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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/15/AR2007101500841.html

The Real Iraq We Knew

By 12 former Army captains
Tuesday, October 16, 2007; 12:00 AM

Today marks five years since the authorization of military force in Iraq, setting Operation Iraqi Freedom in motion. Five years on, the Iraq war is as undermanned and under-resourced as it was from the start. And, five years on, Iraq is in shambles.

As Army captains who served in Baghdad and beyond, we've seen the corruption and the sectarian division. We understand what it's like to be stretched too thin. And we know when it's time to get out.

What does Iraq look like on the ground? It's certainly far from being a modern, self-sustaining country. Many roads, bridges, schools and hospitals are in deplorable condition. Fewer people have access to drinking water or sewage systems than before the war. And Baghdad is averaging less than eight hours of electricity a day.

Iraq's institutional infrastructure, too, is sorely wanting. Even if the Iraqis wanted to work together and accept the national identity foisted upon them in 1920s, the ministries do not have enough trained administrators or technicians to coordinate themselves. At the local level, most communities are still controlled by the same autocratic sheiks that ruled under Saddam. There is no reliable postal system. No effective banking system. No registration system to monitor the population and its needs.

The inability to govern is exacerbated at all levels by widespread corruption. Transparency International ranks Iraq as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. And, indeed, many of us witnessed the exploitation of U.S. tax dollars by Iraqi officials and military officers. Sabotage and graft have had a particularly deleterious impact on Iraq's oil industry, which still fails to produce the revenue that Pentagon war planners hoped would pay for Iraq's reconstruction. Yet holding people accountable has proved difficult. The first commissioner of a panel charged with preventing and investigating corruption resigned last month, citing pressure from the government and threats on his life.

Against this backdrop, the U.S. military has been trying in vain to hold the country together. Even with "the surge," we simply do not have enough soldiers and marines to meet the professed goals of clearing areas from insurgent control, holding them securely and building sustainable institutions. Though temporary reinforcing operations in places like Fallujah, An Najaf, Tal Afar, and now Baghdad may brief well on PowerPoint presentations, in practice they just push insurgents to another spot on the map and often strengthen the insurgents' cause by harassing locals to a point of swayed allegiances. Millions of Iraqis correctly recognize these actions for what they are and vote with their feet -- moving within Iraq or leaving the country entirely. Still, our colonels and generals keep holding on to flawed concepts.

U.S. forces, responsible for too many objectives and too much "battle space," are vulnerable targets. The sad inevitability of a protracted draw-down is further escalation of attacks -- on U.S. troops, civilian leaders and advisory teams. They would also no doubt get caught in the crossfire of the imminent Iraqi civil war.

Iraqi security forces would not be able to salvage the situation. Even if all the Iraqi military and police were properly trained, equipped and truly committed, their 346,000 personnel would be too few. As it is, Iraqi soldiers quit at will. The police are effectively controlled by militias. And, again, corruption is debilitating. U.S. tax dollars enrich self-serving generals and support the very elements that will battle each other after we're gone.

This is Operation Iraqi Freedom and the reality we experienced. This is what we tried to communicate up the chain of command. This is either what did not get passed on to our civilian leadership or what our civilian leaders chose to ignore. While our generals pursue a strategy dependent on peace breaking out, the Iraqis prepare for their war -- and our servicemen and women, and their families, continue to suffer.

There is one way we might be able to succeed in Iraq. To continue an operation of this intensity and duration, we would have to abandon our volunteer military for compulsory service. Short of that, our best option is to leave Iraq immediately. A scaled withdrawal will not prevent a civil war, and it will spend more blood and treasure on a losing proposition.

America, it has been five years. It's time to make a choice.


This column was written by 12 former Army captains: Jason Blindauer served in Babil and Baghdad in 2003 and 2005. Elizabeth Bostwick served in Salah Ad Din and An Najaf in 2004. Jeffrey Bouldin served in Al Anbar, Baghdad and Ninevah in 2006. Jason Bugajski served in Diyala in 2004. Anton Kemps served in Babil and Baghdad in 2003 and 2005. Kristy (Luken) McCormick served in Ninevah in 2003. Luis Carlos Montalván served in Anbar, Baghdad and Nineveh in 2003 and 2005. William Murphy served in Babil and Baghdad in 2003 and 2005. Josh Rizzo served in Baghdad in 2006. William "Jamie" Ruehl served in Nineveh in 2004. Gregg Tharp served in Babil and Baghdad in 2003 and 2005. Gary Williams served in Baghdad in 2003.
Guess they are just "phony soldiers" too.
 

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When things aren't working out and going on five years of not working out with no end in sight, and people are dying, I can see where these guys would get fustrated.

If our leaders (all of 'em) cannot win this war then they should get out of the freakin' way and let somebody who can take over.

