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A few random thoughts about the war in Iraq, and warfare in general

With the announcement that President Bush had met with the on-the-ground commanders in Iraq and discussed changing tactics, a lot of people immediately leaped on it as a concession that Bush had, finally, started to "come to his senses" on the Iraq campaign in the war on terror.

That was fairly amusing. Anyone with even a passing acquaintance with military thought (and I come pretty darn close to having that passing acquaintance) heard the news and shrugged. It was worth maybe a casual "BFD" at best.

As I understand it, there are three levels of planning in the military: objectives, strategies, and tactics. Objectives describe what we wish to do. Strategies describe how we will do that. And tactics are what we will do.

In Iraq, as I think it goes, the objective was to remove the Baathist government from power, help the Iraqi people establish a new, freer government, and work to make sure that new government was not the threat to its neighbors and vital US interests that Saddam had been.

The strategy was to invade Iraq, defeat and disband the military, and then establish a new civil and military structure that could maintain its own security without threatening others'.

The tactics involve careful use of airpower and ground power against select locales, groups, and individuals; establishment of civilian institutions and governing bodies; national elections; and rebuilding of key elements of Iraq's infrastructure.

There is an old saying that no plan ever survives first contact with the enemy, and it is true. It is true in a way that almost never translates into non-military matters, because only in actual warfare is there a real enemy determined to foil your plans, to the point of being more than willing to destroy, kill, or die in the attempt.

With that in mind, sticking to a set of tactics is stupid. The enemy will eventually figure out a way to counter them. Tactics need constant re-evaluation and revision, sometimes even need to be tossed out entirely as circumstances change. That is the normal way of things, and has virtually nothing to do with changing strategies or goals.

There are many ways of winning a war. Originally, it was simple: kill enough of your enemy that they simply can not fight any more. As warfare grew more technologically advanced, a second way developed: destroy your enemy's ability to fight. This was used most successfully in World War II, where wholesale attacks on the enemy's industrial base was done with great success against Germany and Japan. The mass bombing raids on Germany, along with the near-total destruction of Japan's merchant marine, starved both Axis powers of their ability to sustain their war machinery.

Then, in Viet Nam, a third way of winning arose: destroy your enemy's will to fight. The North Vietnamese knew they could never defeat the US in a face-to-face battle; every time they tried, they lost and lost decisively. They had no chance of attacking our ability to wage war; our industrial base was thousands of miles out of their reach. So they, instead, attacked our resolve. That was a key factor that led to our eventual withdrawal from Viet Nam, followed shortly thereafter by the abrogation of the peace treaty and the final conquest of the South.

For literally years, the opponents of the Iraq war have tried to force it into the Viet Nam pigeonhole, drawing as many parallels as they possibly can. And now it seems that our enemies have decided to give it a whirl themselves.

The latest is the upsurge in attacks in Iraq against civilians and US forces. And it illustrates precisely why I think that setting deadlines is a bad idea.

Like it or not, there is a deadline rapidly approaching. The midterm elections in the United States are less than two weeks away. And for better or ill, the war in Iraq is a major issue. In fact, many are trying to make these elections a de facto referendum on the war.

With that in mind, the terrorists, insurgents, Baathist holdovers, and other enemies of ours are employing a new tactic. They are escalating their attacks as much as they can, causing as much carnage and destruction as they can, to keep the violence on the front pages and in the lead stories in the media. They want the American voters to think of nothing but the daily bloodshed in Iraq.

I don't have any kind of inside information, but I'd be willing to bet that their efforts are unsustainable. I don't believe they have the manpower, the resources, the munitions to keep up these attacks for very long.

But that's all right. Much like the Tet Offensive in Viet Nam turned out, it's not expected to be a battlefield victory. It's aimed at the support for the war, not the actual combatants.

And it perfectly illustrates precisely why I think setting a timeline for our withdrawal from Iraq. The enemy currently knows that it can't sustain its current efforts. They are spending their resources far faster than they can replenish them. But they believe they don't need to sustain them, just hang on until November 7. They think that if they can kill enough American troops before the elections, enough American voters will give their support for anti-war candidates and will help them achieve THEIR goal -- the driving out of Americans from Iraq. Their bullets are aimed at our ballots.

Will it work? I don't know. The Democrats are trying desperately to make the war the main issue in the elections, but we simply never have national elections and national referendums. During presidential years, we have 51 different elections for the presidency. And this year is even more fragmented -- we have 33 states holding elections for the Senate (I finally looked it up) and 435 districts in all 50 states choosing Representatives.

In my case, my "voice" in this "national referendum" is whether to vote for my current representative, Jeb Bradley (R), or his opponent, Carol Shea-Porter (D). As Shea-Porter's main issue is the war in Iraq, calling for exactly the kind of timetable I just spent considerable effort deriding, I'll most likely vote for Bradley again. Or I might just toss my vote towards the Libertarian candidate, Dan Belforti -- it depends on how the polls look closer to election day. I'm not too thrilled with Bradley, but the thought of letting Shea-Porter win is just too repugnant.

But I'll be damned if I'll let the guys who are killing American troops and slaughtering Iraqi civilians sway my choice and vote the way that they want.


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Comments (29)

"The enemy currently kno... (Below threshold)
Lee:

"The enemy currently knows that it can't sustain its current efforts. They are spending their resources far faster than they can replenish them. But they believe they don't need to sustain them, just hang on until November 7. They think that if they can kill enough American troops before the elections, enough American voters will give their support for anti-war candidates and will help them achieve THEIR goal -- the driving out of Americans from Iraq. Their bullets are aimed at our ballots."

Leave it to Jay to know precisely what the enemy is thinking.

Or did you just make that up so that the Republican Flip-Flop wasn't such a blatant and obvious attempt to grab votes?

It's called having depth, L... (Below threshold)
Gary:

It's called having depth, Lee. I realize this concept is alien to you, with your narrow-minded one-dimensional brain. Don't feel too badly, most Democrats suffer from the same thing.

I think you're correct. Al... (Below threshold)

I think you're correct. All too often we've heard these guys, in their stupid little videos, all but endorse certain candidates and praise those who openly endorse them.

They want us to leave and let them turn Iraq into something even worse than Iran. And Lee thinks that's just fine.

Lhee is right. Jay doesn't... (Below threshold)
Thim:

Lhee is right. Jay doesn't know what the terrorists are thinking, the Democrats do. After all, they're on the same page, politically.

Apparently the Republican p... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Apparently the Republican party's desperate attempts to salvage their failing support at the polls has pissed off Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki.

BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S. and Iraqi forces on Wednesday raided Sadr City, the stronghold of the feared Shiite militia led by radical anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, but Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki disavowed the operation, saying he had not been consulted and insisting "that it will not be repeated."

The defiant al-Maliki also slammed the top U.S. military and diplomatic representatives in Iraq for saying Iraq needed to set a timetable to curb violence ravaging the country.

"I affirm that this government represents the will of the people and no one has the right to impose a timetable on it," al-Maliki said at a news conference.

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said Tuesday that al-Maliki had agreed to the plan, announced at a rare joint appearance with Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, who said he would not hesitate to ask for more troops if he felt they were necessary.

When it comes time to lie to the American public the Republicans conveniently forget that there is now a democracy in Iraq. Since the Iraq war has been a politically-motivated sham from day one that shouldn't be a surprise.

So are the Republicans are lying about a timetable in Iraq this as well... spreading propaganda that they are moving forward to wind things down in Iraq, when in fact it's just another set of lies to try to win votes. They'll quickly flip-flop back - moving away from the plan for a timetable -- right after the election.

It's time to vote these lying Republicans out of office. It's time for a change.

11/10/05Washington, ... (Below threshold)
BarneyG2000:

11/10/05
Washington, D.C. -- This afternoon, Senator John Kerry introduced in the Senate his plan to succeed in Iraq and bring the vast majority of our combat troops home in a reasonable timeframe tied to specific, responsible benchmarks to transfer responsibility to Iraqis.

10/23/06
Benchmarks have been part of the U.S. policy in Iraq for months, Dan Bartlett, a top aide to President Bush, told The Associated Press.

Now the President agrees with Kerry's plan? Don't righties feel all slimy after you argue on the behalf of this jerk?

Been out of town and have a... (Below threshold)
epador:

Been out of town and have a lot of catching up at work, so this is even shorter than usual.

What Jay said.

Not what Lee said.

I didn't think it possible,... (Below threshold)

I didn't think it possible, but Lee shows himself even denser than possible. He's passed lead, and approaching uranium levels.

He skipped right to the part that he thinks supports his point, and carefully omitted the disclaimer that comes right before it:

I don't have any kind of inside information, but I'd be willing to bet that their efforts are unsustainable. I don't believe they have the manpower, the resources, the munitions to keep up these attacks for very long.

Yeah, real pronouncement of omniscience there, Lee.

Tell me -- are you really that stupid, Lee, or do you just get your rocks off making shit up?

J.

I don't have any kind of... (Below threshold)
astigafa:

I don't have any kind of inside information, but I'd be willing to bet that their efforts are unsustainable. I don't believe they have the manpower, the resources, the munitions to keep up these attacks for very long.

The entire radical Muslim-kook universe is into this thing -- most Muslims in your book, right? -- so as long as Iraq's borders are not secure, teenage terrorists from all over will wander into Iraq and find something to blow up.

Take a look at a map: is that not a very long border with Iran, land of Islamic terroristic opportunists? Iran? Syria? Saudi Arabia? Would you rate the Iraqi border more or less secure than our border with Mexico?


Ok, jut to clarify, Democra... (Below threshold)
Chip:

Ok, jut to clarify, Democrats timetable was bring troops home in 18 Months to a year or less(Now being the preferred timetable)
Now the Democrats are claiming Republicans are going by that same timetable?
So far I've heard the timetable for Iraqi's to take over security. Am I mistaken? I haven't heard any one on the right (Gen. Casey Included) say they were going to bring troops home in 12 to 18 months yet? Have I?

The dim's are prepared for ... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

The dim's are prepared for their normal fall back position in any war or minor battle. It doesn't matter if five million + are slaughtered, "cut and run". They've been practicing their 'cut and run' since it worked so well in Vietnam, and again in Iran in 1979, and the Americans didn't mind watching the Marines being dragged through the streets when the dim's put them in harms way again, and then 'cut and ran'. Only 3 to 5 million have been slaughtered and not a one of them was a democ'rat voter.

Lee, to use words you have ... (Below threshold)
SShiell:

Lee, to use words you have bandied about time and again on this blog - You are PATHETIC!

Just a minor quibble Jay, o... (Below threshold)
yetanotherjohn:

Just a minor quibble Jay, one of the objectives was certainly to remove the threat of the Saddam regime, both to the US and to its neighbors. I think the other objective was to provide an alternative to the nihlistic terrorism ideas in the region. This would provide a long term benefit of helping to lance the islamofadcist boil on the middle east and move us closer to an end to the war on terrorism.

The strategies involved establishing a new, freer government. Making sure it wasn't a future threat is part of keeping unintended consequences from becoming a bigger problem and part of the objective of providing an alternative to the islamofascist option.

A good example of objective, strategy and tactics is the following.

Objective: Stop the communist plans for world domination

Strategy: Contain the communist and let the system collapse on the weight of its own inefficiencies

Tactic: Send in the Marines to Korea to keep South Korea from falling to a communist invasion.

Now within the tactic of sending the Marines into Korea you would get another set of objectives, strategies and tactics and so on until you have a 2nd lieutenant setting an objective of getting rid of that machine gun nest, a seargent setting up a strategy of flanking it and a private moving to the right to get close enough to toss a grenade. Likewise, Iraq is a subset objective of the greater objective of the war on terror. The objective of the war on terror is to make the US safe from terrorist attack. Our going into Iraq was part of the strategy of achieving that objective.

They'll quickly flip-flo... (Below threshold)

They'll quickly flip-flop back

Can someone please point me in the direction of a article that says the Republicans are pulling out of Iraq? Something that is not on YouTube, or other video stream (can't view it).

Thanks.

