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Thread: Why We Are in Iraq

  1. #136
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    Steve,

    A fair question about what the endstate should have been. My question would be how do you balance the potential endstate you offer with the need to have someone to balance Iran and to prevent terrorists from operating from their soil? A weak and ineffectual Iraqi state (which isn't forgone conclusion, but I think a high probably in a punitive raid only scenario) would have issues doing either.

    The whole essence of design vs. MDMP is that war is an inherently social phenomenon, and as such, is a complex environment where the flap of a butterfly's wings in one place can result in a storm in another, metaphorically speaking. Thus, while the OPLAN to remove the regime might fit well into the MDMP process, how to achieve an endstate that goes beyond regime removal and instead is regime change (to what regime? how? how long?) is something that falls under the rubric of design. This is the thrust of where I was going with Rocco.
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

  2. #137
    Contributor RoccoR's Avatar
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    Shek, et al,

    We are not that far apart.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shek View Post
    The MDMP (JOPP on the joint side) is geared towards creating a plan when you have a well defined mission statement. Breaking Iraq and putting it back together is not a well defined mission statement. You need to frame the environment and problem first before even developing a mission statement. In the case of OIF, this required the civilian leadership to do this and get it right. Because they didn't, the military was boxed in with the odds stacked against them (but I would agree that we then played that hand badly). However, the bottom line is that you can't compare policy decision making with MDMP. They get at two different things.
    (COMMENT)

    When I said the NSDMP corrupted the MDMP, it is true, that "this required the civilian leadership to do this and get it right." When the NSDMP got this wrong, it corrupted the planning and execution of the MDMP. The unintended consequences were born at this point.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shek View Post
    As to corrupting the NSDM process, while the Bush 43 Administration didn't run a smooth oiled machine, your rarely find that among administrations. You can look to the Eisenhower Administration as a example, but after that, I'd challenge you to show me one that wasn't dysfunctional. In fact, by the very nature of war and the American republic, you expect it to be somewhat dysfunction as opposed to developing "pure" strategy without the constraints of domestic politics. It wasn't that voices weren't able to be heard - the problem was that the wrong voices won out and they made the wrong decisions.
    (COMMENT)

    I do not disagree with your history lesson. However, I don't accept the idea that we should expect or accept a leadership that is "dysfunctional" as a matter of course. Nor do I expect a failure at all the various levels that were suppose to provide oversight on such decisions.

    Our leadership (The Administration, Congress, DOS, DOD) failed to do the critical thinking. And those that did, did not stand-up to be counted, except for a few generals. And they were dismissed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfowitz Contradicts Shinseki over Iraqi Occupation: STRATFOR | Feb 28, 2003 | Staff
    Summary

    U.S. Army Chief of Staff Erik Shinseki said Feb. 25 that hundreds of thousands of troops would be needed in Iraq following a war. However, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz contradicted that statement on Feb. 27, saying Shinseki's estimates were "wildly off the mark." When two important figures like this contradict each other, it always has strategic significance.

    Analysis

    An interesting fight has broken out over the U.S. Army chief of staff's contention that Iraq would be occupied by hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops following a war. Gen. Erik Shinseki made that statement Feb. 25 at a Congressional hearing, without any immediate contradictions. Then, at hearings on Feb. 27, Democrats began attacking Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz on the question of the war's cost -- at which point Wolfowitz broke with Shinseki, saying that his estimate was "wildly off the mark" and that the actual number of occupation forces would be closer to 100,000 troops.

    My thought here is that, in terms of the plan and oversight, CONGRESS fell prey to the old Burke adage: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." They were over confident in the leadership which lead to a cascade failure.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shek View Post
    Next, the NDM is crap. As an approach, it opens up military decision making to errors due to systemic biases. It relies on the fallacy of "expert" decision making. The list of social psychology/behavioral economics/etc. literature is long on this topic. As a only when time is constrained and any decision is better than no decision, then it simply describes what happens in an abbreviated MDMP anyways.
    (COMMENT)

    I agree, the NSDMP was broken when I was in Vietnam.

    There was no eminent threat, no need for a rushed decision. It was an elective invasion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shek View Post
    Finally, your attributing failure to military leaders for decisions that are clearly those that the civilian leadership should make. Non-starter. Furthermore, if you look at the disbanding the Iraqi military and cutting deep into Baath Party membership, read the books that show that Petraeus pretty much calls Bremer an idiot for doing this (along with some other military members).
    (COMMENT)

    I did not blame the Military Leadership any more (or any less) than I blame the Civilian Leadership.

    And I don't consider GEN Petraeus holding any special insight on the conduct of the war. But he was a genuinely good follower of Administration Orders. Like GEN Casey before him, by keeping his mouth shut, he made his 4th Star.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shek View Post
    I'm happy to criticize the folks for making poor decision, to include the military, but don't blame process when it's the people, and blame the people who actually have the authority to make the decision.
    (COMMENT)

    Now here, you may (and I'm not totally convinced), have a point. Possibly a very significant point.

