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It’s Time for the U.S. to Declare Victory and Go Home
Posted on Jul 30, 2009
By Col. Timothy R. Reese
2. The military culture of the Baathist-Soviet model under Saddam Hussein remains entrenched and will not change. The senior leadership of the ISF is incapable of change in the current environment.
a) Corruption among officers is widespread
b) Neglect and mistreatment of enlisted men is the norm
c) The unwillingness to accept a role for the NCO corps continues
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e) Laziness is endemic
f) Extreme centralization of C2 is the norm
g) Lack of initiative is legion
h) Unwillingness to change, do anything new blocks progress
i) Near total ineffectiveness of the Iraq Army and National Police institutional organizations and systems prevents the ISF from becoming self-sustaining
j) For every positive story about a good ISF junior officer with initiative, or an ISF commander who conducts a rehearsal or an after action review or some individual MOS training event, there are ten examples of the most basic lack of military understanding despite the massive partnership efforts by our combat forces and advisory efforts by MiTT and NPTT teams.
3. For all the fawning praise we bestow on the Baghdad Operations Command (BOC) and Ministry of Defense (MoD) leadership for their effectiveness since the start of the surge, they are flawed in serious ways. Below are some salient examples:
a) They are unable to plan ahead, unable to secure the PM’s approval for their actions
b) They are unable to stand up to Shiite political parties
c) They were and are unable to conduct [a] public relations effort in support of the SA and now they are afraid of the ignorant masses as a result
d) They [are] unable to instill discipline among their officers and units for the most basic military standards
e) They are unable to stop the nepotism and cronyism
f) They are unable to take basic steps to manage the force development process
g) They are unable to stick to their deals with US leaders
It is clear that the 30 Jun milestone does not represent one small step in a long series of gradual steps on the path the US withdrawal, but as Maliki has termed it, a “great victory” over the Americans and fundamental change in our relationship. The recent impact of this mentality on military operations is evident:
1. Iraqi Ground Forces Command (IGFC) unilateral restrictions on US forces that violate the most basic aspects of the SA
2. BOC unilateral restrictions that violate the most basic aspects of the SA
3. International Zone incidents in the last week where ISF forces have resorted to shows of force to get their way at Entry Control Points (ECP) including the forcible takeover of ECP 1 on 4 July
4. Sudden coolness to advisors and CDRs, lack of invitations to meetings
5. Widespread partnership problems reported in other areas such as ISF confronting US forces at TCPs in the city of Baghdad and other major cities in Iraq.
6. ISF units are far less likely to want to conduct combined combat operations with US forces, to go after targets the US considers high value, etc.
7. The Iraqi legal system in the Rusafa side of Baghdad has demonstrated a recent willingness to release individuals originally detained by the US for attacks on the US.
Yet despite all their grievous shortcomings noted above, ISF military capability is sufficient to handle the current level of threats from Sunni and Shiite violent groups. Our combat forces’ presence here on the streets and in the rural areas adds only marginally to their capability while exposing us to attacks to which we cannot effectively respond.
The GOI and the ISF will not be toppled by the violence as they might have been between 2006 and 2008. Though two weeks does not make a trend, the near cessation of attacks since 30 June speaks volumes about how easily Shiite violence can be controlled and speaks to the utter weakness of AQI. The extent of AQ influence in Iraq is so limited as to be insignificant, only when they get lucky with a mass casualty attack are they relevant. Shiite groups are working with the PM and his political allies, or plotting to work against him in the upcoming elections. We are merely convenient targets for delivering a message against Maliki by certain groups, and perhaps by Maliki when he wants us to be targeted. Extremist violence from all groups is directed towards affecting their political standing within the existing power structures of Iraq. There is no longer any coherent insurgency or serious threat to the stability of the GOI posed by violent groups.
Our combat operations are currently the victim of circular logic. We conduct operations to kill or capture violent extremists of all types to protect the Iraqi people and support the GOI. The violent extremists attack us because we are still here conducting military operations. Furthermore, their attacks on us are no longer an organized campaign to defeat our will to stay; the attacks which kill and maim US combat troops are signals or messages sent by various groups as part of the political struggle for power in Iraq. The exception to this is AQI which continues [its] globalist terror campaign. Our operations are in support of an Iraqi government that no longer relishes our help while at the same time our operations generate the extremist opposition to us as various groups jockey for power in post-occupation Iraq.
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