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Author Topic: US army in Iraq, basic structural problems
Rufus Polson
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posted 08 March 2005 01:51 AM      Profile for Rufus Polson     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Just ran across an interesting article which doesn't seem to fit the existing threads.
It notes that the US always seems to characterize the Iraqi resistance as a pyramidal command-and-control structure, which they then try to defeat by taking out the leadership, even though this is a very unlikely sort of structure for a guerilla force. It suggests that the Americans have little choice--their armed forces and the resources at their disposal are built for fighting conventional forces with pyramidal command-and-control structures, so they're busily trying to define the enemy as being something they can fight.
Going to war with the army you have

Personally, I think there may be other factors involved as well. First, they themselves think in terms of command-and-control, and certainly discount the idea that the masses might think for themselves. Their whole politics is based on treating the masses as sheep who can be manipulated; taking seriously at a gut level the idea that their opposition consists of people operating largely without centralized leadership runs counter to their whole philosophy. At some level, they can't work with the concept of opponents that aren't like them.
Second, they also want to be the liberators and all that jazz. However cynical they may be, they also have to operate, for public consumption at least, as if they're the good guys. Characterizing the opposition as being the general population hating their guts does not good propaganda make. Unfortunately, if you have to say something to both the media and the troops and, to a fair extent, to internal institutional actors in the bureaucracy, inevitably plans start to get made based around the official truth.

But I find the article interesting. It's a thoughtful analysis of an effect that's been described as "When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail" or, in Dogbert's Big Book of Business, "The correct approach to any situation is, by amazing coincidence, the only approach you know."


From: Caithnard College | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
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posted 08 March 2005 11:33 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
interesting
From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
No Yards
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posted 09 March 2005 12:03 AM      Profile for No Yards   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
But I find the article interesting. It's a thoughtful analysis of an effect that's been described as "When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail" or, in Dogbert's Big Book of Business, "The correct approach to any situation is, by amazing coincidence, the only approach you know."

Or my favourite ... if it don't fit, don't force it. Use a bigger hammer.


From: Defending traditional marriage since June 28, 2005 | Registered: Jun 2003  |  IP: Logged
Insurrection
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posted 09 March 2005 01:18 AM      Profile for Insurrection     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Good article. Very interesting analysis.
From: exit in the world | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged
Left Turn
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posted 09 March 2005 01:26 AM      Profile for Left Turn        Edit/Delete Post
For the US army to admit to the true nature of the resistance, it would have to admit that it is in much deeper in Iraq than it has previously been letting on to the American public. Such woulld probably undermine the complicit public support for the war in Iraq by exposing the whole operation as a sham. US army commanders probably don't want to go there, and even if they did, I doubt the bush regime would let them.
From: BC | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
Cougyr
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posted 09 March 2005 01:40 AM      Profile for Cougyr     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Generals usually try to fight the previous war, because that's what they study. One would think US generals would have learned much from Vietnam, but they look like they are still fighting WWII. They have the idea that throwing unlimited hardware at an enemy is all they need. Gear up the factories. It's still as silly as the old Queensbury rules.
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Crippled_Newsie
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posted 09 March 2005 09:55 AM      Profile for Crippled_Newsie     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Cougyr:
Generals usually try to fight the previous war, because that's what they study. One would think US generals would have learned much from Vietnam, but they look like they are still fighting WWII.

It certainly does go to show you that too many of those 'lessons learned in Vietnam' were faulty. In Vietnam, the US strategists never were quite able to grasp the notion that, for much of the war, the Viet Cong forces in the South were self-sustaining (and locally born)-- no matter how much ordnance we dropped in the North, or on the 'Ho Chi Mihn Trail,' the opponents just wouldn't starve, run out of ammunition, run low on manpower, or otherwise conveniently dry up and blow away.

The current guerilla war in Iraq is much the same: by and large these aren't foreign 'insurgents' who strolled in from elsewhere, these are local Iraqi guerillas who aren't going to go away any time soon. Even the stubborn use of the word 'insurgent' by the military reveals their continuing misapprehension of who exactly they're fighting.


From: It's all about the thumpa thumpa. | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
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posted 09 March 2005 12:16 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I think the generals are trying desperately not to fight the last war, and they have been contermanded by Rumsfeld. The advice, and pre-war analysis, coming from the Powell era pentagon staff has been largely igonred -- in particullar their analysis which asked for troop deployment in the range of 400,000 occupying soldiers to maintain security in post war Iraq, was an attempt to avoid the piecemeal escalations that were a feature of Vietnam.

A sophisticated occupation plan drawn up under Clinton by US commanders in the gulf was completely ignored by Rumsfled & co, according to the generals who penned the plan.

Today we see development of an Iraqi force that seems to parrallel the last minute attemps at "Vietnamization" of the Asian war of the 60's and 70's.

I am not sure that increased troop deployment would stopped an insurgency but it might have aliviated some of the basic security concerns that have demoralized supporters of the US within Iraq, and incensed ordinary Iraqis who see US efforts as being incompotent.


From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Rufus Polson
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posted 09 March 2005 04:03 PM      Profile for Rufus Polson     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Tape_342:

It certainly does go to show you that too many of those 'lessons learned in Vietnam' were faulty. In Vietnam, the US strategists never were quite able to grasp the notion that, for much of the war, the Viet Cong forces in the South were self-sustaining (and locally born)-- no matter how much ordnance we dropped in the North, or on the 'Ho Chi Mihn Trail,' the opponents just wouldn't starve, run out of ammunition, run low on manpower, or otherwise conveniently dry up and blow away.

Actually, they may have grasped the problem better than you'd think. My understanding is that they bombed the South far more savagely than the North, undertook a massive assassination campaign in the South (project Phoenix), destroyed dams and other infrastructure needed for southern agriculture to be sustained (leading to massive starvation), and herded masses of the population out of their villages and into what amounted to guarded refugee camps called "strategic hamlets". The notion that the only way to stop the insurgency in the south was by "draining the swamp" (i.e. getting rid of the South Vietnamese rural population) was quite influential.


From: Caithnard College | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged

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