    I might concede on this point, relative to the political leadership.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quote from: Hunt for the Red October
    Listen, I'm a politician which means I'm a cheat and a liar, and when I'm not kissing babies I'm stealing their lollipops. But it also means I keep my options open.

    This is the question of whether the evolutionary process that develops poor leadership? Or, whether the quality of the stock is poor?

    I sat on the veranda at the Baghdad Embassy, one night, with four O-6's. It was Cigar Night. All four were Academy Graduates. It was a tradition that dated, at least back to '04 and the ORHA Palace days. We would discuss the topics of the day in concept form. One night, we discussed the way we formulate strategies and policies and related the true nature of the situation. How we mold the truth to fit the agenda. I asked two simple questions to the table that brought a dead silence.

    Q1: I asked if everyone remembered the Honor Code from the Academy.
    A1: One AF Grad pumped it out in a heartbeat. "A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do."
    THEN
    Q2: If any of you were to be brought before the Honor Committee for some of the presentations, situational testimonials, and releases made to Administration or Congressional Officials, Diplomatic Corps, or Media, what would the outcome be?
    A2: Dead Silence.

    Slowly the discussion began to suggest that sometimes it is imperative to craft a picture intended to convey an alternative impression to reality, or to omit critical information that does not help the case one is trying to defend or promote. It was clear that as one ascends in rank and responsibility, the vision of what is a "lie or falsehood" begins to change.

    This conversation evolved to the impact this has on the integrity of the military as it's honesty and integrity begins to be questioned; and if this is a quality the military wanted to foster. Like most questions and discussion, of such import and dynamics, while it was generally agreed that the military wanted to foster honesty and integrity, it could not resolve the imperative to project the image most favorable to the position they needed.

    Did the process create the dilemma? Or --- did the people it promoted?

    I don't suspect that this question will every be resolved. I tend to believe that the process, that does not honor truth through the life cycle of a career created the people. It was an unintended consequence of career development --- a lifetime of placating superiors.

    Whatever the truth is, the image that the military is projecting has mixed reviews; both inside and outside of uniform. It creates an environment which fosters disclosures from anonymous sources and leaks to outright espionage.

    Most Respectfully,
    R

  3. #138
    Contributor RoccoR's Avatar
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    Shek, et al,

    Yes...

    Quote Originally Posted by Shek View Post
    Thus, while the OPLAN to remove the regime might fit well into the MDMP process, how to achieve an endstate that goes beyond regime removal and instead is regime change (to what regime? how? how long?) is something that falls under the rubric of design.
    (COMMENT)

    Exactly, the post-Conflict activity (political or military) did not meet the either the criteria to meet the established definition and objectives; or the criteria for legal occupation.

    This was an unintended consequence of unprepared and unqualified leadership. These weaknesses should have been picked-up and addressed prior to the invasion. But the nature of the cascade failure also serves to demonstrate the quality and competence of the decision making at all levels.

    But both of these processes have another evolution of failures that affects even more than the early post-Conflict phase. It is the outcomes we are experiencing now and the implication for the future.

    It is unlikely that we can correct the mistakes of the past. But can we still correct the outcomes in the future.

    Most Respectfully,
    R

  4. #139
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoccoR
    And I don't consider GEN Petraeus holding any special insight on the conduct of the war. But he was a genuinely good follower of Administration Orders. Like GEN Casey before him, by keeping his mouth shut, he made his 4th Star.

    ****

    Our leadership (The Administration, Congress, DOS, DOD) failed to do the critical thinking.
    Rocco,

    Sorry, but time is tight and I don't have time go point by point, so I'll just do a drive by.

    If Petraeus was such a good lap dog as you imply, then why did he defy Bremer's de-Baathification orders as a 2-star? why did he tell Bremer he was stupid for disbanding the Iraqi Army? why did he simply open up the Syrian border without any clearance from Washington? why did he place conditions on taking MNF-I to get his 4th star?

    As to DOS not doing critical thinking, what do you call the Future of Iraq Project?

    Sorry, but much of your narrative simply doesn't match the facts. Also, you continue to conflate process and outputs. Invalid or wrong inputs don't "corrupt" MDMP - it is a process. As with any process, you can execute it flawlessly, but if inputs are wrong, then outputs will be wrong.

    Lastly, you state that the military got it wrong because the civilian leadership got it wrong. I would even challenge that. The military with the leaders in place would have still have gotten it wrong even in the civilian leadership had gotten it right. We've got some points of agreement, but a still worlds apart in many areas of analysis here.
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

  5. #140
    Contributor RoccoR's Avatar
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    Shek, et al,

    I realize that I have the minority opinion. I don't deny that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shek View Post
    If Petraeus was such a good lap dog as you imply, then why did he defy Bremer's de-Baathification orders as a 2-star? why did he tell Bremer he was stupid for disbanding the Iraqi Army? why did he simply open up the Syrian border without any clearance from Washington? why did he place conditions on taking MNF-I to get his 4th star?

