Friday, June 6, 2003

Infantry combat changes little in Gulf War II

Donald Sensing has some really good analysis of the trends in infantry combat over the last several decades, and how the recent war with Iraq was fought by the grunts on the ground. Contrary to popular wisdom, American infantry have not seen a fundamental shift in the application of their art, except for the ways they're able to rely on technologically advanced airpower and artillery. At the tip of the spear, where the rubber sole meets the sand, little has changed since WWI:
During the recent Iraq campaign, US Marine riflemen were interviewed about their experiences by after-action interviewers.

Almost all interviewed stated all firefight engagements conducted with small arms (5.56mm guns) occurred in the twenty to thirty (20-30) meter range. Shots over 100m were rare. The maximum range was less than 300m. Of those interviewed, most sniper shots were taken at distances well under 300m, only one greater than 300m (608m during the day). After talking to the leadership from various sniper platoons and individuals, there was not enough confidence in the optical gear (Simrad or AN/PVS-10) to take a night shot under the given conditions at ranges over 300m. Most Marines agreed they would "push" a max range of 200m only.

Believe it or not, those ranges were almost exactly the same as in World War I, according to General of the Army Omar Bradley, reported in his autobiography, A General's Life. As commanding general of the 82d Infantry Division early in World War II, Bradley invited Medal of Honor recipient Alvin York to visit his troops. (The 82d was not yet an airborne division at that point.) York was a legendary Tennessee marksman who had earned the only Medal of Honor awarded to an 82d Division soldier in the Great War. Bradley hosted York in his own quarters.

I queried him closely on his experiences in France. One important fact emerged from these talks: most of his effective shooting had been done at a very short range - twenty-five to fifty yards.
More... Mr. Sensing also refines his thoughts, after some e-mails that he had ignored the influence of "rules of engagement" on American infantry in Iraq. I've written on ROE in the past, and I agree with his analysis here. The fact that our troops had restrictive ROE reinforced the fact that they fought at close range, since they were forced to positively identify targets before engaging them.
...infantry couldn't do recon by fire in Iraq, at least very much, because the potential for civilian deaths was too great. So Iraqi defenders retained the initiative of when to begin the firefight. As far as I can tell from my readings, firefights began at close range. That meant that half the advantage of machine guns, their longer accurate range, was usually obviated.

Still, though, I find it pretty interesting that whether the rules of engagement were restrictive or permissive, the typical engagement ranges for rifle fire in combat have remained virtually unchanged since World War I.

Thursday, June 5, 2003

U.S. officially announces troop realignment in Korea

The Washington Post and others report tonight that American officials have officially announced their decision to radically alter the United States military footprint in South Korea. Currently, the American 2nd Infantry Division sits astride and below the border with North Korea, in a position that's quite vulnerable to a North Korean first strike. American forces are also dispersed among several small camps, in an extremely inefficient arrangement. This redeployment would move America's main combat force in Korea to two, consolidated "hub bases" south of Seoul from where they could mount a response to any North Korean aggression.
A joint statement by U.S. and South Korean officials said American troops will be pulled back to positions at least 75 miles from the DMZ, and will abandon a large base they occupy in downtown Seoul. The move from the DMZ will free about 18,000 U.S. troops to be more mobile, and they will be replaced by soldiers in a modernized South Korean army, officials said.

No precise schedule has been announced for the change, although U.S. officials have said the new deployment may begin this year. The South Korean government is seeking a delay until current tensions over North Korea's nuclear program are eased.

Officials said the move would not immediately reduce the 37,000 U.S. troops posted in South Korea.

The statement said the redeployment would "enhance security" and would be done "taking careful account of the political, economic and security situation on the peninsula and in Northeast Asia."
* * *
The two-mile wide, 155-mile-long DMZ has become a de facto border between North Korea and South Korea, which never signed a peace treaty and still are technically at war. The DMZ often is called the most heavily guarded border in the world. During a 1993 visit, then-President Bill Clinton referred to it as "a stark line between safety and danger."

