Skip to comments.DONALD H. RUMSFELD: One Surge Does Not Fit All
Posted on 11/23/2008 1:06:35 PM PST by neverdem
THE surge in Iraq has been one of the most impressive military accomplishments in recent years. It has been so successful that the emerging consensus is that what may now be needed in Afghanistan is a similar surge of American forces. President-elect Barack Obama campaigned on his intention to do so, as did his former opponent, John McCain.
As one who is occasionally and incorrectly portrayed as an opponent of the surge in Iraq, I believe that while the surge has been effective in Iraq, we must also recognize the conditions that made it successful. President Bushs bold decision to deploy additional troops to support a broader counterinsurgency strategy of securing and protecting the Iraqi people was clearly the right decision. More important, though, it was the right decision at the right time.
By early 2007, several years of struggle had created the new conditions for a tipping point:
Al Qaeda in Iraqs campaign of terrorism and intimidation had turned its Sunni base of support against it. The result was the so-called Anbar Awakening in the late summer of 2006, followed by similar awakening movements across Iraq.
From 2003 through 2006, United States military forces, under the leadership of Gen. John Abizaid and Gen. George Casey, inflicted huge losses on the Baathist and Qaeda leadership. Many thousands of insurgents, including the Qaeda chief in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, were captured or killed and proved difficult to replace.
The Iraqi Security Forces had achieved cohesion, improved operational effectiveness and critical mass. By December 2006, some 320,000 Iraqis had been trained, equipped and deployed, producing the forces necessary to help hold difficult neighborhoods against the enemy. By 2007, the surge, for most Iraqis, could have an Iraqi face.
And the political scene in Iraq had shifted...
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
Soory Rummy...you screwed the pooch in Iraq, itt ook Heaven and Earth being moved and even then...Rummy would not think about a Surge..
Rummy was a piss poor SecDef...no way around it, compaore pre Rummy and post Rummy...no contest...he failed to adapt, he deserves his fate.
I lived in fear of those during his reign.
I didn’t like Rumsfeld as SECDEF, but I don’t disagree with this article.
Yes, he was inept but who could ever forget his unforgettable quote when he was asked why there were few Euro allies who signed up to invade Iraq and his response to Germany and France:
“We have new Europe like the Poland, Czech republic..Germany, France?..they’re OLD EUROPE.”
If Rumsfeld had employed the surge strategy at the beginning of the war, the Republicans would be holding on to the Presidency and be in a much stronger position in the Congress. He blew it with the constant drip of bad news coming out of Iraq in 2005-2006.
the problem wasn’t timing imho. It was strategy. Rumsfeld was a advocate i think of light boots on the ground. He wanted to balance security with sensibility of the resident. He was concerned we might look like occupiers with so many troops in the city and on the street. The troops basically went in, hit a few spots then left
Petraeus took a diferent approach. Massive surge of troops into trouble spots and they stayed and lived there
If nothing else, this puts the Obama administration on notice for what they could get into and that their feet can be held to the fire if they blunder. (Something that Democrats are notorious for with our armed forces.)
Obama was opposed to the surge in Iraq and to this day will not admit it was a success but, he is for a surge in Afghanistan suggesting we deploy two brigades there. I wonder if he knows what a brigade is and what would he have them do?
Maybe, maybe not.
I’d argue that many Iraqis had to have their bloodletting before deciding that maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.
Germany and Japan were totally destroyed in achieving victory. The people no longer had the will to fight or hang on to the past and simply wanted peace. With Iraq it was gentler kinder war and the people were never really defeated and therefore wanted to settle old scores instead of peace.
The horror that followed is what made the difference. An earlier “surge” would have only postponed that lesson.
Kind of hard to win a war when traitors within your own country are attacking you from the rear. Rumsfeld was demonized just like W and the troops. Sounds like some of us here bought their crap.
It is amazing that people actually believe that. For three years the Sunni's fought us because they thought they could take the country back once we left. We could have put 2 million troops in Iraq and that wouldn't have changed the Sunni mindset one bit.
