You’ve heard of the three types of lies. They’re “lies,” “damn lies,” and “statistics.” I think that can be adapted to planning. “Plans” often don’t go as, um, planned. “Military plans,” I’m sure you’ve heard, don’t survive first contact with the enemy. “Diplomacy,” I feel, is the most unpredictable and vague of them all. With all the brouhaha about having too few troops in Iraq (with which I agree) and the claims that the military offensive is stalled (in which I don’t put quite so much faith), it’s hard to know what’s going on. The “Arab street” and many members of the media claim that the plan wasn’t a good one. Now, it may be that some of those making those claims actually know the plan, but I doubt it.
Neither do we know exactlty why the negotiations with Turkey failed to get us the access we wanted to pass the 4th Infantry Division through into northern Iraq. If the plan is indeed seriously flawed, my opinion is that the largest error was not getting that access. If we weren’t going to get it, we should have shifted the 4th ID to Kuwait immediately. Not only would they be able to relieve the embattled 3rd ID and/or Marines, but while they continued the battle, the relieved forces could secure the supply lines while they rested, regrouped, and rearmed. Not only that, but the ships could be on their way back to load more units instead of still waiting to unload the 4th ID.
While things certainly don’t appear to be going according to plans, we don’t know those plans. We have rapidly advanced, we have pinned many Republican Guards forces in place, and we have suffered amazingly light casualties. The biggest problem so far was the failure with Turkey.