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The “Big, Long, Gone” Plan

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When Donald Rumsfeld left the Pentagon I believed that they had lost their master of the obvious. I should say their oblivious master of the obvious. Rummy was great at stating those great truths we already knew and stating them as if he was brilliant for noticing them. His “known knowns” quote is pure obvious gold, but it seems Rummy was the symptom and not the disease at that military institution because they are still stating the obvious while trying to sound brilliant.

Today the Pentagon unofficially released their newest assessment of troop strength needed for Iraq and have given us three options after a long study. We will call this recent release the “Big, Long, Gone” option.

“Big” means we will need to increase our troop strength in Iraq for an indeterminate length of time. “Long” means we do not increase troop strength, but increase the tours of duty for those already there. “Gone” obviously means we leave Iraq. I cannot wait until we get some actual intelligence behind our military instead of these stupid cleaver word games.

Can anyone reading this give me an option they left out? I cannot think of a single one. I mean stay, stay big, or leave basically covers everything. These options are actually the same ones we had before we even went into Iraq and none of these plans will really help with the current sectarian violence happening in Iraq. Longer stays or leaving completely are not going to help the problem that we created (and do not mistake for a second that it is us who created the problem) and more troops will not convince anyone we plan on leaving.

Iraq was not great before we got there and was evil under Saddam, but chaos is worse than evil any day. Evil can be anticipated and countered, but chaos has no pattern and can not be anticipated. You never know when chaos is going to strike you next once you remove the order. We removed the order without installing a new system of order and now we are dealing with the price of our folly. The truth is that there is only one option for Iraq and it is one that will make both the left and right hate me so I know I must be right. The only solution left is to increase the troops in Iraq and completely take over the country. This means we need a draft.

No politician is going to suggest a draft because they know it will be reelection death, but that is a risk they must take. They must risk their political career to save this nation from the mess they created. We are short of well-trained troops right now. Between Iraq and Afghanistan we are busted. North Korea and Iran know we do not have the force to do anything about them and they know we lost the good faith of the world to help us deal with them. The only choice left is conscription.

I realize that military life is hard enough for people who volunteered to be there, but we are in a situation right now that demands we ignore what we would rather do. The statement by the Pentagon today is simply more spinning of wheels. It is the illusion of progress while not actually doing anything. They know the options they gave us today are bullshit but are terrified of being the first to suggest the “D” word. This is why I am suggesting it now. There is no other option if we are going to continue on our current path of endless war.

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About Brad Schader

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    They know the options they gave us today are bullshit but are terrified of being the first to suggest the “D” word. This is why I am suggesting it now. There is no other option if we are going to continue on our current path of endless war.

    Then I suggest we give up making war – even when it’s so obviously needed – and look for alternative ways to resolve international conflicts. And while we’re at it let’s redesign our military as we ought to have started doing years ago to deemphasize mass troop numbers and take advantage of technological superiority.

    A draft is a fundamental violation of civil rights and always has been and the American public is still not about to stand for it.

  • STM

    Honestly, I believe we are attacking this the wrong way and that GENUINE special forces units are the way to go here … the type that are highly trained (beyond that of other commando-style regiments), like the British SAS or the U.S. Delta Force and can operate covertly, overtly and independently using hit-and-run tactics that put genuine fear into the people who also use these tactics – the insurgents. Nothing under that level of training, either. Use other troops for protective purposes at embassies and the like, but use these guys to put the fear of God into the mass murderers.

    Fight fire with fire. I know special forces concepts have been unpopular at the Pentagon among West Point-type officers with axes to grind, but a huge, unwieldy military force isn’t the answer these days in these kinds of situations. It just presents an easy target.

    You also get the benefit with highly-trained special forces of appearing not to be there in large numbers.

  • http://silverstarhawk.livejournal.com Jared Wright

    Funny. Someone has suggested reinstating the draft. And, as you predicted, the political backlash from his own party is impressive.

