General (Ret) Barry McCaffrey went to Iraq for a recurring annual survey,
and instead of coming back with platitudes and optimism, he mostly
saw what adisaster 4 years of BushCo policy has done
and he also said in another 18 months, the Guard is going to
IMPLODE – Premature drawdown of U.S. ground forces driven by dwindling U.S. domestic political support and the progressive deterioration of Army and Marine manpower. (In particular, the expected melt-down of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve in the coming 36 months)
So let's start with the 2007 McCaffrey Report
and let's look at the key elements
Iraq is ripped by a low grade civil war which has worsened to catastrophic levels with as many as 3000 citizens murdered per month. The population is in despair. Life in many of the urban areas is now desperate. A handful of foreign fighters (500+) --- and a couple of thousand Al Qaeda operatives incite open factional struggle through suicide bombings which target Shia holy places and innocent civilians. Thousands of attacks target US Military Forces (2900 IED’s) a month---primarily stand off attacks with IED’s, rockets, mortars, snipers, and mines from both Shia (EFP attacks are a primary casualty producer) ---and Sunni (85% of all attacks---80% of US deaths—16% of Iraqi population.)
Three million Iraqis are internally displaced or have fled the country to Syria and Jordan. The technical and educated elites are going into self-imposed exile---a huge brain drain that imperils the ability to govern. The Maliki government has little credibility among the Shia populations from which it emerged. It is despised by the Sunni as a Persian surrogate. It is believed untrustworthy and incompetent by the Kurds.
There is no function of government that operates effectively across the nation--- not health care, not justice, not education, not transportation, not labor and commerce, not electricity, not oil production. There is no province in the country in which the government has dominance. The government cannot spend its own money effectively. ($7.1 billion sits in New York banks.) No Iraqi government official, coalition soldier, diplomat, reporter, foreign NGO, nor contractor can walk the streets of Baghdad, nor Mosul, nor Kirkuk, nor Basra, nor Tikrit, nor Najaf, nor Ramadi---without heavily armed protection.
The police force is feared as a Shia militia in uniform which is responsible for thousands of extra-judicial killings. There is no effective nation-wide court system. There are in general almost no acceptable Iraqi penal institutions. The population is terrorized by rampant criminal gangs involved in kidnapping, extortion, robbery, rape, massive stealing of public property ---such as electrical lines, oil production material, government transportation, etc. (Saddam released 80,000 criminal prisoners.)
So let's get this straight, a few thousand Al Qaeda have 170,000 American soldiers tied down
in brutal Grinding operations Let's say it's 3000 Al Qaeda types, so, they get a
50;1 lever, so Bin Laden just needs to send or recruit another 500 fighters to negate our
In total, enemy insurgents or armed sectarian militias (SCIRI, JAM, Pesh Merga, AQI, 1920’s Brigade, et. al.) probably exceed 100,000 armed fighters. These non-government armed bands are in some ways more capable of independent operations than the regularly constituted ISF. They do not depend fundamentally on foreign support for their operations. Most of their money, explosives, and leadership are generated inside Iraq. The majority of the Iraqi population (Sunni and Shia) support armed attacks on American forces. Although we have arrested 120,000 insurgents (hold 27,000) and killed some huge number of enemy combatants (perhaps 20,000+) --- the armed insurgents, militias, and Al Qaeda in Iraq without fail apparently re-generate both leadership cadres and foot soldiers. Their sophistication, numbers, and lethality go up--- not down--- as they incur these staggering battle losses.
Ok, let's get this straight, there is over 30 X more potential insurgents ready to
enter in, if our policies annoy them. So our casualty rate has a potential 30X growth
and if we look at the insurgency, we see a 100% regeneration rate. For every insurgent we have
killed or captured, we have seen a complete replacement, and they have a
reserve cadre of hardened insurgents sitting in Jail, who if they escape can
double the active insurgency.
US domestic support for the war in Iraq has evaporated and will not return. The great majority of the country thinks the war was a mistake. The US Congress now has a central focus on constraining the Administration use of military power in Iraq ---and potentially Iran. The losses of US Army, Marine, and Special Operations Force casualties in Iraq now exceed 27,000 killed and wounded. (Note: The Iraqi Security Forces have suffered more than 49,000 casualties in the last 14 months.) The war costs $9 Billion per month. Stateside US Army and Marine Corps readiness ratings are starting to unravel. Ground combat equipment is shot in both the active and reserve components. Army active and reserve component recruiting has now encountered serious quality and number problems. In many cases we are forced to use US contractors to substitute for required military functions. (128,000 contractors in Iraq---includes more than 2000 armed security personnel.) Waivers in US Army recruiting standards for: moral turpitude, drug use, medical issues, criminal justice records, and non-high school graduation have gone up significantly. We now are enlisting 42 year old first term soldiers. Our promotion rates for officers and NCOs have skyrocketed to replace departing leaders. There is no longer a national or a theater US Army strategic reserve.
McCaffrey can read an election result, which will probably encourage active army leaders to speak out.
The army is losing institutional memory and quality and readiness.
We are at the “knee of the curve.” Two million+ troops of the smallest active Army force since WWII have served in the war zone. Some active units have served three, four, or even five combat deployments. We are now routinely extending nearly all combat units in both Iraq and Afghanistan. These combat units are being returned to action in some cases with only 7-12 months of stateside time to re-train and re-equip. The current deployment requirement of 20+ brigades to Iraq and 2+ brigades in Afghanistan is not sustainable.
