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Top UK Gen says get out of Iraq - fast

Teddy Ruxpin

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You have to take ARRSE with a grain of salt.  The bulk of the squaddies posting there loathe Blair and tend to spout off a lot.  To them, Dannatt's statements have been the first time someone has "stood up" for their interests in quite some time, for reasons I mentioned above.

cplcaldwell:  things aren't quite that simple.  The BBC is reporting his statement differently.  I suspect that Downing Street is engaging in a huge damage control effort, with Blair saying he agrees with "everything" the CGS said yesterday...  Hmmm.
 

warrickdll

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GAP said:
TR...I keep having the same feeling about Iraq that I (and most others had) of V.N.. ...

There was always something wrong with the US plan - but their limited troop numbers did not have to lead to chaos.

All those Iraqi soldiers walking home along the roads immediately after the US invasion should have been stopped and informed that they were all now proud members of the New Iraqi Army and handed there first paycheque.

Considering that the UK was their partner in the invasion, I am surprised that they didn't learn from the British experience in Vietnam.


The correct course of action now for the coalition in Iraq is difficult to judge without really knowing what the long-term goals of the coalition are. If stability in Iraq were all that is needed, then I would say Iraq is as stable as it's going to be at the moment.

The coalition should use the current stability of the Iraqi government, and the situation in Afghanistan, and the situation in Korea, as reasons for leaving (or at least leaving in large numbers).
 

cplcaldwell

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TR quite right, have edited post to reflect your last. Perhaps I am engaging in premature conspiracy theorising
 

warrickdll

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Don't be so quick to judge. The Brits found themselves in Vietnam in 45 without enough troops on the ground - and made the correct choice when presented limited options.
 

Teddy Ruxpin

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Oh, I'm not judging.  You just had me confused because there was no context.  You have to admit that your analogy is fairly obscure to the uninitiated.
 

warrickdll

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Teddy Ruxpin said:
Oh, I'm not judging.  You just had me confused because there was no context.  You have to admit that your analogy is fairly obscure to the uninitiated.

GAP's Vietnam reference had me thinking back to previous discussions while seeing the news reports - all those, now unemployed, Iraqi soldiers who were the enemy the day before, were the perfect people to be placed in a constabulary role.

Obscurity noted. :)

But the past is the past. Now (with no actual personal knowledge), I am not seeing an advantage for the US in having their forces so heavily involved in the fighting in Iraq. I say - draw down, and set up a couple of isolated bases (isolated from the population) and let the Iraqi situation wobble to some sort of equilibrium. The Americans may end up being allies (against Iranian influence) of many of the factions they are currently fighting against.

 

Kirkhill

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Further to Iterator's point - in addition to moving the US forces to isolated bases put them on the borders to seal the country.  Let the locals deal with the cities - however they choose to organize them.

Don't put the US where the people are (cities and border crossings).  Put them where they are not supposed to be (deserts, mountains and the borders between the crossings).  And by all means leave a division or two in camps as a strategic reserve to discourage activity from the neighbours.
 

Big Red

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Infanteer said:
Whoa, since when did the Shi'ites of Basra become terrorists?

Mahdi & Badr are just as if not more destabilizing than the insurgents.
 

Cdn Blackshirt

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Big Red said:
Mahdi & Badr are just as if not more destabilizing than the insurgents.

What, you don't like death squads run by Shiite political parties torturing then killing 50-100 people per week?


Matthew.  :blotto:
 

Kirkhill

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And why are they torturing and killing people?  Just to make the Americans and Brits look bad on CNN?  Or perhaps its because it is the only way they can think of to try and keep the locals in line?

The locals didn't want the CTs in Malaya, the Mau-Mau in Kenya, the Vietcong in Vietnam and they don't want the Taliban in Afghanistan or the Badr & Sadr in Iraq.  However, as well as fearing being terrorized by the terrorists they equally fear being caught in the cross-fire. 

If the fight goes on too long then they would just as soon the elephants went to trample the grass someplace else.  If there is only one elephant left in their neck of the woods then they might be able to figure out how to live with it no matter how mean, nasty, ornery and vicious it is.  At least for a while.....then they get to thinking that somebody really ought to do something about the elephant and discussions start all over again.
 

Infanteer

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Teddy Ruxpin said:
Generally, my impression is that the British Army feels it was sold a bill of goods in Iraq and that American policy there has been disasterously wrong from the outset (or, at least, from the post-invasion phase)....

It is a feeling that I find I share: I'm hardly prone to anti-Americanism, but I feel pretty strongly that the US has made grievous tactical and strategic errors in Iraq from the outset that have exacerbated the global problem.  The Brits feel that they've been merely along for the ride and that their advice (remembering that they occupied Iraq for many years) has been discounted or deliberately ignored - and I've heard this from a variety of sources at a variety of rank levels.

I find myself agreeing with this assertion.  Thomas E Ricks' "Fiasco", Gordon and Trainor's "Cobra II", Woodward's books (the most recent one "State of Denial" being just released) support this notion - not only are opponents to the Bush Administration saying so, but senior military officials, government officials, and our allies.  This is all buffeted by the recent CIA NIE that had almost nothing good to say.

I think Ricks' has it right when he points out that Iraq has been nothing but a series of lost opportunities due to bad strategy, starting from the pre-invasion politicking.  Flimsy intelligence was allowed to be used for making important strategic decisions (although, to be fair, almost everybody believed Saddam had WMD because he made the point of pretending he did for his own reasons).  As well, strategy from the beginning was marred by infighting and ideology taking the place of pragmatic advice by statesman (Colin Powell knew what he was doing) and Generals alike (Shinseki was right after all).  Even after the case for terrorist links (which was shoddy from the start) and WMD (which probably caught most offguard), the third rationale of liberation was pissed away with Abu Gharaib and heavy-handed tactics (such as those by 4ID that are documented in the official USMC history of the campaign).  Little to no Phase IV planning (such as disbanding the only two institutions that held the state together) and refusal to acknowledge what was happening on the ground (surrendering the initiative to opposing forces) only added to the problems.

Even when our American and British allies performed superbly on the tactical level, their efforts would be for naught due to continual strategic mismanagement.  No amount of Petraeus' with the 101st in Mosul or McMaster's 3rd Cav in Tel Afar would make up for bad strategy.  So yeah, I think the Brits can probably feel like they were sold a bill of goods that it WRT liberating Iraq.

I will make no illusion about the fact that I supported the invasion from the start - one can search back to my posts from 2003 to see so.  I never bought into the anti-American, left-wing boo-hiss anti-imperialism line, which many did.  However, I now believe that we've lost any chance to salvage what could have been with Iraq.  The consistant and grinding casualties in country indicates to me that a good portion of the people their simply want us to leave.  If this means we pull out of the cities and let them fight their civil war, then so be it.  As the British CGS said, let's focus on where we can - in Afghanistan, where the original perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks lie, hiding in Quetta, Peshawar and the NWF Provinces.

Iterator said:
But the past is the past. Now (with no actual personal knowledge), I am not seeing an advantage for the US in having their forces so heavily involved in the fighting in Iraq. I say - draw down, and set up a couple of isolated bases (isolated from the population) and let the Iraqi situation wobble to some sort of equilibrium. The Americans may end up being allies (against Iranian influence) of many of the factions they are currently fighting against.

To me, that seems like a fairly reasonable COA.  Of course, I said that years ago:

Infanteer said:
As well, getting tangled up in the populations of Iraq leads to another issue that I believe affects attitudes - the fact that American soldiers in Iraq do draw Jihadis out like a magnet.  However valid some may feel the theory of engaging Jihadi forces in Iraq rather then in America is, I am sure that the citizens of Iraq do not appreciate the fact that their houses, markets, and mosques are being used as a battleground by US and Jihadi fighters.  Sticking combat soldiers in cities seems to be burning more bridges than they're building.

I often wonder if a strategy of "sitting back" in the ensuing scrum would have been a more effective way to go about things.  Leave the Tigris and Euphrates floodplain and move to the uninhabited desert of the West.  Let Iraq iron out itself - they can come to their own conclusions on how to rule themselves.  Someone was keen to point out that the people of Iraq were an ancient and complex civilization while we Westerners were living in huts and worshipping trees.  Offer help if asked and don't pick sides and don't put your military forces in someone else's fight.  Use Special Operations Forces to make forays into any Jihadi elements that can be identified and wipe them out quietly and effectively....

The occupants of the Middle East are a tough and proud people; they will recognize and respect the strength of Western and American might and resolve to undermine the threat of terrorism at it's center of gravity - the unstable geopolitical region of the Middle East.  However, I do not believe they will respect us if we use the might and resolve to attempt to rebuild Iraq in our image.
 

Kirkhill

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Infanteer said:
I will make no illusion about the fact that I supported the invasion from the start - one can search back to my posts from 2003 to see so.  I never bought into the anti-American, left-wing boo-hiss anti-imperialism line, which many did.  However, I now believe that we've lost any chance to salvage what could have been with Iraq.  The consistant and grinding casualties in country indicates to me that a good portion of the people their simply want us to leave.  If this means we pull out of the cities and let them fight their civil war, then so be it.  As the British CGS said, let's focus on where we can - in Afghanistan, where the original perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks lie, hiding in Quetta, Peshawar and the NWF Provinces.

And there is always the possibility that one outcome of all of this will be that the average Iraqi says "What? You were serious about withdrawing and leaving us to Badr, Sadr et al? Hang on.  Don't go running away just yet.  We need to have another little meeting amongst ourselves."
 

Infanteer

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Big Red said:
Mahdi & Badr are just as if not more destabilizing than the insurgents.

Aren't the Mahdi and Badr insurgents as well?  And of course they are destabilizing, just as Ansar al-Sunnah and the host of Sunni organizations are.  But does that make them terrorists?  I am willing to guarantee most insurgents don't really give a shit about bin Laden, al-Qaeda, or the War on Terror - sure you got the hardcores like the now departed Zarqawi, but they were a small part of the insurgency.  Stick a Syrian army unit outside of a major American city as an occupying force (because events turned the US from liberator to occupier) and see how well it is recieved when it comes to do a cordon and search....

Here's another good discussion on the topic of insurgent/terrorist:

http://lightfighter.net/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/5131022531/m/1211092552?r=5081092552#5081092552
 

Kirkhill

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The Jewish Agency, Hagganah and Palmach were insurgents.
IZL and the Stern Gang were terrorists.  >:D
 

big bad john

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http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/DefenceNews/DefencePolicyAndBusiness/WereGoingToSeeThisThroughGeneralDannattOnIraq.htm

We’re going to see this through: General Dannatt on Iraq
13 Oct 06
The professional head of the Army, General Richard Dannatt, has issued a statement today, 13 October 2006, concerning the British military presence in Iraq.


General Richard Dannatt
[MOD]
The statement, issued to the Press Association, follows a newspaper interview which focused on whether the presence of British troops is exacerbating the security situation in Iraq.

In the statement General Dannatt said:
"We have been in Southern Iraq for three and a half years and we have made significant progress, with two of the four provinces now handed over to Iraqi control and our responsibilities are much reduced in one other province. The point that I'm trying to make is the mere fact that we are still in some places exacerbates violence from those who want to destabilise Iraqi democracy.

"Currently Operation Sinbad is trying to make Basra better and a lot of British soldiers are doing a really good job. In that regard, their presence is helping but there are other parts where our mere presence does exacerbate and violence results.

"But that is not a reason for us to leave. I am on record publicly saying we're standing shoulder to shoulder with the Americans. I am on the record from a speech three weeks ago saying that I'm planning force packages in Iraq through 2007 in to 2008. I'm a soldier - we don't do surrender, we don't pull down white flags. We will remain in southern Iraq until the job is done – we're going to see this through."
 

warrickdll

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Infanteer said:
... To me, that seems like a fairly reasonable COA.  Of course, I said that years ago: ...