U.S. and South Korean troops face North Koreans just feet from each other at the Joint Security Area on the DMZ, where periodic negotiations are held. The hostility there is palpable. Two U.S. soldiers were killed there in a fight with North Koreans in 1976.

But the bulk of patrols along the DMZ already are conducted by South Korean troops, part of a well-equipped, well-regarded 650,000-member military force. U.S. troops will continue to train with them at positions near the border, today's statement said.

In fact, deterrence along the border long has relied on the U.S. ability to call in overwhelming air attacks and firepower -- and ultimately on a nuclear threat. U.S. troops have been called a "tripwire" -- a force whose sacrifice in case of an invasion by the million-man North Korean army would guarantee U.S. retaliation.
Analysis: As The Post says, this was not a surprise. Leaks made their way into the Los Angeles Times earlier this week about this move, and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz presumably made his trip to Korea this week to confirm the details of the new arrangement. Also, the Bush Administration appears to be pursuing a policy of coercive engagement with Korea, and this move signals a de-escalation of military tensions on the peninsula which have persisted since the North Korean announcement that they had nuclear materials (and possibly nuclear weapons).

This move has larger implications for the rest of America's forces in the Pacific, and the world. First, it seems likely that we will pull other forces in Korea back from the war footing they sit on today. This makes sense tactically, because we're hopelessly exposed to North Korean attacks in these positions. It also makes sense strategically. In theory, a redeployed and consolidated 2nd Infantry Division could deploy its forces elsewhere in the Pacific theater when necessary, without remaining tied down in Korea. If unrest broke out in Indonesia, or we needed more combat troops in the Philippines, the 2ID soldiers could deploy from Korea to those locations.

Today's news may also represent a paradigm shift in the way the Army mans its Korea garrison. Currently, the Army uses an "individual replacement system" to send soldiers to and from Korea for 1-year unaccompanied "hardship" tours. This is a horrendously inefficient system that creates real problems for unit discipline, morale and cohesion -- to say nothing about soldiers' domestic relations. A number of forward-thinking officers have proposed adopting a unit-based manning model for the Army, and possibly a unit-rotation model for Korea like that used today for Bosnia and Kosovo. Moving America's forces to these new bases might support that plan if the new bases are designed as temporary way stations, rather than permanent garrisons like Camp Casey north of Seoul. More to follow...

More on Korea... At least one reader disagrees with my assessment that this move represents a signal of de-escalation to North Korea. Instead, this represents a consolidation and reorganization of American forces in preparation for imminent hostilities with the north. That's certainly one way to look at it, and a plausible one as well. American forces will certainly be made more efficient by this move. If greater efficiency frees up more resources (time, money, maintenance dollars, etc) for combat training, then American forces will also become more lethal and combat-ready. (This assumes that the Pentagon does not rob Korea to pay for Iraq.) In theory, American forces could also coil south of Seoul for an attack on the north, with the ability to assemble into combat formations outside the range of North Korean artillery.

However, I disagree with this net assessment. American and South Korean forces live on a hair trigger right now. One incident could escalate rapidly because of these forces' proximity to each other. I think that proximity has a deterrent effect, since U.S. casualties would probably have the effect of bringing us into a massive war that the North has already lost once. But the proximity is also dangerous. Having that many young soldiers, weapons and ammunition in such close proximity is a dangerous way to keep the peace. Pulling our soldiers back to a position south of Seoul may be a way to reduce the chances of something occurring there. At least, that's my gut feeling from my time there in the 2nd Infantry Division.