To end the war, the Sunnis had to be convinced that they couldn't take the country back no matter whether we left in 6 months or 6 years. They didn't become convinced of that until after the Golden Mosque bombing in February of 2006. After that point, the Shiite death squads (with the tacit help of the Shiites in control of the military) went after the Sunnis in Baghdad proper and its suburbs. It took about 8 to 9 months of killing, but the Sunnis were finally convinced that they couldn't beat the Shiites in a straight-up fight. Only then did the Anbar Awakening happen.
Once the Anbar Awakening happened and Al Qaeda was deprived of its base of support, then the surge was put into in effect in March of 2007 and did wonders because we had the help of the Sunnis populace in tracking down and killing Al Qaeda.
Here are several links to articles that discuss what happened. First is a link to a quote by David Petraeus discussing how things were going reasonably well in Iraq until the Golden Mosque bombing in 2006.
[Petraeus] then reflected on the past strategy. For a variety of reasons, some pretty good reasons, we were gradually consolidating in larger bases and handing off to the Iraqis. The transition to Iraqi Security Forces, Iraqi control and local control was emphasized heavily. That was sort of moving along reasonably well until it was really undone by the bombing of that mosque and the resulting sectarian violence.
Second is a link to an article by Michael Totten discussing what was going on in Ramadi during 2006
Credit for purging Ramadi of Al Qaeda must go to Iraqis themselves at least as much as to the American military. The Americans wouldnt have been able to do it without the cooperation of the people who live there, and the Iraqis wouldnt have been able to do it, at least not so easily, without help from the American military.
Not only did Iraqi soldiers, police, and civilians join the fight, but also the lesser known local security force fielded by the Anbar tribal authorities.
Third is a link to a Bill Roggio article about the closure of the headquarters of the Association of Muslim Scholars. Here is the money quote:
Samarrai also stated the Association of Muslim Scholars was responsible for boycotting the elections and held back Sunnis from entering the security forces. Samarrai said these decisions led to a "catastrophe" for Sunnis and the Iraqi people.
The Association has been an obstacle in the way of entry of our sons (Sunnis) into the ranks of the Army and the police. ... [In] April 2005 more [than] 60 Iraqi clerics gathered and we published a fatwa (in favor of) joining the ranks of the Army and the police.
The Association's leaders announced on the television screens that the Association disavows this fatwa, and they took into account members of the Association who issued the fatwa with us. Because of this, tens of thousands of our people have been reluctant to volunteer in the ranks of the Army and the police. ... [This decision] upset the balance [and led to a] catastrophe.
The crackdown on the Association of Muslim Scholars is part of the efforts of Sunni scholars to delegitimize the religious support given to al Qaeda in Iraq and other radical Islamic extremist groups in Iraq. The creation of the Council of Iraqi Scholars, or Council of Ulema of Iraq, has led the way in alienating the radical clerics.
Lastly, I would note that with regard to the great work our military did prior to the surge - there was one factor that has not been widely discussed. Simply put, when Bob Woodruff was blown up by an Al Qaeada IED in early 2006 - that aided the war effort immensely. The reason is that after Woodruff got hurt, the MSM stopped sending cameramen into the war zone. The subsequent lack of nightly war footage enabled our troops to take the gloves off - as is discussed in the Michael Totten article.
You would think that after Buckhead's expose we would be immune to their 'crap machine'.
I'm not a believer in "perfect", but Mr. Rumsfeld came close.
I hold Rumsfeld in high regard and I think he was a very efficient Secretary of Defense. I also agree with his article save for his praise for Abizaid’s term. I think that Bremer, Abizaid and Sanchez appointments were mistakes. Having said all of this Iraq matters would be closed by 2006 if not for dems and media doing everything possible to ensure “Bush’s” defeat in Iraq.
Failure of the Iraqis, out of fear of terrorists, to support the 'freedom' mission , required a new strategy be developed, for an enemy of embedded terrorists rather than of armies.
Hence, Gen. Petreus, Gates to spearhead the new, now successful 'Surge' strategy. It was time for fresh blood to continue our goal for Iraq and Afghanistan.
Thank you Rummy for an outstanding job as SOD.
Padre, you are a victim of the MSM. Shame!!
In other words, he was the ideal person to tell individual senators, representatives, etc. to 'eff off when they complained that their pet projects in their states/districts were being eliminated.
