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After Action Report

Distinguished correspondents,

 I found the below post-visit (to Iraq) report by Gen. Barry McCaffrey
reasonably persuasive.

Collegial warm regards,

Ed Kane

*******


December 18, 2007
*
MEMORANDUM FOR: Colonel Michael Meese
Professor and Head Dept of Social Sciences
United States Military Academy

CC: Colonel Cindy Jebb
Professor and Deputy Head Dept of Social Sciences
United States Military Academy

SUBJECT: *After Action Report—General Barry R McCaffrey USA (Ret)
*VISIT IRAQ AND KUWAIT 5-11 DECEMBER 2007

1. PURPOSE: *This memo provides feedback on my strategic and operational
assessment of current security operations in Iraq. Look forward to
providing lectures to faculty and cadet national security seminars.
Will provide follow-on comprehensive report with attachments of
current unclassified data and graphs documenting the current
counterinsurgency
situation in Iraq.
*
2. SOURCES:
1.) ADM William (Fox) Fallon USN, Commander US Central Command
(CENTCOM) *One-on -one meeting in Iraq. Theater strategic assessment.
*2.) GEN David Petraeus, Commanding General Multi-National Forces Iraq (CG,
MNF-I*) One-on-one office call: strategic assessment.
*3.) LTG Raymond Odierno, Commanding General Multi-National Corps-Iraq (CG,
MNC-I*) Campaign briefing.
*4.) LTG Jim Dubik, Commander, Multi-National Security Transition Command -
Iraq (MNSTC-I) *MNSTC-I Overview brief and ministerial capacity discussion
"Building the Iraqi Police and Army".
1
*5.) Chargé Ambassador Pat Butenis, Deputy Chief of Mission *(Ambassador
Ryan
Crocker on personal leave) One-on-one diplomatic assessment.
*6.) MG John Paxton USMC, Chief of Staff Multi National Forces- Iraq
(COS, MNFI)
*MNF-I Battle Update Assessment.
*7.) MG Joe Fil, Commanding General, Multi-National Division -Baghdad
(CG, MNDB)
*Update- "The struggle for Bagdad."
*8.) MG Mark Hertling*, *Commanding General Multi-National Division-
North (CG,
MND-N) *MND-N "Battle Update Brief the northern zones…AQI final refuge."
*9.) MG Rick Lynch, Commanding General Multi-National Division Center-(CG,
MND-C) *MND-C Operations & Intelligence Round Table. "The struggle for the
southern approaches to Baghdad."
*10.) MG Mike Jones, Commander Civilian Police Assistance Training Team
(CPATT*) Round table discussion at Taqaddam Airbase. *"Building the Iraqi
Police."
11.) MG Kevin Bergner, Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Effects,
MNF-I *Update
briefing with senior MNF-I Staff.
*12.) MG Maston Robeson (Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategy, Plans and
Assessments
MNF-I), RADML Greg Smith (PAOMNF-I): *Update briefing with senior MNF-I
Staff.
*13.) MG Dennis Hardy, Deputy Commanding General, Third Army, U.S. Army
Central (USARCENT), Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC):
*Briefing on strategic situation in Kuwait.
*14.) BG Geoff Freeman, CG, 335th Theater Sig Cmd (Prov), C6, Coalition
Forces
Land Component Command: *Update briefing on communications support, Iraq and
Afghanistan.
*15.) US Embassy Baghdad Country Team Briefing – AMB Marci Ries (Pol-Mil
Counselor), AMB Charlie Ries (Coordinator for Economic Transition in Iraq),
Todd Schwartz (Economic Counselor), Matt Tueller (Political Counselor), Dr.
Chris Schnaubelt (Chief of Joint Strategic Plans and Assessments).
16.) BG Jim Yarbrough, CG, Iraqi Assistance Group (IAG): *Update
briefing MNC-I
assistance group. "The status and training of US MiTT teams imbedded in
Iraqi
Forces."
*17.) Operational Intelligence Briefings. BG (P) Vince Brooks (DCG S,
MND-B), COL
Jack Ballantyne (Chief of Staff and MND-B), COL Bill West (Chief ISF Cell,
MND-B), LTC Steve North (G2, MND-B), LTC Chris Bonheim (Deputy G3,
MND-B): "*Iraqi Forces engaged in the struggle for Baghdad."
2
*18.) Campaign briefing with MNC-I CG Team. COL Jerry Tait (C2, MNC-I), COL
John Murray (C3, MNC-I), COL J.T. Thomson (XO, MNC-I CG) *"The campaign
Plan."
*19.) Sensing session and open discussion with thirty-eight US battalion
commanders:
MND-B Battalion Commander's Conference. *Working Lunch --- BG John
