Rant of the Day, Monday, May 2, 2005
Yesterday, alert reader 'go long into the night' posted a link to this story
in Comments. The story contained this little gem:
"During the hearing, Rumsfeld assailed critics who were talking about possibly resuming the draft, and said he was tired of hearing about former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki's prediction a month before the invasion that 'several hundred thousand' troops would be needed to occupy Iraq."
That quote frosted my ass. So Rummy’s “tired of hearing about” General Shinseki? Boo-fucking-hoo. Cue the violins and break out the Kleenex for poor, abused Rummy.
Let’s put this in perspective: General Shinseki predicted a long, difficult and costly occupation while Rumsfeld and his Chairborne Rangers predicted flowers and music. General Shinseki wanted a heavy force structure for the initial invasion while Rumsfeld insisted on a skeleton force. General Shinseki was right and Rummy was wrong.
Rummy’s stubborn, ideological insistence on a “lean” force resulted in nation-wide disorders after the fall of Baghdad. Rummy’s incompetence armed the insurgency when he didn’t give the Army enough resources to secure Iraqi weapons and ammunition depots. General Shinseki was right and Rummy was wrong.
Rummy’s rosy predictions and flawed force structure led directly to the complete collapse of the CPA’s reconstruction program - and don’t forget that Rummy directly supervised Baghdad fashion maven and incompetent administrator Paul Bremer. The ever-growing insurgency is a direct result of Rummy’s earliest decisions. General Shinseki was right and Rummy was wrong.
And all roads from Abu Ghraib lead straight to Rummy's office door.
Rummy, you incompetent, ignorant, arrogant son of a bitch, pucker up and kiss my greasy ass.
I want to remind readers about how Rummy treated General Shinseki, so I’m re-publishing this rant
that I originally posted in July 2003, when the US media printed some stories from soldiers who recognized the consequences of Rummy’s failures and publicly sounded off :
Two of the fundamental truths of military science, which all young soldiers learn during their first days in the training barracks, are that shit always rolls downhill and stink always wafts its way to the top. Operations that are planned by the division staff are executed by a young buck sergeant leading a squad of even younger infantrymen, and when something goes wrong with the plan the general hears about it. Sometimes heads roll. The ideological war hawks of this administration fail to understand either of these principles, which is why the troops are sounding off.
Some people dismiss these complaints as typical of disgruntled privates bellyaching about the chow and the mail. Others, especially on the far-right, are outraged: "How dare they not support the President?" But these aren't a bunch of privates pitching a bitch about a latrine detail; the guys sounding off are mid-level officers and senior NCOs. Soldiers with experience and training who wear combat patches on their right shoulders, veterans of Gulf War I, Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti, Macedonia, Afghanistan and Kosovo.
Those soldiers know what they're talking about. They've seen peacekeeping operations done right, in Bosnia, Haiti and Kosovo. And they've seen them done wrong in Somalia and Afghanistan. One of the most common complaints we keep hearing from the troops is that they're not trained, staffed or configured for peacekeeping operations.
The ideologues who planned this operation have always hated the idea of peacekeeping. During the 2000 Presidential campaign Condi Rice articulated the contempt that hard-right conservatives felt toward peacekeeping by saying, "We don't need to have the 82d Airborne escorting kids to kindergarten." In fact, one of the Bushies first moves in the Defense Department was to abolish the Army War College's Peacekeeping Institute. This agency analyzed past peace operations, including NGO participation and military-civilian agency interaction, and passed the results on to the hundreds of American military officers who attended its seminars and courses. Based on this agency's input, the military services developed their own unique peacekeeping doctrine, incorporating the lessons learned from past operations. But hey, we're the greatest power on earth, said the neo-conservatives. We don't need no stinking Peacekeeping Institute.
