OIF planning mistakes? Part 2
The next question that the writers ask is did we have enough troops. This question has been bandied about a great deal, and the liberal concensus is that we did not. That, again, is based on hindsight. It's helpfult to see the thinking that was going on during the planning stages.
If the United States and its allies wanted to maintain the same ratio of peacekeepers to population as it had in Kosovo, the briefing said, they would have to station 480,000 troops in Iraq. If Bosnia was used as benchmark, 364,000 troops would be needed. If Afghanistan served as the model, only 13,900 would be needed in Iraq. The higher numbers were consistent with projections later provided to Congress by Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, then the Army chief of staff, that several hundred thousand troops would be needed in Iraq. But Mr. Rumsfeld dismissed that estimate as off the mark.Rumsfield's thinking here is evident. We've been in the Balkans now for over ten years. Furthermore, we still have troops in Korea 50 years after that war and troops in Europe almost 60 years after that war. Rumsfield did not want to repeat what he considered to be a mistake. He (and obviously others) felt that the Iraqis should and would participate in their own peacekeeping.
More forces generally are required to control countries with large urban populations. The briefing pointed out that three-quarters of Iraq's population lived in urban areas. In Bosnia and Kosovo, city dwellers made up half of the population. In Afghanistan, it was only 18 percent.
Neither the Defense Department nor the White House, however, saw the Balkans as a model to be emulated. In a Feb. 14, 2003, speech titled "Beyond Nation Building," which Mr. Rumsfeld delivered in New York, he said the large number of foreign peacekeepers in Kosovo had led to a "culture of dependence" that discouraged local inhabitants from taking responsibility for themselves.
The defense secretary said he thought that there was much to be learned from Afghanistan, where the United States did not install a nationwide security force but relied instead on a new Afghan Army and troops from other countries to help keep the peace.
If you think about it for a moment, it becomes apparent that Rumsfield's thinking with regard to force levels was not that different from the "old school" military experts.
- Two American divisions - 60,000 troops
- Four "foreign" divisions (British, Polish, NATO, Arab) - 120,000 troops
- Iraqi Police force - 120,000
Was this a bad plan? It doesn't appear to be to me. Unfortunately two-thirds of the complement never materialized, partly due to foreign perfidy and partly due to the dissolution of the Iraqi police. The former, in my view, was not foreseeable. The latter I'm simply not sure about. Someone with more knowledge of Iraq and the MidEast will have to make that call. In any case, had the plan worked as conceived, we would have had the force levels that Gen. Shinseki testifiied about, and we wouldn't have John Kerry on the campaign trail lying about Shinseki's departure from service.
Interesting, isn't it?