Friday, December 08, 2006

ISG Report – Escher Drawing by Committee

Major Mike

Maurits Escher renowned graphic artist was famous for his…

so-called impossible structures, such as Ascending and Descending, Relativity,…”

These prints are memorable for their seemingly perfect architectural design, but upon closer study, the viewer is treated to myriad of staircases, hallways, and elevation changes that all lead to themselves, and to…nowhere. They are masterpieces for their impeccable dimensioning, shading, and realism…all things that initially lead the viewer to trust the drawing as a true presentation of a real building, but again, upon inspection the viewer sees that the hallways lead to nowhere and the stairways lead to themselves. Such it is with the Iraq Study Group.

Suffice it to say that the ISG report is the Escher print, and the expected result, of an “independent, bi-partisan committee” seeking consensus and unanimity as its objectives. It is the archetypical prototype product for recycled DC insiders, bundled together, seeking fifteen more minutes of influence in the waning years of their lives, on an issue in which they have not been asked to participate, and in which they have no real expertise. As expected, it looks real, contains some great “buzz-words,” and seems complete, but it is replete with contradictions, and it relies heavily on a series of unlikely events, whose probability of occurrence within the wishful constraints of the ISG, is lower than that of my probability of opening for the Yankees next year.

ISG “findings”….
Syria is also playing a counterproductive role. Iraqis are upset about what they
perceive as Syrian support for efforts to undermine the Iraqi government

There are also reports that Iran has supplied improvised explosive devices to groups—including Sunni Arab insurgents—that attack U.S. forces. The Iranian border with Iraq is porous, and millions of Iranians travel to Iraq each year to visit Shia holy sites. Many Iraqis spoke of Iranian meddling,…

U.S., Iraqi, and international officials also commented on the range of tensions between the United States and Iran, including Iran’s nuclear program, Iran’s support for terrorism, Iran’s influence in Lebanon and the region, and Iran’s influence in Iraq. Iran appears content for the U.S. military to be tied down in Iraq, a position that limits U.S. options in addressing Iran’s
nuclear program and allows Iran leverage over stability in Iraq.

Escheresque “recommendations”…

RECOMMENDATION 5: The Support Group should consist of Iraq and all the states
bordering Iraq, including Iran and Syria
; the key regional states, including Egypt and the Gulf States; the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council; the European Union; and, of course, Iraq itself. Other countries for instance, Germany, Japan and South Korea—that might be willing to contribute to resolving political, diplomatic, and security problems affecting Iraq could also become members
.” (my emphasis)

The list of incentives for these, rogue, murdering states to cooperate with us, the “western Satan,” in our endeavors in Iraq, in spite of the above findings are…

“- An Iraq that does not disintegrate and destabilize its neighbors and the region.
- The continuing role of the United States in preventing the Taliban from destabilizing
- Accession to international organizations, including the World Trade Organization.
- Prospects for enhanced diplomatic relations with the United States.
- The prospect of a U.S. policy that emphasizes political and economic reforms instead of (as Iran now perceives it) advocating regime change.
- Prospects for a real, complete, and secure peace to be negotiated between Israel and Syria, with U.S. involvement as part of a broader initiative on Arab-Israeli peace as outlined

Sorry, but it is doubtful that regimes that murder indiscriminately, are running full tilt boogie in pursuit of nuclear weapons, and who are sworn to the destruction of Israel, are going to be moved in the least by the prospect of …an "Accession to international organizations, including the World Trade Organization." This attempted selling of this simple premise alone makes the entirety of the ISG rejectable out of hand.

The assumption that something so esoteric would garner concrete results from criminally run governments is Escheresque in the extreme…the “incentives”, combined with their findings, cannot possible allow them to infer, logically, that dealing with Syria and Iran would be useful for establishing any kind of a lasting, stable environment in Iraq. It is plainly…absurd.

Conversely, one of the strategic objectives that MUST be accomplished in fighting and WINNING an insurgency is to …isolate the battlefield from outside influence, and external resources. This allows commanders to choke off lightly armed, and irregularly supplied insurgents, and perhaps, diminishing their will, as well as their combat power. It is a necessity in winning an asymmetric war.

