Why Liberation Never Felt So Good & Other Glorious News From Bush's Forever War
As I noted back on February 1 and has been noted by others far more sage than I am since then, war is not a linear thing, but rather something that ebbs and flows in stops and starts. This is especially true in Iraq, which is why the military gains of the Surge were not only temporarily, they were illusory.
Spencer Ackerman, one of those sage heads, references OODA, a jargony mouthful coined by Air Force Colonel John Boyd, to make the point. OODA stands for “Observation / Orientation / Decision / Action,” and the bottom line is that the combatant who can achieve a faster OODA than his enemy can disrupte his enemy's OODA Loop:
Ackerman explains that:
"At the risk of saying something disputable, from 2003 to mid-2007, the insurgencies in Iraq had faster OODA Loops than the U.S. did. That’s not to say that there weren’t discrete tactical successes: there were, and lots of them. But those developments are coterminous with the concept of the Loop — you adjust and inflict pain on the enemy; but the enemy does so faster and more powerfully. Once Operation Phantom Thunder (the Surge) began in the late spring of 2007, lots of people on the right and on the fake-left declared, without using Boyd's term, that Petraeus and Odierno had finally broken the enemy’s Loop.
" . . . what Petraeus and Odierno actually did — and it is not a small achievement — was disrupt the insurgencies' Loops more than any other U.S. commanders were able to. They kept the insurgencies in a state of confusion for months and prevented successful orientation. But the rise in U.S. and Iraqi civilian casualties demonstrates that the insurgencies' Loops have now closed. To cash it out, the U.S. military under Petraeus and Odierno bought as much calm as possible, and Iraq has been so horrific for so long that half the horror could seem like paradise to the hopeful American. But even with half-the-horror, no strategic goal was achieved. And no strategic goal can be achieved now that the insurgencies' Loops have closed."
Ackerman further notes that by any definition there cannot be victory in Iraq, only mitigation. To which I would add, 100 years of mitigation in John McCain's case.
"In the past week, a parade of Bush administration officials have offered a new threat and new justification for prolonging America's errant war in Iraq: containing Iran.
"The ironic aspect of this is that Iran not only enjoys intimate relations with the Shiite government in Baghdad, but that its objectives in Iraq largely coincide with those of the United States."
As obvious as that irony is, don't expect to see it as a talking point from an administration in which foreign policy is predicated on bellicosity.
In a visit to Fort Bliss, Texas, Gates announced a change in government procedures to encourage troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to seek treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) without fear of losing their security clearances and harming their careers.
Got that? People who may have head problems as a result of the twin wars are being threatened if they try to get help for them.
Gates' announcement came a day after closing arguments in a federal court case in which veterans allege the Department of Veterans Affairs is unable to deal with the growing number of PTSD cases.
Gates acknowledged not all of the more than 1.5 million military service members who have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have received needed medical treatment and accommodations, but added:
"I know that the department is not perfect and mistakes have been, and will be made. Things happen too slowly. I share your frustration."More here.
National Public Radio reports that 800 electronic files that were recovered recently identify individuals from 22 countries who entered Iraq through Syria as foreign fighters between August 2006 and August 2007, and they're not likely to be model citizens when they return home.
Now comes former Lieutenant General Richardo Sanchez, who was in charge of day-by-day operations in Iraq during the first year of the war.
Sanchez recalls leaving a Pentagon meeting:
"[S]haking my head and wondering how in the world Rumsfeld could have expected me to believe him . . .More here.
"So it was clearly a pattern on the Secretary's part, and now I recognized it. Bring in the top-level leaders. Profess total ignorance. Ask why he had not been informed. Try to establish that others were screwing things up. Have witnesses in the room to verify his denials. Put it in writing. In essence, Rumsfeld was covering his rear. He was setting up his chain of denials should his actions ever be questioned. And worse yet, in my mind, he was attempting to level all the blame on his generals."