Saturday, August 1, 2009

Head of Baghdad Operations Advisory Team Advocates Immediate US Withdrawal

Informed Comment

"The NYT on Friday published a memo from Col. Timothy R. Reese, Chief, Baghdad Operations Command Advisory Team, MND-B, Baghdad, Iraq, in which he argued for a more or less immediate departure of US troops from Iraq."

"What Reese says is:

1. The new Iraqi army, despite its extensive deficiencies including massive corruption, sloth, Soviet-style rigidity, etc., can now nevertheless patrol on its own and can face down Sunni guerrillas and Shiite militias. It is just all right for internal security. The US military can now leave that task to the Iraqis.

2. The main US military mission now appears to be further training of the Iraqi army, which is not necessary, at least on the scale contemplated, because that army is already just all right and is unlikely to get much better than that, despite further training, any time soon.

3. Because of an aggressive interpretation of the Status of Forces Agreement by the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, US troops are now increasingly sitting ducks. There is a significant danger of them being attacked in a way aimed at ruining US-Iraqi relations if they are kept as sitting ducks, and which might force an ignominious US withdrawal harmful to US prestige.

4. There is little political progress in Iraq, which is extremely corrupt and factious, and there is not likely to be any political progress any time soon, so if that is why the US military is remaining on this scale, it may as well leave now.

5. The very US military presence is generating the terrorist attacks that the Americans are attempting to curb. Such terrorism against the US military in Iraq is now instrumental and a way for local forces to jockey with one another for relative power.

Although Col. Reese at one point portrays his memo as concerned with strategy rather than tactics, for the most part it remains tactical. The question for him is, what is the military mission and how (tactically) to accomplish it?"

No comments: