Friday, May 05, 2006

General McCaffrey's Report on Iraq - an uncertain future

A buddy from my squadron forwarded this report from Army General McCaffrey, at the War College.

The General just finished a visit to Iraq and Kuwait (April, 2006). He spoke with everyone from General George Casey, Commander, Multi-National Force-Iraq to the "regular guy on the ground" -- as well as to Iraqi government and civilian group representatives.

As those of us who actually think analytically know, Iraq is on the brink... much of its future is out of our hands.

I'll update this entry with a link to the uploaded report, in its entirety, but for now here are some excerpts:
1st - The morale, fighting effectiveness, and confidence of U.S. combat forces continue to be simply awe-inspiring.

2nd - The Iraqi Army is real, growing, and willing to fight. They now have lead action of a huge and rapidly expanding area and population. The battalion level formations are in many cases excellent - most are adequate. However, they are very badly equipped with only a few light vehicles, small arms, most with body armor and one or two uniforms.

3rd - The Iraqi police are beginning to show marked improvement in capability since MG Joe Peterson took over the program.
The crux of the war hangs on our ability to create urban and rural local police with the ability to survive on the streets of this incredibly dangerous and lethal environment.
The police are heavily infiltrated by both the AIF and the Shia militia. They are widely distrusted by the Sunni population. They are incapable of confronting local armed groups. They inherited a culture of inaction, passivity, human rights abuses, and deep corruption.

4th - The creation of an Iraqi government of national unity is a central requirement. We must help create a legitimate government for which the Iraqi security forces will fight and die. If we do not see the successful development of a pluralistic administration in the first 120 days of the emerging Jawad al-Maliki leadership - there will be significant chance of the country breaking apart in warring factions among the Sunnis and Shia - with a separatist Kurdish north embroiled in their own potential struggle with the Turks. The incompetence and corruption of the interim Iraqi Administration has been significant. There is total lack of trust among the families, the tribes, and the sectarian factions created by the 35 years of despotism and isolation of the criminal Saddam regime. This is a traumatized society with a malignant political culture. There is a huge “brain drain” taking place with educated and wealthy Iraqis getting out with their money. This is a loss of the potential leadership to solve the mess that is Iraq today. The pot is also being stirred from the outside Iraq by six neighboring states - none of which have provided significant economic or political assistance.

5th - The foreign jihadist fighters have been defeated as a strategic and operational threat to the creation of an Iraqi government. Aggressive small unit combat action by Coalition Forces combined with good intelligence - backed up by new Iraqi Security Forces is making an impact. The foreign fighters remain a serious tactical menace. However, they are a minor threat to the heavily armed and wary U.S. forces. They cannot successfully stop the Iraqi police and army recruitment.

6th - The U.S. Inter-Agency Support for our strategy in Iraq is grossly inadequate. A handful of brilliant, courageous, and dedicated Foreign Service Officers have held together a large, constantly changing, marginally qualified, inadequately experienced U.S. mission. The U.S. influence on the Iraqi national and regional government has been extremely weak.

7th - We face a serious strategic dilemma. Are U.S. combat troops operating in a police action governed by the rule of Iraqi law? Or are they a Coalition Military Force supporting a counter-insurgency campaign in a nation with almost no functioning institutions? The situation must remain ambiguous until the Iraqi government is actually operating effectively.

8th - Thanks to strong CENTCOM leadership and supervision at every level, our detainee policy has dramatically corrected the problems of the first year of the War on Terrorism. Detainee practices and policy in detention centers in both Iraq and Afghanistan that I have visited are firm, professional, humane, and well supervised.

9th - The stateside Army and Marine Corps needs significant manpower augmentation to continue the Iraq counter-insurgency and Iraqi training mission. In my judgment, CENTCOM must constrain the force level in Iraq or we risk damaging our ground combat capability which we will need in the ongoing deterrence of threat from North Korea, Iran, Syria, China against Taiwan, Venezuela, Cuba, and other potential flashpoints.

10th - CENTCOM and the U.S. Mission are running out of the most significant leverage we have in Iraq - economic reconstruction dollars. Having spent $18 billion - we now have $1.6 billion of new funding left in the pipeline. Iraq cannot sustain the requisite economic recovery without serious U.S. support.

11th -– We need to better equip the Iraqi Army with a capability to deter foreign attack - and to have a leveraged advantage over the Shia militias and the AIF insurgents they must continue to confront. The resources we are now planning to provide are inadequate by an order of magnitude or more.

12th - There is a rapidly growing animosity in our deployed military forces toward the U.S. media. We need to bridge this gap. Armies do not fight wars - countries fight wars.