    As to DOS not doing critical thinking, what do you call the Future of Iraq Project?
    (COMMENT)

    Yes, the 4th Star dilemma. Did you ever wonder why they had to promote a 3-Star to a 4-Star in order to get a Commander? Both Generals Petraeus and Odierno had to be given the promotion to take the job and Petraeus had some bargaining room. But the real question is, where were all the other 4-Stars and why were they not fighting for command. One thing I learned, while listening to the CG's Staff was, that almost to a man, every Staff Officer believed in their CG; whether it was Sanchez, Casey, Petraeus or Odierno. They all believed in what they were doing and worked extremely hard to accomplish the commander's goals and objectives. Having said that, the outcomes are what they are. If we agree that the men and women of the command (CJTF-7, MNF-I, USF-I) ALL did what they were suppose to do - then why such a miserable outcome? And to the best of my knowledge, nearly every service member accomplished their assigned mission in exemplary fashion overall. (There were some command anomalies, the occasional scandal - but given the enormity of the effort - nothing to outside what might be expected on any other project of comparable scale.)

    Please let this be clear: I would never call GEN Petraeus a "Lap Dog." He does find himself in an inferior position relative to Civilian Leadership; it is the nature of the beast. (This is a different subject relative to the "Cloning Effect" and the "Ostrich Effect." I sincerely apologize if I my poor communicative skills might have transferred that implication.

    In the matter of the DOS FIP (Future of Iraq Project), it dates back to late 2001 and early 2002, and was never really resourced or funded properly. While it was a huge outline for ORHA (covering a whole shelf), its objectives were largely overshadowed by ground developments. It was based on some assumptions that were not actually true (some predictable and some not), it was never successfully implemented. However, the silver lining here was the attempt...

    Quote Originally Posted by Shek View Post
    Sorry, but much of your narrative simply doesn't match the facts. Also, you continue to conflate process and outputs. Invalid or wrong inputs don't "corrupt" MDMP - it is a process. As with any process, you can execute it flawlessly, but if inputs are wrong, then outputs will be wrong.
    (COMMENT)

    Yes... We agree here, to an extent.
    • If the process is wrong, then it is not unreasonable to assume a high probability that the out will be wrong.
    • If the process is right, but based on poor assumptions, the one might expect that it will probably yield unsound and invalid outcomes.
    • If the process is right, but implemented poorly, then it is reasonable to expect a poor outcome.

    Your assumption (if I understand it) is that the process is/was right; that other factors caused the outcomes we have accrued to date. This is where we differ.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shek View Post
    Lastly, you state that the military got it wrong because the civilian leadership got it wrong. I would even challenge that. The military with the leaders in place would have still have gotten it wrong even in the civilian leadership had gotten it right. We've got some points of agreement, but a still worlds apart in many areas of analysis here.
    (COMMENT)

    Yes, agreed, it is possible that:
    • If the Civilian Leadership "had got it right" - it was still possible for the military to get it wrong. Yes, this is possible.
    • But given that the military accepts civilian leadership (an American Imperative), if the military stays inside the civilian guidance and focused agenda - it would be highly unlikely that they would implement effective operations that would achieve the desired outcomes.

    Given that: VICTORY IN IRAQ DEFINED (The Desired Outcomes)
    • In the short term:
      • An Iraq that is making steady progress in fighting terrorists and neutralizing the insurgency, meeting political milestones; building democratic institutions; standing up robust security forces to gather intelligence, destroy terrorist networks, and maintain security; and tackling key economic reforms to lay the foundation for a sound economy.
    • In the medium term:
      • An Iraq that is in the lead defeating terrorists and insurgents and providing its own security, with a constitutional, elected government in place, providing an inspiring example to reformers in the region, and well on its way to achieving its economic potential.
    • In the longer term:
      • An Iraq that has defeated the terrorists and neutralized the insurgency.
      • An Iraq that is peaceful, united, stable, democratic, and secure, where Iraqis have the institutions and resources they need to govern themselves justly and provide security for their country.
      • An Iraq that is a partner in the global war on terror and the fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, integrated into the international community, an engine for regional economic growth, and proving the fruits of democratic governance to the region.
    My contention is that, given these desired outcomes, after a Trillion Dollars, and 8 years, and over 4000 Dead (5000 counting the contractors) that we have not completely achieved "short term" objectives. And haven't done so, how could this be if:
    • The Process was both sound & valid.
    • The Military did what it was directed to do.
    • The Foreign Service did what it was suppose to do.
    • The Civilian Leadership did what it was suppose to do.

    I believe that none of the four points above are completely true, and that there were weaknesses in all four areas. I am not prepared to take the "Processes" off the table. Part of the process is to verify the premise used (they must be "true") in any deductive reasoning. The output of the first process (NSDMP) is used, in part, as an input (unvalidated) in the next process (MDMP). This is a two-stage serial process.

    As I said at the outset, I know that I am in the minority here. But I don't believe that we can learn from our mistakes and improve the prospects for better future outcomes, if we don't examine the nature of the errors that have brought us to the ground truth we see today in Iraq.

    Most Respectfully,
    R

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