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January 29, 2007

Surge Plan Doomed To Failure - To Have Split Command Structure

Topics: Iraq

Apparently buried in the Bush escalation plan is a "who's-in-charge nightmare" that violates U.S. military doctrine, and now even Senator John McCain and American Enterprise Institute's Frederick Kagan are balking over what amounts to a clear violation of basic military doctrine:

[...] The Baghdad surge plan, announced by the president on Jan. 10, calls for the new U.S. soldiers to be embedded with Iraqi forces, who will take the lead. But while the U.S. troops would report to American officers, their Iraqi counterparts, in an apparent sop to national sovereignty, would report to Iraqi officers. The potentially disastrous result: two separate and independent command structures within the same military operation.

"I know of no successful military operation where you have dual command," McCain told Lt. Gen. David Petraeus,
the new commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last Tuesday. Petraeus, heralded by the Bush White House as the man who would make the surge work, signaled his agreement, telling McCain, "Sir, I share your concern."

These concerns threaten to deprive Bush of the support of many of the outside military experts who originally championed a plan for escalating the war by surging troops into Baghdad. The American Enterprise Institute's Frederick Kagan expressed his fears in an interview Friday about putting the Iraqis in charge and establishing two separate chains of command. "This is a major issue," he said. "In any military operation, dual chains of command are a problem. I think the administration has made a mistake."

McCain and Kagan, along with Jack Keane, the former vice chief of staff of the Army, advanced their own 20,000-soldier, American-led surge plan early this month, releasing a document at AEI, a hawkish Washington think tank . But Keane too expressed his reservations about Bush's proposed command structure in testimony on Capitol Hill last week. "When a platoon or company of U.S. forces and a platoon or company of Iraqi forces ... are reporting to different chains of command, it makes no sense to you, it makes no sense to me," Keane told the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday. "But that's exactly what we're going to do."

... The AEI blueprint advocated that American and Iraqi forces should work together -- with the more competent Americans in the lead and in control. The units would operate "within a single command structure," Kagan's written plan for a surge states. "Unity of effort is essential for success in this kind of endeavor." Small wonder that Kagan said about Bush's ideas in an interview, "This is not our plan. The White House is not briefing our plan."

[...] When Bush announced his new Iraq strategy in a televised prime-time address, it appeared that the president was following the surge doctrine set down by McCain, Kagan and Keane. But Bush added a twist as he proposed sending more than 20,000 new U.S. troops to Baghdad. The Iraqis would spearhead the fight, the president claimed, despite the woeful track record of Iraqi forces in battling the insurgency. American troops, the president said, would "work alongside Iraqi units and be embedded in their formations." Bush then said that the Iraqis would have their own military commander and two deputy commanders to oversee the 18 Iraqi Army and National Police brigades that purportedly would be going house-to-house in Baghdad.

For military experts, who have long questioned the Bush strategy in Iraq, the dual command structure is just the latest in a long chain of avoidable errors. "It just shows you how flawed the whole scheme is," said retired Lt. Gen. William Odom, who was once the Army's senior intelligence officer, in an interview. Odom lamented that Iraq has been "just a bad nightmare" from the start. He said this White House continues to make mistakes that are "so painfully clear that sometimes I think I might be crazy." (Read it all)

Given that President Bush's hamstringing of our troops in Iraq through outrageously PC rules of engagement, a policy of catch and release, and failing to engage and destroy the Shi'ite militias early on, has already cost American lives and threatened the outcome of the situation in Iraq, to once again go against common sense, ignore basic military doctrine, let political issues control military decisions, and go against the concerns of the commander on the ground in Iraq - General Petraeus, is beyond ineptitude, it's just plain crazy.

Most Americans are willing to give the surge a chance, want to win in Iraq, and believe in our troops' ability to accomplish their mission under the plan that we all thought we were more or less 'signing on to'. To now learn that the surge plan involves splitting the command - forget it!

Do it the right way once and for all, or just bring our guys home and let the Iraqis have at it. We can't continue caving in to Maliki so the Shi'ite/Iran-controlled government can control the fight. The time is long overdue to fight this damned war to win, now. End the PCness, surge full steam ahead with no hamstringing our troops and their commanders, or bring our guys home - starting with my son!

Posted by Richard at January 29, 2007 12:33 PM

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