  • http://www.booklinker.blogspot.com Deano

    Look, the hard, unvarnished truth is that there is no clean way out.

    You can’t abruptly leave or you create a failed state – as has been demonstrated previously in Afghanistan, this has the potential to breed regional instablility and terrorism. The Pottery Barn Rule applies – you break it, you bought it.

    How do you fix it?

    Here’s a hint – it ain’t clean, it ain’t tidy and it will cost time, treasure and lives.

    1). Bite the bullet and increase the number of troops deployed to Iraq for the next two years. Concentrate them on expanding and developing more training teams to build the Iraqi police and army. You need a bigger security footprint and you aren’t going to be able to supply it with American’s forever…you need a more effective Iraqi army and police, supplanted with US firepower. This will also enhance your ability to apply more troops to hot locations such as Baghdad and Ramadi. It might also let you secure the borders more effectively, choking off the supply of foreign fighters and Iranian suppliers…

    2). Break up the militas – much of the sectarian strife is Iraqi-on-Iraqi and Sadr and the “Mahdi Army” are a huge problem.

    3). Shut the hell up about pulling out. It has never been a practical option, no matter what the Democrats claim. If you leave Iraq without at least some minimal stability, you leave a failed state sitting on top of a major oil supply, directly north of another strategically critical oil supply (i.e. Saudi Arabia). How long do you think before Saudi Arabia slides into the abyss? Or until the region falls apart in a vicious civil war that makes the current level of violence look like a walk in the park?

    You are looking at a minimum of a five-year committment – and I mean five years from now, not since the invasion. You might be able to begin drawing down US forces after another 18 months – provided the level of violence can be reduced significantly and you start to see some more serious progress with the Iraqi army in the next year.

    Is it winnable? Maybe. Maybe not. Would pulling out be better? In the short-term – yes, it will save the lives of some troops, dooming significantly more Iraqis but it depends on where your priorities are. Long-term pulling out will probably result in a much more unstable Middle East, greatly increasing the threat of terrorism and the potential for another 9/11-style attack against the west.

  • http://kanrei.blogspot.com brad schader

    I think deep down inside all of us we realize we need a draft. I think that logical voice within us all is telling us that this war has gone on for much longer than anyone thought and is going to continue. I think we all know that leaving Iraq will help locally but make things worse globally. I think we all know that we have not had to really sacrifice anything for this war and that makes it easy to support. It is a reality show to most of us: something happening to someone else far away.

    The problem is we fear the reality a draft will force us to see.

  • SFC SKI

    I believe that success in Iraq is marked by a stable country with a working government, backed by security forces that can take out the terrorists, insurgents, and militia leaders that attempt to destabilize the country. In the comments above, aspects of the conflict and the solutions to them have all been expressed, but it’s like the blind men and the elephant; most of the above are parts of the whole solution.

    Dave, it was the belief in superior technology (and an unwillingness to train for counterinsurgency) that caused the the US to decide on a drawdown of the US military, especially the US Army, even before the last brick was taken out of the Berlin Wall, we deactivated 8 active divisions, over 100,000 troops alone, by 1993. IT was superior technology that allowed us to destroy the Iraqi Army’s will to fight. The problem was, after that we did not have so many of the specialized troops necessary for what follows a war. Shiny toys do not win against an enemy that hides among civilians.

    Special Forces troops are fantastic, but they are only part of the puzzle. While there is surely some friction between the SF and the conventional commanders whose areas SF operated within, both are very much integrated and working to support each other to complete the overall mission.

    Not to use an overworked expression, but Iraq is still in a critical phase. In most of the country, security forces are truly taking on the tasks necessary to stabilize each province. They still need our logistical support and advisors,, with overy occasional combat power, to continue to do that, and it will take a few more years to get there. Supplying a police force is tough enough, the Iraqi security forces are basically cops who funtion as infantry when necessary, the support needs increase significantly. The corruption, incompetence, and bureacracy of the Ministies involved means that the US Army and US Marines assist where they can or the ISF go without. Some of these Iraqis don’t get paid for weeks or months, they run the risk of being killed while driving to or from work, and they run the risk of being overrun at their posts, but most of them still show up and do their duty. Personally, the betrayal of these brave few would be a shame that we’d never be able to absolve.

