Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Rumsfeld Iraq Memo

Just two days before he resigned, Defense Secratary Donald Rumsfeld submitted to President Bush a memo. The classified memo advocates major shifts in America's Iraq policy. Then SecDef Rumsfeld clearly states in the opening that what America is doing is working neither fast enough nor well enough.

The memo is a fairly lengthy list of options. This might suggest Rumsfeld has thought about these ideas for some time. If so, then he is not the main advocate for "stay the course" policies that to him clearly were not working. He also points out that the number of American bases in-country have been reduced significantly from "110 to 55 bases."

December 3, 2006
Rumsfeld’s Memo of Options for Iraq War
The New York Times

Nov. 6, 2006

SUBJECT: Iraq — Illustrative New Courses of Action

The situation in Iraq has been evolving, and U.S. forces have adjusted, over time, from major combat operations to counterterrorism, to counterinsurgency, to dealing with death squads and sectarian violence. In my view it is time for a major adjustment. Clearly, what U.S. forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough. Following is a range of options:


Above the Line: (Many of these options could and, in a number of cases, should be done in combination with others)

¶ Publicly announce a set of benchmarks agreed to by the Iraqi Government and the U.S. — political, economic and security goals — to chart a path ahead for the Iraqi government and Iraqi people (to get them moving) and for the U.S. public (to reassure them that progress can and is being made).

¶ Significantly increase U.S. trainers and embeds, and transfer more U.S. equipment to Iraqi Security forces (ISF), to further accelerate their capabilities by refocusing the assignment of some significant portion of the U.S. troops currently in Iraq.

¶ Initiate a reverse embeds program, like the Korean Katusas, by putting one or more Iraqi soldiers with every U.S. and possibly Coalition squad, to improve our units’ language capabilities and cultural awareness and to give the Iraqis experience and training with professional U.S. troops.

¶ Aggressively beef up the Iraqi MOD and MOI, and other Iraqi ministries critical to the success of the ISF — the Iraqi Ministries of Finance, Planning, Health, Criminal Justice, Prisons, etc. — by reaching out to U.S. military retirees and Reserve/National Guard volunteers (i.e., give up on trying to get other USG Departments to do it.)

¶ Conduct an accelerated draw-down of U.S. bases. We have already reduced from 110 to 55 bases. Plan to get down to 10 to 15 bases by April 2007, and to 5 bases by July 2007.

¶ Retain high-end SOF capability and necessary support structure to target Al Qaeda, death squads, and Iranians in Iraq, while drawing down all other Coalition forces, except those necessary to provide certain key enablers for the ISF.

¶ Initiate an approach where U.S. forces provide security only for those provinces or cities that openly request U.S. help and that actively cooperate, with the stipulation being that unless they cooperate fully, U.S. forces would leave their province.

¶ Stop rewarding bad behavior, as was done in Fallujah when they pushed in reconstruction funds, and start rewarding good behavior. Put our reconstruction efforts in those parts of Iraq that are behaving, and invest and create havens of opportunity to reward them for their good behavior. As the old saying goes, “If you want more of something, reward it; if you want less of something, penalize it.” No more reconstruction assistance in areas where there is violence.

¶ Position substantial U.S. forces near the Iranian and Syrian borders to reduce infiltration and, importantly, reduce Iranian influence on the Iraqi Government.

¶ Withdraw U.S. forces from vulnerable positions — cities, patrolling, etc. — and move U.S. forces to a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) status, operating from within Iraq and Kuwait, to be available when Iraqi security forces need assistance.

¶ Begin modest withdrawals of U.S. and Coalition forces (start “taking our hand off the bicycle seat”), so Iraqis know they have to pull up their socks, step up and take responsibility for their country.

¶ Provide money to key political and religious leaders (as Saddam Hussein did), to get them to help us get through this difficult period.

¶ Initiate a massive program for unemployed youth. It would have to be run by U.S. forces, since no other organization could do it.

¶ Announce that whatever new approach the U.S. decides on, the U.S. is doing so on a trial basis. This will give us the ability to readjust and move to another course, if necessary, and therefore not “lose.”

¶ Recast the U.S. military mission and the U.S. goals (how we talk about them) — go minimalist.

Below the Line (less attractive options):

¶ Continue on the current path.

¶ Move a large fraction of all U.S. Forces into Baghdad to attempt to control it.

¶ Increase Brigade Combat Teams and U.S. forces in Iraq substantially.

¶ Set a firm withdrawal date to leave. Declare that with Saddam gone and Iraq a sovereign nation, the Iraqi people can govern themselves. Tell Iran and Syria to stay out.

¶ Assist in accelerating an aggressive federalism plan, moving towards three separate states — Sunni, Shia, and Kurd.

¶ Try a Dayton-like process.

Where I see US policy failures has been in the lack of carrot and stick rationale as Rumsfeld suggests. First, provide aid only to those areas openly requesting US help and actively assisting in efforts to pacify and rebuild. If full cooperation is not forthcoming, American troops, money, and rebuilding aid will simply leave the area to the tender mercies of the other side. Second, don't reward behavior contrary to the stated and agreed upon goals. To many sheiks and tribes are playing both ends of the stick - rebuild during the day and sabatage by night, all the while collecting money from the Coalitions and al-Qaida and their wannabes. Third, the over-reliance on regular Army and Marine troops to fight a Special Operations Forces war. Our men and women in combat uniform have been outstanding in performing duties for which they were not originally trained or created. Their mission has always been to be the hammer and anvil. The current war in Iraq and on terrorists, demands a more sophisticated approach as was envisioned by Rumsfeld at the start. Smaller, mobile, highly skilled and trained professional units with the best technology and equipment the US can provide; units much more like the enemy we face, practicing hit and run, small scale, surgical strikes against hiigh value targets.

Somewhere along the way, we were sidetracked away from what was envisioned to the asymmetric war we are fighting today. "Stay the course" may be a good political bumber sticker, but when applied to a battle tank it's just a target. Throughtout time, large armies have not been able to defeat guerrilla terror tactics, neither has terror ever succeeded. A stalemale generally ensues, ending only when the first and second generation guerrilla terrorists die out. The third generation is too interested in making money to fight dirty wars anymore. We have a ways to go till that generation. In the meantime, we can't prevail if we don't change stratagems.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.


mudkitty said...

Can you say "too little too late?"

mudkitty said...

He had one bullet left in his gun, and this was it.

Indigo Red said...

I like the part when everyone suddenly recognizes my clever use of Rumsfeld on the unicycle in conjuction with his words,"...start “taking our hand off the bicycle seat”)..."

mudkitty said...

It was clever.

Mike's America said...

I say forget the Baker Commission and set up soon to be ex-SecDef Rumsfeld as Iraq War Czar with the power to implement each of the points he makes.

Indigo Red said...

That would be fine by me, Mike. But, the fact remains few in the Pentagon liked him because he changed their toys all around. It will be another decade before the Pentagon grows into Don's ideas.

mudkitty said...

Czar? So much for democracy in Iraq.

Indigo Red said...


It's called "poetic license." Maybe you should autodidact yourself on the concept.

mudkitty said...

Well, it's hard to know when you're being literal or when you're taking license. And anyway, it's the meaning behind the terminology - many a truth is spoken in jest.

Indigo Red said...

No, it's just liberals who can't tell literal from license. The biggest indication that one is a liberal is the total lack of humor.

mudkitty said...

Oh! That was sooooo funny! You got me! Oooooh! Hysterical put down!