More on Korea II... What's the most likely scenario though for North Korea? I don't think it's for a North Korean invasion of South Korea, circa 1950. I think the most likely scenario is that North Korea collapses, sparking one of the largest humanitarian crises in history. If you think Iraq and Afghanistan were hard to rebuild, wait until you see North Korea. This is a country that, when night comes and satellites fly over the region, appears almost entirely dark from a lack of electricity. South Korea has even started to build hospitals and infrastructure near the DMZ in order to bear the brunt of the rebuilding effort, although I don't think it's enough. Given the problems we're having in Iraq right now with nation-building, I hope someone's thought long & hard in the Pentagon about how we'd do it in Korea -- especially if we had to do the two missions at the same time.
Pentagon briefing on al-Tuwaitha nuclear facility

Say what you will about the Pentagon's press office, they're pretty good about posting full transcripts of major briefings given to press inside the building. Today's briefing concerned the IAEA visit to the al-Tuwaitha nuclear facility, which was famously ransacked in the days following America's victory in Iraq. Speaking on background, three senior defense officials had a few interesting things to say. Here's a sampling:
Q: One of the concerns that has been expressed here is that radiological material may have been stolen from the site, dispersed in a way that could wind up in the hands of terrorists or other people. Is there any evidence that you have that that may have happened? Is that a possibility?

Senior Defense Official: General, on the factual question, are you able to answer the question whether we can at this point tell if any material has, in fact, been removed from the site?

Senior Military Official: We have no evidence here that any of the material has been moved from the site. We saw -- we found a small quantity of yellow cake outside the building, on the ground, but we recovered that and put it back under safe conditions. And so we have no evidence that anything has been stolen at this point.

Senior Defense Official: So in answer to the questioning, part of the reason for wanting to get through the survey and go through the inventories and so forth is to find out what we may have started with and where we are now. I am fearful, however -- if you recall, the general said that there's more stuff inside the place than they expected to find. An interesting question will be, is there more stuff there than the IAEA would have expected to find; and if there is, what does it mean? And that's all part of what we're going to have to go through here over the next period of time. Pam?
* * *
Q: Richard Sisk, New York Daily News. The yellow cake -- what is it? Why is it a matter of concern? And what do you now do with it?

Senior Military Official: Well, I'm not a scientist, but I'll tell you my definition of it. "Yellow cake" is a common term that's used in the industry for one of the refined products of uranium ore, as it goes through the refining process. And this is what's left at one of the lower levels of refinement. It's about the consistency of yellow cornmeal, more or less. It is a heavy metal, but it looks like -- something like -- yellow cornmeal. And a 55-gallon drum of it would weigh about 500 pounds, is what I'm told.
* * *
Q: This is Will Dunham with Reuters. You can't rule out the possibility that radiological material, and potentially in large amounts, has been stolen from the site, can you?

And also, what is the concern about the IAEA having a robust role inside Iraq to help the search and to lend expertise? I mean, they are experts in this area.

Senior Defense Official: I can't, I think, at this moment say anything more than I have already said to you, which is we came on the site on the 7th, found it in the condition that it's in and have taken the measures that we've taken to secure it as we found it. Part of what's going to take place here is the IAEA will do its survey, they will match it over against their 2002 review results, and we'll get an answer to your question at that point. I can't rule in -- out. I can only tell you what I told you: We found it in the condition on the 7th, we've secured it, they'll come in and they'll do the inventory and we'll get an answer to your question. I think that's the way -- the thing to wait for. It would be a mistake, in my opinion, to speculate on this subject until we get more facts. And that's where we're headed.
Analysis: Some of this seems to contradict the MSNBC reports from a few weeks ago, which indicated that American forces had arrived at al-Tuwaitha and abandoned it soon thereafter. Those reports also indicated that the facility looked as if it had been looted when American forces returned. Of course, the worst possible scenario is that terrorists or Saddam loyalists absconded with nuclear materials after the regime fell, and that they used the ensuing chaos to mask their heist. I think the IAEA visit will help assess whether that happened or not, but it's still too early to tell.
Rumsfeld runs into Congressional opposition

Esther Schrader reports in today's Los Angeles Times that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's plan to transform Pentagon personnel systems has run into staunch opposition on both sides of the aisle in Congress. In a Senate Governmental Affairs Committee meeting yesterday, senators such as Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Carl Levin (D-Mich) grilled the SecDef on the issue, asking him why he should be granted such sweeping powers over hiring, firing and other employment decisions for the largest employer in America.
Lawmakers said Rumsfeld's plan, which would affect more than a quarter of the entire federal civilian workforce, would amount to a damaging shift of power to the executive branch. Senators said they are crafting an alternative aimed at preserving worker rights.

