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June 30, 2008
Iraq Today - Blame the Commanders?
Teeth marks on my computer. I bit the thing because that's what happens when I read something so frustrating and so self-serving as this Associated Press headline:
"Army blames poor planning for post-Saddam Iraq chaos"
-The Associated Press
After five-plus years on the ground in Iraq and at least an additional four years in its planning (some of you will remember PNAC - the NeoCon Project for a New American Century), the US Defense Department has finally come to the realization that they weren't quite ready for the aftermath of what would happen after a quick defeat of a much inferior (as far as manpower, training, tactics and weaponry are concerned) enemy.
Although warned by such military experts as their own first ambassador to Iraq, General Jay Garner; and even though they were foretold by the former Commander of CENTCOM (Central Command), General Anthony Zinni in his Iraqi plan of attack (one created during his tenure under President Bill Clinton should the need arise), the Bush administration Department of Defense, led by loyal Bushie Donald Rumsfeld himself, apparently didn't know the obvious, then, as reported by the AP above, now.
In an effort to express blame, and shift it away from where it really belongs (see above), the Contemporary Operations Study Team at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas reported this:
"'In the euphoria of early 2003,'" U.S.-based commanders prematurely believed their goals in Iraq had been reached and did not send enough troops to handle the occupation,"
-The Associated Press, quoting and summing up the report
It took 700 pages to tell the story of Bush's unprepared occupation.
However, that's not the whole truth. In his book, Plan of Attack, which used interviews with various members of the Bush administration, Bob Woodward reported that it was President Bush himself who refused to allow the correct number of troops into Iraq in the first place. And to make matters worse, as the pre-"Mission Accomplished" part of the war was coming to a close, the necessary troops - the entire Fourth Army - was sitting on a ship awaiting orders which never came. Instead, after weeks at sea, and while Iraq was turning into the Dodge City of the Middle East, they were used as replacements for the soldiers whose turn it was to go home.
Although the report, somehow, places the blame on "the Commanders" in Iraq, it also states the truth: They were ignored.
"In line with the prewar planning and general euphoria at the rapid crumbling of the Saddam regime, Franks continued to plan for a very limited role for U.S. ground forces in Iraq,"
But the truth is that Franks did come to Secretary Rumsfeld a number of times with plans that required as many as a half-million troops. The problem was that, in their zeal for war, the Bushies couldn't stand to wait for such a force to be mobilized. "Rummy" decided that he could not go to President Bush with a real war plan and instead chose to tell Franks to make it smaller and faster. And Franks did. Time and time again, Franks came back to his immediate superior (Rumsfeld) with a modified plan for less and less troops.
And it was exactly what The President ordered.
"Planners who requested more troops were ignored and that commanders in Baghdad were replaced without enough of a transition and lacked enough staff,"
-The Associated Press, again from the Report
When the war - or should I say, the pre-"Mission Accomplished" part of the war, ended - it was General David McKiernan who was the man in charge in Iraq. Franks led the war effort from Kuwait, but McKiernan was the ranking officer in Iraq itself. He was the man in charge on the ground during the battles with the Iraqi army.
At the time of "Mission Accomplished", McKiernan was getting ready to take over as a military governor in Baghdad. He was getting his troops ready for the long haul which he, as a military leader, knew was going to be necessary to make Iraq tolerable for its citizens and his soldiers.
As his reward, and much to his and all who knew what the situation on the ground really was surprise, McKiernan was relieved of his duties in Iraq and a new commander, the same commander who spent the war on the boat, General Ricardo Sanchez took his place.
Some will also remember former Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki who has the temerity to say this about the occupation of Iraq after "Mission Accomplished":
It will take "something in the order of several hundred thousand soldiers,"
He was soon gone from the Bush administration as well.
In all of the Associate Press article, there is not one mention of Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney or George W. Bush. In true Bushco format, somehow, they are left blameless and those under them will take the brunt of the criticism.
After all "Stuff" runs downhill, doesn't it?
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