Saturday, November 01, 2003

Note: If you're having problems getting the entire page to load, re-size your screen by clicking the blue box in the upper right corner of your screen. War News for November 1, 2003 Bring’em on: One US soldier killed, four wounded in bomb ambush near Khaldiyah. Bring ‘em on: Two US soldiers killed by land mine near Mosul. Bring ‘em on: Four Iraqi policemen wounded in two ambushes near Mosul. Bring ‘em on: Three US soldiers wounded in Mosul grenade attack. CENTCOM reports one US soldier died of a non-hostile gunshot wound near Fallujah on October 26. Oil pipeline ablaze near Tikrit. Radicals answer the call for jihad against the US in Iraq. Where's Osama, Lieutenant AWOL? Anti-US fever spreads in Iraq. Sunni clerics caution Iraqis against collaborating with Americans. Yesterday’s clashes in Baghdad lasted all day. Here is an account. Vengeance in Basra. Thai soldiers limit activity due to poor security. “Thai military doctors and nurses working in Iraq have reduced the frequency of trips outside their Karbala camp after ambushes in the province last week that left three soldiers dead.” Bremer’s Iraqi police: Understaffed, undertrained, under-resourced, overwhelmed. “But weapons for the police force — of 40,000 officers — remain in crates, and no officers have been hired in months.” Congressional Budget Office predicts Iraqi military costs alone at $85 billion (rosy scenario) to $200 billion (likely scenario) over next four years. CBOs pre-war cost estimates were remarkably accurate compared to Rummy’s lowballs and lies. I thought Rummy was supposedly a successful businessman, or did that mean “successful” in the Enron sense? Army court-martials two US soldiers who married Iraqi women. Jeebus, what would have happened if they had married a couple of Iraqi guys? Shoot the messenger. "Recently, when an army major and the head of operations of an American agency here sought to take a reporter for coffee at the Rashid Hotel, where senior American personnel live and eat, a sentry told them that no reporter could enter the hotel without an escort from the press office. The American officials were more astonished than the reporter." L. Paul Bremer wants Saddam Hussein dead or alive. "'We believe that Saddam is alive, is in Iraq, and his capture or his killing is our top priority,' Bremer told a news conference here." Commentary Editorial: Bush’s colonial corruption. “The Iraqi Governing Council, the very group appointed by the administrator of the U.S. occupation to represent the Iraqi people, is questioning how contracts are being awarded by U.S. corporations, especially Bechtel, and is charging the U.S. administration with gross waste and mismanagement.” Opinion: We can no longer afford to go it alone. Opinion: Lots of manure and no pony. “When Bush was asked whether American troops would be coming home in another year or would still be in Iraq in force, he denounced the question as a 'trick' and refused to answer. Bush should put politics aside; Americans deserve a serious response.” Casualty Reports Local story: Arizona soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Connecticut soldier wounded in Iraq. Local story: Illinois soldier wounded in Iraq. Home Front Cheney touts tax cuts and downplays war at fundraiser in Florida. Seven hundred Texans pay $2,000 each at Bush fundraiser. These people aren't paying enough taxes. Required Reading Blueprint for a Mess: How the Bushies Bungled Iraq. Long article from the Sunday NYT magazine. Read about all your favorite neo-con fuckwits – Bremer, Chalabi, Rummy, Condi, Perle, and Wolfie – who couldn’t organize a latrine detail but thought they could plan an invasion of Iraq. The author draws three conclusions: 1. Military planning and troop training did not adequately address postwar operations, with disasterous results. 2. Squabbling between the neo-cons at Defense and the subject matter experts at state prevented effective use of planning resources. 3. The neo-cons rejected out of hand the institutional knowledge gained from American peace-keeping operations in the last decade, specifically Bosnia and Kosovo. Personally, I believe that the author's first point is the inevitable result of the second two conclusions. "The planning stages of the invasion itself were marked by detailed preparations and frequent rehearsals. Lt. Col. Scott Rutter is a highly decorated U.S. battalion commander whose unit, the Second Battalion, Seventh Infantry of the Third Infantry Division, helped take the Baghdad airport. He says that individual units rehearsed their own roles and the contingencies they might face over and over again. By contrast, the lack of postwar planning made the difficulties the United States faced almost inevitable. 