"I've got to ask you, what's the rush?" Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, asked Rumsfeld at the hearing. "These are sweeping changes."

Ohio Republican Sen. George Voinovich said bluntly: "Some of the provisions in the current proposal go too far."

Carl Levin of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, joined with Governmental Affairs Chairwoman Susan Collins (R-Maine) in introducing an alternative proposal this week that Collins said attempts "to strike the right balance between promoting a flexible system and protecting employee rights." For example, it would offer stronger provisions for collective bargaining and appealing disciplinary actions.

"The Defense Department proposal would give the secretary of Defense extraordinarily broad license to hire and fire employees and to set employee compensation virtually without legislated restrictions or constraints," Levin said. "This would not only be the greatest shift of power to the executive branch in memory, it would also put us at risk of a return to some of the abuses of the past."

Rumsfeld said, as he has repeatedly in the past, that the plan would help him move civilians into thousands of desk jobs now handled by uniformed military personnel, freeing resources for the armed services to respond more quickly to threats around the world, and lessening the growing burden on National Guard and Reserve units to handle support jobs.
Analysis: The Pentagon's personnel systems for military and civilian employees are indeed quite Byzantine. I remember trying to chapter soldiers out of my unit at Fort Hood; doing so seemed to take an act of God. (I have heard that discharging a civilian employee is even harder.) Some change is needed, both to streamline the system and make it more responsive to the needs of America.

However, I'm not sure that Rumsfeld's proposal is the right prescription for the patient. First, it's far too broad. Though he likens this proposal to the powers vested in the new Homeland Security Department, I disagree. I reviewed that bill for my class on Law & Terrorism, and I think the proposed DoD powers are substantially more broad. The final version of the Homeland Security Act did not contain the broad sweeping powers sought by the SecDef. Indeed, Sen. Lieberman and others stalled the bill during the Summer of 2002 on precisely this issue, holding up the bill until Nov. 2002 when a compromise could be worked out.

Second, I don't think these are the most essential reforms. America's military is trying to transform, but it's focusing right now on the hardware -- not the people. Transforming the Pentagon's personnel system is not the most important thing we have to do. We must first focus on the people on the front-lines -- those junior officers, sergeants and soldiers -- who actually look the enemy in the eye. The Army is starting to move towards this goal by adopting a unit-based system of manning, instead of its current individual-replacement system. Don Vandergriff and others (like former-SecArmy Tom White and retiring Gen. Eric Shinseki) are pushing this hard, but it's taking a long time to make this happen.

Bottom Line: Secretary Rumseld has a finite amount of political capital to spend right now, in the wake of our success in Iraq. That capital ought to be invested in the causes most worthy. In my opinion, transforming the personnel system at the top is less important than building personnel systems that set our platoons, companies and battalions up for success.
One of the toughest jobs in the world

Today's Wall Street Journal has an interesting front-page story (subscription required) on the challenges facing ORHA, the American agency led by L. Paul Bremer III which has the mission of rebuilding Iraq. The article paints a picture of an understaffed, underequipped, and undercapitalized agency trying desperately to impose order on a nation the size of California.
Few government agencies have ever tackled a task so daunting: rebuilding a foreign country ravaged by a brutal dictator and a war. Now, after some poor prewar planning and early stumbles, ORHA (pronounced ore-hah) is beginning to grapple with everything from security to traffic jams in Baghdad.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, formerly the top American civil administrator in Iraq and head of ORHA, says his first surprise came when the agency found that the humanitarian needs it had focused on in planning before the war were quickly superseded by other demands.

"I thought the first 30 days were going to be all food, water and medicines. But the war went so fast, we started with reconstruction, and reconstruction is not an instant thing," says the 65-year-old Gen. Garner, who was replaced in early May when L. Paul Bremer was named administrator of the Office of the Coalition Provisional Authority, which sits organizationally above ORHA.