Ever notice how old "pucker... (Below threshold)
jhow66:

Ever notice how old "pucker puss" (lee lee) is lurking so he can pounce on a thread? What so hilarious is that what he says never makes any sence and is 500 lines long. (plus his links -don't forget his links-lol). (mun-go (linkman) is going to get mad at him for using up all the links).

To determine what to correc... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

To determine what to correct, you go through the chain in reverse (tactics, strategy, objective). If your current tactics aren't working, you change tactics. If you're convinced that there aren't a set of workable tactics, you change strategy. If you're conviced that there isn't a workable strategy, you lastly change objectives.

The Democrats have gone from 'there's a problem with the current tactics' directly to 'the objective needs to change'... which is basically their mantra - "why work for success when you can have failure now?".

Jay Tea,Very astute ... (Below threshold)

Jay Tea,
Very astute observation.

I like your voting strategy too. ;)

Great article. And let me s... (Below threshold)

Great article. And let me state that anyone who wants us to WIN this war and doesn't vote for their Republican congressman is very stupid. If you vote for the libertarian, this only hurts the strength of the GOP! If everyone did that then the libs win. Vote for the Republican until we win the war. Then go and waste your vote in a protest once it no longer matters.

Good post, despite the ankl... (Below threshold)
IllTemperedCur:

Good post, despite the ankle-biting trolls. However, I'd respectfully disagree with one point. There's really only one way to win a war; destroy the enemy's will to fight. Killing his armies and destroying his military/industrial infrastructure are just methods to that end. In WW2, both Germany & Japan still had the means to fight, heavily degraded means, but means nonetheless. The threshold of will is different in different countries/cultures, hence some countries quit fighting when they see that they might be able to win, but only through sacrifices that they are not willing to make. Other nations are so willful that they NEVER quit fighting, down to the last man. And of course, there's all the shades in between.

Shocking - Jay Tea votes to... (Below threshold)
jp2:

Shocking - Jay Tea votes to endorse arguably the single biggest foreign policy disaster in the history of this country. I wonder what day he'll feel guilty about it.

...arguably the single b... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

...arguably the single biggest foreign policy disaster in the history of the country...

No, that'll happen if Democrats win on Nov. 7.

> Then, in Viet Nam, a thir... (Below threshold)
Arthur:

> Then, in Viet Nam, a third way of winning arose: destroy your enemy's will to fight.

That's not exactly new. When Sun Tzu wrote about that in "Art of War" he was describing old stuff.

I am surprised that it took... (Below threshold)

I am surprised that it took this long for someone to mention Sun Tzu. Winning without bloodshed is the ultimate goal of the correct practice of the Art of War.

Now, we needs must turn the discussion to destroying the will of fanatics who believe that martyrdom brings heavenly rewards. And will commit suicide attacks against any target, strategically/tactically important or not.

The bad news is that our enemy, the fanatics if Islam, are winning the media war, and the MSM is aiding and abetting them every day.

I don't have any kind of... (Below threshold)
TD Larkin:

I don't have any kind of inside information, but I'd be willing to bet that their efforts are unsustainable. I don't believe they have the manpower, the resources, the munitions to keep up these attacks for very long.

Guess again Jay. For one thing, we see many reports now that some of the reconstruction money that we have poured into Iraq has been diverted to the insurgency or militias by corrupt Iraqi officials. They also have the nearly limitless wealth of oil-rich Saudis who support the insurgency to draw upon.

For another thing, what you need to realize is that there is an inexhaustible supply of young Arab men willing to go to Iraq to martyr themselves. And the Arabs are reproducing at an alarming rate so they can easily replace their losses.

Many of you speak about "the enemy" in Iraq as if there is just one. In fact, there are over 100 warring militias, insurgent and terrorist groups. Just today we staged a raid into Sadr City that was designed to nab a Shiite militia leader and also to look for our kidnapped soldier. Maliki heavily criticized us for this and said it wouldn't happen again.

So, how exactly are we going to win this war when Maliki is undercutting us?

Bush's biggest nightmare is the dawning realization that the war in Iraq rests not in his hands but in the hands of Maliki. And Maliki also categorically rejected the timetables that Bush announced in his news conference today.

Haven't we all had enough of the Iraqis yet? They are unworthy of the sacrifice of any more of our heroes in arms.