13th -–U.S. public diplomacy and rhetoric about confronting Iranian nuclear weapons is scaring neighbors in the Gulf. They will not support another war.. [...] A U.S. military confrontation with Iran could result in Sadr attacking our forces in Baghdad - or along our 400 mile line of communications out of Iraq to the sea. The Iranian people have collectively decided to go nuclear. The Chinese and the Russians will not in the end support serious collective action against Iran. The Iranians will achieve their nuclear weapon purpose within 5-10 years. Now is the time for us to create the asymmetrical alliances and defensive capabilities to hedge the Iranian nuclear threat without pre-emptive warfare. We can bankrupt and isolate the Iranians as we did the Soviet Union and create a stronger Gulf Alliance that will effectively deter this menace to our security.

The U.S. will remain in a serious crisis in Iraq during the coming 24 months. There is decreasing U.S. domestic support for the war; although in my view the American people understand that we must not fail or we risk a ten year disaster of foreign policy in the vital Gulf Oil Region. U.S. public opinion may become increasingly alienated by Iraqi ingratitude for our sacrifice on their behalf (huge percentages of both the Shia and Sunni populations believe that the MNF Coalition forces are the single greatest threat to safety and security in Iraq today) ---and by astonishingly corrupt and incompetent Iraqi management of their own recovery. (Much of the national oil and electricity problem is caused by poor maintenance or deliberate internal sabotage of the infrastructure for reasons of criminal corruption ---or to prevent energy from flowing away from the production facilities to Baghdad.)
The situation is perilous, uncertain, and extreme - but far from hopeless. The U.S. Armed Forces are a rock. This is the most competent and brilliantly led military in a tactical and operational sense that we have ever fielded. Its courage and dedication is unabated after 20,000 killed and wounded. The U.S. leadership on the ground is superb at strategic level - Ambassador Khalilzad, General Abizaid, and General Casey.
... a frank evaluation of the situation in Iraq and the wider region.

Given the current state of affairs in Iraq and the cost of reconstruction so far, the rational person has to ask: is it worth more American lives to give Iraqi's even a chance at a democratic future? What would happen if we leave? What would happen if we stay? Is our presence exacerbating the problems? How much more are we willing to cripple our OWN economy for the sake of an uncertain future in Iraq?

One thing is clear - our incompetent civilian leaders had no idea the can of worms they were opening; they did practically NONE of the planning required to successfully compete such an operation. (If they did have an idea of the real costs of this operation, well -- then they lied to us.) They even had disdain for those that DID try to inform them of the likely outcome of their actions (or lack of planning/action).

How anyone supports a president that put 100k+ American troops in harms way, spent $300+ billion running the country into record deficits without really knowing what he was getting into simply amazes me. Even if things work out in Iraq, how will that help us with the current (and worsening) energy crunch? China and India will be vying for the remaining oil resources while our leaders are playing in the sandbox of Iraq claiming a “democratic Iraq” will somehow cure our ills.

The solution is on a different path altogether: it is to challenge our own industry and scientists to put us on a path to energy independence; to remove our dependence on an unstable part of the world. This is a long road, but one we have control over -- and one that isn't lined with middle-eastern IEDs. A long term presence in Iraq isn't likely to quell the terrorism situation either. By maintaining a presence there we'll continue to inspire the fundamentalists radicals in the region – they’ll have a rallying cry to export their hate.

So why not take control of our future?? Using resources under OUR control: our ability to innovate and build.

The problem is a lack of vision and the spoiled brat syndrome here at home. "Irrational Nationalists" (i.e. - neocons and other repugs who think America can do no wrong -- i.e. - if we implement a policy, it must be right!) here at home will continue to spew forth irrational garbage in lieu of real analysis. To them, "staying the course" is the goal rather than a means to an end. What they don’t even consider is that the end-state they envision (in Iraq) is likely not to change the situation here at home: with regard to either the availability of energy or likelihood of further terrorist attacks.

They are blinded by the “right”.


Vigilante said...

Thanks for reporting this McCaffrey report. Your content is more comprehensive than what I have seen to this point. I believed McCaffrey said light at the end of the tunnel in seven years

Reign of Reason said...

No problem...

I ended up posting about 90% of the report.

What a mess...

mrsleep said...

RoR. Well it may be a mess, but it's better than I thought.

Reign of Reason said...

Well, the report paints an "ok" picture... but when you consider the morgues are receiving an average of 20 or more bodies a day -- killed execution style -- you realize the country (Baghdad) is in complete chaos.