This is the 11 point plan that the men in charge of U.S. Victory in Iraq have submitted to The White House, The Pentagon and the State Department, and which will serve as the blueprint for victory in Iraq. It has been brought to me and confirmed by sources both inside and outside of the Military.
Here it is:
1. U.S. troops are to be gradually pulled back from all Iraqi cities and towns and sent to seal the borders with Iran and Syria. The real insurgency is not indigenous to Iraq, but being pumped in through Iran and Syria.
I must admit that I’m more than a bit (pleasantly) surprised at point #1. This is what I had been expecting and waiting for since it became apparent that the insurgency was going to have staying power at the end of 2003. I had basically given up hope, even when the Marines were conducting major operations to cut the “rat lines” from Syria, that we’d ever make a serious move to really control the borders.
2. Ramadi and Baghdad will be two of a handful of initial principle exceptions, as major U.S supported military engagements are in process in Baghadad and gearing up in Ramadi.
Saying you’re going to pull out of most cities except for Baghdad and Ramadi is, at least initially, a bit pointless. The manpower requirements to conduct offensive operations in those two will be very great. Point #6 (below) notes that a major assault upon the AQ forces in Ramadi is thankfully coming soon, which would eventually free up many forces currently tied down in that area. But Baghdad will remain manpower-intensive for quite some time.
3. Iraqi Military Units meeting standards of –militia cleansing” ( ie militia free ) and ideologically dedicated to a United Iraq will be upgraded to Elite Status and given full operational autonomy.
Grading the best and most reliable Iraqi Army units as “elite” has been a long time in coming, but I expect that we’re going to be seeing why the wait was worth it. Nothing we do in Iraq matters if the Iraqis can’t take over at some point. Everything we’re doing is designed to hold things together until we reach that point. 2007 and 2008 are when we’ll see if it can be done.
None of this is a major shock, but (assuming this is legit) it’s nice to see that a very sensible list has been put together and not only is a strategy for success in Iraq but can be used as a yardstick to measure our ability to make that success real.
UPDATE: I’ve moved my commentary inline with the list to improve readibility, and I’ve added commentary and some final points to the remaining points below.
4. Generals and leaders from Saddam’s Baath party, many out of work for three years, will be encouraged to rejoin the military enticed with high-pay and bonuses designed to serve as retrograde pay for their time off. The Baath party generals will be key to victory in Al Anbar Province, as I will lay out later today or tomorrow.
Reincorporating old leaders into the new army is, of course, always risky. We intentionally jettisoned the old army because it wouldn’t meet anyone’s needs that we were interested in meeting. At various stages during the reconstitution of the Iraqi military, though, we’ve turned to formerly banned officers, in part because the delay has allowed a better vetting of candidates for return. I expect that this move is going to rub a lot of people the wrong way, and I can’t say that I’m a big fan of it. Most of this list is merely a continuation or re-stating of long-standing policy, but this point is sure to raise some eyebrows.
5. The state of security in each Area of Operations will dictate the tempo of U.S. pullback from towns to the Iranian and Syrian borders.
Basing US pullback on Iraqi military capability and the general security situation has been basic policy since day one.
6. A massive assault is shortly due to be launched on Ramadi, the capital of Al Qaeda, and the remnants of the Sunni Insurgency, in Iraq. Ramadi has degenerated to a sort of post-modern trench warfare, Marines and Soldiers locked away in a variety of new urban outposts, while all the schools have finally been closed and it is nigh on impossible for the average citizen to conduct his daily life. The deadlock must be broken, and Al Qaeda must finally be ejected.
After those that escaped Fallujah settled down and re-emerged, Ramadi became the center of the Sunni insurgency and the key link between Baghdad and the networks and rat lines in An Anbar. It’s not been “if” we were going to have to take down Ramadi, it’s been “when”. Since we’ve been mostly unsuccessful shutting down the flow from the west, it looks like we’ve decided to shut down the destination of so many of the rats. Fallujah was probably one of the greatest and most wildly successful urban assaults in history. Let’s hope for a repeat in Ramadi if it comes to that, though I suspect that the insurgents learned a lot of lessons in November 2004.
