|The Iranians are always ready to have somebody else fight their fight …|
| [TWITTER] |
|Home Front: Politix|
|U.S. senators say Saudi crown prince has gone 'full gangster'|
|WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Retired General John Abizaid, President Donald Trump’s nominee to be ambassador to Saudi Arabia, defended the U.S.-Saudi relationship on Wednesday as lawmakers accused the kingdom of a litany of misdeeds and criticized its crown prince as going "full gangster."|
Senators at Abizaid’s confirmation hearing including Trump’s fellow Republicans as well as Democrats condemned the kingdom’s conduct in the civil war in Yemen, heavy-handed diplomacy and rights abuses. Among those were the torturing of women’s activists and a U.S. citizen and the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Abizaid called for accountability for the murder of Khashoggi, a U.S. resident, and support for human rights, but repeatedly stressed the strategic importance of Washington-Riyadh ties.
Despite increasing tension between the two countries, the United States has not had an ambassador to Saudi Arabia since Trump became president in January 2017.
|Trump picks retired general John Abizaid as US ambassador to Saudi Arabia|
|[ENGLISH.ALARABIYA.NET] President John Abizaid, a top US general from the Iraq war who has studied the Middle East for years, as ambassador to . on Tuesday tapped |
Abizaid is a fluent Arabic speaker of Lebanese Christian descent who headed US Central Command -- which covers the Middle East -- during the Iraq war from shortly after the US invasion in 2003 through 2007.
The 67-year-old wrote his master's thesis at Harvard University about Saudi Arabia, studying how the kingdom makes its decisions on defense spending, in a paper that won acclaim in academic circles.
A native, Abizaid graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point and later won a scholarship to study in Jordan, where he honed his Arabic, which he did not speak as a child.
Trump has been slow in filling key posts amid his promises to shake up Washington.
Abizaid requires confirmation from the Senate, which would appear likely as the retired four-star general has long enjoyed respect in Washington.
Shortly after taking over as CENTCOM commander, Abizaid told s that US forces were facing a "classical guerrilla-type campaign" from remnants of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party.
His choice of words contradicted his bosses, who initially tried to portray the Iraq invasion as a quick victory, but then defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld did not move to replace him amid admiration for Abizaid's skills.
And soon after retiring in 2007, Abizaid said that, while the United States should try to prevent Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, "there are ways to live with a nuclear Iran," describing the al state's behavior as rational and noting the United States also dealt with a nuclear-armed Soviet Union.
|Home Front: Politix|
|The Shinseki Myth|
|The announcement that retired Army chief of staff Eric Shinseki will be President-elect Barack Obama's nominee for secretary of veterans affairs has energized one of the most enduring myths of the Bush presidency. Among the media coverage in recent days: Gen. Shinseki "clashed with the Bush administration on its Iraq war strategy" (Associated Press). In "questioning the Pentagon's Iraq war strategy" (The Post), Shinseki "warn[ed] that far more troops would be needed than the Pentagon had committed" (New York Times). For his candor, he was "vilified" (Boston Globe) by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. |
Shinseki has a chance during his confirmation hearings to set the record straight: None of those statements is correct.
The source of the Shinseki narrative was testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in February 2003, on the eve of the Iraq war. Shinseki and Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan had this exchange:
Levin: "General Shinseki, could you give us some idea as to the magnitude of the Army's force requirement for an occupation of Iraq following a successful completion of the war?"
Shinseki: "In specific numbers, I would have to rely on combatant commanders' exact requirements. But I think --"
Levin: "How about a range?"
Shinseki: "I would say that what's been mobilized to this point -- something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers are probably, you know, a figure that would be required."
From this impromptu exchange, a legend has grown: Shinseki was a stalwart opponent of the "Rumsfeld" war plan. He voiced those concerns and, after being "snubbed" by Pentagon officials (Los Angeles Times), was forced from office (CBS radio affiliate WTOP-Washington).
Here are some facts: First, Shinseki, as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, supported the war plan. The head of U.S. Central Command, Gen. Tommy Franks, and his planning staff presented their approach to the Joint Chiefs and their staffs during the development of the plan. There was ample opportunity for the chiefs to express concerns and propose alternatives. There is no record of Shinseki having objected.
Shinseki also met with the commander in chief himself to discuss the plan. On at least one occasion at the White House, President Bush asked each member of the Joint Chiefs, including Shinseki, whether he believed the Iraq war plan was adequate to the objectives. Each said it was.