Campbell, DCG (S).
*20.) BG Barry McManus (Joint Headquarters Transition Team CMATT), BG
Robert Allardice (Air Force Transition Team CMATT), and RADM Edward
Winters (Navy Transition Team CMATT), and COL Al Dochnal (Chief of Staff
CMATT): *MNSTC-I Overview Brief Iraqi: Security Forces and Ministerial
Capacity
Discussion
*21.) BG Jim Kessler, CG 2nd Marine Logistic Group MNF-W, COL Rivers Johnson
(PAO, CPATT), Mr. Don Lane (Chief of Training CPATT): *Round Table
Discussion. (Forced down by dust storm weather with the Marines!)
*22.) BG Edward Cardon, DCG-S, MND-C*: MND-C Battle Update Brief.
*23.) BG Charles Gurganus USMC (CG Ground Component Element, II MEF), COL
John Charlton USA (Commander 1st Bde, MNF-W), and COL Dave Fuquea
USMC (G3-ISF MNF-W): *Overview, Ramadi city visits, and working lunch
Marine/US Army leadership Camp Ramadi.
*24.) COL Jim Hickey, (Director, MNC-I COIC), MAJ Brian Bricker (XO, MNC-I
COIC): *Office call with MNC-I Counter-IED Operational Integration Center.
"Strategic intelligence assessment."
*25.) COL Ricky Gibbs, (Commander 4/1 ID), LTC Pat Frank (Commander 1-28
IN)*:
4/1 ID BCT & 1-28 IN "O&I Brief with focus on the battle for Baghdad."
(US 80 KIA
and 600+ WIA in this brigade during the campaign.)
*26.) COL Rodger Cloutier (G3 MND-C), MAJ David Waldron (G3 Ops MND-C),
MAJ David Stender (720th MP Bn S3), MAJ Michael Kelly (G3 ISF Cell MND-C):
*Lunch & Brief on Iraqi Security Forces Status & Readiness on the
southern approaches
to Baghdad."
*27.) COL Dominic Caracillo (Commander, 3/101 ABN), LTC Andrew Rohling
(Commander, 3-187 IN), COL Ahmad (Iraqi Battalion Commander PB Kemple):
*Visit with 3rd BCT, 101 ABN at Patrol Base Kemple. "The battle for the
southern
approaches to Baghdad."
*28.) COL Wayne Grigsby (Commander 3rd Bde, 3ID), MAJ Luis Rivera (XO,
1-10 FA
Bn), and CPT Pat Moffett (Commander, A/1-10 FA Bn): *Battle updates "the
southern belt" …"market walk Iraqi City" with 3rd Bde, 3ID
*29.) COL Bryan Watson (Chief of Staff, MND-N), COL Steve Schenk (G3 MND-N):
*MND-N Battle Update briefs the northern zones.
3
*30.) COL John Broadmedow USMC, Chief 7th IA Division MiTT: *7th IA
Division Mitt
Overview& Discussion at Camp Black Diamond. "The reconciliation campaign for
Anbar province."
*31.) COL Steve Schenk (G3 MND-N), MAJ Sam Lex (G3-ISF MND-N*): Meeting with
MND-N Iraqi Security Forces Cell.
*32.) COL Jessie Farrington (Commander 1st CAB), LTC Jim Cutting (Commander,
TF Odin), MAJ Bill Huff (Brigade S3, 1st CAB): *1st Combat Aviation
Brigade and
TF Odin Briefing-- Tikrit.
*33.) LTC Thomas Hauerwas (Bde XO 1/101st ABN), MAJ George Bratcher (Bde S2,
1/101st ABN): *1/101st ABN Operations and Intelligence Update "the southern
approaches."
*34.) Round table discussion with International Police Advisors: Donald
Lane (Chief of
Training CPATT), Steve Ryan, International Police Advisor, Habbaniyah, Dave
Smith, International Police Advisor, Ed Weibl, International Police Advisor.
"Effectiveness of the Iraqi Police."
35.) MG Tariq Yusuf, Anbar Provincial Chief of Police: *Operational
assessment at
Ramadi Government Center.
*36.) Meeting/ briefing with 7th Iraqi Army Division Commander and
senior staff. "The
struggle for Anbar Province."
37.) Sensing Session with twenty US Company Commanders. Multi National
Division
North. "Morale, career plans,
Type your cut contents here.performance of Iraqi Security Forces, trust in
Commanders."
38.) Field visit 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry, MAJ Eric Weis, S3.
*(Serve as honorary
Colonel of the regiment. Was honored to present awards for valor and
purple heart
medals, as well as receive update brief on their counter-insurgency
operations south of
Baghdad.)
*39.) Visit Public Market Place. MND Center. Narhwan, Iraq *(Population
100,000)
*40.) Visit "Concerned Local Citizens" security group. MND Center.
41.) Visit Iraq Police Station. Ramadi, Iraq.
42.) Visit Iraq Police. MND Bagdad, Iraq.
43.) Visit Iraq Army. MND Bagdad, Iraq.
44.) Visit Iraq Regional Training Center. Police & Army. Habbaniyah, Iraq.
*
*1. THE BOTTOM LINE---AN OPERATIONAL ASSESSMENT:

a. VIOLENCE DOWN DRAMATICALLY:
*The struggle for stability in the Iraqi Civil War has entered a new
phase with dramatically
reduced levels of civilian sectarian violence, political assassinations,
abductions, and
small arms/ indirect fire and IED attacks on US and Iraqi Police and
Army Forces.
This is the unmistakable new reality ---and must be taken into account
as the US debates
its options going forward. The national security debate must move on to
an analysis of
why this new political and security situation exists---not whether it
exists.
General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker have provided
brilliant collective
leadership to US Forces and have ably engaged the Iraqi political and
military leadership.
*
b. AL QAEDA TACTICALLY DEFEATED AND TRYING TO REGENERATE:
*Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) has been defeated at a tactical and operational
level in Baghdad
and Anbar Province and is trying to re-constitute in the north and along
the Syrian
frontier.
The Iraqi people have turned on AQI because it overreached trying to
impose an alien
and harsh practice of Islam inconsistent with the more moderate
practices of the Sunni
minority. (16% of the population.) The foreign jihadist elements in AQI
(with their
enormous hatred of what they view as the apostate Shia) have alienated
the nationalism
of the broader Iraqi population. Foreign intervention across the Syrian
frontier has
dropped substantially. Most border-crossers are suicide bombers who are
dead within
four days while carrying out largely ineffective attacks on the civilian
population and the
Iraqi Police.
The senior leaders of AQI have become walking dead men because of the
enormous
number of civilian intelligence tips coming directly to US Forces. US
and Brit Special
Operations Forces are deadly against AQI leadership. Essentially AQI has
been driven
out of Baghdad and is now trying to reconstitute their capabilities.
*
c. IRAQI SECURITY FORCES KEY FACTOR IN SUCCESSFUL INTERNAL
SECURITY:
*The Iraqi Security Forces are now beginning to take a major and
independent successful
role in the war. Under the determined leadership of LTG Jim Dubik
---both the
equipment and force levels of the Iraqi Security Forces are now for the
first time in the
war at a realistic level of resource planning.
The previously grossly ineffective and corrupt Iraqi Police have been
forcefully retrained
and re-equipped. The majority of their formerly sectarian police
leadership has
been replaced. The police are now a mixed bag--- but many local units
are now
effectively providing security and intelligence penetration of their
neighborhoods.
The Iraqi Army has made huge progress in leadership, training, and
equipment capability.
The embedded US training teams have simply incredible levels of trust
and mutual
cooperation with their Iraqi counterparts. Corruption remains endemic.
However, much
remains to be done. This is the center-of-gravity of the war.
The ISF still lacks credibility as a coherent counter-insurgency and
deterrent force. It has
no national logistics and maintenance system. It lacks any semblance of
an Air Force
with a robust lift and attack helicopter force and fixed wing C-130 lift
to support counterinsurgency.
It lacks any semblance of a functioning military medical system to provide
country-wide trauma care, evacuation, and rehabilitation. It lacks any
artillery with
precision munitions to provide stand-off attack of hard targets—or to
assist in counterbattery
fire to protect the population and military installations. It lacks any
serious armor
capability to act as a deterrent force to protect national sovereignty.
(In my judgment the
Army needs 9000+ wheel and track armored vehicles for their 13 combat
divisions.)
*
d. CENTRAL GOVERNMENT DOES NOT WORK:
*There is no functional central Iraqi Government. Incompetence,
corruption, factional
paranoia, and political gridlock have paralyzed the state. The
constitution promotes
bureaucratic stagnation and factional strife. The budgetary process
cannot provide
responsive financial support to the military and the police---nor local
government for
health, education, governance, reconstruction, and transportation.
Mr. Maliki has no political power base and commands no violent militias
who have direct
allegiance to him personally---making him a non-player in the Iraqi
political struggle for
dominance in the post-US withdrawal period which looms in front of the