And personally I do favor a draft, as long as there are no champange assignments for VIPS (Bush, Gore, and others) or deferments like Cheney got. ("I had other prioritys").
 

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Well, when I got a draft notice in November, 1965, I had a VERY high priority beyond reporting for pre-induction physical. That was to hie me to the military science department and find out what I was supposed to do (I had changed majors and graduated one semester behind schedule, and was to be commissioned on graduation. The draft notice arrived about two months before graduation day).

I was told "Show up, taking this letter with you. You belong to us, not the draft board - because, among other reasons, you are already in the Army and in a control group that is immune from call to active duty unless yo refuse your commission or drop out of school before graduation. And if you either of those things - you won't have to be drafted..."

So, like a good boy I did as directed and wasn't drafted. Or even given a physical. They did pay my bus fare from home of record (in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas) to the induction station down-town. Of course I did wind up on active duty and did wind up in Vietnam before all was said and done, but I knew that was on already.

If, like Cheney, I'd had a wife and kids, I might have had different priorities than the ones I did have (get a degree, get a commission, get on active duty). And I have no problem with George Bush getting flight training and a flying assignment in the Air Scouts. F-102s (which he did fly actively for a couple of years) were probably more dangerous than the most of the year I spent in SEA. What I truly reset was William Jefferson Clinton lying to avoid service. And don't tell me he didn't - he admitted it.
 

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I forgot Bill Clinton and his lying his way out of the Draft after getting his education perks. I had to take my chances with the Draft and face any dangers that came my way and I figured the rich kids should also.

As it turned out the biggest danger I faced is when a mexican lady threw an orange at me in between the bus station and the induction center. This was in skid row in Los Angles and I had no idea what she was jabbering but she threw a mean fruit!
 

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Once again little Mauserboy comes forward with another "cut and run" article, because Iraq wasn't cleaned up in five minutes. One only has to look at Iraqi History to see that stability hasn't been an inherent quantity in the country since the Ottomans left in 1918. No the 12 Captains aren't "phony soldiers" (you really have to get a new shtick son), they are frustrated just like a lot of people are. As history and doctrine state, successful counterinsurgencies usually take between 9-12 years to prosecute. This is because insurgents gain support from third countries which feed the insurgency (Iraq, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan). If you're not set up to handle the long yomp, then cut and run. You'll be back in the region again in a few years. Once again I'll pose the question: What are your professional qualifications Mauserboy? You seem to have all the answers. Tell ya what, talk to Mum and Dad and get a plane ticket over here and we'll give you two weeks. That should be enough time for you eh?
 

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Been to a war. Ain't gonna go to another one at my age and state of physical decrepitude. Now MB is young, he could use the exposure to real life, he really could. Give him something to talk about when he's old and gray (presuming he lives that long without choking on his own bile; maybe he'll grow up and out of his certainty before it happens).

Question, Stu. My nephew's TX National guard unit has been alerted for Afghanistan. BE mustering in to Federal service in early November, then to Fort Bragg and to Afghanistan in mid-February. Anything special I ought to be telling him to do or not do?
 

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Tell him to get the language cards they give out and learn some phrases in Dari and Pashto. Dependant upon where he'll be, those are the two official languages. Get him some good REI thermals. Last February, it was six degrees with twenty knots of wind for the better part of the month. Get him a couple of good shemaghs, as Spring brings a horrible dust, regardless of where you are. That's about all for now. I'll drop you a PM with whatever else I can think of. Hey, maybe he can bring Mauserboy with him to solve the insurgency. lol. (I crack myself up sometimes).
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Once again little Mauserboy comes forward with another "cut and run" article, because Iraq wasn't cleaned up in five minutes.
Wow, calling your fellow soldiers cowards because they disagree with you, nice.

One only has to look at Iraqi History to see that stability hasn't been an inherent quantity in the country since the Ottomans left in 1918.
So...what...makes...you...think...we..can...stabilize...it...NOW??? Hello! Put 2 and 2 together. If it wasn't stable then, we are just going to fix it with a Western style solution. The problem won't be fixed by us.


As history and doctrine state, successful counterinsurgencies usually take between 9-12 years to prosecute.
Yes, just like the successful COIN that took place in the Philippines, only 4 years. I suggest reading the book "The US Army and Counterinsurgency in the Philippine War 1899-1902". I read it for my US Military History class. (which btw, was taught by a major that had been to Iraq)
I also suggest reading the book "Fiasco". The Marine Corps Gazette called it "Remarkable". John McCain said of it: "Fiasco was both an instructive and saddening depiction-and an accurate one- of the serious mistake that have been made in the conduct of this conflict. And I wish that every American could read it."

You'll be back in the region again in a few years. Once again I'll pose the question: What are your professional qualifications Mauserboy? You seem to have all the answers. Tell ya what, talk to Mum and Dad and get a plane ticket over here and we'll give you two weeks. That should be enough time for you eh?
Afghanistan is a totally different situation than Iraq. Afghanistan can be won.