Further, Shinseki was not forced from office. He retired on time in June 2003, with the full honors due a retiring chief of staff of the U.S. Army. Much has been made of the fact that the secretary of defense did not attend Shinseki's retirement. The retiree determines who is included in the ceremony. The secretary, when included, is there by invitation. For whatever reason, and with an explanation neither required nor sought, Shinseki did not ask the secretary to speak or to attend.
But these elements are incidental to the central assertion -- that Shinseki was right about basic U.S. force levels needed in post-conflict Iraq. Even allowing that Shinseki was under pressure to respond to a U.S. senator after trying to avoid answering, his estimate turned out to be far from the number of forces actually employed. "Several hundred thousands of soldiers" suggests Shinseki believed 300,000 troops would be needed for post-conflict Iraq. As it happens, and Shinseki would have known this, as many as 400,000 troops were in the pipeline for use during major conflict operations. But nowhere near that number was used. After major conflict operations ended, the number that remained in country settled around 150,000 to 160,000 (about half of Shinseki's guesstimate). Ultimately, commanders brought troop levels down to about 135,000 on the belief that a relatively lighter U.S. footprint would minimize the perception of occupation.
As the insurgency grew, and as Iraqi security forces grew in strength and capability, there was continual assessment and adjustment of the number of U.S. forces. In fact, at least twice before the January 2007 surge, force levels rose as high or nearly as high as the surge level of 165,000.
At no time, even as a surge was being considered, did anyone recommend doubling U.S. forces to the "several hundred thousand" troops Shinseki said might be needed. That's fine; conflict is all about adjusting to conditions on the ground, and his comments were made without knowing those conditions. But the fact remains that the 2007 surge level of 165,000 was much closer to the range suggested by Franks, Gen. John Abizaid (then head of U.S. Central Command) and Gen. George Casey (the current Army chief of staff), 135,000 to 160,000, than to the 300,000 figure Shinseki provided Levin.
Shinseki has remained silent about the clash that never was. Some interpret that as honorable; he does not want to comment on relations with his prior boss. To many others, though, his silence has been deafening. He has benefited immeasurably from it, even as Rumsfeld has been grossly maligned. Rumsfeld, too, has been quiet -- except for the times he defended Shinseki for having been put in a tough spot and forced to answer a question off the cuff during a congressional hearing.
Eric Shinseki served his country with distinction and is on the cusp of having another opportunity to do so. He also has a chance to right an egregious wrong. During his confirmation hearings, he can acknowledge that he did indeed support the Iraq war plan; that he had many opportunities to express himself; and that he has no desire to play the role he has been assigned: hero in a legend that has little basis in fact.
Lawrence Di Rita was special assistant to the secretary of defense from 2001 to 2006.
|Our generals almost cost us Iraq|
|By Mackubin Thomas Owens|
The dominant media storyline about the Iraq war holds that the decisions about how to conduct it pitted ignorant civilians -- especially the president and secretary of defense -- against the uniformed military, whose wise and sober advice was cavalierly ignored. The Bush administration's cardinal sin was interference in predominantly military affairs, starting with overruling the military on the size of the force that invaded Iraq in March 2003. But it's not just the media that peddles this story. As Bob Woodward illustrates in his new book, "The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008," it also resonates among many senior uniformed military officers.
The plausibility of the narrative rests on two questionable principles. The first is that soldiers have the right to a voice in making policy regarding the use of the military instrument -- that indeed they have the right to insist that their views be adopted. The second is that the judgment of soldiers is inherently superior to that of civilians when it comes to military affairs. Both of these principles are at odds with the American practice of civil-military relations, and with the historical record.
In our republic the uniformed military advises the civilian authorities, but has no right to insist that its views be adopted. Of course, uniformed officers have an obligation to stand up to civilian leaders if they think a policy is flawed. They must convey their concerns to civilian policy-makers forcefully and truthfully. But once a policy decision is made, soldiers are obligated to carry it out to the best of their ability, whether their advice is heeded or not. Moreover, even when it comes to strictly military affairs, soldiers are not necessarily more prescient than civilian policy makers. This is confirmed by the historical record.