'Without a plan, without meticulous rehearsal and without orders or, at the very least, guidance from higher up the chain of command, the military is all but paralyzed. And in those crucial first postwar days in Baghdad, American forces (and not only those in the Third Infantry Division) behaved that way, as all around them Baghdad was ransacked and most of the categories of infrastructure named in the report were destroyed or seriously damaged. 'We knew what the tactical end state was supposed to be at the end of the war, but we were never told what the end state, the goal was, for the postwar,' Rutter said." The American military excells at training. Given a mission, staff officers will produce a detailed operations order, commanders will a develop Mission Essential Task List for their units and NCOs will train the troops, collectively and individually, according to esatblished standards. But before the military can begin to train, there must be adequate and appropriate guidance form America's civilian leadership. "Without a plan, without meticulous rehearsal and without orders or, at the very least, guidance from higher up the chain of command, the military is all but paralyzed. And in those crucial first postwar days in Baghdad, American forces (and not only those in the Third Infantry Division) behaved that way, as all around them Baghdad was ransacked and most of the categories of infrastructure named in the report were destroyed or seriously damaged." I don't think most Americans realize that the US Army trained for two years in anticipation of Operation Joint Endeavor, the NATO intervention in Bosnia. Manuever battalions of the 1st Armored and 1st Infantry Divisions in Germany practiced stabilization operations such as establishing checkpoints, civilian crowd control and other law and order functions, and integrating civil-military coordination into operations planning. Those tasks received just as much attention when units received their annual evaluations during field exercises at the Combined Manuever Training Center as the more "traditional" tasks of conducting a hasty attack, preparing a deliberate defense or executing passage of lines. When 1st Armored rolled across the Sava River in December 1995, the unit was fully trained in the task at hand: stabilization and peacekeeping. General Nash, commander of the 1st Armored, sounds off: "Nash, understandably proud of his service as commander of U.S. forces in postconflict Bosnia, is chagrined by the way American forces behaved in the immediate aftermath of the fall of Baghdad. 'I know they expected to be greeted with flowers and candy,' he says, 'or at least the civilians in the Pentagon had assured them they would be. But we know from experience that this kind of welcome lasts only a few days at most. You are welcomed with roses -- for one day. Then you have to prove yourself, and keep on proving yourself, every succeeding day of the mission. There are no excuses, and few second chances. That was why, when we went into Bosnia, we went in hard. The only way to keep control of the situation, even if people are initially glad to see you, is to take charge immediately and never let go of control. Instead, in postwar Iraq, we just stood around and responded to events, rather than shaping them.'" The internal food fights, intelligence cherry-picking and outright rejection of previous lessons learned that the author describes are the direct result of a decision making process driven by ideology rather than facts. Here's another example taken from the article: "Garner had resisted the kind of complete de-Baathification of Iraqi society that Ahmad Chalabi and some of his allies in Washington had favored. In particular, he had resisted calls to completely disband the Iraqi Army. Instead, he had tried only to fire Baathists and senior military officers against whom real charges of complicity in the regime's crimes could be demonstrated and to use most members of the Iraqi Army as labor battalions for reconstruction projects...Bremer, however, took the opposite approach. On May 15, he announced the complete disbanding of the Iraqi Army, some 400,000 strong, and the lustration of 50,000 members of the Baath Party. As one U.S. official remarked to me privately, 'That was the week we made 450,000 enemies on the ground in Iraq.'" What's truly disturbing is that the same ideologues are still running the show, pursuing the same failed ideology. It's not surprising that they blame the press for bad news, blame Saddam Hussein for the resistance, and blame the French for...well, for everything. They are simply incapable of realizing that they have failed.


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