Updated: 5/16/2006; 2:57:21 PM.

Current events
Post-9-11 events and analyses


daily link  Tuesday, October 19, 2004


The Strategy to Secure Iraq Did Not Foresee a 2nd War: Michael Gordon provides more insider info about losing the peace:  "Military aides on the National Security Council prepared a confidential briefing for Ms. Rice and her deputy, Stephen J. Hadley, that examined what previous nation-building efforts had required. .. If the United States and its allies wanted to maintain the same ratio of peacekeepers to population as it had in Kosovo, the briefing said, they would have to station 480,000 troops in Iraq. If Bosnia was used as benchmark, 364,000 troops would be needed. If Afghanistan served as the model, only 13,900 would be needed in Iraq. .. More forces generally are required to control countries with large urban populations. The briefing pointed out that three-quarters of Iraq's population lived in urban areas. In Bosnia and Kosovo, city dwellers made up half of the population. In Afghanistan, it was only 18 percent. ..

James F. Dobbins, who was the administration's special envoy for Afghanistan and had also served as the ambassador at large for Kosovo, Bosnia, Somalia and Haiti, thought that the administration was focusing on the wrong model. The former Yugoslavia - with its ethnic divisions, hobbled economy and history of totalitarian rule - had more parallels with Iraq than administration officials appeared willing to accept, Mr. Dobbins believed. It was Afghanistan that was the anomaly. "They preferred to find a model for successful nation building that was not associated with the previous administration," Mr. Dobbins said in an interview... As the Iraq war approached, Mr. Dobbins was overseeing a RAND Corporation study on nation building. The larger the number of security forces, the fewer the casualties suffered by alliance troops, the study asserted..

Mr. Bush had agreed in January that the Defense Department was to have authority for postwar Iraq. It was the first time since World War II that the State Department would not take charge of a post-conflict situation. ..

[After Baghdad fell] Mr. Rumsfeld had started to question whether the military still needed the Army's First Cavalry Division, a 17,500-member force that was slated to follow the lead invasion force into Iraq. He and General Franks discussed the issue repeatedly.  "Rumsfeld just ground Franks down," said Mr. White, the former Army secretary who was fired after policy disputes with Mr. Rumsfeld. "If you grind away at the military guys long enough, they will finally say, 'Screw it, I'll do the best I can with what I have.' The nature of Rumsfeld is that you just get tired of arguing with him." .. The deployment of the division was canceled on April 21. ..

In late June, John Sawers, the senior British official in Baghdad, sent a confidential report to his government, which chronicled Mr. Bremer's concerns. .. "Bremer's main concern is that we must keep in-country sufficient military capability to ensure a security blanket across the country," Mr. Sawers reported. "He has twice said to President Bush that he is concerned that the drawdown of US/UK troops has gone too far and we cannot afford further reductions."  Mr. Bremer also questioned whether multinational forces "will be sufficiently robust when push comes to shove," Mr. Sawers reported.  According to United States officials, Mr. Bremer raised the troop issue in a June 18 video conference with Mr. Bush. Mr. Bremer said the United States needed to be careful not to go too far in taking out troops. The president said the plan was now to rotate forces, not withdraw them, and agreed that Washington needed to maintain adequate force levels.

Still the American forces shrank, from a high of about 150,000 in July 2003 to some 108,000 in February 2004, before going up again when violence sharply increased early this year. Some of the troop declines were offset by the arrival of the Polish-led division in August 2003. ..

"John Abizaid was the only one who really had his head in the postwar game," General Garner said, referring to the general who served as General Franks's deputy and eventually his successor. "The Bush administration did not. Condi Rice did not. Doug Feith didn't. You could go brief them, but you never saw any initiative come of them. You just kind of got a north and south nod. And so it ends with so many tragic things." "

  10:34:38 AM  permalink  

 
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Last update: 5/16/2006; 2:57:21 PM.