Friday, April 27, 2007

Counterinsurgency in the American Military

So fine the line between bravery and domestic counterinsurgency when one ventures an opinion on the American military's conduct in Iraq. Especially if you accuse your boss generals of 'intellectual and moral failures.' Yet, a young and snappy Lt. Col. Paul "Beergoggles" Yingling roars to the world about 'a failure in generalship' in the American Forces Journal. "Beergoggles" fails to be uncivilized enough to name names, so the gossip's pretty mild, and well-warmed over by several New-York Times Bestsellers. Yingling snarks at these "tell-all books" where generals speak of private concerns they failed to speak of publically before the invasion. The author of one of the said tell-alls, Thomas Ricks of 'Fiasco', wrote the glowing WaPost coverage of Yingling's expose. The main of the Lt. Col.'s beef begins:

"For the second time in a generation, the United States faces the prospect of defeat at the hands of an insurgency. In April 1975, the U.S. fled the Republic of Vietnam, abandoning our allies to their fate at the hands of North Vietnamese communists. In 2007, Iraq's grave and deteriorating condition offers diminishing hope for an American victory and portends risk of an even wider and more destructive regional war.

These debacles are not attributable to individual failures, but rather to a crisis in an entire institution: America's general officer corps. America's generals have failed to prepare our armed forces for war and advise civilian authorities on the application of force to achieve the aims of policy. The argument that follows consists of three elements. First, generals have a responsibility to society to provide policymakers with a correct estimate of strategic probabilities. Second, America's generals in Vietnam and Iraq failed to perform this responsibility. Third, remedying the crisis in American generalship requires the intervention of Congress."

Does it surprise you to learn that Yingling graduated from the University of Chicago with a Master of Arts in Political Science?

....After failing to visualize the conditions of combat in Iraq, America's generals failed to adapt to the demands of counterinsurgency. Counterinsurgency theory prescribes providing continuous security to the population. However, for most of the war American forces in Iraq have been concentrated on large forward-operating bases, isolated from the Iraqi people and focused on capturing or killing insurgents. Counterinsurgency theory requires strengthening the capability of host-nation institutions to provide security and other essential services to the population. America's generals treated efforts to create transition teams to develop local security forces and provincial reconstruction teams to improve essential services as afterthoughts, never providing the quantity or quality of personnel necessary for success....

"....The need for intelligent, creative and courageous general officers is self-evident. An understanding of the larger aspects of war is essential to great generalship. However, a survey of Army three- and four-star generals shows that only 25 percent hold advanced degrees from civilian institutions in the social sciences or humanities. Counterinsurgency theory holds that proficiency in foreign languages is essential to success, yet only one in four of the Army's senior generals speaks another language. While the physical courage of America's generals is not in doubt, there is less certainty regarding their moral courage. In almost surreal language, professional military men blame their recent lack of candor on the intimidating management style of their civilian masters. Now that the public is immediately concerned with the crisis in Iraq, some of our generals are finding their voices. They may have waited too long."

Yingling plugs "Learning to Eat Soup With a Knife" by one John Nagl and On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War," by Col. Harry Summers. In November of 2006, Yingling cowrote with Nagl an essay New Rules for New Enemies in... Armed Forces Journal. Within they argue:

"To win the Long War, the Army must develop a more adaptive organizational culture. To create such a culture, the Army must change its focus from a centralized, specialized focus on major conventional wars to a more decentralized and less specialized focus on full-spectrum operations. This shift in organizational culture cannot occur within existing organizations — indeed these organizations can be an impediment to change. The best way to change the organizational culture of the Army is to change the pathways for professional advancement within the officer corps. The Army will become more adaptive only when being adaptive offers the surest path to promotion."

Moonbat thinks Beergoggles wants a promotion, eh? John Nagl was on the writing team that produced the Army's new Counterinsurgency Field Manual. Who also wrote that? Petraeus!! Who got a Teddy Award from Time Magazine last December for his leadership in encouraging institutional change in the Army towards effective counterinsurgency tactics at the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center (CAC) in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Guess who also spent that year assigned to Fort Leavenworth? "Beergoggles!!" Who in turn got interviewed by the Combat Studies Institute, a military think tank run by Petraeus' CAC. {The CSI gets described as an 'academic department' of the CAC by this private contractor, who creates "virtual staff tours" to help train officers about Iraq, but I digress.} Oh, Yingling's 2006 interview:

"The thing the Army institutionally is still struggling to learn is that the most important thing we do in counterinsurgency is building host nation institutions-building security forces, building local government capacity- and yet all our organizations are designed around thelear important line of operations: combat operations. There is a real danger in over-determination based on the organization's design. There's the old saying, "If you give a man a hammer, he sees every problem as a nail." Similarly, if you give a unit tanks and Bradleys, they see every promblem as a movement to contact. That's an oversimplification, but it is a problem. I've now had two combat tours where I was involved in developing ISF and I've been to every Army school you can go to as an officer, and no one has ever talked to me about that challenge. No one has ever given me classes on how to do that...