Professional soldiers are trained to sound off when something is going wrong. Civilians often have the wrong impression that soldiers smartly salute every order saying, "Yes sir, three bags full!" I heard a first sergeant in Bosnia sounding off to our brigade commander one day, complaining after the brigade commander issued a complicated order to deal with an individual problem: "One guy shits his pants, and now the whole goddam brigade's gotta wear a diaper?" That colonel listened to that first sergeant, because he knew that the NCO would have to implement his order. Army leadership schools at all levels emphasize the importance of dissent in the decision-making process. What the outraged conservatives fail to understand is that these professional soldiers are supporting the chain-of-command. The problem is that the commander-in-chief and his chief advisors can't smell the stink.
Good commanders encourage dissent and bad commanders surround themselves with yes-men. Any organization that relies on yes-men is bound to fail because nobody will point out folly. Ideologues, yes-men by nature, always fail because they are unable to recognize folly, let alone voice objection. The neo-conservative ideologues who planned this Operation Iraqi Freedom systematically excluded dissent, shouted down critics and accused questioners of treason. In the Army, this kind of organizational behavior is called a circle jerk.
The planning of Operation Iraqi Freedom was a classic circle jerk. Led by Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Perle, the ideologues created a climate that excluded input even from the professional warfighters. When General Shinseki rained on their war dance by suggesting that post-war operations could require up to 200,000 troops for ten years, he was ridiculed by the ideologues. Instead, the ideologues believed and bought the estimates of Ahmed Chalibi and his exile buddies at the Iraqi National Congress who told them a tale they wanted to hear. When General Shinseki retired, he warned policy makers to "beware the twelve division strategy for a ten division Army." Of course neither Rumsfeld nor any of ideologues heard that warning; no representative from the Office of the Secretary of Defense attended Shinseki's retirement ceremony, apparently just to spite the unpatriotic General who disagreed.
The neo-conservative circle jerk continues in full frenzy. General Abizaid administered a well-placed bitch slap to the war hawks by stating unequivocally that the US now faces classic guerrilla warfare in Iraq, something about which they have been in denial about for quite some time. But when Wolfowitz arrived in Baghdad for his classified, super-secure Magical Mystery Tour of Iraq, he announced, "I look forward to seeing firsthand evidence of what it means for the Iraqi people to be liberated from decades of brutal repression." He's looking for a few good ass-kissers. Meanwhile, when Bremer was asked if he had a strategy to stabilize the country, he whined "We've got a strategy. It's just damned hard to implement it." And Doug Feith dismisses criticism of his own post-war planning assumptions as "simplistic." Simple denial. Rather than admit the failure of the neo-conservative ideology of reverse domino-theory and the spontaneous bloom of a rapturous state of free-market democracy, Wolfowitz and Bremer will ignore the professionals, shut down dissent, and try to make reality conform to ideology.
Still, the neo-conservatives are determined to learn from their mistakes. "We're going to get better over time," promised Lawrence Di Rita, assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs and late of the Heritage Foundation. "This is the future for the world we're in at the moment," he said. "We'll get better as we do it more often." Exactly how the neo-conservatives plan to "get better" is almost as worrisome as the notion that they'll "do it more often." Given their consistent pattern of the ideological circle jerk, "getting better" means improved spin control and fixing the leaks before the next circle jerk.
All this peacekeeping might be new stuff for the administration's ideological war hawks, but it's old hat for the professionals. General Abizaid criticized the officers and NCOs who sounded off to the press, but he also said discipline is a matter for local commanders. A few officers will get hammered on their efficiency reports, crusty sergeants-major will lay down the law to the NCOs that they better not sound off in public, and the bitching will cease. Remember, these guys are professionals. They know shit rolls downhill.
Today Is a Two-Fer Rant
I read the AR 15-6 report
concerning the death of Italian intelligence officer Nicolo Calipari at BP 541, which alert reader Britguy posted in yesterday’s comments. It’s an interesting read, if authentic. I offer no opinion on the basic findings regarding the incident at BP 541 on Route Irish, but the report offers some interesting material on the state of the insurgency.
I’ve extracted some of the material I thought revealing. The letters in parentheses before each paragraph are portion markings, indicating security classification. A (U) means unclassified and (S/NF) means Secret/NOFORN, meaning the material is not approved for dissemination outside US channels.