    In Baghdad, the sectarian violence keeps the government from doing its job in the outlying provinces. Again, we can so what needs to be done there, or stand by and let the situation get worse.

    I don’t support conscription. In short, if this conflict is important enough that we need to force people into uniform to solve it, it is important enough for the President, the Pentagon, the politicians, and everyone down to the parents to address the duty of Americans to serve voluntarily, and almost none of them have down that. Until public support is behind the war, and the proposed solution to it, you’ll have parents driving their kids to Canada, not to the induction center.

    I don’t expect the media to applaud everything that has been accomplished in Iraq and ignore the mistakes, but I do wish they’d just be honest and present the news from Iraq and let the public make an informed decision.

    I wish the American public would turn off “American Idol” or whatever crap takes up the viewers’ time and make the effort to educate themselves about what is at stake in Iraq, and what threats are in the future, and the lessons of ignoring the past, instead of just listen to the one who shouts the loudest and preaches to their particular choir.

  • SFC SKI

    I meant to hit preview and cut out all the ranting, my apologies.

  • http://kanrei.blogspot.com brad schader

    Never say sorry. THe rants are good.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    I have a dog in this race (it’s my neighborhood – what lovely neighbors!), and have been keeping my trap shut. First of all, I’m reluctant to argue with a fellow who is there in Iraq now. Kol hakavód (all honor to you) for sticking it out, SFC SKI.

    A thought. I’m reflecting not on what I think should happen but what I think is likely to happen. I think the United States will send every soldier it can spare to Iraq, however many that may be.

    If the Democratic controlled congress actually meets (which I doubt), the Rangel draft bill will die in committee. In any event, blood will continue to flow in Iraq with a lot more Arabs dying than Americans – until the US or EU attacks Iran – then all bets are off.

    Brad, I agree with you that your country needs a draft. It was disbanded thirty-five years ago out of expediency. It was the worst move your country could have made. But, that is spilt milk. You are right about your nation needing a conscript force. It forces Joe six-pack to stop belching in front of his TV watching the near naked girls and pay attention to far away places that he or his sons may have to go to with a rifle and backpack…

  • zingzing

    anyone who wants a draft can go over there. fine by me. leave me out of your stupid wars.

  • http://kanrei.blogspot.com Brad Schader

    This is not my stupid war or yours or anyone’s but rather all of ours. It is done in your name whether you support it or not so it is about time we all start caring.

    I did not agree with going into Iraq, but we did and are there and screwed up quite a bit. We can either just leave our mess for another to clean up (talk about arrogent AMericans) or we can do everything in our power to correct our mess and fix things. We do not have enough troops right now to fix things AND defend ourselves so what do you suggest to grow our military?

  • SFC SKI

    The point of my rant was this: The leaders in our country should present the importance of success in Iraq, and Afghanistan, as well as the seriousness of the threats against us. At the same time, all Americans should educate themselves so they’ll be able to separate the truth from the jingoism,and make an informed decision. If no one stands up and defines just what is important, and whether or not the sacrifices are necessary, how will we all know and agree when action must be taken.

    I love my country and my countrymen, but sometimes I get a feeling that a lot of them expect some magical answer to the problem, or that by ignoring it, it will go away.

    I also wish that civics, and pride in American history hadn’t been reduced to an elective in school. Immigrants know what is so great about America that they risked it all to get here, why don’t more born and bred Americans see it?

  • Bliffle

    Deano: “Long-term pulling out will probably result in a much more unstable Middle East, greatly increasing the threat of terrorism and the potential for another 9/11-style attack against the west.”

