Saturday, January 06, 2007

Back to Iraq: What to Expect Next Week

President Bush having said that he will make his promised speech on strategy in Iraq next week, the newly powerful Democrat majority has already said that it's too late to send more troops. More soberly, some Republicans have said that more troops should not be sent without a strategy.

Well, gentle readers, here is a strategy, and per Megapundit William Kristol, likely the one that Bush will follow. We quote in full the executive summary of a paper by Former Army Vice Chief of Staff General Jack Keane and military expert Frederick Kagan offering a specific way forward:
Victory is still an option in Iraq. America, a country of 300 million people with a GDP of $12 trillion and more than 1 million soldiers and Marines, has the resources to stabilize Iraq, a state the size of California with a population of 25 million and a GDP under $100 billion. America must use its resources skillfully and decisively to help build a successful democratically elected, sovereign government in Iraq.

Victory in Iraq is vital to America’s security. Defeat will likely lead to regional conflict, humanitarian catastrophe, and increased global terrorism.

Iraq has reached a critical point. The strategy of relying on a political process to eliminate the insurgency has failed. Rising sectarian violence threatens to break America’s will to fight. This violence will destroy the Iraqi government, armed forces, and people if it is not rapidly controlled.

Victory in Iraq is still possible at an acceptable level of effort. We must adopt a new approach to the war and implement it quickly and decisively.

We must act now to restore security and stability to Baghdad. We and the enemy have identified it as the decisive point.

There is a way to do this.

  • We must balance our focus on training Iraqi soldiers with a determined effort to secure the Iraqi population and contain the rising violence. Securing the population has never been the primary mission of the U.S. military effort in Iraq, and now it must become the first priority.
  • We must send more American combat forces into Iraq and especially into Baghdad to support this operation. A surge of seven Army brigades and Marine regiments to support clear-and-hold operations that begin in the spring of 2007 is necessary, possible, and will be sufficient to improve security and set conditions for economic development, political development, reconciliation, and the development of Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) to provide permanent security.
  • American forces, partnered with Iraqi units, will clear high-violence Sunni and mixed Sunni-Shia neighborhoods, primarily on the west side of the city.
  • After those neighborhoods are cleared, U.S. soldiers and Marines, again partnered with Iraqis, will remain behind to maintain security, reconstitute police forces, and integrate police and Iraqi Army efforts to maintain the population’s security.
  • As security is established, reconstruction aid will help to reestablish normal life, bolster employment, and, working through Iraqi officials, strengthen Iraqi local government.
  • Securing the population strengthens the ability of Iraq’s central government to exercise its sovereign powers.

This approach requires a national commitment to victory in Iraq:

  • The ground forces must accept longer tours for several years. National Guard units will have to accept increased deployments during this period.
  • Equipment shortages must be overcome by transferring equipment from non-deploying active-duty, National Guard, and reserve units to those about to deploy. Military industry must be mobilized to provide replacement equipment sets urgently.
  • The president must request a dramatic increase in reconstruction aid for Iraq. Responsibility and accountability for reconstruction must be assigned to established agencies. The president must insist upon the completion of reconstruction projects. The president should also request a dramatic increase in Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP) funds.
  • The president must request a substantial increase in ground forces end strength. This increase is vital to sustaining the morale of the combat forces by ensuring that relief is on the way. The president must issue a personal call for young Americans to volunteer to fight in the decisive conflict of this generation.
  • The president and his representatives in Iraq must forge unity of effort with the Iraqi government.

Other courses of action have been proposed. All will fail.

  • Withdraw immediately. This approach will lead to immediate defeat. The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) are entirely dependent upon American support to survive and function. If U.S. forces withdraw now, the Iraqi forces will collapse. Iraq will descend into total civil war that will rapidly spread throughout the Middle East.
  • Engage Iraq’s neighbors. This approach will fail. The basic causes of violence and sources of manpower and resources for the warring sides come from within Iraq. Iraq’s neighbors are encouraging the violence, but they cannot stop it.
  • Increase embedded trainers dramatically. This approach cannot succeed rapidly enough to prevent defeat. Removing U.S. forces from patrolling neighborhoods to embed them as trainers will lead to an immediate rise in violence. This rise in violence will destroy America’s remaining will to fight and escalate the cycle of sectarian violence in Iraq beyond anything an Iraqi army could bring under control.

Failure in Iraq today will require far greater sacrifices tomorrow in far more desperate circumstances.

Committing to victory now will demonstrate America’s strength to our friends and enemies around the world.

Kristol dryly characterizes the prepackaged response to this approach:
There has been some sniping at the Keane-Kagan plan. But what is striking is that so few of the critics actually go to the trouble of analyzing it--or proposing a substitute. Instead, Keane and Kagan are treated with annoyance and disdain. Don't they know that we're losing in Iraq and that it's time to leave? What's all this talk about staying and fighting and winning? Didn't anyone tell them that the Bush Administration's errors have been so grievous that success is hopeless?
We dryly note that those Democrats who have been complaining that Bush hasn't called for any sacrifice from the American people, like those of the FDR-led noble war of 1941-45, are about to have their wish fulfilled. This will start to feel like a national mobilization.

And for those who wonder whether the folks who support such a decision are prepared to make a sacrifice, we note that Kristol has a son who is a Marine officer in training, as we recall.

And for those who wonder whether anything that US forces do in Iraq can succeed, we recommend giving a listen to NPR's Michele Norris's interview with Marine Col. Brian Beaudreault, who boldly claims military success for his 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit in the awful Anbar provice: "In the less than two months that the 15th MEU has been on deck, we've suppressed the insurgency, we've stemmed the flow of foreign fighters, we've now created the conditions in working with the people of Rupah [sp?] to help bring some sense of security into their city."


Liberty said...

All the king's horses and all the king's men will not put Iraq back together again....It is well past time to wake from this fantasy slumber. Nothing stopped the Titantic from sinking after it struck the Atlantic iceberg. No troop increase, reconstruction aid or chest thumping from retired Generals will stabilize Iraq. Iraq does not exist anymore. The forest must burn to regenerate.

Jim Shoes said...

And analogies are the same thing as evidence, apparently. Nice "argument," Liberty.

JB in CA said...

A few days ago, a reporter on NPR said that the Iraq War is now the third longest in American history (behind the Vietnam and Revolutionary wars). That bit of information, I believe, helps put into perspective the ever growing restlessness to withdraw our troops. Short of victory, however, there will be no withdrawl on Bush's watch. That would automatically guarantee a failed presidency. Let's hope, then, that Bush's new policy is successful and that the new Secretary of Defense knows what he's doing. Otherwise, it looks like we're in for at least two more years of chaos.

Jim Shoes said...

Those kind of historical comparisons only work if one ignores other anti-insurgency campaigns waged by the American military. The Philippine Insurgency took fourteen years to suppress (

And though no one wants to talk about it, the US Army spent decades fighting Native Americans.

JB in CA said...

Good point. You could add to that list the war on terror, which, of course, started before the war in Iraq (and may never end). And aren't we still at war with Afganistan? I don't even know. If so, that too has lasted longer than the Iraq War. Or should we count all three as one big war? At any rate, my point was that the length of the Iraq War is starting to reach historical limits where American patience with wars is concerned.

Jim Shoes said...

And let us not forget how long it has taken the British to suppress the deadly insurgency, fought as in Iraq by multiple militias, in Northern Ireland.