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Donald Rumsfeld and Planning for the Iraq War:
Today's issue of The Daily Press, a local paper in Hampton Roads, Virginia, has a fascinating and very troubling interview with Brigadier General Mark Scheid, commander of the Army Transportation Corps who was one of the early planners for the war in Iraq. Scheid is retiring from military service in a few weeks, and he spoke to the local paper in Virginia about Donald Rumsfeld's instructions for drafting plans for the invasion of Iraq. Here's an excerpt, with the most newsworthy part in bold:
A day or two [after 9/11], Rumsfeld was "telling us we were going to war in Afghanistan and to start building the war plan. We were going to go fast.

Then, just as we were barely into Afghanistan ... Rumsfeld came and told us to get ready for Iraq." . . .

Planning was kept very hush-hush in those early days.

"There was only a handful of people, maybe five or six, that were involved with that plan because it had to be kept very, very quiet."

There was already an offensive plan in place for Iraq, Scheid said. And in the beginning, the planners were just expanding on it.

"Whether we were going to execute it, we had no idea," Scheid said.

Eventually other military agencies - like the transportation and Army materiel commands - had to get involved.

They couldn't just "keep planning this in the dark," Scheid said.

Planning continued to be a challenge.

"The secretary of defense continued to push on us ... that everything we write in our plan has to be the idea that we are going to go in, we're going to take out the regime, and then we're going to leave," Scheid said. "We won't stay."

Scheid said the planners continued to try "to write what was called Phase 4," or the piece of the plan that included post-invasion operations like occupation.

Even if the troops didn't stay, "at least we have to plan for it," Scheid said.

"I remember the secretary of defense saying that he would fire the next person that said that," Scheid said. "We would not do planning for Phase 4 operations, which would require all those additional troops that people talk about today.

"He said we will not do that because the American public will not back us if they think we are going over there for a long war."


Why did Rumsfeld think that? Scheid doesn't know.
Thanks to Bob Turner for the link.
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
Thanks Orin. I'd like to see some cooberation (sp?) of this though. The idea that one would fail to make top secret war plans because of public objection is logically incongruous.
9.8.2006 12:19pm
TJ (mail):
Why is that General so shrill?
9.8.2006 12:21pm
monboddo (mail):
With all respect, the fact that the administration, notably the Department of Defense and Cheney's circle, began targeting Iraq soon after 9/11, and then had no plan whatsoever to administer the country after the war, is not new. (But considering there are still a few defenders of the administration's actions, I suppose it always bears repeating.)
9.8.2006 12:21pm
Medis:
This is utterly unsurprising, of course--we have heard the same basic story about Rumsfeld (and Cheney, Addingtion, etc.) again and again in many different contexts. The basic beats are always the same: before the relevant career officials (experts, planners, operational officers, and so on) are consulted, a decision about what is going to be done has already been made by the political figures at the top of the Administration. The task of the career officials is to support the decision that has already been made. Any attempts by the career officials to question or even tangentially undermine that decision will be disregarded. And if some career official insists on raising such issues, they will be replaced.

And as I have noted before, if nothing else this consistent story about how things get done in this Administration should eliminate the idea that deferring to this particular Administration is deferring to the Executive Branch's superior expertise in military or related matters. Rather, since the top officials in this Administration routinely disregard, and even fire, the actual experts in the Executive Branch whenever they contradict those top officials, the only people we would be deferring to are the political folks at the top (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Addington, etc.).
9.8.2006 12:25pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Rumsfeld's aversion to "phase 4" planning is heavily documented, of course. This excerpt is interesting for the alleged motivation and for the "fire anyone who says 'postwar planning'" quote.

Certainly, the alleged motivation is one of the conceivable that would make Rumsfeld out to be something other than a simple moron, which he evidently is not.

As for "top secret war plans," remember that Rumsfeld is a long-time player in D.C. and not nearly naive enough to think that declaring something "top secret" makes it so.

Scheid doesn't seem to have been on on-the-record source for Cobra II ... anyone seen him before?
9.8.2006 12:28pm
Third Party Beneficiary (mail):
Well, obviously Brig. Gen. Scheid is (pick one or more of the following) (a) crazy; (b) senile; (c) grossly incompetent; (d) an Islamist mole; (e) a child molester and/or (f) a Democrat, just like Maj. Gen. Batiste and Gen. Shinseki and Lt. Gen. Newbold and Gen. McPeak and Maj. Gen. Eaton and Gen. Zinni and Maj. Gen. Riggs and Maj. Gen. Swannack and Treasury Secretary O'Neil and etc. and etc. . . . .
9.8.2006 12:28pm
Medis:
Kevin,

I think it is a "plausible deniability" story. Rumsfeld and his aides knew they were going to have to go before Congress and the American people and sell them on the idea that the war would be short, inexpensive, and not take too many troops. If it later turned out that they were secretly planning at the same time for a far longer, more expensive, more troop-intensive war, then they could be accused of actually lying. So, by just not planning for that contingency at all, they could plausibly deny deliberately misleading Congress and the American people.
9.8.2006 12:31pm
A.S.:
I have no idea what Scheid said.

However, it is clear from the article that the author is either incompetent or a left-wing ideologue.

The author writes the following:


Rumsfeld did replace Gen. Eric Shinseki, the Army chief of staff in 2003, after Shinseki told Congress that hundreds of thousands of troops would be needed to secure post-war Iraq.


Lie. Lie. Lie.

How many times does the left-wing have to bring this up before they acknowledge it is a lie?

Shinseki was given his walking papers (in the form of a leak about his replacement) long, LONG before his testimony from Congress.

This has been raised by the left and debunked so many times that the only possible conclusions from its inclusion in the article are that (a) the author is completely incompetent or (b) the author is a left wing ideologue willing to lie to push her preferred position.

Again, since those are the only two possible options, I don't have any confidence in what is in the rest of the article. Scheid may very well have said all those thing, but I would believe the author of this article for a second.
9.8.2006 12:34pm
Medis:
To make my point a little more concrete, recall this prewar statement by Rumsfeld about the upcoming Iraq War:

"It is unknowable how long that conflict will last. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."

Imagine if at the time, he had in his possession a war plan that allowed for a Phase 4 that could easily last far more than six months. That would make him out as just a liar. But with no such plan in his possession, he plausibly could claim to be referring just to the likely time frame of Phases 1-3.
9.8.2006 12:38pm
uh clem (mail):
There's an old saying: "To fail to plan is to plan to fail."

In the case of Rummy it's more like deliberate planning to fail to plan.

A.S. - sounds to me like you're desparately trying to find a reason to reject information that you don't want to hear. It's exactly this mindset that got us into the mess we're in (See Medis's post above).
9.8.2006 12:41pm
Medis:
A.S.,

I assume, of course, that we should apply the same standard to people like Rumsfeld and Cheney (that if they have ever said anything inaccurate about the events leading up to the war, we can safely disregard anything else they have to say).
9.8.2006 12:43pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
People misremember about Shinseki. The real retort wasn't his leaving, though that was indeed handled gracelessly, but rather Wolfowitz's declaration that Shinseki didn't know what he was talking about.
9.8.2006 12:53pm
Steve H (mail):
Orin, as delighted as I am to read that, is that really the kind of thing that belongs on this site (as opposed to your own site)? It seems like this is the kind of thing I can get from Daily Kos or Kevin Drum or TPM.

I know that when Jim Lindgren simply cuts and pastes right wing garbage and posts it here, it bothers me -- not just because of the content, but because of my impression that this site is dedicated to legal and constitutional matters, not nakedly political ones. I think the same reasoning applies to your post.
9.8.2006 1:36pm
Medis:
Anderson,

I think anyone who knows about the course of events involving Shinseki would know that A.S. is focusing on trivia. It is true that the clash between Rumsfeld and Shinseki started long before his testimony to Congress, but it is also true that many of the underlying issues before that time were the same ones we are discussing now (relating to what sorts of planning and troop levels it would take to successfully invade and occupy another country, a debate which they specifically started with Afghanistan but that really started even earlier with their debates about the proper size of the Army).
9.8.2006 1:37pm
Brennan:
Saying this article is "troubling" is putting it very mildly. (1) The Secretary of Defense overruled professional military planners who wanted to prepare contingency plans for an eventuality that was as near certain as you get in such things. We were invading a country of 26 million sandwiched between two active enemies of America (Syria and Iran) and we had the expressed goal of removing its entire ruling class from power (remember debaathification?). The need for extensive post-war planning was obvious. Whether the motive for this decisive was political or not, it was mindbogglingly stupid.
(2) The professional military let themselves be overruled on an issue that was predictably going to cost thousands of American and Iraqi lives and seriously undermine any chance of long-term success. That is not just respecting the principle of civilian control, that was a remarkable abdication of responsibility and professionalism. The officers involved should have formally protested up the chain of command and, if that was unavailing, should have resigned. These officers did not serve their country well.

Of course, the most troubling thing about this issue is that these essential facts have been known for years and Rumsfeld retains his job and Congress has remained supine.
9.8.2006 1:49pm
te:
Well, obviously, this so-called "general" is just some nutty leftist who doesn't understand the realities of modern warfare.

I won't impugn his patriotism and dedication to his country but based on the article above, I don't see any evidence that he is not a deep cover AlQaeda operative. Nor to I see any evidence that would indicate that he does not like to kick puppies.

Some of the brave members of the 101st Keyboard division need to step up and start researching whether he actually earned any of those medals that he probably wears on his uniform.
9.8.2006 1:51pm
Medis:
By the way, Shinseki's treatment is relevant to the issue of what sort of advice Rumsfeld and Co would get in the future. But given the discussion we are having here, the more relevant point is just the extent to which Rumsfeld and Co ignored the advice they were getting from career officers. On that subject, it may be worth remembering what Shinseki actually told Congress:

"SEN. LEVIN: General Shinseki, could you give us some idea as to the magnitude of the Army's force requirement for an occupation of Iraq following a successful completion of the war?

GEN. SHINSEKI: In specific numbers, I would have to rely on combatant commanders' exact requirements. But I think --

SEN. LEVIN: How about a range?

GEN. SHINSEKI: I would say that what's been mobilized to this point -- something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers are probably, you know, a figure that would be required. We're talking about post-hostilities control over a piece of geography that's fairly significant, with the kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems. And so it takes a significant ground- force presence to maintain a safe and secure environment, to ensure that people are fed, that water is distributed, all the normal responsibilities that go along with administering a situation like this."

When asked about these comments, Rumsfeld said:

"The idea that it would take several hundred thousand U.S. forces I think is far off the mark."

Wolfowitz went into more detail when testifying to the House Budget Committee. Among other things, he asserted:

"First, it is hard to conceive that it would take more forces to provide stability in a post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct the war itself and to secure the surrender of Saddam's security forces and his army -- hard to imagine."

And he distinguished Iraq from Bosnia with claims like this:

"There are other differences that suggest that peacekeeping requirements in Iraq might be much lower than our historical experience in the Balkans suggest. There has been none of the record in Iraq of ethnic militias fighting one another that produced so much bloodshed and permanent scars in Bosnia, along with a continuing requirement for large peacekeeping forces to separate those militias."

This is the advice Rumsfeld chose to listen to, rather than the advice of career officers like Shinseki. Just something to keep in mind.
9.8.2006 1:55pm
Steve:
The Secretary of Defense overruled professional military planners who wanted to prepare contingency plans for an eventuality that was as near certain as you get in such things.