    Must one again point out that 9/11 had nothing to do with Iraq? I know it’s an article of faith among some few deluded characters that there just MUST be a connection between the two, but so far the evidence is paper thin. And who needs the connection, anyhow? Shouldn’t the Iraq Invasion be able to stand on it’s own legs?

  • Bliffle

    STM:”Honestly, I believe we are attacking this the wrong way and that GENUINE special forces units are the way to go here … ”

    Unfortunately, Special Forces tactics don’t scale up. While suitable for small rifle-shot activities thay don’t work on a broadscale. Too much of their effectiveness hinges on their small numbers.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    SFC SKI,

    The answer to your questions lie in this quote from Thomas Jefferson: “A well educated population is the best guarantor of democracy.” (well, it’s something like that, anyway)

    The opposite is also true, and unfortunately, while you are a patriotic American who believes in freedom, justice and the American way, your leaders don’t. So an ill informed populace is a guarantor of the demise of democracy. And that is what you are seeing steadily occur.

    Sorry pal. I know that I’m not telling you anything that you do not know in your heart, but I know it hurts to read from the keyboard of an ex-pat. I used to love America and it’s a terrible thing to see, but that is what I’m seeing. It leaves me with the taste of bile and ashes in my mouth…

  • steve

    Rangel needs to keep his mouth SHUT. I KNEW this was where the country was headed as soon as all of those democRATS won house seats. I’m 22. I’m not risking my ass for some pinko liberal from New York so I can have my arm or my leg blown off by an IED. I’d move to England in 2 shakes if the draft were re-instated. They should draft the children of congressmen and congresswomen. That will put an end to this REAL fast. I agree with Nalle. This is indefinitely an infringement on my Civil Rights. I would have no problem going off to fight a country for meaningful reasons…but I’m NOT going to be a lame duck for some Iraqi to take pot-shots at me. John Kerry and the likes wouldn’t have supplied me with enough armor if that were the case.
    Steve

  • Lumpy

    Are you trying to silence the bkack man, steve?

    As for draft proposals, I doubt one could pass which didn’t take the form of universal conscription with some sort of non-military peace/job corps type alternative. No chance of a vietnam style draft or an IED blowing your leg off.

  • STM

    Guys, whether you agree with it or not, this war is an unpopular one (and Steve, moving to England might not be the end of your problems … they’ve got forces over there as well. Who knows where that will take them. Also, you’d have to get used to the crap food). So there won’t be any conscription.

    However, SFC SKI is right about this. It’s not a situation where people can say, OK, we’ve had enough, let’s go. We (the coalition) removed Saddam Hussein (for which most Iraqis are grateful) but because of poor planning, created a power vacuum. It’s up to us now to redress that. It’s time to stay the course on this. There is an awful lot at stake within the region.

    And on this issue of special forces, SFC, I will say this: I live in Australia where the Australian Army in the wake of WWII were very quick to set up an SAS regiment, which ended up fighting in Malaya and Vietnam with great success, and was also engaged in Iraq prior to and during the early fighting. It is now operating in Afghanistann, although I don’t know how any of us know this because the government is supposed to neither confirm nor deny where it operates.

    The Australian Army also relies heavily on other rapid-deployment units and commando-style regiments.

    I think the idea behind the special forces concept has been that for relatively small outlay, you get a very professional military force that punches above its weight – maximum impact at minimum cost.

    While it’s a different ball game when compared to a large army of a large country like the US, which is designed to do different things, it has certainly proved its worth.

  • Bliffle

    “It’s not a situation where people can say, OK, we’ve had enough, let’s go. We (the coalition) removed Saddam Hussein (for which most Iraqis are grateful) but because of poor planning, created a power vacuum. It’s up to us now to redress that. It’s time to stay the course on this.”

    We can go anytime. The only ego investment is that of Bush/Cheney. We shouldn’t sacrifice more american lives for those fools.

  • Clavos

    We can go anytime. The only ego investment is that of Bush/Cheney. We shouldn’t sacrifice more american lives for those fools.

    Nevertheless, SFC SKI and STM are right; we created the present situation and are responsible for it.

