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Figuring out options in Iraq

ASK THIS | September 01, 2005

The head of Georgetown University's security studies program poses questions critical to an informed debate over where we go from here.

By Daniel Byman



Q. What are different force sizes capable (or not capable) of accomplishing in Iraq?


Q. What are the advantages and disadvantages of different possible military approaches. i.e., dispersing forces vs. concentrating them; emphasizing counterinsurgency vs. emphasizing day-to-day security; trying to stabilize the country from Baghdad out vs. trying to do it all at once?


Q. Are we sending the right people to Iraq, with the right training?


Q. How do we ally with local fighters against the foreign jihadists?


Q. What effects would a deadline for troop withdrawal really have?


The United States is facing a difficult decision in Iraq today.  Domestic pressure is mounting to cut the size of U.S. forces and to have a plan to remove them from Iraq.  On the other hand, many experts believe more forces are necessary to stabilize Iraq and that even a limited drawdown would produce chaos and disaster.  Still others have recently called for using the troops, but in a different way -- having them focus more on counterinsurgency than on conventional military operations.  Each of these choices has momentous consequences for Iraq and for the United States.


The questions become even more complex as we look at the particulars of the troop presence.  Most U.S. military forces are trained to fight high-intensity conventional wars.  In Iraq, however, the challenges are quite different.  Rarely does the enemy show himself and mass for combat. Rather, intelligence and police work are far more important.  These skill sets, however, are in short supply.


Washington also needs to consider how to work with various military factions in Iraq to ensure its top priority -- fighting foreign jihadists -- is met.  Unfortunately, we often wrongly lump together the entire insurgency, thereby missing opportunities to divide them.  The jihadists, however, must be fought as they are the ones most determined to spread the fighting outside Iraq.


(Questions adapted in part from ‘Five Bad Options for Iraq’ published in Spring 2005 in Survival, the quarterly journal of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.)

Re-Organize - Get Troops OUT NOW!
Posted by Linda Russell -
09/15/2005, 02:12 PM

There is already civil war that we helped create. This war for rich oil men and corporations has been a travisty from the start. BushCo had warnings before they went in about low troop numbers - plus experts in this field TOLD BUSHCO that there would be rioting and looting after Saddam was gone - all true. This Administration is DEAF and hears only what a small group of Military Industrial Complex guys tell them. The Iraq and America people are screwed until BUSHCO IS GONE. IMPEACH BUSH - Bring in peacekeepers like UN with EXPERIENCE. 90% of casualties are innocent CIVILLIANS; money to rebuild and give jobs to destitute people in Iraq who are starving goes to Halliburton and other cronies of BushCo to drain our Treasury; permanent bases are being built alongside pipelines that Halliburton/Enron had maps of in their Energy Mtg (see JudicialWatch.org); we used DEPLETED URANIUM to kill Iraqis and Americans alike - with no cleanup or accountability in sight. These criminal, incompetent jerks are ruining our World - bankrupting our Country financially and morally with their self-serving interests of money and power over Govt and WE THE PEOPLE. We must change this - NOW. Robben Hood is back - only this time - WE THE PEOPLE - and the rest of the World - are getting shafted.

'Five Bad Options for Iraq'
Article by Daniel Byman.

What’s wrong with cutting and running?
Everything that opponents of a pullout say would happen if the U.S. left Iraq is happening already, says retired Gen. William E. Odom.

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