7. We will be –firing” most of the Sunni Tribal chieftans who we had been relying on as our major allies in fighting Al Qaeda in Al Anbar. The young chieftains were just absolutely no match for the superior Al Qaeda warriors, and outside of Ramadi their roles will be replaced by the new Baathist Generals brought into the mix. Al Qaeda had been going in for the kill on the Sunni tribes in the last few months, and we are employing such aggressive action to turn it around. I will shortly give a scoop as to how we are going to use the locals inside Ramadi itself.
I was hopeful that this alliance with the locals would work out, and cooperation with willing natives is crucial to success in a counter-insurgency, but it seems clear that this strategy has basically failed. That’s too bad, but the bad guys are serious about Iraq and they cannot let the home team get the initiative and haven’t let up. A change is needed, but I’m not convinced that letting the old Baathist generals into a prominent role is the right move. Sure, their previous job was basically “keep the Shiites in line”, but AQ terrorists are a far different animal than subjugated Shiite civilians.
8. Massively step up talks with, and put pressure on, those Sunni tribal leaders we have not been able to bring over to our side. Saudi Arabia will be involved with this.
This is merely more of the same, though the word “massively” might denote a major ramping up of the effort. Oh. And Saudi Arabia is going to help. Yeah. Right.
9. Immediate, highly visible Infrastructure improvement first focused on the peaceful and cooperative areas of Mosul, Amara and Karbala. The idea is to make other areas around jealous of the rapidly modernizing cities, in order to incent them to tow the line of cooperation with the new Iraqi Government.
Such improvements will include, but are not limited to dozens of new bridges being built to accommodate the literally trebling of auto ownership in Iraq since the liberation; the building of many new hospitals to modern standards of medicine ( Ever been to an Iraqi hospital? Just stay home where it’s cleaner and send someone to fetch some drugs ); a massive campaign for fresh American private sector investment, and a raising of all school standards, with a centerpiece of several new universities being built.
I think we’ve been too lax in our efforts to get Iraqi society back running smoothly and better than before the invasion. Okay, that’s easy for me to say from here while the construction workers dodge suicide bombers, roadside bombs, and snipers. And spend a lot of time rebuilding what was blown up the night before. But until a critical mass of Iraqis can see that it’s better to live in peace and profit than to fight US soldiers and Marines or blow up the neighbors, the “sectarian violence” will continue more or less as it is.
10. Electoral Reform: The old system of national parties selecting candidates for positions was believed to have unfairly tipped the balance in favor of the Shiites and led to too many Pro-Iranian, Pro-Achmedinejad candidates ( like the nutbag terrorist Al Sadr ) receiving too many seats in the parliament. A new system of local candidates simply stepping forward and adding their name to the ballot will instead prevail.
I don’t quite understand this. Shiites are going to have the balance hugely in their favor as long as the elections are free. If someone knows what this means please clue me in.
11. And finally, a census will be taken. Believe it or not, we do not who is where nor how many of them there are.
This could maybe be called ’10a’ instead pf ’11’, as census data makes gerrymandering election districts much more effective. Since I don’t really know what point 10 means, I’m not sure if point 11 is linked to it or not. But I’m suspicious. Still, a census is an important part of governing a peaceful nation. Schedule it for 2015.
Except for reinstating Baathist generals, most of this seems to be pretty much moving ahead with long-planned strategies and tactics. And I have no clue about points 10 and 11.
Still, I like the easy-to-follow 11-point format spelling everything out in a fairly understandable manner for Average Joe. Those that follow news and events in Iraq will no doubt realize that there’s not much new here, but this lays it all out for everyone to look at and understand.
Also, it can make a handy yardstick to measure if we’re doing what we want to do or not.
I know that MO readers have got to have a lot to say about these 11 points (and I’ll bet #4 is going to be a contentious issue) so please register and comment. (via Instapundit)