    However misguided we may have been, it would be unconscionably irresponsible of us to simply walk away without attempting to stabilize the area first.

  • SFC SKI

    Ruvy, thanks fore the quote, (paraphrase?) and the warm wishes. I agree that Americans need to be more aware of the world, and their own history. I don’t think it’s a conspiracy to keep people ignorant, it’s just easier. If I hadn’t had the carrer I have now, I’d probably be kicking off my shoes after a day at the office and watching sitcoms, too.

    National service of some sort would be eye opening for a lot of toung adults, IMO, it would be a beneficial experience, but only if it is voluntary. Face it, doing anything uncomfortable or inconvenient, especially when it probably won’t benefit you or yours is seen as a sucker option. Of course there are a lot of Americans who do some type of volunteer work, but they are looked at as an exception rather than a societal norm. Until that mentality changes, national service had better remain voluntary or it will be more trouble than it is worth.

    As for the Australian SAS, good on ‘em, they do rock! (The Canadians offer a lot of bang for their very small buck, too) The Malay experience is considered an example a successful conter insurgency campaign, and it took quite a few years. The reason I say SF can’t do it all is because the community is still pretty small, and there is a lot more work that needs to be done. Most people are not aware that it is regualr Army troops that are now acting as advisors and trainers, a job that was strictly SF in Vietnam, IIRC.

  • troll

    the problem with conscription and any form of ‘universal national service’ is that the participant ends up serving not the grand interests of some abstract Nation but rather the petty ones of some gang of thieves/representatives or another which happens to have gained power through the most effective use of marketing/citizen education (read cynically applied propaganda)

    with all due respect to Ski and his fellows who joined up to serve their country the interests that our military serves now are those of $ and oil…so let’s get real

    the solution is in our hands here not in Iraq…’boycott’ oil

    walk – ride your bike – biofuel – use public transport where available and demand it where it isn’t – invest your money in alternative energy development – change your lifestyle

    set some ‘realistic’ goal like reducing your oil consumption by 10%/year

    let the ‘market’ work

  • http://www.booklinker.blogspot.com Deano

    Biffle, re: Comment #13:

    Must one again point out that 9/11 had nothing to do with Iraq? I know it’s an article of faith among some few deluded characters that there just MUST be a connection between the two, but so far the evidence is paper thin.

    No argument. I was pointing out the fact that failed states tend to offer venues for terrorist activities and that leaving Iraq as a failed state would probably have the potential to increase the threat of future attacks. I was not trying to draw a linkage between 9/11 and justifying the invasion of Iraq,. Sorry if that was unclear.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    At this point either justifying or condemning the invasion of Iraq is idiotic. It’s like trying to justify or condemn water for flowing downhill. It is what it is.

    Dave

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    set some ‘realistic’ goal like reducing your oil consumption by 10%/year

    10%? You ought to be able to do a hell of a lot more than that. Even just switching to E85 Ethanol which will run in most cars would do more than that. By running our house on propane and switching to Biodiesel for my car I’ve managed to eliminate almost all oil consumption.

    Dave

  • troll

    as for the occupation itself…privatize it (US out and mercenaries in with the ever so profitable oil companies footing the bill – shouldn’t be too hard for them to raise a quarter million man force)

  • zingzing

    “This is not my stupid war or yours or anyone’s but rather all of ours. It is done in your name whether you support it or not so it is about time we all start caring…”

    i care about it. i just don’t care to die for it. or to even go screw up my life because some dumb politician thought he had god on his side. fuck that. fuck him. (both of them, depending upon who is responsible.) i don’t think more death is the answer (especially not mine).

    “We do not have enough troops right now to fix things AND defend ourselves so what do you suggest to grow our military?”

    what we’ve done can’t be fixed with troops. we fucked it up by sending troops in there. why fuck it up more?

    here’s what your philosophy will get us:
    wife: “ahh! the kitchen is on fire! it’s spreading!”
    husband: “quick! get me some gasoline! i’ll burn the whole fuckin house to the ground so it won’t be on fire anymore! YEEEEE-HAAAAWWWWWW!”