Iraqi people.
However, there is growing evidence of the successful re-constitution of
local and
provincial government. Elections for provincial government are vitally
important to
creating any possible form of functioning Iraqi state.
*
e. POPULATION AND REFUGEES IN MISERY:
*There are 4 million plus dislocated Iraqis---possibly one in six
citizens. Many of the
intelligentsia and professional class have fled to Syria, Jordan, or
abroad. 60,000 + have
been murdered or died in the post-invasion violence. Medical care is
primitive. Security
and justice for the individual is weak. Many lack clean water or
adequate food and a roof
over their family. Anger and hatred for the cruelties of the ongoing
Civil War overwhelm
the desire for reconciliation.
There is widespread disbelief that the Iraqi government can bring the
country together.
The people (and in particular the women) are sick of the chaotic
violence and want an
end to the unpredictable violence and the dislocation of the population.
*
f. ECONOMY SHOWING SIGNS OF COMING BACK:
*The economy is slowly reviving--- although there is massive 50% or more
unemployment
or under-employment.
The electrical system is slowly coming back--- but it is being
overwhelmed by huge
increases in demand as air conditioners, TV's, and light industry load
the system.
The production and distribution of gasoline is increasing but is
incapable of keeping up
with a gigantic increase in private vehicle and truck ownership.
The Iraqi currency to everyone's astonishment is very stable and more
valued than the
weak US dollar.
The agricultural system is under-resourced and poorly managed---it
potentially could
feed the population and again become a source of export currency earnings.
*
g. US COMBAT FORCES NOW DOMINATING THE CIVIL WAR:
*The morale and tactical effectiveness of engaged US military forces are
striking. The
"surge" of five additional US Brigade Combat Teams helped. (Although we
are now
forced to begin an immediate drawdown because of the inadequate
resources of the
worldwide US Army.)
These combat forces have become the most effective counter-insurgency
(and forensic
police investigative service) in history. LTG Ray Odierno the MNC-I
Commander and
his senior commanders have gotten out of their fixed bases and operate
at platoon level in
concert with small elements of the Iraqi Army and Police. Their
aggressive tactics
combined with simply brilliant use of the newly energized Provincial
Reconstruction
Teams (PRT's -- Superb State Department leadership and participation)
for economic
development have dramatically changed the tone of the war.
US Forces have now unilaterally constituted some 60,000+ armed "Iraqi
Concerned
Local Citizen Groups" to the consternation of the Maliki Government.
These CLC
Groups have added immeasurably to the security of the local populations
-- as well as
giving a paycheck to unemployed males to support their families.
Although the majority
of these CLC Groups are Sunnis – increasingly the concept is being
extended to Shia
Groups south of Baghdad.
The US battalion and brigade commanders have grown up in combat with near
continuous operations in the past 20 years in the Balkans, Desert Storm,
Afghanistan, and
Operation Iraqi Freedom. Many of the Army combat forces are now
beginning their 4th
round of year+ combat tours in Iraq or Afghanistan. Many of the Marine
units are now
on their 5th tour of seven month combat deployments. The troops and
their leaders are
simply fearless---despite 34,000 US killed and wounded.
The US company and battalion commanders now operate as the de facto
low-level
government of the Iraqi state…schools, health, roads, police, education,
governance. The
Iraqis tend to defer to US company and battalion commanders based on
their respect for
their counterparts' energy, integrity, and the assurance of some level
of security. These
US combat units have enormous discretion to use CRP Funds to jump start
local urban
and rural economic and social reconstruction. They are rapidly mentoring and
empowering local Iraqi civilian and police leadership.
Direct intelligence cooperation has sky-rocketed. The civilian
population provides byname
identification of criminal leadership. They point out IED's. They
directly interact
with US forces at low level in much of the country. (There are still
3000+ attacks on US
Forces each month…this is still a Civil War.)