B. (U) Local Security Situation
1. (U) Iraq. From July 2004 to late March 2005, there were 15,257 attacks against Coalition Forces throughout Iraq. The U.S. considers all of Iraq a combat zone. (Annex 8E).
2. (U) Baghdad. Baghdad is a city of six million people and is home to a large number of suspected insurgents and terrorists operating both in the city and its environs.
(S//NF) From 1 November 2004 to 12 March 2005 there were a total of 3306 attacks in the Baghdad area. Of these, 2400 were directed against Coalition Forces. (Annex 8E)
3. (U) Route Irish. Route Irish is an East-West road along south Baghdad. It is approximately 12 kilometers long and runs from the International Zone in downtown Baghdad to BIAP. The highway is a four-lane road with a 50 meter wide median. (Annexes 8E, 144K).
(U) Route Irish has six major intersections. Each of these has been assigned a corresponding checkpoint number by Coalition Forces to facilitate command and control. Entry Control Point 1 (ECP 1) is located at one end of the highway near BIAP. Checkpoints 539-543 follow the road east going into downtown. (Annex 141K).
(U) Checkpoint 541 refers to the intersection of Route Irish with Route Vernon (also known as Route Force), which runs North-South. (Annex 142K).
(U) Route Irish is commonly referred to as "the deadliest road in Iraq" by journalists, Soldiers, and commanders. There is no corresponding alternative route from downtown Baghdad (and the International Zone) to BIAP, which gives the route a heavy traffic flow and causes Coalition convoy movement to become more predictable. These conditions make Route Irish a lucrative target area for insurgents to employ improvised explosive devices (IEDs) of varying types and to achieve effects in terms of casualties. Soldiers in 1st Cavalry Division and 3d Infantry Division have come to refer to Route Irish as "IED Alley." (Annex 8E).
(S//NF) Between 1 November 2004 and 12 March 2005, there were 135 attacks or hostile incidents that occurred along Route Irish. These included 9 complex attacks (i.e., a combination of more than one type of attack, e.g., an IED followed by small arms fire or mortars), 19 explosive devices found, 3 hand grenades, 7 indirect fire attacks, 19 roadside explosions, 14 rocket propelled grenades (RPGs), 15 vehicle borne explosive devices, and 4 other types of attacks. (Annexes 1E, 8E).
(S//NF) The attack density for the period 1 November 2004 to 12 March 2005 is 11.25 attacks per mile, or a minimum of one attack per day along Route Irish since November. (Annex 8E).
(S//NF) The highest concentration of IED attacks occurs at 1000 hours, with the second highest concentration of attacks occurring at 1600 hours. These times correspond to convoys departing from or arriving at the Victory Base complex, the largest Coalition military facility in Baghdad. (Annex 5E).
(S//NF) Approximately 66 percent of all night time attacks along Route Irish occur between the hours of 1900 and 2100. (Annex 8E). The incident at BP 541 occurred between 2030 and 2100 hours on 4 March 2005.
(U) The majority of IED and VBIED attacks occur in and around three overpasses (CP 540, CP 541, and CP 543) and the turnoff to the International Zone. As mentioned earlier, CP 541 is the location where the incident occurred on 4 March 2005. (Annex 3E).
4. (U) Effectiveness of Attacks
(U) The number of IED detonations from 15 June 2003 through 4 March 2005 (the date of the incident), has steadily increased. Although the effectiveness of those detonations has decreased over that timeframe, the overall average number of casualties during that period is nearly one per IED detonation. (Annex 4E).
(S//NF) The week of the incident saw 166 IED incidents, with 131 detonations and 35 IEDs rendered safe. There were 82 casualties from those incidents. (Annex 4E).
(U) The number of VBIED detonations from 15 June 2003 through 4 March 2005 has also seen a relatively steady increase. Similar to the decrease in the effectiveness of IEDs, the effectiveness of VBIEDs has also decreased over that period, but there have been spikes for particular VBIED events that have produced large numbers of casualties.