  • http://kanrei.blogspot.com brad schader

    Wrong..

    mine is:
    Wife: The kitchen is buring
    Husband: We better make sure we have enough firemen to contain it or else we need to get more.

    Yours is:
    Wife: the Kitchen is burning
    Husband: I did not start it and do not use the kitchen anyway so I do not care.

  • zingzing

    did i say that? nope.

    i said, “i’m not goin in that kitchen. seems like a damn foolish thing for me to do. i have no business walking into a fire.”

    doesn’t it seem to you like the presence of american troops in iraq IS the fuckin problem? i mean really, what do you think we’ve done to improve the place? basically, we’ve fucked it up. “staying the course,” i.e.-sending in more troops, will just cause more problems. we need to step back and figure out a new approach.

    i don’t know what that approach should be, that’s not my job, but i certainly can see that what we’ve done has only worsened the problem, and the problem was something we should have stayed out of to begin with.

    the middle east + united states intervention = terrorism the world over.

  • Roze

    Pull all the troops out of Iraq, it’s inevitably going to become a terrorist state anyways and we shouldn’t be spending American kids and American money on it just so we can delay that for another few years.

    After we leave(whenever that is), Iraq will continue in its civil war like state until the Shiite muslims win(exterminate the Sunni side) because they are the majority of the population are Shiite and also because they are financed by Iran.

    The Shiite Muslim Govt will ally itself with Iran, because they share cultural, religious and economical ties. Also because many current Shiite fighters and leaders in Iraq are on Iran’s payroll.

    The entire Neocon plan has been destroyed mainly because of Iraq, the original plan was the following.

    Invade Afghanistan.
    Invade Iraq.
    If you have noticed, Iran lies right in the middle of these two countries
    Ultimate objective: Invade Iran.

    Now that Iraq has gone awry and Afghanistan following suit, the final attack on Iran has been stopped. Iran has won the war. The US took out their biggest enemy, Saddam and now the Iranians can take control over Iraq with him out of the picture.

    The USSR lost in Afghanistan, they “stayed the course” for 11 years. Invading was easy, occupying was difficult. The Soviet empire collapsed after this defeat in large part due to bankruptcy in this long and bloody war. The Soviet army lost 14,000 soldiers in 11 years.

    I’m afraid that if the US follows the USSR by “staying the course” they will further bankrupt themselves and end up in a similar situation.

  • Bliffle

    Anyone who advocates sending more troops without a specific idea of what they will do is daft.

    Anyone who advocates spending more money without a specific plan of how that money is to be spent is daft.

    Anyone who advocates giving more time without specific milestones of accomplishment is daft.

    Every businessman knows this. Without a clear specific plan you are not only at the mercy of events, but you have nothing to measure progress or failure against and so you have forfeited good decision-making in advance. And then you are just throwing more resource into the black hole of loss.

    A businessman I know had that happen to him this year. A project was losing money. But he’s resourceful so he figured out how to salvage it with new money, more effort, and another year of time. But he canned the job anyway with a loss. Why? Because he could figure out better ways to spend money, effort and time and get a better profit. Oh, and he canned the person who got him into the project at a disadvantage and who insisted they never did anything wrong. “Can’t improve yourself if you don’t coldblooded face your mistakes, study them and change your ways. I did that”.

  • Mohjho

    The draft angle is simply to wake our population to the fact that the American public is unwilling to die for Bush’s mistake. The politician says we must sacrifice for the war effort, but the people are unconvinced that dieing for oil and Israel is in their best interest.

    I’m sure the war seemed like a good idea to Bush when the only people he listened to are money and power interest groups. Reaction against a draft would send a clear message to our government from the citizens and Sen. Rangel knows this.

    Besides, If you try to draft to-days children, you might find out how many declared homosexuals there really are in this country.