Friday, December 01, 2006

Pentagon OPLAN emerges

Looks like the senior leadership has decided that they are not going to be a passive layer in the 3-sided chess match that is about to take place over what to do for Iraq. The first moves are starting to break out from the haze.

Like the Czechoslovakian Army in Siberia - the US Military is starting to move, as best as it can, to survive the triangle-ization political wartime leadership vacuum that exists. We still have a war to fight you know.

You can see why in a couple of places. A nice demonstration of the Left's time worn attack line here.
What's going on at the Pentagon?

Are the joint chiefs indeed set on "winning" the Iraq war, a war that everyone else on the planet knows the ending of? Or
are the chiefs bobbing and weaving like the rest of Washington to position themselves for the post-war era?

I ran into a friend yesterday at the store and as we were chatting. The subject of Iraq came up.

My friend, who isn't a military specialist but is a thoughtful Bush-hater, made a comment that somehow the military was denied the forces they thought they needed, both in 2003 and today.

I said, look, the military itself bought into the small force logic and the quick in and out illusion.

The small force appealed to their vanity, that is, that the magnificent U.S. military didn't need a larger force to defeat the Iraqi Army on the battlefield.
And yes, I know the military is not perfect, never is. You can only be perfect in hindsight. Ahem. As the military continues to strive for victory within the boundaries they are allowed to, expect the attacks to increase.

The battle against the realists (remember, these are the ones that had Bush 41 make speeches in Ukraine asking them to stay part of the morphing Soviet Union as it fell apart. You can see a skirmish line here.
The Bush administration is deliberating whether to abandon U.S. reconciliation efforts with Sunni insurgents and instead give priority to Shiites and Kurds, who won elections and now dominate the government, according to U.S. officials.

The proposal, put forward by the State Department as part of a crash White House review of Iraq policy, follows an assessment that the ambitious U.S. outreach to Sunni dissidents has failed. U.S. officials are increasingly concerned that their reconciliation efforts may even have backfired, alienating the Shiite majority and leaving the United States vulnerable to having no allies in Iraq, according to sources familiar with the State Department proposal.

Some insiders call the proposal the "80 percent" solution, a term that makes other parties to the White House policy review cringe. Sunni Arabs make up about 20 percent of Iraq's 26 million people.

Until now, the thrust of U.S. policy has been to build a unified government and society out of Iraq's three fractious communities. U.S. officials say they would not be abandoning this goal but would instead leave leadership of the thorny task of reconciliation to the Iraqis. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the deliberations.

The proposal has met serious resistance from both U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and military commanders in Iraq, who believe that intensive diplomatic efforts to bring Sunni insurgents into the political process are pivotal to stabilizing the war-ravaged country, the sources said.
There is a lot being leaked out to remind everyone the seriousness of this world.
U.S. officials say they have found smoking-gun evidence of Iranian support for terrorists in Iraq: brand-new weapons fresh from Iranian factories. According to a senior defense official, coalition forces have recently seized Iranian-made weapons and munitions that bear manufacturing dates in 2006.

Iranian-made munitions found in Iraq include advanced IEDs designed to pierce armor and anti-tank weapons. U.S. intelligence believes the weapons have been supplied to Iraq's growing Shia militias from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which is also believed to be training Iraqi militia fighters in Iran.
The Iraq Studies Group seems to be setting itself up for a battle with the military,
The bipartisan Iraq Study Group reached a consensus on Wednesday on a final report that will call for a gradual pullback of the 15 American combat brigades now in Iraq but stop short of setting a firm timetable for their withdrawal, according to people familiar with the panel’s deliberations.
The report leaves unstated whether the 15 combat brigades that are the bulk of American fighting forces in Iraq would be brought home, or simply pulled back to bases in Iraq or in neighboring countries. (A brigade typically consists of 3,000 to 5,000 troops.) From those bases, they would still be responsible for protecting a substantial number of American troops who would remain in Iraq, including 70,000 or more American trainers, logistics experts and members of a rapid reaction force.
The report leaves unstated whether the 15 combat brigades that are the bulk of American fighting forces in Iraq would be brought home, or simply pulled back to bases in Iraq or in neighboring countries. (A brigade typically consists of 3,000 to 5,000 troops.) From those bases, they would still be responsible for protecting a substantial number of American troops who would remain in Iraq, including 70,000 or more American trainers, logistics experts and members of a rapid reaction force.
While the White House reviews its strategy options, Pentagon planners are also looking beyond the immediate reinforcements for Baghdad to the question of whether they will need to draw more on reserve units to meet troop requirements in the Iraqi capital, military officials said. In particular, the Army is considering sending about 3,000 combat engineers from reserve units.
...and the President..
"I know there's a lot of speculation that these reports in Washington mean there's going to be some kind of graceful exit out of Iraq," the president said during a joint news conference with Mr. Maliki, referring to the panel's reports that are expected next week. "We're going to stay in Iraq to get the job done so long as the government wants us there."

