Friday, December 22, 2006

Military Force Paradox in Iraq

President Bush and senior defense officials have repeatedly declared that the US is at a global war on terror (or GWOT), which will be a long one.

The question, however, with which resources this long war can be pursued – with more manpower, more technology or both? But how long?

Can this kind of asymmetric nonconventional and nonlinear wars (as we witness in Iraq and Afghanistan) be won even with both technology and manpower superiority? There is no clear answer to that. Soviet Russia didn’t win in Afghanistan, America didn’t win in Vietnam, Israel didn’t win in Lebanon and “allied” forces are not winning in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The current situation is often phrased as “not winning and also not loosing.” Meanwhile, grave and deteriorating situation in Iraq, in which violence is increasing in scope, number and lethality, is likely to continue. Until now, 2900 US soldiers were lost, 21,000 have been wounded, $400 billion are spent. Also, the loss of Iraq, for example, is immense.

Withdraw or not? If withdraw how fast? Support for a partitioned Iraq or stay and support for a unified Iraq?

Ask for help from regional powers (read Syria and Iran)? But Kurds strongly opposes that. Ask help of the UN, NATO and close allies? They are already doing their part.

Then substantially increase the military presence or increase size of armed forces in Iraq.

But with which resources and how much? With US Army and Marines of course. Numbers talked varies between 10 to 40 thousand. There are currently about 134,000 US troops in Iraq.

In "The U.S. Military's Manpower Crisis" (July/August 2006 issue of Foreign Affairs), Frederick Kagan argues that manpower remains the principal determinant of a state's military power and is essential to success in almost any imaginable future conflict. Hence, “the international situation today requires larger U.S. armed forces than the currently proposed defense budgets can pay for.”

Already $70 billion approved for FY2007 as additional fun for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now administration is drafting an additional $100 billion which would bring the total to $170 billion.

Since September 11 the US Congress has approved more than $500 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as GWOT. Now this figure will rise to $600 billion, more than money spent in Vietnam War. The current war has also lasted more than Vietnam War.

On 14 December 2006 this issue became a hot subject. Senator John McCain said after talks in Baghdad with General G.W. Casey Jr. that the American military commanders were discussing the possibility of adding a maximum of about 35,000 troops to bring the situation in Iraq under control. Meanwhile, General P.J. Schoomaker, the Army’s chief of staff, called for expanding the force by 7,000 or more soldiers a year (which will cost close $1 billion a year)[1] and lifting Pentagon restrictions on involuntary call-ups of Army National Guard and reserve troops.

Will that be the answer? No.

When will the Iraqis begin to take care of their own security? Well, maybe the new US troops will train them more?

Give them more logistics instead? But they resell them…

What happened to billions of dollars spent for reconstruction, and training of Iraqi forces? Well, don’t ask.

Can better intelligence and technological advancement substitute for a bigger military presence? Apparently not…

How long more Arab and Muslim countries will play three moneys? Until their oil revenues get lower?

Was Pope Jean Paul II given a mission to help in denouncing communism? Will Pope Benedict be able to achieve his given mission for creating a dialogue between religions by increasing the awareness for the need of a moderate Islam? Or he really intends to destroy secularism?

The list including countless conspiracies can be very long. What is clear is that more manpower with brains is needed – politicians as well as commanders.

Unless the ones who unilaterally decided to create this mess talk to their opponents about how to bring an order, this war will never ever be won. Reports with full of wishes, written by some “experts” in comfortable places accompanied by cool drinks and nice meals without involving the ones from other side have only one destination to go – to garbage bin. The World Bank and IMF have been doing similar things for many decades now, resulting nothing but disappointments.

I am carried away from the subject of this post which was manpower.

A few years ago I had thought that the war in Iraq was aimed at breaking it into three parts and everything was planned for that. But now I am convinced that the Bush administration is so myopic that it could not able to plan even half a step further.

Too bad that arrogance and selfishness of some cost so many innocent lives. Forget about the money, it is not important. Just print more, which is what the US has been doing anyway. But there are times money cannot buy everything, but still can help.

If we leave the political solution seeking aside (which has not been looked for from the beginning anyway), the US has only a few radical extreme military options – kill as many and destroy as much as possible by using stronger weapons (maybe carpet bombing by mistake. Sooner or later the end result will make heyday for the military-industrial complex); hire more contractors or death squads and let them do the job; let Iraqis kill each other; you can always blame on a sectarian or ethnic group for the killings; send a cavalry division to Iraq instead of armored vehicles (think of the high damage due to the road bombs. A cavalryman will have much less probability of blown off and will have high mobility).

Of these I am sure contractors are already and will become the key. As Lit. Colonel Blizzard mentions[2] they already perform “roles formerly performed exclusively by military members in areas “physically and functionally closer to the battlespace than ever before.”

As Clausewitz argued without a political end, war becomes pointless. The size and power of the required force can be decided if that desired political end is known by the US administration.

[1] Another often used round estimate indicates that every additional 10,000 soldiers would cost about$ 1.2 billion a year.

Tags: Military Force, Iraq


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