It seems to me that it shouldn't have been that hard for them to do the right thing. If they wanted to maintain plausible deniability so they could tell everyone it would be an easy war, all they had to do was say "Gosh, in the extremely unlikely event that there's a protracted insurgency, let's have a contingency plan ready." They could have written CYA memos to this effect until the cows come home, if it really mattered to them. But not making a plan at all, because it would look bad down the road if people knew you had actually planned for a lengthy insurgency, is so irresponsible it boggles the mind. How can we ask our troops to trust leaders like this?
9.8.2006 2:00pm
steve k:
And if there were a contingency plan (assuming there wasn't), how exactly would anything have turned out different?
9.8.2006 2:05pm
Medis:
Steve,

I agree with your conclusion, but I think it was harder for them to do the right thing than you suggest, at least from the amoral political perspective. Again, Rumsfeld wanted to describe something like six MONTHS as an extremely unlikely event. We are now at three and a half YEARS. And it is hard to argue that six months is extremely unlikely when you are planning for the possibility that it will actually take years.
9.8.2006 2:08pm
Medis:
steve k.,

It is possible that if we had actually devoted something like 500,000 troops to the occupation, the insurgency would never have started in earnest, the Iraqi people would have remained confident in the ability of the CPA and later the national government to protect them and provide basic services, and the sectarian violence would not have begun and escalated to its current level. Indeed, by now we might have far fewer troops in Iraq.

Of course, we will never know for sure if this would have worked, but that was precisely the theory--one which was based on various studies of past successful and unsuccessful occupations--upon which Shinseki and others were advocating a much larger occupation force.
9.8.2006 2:13pm
Pete Freans (mail):
Interesting article but there are a few points I would like to elaborate on. Firstly, the Brigadier General (BG)and his collegues didn't show much confidence in their own military by saying:

"My gosh, we're in the middle of Afghanistan, how can we possibly be doing two at one time? How can we pull this off? It's just going to be too much."

Maybe this was an initial reaction, but even a civilian such as myself knows that the U.S. is well capable of and equipped to fighting a war on two fronts.

Secondly, the B.G. admits that an Iraqi war plan was already in place:

There was already an offensive plan in place for Iraq, Scheid said. And in the beginning, the planners were just expanding on it. "Whether we were going to execute it, we had no idea," Scheid said.

This doesn't confirm that 9/11 was a pretext for war in Iraq anymore than the first WTC bombing was. It is my hope that our military prepares for every contingency in the world and executes it with dispatch. I'm sure even the Clinton White House had a contingency plan on file given the frequent incroachments of the Iraqi military into the No-Fly Zones in the 1990's. Now whether those plans should be executed is another debate.

Finally, his remaining comments were quite telling:

Was Rumsfeld right or wrong? Scheid said he doesn't know that either..."We really thought that after the collapse of the regime we were going to do all these humanitarian type things," he said. "We thought this would go pretty fast and we'd be able to get out of there. We really didn't anticipate them to continue to fight the way they did or come back the way they are."

In essense, the B.G. isn't passing judgment over Rumsfeld at all. In fact, he is admitting that they didn't plan for a prolonged engagement because he felt there was no need to. Even if a phase 4 was in place, the insurgency would have counterattacked with equal force, with or without "humanitarian type things".
9.8.2006 2:17pm
Steve:
And if there were a contingency plan (assuming there wasn't), how exactly would anything have turned out different?

Well, I don't have the faintest idea what would have happened in an alternate universe, but I think it takes a stunning leap of faith to assume that it makes no difference whether or not the military has a plan.

And it is hard to argue that six months is extremely unlikely when you are planning for the possibility that it will actually take years.

I guess you have a point. But remember, nothing comes out until after the fact anyway. Rumsfeld's ability at the present time to claim with plausibility "gee, we never thought the insurgency would drag on this long" isn't much stronger than it would be if we learned he had a multi-year contingency plan at the ready all along. And if you assume selling the war trumps all else, he's equally able to sell it in either scenario.

But it's really the moral perspective, rather than the amoral one, that's bugging me here. Yeah, if it comes out after the fact that you had a contingency plan prepared, people might question the integrity of your pre-war predictions. But if you don't make a plan, American soldiers are likely to die as a result. You'd like to think it would be a no-brainer... and maybe it was, just in the opposite direction from what you'd like to see.
9.8.2006 2:19pm
Clamato:
The reason Rumsfeld refused to do the planning for Phase 4 is that any such plan, given the leaks that were coming out of the Pentagon, would have ended up at the New York Times. The Times would have spun it this way: "U.S Planning to spend a long time in Iraq." This would have fed an insurgency before the war even started. It would have upset Arab countries, and fed their conspiratorial minded ways. It would have been interpreted as the U.S. preparing to seize the oil in the middle east.

Here is the deal about Shinseki and Rumsfeld

The clash between Shinseki and Rumsfeld began as soon as Rumsfeld took office. According to one account, Shinseki told Rumsfeld in the first meeting that he (Shinseki) was going to run things, and as long as Rumsfeld did not interfere, things would be OK.

Tom Ricks, in an article from 2002:


Rumsfeld's primary objective in reasserting civilian control over the Pentagon has been in reining in a Joint Staff that the defense secretary, according to associates, believed had become too powerful and independent of civilian control, with officers acting at times as though they were not subordinate to their civilian bosses.

...Rumsfeld, say people who have dealt with him over the last two years, saw the Joint Staff as sometimes unresponsive to civilian leadership, even asserting its own policy positions at interagency meetings. He wasn't alone in that feeling, recalled one officer at the Pentagon, who said that Joint Staff officers sometimes seemed to have the attitude that "the suits don't need to know this, they stay in our lane, we stay in ours."


The clash was about transformation of the Army, and control of the army. Shinseki wanted to pretend to do transformation, Rumsfeld wanted real transformation. Shinseki wanted to keep a very large setpiece army suitable for combat on the plains of Europe. Rumsfeld wanted to use our technological advantage to create an equally deadly, fast moving military force.

Shinseki used his contacts in Congress and in the newspapers to undercut Rumsfeld, as did several other generals who were on his side. It was the classical bureaucratic battle. Rumsfeld won.

When Operation Anaconda was underway in Afghanistan, several generals ran to the media to claim that they did not have enough artillery (The amount and type of artillery needed was a centerpiece of the battle between Rumsfeld and Shinseki) The generals actually in charge of the operation said they did not need that artillery. It would have been a burden in the high altitudes they were fighting at. The Shinseki side had used the incident purely as a political hammer.

When we invaded Iraq, the political generals went to the media as soon as the war stated. "All of these retired generals are telling us that we were bogged down!" I remember Paula Zahn saying. The "We are bogged down" movement was another political attack on Rumsfeld. Again, the political generals were trying to use current events to fight their political battle in the media.

Much of the trouble since has been the remnants of the same fight. There is a concerted movement that wants to get rid of Rumsfeld, and they have been opportunistic in their efforts.

After the "gays in the military' debacle (after which Clinton's popularity plummeted), Clinton and the military made a deal: You leave me alone, and I'll leave you alone. So the military got to run its own show, with no interference from the civilians. Shinseki wanted to continue that way of life. Rumsfeld did not.
9.8.2006 2:25pm
Medis:
Steve,

My best guess is that their plan was something like this: hopefully everything goes according to the Cheney/Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz vision. But on the slight chance they were wrong, I think they might have thought that they could add more troops after-the-fact (and maybe they really believed other countries like France would start helping out with the occupation, another argument Wolfowitz made). But their completely unexpected failure to find any WMDs in Iraq scuttled all their contingency plans, because that is why public sentiment in favor of the war turned so fast, and it became politically impossible for them to substantially increase troop levels after-the-fact. Similarly, there was now no chance (if there ever was) of other countries committing new troops to the occupation.

So, I think they had something of a contingency plan in mind, but it got trashed by the missing WMDs.

On a general point: to briefly summarize the theory of occupations I was alluding to, a RAND study and various other people have looked at successful and unsuccessful occupations, and have come up with an estimate of about 1 occupying troop per 50 denizens of the occupied country as a bare minimum. In fact, the ratio was more like 1:40 in the post WWII occupations, and NATO used a similar number (1:40) in Bosnia. Since Iraq has a population of about 29 million, 1:40 would require about 725,000 troops, and 1:50 would require about 580,000 troops.

So, that was where Shinseki and others like him were getting their estimates. Obviously, the troops we went with were far lower than the 1:50 mark, and remain far lower today--at their peak, I think we approached something like 1:160.
9.8.2006 2:34pm
Steve:
The reason Rumsfeld refused to do the planning for Phase 4 is that any such plan, given the leaks that were coming out of the Pentagon, would have ended up at the New York Times. The Times would have spun it this way: "U.S Planning to spend a long time in Iraq."

I seem to remember the "leaks" in the pre-war reporting, at the Times and elsewhere, as being decidedly more pro-administration than this.

When Bush said "I have no plans for war on my desk," I don't remember a flurry of leaks and news stories purporting to show the opposite. The fact that we had plans for war in Iraq since day one (which doesn't bother me, incidentally) is something that didn't come out after the fact. So it's hard for me to imagine that in a different scenario, not only the existence of such plans but also their intimate details also would have been leaked and published.

I realize it's cheap and easy to blame the media for everything, but the argument that the U.S. military can't plan for a serious known contingency because the media might find out is just disgusting. Gosh, let's do every war by the seat of our pants from now on, just to make sure there are no leaks in the press!
9.8.2006 2:34pm
Medis:
Clamato,

Most importantly, leaked contingency plans for a much longer, much more expensive, and much more troop-intensive occupation may have jeopardized the Administration's case for war both in Congress and in the public. Indeed, either Congress and/or the public might have demanded a slower process before going to war, taken a closer look at the WMD and terrorism evidence, and so on. And all that might well have ended up with us not invading Iraq at all.

In short, a realistic estimate of the possible costs of the war might have stopped the war from happening. And the Administration had already decided that the war was going to happen.
9.8.2006 2:40pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Brennan:
(1) The Secretary of Defense overruled professional military planners

This is why there's a civilian at the top, to overrule the military. Of course, it helps if he's right but the overruling part is OK.

(2) The professional military let themselves be overruled on an issue that was predictably going to cost thousands of American and Iraqi lives and seriously undermine any chance of long-term success...The officers involved should have formally protested up the chain of command and, if that was unavailing, should have resigned.

You don't understand what career officers mean when they say "professional." Basically, they mean 'not rocking the boat'.

...and Congress has remained supine.

Hoots, man, they're Congress!
9.8.2006 2:58pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Pete: Maybe this was an initial reaction, but even a civilian such as myself knows that the U.S. is well capable of and equipped to fighting a war on two fronts.

Right ... because you say so. Okay!

Not without the draft, we're not.
9.8.2006 2:59pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
The other issue, too, influencing Rumsfield is that he has long wanted to be able to have a credible force that could threaten an attack on other countries --such as Iran or North Korea-- at the same time the US was in as Iraq. He has favored smaller, "lighting" strike forces (backed by the US's considerable air power), over large deployments, in part so he can carry on wars on many fronts. If he planned for, and conceded the necessity of, 500,000 US troops in Iraq, he would have to abandon this idea and the ability to attack Iran or North Korea with ground troops.

Rumsfield and Wolfowitz also came into the DoD thinking that the military always exaggerates the number of troops they need to do anything and that the military is incredibly risk-adverse. So, they naturally discounted anything that Shinseki would say about troop requirements.

So, while Medis is doubtless correct in his analysis about the politics driving Rumsfield's calculations, I think he was also acting consistent with his and Wolfowitz's long-held views about US forces and military strategies they both preferred to use.
9.8.2006 3:07pm
Medis:
Christopher,

To be clear, I also think that they likely believed the tale they were spinning. But that doesn't quite explain why they wouldn't plan for the possibility of being wrong, or otherwise admit the existence of that possibility. And that is what I was trying to explain (their apparent need to place these contingencies completely outside the realm of possibility).

By the way, I should also note that I also think that civilians should remain in charge of the military. But that is consistent with wanting those civilians to make their decisions in light of the advice they get from career officers, and not purely on the basis of pre-formed ideologies. And most fundamentally, the fact that some civilians should be in charge of the military doesn't mean that these particular civilians should remain in charge of the military.
9.8.2006 3:31pm
Steve:
One of the most fundamental reasons to support civilian control of the military is that we can replace those civilians if they screw up. Presumably we wouldn't want to move to a system of electing generals.
9.8.2006 3:40pm
Brennan:
Donald Rumsfeld appears to be a smart, dedicated, patriotic American with a great deal of experience with and knowledge of the military.

