Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | March 21, 2013

Reflections 10 Years After OIF Started

Shock and Awe Indicated the Wrong Direction from the Start

Shock and Awe Indicated the Wrong Direction from the Start

Eclectic reflections 10 years after the start of hostilities for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

From March to August 2003, I waited for the President or the Secretary of Defense to give a speech and tell the American People that the U.S. military would be there 10, 20, 30 0r open ended years – depending upon how much change the US wished to impose on Iraq.  It would be the practical, military application of the political objectives.   The extension of politics – the essence of military operations.  But, the speech was never given.

When I realized that the governing adults of the USA hadn’t thought through their war well enough to give the speech, I was more disappointed than I can express here.  I had a nagging suspicion that the political leaders lacked the moral and political courage to make their case – and express it in decades of committment – yet, that is not as bad as knowing how clueless very, very powerful persons could be.   Of course, Carter and Clinton should have been prologue and Obama epilogue the Folly of Bush II.

Don’t misunderstand.

The folly wasn’t in the invasion and regime change against Saddam Hussein.  It was the lack of understanding the nature of the initial combat phase and the subsequent occupation phases.

A dear friend of mine, classmate, quit talking to me for years at the time, because I was so nonchalant about the coming war in Iraq.  I figured it would happen sooner or later.  Better to happen on our terms.  Except our leadership was so ill-prepared.  A key exception being the Army Chief of Staff, GEN James Shinseki.  He spoke the truth to power with courage – and understanding.

And, there were many officers in the Army who knew the Occupation would be long and complicated.  Unfortunately, they weren’t in charge.  I wrote “The Long Hard Peace”   Obviously, I wasn’t in charge or influencing.

SecDef Donald Rumsfeld got to play out his theory on modern warfare.  It would support gutting the Army.  His theory failed. ( Obama is still going to gut the Army – for different reasons.)  Rumsfeld’s decisions made the war last at least 2 years longer  – andcost about 1500 American lives.   He earned a special place in Hades next to SecDef Robert McNamara.

The Air Force and Air Power cheerleaders got to bomb a lot.  They bombed the Iraqi intelligence agencies and destroyed the records on the entire population which would be invaluable during the Occupation.

Disbanding the Iraqi Army – 400, oo0 men – was an act of monumental stupidity.  Ambassador Bremer had a hand in that.

The good news is that a lot of jihadi Islamists from everywhere came to Iraq to kill Americans and were sent to see Allah asap.  The terrible news is how many innocent Iraqis died – especially in their own sectarian fighting.  And, that fighting isn’t over.

Democracy, the flower of Western Civilization, didn’t bloom in the Islamist sand.  I knew it wouldn’t unless the US did all the things to change the culture that the US lacked the courage to think, let alone say.  The US lacked the moral will to do what it did in Occupations after WW II.  Those Occupations – even including Japan – had far less to change than Iraq.

The Active Army which had been reduced by over 40% in the 90s after Operation Desert Storm had its troops suck up extended and repeated tours.  The Reserves were activated and deployed, but still the burden fell on Joe Bag of Donuts soldier and his family.   The Marine Corps conducted sustained land operations as part of the Joint Force.

New technologies in digitization and robotics matured.  The modular designed Brigade Combat Team for the future became the building block of Army organizations.

A generation of soldiers were bloodied.  The killed and wounded suffered valiantly.   All the vets deserve respect.

One campaign in a long, long, long World War Against Islamists took 10 years.   It’s called a war, but it was one campaign in the bigger, longer war.

God bless all who served and their families – our Country and its Allies.


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