Iraq War

Essay submitted at American Military University

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Here’s my final essay, submitted to American Military University.  I’m currently studying military intelligence at AMU.  Feel free to comment.

Douglas John Moore, Student #: 4212140

Course Name:  Tactical Intelligence (INTL422 I Sum 11)

25 September 2011

Course Instructor:  John Casey


Intelligence Operations in OIF:  What the US Got Right, What it got Wrong, and How it Adapted.

     Thesis Statement:  Intelligence for Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) can be divided into three distinct phases.  The intelligence estimates created and analysis conducted following the attacks by al-Qaeda on the Twin Towers and during the buildup for OIF constitute the first phase of intelligence operations for OIF.  The second phase of intelligence is represented by tactical intelligence gathering and dissemination during the US’s conventional operations against Iraqi military targets while the third and final phase of intelligence operations occurred as al-Qaeda attempted to bring the full force of the global insurgency to bear against coalition forces in Iraq by inciting sectarian violence and attacking coalition forces.  Each phase produced successes and failures which strongly impacted the outcome of the war.




Phase 1: Intelligence as an Extension of Politics

     The US intelligence community was thrust into the international spotlight after the attacks by al-Qaeda on 9 September, 2001.  Problems with information sharing between intelligence agencies and the FBI highlighted the discussion.  As the US government began its investigations into who perpetrated the 9-11 attacks and to what level the attackers were backed by foreign national governments, eyes turned to Saddam Hussein and his Baathist regime.  Faced with the possibility of transnational proliferation of nuclear weapons and shocked by terrorist attacks of unprecedented cunning and ferocity, the Bush administration turned to the intelligence community to answer two questions:  Does the Iraqi military possess Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)? And, to what extant does Saddam Hussein harbor or fund al-Qaeda terrorists?

These two issues were important because they represented the lever which the Bush administration used to make politically viable preemptive war against Saddam Hussein.  According to a CNN report covering Bob Woodward’s book:  Plan of Attack, President Bush found scant evidence of WMD in Iraq even after he viewed satellite imagery and signal intercepts.  President Bush believed the issue of WMD to be central to gaining the trust and backing of the public.  He asked then CIA director, George Tenet to tell him if Saddam had WMD: Tenet’s response was categorical:  “It’s a slam dunk case.” [1]

Interestingly, CENTCOM never deeply investigated whether Iraq had WMD, weaving the assumption that Iraq possessed chemical weapons into the planning of OIF.  The primary question that CENTCOM analysts sought to answer was whether the Iraqi military would use WMD, not if it possessed them.[2] Also of interest is that although the primary criticism directed at the US intelligence community was that it did not share information efficiently, it was information sharing that fed a large portion of the brief General Colin Powell gave to the US Security Council in 2003.  An intelligence source, Codename: CURVEBALL, provided information to the German foreign intelligence agency, which in turn shared the information with the Defense Intelligence Agency which then passed the information on to the CIA.  Neither the DIA nor the CIA ever had direct contact with CURVEBALL, and several analysts, both German and American, found CURVEBALL’s attestations of Iraqi “Mobile Production Facilities for Biological Agents” to be dubious.  Never the less, the information provided by CURVEBALL was used to justify OIF.[3]


C. Powell testifies in ’03, WH archives

     Intelligence assessments outlining Iraq’s WMD capability were largely wrong.  Hooker states:  “CBW were not employed, indicating the increased likelihood that Iraq did not have stocks of weaponized chemical or biological agents ready to employ.”[4] In the end, the US intelligence community along with many in the Bush administration bore the brunt of political backlash.  The Iraq Intelligence Committee wrote:

“The Intelligence Community’s performance in assessing Iraq’s pre-war weapons of mass destruction programs was a major intelligence failure. The failure was not merely that the Intelligence Community’s assessments were wrong. There were also serious shortcomings in the way these assessments were made and communicated to policymakers.”[5]