Historians have long recognized that Abraham Lincoln's judgment concerning the conduct of the Civil War was vastly superior to that of Gen. George McClellan. They have recognized that Gen. George C. Marshall, the greatest soldier-statesman since George Washington, was wrong to oppose arms shipments to Great Britain in 1940, and wrong to argue for a cross-channel invasion during the early years of World War II, before the U.S. was ready. Historians have pointed out that the U.S. operational approach that contributed to our defeat in Vietnam was the creature of the uniformed military. And they have observed that the original -- unimaginative -- military plan for Operation Desert Storm in the Gulf War was rejected by the civilian leadership, which ordered a return to the drawing board. The revised plan was far more imaginative, and effective.
So it was with Iraq. The fact is that the approach favored by the uniformed leadership was failing. As the insurgency metastasized in 2005, the military had three viable alternatives: continue offensive operations along the lines of those in Anbar province after Fallujah; adopt a counterinsurgency approach; or emphasize the training of Iraqi troops in order to transition to Iraqi control of military operations. Gen. John Abizaid, commander of the U.S. Central Command, and Gen. George W. Casey, commander of the Multi-National Force in Iraq -- supported by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Richard Myers -- chose the third option.
Transitioning to Iraqi control was a logical option for the long run. But it did little to solve the problem of the insurgency, which was generating sectarian violence. Based on the belief by many senior commanders, especially Gen. Abizaid, that U.S. troops were an "antibody" to Iraqi culture, the Americans consolidated their forces on large "forward operating bases," maintaining a presence only by means of motorized patrols that were particularly vulnerable to attacks by improvised explosive devices. They also conceded large swaths of territory and population alike to the insurgents. Violence spiked.
In late 2006, President Bush, like President Lincoln in 1862, adopted a new approach to the war. He replaced the uniformed and civilian leaders who were adherents of the failed operational approach with others who shared his commitment to victory rather than "playing for a tie." In Gen. David Petraeus, Mr. Bush found his Ulysses Grant, to execute an operational approach based on sound counterinsurgency doctrine. This new approach has brought the U.S. to the brink of victory.
Although the conventional narrative about the Iraq war is wrong, its persistence has contributed to the most serious crisis in civil-military relations since the Civil War. According to Mr. Woodward's account, the uniformed military not only opposed the surge, insisting that their advice be followed; it then subsequently worked to undermine the president once he decided on another strategy.
In one respect, the actions taken by military opponents of the surge, e.g. "foot-dragging," "slow-rolling" and selective leaking are, unfortunately, all-too-characteristic of U.S. civil-military relations during the last decade and a half. But the picture Mr. Woodward draws is far more troubling. Even after the policy had been laid down, the bulk of the senior U.S. military leadership -- the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, the rest of the Joint Chiefs, and Gen. Abizaid's successor, Adm. William Fallon, actively worked against the implementation of the president's policy.
If Mr. Woodward's account is true, it means that not since Gen. McClellan attempted to sabotage Lincoln's war policy in 1862 has the leadership of the U.S. military so blatantly attempted to undermine a president in the pursuit of his constitutional authority. It should be obvious that such active opposition to a president's policy poses a threat to the health of the civil-military balance in a republic.
Mr. Owens is a professor at the Naval War College and editor of Orbis, the journal of the Foreign Policy Research Institute.
|Home Front: WoT|
|New Iraq War Study Faults Both Bushes|
|A nearly 700-page study released Sunday by the Army found that U.S. commanders prematurely believed their goals in Iraq had been reached and did not send enough troops to handle the occupation. President George W. Bush's statement on May 1, 2003, that major combat operations were over reinforced that view, the study said.|
Hundreds of commanders and other soldiers and officials were interviewed for the report released Sunday. The Army ordered the study to review what happened in the 18 months after the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime. A report on the invasion was released earlier. It was written by Donald P. Wright and Col. Timothy R. Reese of the Contemporary Operations Study Team at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., who said that planners who requested more troops were ignored and that commanders in Baghdad were replaced without enough of a transition and lacked enough staff.
Gen. William S. Wallace, commanding general of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, said in a foreword that it's no surprise that a report with these conclusions was written. 'One of the great and least understood qualities of the United States Army is its culture of introspection and self-examination,' he wrote.
The report said that the civilian and military planning for a post-Saddam Iraq was inadequate, and that the Army should have pushed the Joint Chiefs of Staff for better planning and preparation. Retired military leaders, members of Congress, think tanks and others have already concluded
The report said that after Saddam's regime was removed from power, most commanders and units expected to transition to stability and support operations, similar to what was seen in Bosnia and Kosovo. Commanders with the mindset that victory had already been achieved believed that a post-combat Iraq would require 'only a limited commitment by the U.S. military and would be relatively peaceful and short as Iraqis quickly assumed responsibility,' the study said.