Rumsfeld's only problem was that this "streamline/efficiency" model was totally unsuited for a major military campaign in Iraq -- and it really showed.
My only problem with what you wrote was that if that was voiced during that time period, and even leading into the 2004 election, you stood a good chance of being run out of Free Republic Dodge for speaking heresay.
Such frank and honest talk would not have been tolerated.
Nobody knows that, not even you. Britain won World War II under the leadership of Churchill. What did the British people do after the war? They threw out Churchill and the Conservatives and in their place voted in Labor.
Waging a war is not like baking a cake: put in the ingredients according to measure, bake at the specified temperature and time, and out comes a perfect cake. Wars never go according to plan. There are always mistakes made in any war. It often takes time to find the right combination of strategy and tactics.
He blew it with the constant drip of bad news coming out of Iraq in 2005-2006.
Rumsfield did not control the news cycle. The media hated Bush and they hated his foreign policy because it involved waging war. The news media did what they could to bring defeat in Iraq just like they did in Viet Nam. And I might add it may be too early to declare victory in Iraq.
Does it matter if it is true or not?
At that time, no.
Yes, Yes, Yes!!!! Rumsfeld will likely never get his due, but he was a brilliant Secretary of Defense. And Bush was and is a brilliant CIC.
As much as I absolutely LOATHE the New York Times, my hat is off to them for publishing this. It is more than advice for Afghanistan. It is a defense by Rumsfeld of his policies in Iraq. We are fighting a war of attrition, and in such encounters one wagers on the tortoise rather than the hare. Bush and Rumsfeld waited patiently until the time was right. In the interim, they made little headway militarily but my very strong sense is that in the interim we exacted a huge and ongoing toll on the enemy.
Thank goodness we did not station tens or hundreds of thousands of more soldiers there at the beginning. They would have done little incremental good (except to make for more targets and more friction) and they would have taxed our military greatly.
I learned one other thing in this article, which is that Rumsfeld thinks that President-Elect Obama has no real hope of winning in Afghanistan, and will rue the day when he said that Afghanistan should be the focus of our WOT.
Really, aside from using this as a battleground to exterminate jihadists, what is the national security significance of this backwater? As long as the terrorists can not use this as a training ground, what stake do we have in its success? If we win over Afghanistan, is the WOT won? Uh ... I think not.
General Petraeus will make sure it’s done properly, if he’s permitted.
Rumsfeld got a lot right, but he also got a good bit wrong. Trying to modernize and streamline the military during a war was ill advised.
Allowing the politicians to dictate terms during the first assault on Fallujah was deadly to way too many Marines and other heroic soldiers.
My two cents worth...
The Dems have been carping about Afghanistan for several years; now they have to actually do something.
Do they have the sensitivity to move ahead with a long-term goal in mind? Dems by nature are impetuous, with their eye more on winning a next election than ensuring the nation's security.
Rusmfeld is right on in this article. What worked in Iraq will not work in Afghanistan. I think the Dems are in for a rough time.
Exit poll survey confirms partisan shift the printer friendly link
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I couldn't agree more with you. I am a huge Rumsfeld fan. I also liked very much how he dealt with idiotic questions from the media.
My mil pals are equally impressed over his not only having "gone with the military we got"; but that he did an entire redesign of the military WHILE we were fighting a war. And as a consequence, the military has a much meaner, leaner, far more rapid-response military.
Yours: Lastly, I would note that with regard to the great work our military did prior to the surge - there was one factor that has not been widely discussed. Simply put, when Bob Woodruff was blown up by an Al Qaeada IED in early 2006 - that aided the war effort immensely. The reason is that after Woodruff got hurt, the MSM stopped sending cameramen into the war zone. The subsequent lack of nightly war footage enabled our troops to take the gloves off - as is discussed in the Michael Totten article.
You are RIGHT.
And this is also when the MSM tried "titillating" the masses with the assertion that the US Military were firing upon journalists.
Do you think Obama even knows the Table of Ogranization and Equipment of an Army Brigade?
“Do you think Obama even knows the Table of Ogranization and Equipment of an Army Brigade?”
Of course not; to him two brigades “are a bunch of soldiers.”
Thanks for the ping!
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