Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno Understates Iraqi Risks

Ref Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno has not made a realistic assessment of the time required to contain the Iraq civil war. Even if troops had been rapidly escalated in 2004, the estimate would have been six years, 2010, for the situation to have stabilized.Ref This estimate did not include the possibility of a civil war, only an insurgency.

Odierno is sticking with the 2010 forecast-date, despite the deteriorating situation, fewer troops, and late start time, and a reduction by 50% of the time to achieve the objective. This is absurd.

Further, the number of insurgents and fighters is well above the original worst case estimates.

Today's Odierno-forecast in 2007 asks that we believe, despite fewer troops than the 2004 estimates, we could achieve the same outcome in less time [50% reduction: only three years, not six], despite the deteriorating situation well below the 2004 baseline, which did not include estimates related to a civil war.

There is no basis for Odierno's statement. Read this slowly: It is impossible to faster achieve more with fewer troops in a worsening situation. The Iraqi insurgency knows the US plans are fantasy and there are much higher combat and sustainment requirements well above and beyond what the Administration is openly discussing. The failed US employment of force, when it fails [not if], will further embolden foreign fighters.

Iraq is a disaster that is spiraling out of control faster than the US can manage, even if the US military immediately started now in 2007 a surge of US combat forces through a military draft.

* * *

Members of Congress, when they rely on Odierno's comments as a basis for supporting the troops, are implicitly attaching themselves to an unworkable policy which will require substantial troop increases. Ref

There is no basis for the 2-3 year estimate. Iraq cannot be contained by 2010 given the marginal troop increases.

It remains to be understood what information Odierno is using as he managed day to day operations in Iraq for his planning. The basis for US success has little to do with US support, but whether US commanders are facing reality. They are not.

* * *

Red Herring: US Public Support

It is disingenuous for Odierno to pretend that success in Iraq depends on whether the American public do or do not support victory or progress. The test is whether the President is or is not effectively oversee. Success is not a function of support, but whether physical resources are on the ground to manage they situation. They are not.

Odierno cannot credibly talk about "patience". Talk of progress is a fantasy. It is a red herring to argue over whether there is or is not American support for the current operations. It is absurd to argue that the public will support or not support something -- the November 2006 was a rebuke, not an endorsement of patience with more of the same.

Odierno's assertion that the "mood" in the US is a factor is meaningless. Even if the US population supported war, as they may have done in 2003, this had no bearing on whether physical resources were or were not sufficiently matched with real combat requirements.

Cartoon: Ref Via C&L

* * *

Same Flawed Planning Process As Pre-2003 Invasion

Despite assertions that there is a change, the details of the plan show no evidence any of the lessons learned since 2002 have been incorproated. Note the general pattern of problems with this plan; and compare it with the general complaints against the Rumsfeld approach: They are essentially the same.

The common element -- the President -- has not been lawfully removed.

(1) Invalid Plan

There is no credible basis to contrast Odierno's new plan with the other failed efforts. Whether Odierno does or does not reveal the details of a flawed plan are meaningless. A failed plan will fail whether the details are known with precision or at the top level. Talking about hoped for changes are different than ensuring those changes are realized.

It is meaningless to define this plan as the "last chance"-option: There are many other options which include working with Iran and Syria, but have been removed from the table.

(2) Invalid Troop Numbers

Odierno's plan for more troops in Baghdad is meaningless. The planned use of Baghdad combat brigades is based on invalid status data. The Iraqis are not at the levels the President and Members of Congress believe. The added troops are too little, too late.

(3) Invalid public disclosure of troop phasing

Note the troop arrival plan is not consistent with the supposed milestones Odierno is using to suggest there may be improvements. The troop phasing does not coincide with Odierno's benchmarks.

(4) Invalid readiness levels

The Iraqi troops are not at the levels of readiness the President and Members of Congress have been briefed.

Whether the Iraqis want control and whether they are able to control are two different matters. It means nothing to talk about the Iraqis taking responsibility for something they have inadequate resources to manage. We're not talking about a post-war stability plan, but a new thing: A civil war.

(5) Invalid Time Estimates, Milestones

Odierno has no basis to claim that in three of four months something will happen. This is conveniently one month after the Congressional spring budget review, not related to any bonafide benchmark, reality, or situation on the ground. It is premature to believe that in 3-4 months US troops could be deployed out of Baghdad: The civil war will still be ranging.

Talking about what may or may not happen in August or September is meaningless, and is again linked with a budget milestone of the end of the fiscal year, not with a credible event on the ground. Odierno appears to be making is comments with the eye of pretending that the escalation will be limited when the known requirements will have substantial budget impacts.

(6) Invalid overlap between Iraqi and American Troops

Whether US troops are or are not there is a meaningless excuse: Iraqi troops, right now, are not in a position with the current manpower or leadership, to effectively mange this situation; and the lack or presence of US troops now or in the future will not materially affect whether the Iraqis are or are not able to manage a situation that is out of control: They are not.

(7) Invalid consideration for civil war

It is not longer a question of whether the situation will or will not spiral out of control: It has been out of control since the invasion.

Placing more US troops in neighborhoods on both sides of the civil war doesn't stop the civil war. Regardless whether the US supports or does not support the Sunnis, the civil war is waging. Civil wars require two sides; US-asserted change in perceived support for either Sunnis or Shiites does not resolve the civil war, only makes both sides equally committed to winning. This hardly reduces tensions.

The issue is deeper than whether the US troops are or are not treating Iraqis fairly; the situation has spiraled into a civil war. Whether the US troops do or do not align with one or the other side of the civil war; or whether they are perceived to fairly or unfair associated with one side does not stop the civil war.

* * *

President is seeking retroactive excuses and justifications for what has failed.

Talking about whether combat losses are or are not "worth it" seems a little naive:

___ What have we gotten?

___ What have the Iraqis gotten?

___ What has been the result of the loss?

Arguing that a mess, disaster, and worsening situation is "worth it," is not an argument, but an excuse not to accept: The plan has failed, the leadership is incompetent, and the sacrifices have been in vain.

America and Iraq are in a less secure position. That is hardly a credible basis to suggest that any loss of live has been "worth" anything.