Then all the Saddamites, with all the responsibility, were removed, for 'de-baathification'.
'Few commanders foresaw that full spectrum operations in Iraq would entail the simultaneous employment of offense, defense, stability, and support operations by units at all echelons of command to defeat new, vicious, and effective enemies,' it added.
The report said the first Bush administration and its advisers had assumed incorrectly that the Saddam regime would collapse after the first Gulf War.
This is relevant to the purpose of the study in what way?
When Saddam was so quickly defeated in 2003, there was an absence of authority that led to widespread looting and violence, the report said. Soldiers initially had no plan to deal with that. The administration's decision to remove Saddam's followers entirely from power caused governmental services to collapse, 'fostering a huge unemployment problem,' it said.
Planners in the Iraq headquarters said 300,000 troops would be needed for the occupation. Even before the invasion, some planners had called for 300,000 troops to be sent for the invasion and occupation.
I blame Clinton. Had he not gutted the military, we might have had enough troops to send 300,000.
During an April 16, 2003, visit to Baghdad, coalition commander Gen. Tommy Franks told his subordinate leaders to prepare to move most of their forces out of Iraq by September of that year, the report noted. 'In line with the prewar planning and general euphoria at the rapid crumbling of the Saddam regime, Franks continued to plan for a very limited role for U.S. ground forces in Iraq,' the report said.
The report said it wasn't until July 16, 2003, that Franks' successor, Gen. John Abizaid, said coalition forces were facing a classic guerrilla insurgency.
The authors said the Army had considerable experience and training for guerrilla wars but had not been in one like Iraq since 1992 in Somalia. They said former Secretary of State Colin Powell warned Franks 'that he thought too few troops were envisioned in the (invasion) plan.'
Some commanders told the authors they asked about plans for making the country stable and got no answers. The 'post-war situation in Iraq was severely out of line with the suppositions made at nearly every level before the war,' the report said.
Its writers said it was clear in January 2005 that the Army would remain in Iraq for some time, the writers concluded. The report covered the period from May 2003 to January 2005.
Except for the reference to the first President Bush and his mistake in the 1991 war.
720-page, 103-megabyte report
|How Bush Decided on the Surge|
|A footnote from Cliff May from the National Review:|
One footnote: Barnes reports that just before Robert Gates took over as Secretary of Defense, he informed Bush that as a member of the Baker-Hamilton Commission, he favored a surge of additional troops in Iraq.
The date: December 13, 2006. The location: a windowless conference room in the Pentagon known as the Tank. It was an inauspicious place for President Bush to confront the last major obstacle to the most important decision of his second term, perhaps of his entire presidency. And the president chose not to deal with his hosts, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as a commander in chief would address subordinates. He hadn't come to the military brass's turf simply to order the five chiefs and two combatant commanders to begin a "surge" of additional troops in Iraq and to pursue a radical change in strategy. For that, he might have summoned them to the Oval Office or the Situation Room in the basement of the White House. He had come to the Pentagon to persuade and cajole, not command.
The president was in a weak and lonely position. After Republicans lost the Senate and House in the midterm election on November 7, nearly 200 members of Congress had met with him at the White House, mostly to grouse about Iraq. Democrats urged him to begin withdrawing troops, in effect accepting defeat. Many of the Republicans were panicky and blamed Bush and the Iraq war for the Democratic landslide. They feared the 2008 election would bring worse losses. They wanted out of Iraq too.
Inside his own administration, Bush had few allies on a surge in Iraq aside from the vice president and a coterie of National Security Council (NSC) staffers. The Joint Chiefs were
disinclined to send more troops to Iraq or adopt a new strategy. So were General George Casey, the American commander in Iraq, and Centcom commander John Abizaid. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice favored a troop pullback. A week earlier, the Iraq Study Group, better known as the Baker-Hamilton Commission, had recommended a graceful exit from Iraq.
The presence of former secretary of state James Baker, a longtime Bush family friend, on the commission was viewed in Washington and around the world as significant. It was assumed, correctly in this instance, that Baker wouldn't have taken the post if the president had objected. (At least one top Bush adviser faulted Rice for not blocking the amendment by Republican representative Frank Wolf of Virginia that created the commission in the first place.) Baker was seen as providing cover for Bush to order a gradual retreat from Iraq.
