Skip to comments.Wolfowitz Contradicts Shinseki over Iraqi Occupation
Posted on 02/28/2003 8:29:04 AM PST by Axion
Wolfowitz Contradicts Shinseki over Iraqi Occupation Summary
Feb 28, 2003
U.S. Army Chief of Staff Erik Shinseki said Feb. 25 that hundreds of thousands of troops would be needed in Iraq following a war. However, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz contradicted that statement on Feb. 27, saying Shinseki's estimates were "wildly off the mark." When two important figures like this contradict each other, it always has strategic significance.
An interesting fight has broken out over the U.S. Army chief of staff's contention that Iraq would be occupied by hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops following a war. Gen. Erik Shinseki made that statement Feb. 25 at a Congressional hearing, without any immediate contradictions. Then, at hearings on Feb. 27, Democrats began attacking Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz on the question of the war's cost -- at which point Wolfowitz broke with Shinseki, saying that his estimate was "wildly off the mark" and that the actual number of occupation forces would be closer to 100,000 troops.
The debate over the cost of the war is not particularly interesting. The Democrats know perfectly well that the cost of the war depends on how long the war lasts, how hard the fighting is and so on. Since no one knows that, a definitive answer is impossible. At the same time, the Bush administration has run the numbers along several contingencies and know more than officials want to tell Congress. Both sides are playing dumber than they are. It is wearying, but not important.
A split within the Defense Department on the scope of the occupation, however, is important. Shinseki is a careful man: He did not become chief of staff of the Army by casually throwing numbers around Congressional hearings, nor was his statement, widely circulated, immediately repudiated by civilian defense officials. From the evidence, it is clear to us that Shinseki was expressing defense policy as he knew it -- and the Army chief of staff, charged with personnel planning, certainly would have to be in the loop on a long-term deployment issue of that magnitude.
That make Wolfowitz's statement hard to fathom. Wolfowitz is also a careful man who knows these things will come back to bite him. Even under pressure from Congressmen looking to score points, Wolfowitz is not one to leave the Army chief of staff looking like a liar or fool, nor is he likely simply to buckle under hard questioning. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, the Army plan and the plan of the Office of the Secretary of Defense seem to be off by a couple of hundred thousand troops -- a large part of the U.S. Army.
We suspect that the explanation for this mismatch lies in the definition of the term "occupying forces." Strictly speaking, occupying force are those charged with maintaining order and providing services in an occupied country. Troops in Kuwait, for example, are not occupying forces. They are based in Kuwait, but their mission is outside of the country; so, there can be troops occupying Iraq and troops based in Iraq and the missions are completely different.
If the Stratfor theory on the long-term U.S. strategy in Iraq is correct, U.S. troops will have two roles to play there. There will be an occupation force charged with managing Iraq's internal security and other issues. There also will be other troops based in Iraq -- not reporting to the occupation commander, but reporting to a war-fighting commander whose primary responsibility will be for operations outside of Iraq.
From Shinseki's point of view, looking at the aggregate numbers, the part of the U.S. Army that he will have to carve out of his manpower pool will run to the hundreds of thousands, and they will be eating their meals in Iraq. From a technical point of view, calling them occupying forces is "wildly inaccurate" because only a hundred thousand will be busy occupying the country while the rest will have other missions. From Wolfowitz's point of view as a strategic planner, it is that force that represents the striking power.
None of this is, of course, as innocent as it appears. Wolfowitz -- and President George W. Bush -- simply don't want to lay the long-term cards on the table at this time. They would rather be accused of attacking Iraq without reason than being viewed as being engaged in a long-term, well-thought-out campaign against other countries in the region. They certainly don't want to express the strategy during a cat fight with congressional Democrats.
All of this points at a core problem. The Bush administration's desire to make Iraq appear a stand-alone operation, without any strategic purpose behind getting rid of a very bad man, is highly vulnerable to attack from many directions. It's only virtue is that it keeps the administration from getting involved in complex questions that can complicate the war. It also makes officials look -- at one and the same time -- simplistic, devious and incompetent. When the deputy secretary of defense and the chief of staff of the Army cannot, within 48 hours of each other, provide Congress with consistent information -- and Wolfowitz must cover the strategy by making Shinseki look like he doesn't know what he is doing -- the situation is getting out of hand.
Once the war is concluded, if it is concluded well, these contradictions will be forgotten and the next strategic steps will unfold -- or so the administration's theory goes. That may be correct, and indeed, much of this is simply Washington chatter, of no consequence outside of Washington. Nevertheless, the intense strains of unarticulated strategic plans are showing.
Um, Gen. Tommy Franks, who will lead the invasion of Iraq, was promoted 4 star general and assigned to be commander in chief of U.S. Central Command in June of 2000.
* We suspect that the explanation for this mismatch lies in the definition of the term "occupying forces." Strictly speaking, occupying force are those charged with maintaining order and providing services in an occupied country. Troops in Kuwait, for example, are not occupying forces. They are based in Kuwait, but their mission is outside of the country; so, there can be troops occupying Iraq and troops based in Iraq and the missions are completely different.
* There will be an occupation force charged with managing Iraq's internal security and other issues. There also will be other troops based in Iraq -- not reporting to the occupation commander, but reporting to a war-fighting commander whose primary responsibility will be for operations outside of Iraq.
* Wolfowitz -- and President George W. Bush -- simply don't want to lay the long-term cards on the table at this time. They would rather be accused of attacking Iraq without reason than being viewed as being engaged in a long-term, well-thought-out campaign against other countries in the region.
Q: How many troops will be needed to occupy Iraq after the war?
Shinseki: Uuuuh..it would probably take...uuhhh....several....hundred thousand.
This numbskull probably doesn't even know how many troops are under his command. His answer came from where most of his decisions come from - his ass.
Rummy has chided him publicly publicly (if indirectly) and put his own guys under him to spearhead the effort in Iraq...
I stand by my suspicions, with some of the Clinton era appointments better than others...
Remember who was leading the Department of the Army during the Clinton days and what Clinton's FIRST act as president was?
Rumsfeld: I'm going to finish my thought and then we're through.
Someone mentioned General Franks, or I did. I'm not -- I don't want to be critical of any one person or any newspaper, but we're going into a difficult period. And accuracy and precision on my part is important, and accuracy and precision on your parts is important. There's just an awful lot of mischief taking place around here.
I read an article that said that I overruled General Franks and -- because I was disagreeing, we were disagreeing, and I put General John Abizaid in as his deputy, so that we could keep track of what he's doing. That is absolute hogwash.
The truth is that what happened was that Paul Wolfowitz came to me and said that General Franks had come to him and said, "How do you think I could approach the Secretary of Defense about the possibility of my getting General Abizaid as my deputy, one of my deputies?"
And Paul said, "I don't know. He's not going to like it, because he likes him as director of the Joint Staff. He's doing a terrific job there. Dick Myers isn't going to like it, and Pete" -- (laughter) -- "and Pete Pace isn't going to like it. So you, General Franks, better figure out a way that you can make it so persuasive that you can get the secretary, the deputy secretary, the chairman and the vice chairman to agree to let this fine talent leave the Joint Staff" -- where he was doing tremendously important work and exceedingly well -- and go -- "and that he is the only one in the entire armed forces, Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, that can do that job for you. And that's not going to be an easy sell," he told Franks.
So, General Franks comes sidling up to you and sidling up to me and sidling up to Paul, and we said, "No! We need him here." And so, he goes away, and he comes back a week and a half later and does it again. He sidles up to all of us and he was persuasive. And finally we said, "Well, maybe. But not now." And we kept delaying it.
By some of his articles and interviews, Shinseki seems to have a fair sense of warfighting theory, if it isn't more heavily skewed to the priority of training to actual battlefield command. It's tougher to actually judge his performance in the latter however, without the critical criterion of his superiors.
I did, and still disagree with his vision of warfighter esprit de corps vis a vis what I consider his stubborn recalcitrance on the Clinton era beret controversy in which he essentially ripped one of Airborne qualified troops most coveted symbols of their military uniqueness away from them, and fitted it instead onto the heads of the entire Army from boot to ACS. That essentially the entire inventory of that headgear was at least initially Made In China, only added insult to injury. ...Again, in my opinion. Not that I've ever been crazy about our Army emulating the appearance of French soldiers, anyway.
So, on what other basis outside the merits of of "us" and "them" are your views on this issue determined?
Clinton isn't worthy of evaluation in a military context. So if that's your point, we're done.
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