Monday, March 13, 2006

Divided Generals, Elusive Plans

There is an illuminating article in today's New York Times detailing the fractious relationship that former Centcom Commanding General Tommy Franks had with his chief Lieutenants. For instance, concerning Franks' relationship with V Corps Commander Liutenant General Wallace:

From the first days of the invasion in March 2003, American forces had tangled with fanatical Saddam Fedayeen paramilitary fighters. Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace, who was leading the Army's V Corps toward Baghdad, had told two reporters that his soldiers needed to delay their advance on the Iraqi capital to suppress the Fedayeen threat in the rear.

Soon after, General Franks phoned Lt. Gen. David D. McKiernan, the commander of allied land forces, to warn that he might relieve General Wallace.

While the tales of strained relationships at the highest levels of the chain of command are titillating, some of the article's omissions are even more interesting.

Nothing in this article points to there being a cohesive plan at any level for stabilizing Iraq after toppling Saddam's regime. Miscommunications and hasty political decisions apparently ruled the early days of Iraq after Saddam's defense folded. Perhaps a future article or biography from a participant in these events will shed light on post war Iraq planning. So far, though, neither the Pentagon nor the State Department have ever proffered details of the pre-war planning done (if any) for establishing order after Baghdad's fall. This is extremely troubling.

War planning for a second invasion of Iraq was an ongoing chore in the military for over a decade; the fact that military planners failed to develop a comprehensive plan as a framework for occupation and reconstruction is a major shortcoming and failure of the United States Government. Contrast this with the detailed planning and execution that went into the United States' efforts following Japan's unconditional surrender.

At this point it is largely a hypothetical, but one could definitely question whether, had the US - led coalition proceeded from a coherent framework for reconstruction from the start, would the insurgency have been able to develop legs, leading to the problems of today's Iraq?


Gateway Pundit said...

I would be curious to know how many perished in the rebuilding of Japan and Europe and how long things took.

Bill W said...

As someone who was on the ground in June of '03 and through late '04 working on reconstruction projects and interacting with the Army Corps, the CPA, etc, I think it is simplistic to say there was no plan.

Bremer and his team hit the ground in June or July of '03 with a 4000-5000 point plan. He did not do many interviews and they did not make the mainstream media, but since I was up to my eyeballs in it, I seek it out and read about what he was doing. I also saw first hand the hardworking staff that they had going from 4am to midnight day after day.

They laid out a plan of building a representative government from the ground up, which meant going to all 18 provinces, and starting with town councils, tribal councils, etc to start electing the first representatives. They laid out the plan of electing national representative, provisional government, turning authority over to them in less than a year, having first democratic election 6 months later to elect representatives to write a constitution, write & approve a constitution, and elect a permanent governement all within 2005. This is the plan that was laid out from day one and they followed.

In the meantime, they had to work to get women represented, and set up a lot of special councils and many, many meetings to get that into place.

They also had plans to execute for the banking system (setting a real one up, getting it certified, opening banks, opening a stock market), which also could not happen without setting up the whole legal system - again something from scratch for this area.

They had plans for reconstruction, for the health care sector, education, civil rights, industry, etc, etc, etc. It was an enormous effort, and because of the lack of real, balanced reporting that puts all of this in context, many well educated and thinking people in this country think as you do - that there was no plan and it has all been chaos.

From my perspective, I am amazed at all that HAS been accomplished, and many of the Iraqis that I have known felt that way as well.

You say that biographies have not been written, but Tommy Franks has written a very insightful book which I have read, and Paul Bremer has written one as well, which I have not read yet.

Bob W. said...

Bill W, thanks for your insightful comment, and thank you for taking the time to read this blog!

I have a new post on this topic, where I quote some of the things you said and address the issues you brought up as well.

Thanks again for coming over and reading Wilsonizer!

Bill W said...

Thanks Bob - good discussion and I like your blog now that I have been introduced to it.