....The institutional Army.. has not caught up in either professional education or organizational design with the challenges of counterinsurgency. So as I go into battalion command, I'm going to focus my troops on those tasks and give them the mental models that will allow them to anticipate those problems and solve them. (That he has just learned from... Petraeus. You guessed it!) Eventually the institutional Army will catch up and they'll get that stuff into schools and there will be MTOE positions for security force development and civil-military operations; but until that day I think individual commanders will have to solve that problem on their own, because when we get into theater we certainly have to solve it...

...I do think that having organic to our institutions the ability to develop intelligence- to collect on our friends, if you will; to be able to find our friends- is extremely important. Because once you find your friends, finding the enemy is very easy. In a city of 200,000, there are people who know who's complicit with the insurgency. So I guess if I had to condense this into a pithy little bullet it would be: don't train on finding the enemy; train on finding your friends and they will help you find your enemy."

WaPost's Thomas Ricks, author of Fiasco and Yingling's shining write-up for his expose, interveiwed Yingling on this very subject, later in November of 2006, Flaws Cited in Efforts to Train Iraqi Forces: where Yingling again gets a chance to showcase how much he has learned at Fort Leavenworth.

"Lt. Col. Paul Yingling, a staff officer with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Iraq in 2005 and 2006 who worked with Iraqi units, came away thinking that the Army fundamentally is not geared to the task of helping the advisory effort.

"The thing the Army institutionally is still struggling to learn is that the most important thing we do in counterinsurgency is building host-nation institutions," he told the interviewers, "yet all our organizations are designed around the least important line of operations: combat operations."

Yingling came to a broader conclusion. He recommended an entirely different orientation in Iraq, both for trainers and for regular U.S. units. "Don't train on finding the enemy," he said. "Train on finding your friends, and they will help you find your enemy. . . . Once you find your friends, finding the enemy is easy."

SmallWarsJournal blogged to promote Yingling's expose, stating that "In this morning’s Washington Post Tom Ricks reports on an Armed Forces Journal article that should be required reading for anyone who cares about our nation’s capability to successfully prosecute the LONG WAR." Their About page states that Small Wars Journal is a private site. It is run by Small Wars Journal, LLC, a private company formed in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Its principals are Dave Dilegge (Editor-in-Chief) and Bill Nagle (Publisher). SWJ in turn gets listed as an item of particular interest on the official Marine website, Small Wars Center of Excellence. But that probably has nothing to do with Petraeus helping the Marines with their own version of a counterinsurgency manual. Surprising the flack Yingling's getting from con-bloggers of all stripes, eh?

Yingling popped up in The Wall Street Journal's December 2006 article Despite $168B Budget, Army Still Faces Cash Crunch:

"At Fort Hood, the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment, which returned from Iraq in March and will go back in fall 2007, is already worried about time to prepare. The regiment will spend most of the winter receiving new soldiers, fielding new equipment and learning to use it. The regiment left most of its tanks and Humvees in Iraq for follow-on units.

That means troops won't have much time to train for other critical tasks. Junior leaders need to know everything from how to assess a water plant to the tribal politics of the area where they are deploying, says Lt. Col. Paul Yingling, the unit's deputy commander. They must know enough Arabic to interact with locals.

"It is incredibly frustrating for combat veterans to return to Iraq for the third time with only minimal training on the skills we know are essential, like language, culture, intelligence and local security force development" Col. Yingling says. "Army units don't fail to train on these tasks because we're stupid or lazy; we fail because we don't have the time to do it right"."

An article in which we hear something familiar:

"Junior officers know that success in these wars is about a lot more than killing the enemy. It depends on providing security for the people, finding friends and fixing infrastructure," says Maj. John Prior, who served as a company commander in Baghdad. "A lot of senior officers just don't get it."

And again Yingling (as in Rick's Nov. 2006) gets tapped for the last say:

Some question how quickly the Army will be able to shift its thinking. "All our organizations are designed around the least important line of operations in these fights -- combat operations," says Col. Yingling. "If you spend your whole career in tanks, you tend to see the solution to every problem as a tank."