We need to put an end to this. Vote Libertarian on Nov. 7.

219 members of the US milit... (Below threshold)
civil behavior:

219 members of the US military, 98 of them ACTIVE duty are calling for the withdrawl of America from Iraq.

Who knows and lives the death and destruction daily other than those who are on the killing fields?

Would one of you Bush supporters stand in support of these soldiers who are risking their rank and commissions by speaking out against the "strategy" of this current deceitful administration.

I would bet no. You would find a way to swiftboat these kids just like you have the generals, and the CIA analysts, and the former WH officials who have stood up and voiced their disgust and dismay with Bush and his lackeys.

This is not a few disgruntled individuals and using the Appeal for Redress to contact their elected representatives outside of the military structure shows a concerted effort to put a stop to the lies and deceit perpetrated by this administration. So do you REALLY "support the troops?

And for those who are going to say there are only 219 total one can easily assume there are many others who are simply afraid to come forward. It takes alot more courage to stand up to your own government when they are wrong particularly when you have watched liberties being stripped and been a part of the process.

I commend the comments of y... (Below threshold)

I commend the comments of yetanotherjohn and _Mike_ above.

I would only quarrel with the mention of voting Libertarian. This is clearly a waste of time and effort, and might as well be cast for the Democrat. Seriously - a ballot cast for the LP ranks somewhere below toilet paper, since TP at least has some use.

Of what conceivable benefit is voting Libertarian? Is it a "protest" vote? Those morons have been protesting for over 30 years. In national elections, they have only cracked the 1% barrier once, with Ed Clark, their third candidate, in 1980. They've never come in over 0.5% since. That's HALF of 1%. Pretty effective protesting there, eh?

In perspective, the margin of error of most national opinion polls is 3.5%. If you can only marshal ONE-SEVENTH of the freakin' MOE, you aren't exactly being heard, are you?

OR, is voting LP supposed to "send a message?" What message are you sending? That you can safely be ignored? That you are a fringe ideologue whose narrow vision of virtue can never be satisfied in a representative democratic republic?

Don't get me started on the Libertarians. I generally shred them up once every two years, just to alert sensible voters of the dangers of voting LP. I feel a post coming on . . . it'll be up over at Wizbang! Politics in a few days . . .

~~~~~~~~~~~~~


civil behavior ~ well, 98 men violating their oaths, out of over 1.5 million under arms, is an unavoidable percentage, I'm afraid, so long as we are limited to human beings. It's not bad, really, compared to the 90% or so of Democrats who are gutless appeasing cowards, when you think about it.

TD Larkin, you said:<... (Below threshold)

TD Larkin, you said:

For one thing, we see many reports now that some of the reconstruction money that we have poured into Iraq has been diverted to the insurgency or militias by corrupt Iraqi officials.

Show me to these reports. I'd like to see them.

the Arabs are reproducing at an alarming rate so they can easily replace their losses.

Two things here, first, once again, show me the reports. Second, are you kidding? They're popping out babies now so they can have more fighters in twenty years? C'mon, now you're starting to sound like Lee.

Many of you speak about "the enemy" in Iraq as if there is just one. In fact, there are over 100 warring militias, insurgent and terrorist groups

That puts them all under the umbrella of "enemy". The enemy is any and all who are trying to kill us. It doesn't matter who they are, they are the enemy, which is why we refer to them as such.

The Democrats are trying... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

The Democrats are trying desperately to make the war the main issue in the elections, but we simply never have national elections and national referendums Jay leads off. I seem to recall that Bush and the Republicans did a pretty effective job in making the war on terror and then the war in Iraq the main issue in the last 2 elections of 2002 and 2004.. Why change it now? If Bush wants consistently to be called 'the war president" he should be judged on the war record..Admittedly he is in a very uncomfortable and difficult position, which is probably why he used the word "believe" 21 times in the course of his one hour-long news conference yesterday.."I believe that the military strategy we have is going to work, that's what I believe,". .. 'a policy of hope to hope'...

Reward incompetence.<... (Below threshold)
Robert:

Reward incompetence.

Vote Republican!!




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