Friday, October 01, 2004

Miscalculate This

I hope you had a chance to read the LTG Petraeus article yesterday, because a key part of his plan kicked off in Samarra yesterday just before dawn. It was a big step towards making Iraq safer for the elections. Early news reports indicate 17 enemy killed with no coalition killed. My sources indicate they're right about the coalition forces, but I'm tracking well over 100 enemy killed in Samarra thus far. This is a staggering figure, because it's approaching the actual number of insurgents believed to be in Samarra. Either our estimates were off, or it's turning out to be one heckuva last stand over there. The people of Samarra have been asking us to "clean out" the insurgents since early September. We waited as the Iraqi government attempted diplomacy (hey- insurgents have needs too), and the talks fell apart on the 23rd. Now we're turning Samarra into a "go zone" which will be effectively patrolled and protected by Petraeus' new Iraqi Sooper Troopers. If this sounds familiar, it's because something very similar happened recently in Najaf. There was a little more diplomacy in the Najaf situation, because of the "Mosque sensitivity" issues, but the result was very telling- dozens of insurgents killed, few American casualties, and a successful transfer of authority to the new Iraqi Security Forces. Since that time, Najaf has been flooded with reconstruction money and the people have never been happier. The coalition approval rating in Najaf has nearly doubled since the end of that standoff. The people of Samarra said "I'll have what they're having" and so it goes. I hope you're starting to notice a pattern here, because it's not an accident.

Today I'd like to address the issue of President Bush's "miscalculation." First off, I think it was nice of him to take the heat for us, but the obvious truth is that George Bush miscalculated nothing. Here's a couple secrets I'd like to reveal:

1) George W. Bush didn't learn anything about strategic war planning as a lieutenant in the Texas ANG. He didn't learn about war planning while serving as the Governor of Texas either.

2) Bill Clinton didn't learn anything about war planning as a young student in search of a secret method for smoking pot without inhaling. He didn't learn about war planning while serving as the Governor of Arkansas either.

When we bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, Clinton called China and said "I'm sorry." Clinton had nothing to do with that bomb going astray, but as a leader, he took responsibility and did what we expect a leader to do. Bush did the same when he said that he "miscalculated" the transition from combat operations to stability operations in Iraq. The fact is, we had the most experienced military and diplomatic strategists in the world working on the strategy, and it just so happens that some of their assumptions were wrong. If you want to know the real story about the miscalculations, you won't get a more honest assessment than this one by LTG Wallace. LTG William Wallace was the V Corps Commander, and therefore, the Army Forces Commander in Iraq when the war kicked off. I arrived in Kuwait on February 28th '03 with the 101st Division Advance Party and I was surprised when LTG Wallace welcomed us off the plane. He shook our hands and said he wanted to personally welcome the 101st and thank us for coming. I'll never forget what he said to us that day:
"I know you've been hearing different things on the news, but I'm telling you it's not a matter of if this war's gonna happen, it's a matter of when it's gonna happen. It's gonna be tough, it's gonna take courage and sacrifice, and if we thought it was gonna be easy, we wouldn't have asked for the 101st."

2 comments:

jdwill said...

Hi 2Slick,

I am discouraged by the quality of reporting we get on Iraq. The press seem to be a herd, not a pack. The copy coming from the various news agencies seems to be all cloned from each other [see two notable mutations below]. To illustrate I picked the recent story on the cleanup in Samarra. I focused on two elements of the story and clipped the corresponding bits from the release by various papers:

Atlanta Journal-Constitution Over 100 Killed in U.S. Assault in Iraq Georgia, USA
AP Zidan Khalaf

>>Dr. Khalid Ahmed said at least 80 bodies and more than 100 wounded were brought to Samarra General Hospital, but it was not clear how many were insurgents.>>"We are terrified by the violent approach used by the Americans to subdue the city," said Mahmoud Saleh, a 33-year-old civil servant. "I hope that the fighting ends as soon as possible."


The Globe: U.S., Iraqi offensive in Samarra could be first in series of major operations before January elections Massachusetts, USA
AP Zidan Khalaf

>>"We are terrified by the violent approach used by the Americans to subdue the city," said Mahmoud Saleh, a 33-year-old civil servant. "I hope that the fighting ends as soon as possible."

>>Dr. Khalid Ahmed said at least 80 bodies and more than 100 wounded were brought to Samarra General Hospital, but it was not immediately clear how many were insurgents. The hospital was running out of supplies, Ahmed said.



The Age: US forces storm Iraqi townAustralia
AP no attribution

>>Dr. Khalid Ahmed said at least 80 bodies and more than 100 wounded were brought to Samarra General Hospital, but it was not immediately clear how many were insurgents. The hospital was running out of supplies, Ahmed said.

>>"We are terrified by the violent approach used by the Americans to subdue the city," said Mahmoud Saleh, a 33-year-old civil servant. "I hope that the fighting ends as soon as possible."



The BBC: US pushes to take Iraq rebel townGilligans Island
Unsigned

>>US forces said around 109 militants were killed, but doctors said many of the dead and injured were civilians.(Mahmoud Saleh is omitted in favor of this bit of color):
>>By midday, the US military said its troops had seized control of the town hall and police stations.
But the fighting continued throughout the day, with reports speaking of bodies lying uncollected on the streets.


The Independent: US troops kill 100 in attack on rebel townOverTheTopLand
Kim Sengupta

>>More than 100 people were killed and another 100 wounded as the city was pounded by air strikes and tank shells. The US military claimed the casualties were insurgents, but doctors in the city reported women, children and the elderly among the dead. Thousands of people were said to be fleeing the town, 60 miles north of Baghdad.


>>"We are terrified by this violence used by the Americans to subdue the city. My wife and children are scared to death and they have not been able to sleep since last night. I hope the fighting ends as soon as possible," said Mahmoud Saleh, 33, a civil servant.

>>Rahim Abdul-Karim, a retired schoolteacher, said: "There has been a lot of deaths, and they have been of ordinary people ... They are killing us to save us."


Advantage Independent!
Women, children and the elderly among the dead! Humanitarian crisis in the form of refugees! And no slackers, mind you, another man in the street is interviewed - who curiously paraphrases the Vietnam cliche "we destroyed the village to save it". Note that even the Arab News kept to the basic story, while the British papers are in a class by themselves.

I don't give the Globe any extra points for trying to write another story in the headlinnnnnnne.

Each of the stories is slightly different with different background, and observations thrown in, but these two elements are pretty much identical until you get to the BBC and the Independent.

So are all of the newspeople in the same bar trading the story bits, or running around the battle zone in a herd all talking to the same guy Mahmoud? I wonder. How many individual reporters are actually going around Iraq collecting facts?
Based on this story it looks like two, one reporting to the BBC and the Independent, and another reporting to everyone else.



That's why I'm so thankful for you and the other milbloggers who give us some truth and perspective. Thanks!

2Slick said...

Thank YOU, jdwill. This will make a GREAT topic for my next post. Glad you brought it up!