But retreat was the furthest thing from Bush's mind. "This is very trite," he told me. "Failure was no option . . . I never thought I had to give up the goal of winning." He wanted one more chance to win.
Con't at link
|Secret US air force team to perfect plan for Iran strike|
|THE United States Air Force has set up a highly confidential strategic planning group tasked with fighting the next war as tensions rise with Iran.|
Project Checkmate, a successor to the group that planned the 1991 Gulf Wars air campaign, was quietly reestablished at the Pentagon in June.
Checkmate is good. But I prefer "Help The 12th Imam Find Daylight". Or maybe "Good Day for SPF 100000". Just Kidding! But if we're gonna have to be a bear, might as well be a Grizzly.
It reports directly to General Michael Moseley, the US Air Force chief, and consists of 20-30 top air force officers and defence and cyberspace experts with ready access to the White House, the CIA and other intelligence agencies.
Detailed contingency planning for a possible attack on Iran has been carried out for more than two years by Centcom (US central command), according to defence sources.
Checkmates job is to add a dash of brilliance to Air Force thinking by countering the militarys tendency to fight the last war and by providing innovative strategies for warfighting and assessing future needs for air, space and cyberwarfare. It is led by Brigadier-General Lawrence Stutz Stutzriem, who is considered one of the brightest air force generals. He is assisted by Dr Lani Kass, a former Israeli military officer and expert on cyberwarfare.
The failure of United Nations sanctions to curtail Irans nuclear ambitions, which Tehran claims are
Bernard Kouchner, the French foreign minister, said last week that it was necessary to prepare for the worst . . . and the worst is war. He later qualified his remarks, saying he wanted to avoid that outcome. France has joined America in pushing for a tough third sanctions resolution against Iran at the UN security council but is meeting strong resistance from China and Russia. Britain has been doing its best to bridge the gap, but it is increasingly likely that new sanctions will be implemented by a US-led coalition of the willing.
Irans President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who arrives in New York for the United Nations general assembly today, has been forced to abandon plans to visit ground zero, where the World Trade Center stood until the September 11 attacks of 2001. Politicians from President George W Bush to Senator Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner in the 2008 race for the White House, were outraged by the prospect of a visit to New Yorks most venerated site by a state sponsor of terrorism.
Let him visit. I'm sure we can get our hands on a few Iranian EFP mines to provide security along the way.
Bush still hopes to isolate Iran diplomatically, but believes the regime is moving steadily closer to obtaining nuclear weapons while the security council bickers
The US president faces strong opposition to military action, however, within his own joint chiefs of staff. None of them think it is a good idea, but they will do it if they are told to, said a senior defence source.
General John Abizaid, the former Centcom commander, said last week: Every effort should be made to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, but failing that, the world could live with a nuclear-armed Iran.
X. Wrong answer!
Critics fear Abizaid has lost sight of Irans potential to arm militant groups such as Hezbollah with nuclear weapons. You can deter Iran, but there is no strategy against nuclear terrorism, said the retired air force Lieutenant General Thomas McInerney of the Iran policy committee. There is no question that we can take out Iran. The problem is the follow-on, the velvet revolution that needs to be created so the Iranian people know its not aimed at them, but at the Iranian regime.
Blow up any seats of government. Drop leaflets stating purpose. Drop bombs on mosques of extremist Imams who incite violence. Internet, TV, and radio campaigns. Threaten utilities of areas that make trouble. Show pictures of what people look like after a month of no water, fuel, or electricity. Or sewer, not that there will be much need for it after a week with no food. Offer rewards for tips that turn out. Nuke Pyongyang as an example. Threaten to involve Iraqi army. I'm sure Checkmate can think of something.
Checkmates freethinking mission is to provide planning inputs to warfighters that are strategically, operationally and tactically sound, logistically supportable and politically feasible. Its remit is not specific to one country, according to defence sources, but its forward planning is thought relevant to any future air war against Iranian nuclear and military sites. It is also looking at possible threats from China and North Korea.
Checkmate was formed in the 1970s to counter Soviet threats but fell into disuse in the 1980s. It was revived under Colonel John Warden and was responsible for drawing up plans for the crushing air blitz against Saddam Hussein at the opening of the first Gulf war. Warden told The Sunday Times: When Saddam invaded Kuwait, we had access to unlimited numbers of people with expertise, including all the intelligence agencies, and were able to be significantly more agile than Centcom.