Instead of coming up with recommendations that facilitate the accomplishment of this intermediate strategic objective…the ISG actually recommends inviting the biggest perpetrators of cross-border influence to the table as “partners.” This is like having the mafias participate in a forum designed to crack down on organized crime. That would work. In a word…ludicrous.

They over-stroke the concept of imbedding...

"RECOMMENDATION 44: The most highly qualified U.S. officers and military personnel
should be assigned to the imbedded teams, and American teams should be present with Iraqi units down to the company level. The U.S. military should establish suitable career-enhancing incentives for these officers and personnel

For those that want an education what happens to imbedded US advisors trying to rally unprepared foreign troops in the face of a determined enemy read The Easter Offensive and The Bridge at Dong Ha. These two books alone will give the reader the feel for what our “imbedded” troops can expect. They can expect more danger…not less. And by coupling this recommendation with this proposed “pull out” date…

"RECOMMENDATION 42: We should seek to complete the training and equipping mission by
the first quarter of 2008, as stated by General George Casey on October 24, 2006
."(my emphasis)

We ensure that our troops will be imbedded with units that are not prepared to assume the full duties of fighting this difficult insurgency. Our isolated “imbeds” will become desirable targets for insurgents, and without the security of large numbers of US troops around them, our soldiers and Marines will be at a greater risk of being cut off and killed individually.

POW-MIA and preventable deaths will also rise, as US support infrastructure…med evac units, field hospitals, and response capabilities are diminished. So, troops that would have survived with an elevated US force presence will now be doomed to die from injuries, isolated from their brothers in arms, and literally alone on the battlefield.

Ask LtCol. Earl “Skip” Kruger USMC who described his Easter Offensive ordeal, after he and other advisors had been abandoned by their ARVN forces in the face of an NVA on rush (also detailed in the book Easter Offensive)…when I asked at AWS… "Why do you have such a great sense of humor?" …most grunts are notoriously serious…he replied, in deadpan… "(my callsgin), when you’re the guy, holding on to the guy, holding on to the skid of a Huey, with an NVA tank main gun pointing at you, the rest of your life doesn’t look so serious." This is the peril we will put thousands of our troops in.

Ripley at Dong Ha…a single Marine, with virtually zero help from his imbed unit, was left to destroy a bridge in the face of blistering enemy fire…he could have easily been killed in isolation and his heroic action left unrecognized.

This recommendation is only valid for stable, highly-trained, and combat experienced units, and even then our “advisors” will be there at great personal risk…significantly more than they are in now. Yes we will have fewer troops on the ground, but those there will see a logarithmic climb in their risks on the battlefield. Again…this seems a valid “recommendation” in Washington circles, but it does not lead to where the ISG believes it will lead.

My last critique will be the Washington “doublespeak” that is always, cleverly hidden in documents such as these…


Additionally, the defense budget as a whole is in danger of disarray, as supplemental
funding winds down and reset costs become clear. It will be a major challenge to meet ongoing requirements for other current and future security threats that need to be accommodated together with spending for operations and maintenance, reset, personnel, and benefits for active duty and retired personnel. Restoring the capability of our military forces should be a high priority for the United States at this time

Their naïve and incongruous solution…rely on annual DOD budgets to fund the war…no mention is made of baselining these budgets, or protecting them from Congressional stangulation...

"RECOMMENDATION 72: Costs for the war in Iraq should be included in the President’s
annual budget request, starting in FY 2008: the war is in its fourth year, and the normal budget process should not be circumvented. Funding requests for the war in Iraq should be presented clearly to Congress and the American people. Congress must carry out its constitutional responsibility to review budget requests for the war in Iraq carefully and to conduct oversight

On the surface this seems reasonable, but this buries the sustainment funding for the war in Iraq in the operational budgets of the individual services. So at the very same time that the services need to be “restoring their capabilities,” they will be forced to trim other areas of their operational budgets, as Congress…who overwhelmingly supported the start of the war, begins to trim funding for Iraq. The services will be forced to scavenge other operational and maintenance programs in order to sustain adequate funding levels. I know from which I speak…I was a Requirements Officer for CINCPACFLT, N83 in Pearl Harbor at the end of my career.