Much of Baghdad doesn't have normal electricity levels, enough clean drinking water or regular garbage collection. Thugs roam the streets at night, while dozens of police stations and courts remain shuttered. A more-dangerous security situation than expected has forced ORHA staffers to limit their movements around the city and has kept them largely removed from the capital's day-to-day problems.
* * *
There are signs that ORHA is making progress. U.S. officials expect Baghdad's electricity to be back to prewar levels and the worst of a crippling gasoline shortage to be over by mid-June. Baghdad now has 1,300 megawatts of electricity, compared with just 800 two weeks ago. Prewar levels in Baghdad ranged from about 1,600 to 2,000. Gasoline prices have already dropped sharply, indicating that the fuel crunch is easing. Army trucks haul off 20 loads a day of weapons ranging from mortars to missiles that still litter the capital's streets from the war.

ORHA had only two months to prepare for the aftermath of the war. Referring to the European Recovery Program after World War II named for then-Secretary of State George C. Marshall, Gen. Garner said, "You know, Marshall had two years to plan for Germany. ... I got two months."

The challenges for ORHA were all the greater because the U.S. military did an effective job of wiping out essential facilities, including telephone and media facilities as well as key government ministries and parts of the power grid. On the other hand, a shortage of military police, who are charged with maintaining order, meant that U.S. forces did a poor job of controlling postwar looting, which is largely responsible for the fact that only seven of the government's 23 ministerial buildings in Baghdad are usable. The first prison that recently reopened since the war had no desk for the warden.
Some thoughts... It appears from all accounts that ORHA is putting 110% of its effort into the job. I have no doubt that Bremer's staff is putting in 18-20 hour days and working as hard as humanly possible. However, the problems may be such that even such heroic efforts can't get the job done. If it's true that ORHA is underresourced, no amount of staff or command work can make up that shortfall. Without sufficient troops for security, money for contracts, contractors for projects, or other key resources, ORHA cannot meet the mission's requirements.

Going it alone is not the answer. America has no monopoly on nation-building or reconstruction experience. Our NATO allies, the United Nations, and various NGOs are extremely good at this too. One reason that the UN, civilian contractors, and NGOs have been reticent to deploy to Iraq thus far is the security situation there. It may pay dividends for the U.S. to focus singularly on securing the nation of Iraq, so that others may come in to do the soft work of nation-building. This would play to our military strength, and it would also set the conditions for the influx of 3rd party nations. We need to get these neutral parties into Iraq as fast as possible, largely for political reasons. The Iraqis need to see that we're a benevolent occupier, and that we have the support of the world. Sure, Halliburton and Bechtel can deliver medical services. But it would probably make the Iraqis feel less threatened if they got medical care from Medicins San Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders).

Tuesday, June 3, 2003

Weblogs worth your time

I've been derelict in adding new blogs to my link list on the left, and also in plugging other blogs. I'd like to remedy that now by sending my readers to some excellent weblogs I've discovered over the last couple of months, either by chance or e-mail.

- ChicagoBoyz. The pictures of famous U.Chicago professors on the top of the page gives away the ideological and intellectual character of this page immediately. I've found the page to have lots of great ideas on topics ranging from foreign policy to economics. Not surprisingly, those are some of the things U.Chicago minds are known for.

- Brad DeLong. He's an economics professor at UC Berkeley. As you'd expect from an economist, he's got one of the more rational minds out there on a lot of issues. More importantly, though, for an academic economist he writes with great clarity on a wide range of issues.

- Samizdata. An interesting weblog on "globalization and economics." The posts offer more than that though; worth a look.

- Archidamus. Run by a graduate student in history at U.Va., this blog focuses on military history and the Los Angeles Dodgers, among other things. I've been startled by the depth and thought in some of Wayne's posts -- he provides a perspective that you won't find elsewhere on a lot of stuff.
Wolfowitz tries to reassure South Korean on U.S. redeployments

Today's Los Angeles Times reports that Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz is trying his best to reassure the South Koreans that America will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them in defense of their nation from the North Korean hordes. His efforts come in response to reports in the Los Angeles Times and other papers that America was considering a major redeployment of forces in the Pacific theater -- possibly involving the movement of ground troops out of Korea, or at least down from the DMZ. American soldiers have remained in Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953, and their presence has often been likened to a "tripwire" that would bring the U.S. into any second Korean conflict.
President Bush dispatched Wolfowitz on a five-day tour of Asia in part to keep a promise to President Roh Moo Hyun to explain to skeptical South Koreans the U.S. military's plans for a global realignment of forces.

