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The General Has Crystal Balls October 24, 2006

Posted by gregquill in Uncategorized.


Gen. Casey and the Ambassador
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General George Casey, Rumsfeld’s four star in charge of Iraq, repeated yesterday what he said a couple of weeks ago: it will take a year and a half for Iraqis to take over peace keeping from the U.S., and another year or so of U.S. support when called on after that.

“We are about 75 percent of the way through a three-step process in building those (Iraqi) forces. It is going to take another 12 to 18 months or so till I believe the Iraqi security forces are completely capable of taking over responsibility for their own security that’s still coupled with some level of support from us,” Casey said.

Your author has some not insignificant military experience, so here is my perspective on his statement:

– Military officers and enlisted folks are not trained to think in terms of one year from now. Everything in our experience is short range, from the time we join up until the time we retire. In our early years, tours of duty are typically 12 to 18 months long, and we do not dwell on the next duty station until about a month in advance. After thirteen years in the Navy, the longest time I had spent at any duty station was 24 months. Often only people past 20 years of service get tour lengths of four years – sometimes.

– The military does not frown on long time estimates – “How long will it take to fix this?”; “How much longer do you need to re-train that guy?” No, it does not frown; it snarls. Casey’s 12 to 18 months is not his estimate, because it goes against everything he has learned, and against everything he has taught. That’s because he has no backup, no details, no schedule of what happens week-by-week, month-by-month to teach Iraqis how to protect their own country. That’s remarkable, because almost all Iraqis have spent three-quarters of their lives or more in the middle of one war or another. How much training do these former soldiers need?

– 12 to 18 months is a very convenient number. If you say six months, some reporter will come back in six months and ask you about it again. In 18 months, the Defense Department retains a lot of wiggle room, and some reporters and most Americans will have forgotten about it.

– So, that estimate can only be Rummy’s party line.

– W said that this Iraq thing won’t end during his second term, which has two more years to run.

This is smelling more and more like Vietnam when I was there. Someone will find some footage of General William Westmoreland saying the same things in Saigon that they are saying today in Baghdad. The parallels between SecDef Robert McNamara and Don Rumsfeld are spookier than Nightmare on Elm Street, especially when you watch each of them wrestling with the truth to try to get a different truth out of it.

Our military is the best in the world at training, at joining the battle and at delivering a serious whupping to all the bad guys. We do not train our youngsters to be policemen. We have the smallest Department of Defense since it was established in the 1940’s. It is wrong to use the finest, most precision, best fighting force in the history of the world to shovel this stuff.

You get to the point that when one of these civilian leader dudes tells you the sky is blue, you have to step outside to see for yourself.



1. Stew Magoo - October 24, 2006

Ya know, if the politicians and press would stop glamorizing this thing, get the hell OUT of the way of the soldiers, this thing could be over in six months.

I’ve said it before, trying to negotiate peace with terrorists is like trying to explain physics to a goat.

The only thing they understand is you hit me harder than I hit you.

And Vietnam was a politician’s war any way you slice it.

2. kenju - October 24, 2006

It is such a mess, Greg. I don’t understand much of it and to tell the truth – I don’t even want to understand it. I just wish we would get out of there and quit all the violence and killing.

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