Monday, March 20, 2006

A retired Major General is calling for Rumsfeld to resign 
UPDATE: See the comments section to this post for an en point critique of my post, and for an interesting professional discussion of fire support in Afghanistan.

MG Paul Eaton (Ret.), the general in charge of training the Iraqi army between 2003 and 2004, launches a blistering attack on Secretary Rumsfeld .

I have a few problems with it, though:

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is not competent to lead our armed forces. First, his failure to build coalitions with our allies from what he dismissively called "old Europe" has imposed far greater demands and risks on our soldiers in Iraq than necessary.

I call "bullshit." First of all, the Secretary of Defense is not the architect of foreign policy. Whatever prewar diplomatic failures there were are not Rumsfeld's doing, but rest at the feet of the President, and of the sainted Colin Powell.

Second, the notion that there was a lack of a coalition is, quite frankly, a lie. The fact is that the coalition that committed ground troops to Iraq consisted of a majority of the Big Eight, a majority of NATO, and a majority of the European Union. Spain was there. The Netherlands. The UK was there. And the US opened new bridges to and new lines of dialogue with Poland and Hungary - two significant emerging economies with a much brighter outlook than France, which is economically stagnant and struggling with a discontented and violent Muslim minority. (Don't tell me they're not violent. Nonviolent minorities don't torch cities by the hundreds.)

The two largest economies in continental Europe are France and Germany. But the notion that we ever had a chance at recruiting large numbers of French and German troops for the effort in Iraq is absurd. First of all, we now know that France was undercutting US policy aims in Iraq even during the Clinton Administration. (Is that Secretary Cohen's fault, too?)

Second, Germany's constitution prohibits it from deploying combat formations overseas.

Third, even if we had recruited Germany and France ground forces into the fight, US forces would be hard pressed to prevent mass surrenders of French troops to any German in sight. (And the New York Times would doubtless report the instance thus: "Entire allied brigade surrenders in Iraq.")

I thought we had a glimmer of hope last November when Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, faced off with Mr. Rumsfeld on the question of how our soldiers should react if they witnessed illegal treatment of prisoners by Iraqi authorities. (General Pace's view was that our soldiers should intervene, while Mr. Rumsfeld's position was that they should simply report the incident to superiors.)

Unfortunately, the general subsequently backed down and supported the secretary's call to have the rules clarified, giving the impression that our senior man in uniform is just as intimidated by Secretary Rumsfeld as was his predecessor, Gen. Richard Myers.

It's called military subordination to civilian authority, General. You might have heard of it.

Mr. Rumsfeld has put the Pentagon at the mercy of his ego, his cold warrior's view of the world and his unrealistic confidence in technology to replace manpower. As a result, the Army finds itself severely undermanned — cut to 10 active divisions but asked by the administration to support a foreign policy that requires at least 12 or 14.

Well, who cut the active Army that far? Answer: The Clinton Administration (though some of the groundwork was laid by Bush I, and then-Sec Def Dick Cheney, though spurred along by a Democratic Congress eager to spend a "peace dividend" (remember that foolish talk?) that turned out to be a dangerous illusion.

But the General doesn't mention the reorganization of the Army. The idea that we need an outsized 12-14 division Army (which we can scarcely recruit in strong economies anyway, and which we couldn't maintain even in the early 90s - the days of 15-man platoons in the 25th Division, which I remember clearly - is plain silly. As long as we have entire divisions wasting their time in Europe - which we apparently don't need for European defense because we're willing to strip troops in Europe to staff the fight in Iraq - you can't tell me there's not some fat to be cut.

The General, I suspect, is caught in an outmoded "cold war" way of thinking. We should not be thinking of the Army in terms of the number of divisions available, but in terms of the number of seperately deployable, self-sustaining brigades. Divisions are just too cumbersome an instrument on the modern low-to-mid-intensity battlefield. Modularity is the watchword of the day. Which is precisely the point of the current transformation underway in the Army - the most radical organizational transformation since the Abrams doctrine. I'm not sure General Easton fully grasps what's going on, because this transformation is going to turn most of our divisions from three-brigade clodhoppers to five-brigade killing machines. The number of active duty brigades - and I'm generalizing somewhat because I don't read Army Times enough - will go from roughly 30 to 50. And thanks to the new Stryker vehicles, the light units will pack a much heavier punch, while replacing some Abrams/Bradley units with Strykers will gain back some of that strategic mobility lost by converting so much of our army from light to motorized, and from air-mobile light vehicles to armored Humvees.

Only Gen. Eric Shinseki, the Army chief of staff when President Bush was elected, had the courage to challenge the downsizing plans.