As exemplified by the vignette Orin has linked to, his performance as Secretary of Defense also demonstrates that he is lacking in good judgment. Despite his other virtues, the absence of this one makes him completely unfit for the office he holds.

Surely, we can all agree on that, right? (Riiiight...)

But seriously, given that he has the ear of a president who famously combines a near-feudal sense of personal loyalty with little or no aptitude for critical thinking, I think that many Americans (myself included) feel less safe every day Rumsfeld remains in office. Embracing a personal style of shooting from the hip is terrifically cool when someone is blogging snarky comments about political opponents -- but purely terrifying when that someone is charged with running the world's most powerful military.
9.8.2006 4:35pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Medis gets it.

You cannot plan for an occupation if you don't have infantry.

Rumsfeld thinks infantry are passe, and we don't have any anyway. So since he didn't have any, he didn't plan to use any.

GB I understood. That's why he didn't invade Iraq. He had borrowed infantry to invade Kuwait, but the lenders were not on board with invading Iraq. So he didn't.

His ignorant son and ignorant advisers never figured it out.
9.8.2006 5:16pm
Pete Freans (mail):
Right ... because you say so. Okay!

Not without the draft, we're not.


Anderson:

Are we not fighting a two-front war right now? And do we not have our military comfortably stationed across this world at this time? And haven't we utilized our troops in many parts of the world for humanitarian missions, again, during these two conflicts? The answers to those questions is yes.

1.4 million active duty personnel plus over 800,000 reservists are not enough to fight a two front war? Our military was designed and is geographically positioned to do just that. While I realize that our military is finite and shouldn't be streched beyond its effectiveness, I don't share the same pessimism you do in our military (and in my argument).
9.8.2006 5:23pm
Pete Freans (mail):
I apologize but I meant to include this link regarding our current humanitarian missions planned by our military.
9.8.2006 5:29pm
Medis:
Pete,

But are we EFFECTIVELY fighting a two-front war? In other words, it isn't enough to have the resources to fight a two-front war--presumably we'd also want to have the resources to actually win it.
9.8.2006 5:30pm
Bruce:
Cripes almighty, whether you're liberal or conservative, it's inexcusable not to do contingency plans. Liberals who complain when a secret war plan to invade Canada or something is revealed are making a similar mistake; these scenarios have to be contemplated in advance so that if it ever was necessary to invade Canada (say, if it was overthrown by Martians or something), we wouldn't have to do it on the fly, you'd just dust off the old plan and adapt it from there.
9.8.2006 5:46pm
David Maquera (mail) (www):
I agree with Bruce regarding the need for contingency plans. The problem with Julius Bush and Rumsfeld the Great is that they don't know how to move past busted contingency plans when circumstances require it. This is why the current "stay the course" nonsense emanating from the White House is as foolish as the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava or Custer's Last Stand at Little Big Horn. Sometimes it's okay to make tactical withdrawals from the field of battle despite one's pride and sense of honor if only to survive for future battles that really count. That's what General Washington did when he fled Long Island and rebuilt his army for Yorktown years later. By the way, yours truly is a paleo-conservative of the Barry Goldwater wing of the Republican party who thinks the neo-cons in DC are merely legends in their own minds.
9.8.2006 6:29pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
By the way, I should also note that I also think that civilians should remain in charge of the military. But that is consistent with wanting those civilians to make their decisions in light of the advice they get from career officers, and not purely on the basis of pre-formed ideologies.
But you act as if only the civilians have "pre-formed ideologies." In fact, so do the "career officers," and their advice has to be interpreted in light of that fact. Of course, the career officers' ideologies may be bureaucratic rather than political, but that doesn't make them any more reliable.
9.8.2006 6:42pm
Medis:
David N.,

Absolutely. The civilian decisionmakers in our system of military governance have a tough job: they have to listen to the arguments of the career officers, evaluating them in light of those officers' experience and expertise, but also in light of any biases, institutional allegiances, and so on that they might have formed. As an aside, I think a smart decisionmaker will deliberately encourage dissent and debate among the career officers, because often they are best placed to uncover the weaknesses and biases in each other's views.

But time and again, it has become clear that the most important decisions in this Administration are made by Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al before the career officers even have a chance to provide their input. And once the relevant decision is made, the career officers are required to simply support the decision or get out of the way. And that approach makes little sense, unless you believe the opinions of the career officers are effectively worthless whenever they contradict the opinions of Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al.

Which brings me back to my point above: given the way this Administration is run, deferring to the Executive Branch is not deferring to the entire Executive Branch. It is really just deferring to the judgment of a few like-minded people at the top.
9.8.2006 6:56pm
SG:

given the way this Administration is run, deferring to the Executive Branch is not deferring to the entire Executive Branch. It is really just deferring to the judgment of a few like-minded people at the top.


But check the constitution, that's the way the system is meant to work: "The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America."

It's up to the President to decide how much authority he wants to delegate and who he chooses to delegate it to. There's nothing inherently wrong with keeping a small circle of advisers. It's the people's job to elect someone with good judgement to the presidency.
9.8.2006 8:00pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Ah, Pete, if we have so many troops, why are so many poor bastards going back for their fourth tour of Iraq? Why do we have to pull troops out of one part of Iraq to police another? Why did we have to pull troops out of Afghanistan (where our puppet controls much less territory than the USSR's puppet, and we all know how that turned out) to invade Iraq? Just how many of our 1.4MM troops are actually trained and available for the Iraq War?

Rumsfeld suggested that we would be down to 30K US troops in Iraq by Xmas 2003 (doubtless with our good friend Ahmad Chalabi picking up the slack). It's one thing to be surprised in warfare, but this Administration has been one long string of Mission Accomplished photo ops followed by just as much—no, <i>more</i>—carnage on the ground two weeks later.
9.8.2006 9:04pm
Anonymous Reader:
People,

Please, please, please spare me the conspiracy theories. Does anyone even remember the crusader? Wasn't that the artillery system that was Shinseki's baby? Wasn't he upset that that program was cut in favor of combat teams?

Also, don't get it twisted, career Generals don't get to where they are by rocking the boat. Our system is created such that people (civilians) control the military just so that we don't create some type of dictarship just because this and this general "know" what's best for us. So just because Rumsfeld didn't listen or apply what Generals told him don't mean jack. Bottom line, the generals aren't the ultimate decision maker.

Now, I would hope someone looked at BG Scheide's bio and did a little cursory research as to where he was in the chain of command. From what I read, he was in the staff for CENTCOM. Now, granted you may or may not have any military experience, but I would hazzard to guess that he was not at his current rank during that time. Meaning, he was most likely a Colonel during that time. Now, someone explain to me how a Colonel would have that kind of contact with the SecDef? I mean really? I am in no way saying that he might not have that kind of first hand knowledge, but in my limited opinion, I don't think he would.

Understanding what I've previously mentioned, why would anyone NOT plan for contingencies? It's easy to sit back here and play arm chair quarterback with 20/20 and argue we should have put more credence into this scenario vice that one. All I'll say is thank you for reliving history through the lens of today. What do we do now?

Anonymous Reader
9.8.2006 9:33pm
targetedoutrage (mail):
Has anyone commenting here ever been involved in the deliberate planning process envisioned by Joint Pub 5-0 "Doctrine for Planning Joint Operation?" I have, and here are couple of thoughts. Scheid was a Colonel and a Transportation Planner for Centcom. He did not exactly sit at Rumsfeld's right hand during the run up to the war. Any recollection he has about Rumsfeld's guidance to planners is 4+ years old and second hand. I would not consider his recollection as iron-clad evidence of misfeasance.

But let's grant that Scheid remembers events exactly as they occurred. Why wouldn't Rumsfeld tell his Generals to focus on the prehostilities, lodgment, decisive combat and stabilization before they worried about planning "Phase IV." Rumsfeld is intelligent and experienced enough to know that plan for the war and the "follow through" would be drastically changed based on circumstances forces encountered on the ground. Whatever the planners came up with and published would be barely valuable as a vague outline (if that) for "phase IV." Why waste time planning for something that was sure to be overtaken by events by the time "phase IV" actually came about, when you could use the time and resourses available to plan for events that might actually transpire as envisioned?
9.8.2006 9:34pm
Medis:
SG,

Sure, the President listening only to bad advice from a small circle of people despite their demonstrated ignorance and incompetence is not unconstitutional. Of course, that just goes to show the Constitution is not fool-proof.
9.8.2006 9:34pm
Medis:
targetedoutrage,

You ask: "Why waste time planning for something that was sure to be overtaken by events by the time 'phase IV' actually came about, when you could use the time and resourses available to plan for events that might actually transpire as envisioned?"

Well, for one thing, if you do end up needing 500,000 or more troops for the occupation, which is a lot more than you are using in the invasion, then you can't just do it on the fly. Those people--and all the many resources that would have to go into Iraq with them--would have to be in place and ready to go as soon as the need arose. And obviously, to sustain a deployment like that for more than a brief period would require even more advanced planning. So, the bottomline is that even if you view this as a mere contingency (which would really be a pretty stupid thing to conclude even without the benefit of hindsight), you have to plan and prepare for this particular contingency well in advance.

And incidentally, since there was no imminent threat, it wasn't like time was a fixed commodity. In other words, they weren't forced into a choice between planning for the invasion or planning for the occupation, because they could take whatever time they needed to plan for both.
9.8.2006 9:48pm
Medis:
Anonymous Reader,

You ask: "What do we do now?

The logic of troop levels hasn't really changed--indeed, if anything we probably need a lot more than we did before. Of course, there is no guarantee that a dramatic influx of troops would stop the escalation of violence, but it would be our best hope.

So, we basically have two choices: try dramatically increasing troop levels and hope it isn't too late, or admit we blew it and pull out. But continuing with a strategy that has proven to be ill-conceived and ineffective makes no sense whatsoever.
9.8.2006 9:54pm
Pete Freans (mail):
But are we EFFECTIVELY fighting a two-front war? In other words, it isn't enough to have the resources to fight a two-front war--presumably we'd also want to have the resources to actually win it.

Medis,

That's a very good point. I'm not engaging in semantical games but you must first define what effectiveness and winning means in the context of the US policy. If we define effectiveness as killing more of them than us, then our military is arguable the most effective the human race has ever seen. If we define winning as accomplishing our objectives, then I would argue that we have initially won the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I think your point is really a debate about military strategy, tactics, and objectives. Should Rumsfeld for example have assembled more boots on the ground in Iraq? Was disbanding the Iraqi army the correct course of action? Should the military have moved slower toward Baghdad during those initial weeks of battle? I would agree that these gaffes have diminished our effectiveness and has postponed our political victory in Iraq.
9.8.2006 10:05pm
Mark Field (mail):

If we define winning as accomplishing our objectives, then I would argue that we have initially won the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.


What definition of "accomplishing our objectives" are you using? I mean, the reasoning behind the invasion of Iraq is a moving target, but I can't think of a reason which explains (a) that we "accomplished it", AND (b) why we're still there.

As for Afghanistan, sure you could say that dethroning the Taliban was our objective, though I always thought that was secondary to eliminating Al Qaeda/bin Laden. We obviously have not accomplished the latter and the former is looking increasingly vulnerable.
9.8.2006 10:20pm
Medis:
Pete,

You say: "I would agree that these gaffes have diminished our effectiveness and has postponed our political victory in Iraq."

That is an optimistic assessment. Another possibility is that we will not achieve a political victory in Iraq, and ultimately we will end up with an Iraq that is just as dangerous, if not more so, to the U.S. than Iraq under Saddam. And I'd say that would count as losing the war.
9.8.2006 10:39pm
Medis:
Oh, and I agree with Mark: we did not achieve all of our objectives in Afghanistan, and the future of Afghanistan remains uncertain.
9.8.2006 10:40pm
Anonymous Reader:
Medis,

I see the point you're trying to make, however it's a non-starter. We could have deployed 1 million troops to Iraq at the start of the war and I doubt things would be any different. "Why not?" you may ask? Well, for one, more of anything (troops, equipment, etc) won't necessarily accomplish the mission. I don't know if you have a military background or not, but I can say that you can't just throw troops on the ground and declare that the situation is well in hand. And before it even comes up, you could have the greatest plan in the world, but it won't survive first contact, so that's a non-starter as well.