(S//NF) There were 17 VBIEDs detonated during the week of the incident with five rendered safe. The average casualty per VBIED detonation that week was 23 due to the large number of casualties that resulted from a VBIED detonation in Al Hillah. The Al Hillah attack was widely publicized and caused all Coalition Forces concern as they patrolled Baghdad and its environs. Any intelligence gained on potential VBIEDs was passed in the form of a BOLO (Be On the Look Out) message to units on patrol via FM radio. (Annex 4E).
(U) Overpasses like Checkpoint 541 are particularly susceptible to attacks. Such sites provide excellent early observation in all directions, easy escape routes, and high speed access to Route Irish. The latter factor is particularly evident at Checkpoint 541 where there is a long (380 meter) exit lane coming off of southbound Route Vernon leading to the on-ramp to Route Irish. (Annex 5E).
(S//NF) Checkpoint 541 has been the site of 13 attacks between 1 November 2004 and early March 2005. Two of those attacks involved VBIEDs. Other attacks included mortars, small arms fire, and IEDs. (Annex 1E).
(U) On the evening of the incident, there were at least two cases of small arms fire in the immediate vicinity, one before and one after the incident. Also, as mentioned earlier, while the Joint Investigation Team was examining the site, a hand grenade was tossed at the personnel from the Route Vernon overpass. This site is under the observation of insurgents in the adjoining housing complex and local neighborhoods anytime a position is established at Checkpoint 541. (Annex 1E).
(S//NF) The two adjoining Route Irish checkpoints, numbers 540 and 542, were also the target of attacks during the 1 November 2004 to early March 2005 period. Checkpoint 540 had 15 attacks, with three of those attacks being VBIEDs. Similarly, Checkpoint 542 had 12 attacks during that period, with two of those attacks being VBIEDs. (Annex 1E).
(U) Furthermore, two days before the incident, two Soldiers from the same unit (1-69 IN) were killed by an IED at Checkpoint 543. The Commander, A Company, 1-69 IN lost a very close friend in that attack. (Annexes 1E, 74C)
(U) Since October 2004, there had been significant insurgent contact on Route Irish. Most of the contacts were RPGs, SAF, IEDs, and VBIEDs. These attacks prompted a re-assessment of the Coalition's responses for operations along Route Irish.
(S//NF) Route Irish is the primary route to BIAP for U.S. Embassy personnel, and there was routinely at least one convoy each day. Rhino buses (armored buses) were procured to provide better protection for passengers. Additionally, a series of briefings and plans were developed to address the insurgent situation along Route Irish. The result was the Rhino Bus Run Program. (Annex 65C).
(S//NF) Under the Rhino Bus Run Program, 1-76 FA escorts two or three Rhino armored buses and one or two baggage trucks to and from the Embassy staging area in the International Zone and the BIAP passenger terminal twice nightly, seven days a week. Each run consists of up to 65 escorted passengers. This is the standard TTP 1-76 FA learned during the Right Seat/Left Seat Ride program conducted by 2-82 FA as part of Relief in Place operations. 1-76 FA's higher headquarters, Fourth Brigade, coordinates attack helicopter support to conduct route reconnaissance ahead of the convoy and Close Air Support in the event of an attack. (Annex 59C).
(U) Captain Drew, Second Lieutenant Acosta, and Staff Sergeant Brown were all concerned about the length of time that the Soldiers had been manning their blocking positions. (Annexes 74C, 77C, 83C). Captain Drew was concerned that leaving his Soldiers in a static position for more than 15 minutes left them open to attack. He was also concerned that he was not adequately performing his patrolling mission because his Soldiers were tied down to the blocking positions. (Annex 74C).
Readers, please draw your own conclusions about Lieutenant AWOL's recent assertion that we're making "good progress." And please read Friendly Fire's summary of today's War News. Friendly Fire and Matt work their asses off to research and publish their posts, and I'm sincerely grateful for their help.