I'm basing my arguments on Iraq from those of former Commanders in region and from those that understand the region.
 

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No, I didn't refer to my colleagues as cowards. Show me where I said that youngster! What I made reference too was your selective inclusion of articles that are against U.S. involvement abroad. I have nothing against military people speaking their minds about an issue they know. They have that right! What I do take exception too though is an adolescent trying to pontificate to people who have "been there and done that" how they should think! Wow, you agree that Afghanistan can be won. This is based on your time in the country, living with the Pashto, the Dari and the Tajiks? Oh that's right, you have no life experience, except what you see on TV and a few articles that you scan that follow your bent ideology. Regarding the Phillipine Insurection, yes it lasted four years. The average counterinsurgency lasts between nine and twelve years. Have your major loan you a copy of FM 3-24 to clarify what average means (you obviously don't understand the concept). It's the new Counterinsurgency Manual. I should know, I taught COIN with one of its primary writers in Iraq.
 

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I noticed that, too. His first highlight makes NO mention of you calling them cowards, but MB infers a slight where NONE existed.

Kinda like Ron Paul, long on the intellectual, very short on the practical.
 

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The one thing you have to understand about MB is that he's a kid. He wants to sit at the grownups table, but he doesn't have the cred to do it. He reads articles, but doesn't know the facts. He talks a big game, but when confronted by people who actually have done and do this for a living, he folds like a cheap suit. His pathetic little attempts at spin doctoring quotes are laughable. I print out his tragic little quips and share them with my teammates. They laugh at his lack of maturity and his pathetic prose.

On a lighter note, love your cat picture. Reminds me of my late Ellen, when she would see me come home with Chinese food. Ever try to get General Tso's chicken out of cat whiskers? lol
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
No, I didn't refer to my colleagues as cowards. Show me where I said that youngster!
You said it was a "cut and run" article. Implying that that authors of it were cowards.

What I made reference too was your selective inclusion of articles that are against U.S. involvement abroad. I have nothing against military people speaking their minds about an issue they know. They have that right!
Then why not listen to them?

What I do take exception too though is an adolescent trying to pontificate to people who have "been there and done that" how they should think!
I never said you should think the way I do or others that disagree with the war. I'm saying the close-minded folk on this board that think "victory or death" and that Iraq has been a stirring success, need to learn to engage in critical thinking.

Wow, you agree that Afghanistan can be won. This is based on your time in the country, living with the Pashto, the Dari and the Tajiks?
I agree it can be won because that is what commanders have been saying, past and present.

Oh that's right, you have no life experience, except what you see on TV and a few articles that you scan that follow your bent ideology.
My "bent ideology" is something you swore to uphold. The Constitution. Remember that?

Regarding the Phillipine Insurection, yes it lasted four years. The average counterinsurgency lasts between nine and twelve years. Have your major loan you a copy of FM 3-24 to clarify what average means (you obviously don't understand the concept). It's the new Counterinsurgency Manual. I should know, I taught COIN with one of its primary writers in Iraq.
I have an understanding of what a COIN is. Don't simply think that just because I am a civilian that I don't research topics and read books. I don't care about Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Donald Trump or any of that Hollywood BS the media throws at our faces every evening.

What you have failed to address is something you have admitted:
Iraq has never been a stable region.

Also, you fail to address:
-The cost of the war
-The strain on the military for such a commitment
-The broken Iraqi government; the real battle needs to be fought politically.

The one thing you have to understand about MB is that he's a kid. He wants to sit at the grownups table, but he doesn't have the cred to do it. He reads articles, but doesn't know the facts. He talks a big game, but when confronted by people who actually have done and do this for a living, he folds like a cheap suit. His pathetic little attempts at spin doctoring quotes are laughable. I print out his tragic little quips and share them with my teammates. They laugh at his lack of maturity and his pathetic prose.
Yes, lack of maturity, which is why I am not the one insulting others because I don't have an argument.
You know there is a common unspoken rule that when having a discussion about the war everyone is suppose to shut up once the military guy has said his spiel.
I don't buy into that. I've heard some rather false statements come from some of these people(mainly that there was an AQ-Saddam connection or that Saddam had WMD).
I disagree with the war in Iraq completely. The mission was ill-planned and had poor preparation. The war was launched on false pretenses; That Iraq had WMD, that there was an AQ-Saddam connection, that Iraq would be a vibrant center for democracy, that it would cost us only $1.2 billion, that it would be over in 6 months.
All proved to be false.
You can throw army manuals and your experience into the discussion but it doesn't distract me from the misinformation this war was built on. The cost in human lives is a result of the incompetence of the people in charge, the policy makers in Washington. Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Feith- they all are responsible for the complete screw up this war has been.
 