General Shinseki was a creature of the institution, and was still sore because he didn't get his way with the Crusader project. Rumsfeld kept the Strykers (good move!) but he got rid of the Crusaders, which was an excellent cost-saver. When war broke out in Afghanistan shortly after the project was killed, the death knell sounded for modern mass artillery as we know it: The Army and Marine units going into Afghanistan elected not to take their artillery with them. Fire support would come from organic mortars and air assets.

I saw it myself: The intimidating 155mm M109 [Corrected from earlier "M 9" --JVS] Self Propelled Howitzers in and around Ramadi, Iraq were largely silent. The enemy would rarely provide them with a suitable target, and the brigade controlling them would take 15-20 minutes to clear counterbattery fires - an eternity in a countermortar fight.

The M 109, while not state of the art, is adequate for the mission, and for the conventional battlefield. I would be hard pressed to come up with a bigger waste of time and resources, given our current battle, than the Crusader.

Rumsfeld perceived this; Shinseki did not. Talk about a "cold-warrior's view of the world!"

Now the Pentagon's new Quadrennial Defense Review shows that Mr. Rumsfeld also fails to understand the nature of protracted counterinsurgency warfare in Iraq and the demands it places on ground forces. The document, amazingly, does not call for enlarging the Army; rather, it increases only our Special Operations forces, by a token 15 percent, maybe 1,500 troops.

General Eaton seems to be looking into a rear-view mirror. Enlarge the Army? For the fight we've already had? Why? When it's cheaper and more effective to enlarge and train and leverage the Iraqi Army, General, which was the goal all along. If this effort is successful, then the question of enlarging the current Army - an expensive luxury for a Republic already besodden with a growing Medicare and Social Security retirement burden - becomes moot.

Enlarging the Army would not shorten the war.

Mr. Rumsfeld has also failed in terms of operations in Iraq. He rejected the so-called Powell Doctrine of overwhelming force and sent just enough tech-enhanced troops to complete what we called Phase III of the war — ground combat against the uniformed Iraqis.

Well, if "just enough tech-enhanced troops" were enough to do the job, then Rumsfeld's faith in technology as a force-mulitiplier turned out to be correct. By the way - this faith was also shared by most of the Army's institutional guys throughout the 1990s, and goes back to the reworking of the AirLand Battle Doctrine during the 1990s to take advantage of the information networking revolution - and we're reaping the benefits with the GPS system - undoubtably one of the biggest military innovations of the last quarter century. Thanks to GPS, we can use a platoon to reliably hit a house in urban Iraq where before we would have to use battalions to sweep entire city blocks.

Again, Rumsfeld was right.

Moreover, the Powell Doctrine is not a "doctrine" at all, but an ideal. It is simply a restatement of one of the nine Clausewitzian "principles of war:" Mass.

Mass is good. But it's not the only principle there is. General Eaton totally ignores the corollary principle to the principle of Mass: Economy of Force.

General Eaton's argument would fall apart with just a few informed questions. Yes, Shinseki did float a 400,000 troop requirement, based on some back-of-the-envelope calculations.

General Shinseki might as well have been on crack. That was never realistic, and it was never necessary. General Eaton: Where do you think we could have gotten the troops from?

The U.S. surged nearly 500,000 people into the Gulf Region in 1990-91. But that was with an Army nearly twice its current size. And that was at the tail end of the longest period of sustained economic growth in the history of the Republic to that time, which is the engine that runs the war machine. Actually, we did it with the remnants of a Cold War army that was about to be dismantled on the alter of the peace dividend. The Kuwait war was the last hurrah of the Cold War Army.

To think the Army was capable of surging that kind of manpower again is to harbor an illusion. Even if the Army could surge 400,000 soldiers into theater, what then? The insurgency would know that that force was unsustainable. And that early in the conflict, there was no way a force that large could be guided by any kind of adequate battlefield intelligence. It would have been a bull in a counterguerrilla china shop.

General Eaton would have us shoot our wad in the first 8 months of the conflict and retire exhausted from the field. Al Qaeda has no such time limitation.

By the way...just how many divisions does General Eaton think the two MSRs leading into Kuwait could support? I've been on one of those roads. Push much more than three or four mechanized divisions downrange at the same time in a high-intensity fight which you have to support from Kuwait and you would have some serious throughput issues along some very target-rich supply lines. (Hint: That's one reason why the 4th ID was supposed to come from the North. But the Sainted Colin Powell couldn't close the deal with the Turks.

He ignored competent advisers like Gen. Anthony Zinni and others who predicted that the Iraqi Army and security forces might melt away after the state apparatus self-destructed, leading to chaos.