Yingling cut his teeth on counterinsurgency PR way back in 2004, in an official Army article called Training the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps. Here with Julian Urquidez, Yingling presents an 8-step training program for Iraqis, which they developed and implemented in Iraq. {I digress again: Julian Urquidez ran the 'Honolulu Marathon in Iraq' this year in 4:05:16. Useless trivia, hooray!} Yingling's been working on his counterinsurgency credentials for far too long not to be getting any credit. What do I mean?

Paul Yingling's Wikipedia entry currently stands in stunning dissarray, containing factual errors and conservative bias as regards Yingling's supposed political opinions on continued U.S. involvement in Iraq: assumed as against. In Paul Yingling's "Also See" section, a link exists to Ehren Watada, who is "also against the Iraq War" and to Ann Wright, who is incorrectly described as having resigned from the U.S. Army in protest of the invasion of Iraq. No external links exist to any military writings of Yingling's other than his current expose. The Masters in Political Science mentioned; not mentioned would be his education at the Command and General Staff College and the School of Advanced Military Studies... at the same time as General Petraeus resided there, expounding about the neccessity of counterinsurgency training and institutional change in the Army. Not mentioned also: Tal Afar. Yingling gets quoted in March 2007 for his part in the successful elimination of the insurgency in Tal Afar, just before he publishes his expose. Someone passed his number on to the reporter. President Bush praised Yingling for his conduct in Tal Afar. Of course, who listens to Bush. Heh.

Now moonbat ponders the worth of Yingling's counterinsurgency operations. Hook himself to Petraeus' rising star and if Petraeus shines in Iraq and continues up that ladder of promotions, so will "Beergoggles." Inch too far out, and those boss generals who Petraeus stands to dethrone use you for target practice. Work this spin wrong, and have your name tarnished too much for future quotations for journalists. Will this growing domestic counterinsurgency succeed or will the old Army regime remain dominant over it's military institutions. Bush promises by the Fall we will know which side shall fall.

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Let's Withdraw From Iraq Down to Real Soldiers

So today someone actually struck up a political conversation with your favorite moonbat. At work. This may be a first. And it was even international politics, even if it was just about Iraq. Now I live in a Democratic state where it's a rare Republican who supports the troop surge with any language stronger than "can we please not talk about politics today?" So it's no big surprise that the Iraq veterans I work with are.. gasp... Democrats and think withdrawal is spot on. One of them felt like venting a bit, at length, about an article which otherwise would have gone unnoticed, about those American mercenaries- oh sorry, private security contractors, in Iraq. There's nothing that annoyed my veteran friend than the subject of someone who got paid about 100% more than himself with his own tax dollars, payable today, April 15th.

And you know, my good veteran has a point. How have we gotten to the point in our love affair with all things privately contracted that Rambo gets paid more than GI Joe when they ride on the same convoy and guard the same checkpoint? How have we gotten to the point when we think all of these mercenaries are free, and accept that so many of our soldiers are on food stamps? For those who snarl that people spit on soldiers, isn't this ... worse? Here you have guys getting paid $600 a day to drive around as guards, even for Bremer himself, and my good veteran doesn't make enough in the reserves to keep his cellphone turned on 6 months out of twelve. Isn't how much you value a soldier measured by how much you value his service on payday? Or just parade day?

Moonbat became highly irked with Petraeus over this particular issue given that he likes mercenaries even when they are 'compromised.'

"Beyond that, tens of thousands of ministry security forces and tens of thousands of civilian (often third country) contracted guard forces protect key sites in Baghdad (including, for example, the US Embassy, MNSTC-I HQs, the Ministry of Oil, etc.) that MNF-I and the Iraqi government would otherwise have to detail soldiers or police to protect. These forces, again, number in the tens of thousands – and although by no means all are of high capability and some are undoubtedly compromised, they do secure hundreds of sites that otherwise would require coalition or Iraqi military or police forces."

Why does that make accountability sound like an accounting hat-trick?

How about we add a string to this supplemental bill to withdraw foreign mercenaries from Iraq- especially if they happen to be American or be employed by America. And oh we have them there and we have almost no control:

"In November of 2005 a disgruntled Aegis ex-employee posted a so-called "trophy video" on the Internet depicting Aegis contractors—Tim Spicer's men—shooting at Iraqis in civilian cars. In one sequence, the Aegis team opens fire with an automatic weapon at an approaching silver Mercedes. The Mercedes rams a taxi, sending the taxi's occupants running. In another sequence, an Aegis employee fires at a white sedan, running it off the road. Elvis Presley's "Mystery Train" provides the soundtrack. Aegis subsequently conducted an investigation and concluded that the actions represented "legitimate operations" undertaken in compliance with the rules of engagement. Aegis argued further that the video was "taken out of context" and noted that there was no evidence that civilians had been killed. The Pentagon looked into the video and declined to take further steps.