The interpretations of intelligence regarding al-Qaeda’s connections with Saddam Hussein seem to be divided along political and ideological lines.  However, it cannot be denied that known terrorists operated within Iraq’s borders and given Saddam’s autocratic rule, it is likely the terrorists operated with Saddam’s blessings.  In Colin Powell’s testimony before US Security Council in 2003, he told the council that Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi , a trained Jordanian terrorists with direct ties to Osama bin laden, operated in Iraq and had even moved his operations to Bagdad.  US intelligence had tracked Zarqawi’s movements and conducted link analysis showing some of his associates.[6]

Zarqawi Network, Whitehouse Archives

     This analysis proved true.  Though the extent to which Saddam helped Zarqawi to achieve his goals is unknown, it does seem that Zarqawi was able to operate in Iraq with Saddam’s approval.  Zarqawi would haunt the Coalition through the dark days prior to the American troop surge and until McChrystal’s Joint Special Operation’s Command (JSOC) finally doomed the arch-terrorist.



Phase 2: Shock and Awe

     The second phase of intelligence as it applied to OIF occurred during CENTCOM’s planning phase for the war and also in tactical applications during the actual invasion. The US government constantly monitored the Iraqi military force composition after Desert Storm and successfully predicted several outcomes in the conventional phase of the war.  The intelligence estimates were correct in assessing several of Iraq’s military capabilities and tactical intelligence assets effectively targeted hundreds of Iraqi military installations and assets for missile and bomb strikes.[7]  However, intelligence estimates were wrong on several counts.  For instance, analysts believed that Saddam would attack Israel, would probably use WMD and overestimated the Iraqi army’s willingness to stand and fight.[8]

Phase 3: Into the Maelstrom

     CENTCOM asked intelligence analysts to determine the most likely security situation in Iraq after the conventional fight came to a close (Phase IV).  The analysts concluded that while sectarian violence and attempts to fill power vacuums by tribal warlords was likely, coalition forces would not be the primary target of attacks.  Compared to the previous phases, phase IV of operations in Iraq received little attention in intelligence estimates.[9]  Although some analysts and pundits state that the insurgency found fuel when L. Paul Bremer dissolved the Iraqi army, Bremer presents evidence that this dissolving was little more than a formality.[10]

As an insurgency coalesced in Iraq, it became clear that the current force composition was unable to stop the rising tide of violence.  Abu Musab al-Zarqawi stepped to the forefront as the leader of a terror organization calling itself Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).[11]  Attacks on coalition forces and Iraqi civilians rose greatly, and in 2006 several observers, including the chief of intelligence for the Marine Corps, believed that America was losing the war in Iraq.[12] [13]Intelligence experts had massively underestimated the strength of al-Qaeda’s global insurgency, the attempt to recruit a transnational horde of terrorists and insurgents from around the world and direct them to do battle as al-Qaeda leadership saw fit.[14]

In order to address the collapsing security situation in Iraq, President Bush pushed nearly 30,000 additional US troops into the fight in 2007.  Additionally, special intelligence gathering and dissemination cells were created under the auspices of General Stanley McChrystal, then commander of JSOC.  Realizing that dissemination of intelligence was far too slow within a classic military hierarchy, McChrystal’s special operations forces realized something had to change.  The answer became mantra:  Become a network to defeat a network.  The strength of AQI and other insurgent groups in Iraq was their disparate, wraith-like nature.  The lumbering stiffness of “Big Army” was inadequate to defeat this new foe.  McChrystal’s organization made sharing intelligence an art and pushed information out in multiple directions as opposed to “stove piping” it in one direction.  Information on the location of a known terrorist may be gained from an informant.  That information was immediately pushed to analysts, who in turn notified kill or capture teams, who then moved immediately to find the suspect.  Any intelligence gathered at the site was pushed back to analysts who would push it out again.  The result was a cascading increase in operational tempo and capture/kill successes.[15] In the end, Task Force 145 killed Zarqawi.  With its elite interrogators drawing HUMINT from captured insurgents, TF 145 contributed heavily to the eventual systemic collapse of the insurgency in Iraq.[16]