In South Korea, U.S. forces are frozen in Cold War-era positions that the Pentagon says don't take advantage of the American technological revolution in warfare and make it harder to address new security threats.

But some South Koreans fear the proposed changes on the peninsula would leave them more vulnerable to North Korean attack. Others think the changes would make it easier for U.S. forces to launch a direct preemptive attack on Pyongyang, the North's capital — perhaps without consulting Seoul.

The Pentagon says it wants to pull its troops out of the Yongsan base in central Seoul, a move that had been agreed to 12 years ago but was never implemented. It would also like to move the 14,000 troops of the 2nd Infantry Division, now scattered in heavily populated areas between the South Korean capital and the Demilitarized Zone, to two new hubs south of the Han River, which runs through Seoul.

The idea is to consolidate air power in a hub of bases in the Osan-Pyongtaek area to the west, and create a sea hub in the east coast area of Chinhae-Taegu, a defense official said Monday.

Paradoxically, U.S. officials say, pulling U.S. forces away from the front lines would make them a more effective deterrent to North Korea. In their current bases along the DMZ, 2nd Infantry troops are in easy range of North Korean artillery. To fight an invasion from the Communist North, they would have to retreat under fire south to Seoul and regroup before moving north.

"Our present posture sacrifices a good deal of military capability for the symbolism of having some American soldiers up on the DMZ," a defense official said Monday. "That means that if North Korea were to attack, we would spend a lot of the first period of time reorganizing and regrouping in order to start hitting back."

If redeployed around the two southern hubs, U.S. forces could still be hit by North Korean missiles, but not by its artillery, another defense official said. The 2nd Infantry could bypass a bloody confrontation in the DMZ and strike inside North Korea with the kind of high-tech, fast-moving force the U.S. used so effectively in Afghanistan and Iraq, the official said.
Analysis: The unnamed official is right on the money. I've served in the 2nd Infantry Division ; I'm roughly familiar with the tactical and operational scenario along the border with North Korea. It remains the most dangerous place on Earth. The situation is not necessarily improved by Americans' proximity to the DMZ. Way back when, American soldiers actually shared in the border security, conducting patrols in and around the DMZ. Today, only a tiny fraction of the U.S. Army actually patrols the DMZ. The vast majority today are garrisoned roughly 5-35 km from the border, training for the war they hope never comes.

My fellow lieutenants and I all thought our initial chances of survival were pretty low. This fatalism owed to our proximity to the thousands of artillery pieces in the North and the thousands of North Korean special forces already thought to be in the south. Working together, they could fire enough artillery in the first few minutes so as to massacre the American soldiers stationed north of Seoul -- and lay Seoul itself to ruins. Moving American forces south of Seoul would make a tremendous difference, because it would put them out of the range of North Korea's deadly blanket of artillery. That would give American units the critical hours they need to alert, assemble, upload and deploy to battle positions -- and survive to fight as something else than a speed bump.

The problem is that America's deployment north of Seoul is highly symbolic. Strategically, these garrisons represent a blood wager in the high-stakes game of poker with North Korea. If the North comes across, they will necessarily kill enough Americans to bring us into the war. That fact has tremendous deterrent effect, and is often credited with stopping a second Korean War over the last 50 years. South Koreans know this fact too, and they are especially reticent to allow any redeployment of American troops which may reduce the blood wager. Ultimately, redeploying American forces is right for us and it's right for Korea. But I'm not sure the South Koreans can be so easily persuaded. They may protest our presence in the streets, but when the chips are down, they still want us there.
Tension continues between Army and SecDef