We will be forced to call up as many as nine National Guard combat brigades for an involuntary second combat tour this coming year. (Dr Chu at DOD has termed this as “no big deal.”) Many believe that this second round of involuntary call-ups will topple the weakened National Guard structure--- which is so central to US domestic security. The National Guard Bureau has argued for a call up of only 12 months instead of 18 months. This misses the point—DOD will without fail be forced to also extend these National Guard brigades in combat at the last minute given the continuation of the current emergency situation.
The Active army has 500,000 men, so if he's not counting the Marines in this report,
on average every army soldier has done 4 Iraq Tours. I suspect he's conting the marines,
so it's more like 3, but that's a lot of time in the desert. When I was a young man in the
reserves, they talked of people doing triple tours in Vietnam as the real hard cases, the professionals,
the killing machines. I shared a college class with a retired triple tour vet. He had a real drinking problem
and used to joke that he could kill anyone and get out of jail for free.
Okay and the Guard is going to do another tour? That's 3 guard divisions, none of whom have
any equipment right now, so, they get jacked up trucks, HMMVWs, and in 2008, the guard is gone
during hurricane and fire seasons.
Iraq’s neighbors are a problem--- not part of the solution (with the exception of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait). They provide little positive political or economic support to the Maliki government.
Our allies are leaving to include the courageous and well equipped Brit’s—by January 2008 we will be largely on our own.
In summary, the US Armed Forces are in a position of strategic peril. A disaster in Iraq will in all likelihood result in a widened regional struggle which will endanger America’s strategic interests (oil) in the Mid-east for a generation. We will also produce another generation of soldiers who lack confidence in their American politicians, the media, and their own senior military leadership.
I think this speaks for itself.
Now here are the Right Wing Talking Points:
- Petraseus is a great guy, doing great things.
- Maliki has broken with Al Sadr, and we are punching up the JAM militia
- Baghdad is Safer. (The murder rate is down 50%.)
- Our troops are working closely with Iraqi army/police in a better patrol/basing method.
- The sunni tribes don't like Al-Qaeda and are cooperating in Anbar against them.
- The ISF and IA are getting better.
- The Moderates are talking about peace.
- Our troops are doing a great job (more with less and better then ever in history)
- operational discipline remains good, morale is good for the troops.
- Are logistics are still running at 100%, but is very vulnerable.
The US Armed Forces logistic system is successfully providing 100% of required supplies, services, maintenance, medical support, and material for battle. Never in the history of warfare has a military force been more generously and effectively supported than in Iraq. It is also a house of cards. We need a Joint Logistics command. We need to provide additional resource muscle to create a more robust LOC thru Jordan to Iraq. We are overly dependant on civilian contractors. In extreme danger---they will not fight.
We are overly dependant on Kuwait for logistics. If Iranian military action closed the Persian Gulf—the US combat force in Iraq would immediately begin to suffocate logistically. We cannot depend on a Turkish LOC in the coming five years.
We need 500 USAF C17’s and the tanker fleet required to support them. The Air Force flew 13,000 truck loads of material into Iraq for pinpoint distribution last year. The two USAF Squadrons of C17’s now in-theater make a gigantic contribution.
So we ned to double the Airlift footprint and thus double the tanker footprint, we are sending 1000
trucks a day from kuwait, and that lifeline is getting vulnerable. The Bush DoD is stopping C-17 production
and McCaffrey says they need 2X more plus tankers, which they don't have.
It is very unlikely that the US political opposition can constitutionally force the President into retreat. However, our next President will only have 12 months or less to get Iraq straight before he/she is forced to pull the plug. Therefore, our planning horizons should assume that there are less than 36 months remaining of substantial US troop presence in Iraq. The insurgency will continue in some form for a decade. This suggests the fundamental dilemma facing US policymakers.
The US Armed Forces cannot sustain the current deployment rate. We will leave the nation at risk to other threats from new hostile actors if we shatter the capabilities of our undersized and under-resourced Army, Marine, and special operations forces. The Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs must get Congress to provide emergency levels of resources, manpower, and energy into this rapidly failing system. If we do not aggressively rebuild ---the capability of the force actually deployed in Iraq will also degrade--- and we are likely to encounter a disaster.
So McCaffrey says The next president will still be in Iraq, without regards.
Reconciliation is the way out. There will be no imposed military solution with the current non-sustainable US force levels. Military power cannot alone defeat an insurgency—the political and economic struggle for power is the actual field of battle.
well give McCaffrey credit, he figured out in 4 years, something basic. Not bad for a right winger.
We have brilliant military and civilian leadership on the ground in Iraq. General Dave Petraeus, LTG Ray Odierno, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker have the country’s treasure and combat power at their disposal. Our cause is just. The consequence of failure will be severe.
The American people hold that the US Armed Forces are the most trusted institution in our society. The polls also show that domestic opinion is not calling for precipitous withdrawal. However, this whole Iraq operation is on the edge of unraveling as the poor Iraqis batter each other to death with our forces caught in the middle.
We now need a last powerful effort to provide to US leaders on the ground ---the political support, economic reconstruction resources, and military strength it requires to succeed.
So McCaffrey gives it 2 Friedman's given current status quo. If it get's worse, maybe he will reduce it to 1.
(And if you read this far, please hit the Tip Jar and the Reccomend button on your way out the door)