He believes that Checkmates role is to develop the necessary expertise so that if somebody says Iran, it says: here is what you need to think about. Here are the objectives, here are the risks, here is what it will cost, here are the numbers of planes we will lose, here is how the war is going to end and here is what the peace will look like.
Don't forget to include plans to seize munitions, explosives stockpiles, etc.
Warden added: The Centcoms of this world are executional - they dont have the staff, the expertise or the responsibility to do the thinking that is needed before a country makes the decision to go to war. War planning is not just about bombs, airplanes and sailing boats.
|Abizaid: World could abide nuclear Iran|
|Yeah, we may be able to deter Iran from using them. Directly. But the regime has stated that they are at the service of those who would undo the US. Which means to me that they will hand them one-off deniable nuclear material/bombs and wait to see what happens next. In my opinion, Abizaid isn't factoring this in, or he isn't giving it the weight he should be. Or maybe he is . . . . |
John Abizaid, the retired Army general who headed Central Command for nearly four years, said he was confident that if Iran gained nuclear arms, the United States could deter it from using them. "Iran is not a suicide nation," he said. "I mean, they may have some people in charge that don't appear to be rational, but I doubt that the Iranians intend to attack us with a nuclear weapon."
The Iranians are aware, he said, that the United States has a far superior military capability. "I believe that we have the power to deter Iran, should it become nuclear," he said, referring to the theory that Iran would not risk a catastrophic retaliatory strike by using a nuclear weapon against the United States. "There are ways to live with a nuclear Iran," Abizaid said in remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank. "Let's face it, we lived with a nuclear Soviet Union, we've lived with a nuclear China, and we're living with (other) nuclear powers as well."
Abizaid stressed the dangers of allowing more and more nations to build a nuclear arsenal. And while he said it is likely that Iran will make a technological breakthrough to obtain a nuclear bomb, "it's not inevitable."
Abizaid suggested military action to pre-empt Iran's nuclear ambitions might not be the wisest course. "War, in the state-to-state sense, in that part of the region would be devastating for everybody, and we should avoid it in my mind to every extent that we can," he said. "On the other hand, we can't allow the Iranians to continue to push in ways that are injurious to our vital interests."
Abizaid expressed confidence that the United States and the world community can manage the Iran problem. "I believe the United States, with our great military power, can contain Iran that the United States can deliver clear messages to the Iranians that makes it clear to them that while they may develop one or two nuclear weapons they'll never be able to compete with us in our true military might and power," he said.
|Home Front: WoT|
|Pakistan, S Arabia may pose bigger problems than Iraq, Afghanistan|
|Security collapse in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia could pose far greater problems for the west than either Iraq or Afghanistan, a former US general said on Tuesday, according to the Australian Associated Press news agency. |
General John Abizaid, who headed US Central Command from 2003 until retiring in 2007, said the problem was that Pakistan had nuclear weapons while Saudi Arabia had about a quarter of the worlds oil reserves.
Speaking at an Australian Defence College and Royal United Services Institute security seminar, he said the two biggest problems were not necessarily Afghanistan and Iraq. They may very well be Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, he said. The two countries are struggling with the security implications that they have to deal with in regard to their external and internal security problems and, in the case of Pakistan, with the fact that they happen to be a nuclear state.
A meltdown in the security apparatus of those two countries could have implications for us that make the current situation look easy. General Abizaid said both countries administrations were now much more resilient against the extremist threat than they were a few years ago. The challenge now is to figure out how to move the campaign against terror forward in a way that does not inadvertently embolden, enhance or empower the extremist cause, he said.
One of the reasons that the ideology of Bin Laden isnt growing in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia is because it doesnt offer anybody anything. Its very dark, very narrow and very negative and people understand that.
General Abizaid said he had great respect for the valour, professionalism and competence of Australias small but highly trained defence forces. You should make sure you understand that you do matter and that we cant continue to operate without our friends, he said. We need friends like you and hope you understand that this fight we are engaged in means that in the long run you need to invest in your own security and invest in the professionalism of your security forces.
|Training Iraqi troops no longer driving force in U.S. policy|
|WASHINGTON - Military planners have abandoned the idea that standing up Iraqi troops will enable American soldiers to start coming home soon and now believe that U.S. troops will have to defeat the insurgents and secure control of troubled provinces. |
Training Iraqi troops, which had been the cornerstone of the Bush administration's Iraq policy since 2005, has dropped in priority, officials in Baghdad and Washington said.