As for your statement that time was not a fixed commodity, remember what I just said about plans and first contact. It's not realistic to have troops standing by, JUST IN CASE it goes all to hell. You develop your plans within the constraints you're given and you execute. Plain and simple. To some old school career generals who grew up with the ideal scenario being the "Eurpoean slugfest" with hundreds of tanks and tactical nukes, fighting a counterinsurgency would be the least desired or expected course of action. Just as some career generals thought that Japan would never attack us in the late 1930's.

So you have to fight the fight that you think you have the best chance of succeeding. Throwing people and equipment at a problem won't necessarily solve it, if anything it can be extremely counterproductive to political relationships.

Anonymous Reader
9.8.2006 11:27pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
targetedoutrage, Rumsfeld wouldn't do Phase 4 because he thinks infantry is passe, that remote-flown drones and stuff like that have replaced the Queen of Battle.

Lots and lots of mostly and deservedly forgotten strategists, in and out of uniform, have said that, starting with Douhet, and they've always been wrong. The ignorance of the administration is really beyond belief.

Ananymous Reader, if we had deployed 'a million' (probably not enough, but 'a very large number') in the early days, there's a good chance the insurgency would not have coalesced.

I am not suggesting that the Muslims would have hated us any the less. The Germans hated us plenty in 1945, but they knew better than to go up against an occupation army of 10 million, especially when a lot of them were Siberian troops who had just finished raping their way across East Prussia.

The most important news report of the Iraq War was made by Mark Steyn. Even Steyn never understood the significance of what he reported, but if you know him, he rented a beat-up old Toyota in Jordan and drove around Anbar and similar places for days and days alone right after the fall of Baghdad.

If 150,000 GIs had been doing that, it's possible the people who are now 'insurgents' would have been overawed.

At the very least, if we had had 10 or 20 infantry divisions on hand, they could have secured the hundreds of munitions depots that were left open all around Iraq and supplied the arms for the early months of the counterattack.
9.8.2006 11:41pm
Medis:
Anonymous Reader,

You say; "We could have deployed 1 million troops to Iraq at the start of the war and I doubt things would be any different."

Before this war, people at places like RAND and in the DOD studied occupations, successful and unsuccessful, and they came up with the numbers I noted above: at a minimum, you need about a 1:50 ratio of occupation troops to occupied population for a successful occupation. And they concluded this really is a numbers game to a large extent, because what you are talking about is having enough troops to basically police the general population once the central government collapses.

Now, maybe the people at RAND and in the DOD were wrong about 1:50 being the minimum. Certainly, we will never know if going with 1:50 or higher would have worked, because we didn't even come close.

But you have provided absolutely no justification for Rumsfeld not planning for the possibility that the people who had studied these matters were right. Again, he didn't just cut it close--he went with less than 1/3 of what these people concluded was the minimum. And everything they predicted would happen did happen.

So, this was not some sort of unforeseen contingency. Rumsfeld was told what it would take. He not only disregarded that advice, but he refused to plan for the possibility that he was wrong. And there really is no excuse for that sort of mistake.

You also say: "You develop your plans within the constraints you're given and you execute."

Whose constraints are you talking about? Rumsfeld was the guy setting the constraints.

But maybe you are talking about constraints set by the American people. If so, I agree that there is a good chance that the American people would not have supported invading Iraq if they had been given a realistic estimate of what it was going to take to succeed. In such a case, however, if the people won't give you what you need to succeed, YOU SHOULDN'T DO IT.

And that was clearly the bottomline: the Administration wanted this war, and they knew that there was a good chance they wouldn't get it if they had to fight it the way the experts said they needed to fight it. So, they decided to fight it their way, a way which history said wouldn't work, and a way which everyone who knew anything about Iraq said wouldn't work. And it didn't work.

And maybe it comforts you to insist that this disaster of an occupation was unpredictable and just gosh darn a dickens worth of bad luckity-luck (or whatever Rumsfeld would say), but the sad fact is that this wasn't just predictible, but actually predicted. And they did it anyway.
9.8.2006 11:51pm
Medis:
Oh, and all that still applies right now. If the American people won't support doing what it would take to turn the situation around--which would probably involve a draft--then you can't just say "that's a non-starter". When all the good options are off the table, the least bad option is the one you have to go with, and in this case, that would be some version of redeployment to places like Kuwait and Kurdistan.

Of course, no one likes to hear that they screwed up so bad that there is no practical way of recovering. And that not only goes for Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Bush, but for the American people as well. But reality doesn't care about what people like to hear.
9.8.2006 11:59pm
Anonymous Reader:
Medis,

I appreciate your opinion, but I think you're wrong. Yes, I'm sure there were some folks who said that here is the "formula required for an effective occupation" and some of their predictions were correct and came to pass. But there were some other predictions that were made that didn't come to pass. You CANNOT plan for every single contingency. Shoot, there was "solid" evidence about WMD programs agreed upon by several countries, but that was determined to be wrong. So I think you have to try to be a little more rational about your disagreement.

I know you wouldn't do this, but some other commenters probably would and take me to task saying "thousands have died..." blah, blah, blah. I am not blowing off the casualties that we have suffered. But we have suffered more casualties in one day of fighting in other battles and we still won the war. It's just that our strategy has changed. We no longer fight attrition warfare, which is what a lot of people seem to be proposing. We're trying to fight smarter and more efficiently so that we can respond to more situations across the world.

Don't come here and argue about needing 10 Infantry Divisions to occupy Iraq. I have no idea how many infantry divisions we have, but we also had a much larger military. So when I say constraints, some of those are self imposed. Our military is only so big; there are strategic implications for HUGE footprints; there's only so much money. You can't sit there and say "if the people won't give you what you need to succeed, YOU SHOULDN'T DO IT." Sorry, but that's not how it works. You're given a mission and you work with what you have to accomplish the mission. Sure, you can make requests and ask for more resources, but once the decision is made, you execute.

For some reason, people keep thinking that people in the military just fall off trees and wham bam, there in combat. It doesn't work that way. Back in the day, the avg servicemen didn't need to be as smart as they do today. If you talk to any infantry servicemen and ask him what kind of equipment he has to operate day to day, or what kind of procedures he has to be able to use in order to accomplish his mission you'd be extremely surprised. So with a smaller military, multiple "important" missions already committed to worldwide, you do what you can to execute. Do you think Congress or anyone would give the military a blank check to do what it thinks? Hell, the Marine Corps would LOVE to increase it's number by 5,000 or so, but it can't because Congress won't pay for it.

So again, it's easy to sit here today with our 20/20 vision and second guess what happened back then, but when it's all said and done, What now?

If you say, fire Rumsfeld... okay... now what? I don't think anyone else would have been able to stand up to all of those career generals and lay it on the line. Anyone else would have been looking to get along to stay along.

Anonymous Reader
9.9.2006 12:24am
Medis:
Anonymous Reader,

Again, you say things like: "You're given a mission and you work with what you have to accomplish the mission. Sure, you can make requests and ask for more resources, but once the decision is made, you execute."

But we're talking about the people who GAVE the mission, not the people who were GIVEN the mission--in other words, the people who actually made the decision to fight this war (Rumsfeld, Cheney, Bush, etc.). And if those people couldn't get the resources they needed to fight the war right, then they shouldn't have made the decision to go to war at all. And again, it is no excuse to say they had to carry out whatever mission they were given with the resources they had, because they gave this mission to themselves.

So, I do feel sympathy for the uniformed military, which was given a mission but not enough resources to carry out that mission. But for the exact same reason, I feel no sympathy for the people who deliberately put the uniformed military into that situation, because they were the ones defining the mission in the first place.
9.9.2006 12:38am
Medis:
Oh, and again: if they still can't get the resources they need to have a hope of success, then to put it bluntly, they should quit wasting lives and money and pull us out of this mess. Of course, they won't do that (at least not before the midterms), but it is what they should do.
9.9.2006 12:40am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
pete: "we have initially won the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq"

If "initially" is a reference to the idea that we indeed toppled Saddam, that reminds me of this: the operation was a success, but the patient died.

We "won" the war in Iraq is an odd thing to say on the day that Krauthammer himself decides it's finally time to admit that it's really a civil war, and that from our perspective it might indeed be unwinnable. He explicitly says "this war will be unwinnable" if Maliki's government is not "willing to act in its own self-defense." Not might be unwinnable. Will be.

When Krauthammer starts announcing the scapegoats we'll be blaming once even Bush has to admit it's all over, that tells you something about the stage we've reached.

He says it might be unwinnable. You say we've already won. I think that means one of you must be wrong.

And we "won" the war in Aghanistan is an odd thing to say the same week we learned that Pakistan has surrendered to the Taliban and established a haven for them. We didn't destroy the Taliban; we simply relocated them to Pakistan, where they are more secure than ever, and essentially under the protection of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. And a heartbeat away from controlling it (the heart I'm referring to is Musharraf's). Nice to know we "won," though.

anon: "there was 'solid' evidence about WMD programs agreed upon by several countries"

No. There was mixed, tentative and contradictory evidence about WMDs. Bush et al claimed "absolute certainty" even though the underlying intel was very far from absolutely certain.
9.9.2006 1:09am
weichi (mail):
Anonymous Reader,

I don't understand. You said:


You can't sit there and say "if the people won't give you what you need to succeed, YOU SHOULDN'T DO IT." Sorry, but that's not how it works. You're given a mission and you work with what you have to accomplish the mission.


But the "YOU" in "YOU SHOULDN'T DO IT" refers not to the uniformed military, but to the civilian leadership - i.e. Bush.

I agree that once a decision is made by the civilian leadership, the uniformed military must do what it can to accomplish the mission.

But the entire issue here is the decisionmaking of the civilian leadership.
9.9.2006 1:15am
Enoch:
To make my point a little more concrete, recall this prewar statement by Rumsfeld about the upcoming Iraq War:

"It is unknowable how long that conflict will last. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."


It is clear from the context of this quote that Rumsfeld was referring to the duration of "major combat operations" - overthrowing Saddam - not of the occupation. In short, he is saying it will not take six months to overthrow Saddam, which is perfectly true.

a RAND study and various other people have looked at successful and unsuccessful occupations, and have come up with an estimate of about 1 occupying troop per 50 denizens of the occupied country as a bare minimum.

Others note that this is at best an oversimplification, because each occupation is unique:

In 1946 we fielded one soldier for every 500 (and a few years later one for every thousand) Japanese during an occupation so successful it converted a ferocious adversary into a staunch ally. During that portion of the Vietnam War that resembled an occupation, we fielded almost one allied soldier for every 10 Vietnamese, and nevertheless came to an unhappy result.


One could also note that from 1945 to 1947, the British had 100,000 men in Palestine, confronting 600,000 Jews - a ratio of 1 to 6, surely the highest in any modern counter-insurgency (plus the British enlisted local Arabs on their side). Yet the British did not "overawe" the Jewish insurgents and nip the insurgency in the bud before it got started "in earnest".

Similarly, Germany and Italy invaded Yugoslavia with 1 million troops in 1941, but failed to overawe 16 million Yugoslavs. In this case, a 1:16 ratio did not suffice (and the ratio is even better when you consider that many people in Yugoslavia supported the Axis occupiers). So much for a theory of occupations where all you have to do is plug in the magic number of troops and you win.

GB I understood. That's why he didn't invade Iraq. He had borrowed infantry to invade Kuwait, but the lenders were not on board with invading Iraq. So he didn't.

Uh, no, the reason GB I did not occupy Iraq was not that he didn't have the infantry to do it. He had 550,000 US troops on hand, and plenty more in reserve. Isn't that the magic number you think would have been needed to cow the Iraqis into submission?

