OIF planning mistakes? Part 4
Finally, after 18 months of unrest and difficulties, the course ahead is clear. The US must remain in Iraq until Iraqi forces (both Iraqi Police and Iraqi National Guard troops) can maintain order on their own. We cannot expect any help from either France or Germany. Russia is busy with their own terrorism issues, and they probably don't have the forces or the funds to make a significant contribution to the effort. Those countries that will and can support us are already there, and the work is ongoing.
To the writers at the NY Times, liberals and Democrats, now is the time for second guessing, criticism and complaining. Nothing is more prescient than hindsight, and it's easy to pick out where things went wrong. Assigning blame for the "errors" is harder.
For some who served in Iraq, the summer of 2003 was a time of lost opportunities. Now there is a passionate debate about what went wrong.Given what I've examined in these four articles, I would have to agree with Gen. Franks' assessment.
"Combat is a series of transitions, and the most critical part of an operation is the transition from combat to stability and support operations," one general said. "When you don't have enough combat power, you end up giving the enemy an opportunity to go after your vulnerabilities."
General Franks, for his part, said the United States had sufficient combat forces in Iraq but did not initially have enough civil affairs, military police and other units that are intended to establish order after major combat is over. The issue, he said, was not the level of forces, but their composition.
While saying he was not criticizing Mr. Rumsfeld, General Franks suggested that this was partly a result of difficulties in getting all of the Central Command's force requests approved quickly at the Pentagon. He also said delays in obtaining funds from Congress for reconstruction efforts and the decision of many foreign governments not to send troops had contributed to the continuing turmoil in Iraq.
There is one more issue raised in the article that needs to be addressed. (Emphasis mine.)
In mid-April, Lawrence Di Rita, one of Mr. Rumsfeld's closest aides, arrived in Kuwait to join the team assembled by General Garner, the civil administrator, which was to oversee post-Hussein Iraq. Mr. Bush had agreed in January that the Defense Department was to have authority for postwar Iraq. It was the first time since World War II that the State Department would not take charge of a post-conflict situation.There are reasons for choosing the Pentagon rather than the State Department to administer post-war Iraq that would not be appropriate to discuss in this article (perhaps another time.) Suffice it to say that we may see major changes in the State Department after the election. (Think Joseph Wilson-type diplomats retiring en masse. Bush values loyalty very highly.)
Speaking to Garner aides at their hotel headquarters in Kuwait, Mr. Di Rita outlined the Pentagon's vision, one that seemed to echo the themes in Mr. Rumsfeld's Feb. 14 address. According to Col. Paul Hughes of the Army, who was present at the session, Mr. Di Rita said the Pentagon was determined to avoid open-ended military commitments like those in Bosnia and Kosovo, and to withdraw the vast majority of the American forces in three to four months.
"The main theme was that D.O.D. would be in charge, and this would be totally different than in the past," said Tom Gross, a retired Army colonel and a Garner aide who was also at the session. "We would be out very quickly. We were very confused. We did not see it as a short-term process."
Since this was the Pentagon's first experience with post-war administration, one could perhaps forgive them for a faux pas or two. That is if one was inclined to believe in the mission and the goals of OIF.