Tuesday, August 4, 2009
COLONEL REESE’s MEMO
Col. Timothy R. Reese, Chief, Baghdad Operations Command Advisory Team, MND-B, is an adviser to the Iraqi military’s Baghdad command. He has written a controversial memorandum detailing Iraqi military weaknesses in scathing language, including corruption, poor management and the inability to resist Shiite political pressure. Extending the American military presence beyond August 2010, he argues, will do little to improve the Iraqis’ military performance while fueling growing resentment of Americans.
HEADS UP!!! Members of Team STORMBRINGER will recall Operator Erik's warning:"BLOODSHED WITHIN 30 DAYS" - 27 July 09
Below are some excerpts of COL Reese's memo, published in the New York Times 30 July 2009. In this incredible piece of ground-based analysis, COL Reese makes the following points with keen insight:
“As the old saying goes, ‘Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days,’ ” Colonel Reese wrote. “Since the signing of the 2009 Security Agreement, we are guests in Iraq, and after six years in Iraq, we now smell bad to the Iraqi nose.”
Today the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) are good enough to keep the Government of Iraq (GOI) from being overthrown by the actions of Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), the Baathists, and the Shia violent extremists that might have toppled it a year or two ago.
Iraq may well collapse into chaos of other causes, but we have made the ISF strong enough for the internal security mission . . .
He dares to declare:
. . . We . . . ought to declare victory and bring our combat forces home.
COL Reese's conclusions are not shared by the senior American commander in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno, and his recommendation for an accelerated troop withdrawal is at odds with the timetable approved by President Obama.
The memo opens a rare window into a debate among American military officers about how active the American role should be in Iraq and for how long. While some in the military endorse Colonel Reese’s assessment, other officers say that American forces need to stay in Iraq for the next couple of years as the Iraqis struggle with heightened tensions between the Kurds and Arabs, insurgent attacks in and around Mosul and checking authoritarian tendencies of the Iraqi government.
“We now have an Iraqi government that has gained its balance and thinks it knows how to ride the bike in the race,” Colonel Reese wrote. “And in fact they probably do know how to ride, at least well enough for the road they are on against their current competitors. Our hand on the back of the seat is holding them back and causing resentment. We need to let go before we both tumble to the ground.”
Before deploying to Iraq, Colonel Reese served as the director of the Combat Studies Institute at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., the Army’s premier intellectual center. He was an author of an official Army history of the Iraq war — “On Point II” — that was sharply critical of the lapses in postwar planning.
Colonel Reese’s memo lists a number of problems that have emerged since the withdrawal of American combat troops from Baghdad, completed June 30. They include, he wrote, a “sudden coolness” to American advisers and the “forcible takeover” of a checkpoint in the Green Zone. Iraqi units, he added, are much less willing to conduct joint operations with their American counterparts “to go after targets the U.S. considers high value.”
Italics mine - S.L.
“If there ever was a window where the seeds of a professional military culture could have been implanted, it is now long past,” he wrote. “U.S. combat forces will not be here long enough or with sufficient influence to change it. The military culture of the Baathist-Soviet model under Saddam Hussein remains entrenched and will not change. The senior leadership of the I.S.F. is incapable of change in the current environment.”
I have presented this analysis based on the legitimacy of the source, and his valid position to express the conclusions stated above. I do not wish to present myself as a Polyanna or a Cassandra, but we have certainly reached a timely juncture - one of several encountered over the years. A General must avoid seige operations at all cost - Iraq for us has represented a giant seige on a national level, since a few days after the fall of Baghdad. We perservered through the dark days and have endured heavy bloodletting. We have lifted the seige, apparently, and now may be a rare opportunity to break contact.- Sean Linnane
Read the entire memo, as printed in the New York Times, here.