The problem with Julius Bush and Rumsfeld the Great is that they don't know how to move past busted contingency plans when circumstances require it. This is why the current "stay the course" nonsense emanating from the White House is as foolish as the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava or Custer's Last Stand at Little Big Horn. Sometimes it's okay to make tactical withdrawals from the field of battle despite one's pride and sense of honor if only to survive for future battles that really count.

Say what? The correct course of action when Plan A doesn't work is to pull the plug and quit? As for "surviving for future battles that really count", our survival is hardly at stake in Iraq, so this bogus argument doesn't fly.

it has become clear that the most important decisions in this Administration are made by Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al

Gosh, it is so wrong when elected officials and civilian appointees make decisions, and the military has to shut up and obey whether they like it or not. If only we had a system where the Grossgeneralstab could overrule the ignorant civilians whenever necessary!

given the way this Administration is run, deferring to the Executive Branch is not deferring to the entire Executive Branch. It is really just deferring to the judgment of a few like-minded people at the top.

Only a few people at the top make real decisions in any administration.

we basically have two choices: try dramatically increasing troop levels and hope it isn't too late, or admit we blew it and pull out.

There is a third choice - to train Iraqi security forces to take over for us - which is what we have been doing.

Another possibility is that we will not achieve a political victory in Iraq, and ultimately we will end up with an Iraq that is just as dangerous, if not more so, to the U.S. than Iraq under Saddam. And I'd say that would count as losing the war.

And your recipe for averting this dire fate is to pull out and run away?

The Germans hated us plenty in 1945, but they knew better than to go up against an occupation army of 10 million, especially when a lot of them were Siberian troops who had just finished raping their way across East Prussia.

Yet 6 million Soviet troops, backed by a ruthless security apparatus, did not "overawe" the development and coalescence of insurgencies in the Baltic States, Ukraine, and the Balkans. These insurgencies lasted into the mid-1950s.

if we had had 10 or 20 infantry divisions on hand

ROFLMAO! You are aware that the US Army has only 8 infantry divisions right now?
9.9.2006 1:24am
Enoch:
if those people couldn't get the resources they needed to fight the war right, then they shouldn't have made the decision to go to war at all.

Not at all true, not least because the Army will ALWAYS say they need more troops, regardless of the scenario. If you let the Army veto military operations because they don't have as many troops as they want, I guarantee you we'll never do anything.
9.9.2006 1:32am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
I think no one has provided a plausible explanation for why Rumsfeld aggressively refused to allow post-war planning.

Some say he didn't want to be accused of planning a long war (if there were a leak, for example). I think that explanation doesn't add up, because he could always say, quite plausibly, "we need to plan for all sorts of things that never happen; it's always better to have a plan, just in case." Various people have pointed this out, and I think it's a very solid argument. Large organizations, and military organizations, are full of all sorts of plans that never get used. It's business as usual. No big deal.

I think the only other theory (that's been hinted at here) is that he truly was drinking his own Kool-Aid, and really thought we would be in and out in a flash. I find this hard to swallow. First of all, I can't imagine he was so dumb to actually think this. More importantly, it doesn't explain his aggressive opposition to planning. He could have truly believed in lightning success, and still have said to Scheid et al "we won't need your stinking plans, but I'll humor you: go ahead and create all sorts of plans; knock yourself out."

Frankly, this is a much more logical approach, from any perspective, including and especially the perspective of self-interest. If Rumsfeld truly believed his own spin, and Scheid et al had insisted on all sorts of plans, then post-victory Rumsfeld would be in a great position to ridicule the sissies who didn't trust him and insisted on wasting energy on plans that were never needed. In short, he could say "I told you so."

So where does that leave us? I think there is nowhere else to go, unless we consider an explanation that is so horrifying I think most people refuse to contemplate it. But here it is, and I think it's the only plausible explanation (and I think it's congruent with lots of other facts about the war): Rumsfeld wanted there to be big mess, and a long occupation. Why? Because that would be good for business. From the perspective of a military contractor, the only thing better than a war is a long war.

By the way, this also explains why Rumsfeld sat on his hands while looters dismantled the country. Every single item grabbed by a looter represented a profit opportunity for KBR (and a very small number of other hand-picked US contractors) whose job it would be to replace it.

We now have our first MBA president, and this was our first MBA war.

So what happened? The plan worked beyond their wildest dreams. They wanted a certain amount of chaos. Instead, they got more chaos than they could handle, and enough chaos to awaken a press and public that had been quite drowsy.

I don't think we have a mess because they were too dumb or too arrogant to manage to avoid creating a mess. I think we have a mess because a mess is exactly what they intended to create. They just didn't count on being quite so successful at mess-creation.

I didn't decide all facts lead inevitably to this theory because I hate Bush. What happened is the reverse of that.
9.9.2006 1:55am
Medis:
Enoch,

With all due respect, you have largely responded to straw men.

For example, I never claimed that 1:50 or more is guaranteed to work, or for that matter that less than 1:50 is guaranteed to fail. 1:50 is simply the estimate RAND and others came up with for the minimum advisable ratio in light of prior occupations. Incidentally, I note your source argued for as low as 1:100 ... and yet, we didn't even come close to that in Iraq.

Second, I think I made it quite clear that I support civilian control of the military. But I also think the civilians should listen to the career officers first, and carefully weigh what they have to say before making decisions. And as I pointed out, but you systematically eliminated in your selective quotations, the pattern in this Administration is for a few individuals to make their decisions without first consulting the relevant career officials, and then they simply require the career officials to support their decisions or get out of the way. That pattern is not the only way for civilians to run a government, and quite frankly it is obviously a bad one--the people at the top ultimately have to make the decisions, but they don't have to do it before listening to anyone else first.

Third, the two options I presented were not both designed to help us avoid a loss in Iraq, as you try to suggest. Only the first possibility, a massive influx of troops, would be that sort of plan. The second possibility, redeploying to places like Kurdistan and Kuwait, would simply be damage control. But damage control might well be the best we can do. In other words, simply pointing out that this would be a bad outcome doesn't prove it isn't the best outcome we can obtain at this point.

However, outside of these straw men arguments, you did raise one new point: maybe the massive influx of troops we would need in order to try to really occupy Iraq could be supplied instead by training Iraqis. But here is the problem: as you note, we have actually been trying this strategy for the entire course of the occupation, and in fact have trained many, many Iraqis. However, for various reasons it isn't working, and even as we train more Iraqis the situation keeps getting worse.

Of course, all this is pretty basic: we already know the strategy we have been using for the last 3 1/2 years isn't working. So, we need a dramatic change in strategy. And yet, it is now clear that this Administration is never going to admit that they completely misconceived this war and that a change is needed.
9.9.2006 2:02am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
enoch: "It is clear from the context of this quote that Rumsfeld was referring to the duration of 'major combat operations' - overthrowing Saddam - not of the occupation. In short, he is saying it will not take six months to overthrow Saddam, which is perfectly true."

We are discussing these words: "it is not knowable how long that conflict would last. It could last, you know, six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."

The full context is here.

I think you are correct that the context indicates that when Rumsfeld said "that conflict," he meant the process of removing Saddam's regime. So you're right, "he is saying it will not take six months to overthrow Saddam."

Trouble is, that's not all he said. Rumsfeld wasn't just predicting we could topple Saddam in six months or less (this prediction was correct). He was also predicting that once Saddam was out, most of our troops could leave (this prediction was deeply incorrect, and this is where the problem lies).

Consider the subsequent three paragraphs. He explains that after "[Saddam's] regime is gone," there are various things we have an "obligation" to do, like make sure "that it would be a single country and not broken into pieces; and that it would be a country that would be setting itself on a path to assure representation and respect for the various ethnic minorities in that country."

He claims "the number of people that that would take is reasonably predictable."

So he is claiming he is confident that he knows how many troops the occupation will require. And he clearly suggests this number is much less than the number that will be needed to remove Saddam: "So I would see this buildup going up, lasting for a period, and the last choice is war, but if that is necessary, a period where that takes place [removing Saddam, in six months or less] and then a drawdown [i.e., we can drawdown once Saddam is toppled]. And you would find people moving back out and some residual number staying there [to handle the occupation], with the -- undoubtedly the forces of many other nations."

To summarize: yes, he is saying it will take six months or less to topple Saddam. He is not claiming the occupation will be over in six months or less (he pointedly makes no claim about the expected duration of the occupation, which supports my theory that the plan all along was to stay indefinitely; consider the size of the "embassy" we're building, and other permanent facilities). However, he is predicting that most of the troops can go home in six months or less, and only a "residual number" would need to stay longer to handle the occupation.

In other words, when he says "it could last, you know, six days, six weeks. I doubt six months," he is not only describing the amount of time it will take to remove Saddam. He is also describing the amount of time most troops will be required to be there.

That's why it's fair to hold him accountable for misleading us, and that's why your interpretation of his words is disingenuous.
9.9.2006 2:53am
BobN (mail):
A larger occupation force would have required mass mobilization. Given the nation's mood at the time, a call to arms might well have been heeded. If not, there would have been relatively little resistance to a draft IF the case could be made for attacking Iraq. That would have required a more honest assessment of the WMD situation. The administration knew they couldn't risk that happening.
9.9.2006 5:31am
Anonymous Reader:
Medis,

I feel you about deferring to the experience and expertise of career govt employees, but you also have to take that experience and expertise with a grain of salt. Like I said before, careerists don't get to where they are by taking risks and being proactive. They like to take measured approaches and always leave themselves an out so that when things go south... they can always claim, "well, we didn't do this... etc, etc, etc."

You are correct that the military can only execute the missions that are given by the decision makers (Pres, VP, SecDef, SecState, etc). But you also have to think back to what was going on at the time. Before 9/11, Rumsfeld's big initiative was for lighter, faster, more lethal forces. That required cutting certain pet projects. Remember how resistance he got for the career military about some of those programs? Wow, it was amazing!! They even went so far as to enlist congressional support behind his back NOT to cut certain programs. That's just ridiculous. So now he starts pulling out the plans for an Iraqi invasion and those same career generals who are pissed about their previous "treatment" are now saying, "no, no, no, we need more x, y, and z..." Think about it, you'd think they were arguing for the good of the country and mission and no doubt, some did... but i'd say a majority didn't and they let their feelings about a civilian who beat them into line cloud their judgement about establishing new, more efficient, more lethal tactics.

Where do we go from now? I have to disagree with your suggestion that we pull out and save face. That would have the HUGE unintended consequence of embolding our enemies around the world. Things to consider when we talk about why we are or are not succeeding in training the iraqis. First of all, how often do you hear about them being blown up waiting in line at recruiting stations? So for one, they're signing up EVEN THOUGH they're being targeted. Secondly, we are talking about influencing their culture. For years, they did not have to "defend" themselves because Sadaam and his henchmen would defend them while keeping the bad folks in line or scaring the populace to death. So we're dealing with cultural differences and our expectations have to match those. They are doing a good job, but it won't happen overnight and could take years for them to come up full round. Shoot, we've had over 200 years for our military to get to where it is today, and we still have problems.

Ultimately, the civilian leadership is overall responsible for our failures and our successes. Sometimes I wish someone would come out and say, yes, we were wrong about this, that, and the other. But what I know would happen is that that admission would be used as a bludegeon to even further hurt the morale of our military forces and the overall mission. Those in the military who come back from Iraq are always surprised at how radically different people think the war is going. Believe it or not, there are troops who run marathons, have fun events, and do other morale boosting things IN COUNTRY!! You have to remember what paradigm the press is using to judge the successes and take those with a grain of salt.

Anonymous Reader
9.9.2006 9:15am
Davebo (mail):

I have to disagree with your suggestion that we pull out and save face. That would have the HUGE unintended consequence of embolding our enemies around the world.


I'd prefer we don't allow our enemies around the world quite so much input to our foreign policy decisions.


