Our Army was forbidden to plan for the "worst-case scenario" in occupying Iraq. In fact, the Army was forbidden to plan for the most-likely scenario as well. Why? Because it showed the true cost of the Iraqi invasion at a time when the war was being sold as cheap and easy, a Desert-Storm II. The Army was ordered to assume that our likely enemies would instead welcome us. They are still welcoming us, every day, with bombs and bullets.
Are we planning properly today? It is hard to over-emphasize the danger of a "fighting withdrawal," (a "retrograde movement under enemy pressure") either when discussing the possible casualties, or the effect it will have on our foreign policy goals and objectives.
If we have to fight our way out of Iraq - and that possibility exists - then we need to do it as masterfully as the initial invasion in 2003. That takes planning, it takes preparation, and it takes training and equipment.
We are not preparing at all. And it gets scarier - what if, instead of fighting our way out of Iraq, we find ourselves under attack in Iraq - by Iran? Unlikely? No, it isn't. We are face-to-face with Iran and Bush is not backing down. During the Korean War we were face-to-face with the Communist Chinese, but everybody knew they would not dare attack us. Until, of course, they did just that.
If we find ourselves facing Iranian formations (most likely called "volunteers" similar to the Chinese "volunteers" we faced in the Korean War) we risk a repeat of the Chosin Reservoir debacle, except that this time we have no reserves left. There is a real possibility that we will find ourselves drafting young Americans and throwing them into combat with a bare minimum of training, just as we did in the Korean War only a few years after we had finished WWII with some of the best-equipped, best-trained, and toughest, most lethal soldiers in the world. Just a few short years later and we had Task Force Smith, and then the failure of our under-trained and unprofessional Army at Chosin. We have the same risks today.
While we debate whether to pull out of Iraq now or later, we are not discussing the very real and very possible risks our nation faces. Our Army and Marines are not as effective as they were in 2003 - not by half. They don't train for even mid-intensity combat anymore, much less train for high-intensity manuever warfare. We are so short-handed and so over-committed that we train our troops only for the low-intensity warfare they face in Iraq against irregular forces - and we don't even have the time to train them adequately for that, with units returning to Iraq with only a year to refit/re-equip/retrain after their last Iraqi tour. Thus our troops may know how to fight when they outnumber the untrained enemy in urban terrain - but what about a trained formation, that outnumbers our forces, when our supply lines are cut and our troops find that they are under determined attack for days, even weeks, at a time? Do we have a plan to deal with that possibility?
We are now vulnerable as hell. The truth is that we have pissed off the world, we are rattling the sabers again with Iran, and we have over 100,000 men pinned down and under fire today on the borders of Iran. That and we have no strategic or operational reserves left.
We were surprised when the Chinese "volunteers" poured into Korea and slammed us so hard. Later, historians wondered why the hell we were surprised.
And now we think the only possibility of a war with Iran is Bush deciding to start one. But what if they expect him to do so, and hit us first? The Chinese did just that. And only a few years after we had fought WWII, we found we had no trained troops to send to Korea, drafted kids and sent them to combat with only weeks of training. Some of our conscripts never qualified with their rifles before seeing combat. One tank battalion gathered together for the first time on board a ship enroute to Korea, and only six weeks after being formed they were in combat (no, they did not do very well). We pulled Sherman tanks out of museums and dropped engines in them and sent them to Korea. And we got our ass kicked, losing tens of thousands of men. And we were pushed out of North Korea with repurcussions that last to this day.
Guess what? In 2003 we had the most powerful force the world has ever seen. WE DON'T HAVE THAT FORCE ANYMORE. And now we may face Iranian formations attacking our troops. Are we prepared? Or are we just assuming that they wouldn't be that "crazy" and dare attack us? Well, they might, and we aren't as powerful as we were just four years ago. As I said, we are vulnerable. What are we doing to ensure the national security of the United States? Is the Army even being allowed to plan for such a possibility? Has the Army planned for how to withdraw from Iraq, on the assumption that it just may happen? Or is the Army forbidden to plan because planning a withdrawal, it is assumed, may somehow make it more likely to come to pass?
With that in mind, this from Medley Global Advisor's Policy Monitor. The article was written by Colonel W. Patrick Lang, US Army, Retired:
Iraq: Convoys under attack
While most of the media reporting and politics in Washington is focused on the flailing "surge strategy" in Baghdad and the Sunni "Triangle of Death" just south of the capital, well-placed US military sources report an ominous rise in the frequency and sophistication of Shia militia attacks on US supply convoys from Kuwait. The attacks on the convoys -- which are almost daily and can comprise up to 500 trucks at a time -- have in recent days led to fewer hot meals or fresh fruits and lettuce available to US troops.
An unclassified notice went out on Monday on "Theater-Wide Delay in Food Deliveries" warned that MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) will have to take the place of at least one hot meal a day. While in itself not an undue hardship, it does mark the first time
the US military was not able to maintain its supply lines since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, which is raising eyebrows among Army logistics planners working with troop levels already stretched.
More ominously, military intelligence in Baghdad believe the attacks are being orchestrated by Iranian-backed Shia militias, both as "live" training in tactics should the need arise in confronting the US military more directly, and as counter signal to Washington's naval exercises with battle carrier groups in the Persian Gulf.