*h. SUNNI ARABS WANT BACK IN--- BEFORE US FORCES DEPART:
*The Sunnis Arabs have stopped seeing the US as the enemy and are now
cooperating to
eliminate AQI -- and to position themselves for the next phase of the
Civil War when the
US Forces withdraw.
There is no leadership that can speak for all the Sunnis. The former
regime elements
have now stepped forward ---along with tribal leadership ---to assert
some emerging
control.

*i. SHIA ARABS HOLDING IN CEASEFIRE—STRUGGLE FOR INTERNAL
POWER:
*The Shia JAM militia under the control of Mr. Sadr have maintained
their cease-fire, are
giving up rogue elements to be harvested by US Special Operations teams,
and are
consolidating control over their ethnic cleansing success in
Baghdad---as well as
maneuvering to dominate the Iranian affiliated Badr brigade forces in
the south.
However, Mr. Sadr lost great credibility when his forces violently
intervened in the Holy
City of Najaf ---and were videoed on national TV and throughout the Arab
world
carrying out criminal acts against the pilgrims and protectors of the
Shia population.
Sadr himself is an enigma. He may well want back into the political
process. He is not a
puppet of the Iranians and may lack their real support. His command and
control of his
own forces appears weak. He personally lacks the theological gravitas of
a true Shia
Islamic scholar like the venerable Sistani. He may be personally fearful
of being killed or
captured by ISF special operations forces if he is visibly leading
inside Iraq…hence his
frequent absences to Iran at the sufferance of that government.

*j. DOMINANCE OF CRIMINAL ELEMENTS:
*There is no clear emerging nation-wide Shia leadership for their 60% of
the Iraqi
population. It is difficult to separate either Shia or Sunni political
factions from Mafia
criminal elements-- with a primary focus on looting the government
financial system and
oil wealth of the nation.
In many cases neighborhoods are dominated by gangs of armed thugs who
loosely
legitimize their arbitrary violence by implying allegiance to a higher
level militia.
The Iraqi justice system…courts, prosecutors, defense attorneys, police
investigators,
jails for pre-trial confinement, prisons for sentences, integrity of
public institutions---does
not yet exist. Vengeance is the only operative law of the land. The
situation is starting to
change. The Iraqi Police will be in charge of most neighborhoods by the
end of next
year.