     OIF highlights the nature of today’s intelligence operations.  The successes of analysts are not judged as black and white but as varying shades of gray.  The 24 hour news cycle and excitable political atmosphere lead many to ask not if assessments were right or wrong but “how right and how wrong.” Technology has increased the powers of the critic.  The failure of the intelligence community to accurately assess and convince on the matters of WMD in Iraq and to predict the outcome of the collapse of Iraq’s Baathist regimes weighs heavy.  The result though is increased efficiency in US intelligence capabilities with an emphasis on efficiency and information sharing.  How much this new emphasis will be able to resist the juggernaut of bureaucratic inefficiency remains to be seen.

Works Cited

Bowden, Mark. “The Ploy.” The Atlantic, May 2007.

Bremer, L. Paul. “How I didn’t dissolve Iraq’s Army.” The New York Times, September 6, 2007.

Chan, Sue. Iraq Faces Massive US Missile Barrage. n.d. (accessed September 25, 2011).

CNN Politics Article. Woodward: Tenet told Bush WMD case a ‘slam dunk’. April 19, 2004. (accessed September 24, 2011).

Hooker, Gregory. Shaping the plan for Operation Iraqi Freedom : the role of military intelligence assessments . Washington D.C. : Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2005.

McChrystal, Stanley. It Takes a Network. March/April 2011. (accessed September 25, 2011).

Peters, Ralph. “Last Gasps in Iraq.” USA Today, November 2, 2006: 13A.

Prados, John. The National Security Archive. November 5, 2007. (accessed September 24, 2011).

Ricks, Thomas E. “Situationn Called Dire in West Iraq.” The Washington Post, September 11, 2006.

Schultz, Richard H. Global Insurgency Strategy and the Salafi Jihad Movement. USAF Institute for National Security Studies, 2008.

The Iraq Intelligence Committee. The Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States regarding Weapons of Mass Detruction. US Government, 2005.

US Government. The Whitehouse Archives. February 5, 2003. (accessed September 24, 2011).

Weaver, Mary Anne. The Short, Violent Life of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. June 8, 2006. (accessed September 25, 2011).

[1]  CNN Politics Article. Woodward: Tenet told Bush WMD case a ‘slam dunk’. April 19, 2004. (accessed September 24, 2011).




[2] Hooker, Gregory. Shaping the plan for Operation Iraqi Freedom : the role of military intelligence assessments . Washington D.C. : Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2005.


[3] Prados, John. The National Security Archive. November 5, 2007. (accessed September 24, 2011).


[4] Hooker, Gregory. Shaping the plan for Operation Iraqi Freedom : the role of military intelligence assessments . Washington D.C. : Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2005.


[5] The Iraq Intelligence Committee. The Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States regarding Weapons of Mass Detruction. US Government, 2005.


[6] US Government. The Whitehouse Archives. February 5, 2003. (accessed September 24, 2011).


[7] Chan, Sue. Iraq Faces Massive US Missile Barrage. n.d. (accessed September 25, 2011).


[8] Hooker, Gregory. Shaping the plan for Operation Iraqi Freedom : the role of military intelligence assessments . Washington D.C. : Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2005.


[9] Hooker, Gregory. Shaping the plan for Operation Iraqi Freedom : the role of military intelligence assessments . Washington D.C. : Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2005.

[10] Bremer, L. Paul. “How I didn’t dissolve Iraq’s Army.” The New York Times, September 6, 2007


[11] Weaver, Mary Anne. The Short, Violent Life of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. June 8, 2006. (accessed September 25, 2011).


[12] Peters, Ralph. “Last Gasps in Iraq.” USA Today, November 2, 2006: 13A.


[13] Ricks, Thomas E. “Situation Called Dire in West Iraq.” The Washington Post, September 11, 2006.


[14] Schultz, Richard H. Global Insurgency Strategy and the Salafi Jihad Movement. USAF Institute for National Security Studies, 2008.


[15] McChrystal, Stanley. It Takes a Network. March/April 2011. (accessed September 25, 2011).


