Wednesday, July 2, 2014

DOD Global Strategy: Gone with the Iraqi Wind

There was a window when the entire ISIS was stretched out on the Iraqi road system in pickup trucks.  We could have devastated them from the air.  But the president was pretty involved in golf and chasing donations in CA, so that moment passed.
Now we have sent about 600 troops (perhaps 300 more – the numbers are hard to follow), to set up joint operations centers and “evaluate” what additional training and weapons the Iraqi Army needs. Suffice it to say they won’t need any track and field training.  They run just fine.  Especially after throwing down and leaving behind all the expensive equipment we gave them.
So now our two most dangerous enemies in the world – Sunni radicals and Shia radicals – are squaring off.  I think there is something to be said for letting the cannibals eat each other.  Opponents to that line of thought fear that this will become a regional conflict.  My answer:   Soldiers from the US, Canada, Australia, GB, Germany, Poland, the Philippines, Italy and other nations have died in Iraq in the last decade.  Not one soldier from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, or the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council).  It would not bother me a bit to see them put a bit of skin in the game, while we stand by to pick up the pieces. Let’s open some Saudi VA hospitals for a change.
But either way it goes, what we may be seeing is the end of DOD's newly developed strategy for the world -- convert the American Regular Army into a training force, regionally oriented, and focused on creating reliable military forces in every unstable nation, while Special Ops whittles the bad guys down to size.
First test -- with years, lives and billions invested -- was Iraq.  Total failure. 
Secretary of State Kerry said: “Nobody expected” the Iraqi Army’s wholesale desertion.  Uh –h-h-h – actually a lot of people did.
We are trying to make a national army in places that are collections of tribes, and hoping the military force will not only defeat the terrorists, but act as the backbone and catalyst for turning the tribes into a nation that values democracy and diversity.  "Hope" being the operable word.
What we saw in Iraq was revealing.  The plan worked as long as the US Army was on the ground and the USAF was overhead -- as long as somebody was ensuring fair and competent leadership of the indigenous forces. As long as they had reliable fires on call, and medical help standing by, and somebody who could not be bought off was answering the radio in the ops center.
Soon as we left, so did the empty dream of turning a national army into a nation.  The elected leader of Iraq saw the Army as a rival to his power. He fired competent officers and hired cronies. He turned a blind eye to corruption.  He used the military to oppress minorities.  Result -- the national army melted at the first whiff of gunpowder.
Next big test is Astan . . . unless Yemen or Nigeria or Jordan or some other place collapses first. 
Nobody else seems to have recognized the global implication of the melting of the Iraqi Army. But it is there and it is big.  Remember, you heard it here first.

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