A larger conventional Army, as organized and equipped and trained in the spring of 2003 would not have prevented that.

It is all too clear that General Shinseki was right: several hundred thousand men would have made a big difference then, as we began Phase IV, or country reconstruction.

Once again - and I'm tired of the NETTIES ("Not Enough Troops) ducking and dodging this rather obvious question: Several hundred thousand men from where, General?

Donald Rumsfeld demands more than loyalty. He wants fealty. And he has hired men who give it.

Man, the Eaton guy is REALLY bitter about being passed over again for promotion.

I'm glad I worked for Franks, whom Eaton doesn't spare, rather than for Eaton.

I'd work for Franks again in a heartbeat.

Consider the new secretary of the Army, Francis Harvey, who when faced with the compelling need to increase the service's size has refused to do so.

Sorry, General Eaton. They're making more brigades, not more divisions. That means there will be more jobs for colonels. But you're still not getting a division command or a third star.

He is instead relying on the shell game of hiring civilians to do jobs that had previously been done by soldiers,

An outstanding idea in many instances. Why should we waste an MPs time making him or her look white-glove pretty at the gate, when we can hire a civilian for less money? That MP who would otherwise be at the gate can go train for war.

Talk about a "cold war" mentality.

First, President Bush should accept the offer to resign that Mr. Rumsfeld says he has tendered more than once, and hire a man who will listen to and support the magnificent soldiers on the ground. Perhaps a proven Democrat like Senator Joseph Lieberman could repair fissures that have arisen both between parties and between uniformed men and the Pentagon big shots.

Ah, the truth comes out. Let's hire a Democrat for the job. Ok. I think Lieberman would do fairly well. But I have no reason to believe that this man who has never held an executive post in his public life that I know of will prove to be a better executor of policy than Rumsfeld was.

More vital in the longer term, Congress must assert itself. Too much power has shifted to the executive branch, not just in terms of waging war but also in planning the military of the future. Congress should remember it still has the power of the purse; it should call our generals, colonels, captains and sergeants to testify frequently, so that their opinions and needs are known to the men they lead. Then when they are asked if they have enough troops — and no soldier has ever had enough of anything, more is always better — the reply is public.

No, general. More is not always better. After a certain point, "more" will bankrupt the country.

Part of exercising command in an environment of scarcity - and all modern economies are environments of scarcity - is the ability to say "no." Congress is historically congenitally incapable of doing so, while at the same time is it institutionally incapable of acting within the time frame needed by an Army. This is a question which goes back to the Revolutionary War, when George Washington despaired of ever finding victory while the Continental Congress was calling the shots.

Washington worked hard, both publicly and privately, to consolidate command powers in the Chief Executive, and to keep them there, throughout his term as President.

That's where they belong.

Our most important, and sometimes most severe, judges are our subordinates. That is a fact I discovered early in my military career. It is, unfortunately, a lesson Donald Rumsfeld seems incapable of learning.

No. Our most important judge is the soberminded judgement of history.

Patton was despised by his subordinates. Until he brought victories. Stonewall Jackson was despised by his subordinates. Until he brought victories. Lee was revered by his subordinates - and lost.

The Secretary of Defense's job is not to make generals happy. It's to push them to the limit to win our nation's wars.

I am disappointed in this essay by MG Eaton. It should have been a sober reflection, with some useful suggestions for moving forward. Instead, it is a small-minded, bitter, and unseemly character assault. Which would be ok, I guess, if it rested on a foundation of sound logistical and logical reasoning. Alas, Eaton's essay fails in every respect - not just glossing over the economy of force, logistical, and fiscal realities which constrain Rumsfeld and any other decisionmaker, but actually ignore these constraints altogether.

A sorry effort from someone who should know better.

I wonder if Eaton was the "official" who blamed Wolfowitz for holding up funding for Iraqi Army barracks in this article?

Splash, out


Not a bad rebuke of the MG...but there are something I think I have to call you on.

First, when you say M9 I am assuming you mean M109A6. And yes, to some degree you are correct...155mm Batteries in a theater so congested with civilians, multiple FLOTs, and politics make it very hard to perform counter battery ops. But that is really not what the M109 is all about. It was never really designed for that job. What we see in Iraq is an anomaly. We see heavy forces engaged against very light forces in a civilian AO. You'll never have a 10 sec turn around time on CB in that environment. 155mm do way too much damage in that environment. Even with a copperhead round or some next-gen GPS enhanced round dropping rounds in a civilian neighborhood because a no go . I question why they are deployed in that environment in the first place. We have smaller systems, the M119 at 105mm makes for a much better alternative. And yes the lighter mortars are even better for that purpose.

But, and here is the point, every weapon system has a pro and a con. Forgive me for not taking notes, but some time ago I read a lot of info based on the 101st and 10th Mtn Afghan deployments that you sited. There is a lot of evidence to show that not bringing their organic M119s was a mistake. Yes, they were able to employ their mortars but they had issues with the CAS due to its lack of staying power over the AO. The things I read described a lacking in an area that the artillery would have shored up. Regrettably I didn't take notes, but the articles and personal accounts showed a series of incidents where the mortars and CAS didn't pan out right.

The reason they left their organic artillery is pretty clear...they did it for the weight. Trading the capability of their organic artillery for more deployment speed. A decision that the 82nd did not make when it went in to Afghanistan (if I remember correctly).

In the end commanders have to make judgment calls. Using 155mm in an urban, civilian environment is not a good move. Trusting the Air Force's "Air Power" doctrine is also not a good move. Train as you fight, fight as you train. There were issues in Afghanistan that did crop up (really wish I had taken notes) where the lack of organic artillery proved pivotal...and the reliance on CAS proved to be a poor decision as well. Both fixed wing and rotary wing air craft have issues with fuel and ordnance loads. Both proved time and again to be issues when air craft would have to move off station to refuel and reload. Organic artillery is all weather...and the 105mm round is comprisable in weight to the 120mm mortar...providing both low and high angle capability. Anyway...I am rambling. The point is that decisions are always made. They are not always the best. Leaving the organic artillery during the initial phases of OEF was a poor decision. And using 155mm artillery in the middle of a civilian population is also poor.

I would also like to bring up the comment about replacing MPs with civilians and your assertion that it is cheaper. It is not cheaper sir. It cost more to pay a civilian to do the same job, both in CONUS and worse deployed in a combat theater. Drivers in Iraq are paid in the neighborhood of $17k a month. An 88M would never see $17k a month if their life depended on it.

The fact is that turning jobs over to civilians is not cheaper. It cost more on the front in as well as more on the back in when they close the doors at DFACs while a FOB is being mortared or when they are ambushed on the road and can not provide convoy defense. In short it is a terrible idea that cost this country on both ends. Why is it done? Simple. Our Armed Forces are mandated by the government for a certain size. If you can "free up" jobs such as truck drivers and cooks...turning them over to civilians...you can roll those troop strength openings into expanding needed MOSs like MI, MP, etc.

It is done so that you can move the 30k-sih jobs to civilians and turn over those 30k-ish jobs and expand what ever MOS you need at the time.

The issue comes in when you have people say it is a good thing. Sure...you save money in the DoD budget...but you raise the total cost of the mission. Same mess in corporate America. You move money from column A to column B and you think you have made head way. But in the end you have spent more money and lowered you over all capabilities because you have civilians not only in harms way...but in harms way without the training or legal ability physically support combat operations.

Lastly I have to call you on the Gen. Lee reference. Yes is subordinates loved him. But in the end it was those subordinates that provided the major loss that has marked him the "loser". There are a number of good books out there...namely Military Memoirs of a Confederate: A Critical Narrative by Gen. E.P. Alexander.

This particular narrative does a really good job of describing the Battle of Gettysburg and placing the responsibilities where they should be. Yes, Lee had faults...but to credit him with being a loser is to deny history. Yes, he made mistakes, as we all do. As all leaders do. And his mistakes are his...were his to live with. But for too long too many people have credited the loss of that battle to him alone. That can no more be done than saying that any field commander is solely responsible for lose or victory. It is shared by all men on the field.

Personally I feel that Chamberlain got all the credit for what turns out to be a series of tactical errors by Lee's subordinates. Yes, Lee has some responsibility in the battle, but others played a larger roll in its failure.

Anyway, your rebuke is pretty good of the ol' MG. But I do not think it is appropriate to use the artillery defense, the civilian contractor defense, or the attack on Lee. But the rest was pretty good.

I first met Paul Eaton in 1973 or 74. He has always been a straight shooting, no politics kinda guy. So much so, I was surprised when he got his star. Paul left his CG job at Benning to take the training job in Iraq.

I have been told that he was given his marching orders on priorities and as soon as his boots hit reality in Iraq he knew it was off the mark. Even worse he was not given the resources he needed to do the job he was sent to do.

When the Iraqi forces bolted at the prospect of fighting in Fallujah, Paul's career was over. Without question that is why he is bitter. Not that he didn't get another star, but because he was sent to do a job and then nit-picked, "hep'd by DC" and under resourced to do it.
Yeah, I don't blame him for the Iraqis bolting in Fallujah. I've written here before that the Iraqi units were just not prepared for the fight at that level, because they barely had the chance to come up with proficient platoons by then, but were committed as battalions.

It wouldn't take a genius Iraqi trooper to figure out that his company and battalion level officers and NCOs, however well-meaning - were just not up to the fight. And there wasn't much Eaton or anybody else could have done about it.

I also looked through campaign finance records to see if he was a political donor in recent election cycles. He is not - there is no record of him donating hard or soft money to any political organization or candidate.

I was also impressed by what he was saying in earlier interviews while he was the Director of Infantry at Fort Benning, GA.

Thanks for the additional insight into MG Eaton's character.

And you can certainly write an attack piece and still be a straight-shooter. But it seems clear to me that MG Eaton's bitterness seems to have gotten the better of him.

MG Eaton accomplished great things in one of the most challenging jobs in the country. A lot of people accomplished incredible things that year.

Iraq now has a constitution and a sitting parliament. The military has done a credible job throughout. Not perfect, of course. But everyone knows there is no such thing as a perfect op. But we pulled it off. Rumsfeld pulled it off.

I'd still rather bet on democracy in Iraq than against it. And I'll never bet against the US. We may lose yet, but it won't be because of what happens in the Pentagon under Rumsfeld's command, but because of what happens at the networks and the newspapers.
Its in the NY Times. I smell a rat.
Skirting the topic here, and going back to the arty...

Rumsfeld apparently made a *lot* of enemies over the transformation debate, especially with the cancellation of the Crusader. That part never made much sense to me--the original Crusader was 80t+80t trailer, and the revised version was 40t+40t trailer--still far too heavy to be really mobile. For all of the griping about artillery in Afghanistan (I think it's a given that artillery would have helped a lot in certain specific cases, and was missed), Crusader would almost certainly never have been deployed there--not if they left behind their lighter towed guns as it was!

Meanwhile, the developers of the Crusader went back, and cut the weight in half yet *again*, yielding the prototypes for NLOS-C, which are ~20t+20t trailer. However, because the really revolutionary parts of Crusader were in fire control, autoloading, and battle management, those are still in the new piece! The only real sacrifices made are in armor protection, on-board stowage, and a couple klicks in max range (dropping back to 109 ranges) when they shortened the barrel to save a few hundred pounds. I'd say that the arty portions of FCS (NLOS-C, NLOS-M, NLOS-LS) are by far the farthest along and the first and most likely to see production. Heck, I think that LS (Netfires) alone could prove to be an excellent anti-guerilla weapon, as long as the rounds aren't platinum-plated.
Crusader was, quite simply, a Cold War system. Perfect when you know where the battle is going to be (West Germany or South Korea), and when it can be deployed before the fight into a well-developed existing base and logistical system. But, if you don't know where the fight is going to be, and you have to get there in a hurry... Crusader sucks. Pulling the plug was the right choice (as was pulling the plug on Comanche).
All right – some pros to answer some questions. I never served in the military but I had an uncle who went into WWII as a private and ended up a Captain on MacArthur’s staff. His job was logistics. He was the first to tell me amateurs discuss strategy and tactics – professionals discuss logistics, logistics, logistics. His other line was that a snake, a dragon, and an army all have teeth but a very long tail which is vulnerable. As I remember, he said for every soldier on the frontline in WWII, it took nine soldiers to keep him supplied. What is the ratio now using contractors to do much of the non-combat operations?

Having read lt-smash, it seems that the flow of men, equipment, and supplies were greatly constrained by the limited port facilities. As an amateur, it seems it would have been very difficult to launch a Desert Storm type operation in any sort of reasonable time. And there would have been a bunch of personnel stacked and staged in a small area vulnerable to WMD – which everybody thought SH had.

But even if one would have staged 300 to 400K soldiers, the vulnerable tail would have had to be much bigger – which would have meant many more vehicles or many more trips. You would have had to commit a significant portion of the additional troops to protect the much bigger convoy tail.

Note: A lot of what I guessed was confirmed by Gen. Franks book American Soldier. A good man at the right place and time – and he picked an excellent staff. His comments about Richard Clarke, TV Generals, and the Joint Chiefs are worth the read.

I have always suspected that some of the Generals who called for more troops were based on personal reasons and not logic.

Transformation – air power can supply the big blast and a mortar the small blast but it seems medium sized blasts supplied by the 105 are needed. Also, because of the time needed to get to the target means you have to set up a conveyor belt of airplanes to support the troops on the ground – especially if the combat is far inland. But what if you don’t need the bombs? I don’t think many airplanes can land with a full bomb load.

More transformation – what about engagements in triple canopy jungle? How good is the overhead technology in such an environment?

There is an analogy to climbing a big mountain like Everest. For many years the debate raged whether it was better to use a small light team or a very large expedition. The climbers called extremists even talked of climbing without oxygen to eliminate loads that had to be carried up the mountain to support the summit team. It is that old tail thingy again. Turns out both approaches work but if you want to go fast, you best have a small light team willing to carry their own loads. And there are risks with a small team but they are also advantages. Being small, they spend less time in avalanche areas – the biggest risk. It is also true that the small teams are highly experienced and professional. Today the mountain has been climbed solo without oxygen and the largest team was a 410 person expedition.

BTW… The US Military today is the most awesome military force the world has ever known. And it has achieved this without losing its humanity. You all have every right to be proud of your service.
I believe that the Marines didn't take arty with them to Afghanistan initially because it was too heavy for the 46s and 53s to fly in from the MEUs. I could be wrong, but I believe this is one big reason for the push for the XM version lightweight howitzer.
Sorry, Jason. Your defense of Rumsfeld is entirely based on the debate about his actions shuffling, and committing the Army forces for CONVENTIONAL MILITARY OPERATIONS. While the Iraq War, because he refused to observe the principle of 'mass' - and was only interested in the early defeat with minimal forces of the CONVENTIONAL Iraq Army - slid into a full blown Insurgency for which neither he, nor the neocons around him were prepared in the slightest.

And he picked the Centcom commander LEAST capable of assembling the proper force mix and conducting counter-insurgent operations - Franks. Who promptly retired as soon as the CONVENTIONAL operations were over.

So why didn't the Iraq's just fold their national tent after their Army was run off the field, and Saddam's government was run out of town?

I commanded troops in the conventional Korean War, and the Insurgent Vietnam War. And studied the future forms of war we were - and are - going to get into. I saw Secdef McNamara making the same fundamental mistakes then in 1968, that Rumsfeld has been making now. We lost that one, remember? When the public had enough of casualties and a protracted war, which we are repeating now.

Eaton is far closer to the mark on Rumsfeld's failure - after he went MUCH further than just directing 'defense and war policy' and instead played General Staff micromanaging and second guessing every unit that deployed.

Far too easy, and some previous posters here, to place all the blame on the Uniformed Military for not 'winning' the war, while overlooking the fact that Rumsfeld was the strategic AND tactical architect of this war.

We had a chance had Powell's doctrine of overwhelming 'mass' was used, and Shinseki's numbers - of smothering the incipient Baathist resistance and insurgency potential from the git go, instead of dribbling in (Rumsfeld really wanted only 50,000 troops to assault occupy a nation of 26 million the size of California)

Now sheer numbers won't cut it - instead we have to not only 'nation build' using military troops to create local governments, civil affairs, police operations (while all the artillery pieces are parked and artillery soldiers have to become boots on the ground infantry_because we don't have enough even now) - the very thing Bush said he would never do when elected AND try to REbuild an Iraqi Army that will fight, after the stupid decision Rumsfeld made - to discharge the entire Iraqi Army.

Eaton was handed an nearly impossible task - 'train' a bunch of ex soldiers whose officers were barred from getting back in. Until Lt Gen Petreus - who not only commanded the 101st in Iraq - doing smart counterinsurgent, local nation-building operations BUT did his doctorate on the Vietnam War and UNDERSTOOD Insurgency - even the training of the Army once he was put in charge after the debacle of Fallujah.

We can win an Insurgent War either by conventional defeat of a conventional army (easy) AND use 'mass' very early on to occupy, OR we can do it the hard way, use minimal conventional forces to defeat, with supporting air power, the conventional enemy forces and THEN try to fight a protracted (10 year) counterinsurgent and occupation war. So NOW Rumsfeld - 3 years late trying to do it HIS way - is grudgingly trying to defeat an insurgency with US Army artillerymen as grunts, and the 'new' Iraq Army.

Its not clear the American public will tolerate much longer what it NOW takes. As it refused to wait out the Army in Vietnam, the war we lost.
Since many of the posters here, as well as Jason, seem to have served in the Army, some in Iraq, I am surprised that NONE of the commenters even mention the Insurgent Component of modern warfare, as we are engaged in in spades in Iraq now, AND were from the git go in Afghanistan, and still are.

The Army mistakenly downplayed Conterinsurgency after Vietnam except for Special Forces operations, and put most of the needed type units - Civil Affairs, Military Police, Psyops, and Intelligence units into the Guard and Reserves. Which, when the Insurgency boiled up in Iraq, had to be called up and deployed to Iraq.