According to a February 2006 Government Accountability Office report, there were approximately 48,000 private military contractors in Iraq, employed by 181 different companies. There may now be many more. These are the kinds of people Tim Spicer and Aegis are supposed to coordinate. The bulk of the military contractors are American and British, with a sprinkling of other nationalities. Formal oversight is lax, to put it mildly. Many are retired from elite units such as the British Special Air Service or the U.S. Special Forces. According to a report in The Economist, a former British official who now heads a trade association for private military companies estimates that mercenaries are Britain's largest export to Iraq. Not food, medicine, or construction material—mercenaries."

So it's remarkably idiocy for the spokesman for the United States Central Command to reply to the armed joyrides of our mercenaries, saying "This is not a Centcom issue. It's whoever was running that contract. We're fighting a war here." Did someone spend too much time watching March Madness and miss that we have a new strategy in Iraq?? Time to withdraw the mercenaries from Iraq, and make a lot of soldiers happy on payday. Too bad Bush and his cronies would rather enrich their friends than actually support our troops.

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, April 05, 2007

McCain Takes Photos, Leaves Bloodshed In Iraq

So just a few merry months ago everyone figured McCain the front runner for the Republican ticket in 2008. Till he took a little saunter in a market in Baghdad to try to fake progress in the troop surge in Iraq. McCain held a photo-op in which he mishandled the press and dodged questions on a possible invasion of Iran. McCain smiled big for the American audience and said, "things are getting better in Iraq." The next day, 21 Shia market-workers from that same market were kidnapped, tortured and murdered by Sunni insurgents provoked by his little stunt. Snipers also made an appearance to show how impressed they were with this particular candidate. McCain's definition of "improvement" entails a whole 4% drop in civilian deaths, although the insurgents should feel free to kill as many Iraqi police as they desire. America surely can find a military contractor somewhere to train more.

McCain lies about these very numbers in a conference call with con-bloggers. "One of the key elements which has given us dramatic hope is the amount of dead bodies they’re finding in the streets each morning. It’s down from 100 to as much as about 20 each day. That’s still horrible, but it’s a sign of progress." McCain also remarks on the Democratic Congress's push for a withdrawal date, that "if they want to cut off funding - fine!"

McCain defended his shopping trip with Petraeus in an op-ed to the WaPo:

"For the first time, our delegation was able to drive, not use helicopters, from the airport to downtown Baghdad.....Today the market still faces occasional sniper attacks, but it is safer than it used to be. One innovation of the new strategy is closing markets to vehicles, thereby precluding car bombs that kill so many and garner so much media attention....The new political-military strategy is beginning to show results. But most Americans are not aware because much of the media are not reporting it or devote far more attention to car bombs and mortar attacks that reveal little about the strategic direction of the war. I am not saying that bad news should not be reported or that horrific terrorist attacks are not newsworthy. But news coverage should also include evidence of progress....This is not a moment for partisan gamesmanship or for one-sided reporting."

Ah... the old, if there isn't good news, it's because the evil liberal media oppresses the good news. No good news must be a lie. Heh. For someone who claims Americans aren't getting the full picture, funny that McCain leaves out his chaperons for the day: 100 infantry soldiers, 3 Blackhawks, 2 Apache gunships and 1 bullet-proof vest. Who can say that constitutes "walking freely" through the market with a straight face?

McCain admits that he lied to Wolf Blitzer that "General Petraeus goes out there almost every day in an unarmed Humvee" after he himself tooled around Baghdad in Petraeus' armored Humvees. McCain remarks that obviously there are no unarmored Humvees, as if anyone who had believed that statement was a fool, and then absolves himself by saying: "I’m trying to make the point over and over and over again that we are making progress."

McCain then linked his presidential bid to the success of the surge strategy in Iraq. Curious. Having done so, McCain then argues for patience, as the surge will take longer than Pelosi's September 2008 end to combat funds. So McCain predicts the surge will work by October '08? November 1st, 2008? Just in time to swoop him into the White House. Now that doesn't leave much of a margin for error, and certainly, should Petraeus retire early due to stomach ulcers, McCain ends up having run for two years as the champion of failure. Nowhere will you find that McCain defines what success in Iraq will look like, aside from the complete destruction of Al-Qaeda, which can be achieved in Iraq even though the U.S. military failed in that mission in Afghanistan. Sure.

