Blogs > Cliopatria > Five O'Clock Follies Redux

Jan 6, 2006 3:30 am

Five O'Clock Follies Redux

U.S. Department of State International Information Program, Dec. 29:
Insurgents in Iraq are showing little capacity to keep up numerous and persistent attacks, a senior U.S. general in Baghdad says.

At a briefing December 29, Air Force Brigadier General C.D. Alston said there are three reasons for the diminishing capability of the insurgents to keep up attacks...

The security offensive has been focused on defeating terrorists and foreign fighters, and disrupting the insurgency, he said, with great effect....

"Today, there are 223,000 trained and equipped members of the Iraqi security forces," Alston said during the briefing carried by a Pentagon teleconference from Baghdad...

Alston said the third factor that has contributed to the diminishing capacity of the insurgents has been the active participation in the political process by Sunni Iraqis...

Because of this improvement among Iraqi security forces, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said during recent appearances in Iraq that the United States would reduce the number of combat troops there by approximately 7,000 in 2006.

Stars and Stripes (Mid-East Edition), Jan. 4:
"A daunting task lies ahead, but I have no doubt you are well-trained," said Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, V Corps commander since 2003, who spent a tumultuous year in Iraq...

"The country’s on the verge of a civil war," he said, and told the soldiers the mission now is to transfer responsibility for Iraq stability to Iraqi troops, including what he said had been"neglected police capacity."
[brief discussion below]

Nothing shocking to say, here: It's difficult to win a war, or even to sustain one, if military leaders lack credibility. Radical and sustained hostility to simple truth on the part of military leaders will turn even tactical victories into strategic defeats, as Americans abandon their support for a government they regard as dishonest and incredible. It doesn't work for General X to declare significant progress toward success while General Y reports that the boiler is about to explode.

This is a lesson hung with giant flashing lights in our relatively recent history. Remarkable to see an American military that still doesn't understand the potential consequences of absurd and untenable declarations of approaching victory and completion.

Insurgents in Iraq are are showing remarkable capacity to keep up numerous and persistent attacks, and the military should simply say so. Some leaders do not; some, such as Lt. Gen. Sanchez, do. All other thoughts aside, it's interesting to see military leaders so plainly pulling in opposite directions. I would think that the chasm between Alston's pronouncement and Sanchez's pronouncement hints at a significant dispute going on within the military.

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Barry DeCicco - 1/6/2006


Folk saying:
"A fool and his money are soon parted"

Bush administration addendum:
"So rip him off fast, before somebody else does"

They figure that if you're foolish enough to believe them, then they should take advantage of you.

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