Monday, December 04, 2006


Do Iraq Right!

Real Military People Say: “Use Overwhelming Force”

At the outset of the Iraq War, I posted my opinion that we needed 500,000 foot soldiers on the ground to pacify the country, dig out all of the arms stores, disarm all of the militias, patrol the streets, occupy the cities, and seal the borders as well as possible. Later on, I became more specific as to where the main problem was, Baghdad, and how to bring it under control.

We played “nice guy” in Baghdad, permitting the citizens wide freedom of movement, the use of all kinds of vehicles, and relatively few serious searches for illegal arms, as well as setting hard rules of engagement for our troops that have been, in my opinion, ridiculous. What was needed from the start was martial law, shooting of armed men on sight, restricted use of vehicles, day and night control of all streets, and instant reaction to attacks.

Liberators we were, in fact, but Occupiers we should have been, but with a plan and schedule for creating a new government that everyone knew about. Anyone getting out of line anywhere should have been grabbed and imprisoned, if not shot. Force, naked force, should have been up front and clear to all of the 30 or more tribes in the country. But all of this is simply passé now. Or is it?

The problem with this approach was simple. We didn’t have the guts to commit that number of troops to Iraq, because the rest of our troop obligations would suffer drastically. So we fudged the situation and not only defeated the Iraqi Army with a half to a third of the troops I thought needed, but also overthrew Saddam and his odious sons. But, the rest of the task we couldn’t follow through on properly for lack of troop power. We could not be at all of the right places at the right times to stop IED bombings, to search everywhere thoroughly for arms, to have a presence in force all over the place, and to react to attacks with lethal force.

Further, I had asked a question: “Why are we paying for a full overhaul and upgrade of the Iraqi infrastructure?” This still puzzles me. I can see where Iraqi oil production should be helped back on line. That would give them the ability to help pay for our expenses and for their own reconstruction. To foot the entire reconstruction bill by the US taxpayer seems wrong to me. The powers that be decided that if we touched the oil, we would be accused of starting the war for that reason. In my book, we were starting the war at least in part because of oil, and we should not have tried to duck the issue at enormous cost to our taxpayers. I suppose that is why our leaders get the both the cheers and boos of the public, and now a Democratic (read liberal) Congress come January.

The military seems to have booted it also, in that their reassessment of either “Go short, go long, or get out,” fizzled with a politically-nuanced “go longer but shorter” concept, which helped nothing. Or was it, “go shorter but longer”? I forget which, but it doesn’t seem to have mattered, yet, anyway.

What I believe is that we have been far too humane to win. We coddled our troops with relatively rapid rotations back home; we coddled the Iraqi’s by allowing too much freedom of action too soon; and we coddled the insurgent terrorists by not being able to pursue them and kill them at every turn; all because of lack of troop power on the ground.

We coddled the American people too, by not bringing them into the battle directly in some manner; instead, going for both guns and butter at the same time. We also coddled the Muslims by not demonstrating their bloodthirsty ways and their religious fervor for conquest of the West. I wonder to this day whether our US population of something like 6 million Muslims affected our political or military decisions in any way. We may never know.

Could we go back to the “Go Long” strategy and beef up our forces to execute the really tough approach I alluded to earlier? We could. It is within our power and our resources to do so, if we seriously wanted to win.

Our ground forces must be increased overall by three to five divisions, mainly equipped for heavy firepower, rapid deployment, and movement, and sufficient armor to protect our men as well as possible from increasingly powerful IEDs and RPGs. Participation by the general public should be realized by instituting a universal draft, designed to replace the volunteers sent to Iraq once trained. Thus no combat would be in a draftee’s future, unless he volunteered for it. These steps would cure the troop deficiencies in rapid order, and without destroying the all-volunteer nature of our combat troops short of all-out world war.

We need to cleanse Iraq effectively, and we have such a chance now. I am virtually certain that we will not take this opportunity, to our great discredit and eventual regret.



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