[16] Bowden, Mark. “The Ploy.” The Atlantic, May 2007.


The man who almost defeated the American military

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The Hunt for Zarqawi, Part 1


What I think of the war in Afghanistan now

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After having spent four months in Afghanistan and seeing much of the war from the inside, some may wonder if my opinions of the efficacy of fighting there have changed. In short, they haven’t changed much.

While I do see the benefit of having some foot print in the country, I also see that the country’s leaders and outside influencers in Pakistan are playing both sides in hopes that when the US leaves, the Taliban won’t have any grudges. Their actions form a self-fulfilling prophecy and enable the Taliban to continue maintaining some legitimacy.

I want to dismiss the myth that Afghan fighters are incredible guerrilla warriors, able to defeat our troops because of their years’ experience in this kind of fighting. In fact, the Taliban and Haqqani fighters get severely smashed every time they confront US troops. Obliterated. I’m talking 40 bad guys dead, and 0 US dead on several occasions since I’ve been in the country. The way they kill our troops is by paying some dupe with no job to plant a bomb on a road and then detonating it as we ride by.

So why can’t we win? I have several opinions on this. First, we must define what winning is. I think in some ways, we have won. Al-Qaeda is almost non-existent in Afghanistan. The Taliban in many areas is reduced to a loose crime syndicate. And America is still a great place to live. If we read the memo that directed then-General Stanley McChrystal on the objectives of this war, the goal was to “degrade” the Taliban. We’ve done that.

But the one conclusion that I’ve come to that means the most to me is this: Democracy is a reward. Democracy is not a cause, it is the result of doing the right things. The people of Afghanistan have not earned Democracy because they refuse to change the way they do business. And they must suffer the consequences. The people of Iraq have earned the right to reap the benefits of Democracy (much to the chagrin of the Left) , as they demonstrated in the Anbar Awakening.  To ask that Democracy be the cause that brings success to Afghanistan is like buying a teenager a new BMW in hopes it brings him a sense of responsibility.

I must point out that General Patraeus has made it clear we only need to make Afghanistan “good enough”. We don’t need to make it Switzerland, as he quipped. He is absolutely correct, and I do think that a good enough Afghanistan is in reach. But until the problems in Pakistan are dealt with, good enough is not possible. Our military leaders know this.

This is not a military failure. The military has defeated the Taliban on every battle front, though I don’t think we’ve been nearly aggressive enough. There’s also the problem of defining the enemy himself. Any guy can pick up a Kalashnikov and call himself Taliban, just as any person could now call himself a Nazi. So when do we know the Taliban has been defeated? The problem at this point, does not have a military solution. It is a Rule of Law problem and the result of cultural failure. The military part of the problem had been solved. The puzzle that remains is the endemic collapse of stabilizing social structures within Afghanistan. Chaos begets chaos. Corruption fathers corruption.

The War on Terror has not been a failure. Al-Qaeda suffered a massive strategic defeat. It’s plans are consistently disrupted, its fighters arrested or eliminated, many of it’s leaders killed or facing trial. The Taliban barely has a corporeal existence in Afghanistan, but its ghost remains in the form of criminal gangs and warlords. There are very real and positive results that’ve been gained from ignoring the defeatists. And we should continue to fight Islamic extremist. It is a fight that will continue in some form for the rest of our lives. That does not mean it’s not worth fighting. And the whining of the Left over this fight will also continue. We should throw them a couple of bones, like allowing gays in the military or legalizing pot. And then we should ignore them.

Our lesson should be that nation building while under fire is a bad idea. You don’t fix social structures while the enemy shoots at you. You smash the enemy, grab as much power as you can, than build. In most places you have to let everything burn out before you move in, and that can take generations.

The fact is, we’ve reduced the threat to America by fighting in Afghanistan. We just shouldn’t be giving the teenager a new car.

Afghanistan: Let the bodies hit the floor

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A recent incident of friendly fire in which German troops killed Afghan troops riding in unmarked trucks highlights the problems in fighting this war.