First of all, how often do you hear about them being blown up waiting in line at recruiting stations? So for one, they're signing up EVEN THOUGH they're being targeted.


Indeed, a 75% unemployment rate is quite a motivater.

And... wait for it..


Believe it or not, there are troops who run marathons, have fun events, and do other morale boosting things IN COUNTRY!! You have to remember what paradigm the press is using to judge the successes and take those with a grain of salt.


The circle is now complete.
9.9.2006 10:38am
Anderson (mail) (www):
You CANNOT plan for every single contingency.

"Every single contingency" is one thing. The glaringly obvious contingency of "having to fill the vacuum left by the collapse of Saddam's power structure" is another.

The reason Rummy didn't go there, I think, is probably that any such plan would've required butting heads with the Chalabi fan club. I don't know if Rumsfeld had any faith in Chalabi, but he may well not have given a damn either way. Whereas any plan that didn't center on Chalabi would've raised bloody hell.

And weren't minions like Feith big INC supporters?
9.9.2006 10:40am
Tom G. (mail):
Anonymous Reader,

I believe you are wrong that acknowledging mistakes would weaken the case for the war. It is true in the short-term (seemingly the only planning horizon for current policy), any concessions are likely to weaken support. But in the long-run (say more than a year), a desire to hide mistakes undermines the credibility of everything the administration says. Ultimately we grow stronger from acknowledging our failures.

Tom
9.9.2006 11:13am
lyofbrooklyn:
Enoch writes:


There is a third choice - to train Iraqi security forces to take over for us - which is what we have been doing.


Aren't your forgetting the fact that the security forces we are training are part of the civil war we are in the midst of? That these security forces are almost entirely Shiite? That they are not loyal to a multi-ethnic, multi-confessional Iraq? That the death squads drilling holes into people's heads are run out of the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior?

People who continue to support this war, like Krauthammer, have been reduced to arguing that the US should urge the Maliki government to go to war against Moqtada al Sadr, ignoring the fact that Sadr is a part of the elected Iraqi government and wields considerable power. Somehow or other Krauthammer thinks such a move would advance the peace.

The US military is battling in the midst of a shifting political landscape, on behalf of a government that effectively exists only inside the Green Zone, and on behalf of a unified country that increasingly exists only on paper. The Kurds have created their own state within a state, while Shiites and Sunnis battle for power. Explain to me against exactly what the plan is here???

Time and again we are told that there is a new security plan for Baghdad, only to see the city continue to bleed and burn. Even the Bush Administration is no longer pretending that things are going to get better. Bush most recently argued that we can't leave Iraq because it would get worse, ignoring the fact that our presence there is clearly not stopping this precise trajectory.

The war in Iraq is a monumental disaster. Many predicted it would be such and many saw through the lies and distortions used to persuade Americans to go along with it. Isn't it time to stop listening to people who have been so grievously, tragically, criminally wrong? There can be no good outcome to such folly. As has been pointed out above, the task now is to identify the least worst outcome.
9.9.2006 12:43pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Enoch, I am very aware that the U.S. does not have even 8 infantry divisions. That's my point. (GB I had only 2; the 7 assault divisions were all armored.)

Way back in the early '50s, the government made a policy decision -- opposite to one being made in Russia and China at the same time -- to have a very small standing army and to substitute the much cheaper massive nuclear deterrent. (The USSR went for both and ruined its economy.)

There were good reasons to do so, including the fact that our civilian economy could not afford to give up enough manpower to field a large army.

What these self-declared geniuses never thought through was that if you only have a nuclear army, you can only fight a nuclear war.

Vietnam proved that. We tried to substitute air and artillery for infantry and we got beat by an infantry army fighting an infantry war.

The reason we didn't need huge numbers of occupying forces in Japan or Germany (my father took the surrender of an entire island in 1945) was that we had just pounded both countries into dust and they understood we would do that again.

We didn't pound Iraq into dust and the Iraqis understand we won't either.

The comparison you are looking for is 1921, when the British needed to pacify Iraq and could not afford an infantry army to do it. So the RAF indiscriminately bombed tent villages a few times and sent a message to the sheikhs that if they didn't behave, they could expect to be bombed until they were all dead. The sheikhs conformed, and Britain held down the Middle East with a paltry number of troops for a long time.

Didn't work in India, because the British were not willing to bomb Indian cities into dust.
9.9.2006 2:55pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
anon: "they're signing up EVEN THOUGH they're being targeted"

To a great extent that's because we've trashed the economy, so there are no jobs (I now see davebo has made this point). Hey, here's an idea: let's trash the economy even more, and then even more of them will sign up!

In fact, there are signs we're using exactly the same recruiting strategy at home.

Here's another possible reason they want to sign up: increased access to guns and ammo so they can protect themselves from their neighbors.

"it won't happen overnight and could take years for them to come up full round"

I explained above how Rummy led us to believe that after six months only "a residual number" of troops would be required. Now you and he are talking about "years," with a troop commitment far higher than "a residual number." This is bait and switch on a monumental scale.

At the very least, it makes sense to start by firing the guy who was so profoundly wrong. I imagine our enemies are greatly pleased to notice our commitment to failed leadership.

"what I know would happen is that that admission ['we were wrong'] would be used as a bludegeon to even further hurt the morale of our military forces and the overall mission"

When a leader of a democracy conducts a war, he has to deal with certain issues that a dictator doesn't have to worry about. This includes people speaking up, about all sorts of things, with all sorts of complex consequences. This is a price of democracy. Why do you hate democracy?

By the way, if you can't imagine that a democracy, facing very real existential threats (incomparably greater than the threats we face), would ever take the risk of engaging in open and honest criticism of military leadership, then I suggest you review recent events in Israel.

Such a debate enhances security (I see Tom G has made this point). The Israelis get this. You don't.

"Those in the military who come back from Iraq are always surprised at how radically different people think the war is going."

Yes, that must be why a slew of them are running for office, almost all as D.

"the HUGE unintended consequence of embolding our enemies around the world"

We don't seem to be too worried about that, since we have a CinC who speaks like this: "bring them on ... we've got the force necessary to deal with the security situation."
9.9.2006 4:45pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
ly: "Somehow or other Krauthammer thinks such a move would advance the peace."

I have a different analysis, which is that K knows Maliki would never make such a move, and is counting on Maliki to never make such a move. K is just setting up the framework for the alibis we will soon hear, explaining that it's Maliki's fault that the war is "unwinnable." A frantic search for scapegoats is well underway. I explain this here.

"Isn't it time to stop listening to people who have been so grievously, tragically, criminally wrong?"

Thank you for this concise statement which pretty much says it all.

Many people find it very hard to acknowledge their mistakes. This includes mistakes made in the voting booth.

BobN also astutely explained the whole story in a nutshell (4:31 am).
9.9.2006 4:53pm
Anonymous Reader:
Harry,

You hit on it. Do you think we could have bombed Fallujah into dust and gotten away with it? HELL NO!! And anyone who suggested that would have been drawn and quartered for thinking such a thing. We couldn't have firebomed it like we did in Tokyo either. So those are some of the restraints that we had to fight under. Personally, if we rubbled Fallujah from the get go, we wouldn't be facing the kind of insurgency that we're facing now. Sometimes it's the political calculations that affect the military strategy.

I think certain assumptions were made concerning the post sadaam Iraq. Such as that there would be political expats who would come back and step up into the roles and keep the country moving forward with minimal issues. Remember, it wasn't like Sadaam was a benevolent ruler whom everybody liked. So I think that political calculation was wrong.

Tom G, I think you are right. In the long run, not acknowledging mistakes weaken the goal, but since I'm not a politico, I don't know how those decisions are weighed and made. Is short term the next election? Or is it one for the history books to decide? This is a different war than any other war we've fought before. Real time information and analysis is available to everyone on both sides. If anyone believes that the enemy isn't looking at CNN or the news and gathering what we're doing, then they're being very naive (sp?). We're fighting a sophisticated enemy. But just to be clear, not everyone involved has to be sophisticated... you only need a few key people with the know how and sophistication necessary to make it difficult for everyone. 1 sniper in the back of a car wreaked havoc in Virginia and Maryland a while back.

And yes, I do feel the media is doing a horrible job at showing the facts on the ground. If you haven't been over there, please ask someone who has.

Anonymous Reader
9.9.2006 5:03pm
Anonymous Reader:
Wow jukeboxgrad,

You've really painted me into a corner there. Just to be sure, "I hate democracy"... to paraphrase, the economy is SO BAD here in the states that Americans are forced to join the military... can you really be serious? If you don't think that we have the force to deal with the situation in Iraq, then you have no confidence in the capabilities of the military.

Remember what I said earlier, the military leaders have to operate within certain constraints. We can't firebomb the bad areas, we can't do this, we can't do that. If we were truly serious about wiping out this menace, we would encircle the bad areas, and bomb them into submission. And if any other province or area got out of step, we would do the same to them. But alas, we can't/won't do that military. That would be political suicide!! Hell, we can't even keep illegal combatants without someone crying that they should be entitled to civil rights!!

We want to fight cleanly and fairly. So, in order to that, we accept more casualties. Plain and simple.

Anonymous Reader
9.9.2006 5:12pm
NickM (mail) (www):
My take on this is that GW Bush really meant what he said in his 2000 campaign that the U.S. would not engage in nation-building, and that the Phase 4 planning was being put off because it contradicted specific public statements by the President - walking away after wiping out Saddam's government was the endgame.

I don't know if Bush's mind has ever been fully changed on this, but I'd bet that he has had to be dragged into changing his position (he doesn't like to ever admit his mistakes, instead just changing position quietly).

What differentiates this occupation from the occupations of Germany, Japan, etc. is that in none of those countries did large groups within the occupied population actively hate each other. Note that Yugoslavia was not really occupied post WWII, and that it was held together by force of personality of one man, and that didn't last long following his death. Perhaps we are trying to hold back the tide and Iraqis should be encouraged to split the country into 3 or more new nations.

Nick
9.9.2006 6:42pm
Jay Myers:

Are we not fighting a two-front war right now? And do we not have our military comfortably stationed across this world at this time? And haven't we utilized our troops in many parts of the world for humanitarian missions, again, during these two conflicts? The answers to those questions is yes.

1.4 million active duty personnel plus over 800,000 reservists are not enough to fight a two front war? Our military was designed and is geographically positioned to do just that.


If you still believe that our military is capable of fighting two major regional conflicts simultaneously then you haven't been paying attention for a very long time. Our military hasn't met the two major regional conflict standard since George H. W. Bush began downsizing the military in order to get a "peace dividend". Sure, Bush pater and Clinton still claimed that we were maintaining a two war capability but observers who were paying attention knew better and weren't shy about pointing out that the emperor had no BDUs.

Furthermore, part of the point of Rumsfeld's reforms of the Defense Department was to explicitly do away with the two major regional conflict standard. He announced that from the first day of his confirmation hearings in 2001. Today we have less heavy armor in our entire military than we deployed against Iraq in the first Gulf War and our military is the smallest it has been since before Pearl Harbor.
9.9.2006 6:54pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
anon: "So those are some of the restraints that we had to fight under ... if we rubbled Fallujah from the get go, we wouldn't be facing the kind of insurgency that we're facing now"

Our leaders were perfectly familiar with all these restraints "from the get go," so they don't amount to any sort of excuse. It's not a good idea to start a job you know you won't be able to finish, on account of various very predictable "restraints."

"Such as that there would be political expats who would come back and step up into the roles and keep the country moving forward with minimal issues."

In other words we exercised very poor judgment and placed way too much faith in Chalabi, even though in 1997 "he said he had tremendous connections with Iranian intelligence." And it looks more and more like Iran used him as a tool to get exactly what they wanted: Iraq converted from an enemy into an annex.

"So I think that political calculation was wrong."

What a darn shame that virtually no one responsible for these horrendous "calculation[s]" has been held accountable. So far.

"1 sniper in the back of a car wreaked havoc in Virginia and Maryland a while back."