Sure... but you lacked brevity. ;)


So if so many wise people agree that the US' best bet is to do what it can behind the scenes to help out, but keep its forces out of the cities (while still threatening Syria and Iran - and supporting the Kurds), then why aren't they moving to do that now?

Does the US leadership see this playing out differently? Or can we assume the worst, that after all those "We will not Cut and Run" and "Stay the course" statements, the US government has painted itself into a political corner? Is the US government unwilling to change course even if it is still possible to arrive at the desired destination?

 

Kirkhill

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Iterator said:
Sure... but you lacked brevity. ;)


So if so many wise people agree that the US' best bet is to do what it can behind the scenes to help out, but keep its forces out of the cities (while still threatening Syria and Iran - and supporting the Kurds), then why aren't they moving to do that now?

Does the US leadership see this playing out differently? Or can we assume the worst, that after all those "We will not Cut and Run" and "Stay the course" statements, the US government has painted itself into a political corner? Is the US government unwilling to change course even if it is still possible to arrive at the desired destination?

Perhaps because if they do quit the towns and head for the border - and the anticipated blood bath breaks out - the next chorus from CNN will be "You're there. Their dying.  Do something. It's all GW's fault."

Militarily it might make sense.  It might even play well within some Iraqi quarters although I have noted that Sunnis that were allowing their brethren to kill Americans are quick to ask for the Americans to come back when Kurdish troops or Shiite police show up in the neighbourhood.  Likewise Badr when Sadr is in the neighbourhood or Sadr when the Kurds are around.  But it sure wouldn't play well on CNN and at the ballot box.

And after all it is the guy stuffing the ballot box that is paying the bill.
 

Brad Sallows

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>If this means we pull out of the cities and let them fight their civil war, then so be it.

I suppose we should have done that in the Balkans.  One can predict that Hussein and every other strongman holding together a fractious group of peoples in a federation must eventually die or be deposed and that the transition may not be orderly.  Should others ever intervene?  Should others intervene before the civil war has a chance to properly start so that it can be throttled down to a low intensity?  Is intervention easier to sell if the strongman is brutal and has an unhealthy yen for unconventional weapons?  All interesting questions.  Does it matter if the civil war takes place in a major oil producing country?

Hopefully the US has learned its lesson - don't intervene.  The likelihood of successful execution of the intentions, let alone the plan, is small.  The US will be blamed for failing to intervene, of course, but it will be harder to lay the bill for wrongful deaths at the White House door.
 

MarkOttawa

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Brad Sallows: Well put.  The problem the US has--both domestically and in the rest of the world--is that they are supposed to solve all problems (e.g. NoKo) and then are blamed when they try and fail.  Frankly, if I were an American, I would be tempted towards extreme isolationism.

Somalia (1992, did not work), B-H, Kosovo, Indonesian and Pakistani disasters---imagine the rest of the world doing it.  Darfur?

Iran and NoKo are unlikely to be able to hit the US with a decent missile for some time whilst others will be at risk.  Let them deal with it, the US having made clear to Tehran and Pyongyang that if you do anything to America you're toast.  Regardless of what anyone else thinks.  National interest and only that.

Saddam should have been gotten rid of--sanctions were getting ever closer to being lifted (remember all those dead Iraqi babies)--and everyone did think the WMD were real.  But the US was not directly threatened.  Just trying, ineffectively in the aftermath, to do good.  So if not the US (and UK) then leave it
to the Israelis; who soon will have to use nukes.

What I am trying to say is that the US certainly makes mistakes, under any administration.  But if their public, because of administration failures combined with a deserved feeling that the world basically hates them whatever they do, decides the game is not worth the candle, then many people in the world will be at much greater risk--and are unprepared militarily to defend their interests.

While we Canadians, thanks to geography, are essentially immune to the consequences of the stupidities our governments and populace may engage in.

Mark
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