Monday, August 08, 2005

Where I Stand on Iraq.

First, let me clarify my credibility on the subject. I have not yet traveled to Iraq, however, I do have family and friends that are now serving or have served in Iraq. I have completed two tours of duty in Afghanistan and anticipate a third tour in one of the two locations. As such, I am emotionally attached to all the events occurring in both theaters. I pay close attention to the news coming out of the region and, since I have been there and done that, I can usually identify the difference between good and bad reporting.

Early in the war many liberals identified a new poster boy in GEN Shinseki. This is the same general whose brilliant idea it was to defame the Ranger’s black beret by giving it to every soldier. He was elevated to revered by liberal status because he argued that our troop strengths in Iraq were too low despite the fact that GEN Franks proved him wrong by doing much more with much less. This old argument continues to surface as criticism of the Bush administration. Still today, it is not uncommon to hear some complain that we do not have enough troops in Iraq. Quite to the contrary, it is my argument that we have too many targets in Iraq and should significantly reduce our troop strength.

Our military schools do a great job of teaching officers to push units across enemy lines. The problem we have in Iraq is that there are no lines and most of the commanders are completely out of their element. What we need are fewer conventional soldiers driving around the countryside. Fallujah was a prime example supporting my argument. For a year or more Fallujah was in an Army regiments area and the Army ignored the problem, as a result we saw charred American corpses hanging from a bridge. I find it rather interesting that when the Marines took over we started seeing results. In this example an Army commander who was out of his element played a passive roll and only allowed his troops to drive around as targets.

After the Afghanistan campaign began yet before Iraq the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) was reclassified as a combat command. This change meant that now USSOCOM can command troops in battle without being subjected to conventional commanders, but still, for some reason, Special Operations continue to fight two unconventional wars while being directed by conventional commanders. This needs to change.

There is only one organization in the department of defense with a counter insurgency mission and that is the U.S. Army Special Forces. There are only three organizations with a counter terrorism mission and they are SEAL Team Six, Delta, and Special Forces. Why are the subject matter experts subordinate to commanders who do not know how to fight this type of war? I expect that we will eventually win the peace in Afghanistan and Iraq with our current strategy but at a greater price. With a Special Forces tabbed commander making the strategic decision we will be able to accomplish just as much with much fewer troops which means fewer targets and fewer lives lost.

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