Originally Posted by SDW2001
I don't know that I'd call their treatment "disgusting." I think that the Pentagon was stretching its resources, which include people. One of the problems was that we really weren't prepared to undertake the operation we did. The Iraq war is proof positive that Rumsfeld's lighter, quicker military concept doesn't work in such a situation. We didn't have enough armor, humvees, equipment, nor personnel. Tours were extended and supplies ran short. I put this on Rumsfeld quite honestly. My opinion is that the war would have gone FAR better for all involved if we did what we did in the first Gulf War, which was to use a heavy footprint with 400,000 troops. We also should have had a publicly announced timetable for transition/rebuilding. I think the success of the surge is proof that more troops were needed to resist and overcome the insurgency.
(Ignoring the perceived merits and rationale for the war, or lack thereof), committing the nation to war is one of the most serious/fundamental decisions that any politician/president will make in his/her political career. Advice is sought from the generals, other senior career military personnel, intelligence agencies, civilian experts in many disciplines, and so forth. Surely President Bush and cabinet must have noted the advice from Gen. Shinseki and others, that to bring a war in Iraq to a decisive conclusion in which the coalition prevailed both militarily, but also winning the respect of the Iraqi people and preventing the rise of guerilla groups and insurgents would have taken, as you mentioned re. the Gulf War 1991, at least 400,000 troops. I recall that General Shinseki specified as many as 700,000 troops for the job in hand.... the 1991 Gulf War did not involve ground forces in the Northern half of Iraq. For that advice, Shinseki was unceremoniously put out to pasture. The presence of that many troops on the ground would have taken care of preventing guerilla groups from forming, by securing all ammunition depots, bomb caches and any other sources of arms, ammunition and explosives, liaising with the Iraqi police, dealing with former Iraqi Republican Guard and other branches if the Iraqi army, and getting the country back to normal ASAP after the initial invasion. The language barrier was undoubtedly a large problem, but one would have thought, that with an agenda in the works for waging war against as many as 7 Arabic speaking nations, there would have been employment/deployment for plenty of folk fluent in both English and Arabic in order to supervise and liaise with local government, law enforcement and just being able to have meaningful communications with the Iraqi people. I am curious as how many of our troops knew any Arabic in 2003... probably very, very few.
I know its easy to say all this in "armchaired hindsight", but surely the "enemy" was not the entire population of Iraq, but Saddam Hussein's military and privileged elites. By rights, the job could have been done in two months, as per Gulf War. Instead of losing 5000 troops and still counting, perhaps the total US casualty count may have been less than 200... or in a worse case... lasting say, four months.. where the fatality count was still less than 300. Iraqi civilian deaths? Lets not even go there.
Rumsfeld's and his supporters' ideas prevailed. A Secretary of Defense surely knows about military planning, and what is required... thats why he's the top guy in uniform. Dick Cheney himself knew that the consequence of invading Iraq was fraught with hazard
.... doing the job properly... as you mentioned, using the heaviest footprint that the military was capable of providing... was common sense.
To look at it cynically, it almost looks as if Rumsfeld and company engineered the war to be long lasting, and thus maintaining a public justification for keeping the troops there, on account of the chaos and violence. By doing it "on the cheap", it turned out to be an endless $multi-trillion operation.
Now its Obama's turn to make a dog's dinner of mid-east policy.
Re. the "Surge"... the US casualty rate, IED attacks etc. were already starting to tail off when "The Surge"® happened... I did read that many Iraqi militants were just giving up on the idea that violence was going to get the US to withdraw, and they also wanted a normal life back. BTW, up until the "Surge"®, there were a number of similar (but slightly smaller) troop surges which did little or nothing to halt or arrest the insurgency.
But in general I agree with your comment.