Trying to look presidential after the debacle of his press conference last week, McCain gave an extended remix of his op-ed at the VMI:

I just returned from my fifth visit to Iraq. Unlike the veterans here today, I risked nothing more threatening than a hostile press corps. And my only mission was to inform my opinions with facts. We still face many difficult challenges in Iraq. That is undeniable. But we have also made, in recent weeks, measurable progress in establishing security in Baghdad and fighting al Qaeda in Anbar province.

McCain risked nothing, because the Marines who swept the market before he arrived, and the 100 infantry soldiers in a giant ring around him, they risked it all for him. Onward. Do we really want a President who decides how the situation really is and then selects those facts that support his opinion and disregards those that do not help him out? Given that such a very mindset is regarded as how the intelligence community erroneously concluded that Saddam had WMD in the first place? Yikes. Do we want a President so openly contemptuous of the American public that he chides politicians who might "take advantage of the public’s frustration" as if we were drunk women on a date whose honor was a stake. Do we?

McCain just can't help lying again, or else he's completely off his rocker:
Before I left for Iraq, I watched with regret as the House of Representatives voted to deny our troops the support necessary to carry out their new mission.....Responsible political leaders — statesmen — do not add to the burdens our troops carry. That is what Democrats, intentionally or not, have done by failing to provide them with the resources necessary to succeed in their mission. Everyday that passes without the necessary funds appropriated to sustain our troops, our chances of success in Iraq dwindle and our military readiness declines further. We have sent the best Americans among us to fight in Iraq, at the least, we must give them the tools they need to do their job.

McCain... McCain... McCain... that would be your party that has them over there right now without the tools they need to do their job. This is an emergency supplemental spending bill, which means, it's like a moneygram to the irresponsible college kid who spent his textbook money on pizza. Yeah, Bush screwed up for 4 long years, but he was your party's candidate and you were part of the majority, and you've already wasted hundreds of billions groping around in the dark. The 2007 bill passed, and the money's there for the taking, but oh my gods... Petraeus only has a year to show us what he's got. Yeah, if he's your sunshine boy there McCain, you'd think you'd show a little love. But all Petraeus gets from McCain is doubt and backpedaling. Bush asked for one more chance. No backing out now.

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

'Air Traffickers' Can Carry Cocaine, Just No Guns

So today's gridlock giggle comes via a White House Press Conference where Bush floated a new anti-terrorism initiative that should please just about everybody. Passengers no longer will be screened getting onto airlines, only drug traffickers. As long as the drug traffickers don't have any weapons on them and submit to the inconvienence of a search, they can bring as much contraband as they can pack into the regulation size carry-on. Drug traffickers in turn promise to no longer use the boarder between Mexico and the real America, tropping across the lawns and flower beds of all the citizens in those border states. Together, we all is safer when we all is safer. Bush really means this:

"We do everything we can here at the homeland to protect us. That's why I've got a Homeland Security Department. That's why we are inconveniencing air traffickers, to make sure nobody is carrying weapons on airplanes. "

Bush also confesses that he's apparently lost $70 billion in the White House, which should make for a really great egg hunt this year. Said money was the bridge fund for the Iraq War passed by Congress last fall, which contained more than enough money for operations for the surge. Since Bush lost the money, and the last-quarter of the Pentagon's fiscal budget has equally vanished into thin air, that's the real reason we need that emergency supplimental funding in the first place. So with a whole lot of money still "available" on the books, no wonder Congress went home to spend Easter with their families and left Bush standing there with his hand held out like a dork. Might be that or the fact that the Republican-led Congress of 2006 took till June last year to approve the last 'emergency' supplimental funding bill. So if Democrats don't do it two months faster they are lazy pack-mules??

Truth is, Democrats are in fact lazy when you measure 2007 vintage pork with what the Republicans call PORK. The aforementioned 2006 'emergency' supplemental bill: $20 billion in Gulf Coast Hurricane Recovery, $2.3 billion for bird-flu, $2 billion to chase lettuce-pickers, and $500 million for the agri-industry. The 2005 vintage: $104 million for watershed projects (mostly Utah), $70 million to former Soviet satellites struggling to be democratic over a decade later, and a measly $24 million for the Forest Service. The real gossip to be had concerns Bush's charge that Pelosi bought votes: the $3.4 billion in the 2007 bill got inserted long before timetables and benchmarks. Democrats are apparently so lazy that people decide what their votes are going to be bought with before the Democrats figure out they need to buy votes. Hilarious. Meanwhile having gone from tens of billions in pork to a mere few billions, Pelosi has once again shown Congress how to cut a fine looking figure. Give her a show on BRAVO.

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , , , , , ,