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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Comments on Fred Kagan's Plan for Success in Iraq

On 14 December Fred Kagan posted a plan for success in Iraq on the American Enterprise Institute for public Policy Research. Below are his recommendations in italics followed by my comments.

There is a way to do this.
o We must change our focus from training Iraqi soldiers to securing the Iraqi population and containing the rising violence. Securing the population has never been the primary mission of the U.S. military effort in Iraq, and now it must become the first priority.

Agree with Fred.

o We must send more American combat forces into Iraq and especially into Baghdad to support this operation. A surge of seven Army brigades and Marine regiments to support clear-and-hold operations starting in the spring of 2007 is necessary, possible, and will be sufficient.

Fred needs to understand how the Military Industrial Process works. There are 3 or more states of readiness, I am a Navy Aviation man, we have three. Readiness means functioning equipment, manpower at strength levels, personnel trained and spare parts and tools available. The highest level of readiness is in deployed forces, usually around 90%. The second level is the about to be deployed, readiness begins at 60-75% and increases to 90% when its time to ship out. This is a one year cycle in today's environment. Very short. The third category is all other units not in the first 2. There readiness ranges from 30%-50% in war time. Why so low? The military robs Peter to pay Paul. This is required because there is never enough money for everyone to be at 100%. This has been true for the last 36 years that I participated in supporting forces. No president in my 36 years ever asked for a war supplement that would get all forces to 90% or better. This is purely political. Additionally, the military robs the present to fund the future. War supplements are an opportunity to reshuffle the annual budget. Primary use is to fund overruns in the procurement process so the new stuff can be delivered.

Bottom line, there are not 7 brigades (3-4 if he is lucky) in any condition to be deployed by spring. Lead time to surge procurement of equipment, recruit bodies, train the bodies and ship the hardware to Iraq, 1 year minimum after funding is provided. Why? Procurement lead times including hiring more workers, Depot repair lead time including hiring addition mechanics, training time, class room and field. You will also have to increase the number of trainers, who require trainers. 1 year is very optimistic.

o These forces, partnered with Iraqi units, will clear critical Sunni and mixed Sunni-Shia neighborhoods, primarily on the west side of the city.

Doable once the forces are there.

o After the neighborhoods have been cleared, U.S. soldiers and Marines, again partnered with Iraqis, will remain behind to maintain security.

A good idea. Will work as long as we are there. What happens when we leave. Remember we are no longer training Iraqi forces.

o As security is established, reconstruction aid will help to reestablish normal life and, working through Iraqi officials, will strengthen Iraqi local government.

No chance. First it requires new funding from the Democrats, very iffy. Other than the military, all other US governmental agencies in Iraq have been disasters. Newt stated this on Meet the Press Sunday. War supplements for the aid agencies, ain't none. Reconstruction progress to date in Kurdistan, outstanding. In Sunni and Shia land very little. After 3 years the oil is not at 100% and electricity and water/sewerage is none existent in some areas less than 100% each day everywhere. Won't happen in the next 2 years if ever.

This approach requires a national commitment to victory in Iraq:
o The ground forces must accept longer tours for several years. National Guard units will have to accept increased deployments during this period.

This is just plain uninformed. Not only do the troops suffer, 2 years in urban combat (the most stressful combat possible, 12 hours a day seven days a week where a bullet can come at any time from anywhere) will destroy many of the troops mentally. And what about the families, 2 years means busted marriages and lots of problems with single parent kids.

o Equipment shortages must be overcome by transferring equipment from non-deploying active duty, National Guard, and reserve units to those about to deploy. Military industry must be mobilized to provide replacement equipment sets urgently.

OK Fred you are going to take equipment from units at 30-40% readiness. At best you will have to rob 2 units to equip one unit. Tell all the governors that their guard units have no weapons, so don't ask them to do anything for 2 years. Politically impossible and in the age of eminent attack on the homeland who you going to call? Ghost Busters?

o The president must request a dramatic increase in reconstruction aid for Iraq. Responsibility and accountability for reconstruction must be assigned to established agencies. The president must insist upon the completion of reconstruction projects. The president should also request a dramatic increase in CERP funds.

Fred, you wan to give more money to the same agencies that have failed miserably in Iraq for the last 3 years. Plus you can't reconstruct in a war zone. Total loss of an idea.

o The president must request a substantial increase in ground forces end strength. This increase is vital to sustaining the morale of the combat forces by ensuring that relief is on the way. The president must issue a personal call for young Americans to volunteer to fight in the decisive conflict of this age.

Fred this is essential, recruiting is not a problem with money. But building new units require lots of money and can take up to 3 years. Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last month that it would take two years to recruit, train and equip a new division. Rep. Ike Skelton of Missouri and Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Democrats on the House and Senate armed services committees, say the extra 10,000 troops alone would cost the Pentagon about $1.2 billion a year. Boot camps graduate all but useless privates. Where do all the other ranks come from? You have to rob the front line troops and backfill with what, raw recruits? Who do the front line troops give up? There worst troops of every rank. Insane. We did that in Vietnam and the rookies were more a danger to themselves than the enemy. You have to give them 1 year of field training and advanced schools. Oops, we can't do that because we took all the equipment. So no training until new equipment arrives.

In summary, nice thought but can't happen in time. All the tasks you propose are serial. Timeline, get lots of money from a Democratic congress. 50-50 you won't get anything. But lets assume 3 months. Procurement lead time, including hiring and training, 18 months. Field training of recruits and reshuffling of 1000s of other ranks, 1 year (very generous). Shipping lead time for Humvees and Helos 3 months. Pacify bad guys, 6 months. Reconstruction 2 years, if ever. Total timeline 69 months. This assumes a favorable Democratic congress and a new president who is willing.

Oh Fred, if you are creating more units where are you going to put them? What fully operational bases are empty? None. Can we put them in the bases that are empty because the troops are over seas? Yes, but where to do put the families, base housing is already full.

Oh, and Fred, tell the bad guys in the rest of the world we need a 2-3 year time out. We took all the equipment from units not in or going to Iraq.

I am not army, but very experienced in Naval Aviation helicopter procurement and deployment. I have stood up 10 new squadrons from the ground up. 3 years is very fast. Normally five, because facilities and housing is a 5 year money process.

Ever wonder why we have 150,000 troops in Iraq and we surge with 8,000 troops? The military claims not enough troops. That is code speak, not enough means not enough of the right troops. What are needed are infantry with urban warfare training. Subtract the Air Force, they don't carry guns. Subtract the Armor units. You can grab a few infantry companies and support troops but then your Armor unit is then useless. Subtract the companies with tanks and Bradleys from the mechanized units. Pull out the infantry companies and support troops. Again the Mechanized units are now useless. Same is true in the US. Subtract the artillery battalions, can't fire in the city. Fred where are you going to get 50,000 urban warfare trained infantry? Do they even exist?

Liberty or Death

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