Iraq war history : the fatal mistakes

Discussion in 'Education' started by Munin, Feb 28, 2009.

  1. Munin
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    Munin VIP Member

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    Many people seem to have the wrong image of the war in Iraq, therefor I find it important that we look at the mistakes that were made so we don't make them again. I never saw a better documentary about the Iraqi war and the mistakes then this one here below:


    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQSHTXo6gYM]YouTube - Battle for Baghdad(Iraq war Documentary) Part 1/5[/ame]

    ( Source: "Battle for Baghdad(Iraq war Documentary) Part 1/5" on youtube. The others have the same name but (1/5 -> 5/5)

    The good explanation of the events in the videos puts the picture here below in the right perspective and context:
    [​IMG]


    If you have a better review of the war you can always post it in this thread.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2009
  2. Toome
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    Toome Active Member

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    Very interesting commentary. I agree with some of it. The problem is that there is very little insight into the nuts and bolts of the real planning process. It's too easy to point fingers at the Big Three: Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. Anyone who has spent any serious amount of time in the military at echelons above corps realizes that this is a much more complex process.

    The military drills its officers to plan in depth: there's the basic plan, then there's the contingency plan, then there's back-up contingencies. If there is one hard and fast rule to military planning, it's the lessons-learned from Vietnam. The military grooms its own cadre of experts in civilian-military affairs. I find it extremely difficult to believe that this part of the planning process was simply overlooked, ignored or not addressed. Yet the perception appears to be that the Pentagon simply didn't plan for the civilian reaction.
     
  3. Munin
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    Munin VIP Member

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    If you watch the documentary you will see what the plans were: if you "read between the lines". Listen to what the commanders (& officers) said, the further evaluation of the conflict that is described in the next videos : (2/5 -> 5/5). I could describe it in one word: government (more specific: the absence of government in Iraq)
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2009
  4. Xenophon
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    Xenophon Gone and forgotten

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    The real problem was getting involved in 1991 and not resolving that war, which lead to a decade of rising Muslim anger over US forces in the middle east.

    The mistakes made in OIF began when Jay Gadner was ignored and L paul Brenner was made imperial potentate.

    The errors continued and nothing changed until Rumsfeld was dumped and compitent leadership at the top was installed.
     
  5. mightypeon
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    mightypeon Active Member

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    Form what I get I totally agree with Paul Bremer beeing to jackup, well, "political gouverners" installed for "political reasons" always tend to screw up when faced with significant problems.

    The reason why, maybe even too much, flag is directed at the "Top leadership" is that the "Top leadership" is known and watched, why the actions of the middle echelon are less known.
     
  6. Toome
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    Toome Active Member

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    I disagree strongly. Again, it's much more complicated than that. It is a multi-level, multi-dimensional effort. Contrary to popular myth, President Bush did not make the war plans. No President ever does. And there are a lot of dynamics at play.

    Don't get me wrong, the guy at the top ultimately gets the credit or blame, depending on the outcome. But if we are to have a serious discussion, then we must understand the fundamentals of war planning. This commentary only touches on one aspect. Hardly a complete evaluation.
     
  7. Munin
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    Munin VIP Member

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    If I d make it very simplistic, then you could just compare the situation before the war (with Saddam) with the situation after the war (without saddam). To me one of the most obvious indications of this is the raiding of the museum, that just proved to the Iraqis that they were on their own: This is the worst possible signal that the US could have sent to the Iraqi people.

    IMO the best way to describe the mistake is the word "government": as a result of this the Iraqis made their own governments, their own armies, their own police forces, their own "unofficial laws" within the communities under their control.

    I know that Iraq can be divided in several areas with several different problems, but a lot of these problems come back to one thing: absence of a federal government. Just after the end of the conventional war there was no insurgency: doesn't this indicate what the problem was?
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2009
  8. Toome
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    My mistake. I thought you were looking at it from a different perspective. I agree completely with your points above.

    From a US perspective, the lessons-learned from the Balkans would have served as a useful template for planning ahead as would the lessons-learned from Somalia. While I understand that administrations shy away from policies of their political opponents, one would think that institutions like the Pentagon would at least take a more objective approach. Instead, it appeared as if the US military was totally unprepared for the anarchy that took place once Saddam and his Ba'ath party cohorts fled Baghdad.

    I think the Pentagon's mistake, absent of political party affiliations, is its own institutional arrogance. The operational experiences of Somalia are virtually ignored and, for all intents and purposes, removed from the chapters of Army history as if it never occurred. Yet there are many valuable lessons to be gleaned from it in terms of dealing with various warlord factions, adjusting to the internal politics of the indigenous population and the dynamics of peacekeeping efforts by outside forces when interacting with third world cultures. The Balkans offer similar lessons on a much larger scale but add to it the issue of outside interference from (drum roll) Iran!

    In my view, the Pentagon had all the tools available to anticipate and effectively deal with the aftermath of the fall of Baghdad. Instead, it appears as if the US put all its eggs in one basket that once Saddam fled, the Iraqis would instantly set aside their religious, cultural and political differences and work together to institute Jeffersonian democracy with open zeal and enthusiasm. As these events unfolded immediately after the conventional piece of the war was finished, I thought it was simply a matter of time for the postwar strategy to develop. On this point, I have to agree that it certainly appears as if the Bush administration, the Pentagon and the generals on the ground were unprepared.

    If true, then very basic principles in military war planning were ignored throughout the entire structure from the Secretary of Defense down to the battalion commanders on the ground. And I find that part very hard to believe.
     
  9. Tech_Esq
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    Tech_Esq Sic Semper Tyrannis!

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    Both Munin and Toome make good points. I think that two points have been overlooked.

    First, the role of the Turks in the number of troops in the battle area after the end of major combat. By not letting the ultra heavy 4th ID transit its country to be available to attack and ultimately control the northern battle areas, the Turks took what was in my opinion a barely adequate force in the first place and turned it into a wholly inadequate force.

    While combat could be successfully concluded with the troops committed, there was no way they were adequate to provide force protection and civil security. Even with the 4th ID, this would have been a VERY difficult task.

    Which leads to my second point, Rumsfeld was pushing his concept of a "lighter" more mobile and deployable military force. He pushed to make this war leaner and meaner than the Gulf War. In the Gulf War we built up 500k+ troops. We were less than half of that for Iraq.

    So, I think the lesson learned is pretty stark. You can win a war with fewer troops, but you can't control the aftermath. For my money they would have been much better off beginning combat with 2 - 3 more Army Infantry Divisions, 3 Armor Cavalry Regiments and 3 more MP brigades following the advance. Then, when all hell broke loose, commanders would have had enough troops to attempt to restore order and provide force protection.
     

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