How many insurgents did US Marines kill in the Marja invasion? No one knows, it’s classified. But every friendly fire incident or errant Hellfire missile fired from a Predator drone will be reported with excruciating precision.

The primary thing we stand to lose is national prestige, and every friendly fire incident and civilian death chips away at American hegemony. If we win, well shouldn’t a superpower beat a group of illiterate, rag-tag geurillas? If we lose–perish the thought–every backwater despot will want a chance to strut his stuff on the world’s stage.

We should make public enemy body counts. Since Vietnam, the United States has made it policy that it not release body count numbers. As General Tommy Franks stated: “We don’t do body counts.”

I believe it’s time we did release body counts. Americans need to see why our Soldiers are dying, even if it’s only to show that we’re at least making others pay for killing us. Moreover, America needs to show who is actually killing the most civilians. In Iraq for instance, al-Qaeda killed civilians by the thousands, every year of the war. And yet we allowed some in the media and many activists to run with the numbers when it came to civilian deaths. They spun the story to read that America actually killed those innocents. America’s fault was that of failing to exert enough power, not of exerting too much power. And for that catastrophic mistake, we reaped the whirlwind. We tried a quarterback kneel with more than two minutes left in the game, then fumbled and watched our opponent run the ball back for a TD to tie the game. Slapped awake, we sent thousands more troops in clamped down on lawlessness, something we would have done as second nature fifty years prior.

There is of course, no option but victory. The resentful leftists who hoped America would fail in both Afghanistan and Iraq have been discredited. The best way to silence any criticism is to win. Please see how the citizens of Paris reacted when the Nazi goose-stepped through the Arc de Triomphe.

The Hurt Locker

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I just finished watching the much raved about movie, The Hurt Locker, today. What, I wondered, could all the hype about a war movie possibly be?

It was difficult, I admit, to be absolutely impartial when watching the film, since I’m in the army and have done EOD work. When the film was over though, I felt that only someone who had never been in the military or done EOD work could think it was a great movie.

First of course, I looked for realism. Give me something besides shiny new equipment, haircuts non-compliant with AR 670-1 and someone holding a rifle like a lawn rake. The film does ok here, but it’s not perfect. For instance, the first scene has Sergeant First Class William James putting on a bomb suit and approaching a suspected IED. The bomb robot’s wagon broke, so the counter-charge couldn’t be carried to the target. Ok. I’ll buy it. Maybe. Probably not. It’s highly unlikely that someone would approach a bomb like that. The one thing–the biggest thing–that they emphasized in EOD school at Redstone Arsenal was that bomb techs must improvise. You use your head to minimize danger. EOD is the tough man’s brain-game. Physical but technical. The team most likely would have brought the robot back and found a way. Instead, William James carries the counter charge to the device, at which time he sees someone with a cell phone. James walks away from the bomb.

But he walks with his back to the bomb.

There must have been lots of technical advice on the set of this movie, because they had all the right equipment. Yet any bomb tech knows you walk backwards for several meters before turning around. All the suit’s protection is in the front–almost all of it anyways. A slow walk backwards would even have had a dramatic effect, so there can be no only-for-dramatic-effect argument. Over and over again, William James eschews the use of the bomb robot to approach, in his bomb suit, another insurgent laid Infernal Machine. William James would have likely found himself court martialed or at least supervising Privates sweeping the dining facility floors . I’ll admit this part of the story was meant to show what an adrenaline junky James was. His team mates ven consider killing him at one point because he routinely endangers them.

The bomb squad likes to use radios near bombs. RF makes some bombs go boom. This movie must have driven active bomb techs mad.

Oh yeah-his team mates. If you think that SFC James had no redeeming values, you’ll be hard pressed to find them in the other soldiers in his team. One, a Specialist, is seeing a psychiatrist because he’s worried about dying in the war. He whines, he fails to pull the trigger when he needs to. He’s paralyzed by the “hell of war.” Right. Director Kathryn Bigelow has this character telling us how bad war is. We’re rarely shown though.