No change has been announced, and a Pentagon spokesman, Col. Gary Keck, said training Iraqis remains important. "We are just adding another leg to our mission," Keck said, referring to the greater U.S. role in establishing security that new troops arriving in Iraq will undertake.
But evidence has been building for months that training Iraqi troops is no longer the focus of U.S. policy. Pentagon officials said they know of no new training resources that have been included in U.S. plans to dispatch 28,000 additional troops to Iraq. The officials spoke only on the condition of anonymity because they aren't authorized to discuss the policy shift publicly. Defense Secretary Robert Gates made no public mention of training Iraqi troops on Thursday during a visit to Iraq.
In a reflection of the need for more U.S. troops, the Pentagon decided earlier this month to increase the length of U.S. Army tours in Iraq from 12 to 15 months. The extension came amid speculation that the U.S. commander there, Army Gen. David Petraeus, will ask that the troop increase be maintained well into 2008.
U.S. officials don't say that the training formula - championed by Gen. John Abizaid when he was the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East and by Gen. George Casey when he was the top U.S. general in Iraq - was doomed from the start. But they said that rising sectarian violence and the inability of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki to unite the country changed the conditions. They say they now must establish security while training Iraqi forces because ultimately, "they are our ticket out of Iraq," as one senior Pentagon official put it.
Casey's "mandate was transition. General Petraeus' mandate is security. It is a change based on conditions. Certain conditions have to be met for the transition to be successful. Security is part of that. And General Petraeus recognizes that," said Brig. Gen. Dana Pittard, commander of the Iraq Assistance Group in charge of supporting trained Iraqi forces.
"I think it is too much to expect that we were going to start from scratch ... in an environment that featured a rising sectarian struggle and lack of progress with the government," said a senior Pentagon official. "The conditions had sufficiently changed that the Abizaid/Casey approach alone wasn't going to be sufficient."
Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, who's in charge of training Iraqi troops, said in February that he hoped that Iraqi troops would be able to lead by December. "At the tactical level, I do believe by the end of the year, the conditions should be set that they are increasingly taking responsibility for the combat operations," Dempsey told NBC News.
Maj. Gen. Doug Lute, the director of operations at U.S. Central Command, which oversees military activities in the Middle East, said that during the troop increase, U.S. officers will be trying to determine how ready Iraqi forces are to assume control.
"We are looking for indicators where we can assess the extent to which we are fighting alongside Iraqi security forces, not as a replacement to them," he said. Those signs will include "things like the number of U.S.-only missions, the number of combined U.S.-Iraqi missions, the number where Iraqis are in the lead, the number of Joint Security Stations set up," he said.
That's a far cry from the optimistic assessments U.S. commanders offered throughout 2006 about the impact of training Iraqis.
President Bush first announced the training strategy in the summer of 2005.
"Our strategy can be summed up this way," Bush said. "As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down."
Military leaders in Baghdad planned to train 325,000 Iraqi security forces. Once that was accomplished, those forces were to take control. Casey created military transition teams that would live side by side with their Iraqi counterparts to help them apply their training to real-world situations.
Throughout 2006, Casey and top Bush administration leaders touted the training as a success, asserting that eight of Iraq's 10 divisions had taken the lead in confronting insurgents.
But U.S. forces complained that the Iraqi forces weren't getting the support from their government and that Iraqi military commanders, many who worked under Saddam Hussein, weren't as willing to embrace their tactics. Among everyday Iraqis, some said they didn't trust their forces, saying they were sectarian and easily susceptible to corruption.
Most important, insurgents and militiamen had infiltrated the forces, using their power to carry out sectarian attacks.
In nearly every area where Iraqi forces were given control, the security situation rapidly deteriorated. The exceptions were areas dominated largely by one sect and policed by members of that sect.
In the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar, which Bush celebrated last year as an example of success, suspected Sunni Muslim insurgents set off a bomb last month that killed as many as 150 people, the largest single bombing attack of the war. Shiite Muslim mobs, including some police officers, pulled Sunnis from their homes and executed dozens afterward. U.S. troops were dispatched to restore order.
Earlier this month, U.S. forces engaged in heavy fighting in the southern city of Diwaniyah after Iraqi forces, who'd been given control of the region in January 2006, lost control of the city.
