Saturday, April 23, 2005

Iraq War: Reality checks

Steve Gilliard has a good roundup of the problems the US is experiencing in the Iraq War.

But first, this is a scary one:  Snitch rewards 04/23/05.  It links to an article by David Hackworth (A Tale of Three Sergeants 04/18/05. It tells about a sergeant who was a member of the white-supremacist Aryan Nations group who seems to be enjoying a charmed career in the Army.  Hackworth writes:

There’s a lot that’s odd about Kenny. Blade points out: “Even as a kid he was something else. At 15, he was threatening to shoot his mother. When he enlisted, he claimed it took nine months to get in because of the paperwork.

That’s probably because, as one former recruiter puts it:  “The local recruiter had to have followed up on the Nazi tattoos – which would have led to questions to local law enforcement about Kenny’s background and associates, which would have clearly disqualified him. Something’s really bizarre about who approved this guy’s swearing-in. It was most definitely above the local level.”

Bizarre indeed, since Kenny’s wife, Tabatha, told the police he not only was physically abusive, he was a pro at forging fake IDs and robbed banks – as he himself testified later before a grand jury – to buy guns and ammo and fund illegal Aryan Republican Army missions.

But Blade mentions that Tabatha “also said the Army has greatly benefited her family. She means the U.S. Army.”

Why? Because Somebody Up There, probably FBI agent Ed Woods, now retired, has been watching over Kenny, at least since he turned snitch when caught red-handed – literally – passing dye-stained bills related to a bank robbery. Tabatha says: “Thank God my husband was never charged. God was looking out for him.”

God and the U.S. government.

Gosh, do you think giving special treatment to guys like this might contribute to discipline problems?  Or be less than great for the morale of other soldiers around him?  Would it be terribly surprising if a bank robber and ex-member of the Aryan Nations broke a law or violated the rules of engagement here or there?

Gilliard piece on the general problems is How not to fight a war 04/22/05.  One of the more notable parts:

When the US came up on the open dumps of Iraqi munitions, any idea of securing them was washed away in politics. The thinking was that the exiles would soon get the country in order. Instead of whistling up some B-52's, the chairborne warriors in thr E-Ring took the exiles seriously. Thus was born the best armed guerrilla movement in history. Every man an automatic weapon, every squad an RPG. The Viet Cong would have killed for such lavish weaponry. Because we didn't destroy these dumps, Iraq roads are mine-ridden dangers, the US cannot use helicopters in assaults, every flight may be painted with a SAM. Mortars hit US firebases every night. All because of the open dumps.

He also makes a point about the Army not being prepared for this kind of war, though he oddly phrases part of his point (not the part quoted here) as being about the "wrong equipment," though he clearly means something much broader:

The US has never truly gotten over the bloodless collapse of the Group of Soviet Forces Germany. Depsite the fact that it was clear our future wars would require infantry and close contact, the big issues have been new ships and fighters. The divisional structure of the US Army is collapsing before our eyes. You've got the 25th Infantry and 10th Mountain split around the world. You have the 82nd deployed in brigade stregnth to toss bodies around. National Guard brigades providing much of the manpower in Iraq. Yet, not ONE unit is specificaly trained for counter insurgency warfare. Yes, you have Special Forces, but you need more than that. We're trying to build Iraqi units to handle that role, but they are so penetrated with spies their movements are hardly secret. The US commanders say nice things, but considering that Iraqi troops have led US forces into ambushes and they dislike how we treat them, one can say the good words are for public consumption.

Juan Cole's post of 04/23/05 makes this observation:

The story put out by many in the Western press, that the guerrilla war was winding down after the successful elections, was never true. The guerrillas are unaffected by the elections, and work on their own timetable, in hopes of destabilizing Iraq and ultimately taking it over. Judging the intensity of the war by a week or a month's worth of statistics is poor methodology. The guerrilla war will go on for several years at least, and the political process has nothing to do with it.

He overstates the last point.  In the context, what he's talking about is that the particular events, an election, an appointment of a minister, doesn't have a direct and immediate effect on the actions of the guerrillas.  Over a longer term, the "political process" has a decisive role in combatting a resistance like the one in Iraq.  Cole continues, making the same point in a somewhat different way:

The press keeps saying that the failure to finalize the government may be giving momentum to the guerrillas. Again, there is no particular connection between the guerrilla war and the political process. No one is blowing up a Shiite mosque because Ibrahim Jaafari hasn't appointed a minister of public works yet. They are blowing up the mosques in hopes of making Iraq ungovernable, chasing the Americans out, killing Jaafari et al., and then making a putsch.


purcellneil said...

I was reading in the NY Times about these Marines who got killed in humvees that lack proper armor, and how this is still a problem.  Nothing changes over there.  We are staying the course because Bush can't back down.  But Bush also can't get the job done -- can't even make sure the Troops have what they need.  And meanwhile the horizon is beyond our field of vision -- we may be there for another ten years.

Any guess how many American lives will be lost policing Iraq?

Ten years from now, will anyone who lost a son or daughter there still think it was worth it? Or will we all have come to the conclusion that the war was wrong from the start, and all that blood was spilled in vain?

How much time and blood does it take to get Americans to wake up?

I hope some day that Bush and Rumsfled pay some price for their deception, negligence, incompetence and criminal acts.

I hope some day soon we can bring home our Troops and leave Iraq to the Iraqi's.  


bmiller224 said...

Well, now that they have CHUCKIE speaking for them, the troops will surely get all the equipment and armor they need!

I'll be interested to see how many of those issues Chuckie takes on in his mission to speak for the troops. - Bruce