*k. THE KURDS---AN AUTOMOMOUS SUCCESSFUL REGION:
*The Kurds are a successful separate autonomous state---with a
functioning and rapidly
growing economy, a strong military (Both existing Pesh Merga Forces and
nominally
Iraqi-Kurdish Army divisions), a free press, relative security,
significant foreign
investment, and a growing tourist industry which serves as a neutral and
safe meeting
place for separated and terrified Sunni and Shia Arab families from the
south.
There are Five Star hotels, airline connections to Europe, a functioning
telephone system,
strong trade relations with Syria, enormous mutually beneficial trade
relations with
Turkey, religious tolerance, a functional justice system, and an
apparently enduring
cease-fire between the traditional Kurdish warring factions.
Kurdish adventurism and appetite to confront both their external
neighbors and the Iraqi
central state may have been tempered in a healthy way by the prospect of
invasion from
the powerful Turkish Armed Forces to avenge the continued cross-border
KKP terrorism.
The war-after-next will be the war of the Iraqi Arabs against the Kurds
---when Mosul as
well as Kirkuk and its giant oil basin (and an even greater Kurdish
claimed buffer zone to
the south) is finally and inevitably absorbed (IAW the existing
Constitution) by the
nascent Kurdish state. The only real solution to this dread
inevitability is patient US
diplomacy to continually defer the fateful Kurdish decision ad infinitum.
*
2. THE WAY AHEAD:

a. THE CENTRAL US MILITARY PURPOSE MUST BE TO CREATE ADEQUATE
IRAQI SECURITY FORCES:
*
The Iraqis are the key variable. The center of our military effort must
be the creation of
well-equipped, trained, and adequately supported Iraqi Police and Army
Forces with an
operational Air Force and Navy.
We have rapidly decreasing political leverage on the Iraqi factional
leadership. It is
evident that the American people have no continued political commitment
to solving the
Iraqi Civil War. The US Armed Forces cannot for much longer impose an
internal
skeleton of governance and security on 27 million warring people.
The US must achieve our real political objectives to withdraw most US
combat forces in
the coming 36 months leaving in place:
1st: A stable Iraqi government.
2nd: A strong and responsive Iraqi security force.
3rd: A functioning economy.
4th: Some form of accountable, law-based government.
5th: A government with active diplomatic and security ties to its six
neighboring states.