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Junior, please don't put words into my mouth. You have neither the age nor the life experience to even talk to me. There was no implication on my part concerning the soldiers in question. They have the right to express their opinion. They've done the deed and have earned the right. You, on the other hand, are a child who thinks his opinion matters when talking to adults. They don't. As a civilian you wish to talk critical thinking with me? I'll tell you what, when you get a B.A. an M.S. and graduate from two Staff Colleges, along with twenty-odd years of soldiering around the world, then I might take you seriously. Until then, you're a joke and the people who do have the life experience on this board laugh at you and your trivial little life. As for your COIN experience, it don't come from a book sonny. Be a man, for once, put on the suit and experience the world.
 

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You said it was a "cut and run" article. Implying that that authors of it were cowards.


Yes, lack of maturity, which is why I am not the one insulting others because I don't have an argument.
You know, kid, till this I never thought I would have to say this about you.

You are a liar. To say you don't get isulting, and throw epiuthets around when you get your panites twisted is a bald-faced, obvious lie that anyone here can show from most of your posts.

I would like to attirbute them to the enthusiasm of your youthful inexperiance, and being blind-sided by amtraker, who is doing all the things you have only read about. Can be pretty frustrating to have only talk when arguing with folks who have been, OR ARE CURRENTLY out in the field.

Maybe you will consider this when you, in desperation, call someone an idiot or the other more clever insults you toss about.

Till then, grow up.
 

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Hairball, take everything you read here with a big grain of salt, this is the internet and Walther Mittys are running amuck.

Excepting of course, Ret_Marine, jjk308, Lou and MB who I am 99% to 100% sure are as they say, I want proof from everybody else if they are bragging.

Otherwise it's all hat and no horse.

Just been there and seen that.
 

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Amtraker is straight. Retired Misguided Child, doing training in Afghanistan for one of the civilian companies hired to provide same.

Me - i haven't worn a green suit in 30 years, but I try and keep up. Only war was Vietnam, was there 1968-69.
 

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Amtraker is straight. Retired Misguided Child, doing training in Afghanistan for one of the civilian companies hired to provide same.

Me - i haven't worn a green suit in 30 years, but I try and keep up. Only war was Vietnam, was there 1968-69.
You can't 'only' that. You went through a hell of a lot. My stint was non military and humanitarian and in South America, which is why some of my feelings are pretty strong regarding all the socialist/Che-worshipping crap that is bantered among students in this country.

I, too, read a lot. I like to make myself educated, but there are a lot of things that the man on the spot can educate us about. That is why it was always so refreshing to have Citizen writing from that zone, because he was/is there and has a better perspective on Iraq than MBoy.

And yes, Montello, I realize that the MIttys abound. MBoy is no exception, and his hypocrisy is astounding. If I ever get the way of how to bring some of his choicer insults to a thread of its own, I would like to display the length and breadth of that arrogance.

One of the guys I work with here has a crazy brother who is a Ron Paul fan, and also believes that contrails are a conspiracy and that the Govt has 'The Cure" ready to treat only a select few when 'IT' happens.

To my mind that does put things in perspective.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Junior, please don't put words into my mouth. You have neither the age nor the life experience to even talk to me. There was no implication on my part concerning the soldiers in question. They have the right to express their opinion. They've done the deed and have earned the right. You, on the other hand, are a child who thinks his opinion matters when talking to adults. They don't. As a civilian you wish to talk critical thinking with me? I'll tell you what, when you get a B.A. an M.S. and graduate from two Staff Colleges, along with twenty-odd years of soldiering around the world, then I might take you seriously. Until then, you're a joke and the people who do have the life experience on this board laugh at you and your trivial little life. As for your COIN experience, it don't come from a book sonny. Be a man, for once, put on the suit and experience the world.
Thats nice, but you still didn't address certain aspects of this war that I asked you about.

Whats the matter? Can't put down the arguments of a "boy" with all the experience you have?

If you can find a way to pull the country(USA) out of debt completely, get enough soldiers for the mission, somehow find a way to pay for the continuing costs of the war, settle 1000 year old disputes among two religious factions, and settle disputes between kurds and Turkey I see no end in sight for this hellish situation in Iraq.

A counter-insurgency won't solve those problems. The COIN only treats the symptoms and not the sickness. The insurgency is a cause of an underlying issue. You have to solve those issues if you wish to make Iraq the ideological dream world of the Administration.
 

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You know what, every time I see Mboys name I smile, why you ask? Well I happen to be US Army ret. and I think he is just trying to get your goat. You guys jump on him and that is what he wants. I can hear him and his buddies now Hey, what say we go over to Gunboards and get those old farts all shook up. The reason I smile is because it works. Think about it for awhile. I may be wrong, but I might right JMHO
 
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