Abizaid weighs in in a very public way.
It’s imperative the United States, its allies and the Iraqi Government stop Islamic extremists from achieving their goal of controlling Iraq and the surrounding region, a senior U.S. military officer said on CBS’s “60 Minutes” Sunday.

“We have to stabilize Iraq and the broader regional dynamic in order to make the region less conducive to extremism, because if we don’t, the extremist values will become mainstream and we will have a much worse security situation develop in the future,” Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, told CBS reporter Lara Logan.
“There’s no good solution to a divided Iraq,” Abizaid asserted. “It’s got to come together. It’s got to stabilize. And, it’s going to require Iraqi sacrifice and courage and responsibility along with that of the United States and our allies.”

U.S. military commanders “don’t believe that they’ve been defeated” in Iraq, Abizaid said. His greatest concern for Iraq, he said, is that neighbors like Syria and Iran decide to further destabilize the country, rather than help it to coalesce.

The Iraqi Government has shown its desire to confront the sectarian violence, including violence committed by illegal militias, Abizaid pointed out. “They know that the militias have got to be taken on,” the general said.

A major element in stabilizing Iraq, Abizaid said, involves employing the country’s army to stop the sectarian strife.

“The (Iraqi) government must get behind its army in order to give it confidence that it can operate on the non-sectarian plain,” the four-star general said. “And, it’s a very, very complicated problem. But, it is one that can be solved.”
Like I said yesterday, we can win this. It just takes courage and hard work - by our civilian bosses and the "loyal opposition."As usual, Victor Davis Hanson puts in a good closing word.
Five years after September 11, and three-and-a-half years after toppling Saddam Hussein, the U.S. is almost as angry at itself as it is at the enemy. Two quite antithetical views of the war on terror — and indeed, the entire American role in the Middle East — are now crystallizing.

Ideology and political affiliation are no longer necessarily touchstones to either opinion — not at a time when The Nation and The American Conservative share the same views on Iraq and the role of the United States abroad. Republican senators like Chuck Hagel call for withdrawal, while Democrats like a Joe Liebermann do not.

Republican realists are welcomed by liberal Democrats, who want nothing to do with the neo-Wilsonian neo-conservatives that once would have seemed more characteristic of liberal’s erstwhile idealism. It is not just that public intellectuals, politicians, generals, and journalists have different views, but their views themselves are different in almost every 24-hour news cycle. Even the Bush administration at times seems torn, gravitating between both schools of thought.

While there are dozens of variants to the following two divergent positions, they represent a clear enough picture of the present divide.

The Majority Opinion
The new majority school of thought — often described as the more nuanced and more sophisticated — seems to conclude that the “global war on terror” (if that’s even what it ever really was) is insidiously winding down to a police matter. Billions spent in lives and treasure in Iraq did not make us any safer; the passing of time, the dissipation of passions, and increased vigilance did.

The Minority Brief
We really are in a global war. Its dimensions are hard to conceptualize since our enemies, while aided and abetted by sympathetic Middle Eastern dictatorships, claim no national affinity. Indeed, the terrorists deliberately mask the role of their patrons. The latter, given understandable fears of the overwhelming conventional power of the United States military, deny culpability.

For the second time in my life, I think I can claim minority status.

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