Now, even at the Command and General Staff College (for Army Majors and Lt Cols) whole sections are now devoted to Counterinsurgency, and changes are being made at junior officer and NCO schools now.

And every officer deployed to Iraq has to go through an intense 'schooling' (10 days?) before they are permitted to join their conventional units (largely taught by Special Forces).

So I don't let the Army off the hook. (and Marines never were or will be nation-building counterinsurgents - that falls to the Army)

So everyone is having to re learn the painful lessons that were predicted as far back as the 70's again, while the clock is running, costs are mounting, KIA numbers climb, and civilian patience is running out.

We have to be prepared - manned, organized, and trained - for THREE types of War. Nuclear Limited or General, Conventional, small scale or large, and Insurgent.
By the way, one of the few CONVENTIONAL Army units that, because its 2d commander studied both conventional and insurgent war operations, has done it right, was the 3d Armored Cavalry, stationed right here at Fort Carson (where I commanded in the early 70s, both Mech Infantry Battalion and Brigade)

The 3d ACR's first tour in Iraq was undistinguished - it just fought Terrorists and insurgencte conventionally and might have just plowed in the sea. Col McMasters, 2d tour Commander trained AT CARSON his Regiment for BOTH conventional and counterinsurgent operations within the people.

And did so brilliantly around and in Tal Afar that the Insurgency was destroyed or left town and the Mayor made a celebrated letter that has been published nationally. And even Bush cited Tal Afar doing the thing he said he would never do with US military.
It is about time I finally starting looking at blogs for information. It definitely gives you a more personal take on the information.

Enjoyed your post.

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COL(ret) Huges. Of course KIA numbers are climbibg. Until the Second Coming that will always be the case.
NCO training has more MOUT but not COIN.
The Total War concept that followed Vietnam placed certain forces in the Reserves because of the idea that we would/could only go to War with the full backing of the entire country.
Jason already answered the early 'Mass'/early withdrawal, did you nap through that portion?
So you commanded in the only two wars we lost. Well thanks for your service, but since Jason and I have been on active duty we haven't lost or tied.
The problem with all this discussion is that it skirts the political and focuses on strictly military issues, which I understand since this is a military blog, but I find the lack of the political discussion along with the military (also a Clausewitz principle) to be naive and, in one case here, extremely misleading.

For instance, commenter above notes that Rumsfeld had the Iraqi Army disbanded. As if, first of all, he had the sole decision making or any decision making in that effort beyond the fact that our military forces rolled them up and large numbers (practically the entire force) simply disappeared. Most commenters act as if there were 300,000 Iraq soldiers who had returned to their bases and were waiting instructions from a new government. They simply did not exist.

Further, Bremer wrote a piece not long ago about the situation which apparently most people ignored. It's interesting that many assume that it was totally a Bush administration decision, part of the plan. Possibly because Wolfowitz and others supported it in noted plans.

Bremer noted that his recommendation to disband came from the Iraqi Interim government who did not want the old army operating in Iraq and not part of their political future. Its not really hard to understand why that was. For MG Eaton or anyone else to dismiss the reality of the Iraqi Army as it existed (or didn't) in relationship to some plan they would have preferred is wearing blinders. Or putting their hands over their eyes and their fingers in their ears yelling "lalalalalala" so it does not impact their view of reality.

Why did the Iraqis not want the Iraq army as it stood at the time of defeat? Officers were political animals. we're not talking about the political minded officers of our own military, we're talking the Nazi version where officers were not promoted based on their ability to lead. They were Ba'ath officers. They routinely abused their own soldiers. They were corrupt, taking money from their own soldiers in extortion scams (all the way from high command to NCOs).
Loyalty was definitely in question. Would you really want to give politically motivated officers with social connections to Sunni/Ba'athists access to tanks, artillery and other weapons without having attempted some vetting first?

Then there was the issue of the army as an arm of the Ba'athist regime. This army had committed atrocities against its own people. Not just simple repression. Murder, sweeps into villages, round up of all citizens (including children), imprisonment and whole sale slaughter. This was going on up to the time of the invasion because Saddam feared the complicity of parts of his population with our invasion. The interim government would have been crazy to try to keep this army and present it as "re-educated" to the masses when the masses were 60% shia who had been oppressed.

In fact, in case you've missed the real war going on there, many old Ba'ath regime army officers have been assassinated as well as other known political leaders. The news was full of it in 2003 and 2004, even 2005 had several killings that continued the culling of these people who the population rightly surmised would not be punished any time soon for their acts (since it took so long to arrest and try Saddam and very few army officers have been arrested and tried for their activities) so they decided to go vigilante. Do you really think the population would have supported such an army or that we would have been able to weed out and retrain these forces in proper military conduct (beyond telling soldiers to shoot at something)?

In regards to the other political situation, maybe some folks missed the fact that this war was being billed as a war of liberation along with the "stop Saddam" war. General Eaton and shinseki, among others, still smarting over the political war fought in Vietnam, bring over a lot of baggage into their ideology of committing war. They want to take out politics all together and fight a straight war, state on state, where they could consider a whole nation to be the enemy and commit war against it in that fashion. That is the only purpose for the number of troops and types of weapons systems they were advocating for.

We could have done that, but, if you think the current outcry against actions there are ugly and caused diplomatic relations issues with our allies, imagine the war you are talking about in relation to that. I still recall the reaction to the Turkey Shoot in Gulf War I when we were destroying huge numbers of retreating Iraqi soldiers and armaments. I recall that we stopped that for political purposes as well. We can debate that in terms of our current war if we wanted to, but it speaks much about how we are viewed in the world. We are the big, ugly stick that is perceived as a giant stomping around without regard to damage and deaths.

that is what Eaton is suggesting. What he likes to pretend is that we would have had this giant force going through Iraq instead of the smaller force and the outcome in deaths for civilians and soldiers would have somehow been the same (or less) with the caveat that afterwards we would have had all of these soldiers to control and patrol Iraq. Nice theory, but highly unlikely. That we would have committed such a war in the face of the political situation is also blind.

warriors do not like to think about politics messing with their war. Warriors still smarting over Vietnam even less so. The fact is, warriors wouldnt have a war to fight if it was not due to political asperations, thus, at given times, the political controls the war and at others war controls the political.

To ignore the political in favor of simply arguing straight military tactics or strategy just seems completely dishonest and that is in fact how I view Eaton's commentary. He is even being extremely dishonest with himself because that is the only way he could have written this op-ed and felt good about it.
That was beautiful.
Even as I enjoy them and partake in them, these 20/20 hindsight discussions among mostly armchair generals (with a few former officers tossed in for good measure), I am skeptical. The retired generals, most of whom are embittered and many of whom owe the Clintons for the stars falling on them, probably have about 20% useful point and 80% axe to grind. IMHO. I think Col. Hughes is correct that we have to be able to fight all three kinds of wars (nuclear, conventional, counterinsurgency). There is an inherent tension in that because the different types of warfare require different force structures, strategy and tactics. And, that's expensive and duplicative. Rumsfeld, I suspect, leans too heavily to the counterinsurgency side, but similarly I think the generals criticizing him lean to heavily to the conventional side.

I think the Col. Hughes' comment that the Marines never were and are not about counterinsurgency is wrong. In the pre-WWII era, the Marines were the ones with counterinsurgency experience - the even had a very good pre-war manual on the subject that no one looked at as we got involved in 'Nam. Although I'm ex-Army, I think the Marines, as an inherently light force, are better suited to counterinsurgency work than the Army. Certainly that seems to be the conclusion from the Vietnam experience. I urge Col. Hughes to read John Nagl's Learing to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam, which goes into the Army's problems in Vietnam and how the Army's senior leadership was so wedded to the traditional way of doing things they wouldn't learn from the British experience.

As an artilleryman actively involved in the development of our precision guided munitions in the '70s, I second the poster's comment above that 155mm artillery is the wrong hammer in an urban environment (except when you're not concerned about collateral damage) even with guided munitions.

I remember being concerned when I heard viz a viz Afghanistan that some of the units were not taking their organic artillery. CAS is wonderful, but not always immediate and not always available. Tube artillery is relatively cheap and reliable. The Crusader system was a Fulda Gap artilleryman's dream, but very heavy, a logistical nightmare. As much as I think it would have been nice to have, I suspect that the M109A6 systems in the field will do another decade, even if there are better 155mm tubes and platforms out there in the market.

I don't envy the guys who have to actually make the choices among systems that every branch ranks as its top priority, or they guys who have to listen to all the advice, and then make a choice. Sometimes you'll be right, sometimes not. The bottom line is do you make good choices more often than your opponents, and does your side win.
Col.Hughes, It strikes this civ odd that you remark multiple times about the 'climbing casualties'. Not to diminish the incalculable personal costs to those caualties and their families, but the rate of casualties in this war is less by factors of ten relative to Korea or VN. You're conflating the PR/propaganda failures of the Admin. with tactial and strategic issues in the field...
Interesting blog...
Gypsy Vanner
Retired 2 stars are a dime a dozen. I am sure he got his world view as chief of the French Dept at West Point. The fact that he joins Wesley Clark is no suprise. Wesley always did attract losers. He has carried the clintons water so long he has a blue dress.
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