The story meanders until you wonder: What’s going on? At one point the EOD team is driving through the desert and happens upon a bunch of British Mercenaries. Ah yes. Mercenaries. Like…pirates. Bad… And since they’re bad mercenaries, not only do they shoot two escaping, handcuffed prisoners in the back (of course, this could be done in war, as the prisoners could return to fighting, but we’re reminded that mercenaries are bad when one mutters something about the monetary value of the escapees, then cuts them down with a burst of gunfire), but they simply aren’t very good at fighting insurgents. One of the mercs goes prone with a .50 cal sniper rifle, takes aim on two insurgents in a small shack–and proceeds to miss by three feet. And so does one of the EOD guy who takes the rifle after pirate/mercenary catches a bullet in the gut.

All through the movie, we don’t meet one person with honor. Not one good guy. Oh sure, SFC James likes kids. He plays soccer with an Iraqi kid. But then the kid disappears and James believes Iraqis selling DVDs on base are insurgents. So James goes rogue and starts hunting insurgents on his own. All he manages is to shoot the whiny Specialist in the leg by accident, thus proving to us that: War is Bad. Gee, thanks.

Now I know I’m being tough on this highly regarded movie. But it won 22 awards. I don’t get it.

The movie gets the uniform right. It’s real army stuff. I was happy with that, as most films do an atrocious job with this, something that seems so easy. Except for the combat patches that the team members wear. All three are deployed with the same unit, but James–of course–is different; he wears a 75th Ranger Battalion combat patch.

In the end, I found that the movie was just about a guy who’s addicted to adrenaline. It took a whole movie to say this. There’s little suspense. The best thing that could have happened in the movie would have been for James to get blown up, end the movie with him being crippled, but somehow continuing in the war.

I think maybe, that papers like the New York Times drooled over this because–like Avatar– it shows military people to be weak, psychopathic, shallow and outright cowardly. Everything a good liberal would believe.  Not once does it show the comradeship that comes when men share great physical danger. Not once is there a hint of professionalism. The Soldier’s Creed: I am and Expert and I am a Professional.

The cinematography was top notch so I’ll watch it again, but I think I’ll come to the same conclusions.

War Deniers

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George Orwell said that the quickest way to end a war is to lose it.

The left has a way of helping us end wars: They deny they even exist. They’ve mocked the term: “Global War on Terror”.  It was a denial of its existence. They fail to see or even feel, the boiling hatred of Wahhabism. And when they do, they join the Wahhabists in blaming America.

Islam is being swallowed by the ultra-violent sects. If it were not so, a man could not walk into a mosque, detonate himself in the name of Allah, and fail to rouse anti-extremist fervor amongst Muslims. Instead, there’s barely a murmur. There are however a few speeches given by the War Deniers assuring us that: “This isn’t really Islam.”

What is it then?

Intensity vs duration

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I thought up a pretty good analogy of why the Afghan and Iraq Wars took way too long, and not until we “surged” several times and changed our tactics, did we see real results.

Let’s compare the wars with exercise physiology.

In exercise, two important factors are intensity and duration. As the intensity of your training goes up, the duration must go down. It’s the difference between walking for an hour and sprinting for an hour. You simply can’t do the latter. Too much intensity. Or, you can do 6 repetions of curls with a 50 lb dumbell and your bicep may reach exhaustion. Then try doing pinkie finger curls. You could probably reach 500 and keep going; very little intensity.

And guess what? Intensity trumps duration when it comes to reaping athletic and health benefits. That’s right, Eight, twenty second wind sprints has more hormonal and physiological impact than running five miles. More bang for the buck. As a matter of fact, if you don’t have enough intensity, you’ll see virtually no changes in your physiology.

Same goes for war. Either go hard, or go long. Can’t do both. And if your opponent goes hard when you try to go long, guess who wins? He does.