In that same region, one foolish, immoral man in a big white house is also wreaking havoc right now.

"You've really painted me into a corner there."

You did all the painting yourself.

"the economy is SO BAD here in the states that Americans are forced to join the military... can you really be serious?"

Can you really be serious in suggesting that our "volunteer" army does not rely disproportionately on recruiting poor people? Did I miss the news about the twins signing up? Can you really be serious in suggesting that this is not ultimately toxic to democracy?


"the probability of enlistment is directly related to minority and poverty status while controlling for ability and a number of other socioeconomic background variables" [link]

"enlistment intentions depend heavily on intellectual achievement and poverty" [link]

"an article in the New York Times (July 20, 2005) notes that soldiers from small town and rural areas of the U.S. are dying in Iraq at nearly twice the rate of soldiers from cities of 1 million or more. The writers believe the numbers suggest that the armed forces themselves are disproportionately drawn from impoverished rural communities. The disproportionate enlistment from rural areas is confirmed in an Army report which notes that, 'on a per capita basis, accessions are more likely to come from lower population density zip codes.' ... According to the U.S. Army Recruiting Command's Strategic Partnership Plan for 2002-2007, "Priority areas [for recruitment] are designated primarily as the cross section of weak labor opportunities and college-age population as determined by both [the] general and Hispanic population. ... Dave Griesmer, a spokesman for the Marine Corps Recruiting Command, noted in an LA Times Article, 'You're not going to waste your resources if you're in sales in a market that is not going to produce...We certainly don't discount any school. But if 95% of kids in that area go on to college, a recruiter is going to decide where the best market is. Recruiters need to prioritize.' His comments were echoed by Kurt Gilroy who directs recruiting policy for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, noting that it is important to 'maximize return on the recruiting dollar [because] the advertising and marketing research people tell us to go where the low-hanging fruit is. In other words, we fish where the fish are.' " [link]


"If you don't think that we have the force to deal with the situation in Iraq, then you have no confidence in the capabilities of the military."

It's not a question of "force." It's a question of leadership. There is obviously a problem with leadership, since Rummy promised that most of the troops would be home about three years ago.
9.9.2006 8:31pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nick: "in none of those countries did large groups within the occupied population actively hate each other"

Good point. I think most people don't realize that the Sunni and Shia have been at war for 1,326 years. Funny how we think they'll stop just because we showed up.

Speaking of stupendously mind-boggling, criminal ignorance, Bush didn't even know that "there are two major sects in Islam:"

A year after the Axis of Evil speech, President Bush met with three Iraqi Americans: the author Kanan Makiya; Hatem Mukhlis, a doctor; and Rend Rahim, who later became postwar Iraq's first representative to the United States. As the three described what they thought would be the political situation after Saddam's fall, they talked about Sunnis and Shiites. It became apparent to them that the president was unfamiliar with these terms. The three spent part of the meeting explaining that there are two major sects in Islam.

So two months before he ordered U.S. troops into the country, the president of the United States did not appear to know about the division among Iraqis that has defined the country's history and politics. He would not have understood why non-Arab Iran might gain a foothold in post-Saddam Iraq. He could not have anticipated U.S. troops being caught in the middle of a civil war between two religious sects that he did not know existed.


From "The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created a War Without End," p. 83, published 7/06 (link). The book can be searched and browsed at Amazon.

Bush reportedly said "I thought the Iraqis were Muslims!"

Yikes.
9.9.2006 9:10pm
Anonymous Reader:
Jukeboxgrad,

Wow, in one post, you managed to malign the members of the armed forces. You ASSUME that people in the rural parts of the country are poor and not intelligent, why else would the join the military. Wow, I'm at a loss for words in how to reply, but I'll do my best.

Now, I have no idea whether or not you're in the military, I would have to assume that you weren't otherwise you wouldn't make such an ignorant statement. I know what you'll say, you're just parroting what you've read. And to a small degree, that may be true, BUT!! I would guess that there has always been more people in the military from rural parts of the country than the cities. Why? They don't mind working hard. They probably feel that defending their country is a lofty worthwhile goal. They probably don't have as many options to get out of their city, county, or state, than people in the cities do.

And oh by the way, maybe the people in the city have more employment opportunities, but hey, what do I know. It's funny that recruiters don't try to recruit at colleges. Hmmm... maybe it's because enlisted recruiters recruit enlisted servicemen and women NOT college graduates? I mean, let's make sure we're accurate about our statements. A enlisted recruiter will recruit where he will be successful. A college graduate or a student attending college will more than likely (if the desire is there) decide to accept a commission as an officer NOT enlist in the service.

It makes me proud to know that my tax dollars are being spent wisely when we recruit in places where there are is a high number of people willing and able to be recruited. I'm surprised you're not upset that we're not recruiting in the retirement villages down in Florida!! Let's think rationally. No, I'm not upset, but I have a different viewpoint and ignorant statements or conclusions irk me.

Anonymous Reader
9.9.2006 9:18pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
I saw the canard about this war being fought on the backs of the poor and black, a stinking lie from Vietnam that hasn't gotten any fresher for rotting another 30 years. I wasn't going to remark on it, but as several others have, let's note that Hawaii, the state with the lowest unemployment, has just about the highest enlistment percentages.

That Bush and his cronies are just pig-ignorant is incontestable. The foray of the ditzy Karen Hughes -- reputedly his eminence grise -- into the Middle East proved that clearly enough. And that was just this year. Those people cannot learn.

It does not follow, though, that the critics of Bush are right. To the extent that they are found in the Reid-Pelosi wing of the Democratic Party, they are even more wrong than Bush. Hard to believe but true. It really is like a rerun of the 1930s in slo-mo.
9.9.2006 10:45pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
anon: "Let's think rationally."

Good idea. Maybe you'd like to start by saying something that addresses this: "the probability of enlistment is directly related to minority and poverty status."

So far, you haven't.

"Wow, in one post, you managed to malign the members of the armed forces. ... I would guess that there has always been more people in the military from rural parts of the country than the cities. Why? They don't mind working hard."

Wow, in one post, you managed to malign all the people in this country who don't live in rural areas, by suggesting they're lazy. Nice job.

"They probably feel that defending their country is a lofty worthwhile goal."

Wow, in one post, you managed to malign all the people in this country who don't live in rural areas, by suggesting they're unpatriotic. Nice job.

By the way, describing someone as poor is not an insult, in my opinion. Describing someone as lazy is clearly an insult. Likewise for describing someone as unpatriotic. In other words, all the insults here are coming from you.

As far as why "there has always been more people in the military from rural parts of the country"(I'll assume for the moment that this statement is true), I guess you've offered your hypothesis about why that might be, although your hypothesis is patently anecdotal, speculative, and unsubstantiated (aside from being insulting to everyone in this country who doesn't live in a rural area).

Here's another hypothesis. In certain rural areas, especially in the South, it's exceptionally easy to find poor people, who are living in places that are persistently poor:

Persistent Poverty Counties are those that have had poverty rates of 20% or higher in every decennial census between 1970 and 2000.

• 340 of the 386 (88%) Persistently Poor Counties are nonmetro.

• 18% of nonmetro counties are persistent poverty counties, versus only 4% of metro counties.

• The nonmetro South, with over 40 percent of the U.S. nonmetro population, has a significantly higher incidence of poverty. 82% of the nonmetro persistently poor counties are in the South.


This hypothesis has the distinct advantage of being supported by actual data ("the probability of enlistment ... ").

harry: "Hawaii, the state with the lowest unemployment, has just about the highest enlistment percentages."

I suppose that settles it, then. I guess you think you've said enough to establish that the statement I cited above ("the probability of enlistment ... ") can be safely ignored.

Why not just say this: "I once knew a rich guy who joined the Army!"
9.10.2006 12:05am
Enoch:
I never claimed that 1:50 or more is guaranteed to work, or for that matter that less than 1:50 is guaranteed to fail.

Then what is your point? That RAND and DOD came up with some numbers that have no basis in historical fact, and in fact do not provide any real guide for the numbers needed to occupy Iraq?

the pattern in this Administration is for a few individuals to make their decisions without first consulting the relevant career officials, and then they simply require the career officials to support their decisions or get out of the way.

One hears about this in every single administration - "they ignored the bureaucrats in the State Department (or the CIA... or the military...) and insisted that the bureaucrats follow orders or resign."

Entrenched "career officials" should not dictate American policy, the elected officials should. That is why they are elected. Nobody voted for those clowns in Foggy Bottom, Langley, or even the Pentagon, and if they don't like the decisions their elected superiors make, they should indeed get out of the way. Elected officials may not always make the right choices, but one can point to many examples of egregious blunders by "career officials" in State, CIA, and the military, so it is not at all clear that their advice is inherently superior.

the two options I presented were not both designed to help us avoid a loss in Iraq, as you try to suggest. Only the first possibility, a massive influx of troops, would be that sort of plan.

Not at all. Doing things differently with the same number of troops, and standing up increasing numbers of Iraqi troops, is a plan for success that does not require a massive influx of troops.

I'd prefer we don't allow our enemies around the world quite so much input to our foreign policy decisions.

What? Foreign policy planning that doesn't take into account the enemy is fundamentally flawed. Indeed, a major flaw in this administration is that it does not take into account the "input" that enemies provide and are likely to provide.

What these self-declared geniuses never thought through was that if you only have a nuclear army, you can only fight a nuclear war.

Self-declared geniuses like Dwight D. Eisenhower? You're saying he was a military ignoramus?

Vietnam proved that. We tried to substitute air and artillery for infantry and we got beat by an infantry army fighting an infantry war.

Vietnam did not prove "we don't have enough infantry". We had plenty of infantry in Vietnam. And the enemy lost the infantry on infantry war.

if you can't imagine that a democracy, facing very real existential threats (incomparably greater than the threats we face), would ever take the risk of engaging in open and honest criticism of military leadership, then I suggest you review recent events in Israel.

The recent fiasco in Lebanon is the result of Israeli failures to engage in honest criticism of the military leadership for the failures in Lebanon in 1982 and the failures in the occupied territories from 1987 onwards. Lebanon 2006 was essentially a reiteration of the failures of 1982 precisely because Israel did not ask hard questions about 1982 and draw the proper lessons.
9.10.2006 12:35am
Barney15e (mail):
I'm late to this thread, so sorry if this has been covered.
1) There is an assumption that the BG was accurate. These are his recolections viewed through his frame. He doesn't know what else was going on.
2) For all those who want more troops, where are you going to put them? We are fighting an enemy that is actively trying to die. If we double, triple, quadruple the troops, we're more likeley to get more troops killed. The enemy is not affraid to attack because he wants to die. More troops are more lucrative, not more threatening.
3) The days fo the draft are gone. We don't fight wars of attrition any more. It doesn't make much sense. The only purpose of a draft--large numbers of unskilled soldiers--is to send them out front to soak up bullets.
9.10.2006 3:15am
Harry Eagar (mail):
jukeboxgrad, well, yeah, Hawaii's example should settle it. After all, poor blacks were underrepresented in Vietnam's butcher bills, and educated whites were overepresented.

The poor and uneducated cannot even get into today's army.

Enoch, Ike a military ignoramus? That's strong. But he wasn't a very good general. In the summer of 1944, the Russians utterly destroyed a German army bigger than the one Ike faced. And in case you hadn't heard, we lost the Vietnam War.
9.10.2006 6:15am
Enoch:
Ike a military ignoramus? That's strong. But he wasn't a very good general. In the summer of 1944, the Russians utterly destroyed a German army bigger than the one Ike faced.

The Soviets had greater resources than Ike had when they did that. The Soviets never commanded the large amphibious invasions that Ike commanded. The Soviets did not have to hold a multi-national coalition together, as Ike did.

But the point is that your ramblings about the bad defense decisions made by "self-declared geniuses" in the 1950s were a grotesque oversimplification.

And in case you hadn't heard, we lost the Vietnam War.