U.S. officials said they once believed that if they empowered their Iraqi counterparts, they'd take the lead and do a better job of curtailing the violence. But they concede that's no longer their operating principle.
Pentagon officials won't say how many U.S. troops are engaged in training, though they said that the number of teams assigned to work alongside trained Iraqi troops hasn't changed.
Military officials say there's no doubt that the November U.S. elections, which gave Democrats control of both houses of Congress, helped push training down the priority list. The elections, they said, made it clear that voters didn't have the patience to wait for Iraqis to take the lead.
"To the extent we are losing the American public, we were losing" in the transition approach, said a senior military commander in Washington.
Military analysts cite a number of reasons that the training program didn't work.
"The goal was to put the Iraqis in charge. The problem is we didn't know how to do it and we underestimated the insurgency," said Anthony Cordesman, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
Said Paul Hughes of the U.S. Institute for Peace: "In our initial efforts to hand security missions over to Iraqi forces, we took the training wheels off too early - and the bike fell over."
Military officials now measure success by whether the troops are curbing violence, not by the number of Iraqi troops trained.
Many officials are vague about when the U.S. will know when troops can begin to return home. Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the U.S. is trying to buy "time for the Iraqi government to provide the good governance and the economic activity that's required."
One State Department official, who also asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the subject, expressed the same sentiment in blunter terms. "Our strategy now is to basically hold on and wait for the Iraqis to do something," he said.
|Troop Surge Already Under Way|
|RTWT - written pre-speech|
President Bush's speech may be scheduled for tonight, but the troop surge in Iraq is already under way.
ABC News has learned that the "surge" Bush is expected to announce in a prime time speech tonight has already begun. Ninety advance troops from the 82nd Airborne Division arrived in Baghdad Wednesday.
An additional battalion of roughly 800 troops from the same division are expected to arrive in Baghdad Thursday. Eighty percent of the sectarian violence occurs within a 30-mile radius of Baghdad, so that is where most of the additional troops will be concentrated.
It is the first small wave of troops in a new White House strategy that is expected to put more than 20,000 additional U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq and likely require new call-ups of the National Guard.
The president is expected to deliver his announcement about the troop increase, a plan that has already met with stiff criticism from many members of Congress, in a speech tonight from the White House.
The arrival of additional forces in Iraq comes a day after leading Democrats said they would back legislation that would block funding to pay for additional military forces.
A spokeswoman for Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., who, Tuesday, urgently called for Congress to vote on and reject the proposed surge, told ABC News that the arrival of additional soldiers "underscores Sen. Kennedy's point that Congress must act immediately."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-N.M., also responded to the report, calling the troops' arrival "deeply disappointing."
Reid has said that Americans don't want to see additional forces in Iraq, and that he has been considering plans offered by his congressional colleagues.
Split Troops to Secure City
Military commanders say there is more to this plan than boots on the ground it's also how the troops will be used.
The idea is for U.S. and Iraqi forces to become a more integral part of Baghdad neighborhoods such as Dora, which was secured in August 2006 only to see violence spike when U.S. forces left.
Under the new plan, the city of Baghdad will be divided into nine separate sections at the request of Iraqis, who want one army and police battalion devoted to each section.
The additional U.S. troops being sent to Baghdad will be divided among the nine sections of the city, nearly doubling U.S. combat power in the region.
In a switch from the current course of action, these U.S. forces will be housed in the very neighborhoods they patrol. Military planners tell ABC News there will eventually be about 30 mini bases, called joint security stations, scattered around Baghdad, housing both U.S. and Iraqi troops.
The plan also includes an emphasis on performance from the Iraqis. White House officials said they have put tremendous pressure on Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to crack down on Shiite militias, especially radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who is thought to be responsible for most of the sectarian violence.
A senior White House official said that Maliki told the president, "I swear to God, I'm not going to let Sadr run this country."
Maliki must also provide Iraqi troops on schedule and give Sunnis a larger role in the government.
Tonight, the president is expected to say that he's made it clear to the prime minister and Iraq's other leaders that America's commitment is not open-ended, that now is the time to act.
The president is also expected to announce tonight the deployment of a second aircraft carrier perhaps the USS Stennis to the Persian Gulf, as part of a regularly scheduled deployment. Centcom Commander Gen. John Abizaid has requested a second carrier because of Iran and other threats in the region.
The ship will leave next weekend on its regularly scheduled departure date, but will proceed to the Gulf instead of its original deployment to the Pacific.