We tried to fight these wars with too little intensity.  We needn’t have begun carpet bombing civilian populations or lighting huts on fire. We did however, need much more closing with and destroying the enemy. We couldn’t take the pain of an intense sprint (read: the pain of CNN reporters interpreting every action as American attrocity), so we’re still doing a funky race-walk. And we looked stupid just like race-walkers do. Our politicians chose to take the most well educated, well equipped, most physically fit infantry in the history of any war (yes–we’re better than the Greatest Generation–our politicians don’t know it, but we do) and make them sing kumbaya.

Only, the Taliban doesn’t know kumbaya.  They know how to fight pretty well though.

Obama left with no good options in Afghan war, political or military

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A wise man once said that you should never enter a war that you don’t have the will to win. President Obama finds himself the unfortunate elected of a party which hasn’t possessed the will to win a fight since WWII and that thinks the only good war America’s ever fought was the Civil War.

Obama is now left with no good options. Should he escalate the troop levels in Afghanistan, he will anger a large portion of the people that voted for him–about 51% of Democrats are strongly against another surge in Afghanistan.

More troops would be good–if we planned to use them correctly. We won’t, because we don’t believe anymore that we can win wars by killing the enemy. So we’ll again win virtually every tactical engagement and lose the war. We want true fairy tales: We can win wars by just talking. No, we can’t. The talking’s long been over by the time bullets start flying.

We’ve surged three times since the Afghan war started, and Obama can still only blame Bush for the situation there now. Obama must take responsibility for this war. The Bush administration rightly placed Afghanistan on the back burner, while continuing to fight in Iraq. There’s simply almost nothing to be gained by an over application of resources there. Using Afghanistan as a vote-getting pry bar has backfired on Obama: He’s now locked in to a war that he cannot escape from. His hyperbole has him trapped. The only chance of ending the war–short of simply removing all US involvment (not an option), is politically incorrect warfare–the only kind that’s ever proven effective against hardened insurgents.

And here’s the kicker: Other than Iraq, the only full-scale insurgency that America’s fought–The Philipine-American War– points in the exact opposite direction of the one our fighting forces head in now: Brutality works. Sad but true. When the First Philipine Republic’s insurgent muslims commenced to guerrilla warfare, America upped the ante and revved up her gatling guns. American soldiers stopped taking prisoners and started burning villages. After hearing of American ferocity, many Filipinos began surrendering instead of fighting. And the Filipino insurgents outnumbered today Taliban by 3 or 4 to 1. Yet we won that war in 3 years.

If we’re won’t fight to win–and we won’t–we should pull out most of the troops, stop telling lies about building a better Afghanistan, and be done with it. We should never again enter into a war that history tells us only overwhelming force can win.  

It appears 25,000 poorly trained and equipped fighters will defeat this administration. Hillary in 2012?

Afghanistan is not Iraq, but let’s fight to win anyway

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The Taliban is indeed a threat to the human rights of the people of Afghanistan. But let’s be honest and clear: It is not to be a Neo-Caliphate.

Upon the invasion of Iraq al-Qaeda committed itself to a type of war that America was ill prepared to wage: A public, full-scale insurgency designed to leach the will from each of our citizens who saw the body counts scroll-daily- across the bottom of 24 hour news channels. Everyday, America lost hope. With each deadly IED blast, our soldiers left earthly confines, civilians shook their heads and questioned if the fight was worth our blood.

Al-Qaeda almost won.

We almost quit. Politicians scurried to the media cameras as quickly as a long-lost relative emerges from anonymity to claim his part of a dead cousin’s will. Shameless populism became the order of the day. The country almost collapsed into civil war. Some say it did. The semantics matter little.What matters is the destruction wrought. The Left gained the impetus it needed to ensure victories in the House, Senate and Oval Office. The Uber-Left blamed Bush and the cliche’ Military Industrial Complex for millions of deaths. In reality, it was Al-Qaeda’s terror regime and resultant disruption of Law and Order that killed so many Iraqis. America’s armed forces scurried to be strong everywhere and got strength nowhere. We needed more war fighters. Patraeus stepped to the front with a plan, which to this day many Democrats  deny determined the outcome of the war. It was the Sunni Awakening they claimed. The people had seen enough violence from Al-Qaeda and dropped the dime on Terror Inc.  they said. It’s senseless though to claim that more of our men on the ground could have not had an impact.