We did not lose for the reason you think we lost - not enough infantry, and thus we "got beat by an infantry army fighting an infantry war." We had enough infantry, and we won the infantry war.
9.10.2006 12:36pm
markm (mail):
Enoch: Whenever the Viet Cong or NVA were stupid enough to fight an infantry battle, we beat them - with massive use of artillery and air bombardment. Where we failed is in holding territory. There were very few villages in the country where the VC couldn't sneak in any night they pleased and murder whomever hadn't shown sufficient enthusiasm for Communism in their homes. Neither bombing (which could not distinguish friend from foe within one village), nor the occasional day-time sweeps by ground troops, who weren't much better at finding enemies disguised as farmers, could make up for that. That's where the war was lost - we held the cities, but this was a largely agricultural society, and farmers had to embrace Communism or die.

I always thought that holding territory was the basic function of the infantry. If so, we certainly didn't win the infantry war.
9.10.2006 5:54pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
markm, you're largely correct. However, the Army was led by flaming incompetents in the '60s and '70s, and the doctrine was explicit that 'holding territory' was not the function of an army. 'Imposing your will on the enemy' was the explicit doctrine.
'
Of course, in Vietnam, our Army did neither. Just like Iraq now. The 'stab in the back' myth that enoch (and many others) has fallen for is just that, a myth, just like the German version after 1918.
9.10.2006 7:44pm
David Tomlin (mail):

And yes, I do feel the media is doing a horrible job at showing the facts on the ground. If you haven't been over there, please ask someone who has.

I've read the archives of several of the milblogs linked by Mudville Gazette, and some of Michael Yon's work, and similar things. I'm sorry, I just don't see this big difference between what the media reports and what they report.

Would you like to point out some specifics of what I'm missing?
9.10.2006 9:08pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
barney: "The enemy is not affraid to attack because he wants to die. More troops are more lucrative, not more threatening."

I think you're correctly describing one aspect, but ignoring another aspect.

One theoretical consequence of a very large number of troops is that the general population feels confident in our ability to keep them safe. Therefore they become less inclined to provide support and encouragement to various local militias and gangs who are running around trying to protect their own kind, while killing everyone else.

The idea is that the central goverment has a monopoly on violence, and is perceived that way. Obviously something easier to achieve before the mess is ignited, rather than after a large conflagration is well underway.

Just the theory as I understand it. Not necessarily something I deeply understand or advocate.

---

harry: "poor blacks were underrepresented in Vietnam's butcher bills, and educated whites were overepresented"

1) I don't understand what you're getting at. I don't understand why the comparison is relevant. Are you suggesting that a draft system creates an unfair advantage for poor people?

2) I don't know if what you're saying is true, and you're not lifting a finger to substantiate it, and I don't feel like fact-checking you on this. This makes me inclined to ignore what you said.

"The poor and uneducated cannot even get into today's army."

I guess it's all relative. Recruiting standards are dropping.
9.11.2006 3:10am
Cassandra (www):
But time and again, it has become clear that the most important decisions in this Administration are made by Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al before the career officers even have a chance to provide their input.

*sigh*

No, it's not.

I get so frustrated reading posts like this. Because there is a lot I would like to say, and I can't.

My husband is a senior officer who has been involved with this type of planning from the get-go. Yet he would never dream of talking to the NY Times. Not in a million years. Nor would anyone he respects. Because that is a violation of the terms of his employment and honorable people don't do things like that.

Is he a blind supporter of everything Rumsfeld or the administration does? Of course not. Is he, in the main, on board with what we're trying to do? Yes, he is.

You all keep reading the complaints of a self-selected group of people who are willing to talk to reporters, and you assume they are representative of the universe of people who are "in the know".

Do you ever stop to think that there is some selection bias going on there? Not that they are all partisan whack jobs, but that perhaps, just perhaps, they are not quite representative of what most people in the military really think?

Oh. I get it now. That is a *good* thing. Because most military folks are either idiots, duped Bush administration supporters who wouldn't stand up and do the right thing if their lives depended on it, or.... what?

I have a question for you. The vast majority of these folks who are coming forward are what military people call "terminal" high ranking officers. IOW, their retirements are secure. They are stationed at the Pentagon and are well connected to seque into civilian jobs. So if they see something going on that is not right - that doesn't sit well with them - the time to speak out is NOW. Principle will never cost them less than it will right then. And yet these folks said nothing. They let big, bad, mean old Rummy push them around, let him "scare" them into acquiescing in doing wrong by their fellow servicemen (mostly enlisted men and women they are swore to protect), by their country, by their flag.

What does that say about their principles, about their honor?

I know what I think. How about you?

The question is, why are you so willing to believe them?
9.11.2006 7:30am
Cassandra (www):
Sorry. "sworn" to protect. Rumsfeld stole the letter "n" right out of my comment, darn the man.
9.11.2006 7:33am
Medis:
Anonymous Reader,

The logic that we can't pull out now because it would provide comfort to our enemies around the world only works if the alternative is staying and SUCCEEDING. If we instead stay and fail anyway, it just makes us look even weaker. Again, in general, noting that to pull out now would be bad for the U.S. doesn't mean it isn't the least bad option available.

Enoch,

You aren't really making substantive points and continue to fight straw men and generate false dichotomies. Perhaps the most obvious point is that even if something like 1:50 is at best a rough estimate, and may well be off, it beats having no estimate at all. And as many have noted, Rumsfeld and Co didn't even try to answer the question in a serious matter. The closest we got was Wolfowitz's "it is hard to imagine it would take more troops for the occupation than the invasion" theory, which obviously isn't serious. So, again, the point is not that Rumsfeld and Co had to do exactly what RAND or the DOD told them to do. But they were in fact bound to take these issues seriously and then come up with a serious estimate, which they failed to do.

Cassandra,

I'll just note that the pattern in question has occurred not just in the Pentagon, but also in the DOJ, the OMB, the EPA, the FDA, and so on. And I think there is enough documentary and other record evidence to support the claims that have been made in many of these cases. So, I don't think your theory that it is all being imagined by a few disgruntled officers is credible.
9.11.2006 3:04pm
Enoch:
You aren't really making substantive points and continue to fight straw men and generate false dichotomies.

I guess the definition of "straw man" and "false dichotomy" is "any argument that Medis doesn't like and can't respond to effectively". It is neither a straw man nor a false dichotomy to observe that the "general theory of occupations" is highly suspect historically, and therefore the claim that we "should" have sent 580,000 to 725,000 troops is specious and irrelevant.

Perhaps the most obvious point is that even if something like 1:50 is at best a rough estimate, and may well be off, it beats having no estimate at all.

Stating an estimate that has no basis in historical fact is not superior to stating no estimate at all.

The closest we got was Wolfowitz's "it is hard to imagine it would take more troops for the occupation than the invasion" theory, which obviously isn't serious.

Why? It certainly required far, far fewer troops to occupy Germany and Japan than it did to conquer them.

If we occupied Iraq with the same "force to population" levels as we did Japan, then only 120,000 troops would be needed in Iraq. Nope, we weren't even CLOSE to the magic 1:50 ratio - it was over 1:200 - but do you want to argue that the occupation of Japan did not succeed?

What is the definition of a "serious" estimate, anyway?
9.11.2006 8:23pm
Medis:
Enoch,

It is false to say the RAND and DOD studies had no basis in history. In particular, the RAND study looked at many historical cases, including Japan, before drawing its recommendations. It also specifically noted that it was giving a probabilistic recommendation: the level of risk decreased with the number of troops, and its troop level recommendation were based on what it considered to be an acceptable level of risk. But the nature of probabilistic recommendations is such that there are no guarantees that less wouldn't work, or that following the recommendations will be guaranteed to work.

In general, any serious attempt to estimate the number of troops needed to occupy Iraq would follow a pattern like this: one would start by looking at past occupations and see what factors correlated with success and failure. There are unlikely to be any magic numbers, but if you can find positive correlations with things like troop levels, you can use that data to estimate the number of troops you need for a given level of risk. One would also want to tailor these estimates to particular circumstances in Iraq. So, for example, in specifically discussing Iraq, RAND noted things like that Iraq would be emerging from a long period of totalitarian rule with the majority populations not participating in governance. Similarly, as noted above, Shinseki cited the relatively large geographic size of Iraq and the underlying ethnic tensions in the country.

So, that is what a serious estimate would have looked like.
9.11.2006 9:02pm
Enoch:
The RAND study had no basis in history because it was superficial and incomplete. RAND did not look at "many" occupations; they only looked at some occupations. They did not look at any foreign occupations, and they did not even look at all the American occupations. For example, Italy, Korea, the post-1945 Philippines, Dominican Republic (1965) and Panama (1989) were excluded. One can certainly point to historical examples that contradict the "1:50 rule". Some occupations have succeeded with fewer troops than the rule recommends, and some have failed with more troops than the rule recommends.

In short, the "rule of thumb" that emerged from the RAND study is all but useless. It cannot, as you claim, be used to generate any meaningful numerical estimates, and one certainly cannot attach a meaningful "level of risk" to any such estimate. Any attempt to do so is simply Bad History.
9.11.2006 10:20pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Enoch: "The RAND study ... was superficial and incomplete ... they only looked at some occupations."

It's darn hard to tell what your point is. As best as I can make out, it's this: "since no plan is perfect, it's better to have no plan at all."

By the way, a while back you said this: "It is clear from the context of this quote that Rumsfeld was referring to the duration of 'major combat operations' - overthrowing Saddam - not of the occupation."

I promptly demonstrated that your statement is disingenuous.

In my opinion, your subsequent silence on this point demonstrates a lack of integrity.
9.11.2006 11:40pm
Medis:
Enoch,

On a specific point, you seem not to realize that attaching a certain level of risk to their estimate is consistent with some occupations succeeding with fewer troops and some failing with more.

But more generally, perhaps you can show me the better analysis performed by Rumsfeld and/or Wolfowitz. What methodology did they use? How did they address the weaknesses in the RAND study as you see them? What combined analysis of history and current conditions in Iraq did they use when determining a minimal level of troops for the occupation? I assume, of course, that you will treat their analysis with the same skeptical eye, probing for flaws, and I look forward to your in-depth commentary.
9.11.2006 11:45pm
Enoch:
jukeboxgrad,

Integrity does not require me to respond to any particular missive, and I am certainly not going to respond to anything you have said (or ever will say) now that you've taken such an obnoxious, insolent tone.

Medis,

Nothing in the RAND study provides decision-quality information. It would not allow Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz to say definitively, in March 2003, that OIF was "too risky" as it stood, and should be called off due to insufficent numbers. They could have looked at historical examples, and found evidence to support the view that the numbers were too big, too small, or just right. If we succeeded in Japan with 5 soldiers per 1,000 people, and succeeded in Bosnia and Kosovo with 20 soldiers per 1,000 people, then how could they have known for a fact that 9 soldiers per 1,000 people was so few that the risk is unacceptable? In short, the RAND study had no value because you could conclude whatever you liked from it.

"More soldiers are better and less risky than fewer" is nothing more than a useless truism if you're trying to make real decisions.

As for what analysis they did use, nothing can be said because we don't know what they did. Yes, I am sure they did put some thought into it (i.e. there was a plan of some kind). I am, however, quite prepared to be unimpressed with "the plan" if and when I ever see it.
9.12.2006 1:39am
Medis:
Enoch,

You can find Wolfowitz's reasoning in his testimony to the House Budget Committee on February 27, 2003. Have at it.
9.12.2006 4:55am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
enoch: "Integrity does not require me to respond to any particular missive"

It's not a question of responding "to any particular missive." It's a question of playing deaf after it's been shown that a claim you made is pure wind.

"I am certainly not going to respond to anything you have said (or ever will say) now that you've taken such an obnoxious, insolent tone."

Promises, promises. Anyway, as Groucho said: "You can leave in taxi. If you can't leave in taxi you can leave in a huff. If that's too soon, you can leave in a minute and a huff."

I realize that from your perspective the facts have "an obnoxious, insolent tone." I think it was Colbert who said that reality has a liberal slant.
9.12.2006 11:27am