*b. THE US ARMY IS TOO SMALL AND POORLY RESOURCED TO CONTINUE
SUCCESSFUL COUNTER-INSURGENCY OPERATIONS IN IRAQ AND
AFGHANISTAN AT THE CURRENT LEVEL:
*
An active counter-insurgency campaign in Iraq could probably succeed in
the coming
decade with twenty-five US Brigade Combat Teams. (Afghanistan probably
needs two
more US combat brigades for a total of four in the coming 15 year
campaign to create an
operational state--- given more robust NATO Forces and ROE). We can
probably sustain
a force in Iraq indefinitely (given adequate funding) of some 10+
brigades. However, the
US Army is starting to unravel.
Our recruiting campaign is bringing into the Army thousands of new
soldiers (perhaps
10% of the annual input) who should not be in uniform. (Criminal
records, drug use,
moral waivers, non-high school graduates, pregnant from Basic Training
and therefore
non-deployable, lowest mental category, etc.)
We are losing our combat experienced mid-career NCOs' and Captains at an
excessive
rate. (ROTC DMG's, West Pointers, Officers with engineering and business
degrees,
etc.) Their morale is high, they are proud of their service, they have
enormous personal
courage---however, they see a nation of 300 million people with only an
under resourced
Armed Forces at war. The US Army at 400,000 troops is too small to carry
out the
current military strategy. The active duty US Army needs to be 800,000
strong to
guarantee US national security.
The National Guard and Reserves are too small, are inadequately
resourced, their
equipment is broken or deployed, they are beginning their second
involuntary combat
deployments, and they did not sign up to be a regular war-fighting
force. They have done
a superb job in combat but are now in peril of not being ready for
serious homeland
security missions or deployment to a major shooting war such as Korea.
The modernization of our high technology US Air Force and Navy is
imperiled by
inadequate Congressional support. Support has focused primarily on the
ground war and
homeland security with $400 Billion+. We are digging a strategic hole
for the US as we
mono-focus on counter-insurgency capabilities ---while China inevitably
emerges in the
coming 15 years as a global military power.
*
c. HEALING THE MORAL FISSURES IN THE ARMED FORCES:
*The leadership of Secretary Bob Gates in DOD has produced a dramatic
transformation
of our national security effort which under the Rumsfeld leadership was
characterized by:
a failing under-resourced counter-insurgency strategy; illegal DOD
orders on the abuse
of human rights; disrespect for the media and the Congress and the other
departments of
government; massive self-denial on wartime intelligence; and an internal
civilianimposed
integrity problem in the Armed Forces---that punished candor, de-centralized
operations, and commanders initiative.
Admiral Mullen as CJCS and Admiral Fallon as CENTCOM Commander bring
hardnosed
realism and integrity of decision-making to an open and collaborative
process
which re-emerged as Mr. Rumsfeld left office. (Mr. Rumsfeld was an
American patriot,
of great personal talent, energy, experience, bureaucratic cleverness,
and charisma---who
operated with personal arrogance, intimidation and disrespect for the
military, lack offorthright candor, avoidance of personal
responsibility, and fundamental bad judgment.)
Secretary Gates has turned the situation around with little drama in a
remarkable display
of wisdom, integrity, and effective senior leadership of a very complex
and powerful
organization. General Petraeus now has the complete latitude and trust
in his own
Departmental senior civilian leadership to have successfully changed the
command
climate in the combat force in Iraq. His commanders now are empowered to
act in
concert with strategic guidance. They can frankly level with the media
and external
visitors. I heard this from many senior leaders -- from three star
General to Captain
Company commanders.
*
3. THE END GAME:
*It is too late to decide on the Iraqi exit strategy with the current
Administration.
However, the Secretary of Defense and CENTCOM can set the next
Administration up
for success by getting down to 12 + Brigade Combat teams before January
of 2009 ---and
by massively resourcing the creation of an adequate Iraqi Security Force.
We also need to make the case to Congress that significant US financial
resources are
needed to get the Iraqi economy going. ($3 billion per year for five
years.) The nationbuilding process is the key to a successful US
Military withdrawal---and will save
enormous money and grief in the long run to avoid a failed Iraqi state.
Clearly we must continue the current sensible approach by Secretary of
State Rice to
open dialog with Syria, Turkey, and the Iranians---and to focus Arab
attention with Saudi
leadership on a US diplomatic offensive to mitigate the confrontation
between Israel and
the Arab states. We must also build a coalition to mitigate the dangers
of a nuclear armed
Iran.
The dysfunctional central government of Iraq, the warring
Shia/Sunni/Kurdish factions,
and the unworkable Iraqi constitution will only be put right by the
Iraqis in their own
time---and in their own way. It is entirely credible that a functioning
Iraqi state will
slowly emerge from the bottom up…with a small US military and diplomatic
presence
holding together in loose fashion the central government. The US must
also hold at bay
Iraq's neighbors from the desperate mischief they might cause that could
lead to all out
Civil War with regional involvement.
A successful withdrawal from Iraq with the emergence of a responsible
unified Iraqi
nation is vitally important to the security of the American people and
the Mid-East. We
are clearly no longer on a downward spiral. However, the ultimate
outcome is still quite
seriously in doubt.

Barry R McCaffrey
General USA (Ret)
Adjunct Professor of International Affairs
Department of Social Sciences, USMA
West Point, NY.
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