Supplemental funding assures that support for the war is not diminished, and that the services can continue to modernize weapons systems, and NOT at the expense of those in the field. It also forces the snakes in Congress to play in the open in showing their support of our troops deployed to combat…either they support it or they don’t. A typical Democrat Congressional strategy here would be to reduce funding levels from today’s combined regular and supplementary budgets, and then still claim “they supported our troops.” Hogwash.

The combining of the funding is the first step in the abandonment of our troops in the field. Ask the South Vietnamese how that worked previously.

I do have some serious recommendations that are not in Beltwayspeak…

-Aggressively isolate the battlefield and the insurgents. This means cutting off all un-inspected cargo, and eliminating all undocumented border crossings. Cut off the insurgents from support and reinforcements. This is the first step in cracking their capabilities and their will. Yes, this means enforcing the Iranian and Syrian borders, and not including them on our team.

-Suspend all normal curricula in each level in our formal military training, and focus on devising integrated tactics, strategies, logistical plans, transitional government plans, follow-on ops strategies, etc. and et al. We need to figure out HOW to win at these wars as effectively and as efficiently as possible, and we should focus all of our efforts in getting this doctrine defined and perfected.

-Immediately create tactical working groups to speed the development and evolution of our counter insurgent tactics and strategies. These groups should be populated with Battalion Commanders, Battalion/Squadron Operations Officers, Platoon commanders, Special Ops planners, etc. These groups need to be writing the template for our involvement in these conflicts going forward. We have conventional land warfare down. We have amphibious warfare down. We have air war domination down…we need to get a firm grip on asymmetrical war, and develop a doctrine as workable as the rest of our operational guides.

-We need to outfit the Iraqis with top of the line equipment. They need to achieve and sustain a technological advantage over the insurgents to be successful. Getting substandard gear produces substandard units. These units need to have confidence in their equipment and its advantages over the enemy, every bit as much as they need confidence in their tactical abilities.

-We need to be more lethal on the battlefield. We need to kill more insurgents faster. This will take more aggressive action by our local commanders, and it must be sustained over time. Success in asymmetric war demands constant and lethal pressure on the enemy forces. Contrary to what the ISG may think…this involves near constant contact with the enemy, and an elevated level of risk in the near term, but it is REQUIRED to be effective and to win, and it will greatly diminish the insurgents’ capabilities and will over time.

-We must have the national will to win. The ISG, and like groups, and their feckless recommendations, only give hope to the enemy. The enemy recognizes the ebbing of our will and is strengthened by having a timeline on the horizon…see ISG recommendation above. Adoption of, or proselytizing for, myriad of hollow recommendations only elevates the expectations of the American public, and sets up the path for defeat and humiliation. We have not been defeated, and except for the weak willed in Washington and the MSM, we have not been humiliated. Our troops have performed admirably in harsh conditions, and we need to evolve slightly to win, but we are a looooong way from defeat…unless we quit, again, on our troops in the field.

We do need a shift in Iraq, but the ISG recommendations are not the template. They are simply a recycling of the losing Vietnamization strategy by some retreaded Beltway insiders, seeking the limelight in their golden years. We need fresh ideas, but they should come from people who have spent more than four days in Iraq, have spent less than four years in the beltway, and are not collecting Social Security checks. We must get on path to succeed, not on some Escher staircase that leads to neither victory, nor success. Reject the ISG report and its recommendations.

© Michael McBride 2006


Mr.Atos said...

My first impression is that you need more... well, ellipsis. But, perhaps its just an Atos thing.

Major Mike said...

You got me...I am an ellipsis addict. I want to enroll in a 12-step program, but I don't have the will power to go cold turkey. I guess I could try the comma as a substitute...but it doesn't give me the same ...high. MM

Mr.Atos said...

No Commas! I like to throw in random apostrophe's here and there just for fun to aggravate the occassional drossy cascadian nihilist. I highly recommend it

dueler88 said...

atos you missed a period. and i just now missed both capitalization AND a comma.

be sure to be on the lookout for my favorite, for which seemingly nobody else has the stomach - the semicolon.

Mr.Atos said...

semicolon, schmemicolon, give me an ellipsis anyday, Baby!

Okay Mike, now I will actually read your post! Don't want to overly confuse our critics. Afterall, they have so much substance to express...

... as bilge!