Dave Moniz of USA Today reported today that former-Secretary of the Army Tom White has spoken out against his former bosses -- in a big way. Speaking from his position as a former 1-star general and former-boss of the Army, White predicted that American soldiers would have to occupy Iraq for some time to come, and that Secretary Rumsfeld (and his staff) failed to say so in public before the war.
Former Army secretary Thomas White said in an interview that senior Defense officials "are unwilling to come to grips" with the scale of the postwar U.S. obligation in Iraq. The Pentagon has about 150,000 troops in Iraq and recently announced that the Army's 3rd Infantry Division's stay there has been extended indefinitely.

"This is not what they were selling (before the war)," White said, describing how senior Defense officials downplayed the need for a large occupation force. "It's almost a question of people not wanting to 'fess up to the notion that we will be there a long time and they might have to set up a rotation and sustain it for the long term."
* * *
Last month, Rumsfeld said the United States would remain in Iraq as "long as it takes." But the Defense chief was not specific about the size of the force.

The Pentagon declined to respond to White's comments, but a senior official said it was too early to draw conclusions about the size or length of the U.S. troops' commitment in Iraq.

White said it is reasonable to assume the Pentagon will need more than 100,000 U.S. troops in Iraq to provide stability for at least the next year. Pentagon officials envisioned having about 100,000 troops there immediately after the war, but they hoped that number would be quickly drawn down.
Analysis: There are a lot of pieces at work here. First, there is a dismal relationship between the Department of the Army and the Office of the Secretary of Defense -- two organizations which are supposed to work together in a parent-subsidiary relationship. The ouster of Secretary White, problems replacing outgoing-Chief of Staff of the Army Eric Shinseki (who retires on 11 June), and difficulty managing Army transformation efforts are all signs of dischord between the two shops. Suffice to say, this animosity is not good for America or its common defense.

Second, there are some real policy disagreements at work between the OSD and Army staffs. I wrote about some of this in the Washington Monthly, but I think the disagreements run even deeper than I believed. This morning, I talked with a senior Army official who shed some light on the high-level discussions in the Pentagon. It appears that the Rumsfeld camp and White/Shinseki camp were operating on completely separate assumptions about the nature of warfare and nation-building. Fortunately, Rumsfeld's predictions came true with respect to the war -- less troops could win. Unfortunately, White and Shinseki's analyses were far more accurate about the peace.

The problem today is that we built a nation-building plan with insufficient flexibility to react to a changing situation on the ground. America has no more "9-1-1" force it can rush to Iraq to add combat power on the ground. Fully 50 percent of the Army's combat power is already devoted to Iraq. Add in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Korea, and other missions, and you soon have an Army stretched to the limit. We do have reserve formations capable of nation-building. However, those troops require extensive time to mobilize and deploy -- on the order of 3-6 months. We needed to call these troops up months ago to make a difference today. The right plan would have called these soldiers up as a contingency force, just in case. I realize that would have meant hardship for thousands of reservists like me. But it would've been the prudent strategy for America to pursue.

Enough diagnosis... what's the prescription? (1) Mobilize National Guard divisions immediately for the job. We're going to be in Iraq for the foreseeable future, and we can't stay in denial any longer about what this mission will take. If we call these citizen-soldiers up today, they may be ready by Christmas to deploy. By then, the 4th Infantry Division and others will be ready to rotate out anyway. (2) Invite NATO to help with the mission, either with their rapid-reaction force or other assets. They may come with political headaches -- and maybe even an agenda. But they also bring a wealth of experience for this mission, and they bring boots that we don't have the capacity to put on the ground right now. (3) Tell the truth to the American people -- we're going to be in Iraq for a while. The President must make the case that this mission is worth it. He must make the case that we have a direct interest in creating a stabile and prosperous Iraq; that a well-governed Iraq will not provide a haven to terrorists; that a friendly Iraq is worth the cost we have already paid. Calling up National Guard soldiers requires tremendous political capital, since it means taking men and women from every part of America. To accept this challenge, the American people must know their cause and believe in it.