon blame the lost of Vietnam on the media and Jane Fonda. No longer did the troops have to be motivated by the Truth, Justice or Defense of the Homeland. Voluntary Wars and Agitprop became Standard Operating Procedures. Corporal Tillman or Jessica Lynch stories are minor examples.
    Corporate media is incapable of separating truth from fiction and a clear discussion even among commenters here becomes difficult if not impossible. If Captain Carter can not admit that the Iraqis are defending their homes against an Imperial Foreign Invader, no clear discussion of alternatives to the Forever War is possible. More and more will be killed and maimed for nothing.

  26. Chris Marlowe says:

    You are right.
    Ngo Dinh Diem was overthrown and asassinated on 11/1/63. Apparently JFK was dejected by this turn of events, and was contemplating the withdrawal of US advisors at the time of his asassination on 11/22/63. Johnson then decided to escalate the US troop presence since Westmoreland kept asking for more troops to win the war.
    Both Johnson and Bush are from Texas. Does that say anything about having Texans for president in wartime?

  27. RAM says:

    I’m not a military person, so I wonder what happens when the Iraqis decide to combine suicide bombing with mortars or other similar conventional weapons? Iraqis are not stupid, and they’re apparently working on their tactics all the time. Seems to me this could get dicey for our people in those scattered outposts.

  28. Chris Marlowe says:

    The objective of the Bush administration is to keep the American people in a state of perpetual fear and war so that they and their supporters can stay in power as long as possible. They are willing to sacrifice as many American lives, as well as Iraqi lives to achieve this goal.
    This is why they have purposefully and deliberately avoided any opportunities for peace, such as those mentioned in this article:
    The only way for the Bush administration is to survive is through war, war and more war.
    Americans have elected their first vampire government, one which literally lives on the blood of the American people.
    When will they realize this?

  29. Duncan Kinder says:

    One thing that is going on is that, in Iraq, the United States has been unable to control the countryside by controlling a few vital chokepoints upon which the population generally depended ( e.g. water supplies, electrical power, transportation hubs)
    Instead the United States, to assert control, has found it necessary to disperse its forces, where they become more vulnerable, as Col. Lang describes in this post.
    I find this development surprising because societies, like organisms, vary in their complexity. I can control you by pointing a gun at your head because your brain is the only one you had and, by disrupting it, I thereby disrupt you. In contrast, I could shoot a sponge full of holes without doing it much damage. Societies like Vietnam had this sponge-like character, but I had thought that Iraq might be more complex. Sponge societies require disperse occupation while complex ones can be controlled from concentrated strong points.
    One of the interesting points John Robb is making is that the insurgents, far from being dependent upon Iraq’s infrastructure, actually are seeking to disrupt it. That the rest of the population supports (or at least acquiesces ) in this effort, is remarkable – and I think key to what is going on.

  30. I hate to say I told you see, but … again, welcome to the Roach Motel Iraq.

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