In Iraq, defeat  was never an option. Had America–at the urgings of the Democrats and now-President Obama–retreated, the American global colossus would have collapsed.  Al-Qaeda would have gained a firm, oil-rich foothold in the heart of the Middle East. That’s bad.

Republicans and Democrats have Afghanistan both right and wrong. The Republicans want more troops, but deceive themselves into thinking that Afghanistan is of global importance. More troops will help in warding off the Taliban, but more soldiers on the ground will not make Afghanistan an important place to fight a major war. Wasting the lives of soldiers on marginal strategic endeavors is stupid. And we don’t even have the excuse of “you broke it, you fix it” like in Iraq. Afghanistan has always been broken.

The Democrats, too have an incomplete vision of the war. Many oppose more troops, while supporting counter-insurgency. Counter-insurgency will not work, even with 40,000 more troops. It’ll be that much worse with current troop levels. To support McChrystal’s brand of war without massive amounts of troops is an impossibility, especially give the fact that Afghan President Maliki’s government is terminally corrupt–just as one would expect from an Afghan government. No rule of law equals no counterinsurgency equals no democracy.

Positivism moves the world. Pessimists sit in dark rooms wondering, angry at God for not existing. I appreciate Oliver North, General Patraeus and others who, given a mission, set about to make it happen regardless of the odds. Giving up always means failing.

But shouldn’t unbridled positivism be tempered with realistic expectations and cost-efficient strategy? The question is not always Can I? but Should I? There are better ways to do things than what we’re doing now.

An American retreat from Afghanistan would inevitably lead to a declaration of victory by the Taliban. Were it not for the media, their cries of triumph would mean nothing; they would still exist in a country where held-held radios are state of the art technology, possessing little education, and unable to threaten America. And now we do have a responsibility to the people of Afghanistan who we’ve promised American protection. America should not break her promises.  But the Taliban is a  far cry from the well-funded and educated al-Qaeda network. Hydra-like and possessed of a fervor alien to comfortable, agnostic Westerners, al-Qaeda presented a formidable post-modern foe.

So, stay in Afghanistan but attack known Taliban strongholds with full military operations. Special Operations cannot win this war anymore than airpower can win it. It’s a full-spectrum operation, and that involves moving in Tanks and Strykers that are resistant to IEDs and small arms fire.  We have once again committed to war on an unproven premise, but it’s better to win than lose, regardless of the reason for being in the fight in the first place.

America’s military has never failed when their chains were removed. There is no political reason, as in Korea or Vietnam, to hold our men back. Only wrong perceptions by our politicians who fear CNN’s cameras more than our enemies fear M-16 assault rifles keep us from ending this quickly.

Foster tolerance, friendship and cooperation amongst those who desire it. Punish and relentlessly pursue those who refuse peace. It’s a simple formula that Rome practiced for 700 years with unmatched historical success. Should we find a leader with courage, America would have little difficulty in convincing the Taliban that peace is better than war.

Will Iraq fall back to chaos when America leaves?

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In this article , Dick Cheney states concerns about possible insurgents waiting for the imminent US withdrawal from Iraqi cities. While the article’s title: “Cheney fears Iraq withdrawal will ‘waste’ U.S. sacrifices” insinuates that Cheney is against the withdrawal, I think he is only expressing concerns that most people have.

It’s unlikely at this point that another insurgency will take hold in Iraq. Al-Qaeda lost the minds of the people, which is the only real thing terrorism seeks to gain. In fact, at this point, with the Iraqi army trained up by the Americans. it may be that violence goes down when we leave the cities, and at the very least, it won’t be Americans that are the targets of suicide bombings. Narrowing the target selection of terrorists to Iraqi forces and civilians will even further erode the insurgency’s chances of gaining a foothold.

With a properly trained Iraqi security force and the American strawman gone, we can expect Iraq to move forward as a viable democratic state in the Middle East.