Thursday, May 04, 2006


Feedback from Another General

UPDATE: Fred Kaplan at Slate covers the McCaffrey memo and manages to gloss over all the positive comments and only see the bad.

Wretchard posts a must-read at The Belmont Club, passing along comprehensive extracts retired General Barry McCaffrey’s trip to Iraq last April 13-20 of this year. As I would expect, Wretchard provides excellent commentary and valuable background to McCaffrey’s assessments, with reference to a 2005 McCaffrey trip to Iraq and his conclusions and predictions then.

McCaffrey, long a critic of Iraq war planning in general and Secretary Rumsfeld in particular, offers a surprisingly upbeat assessment.

His strongest praise, then and now, is for a stellar US military and its soldiers. As quoted by Wretchard:

The morale, fighting effectiveness, and confidence of U.S. combat forces continue to be simply awe-inspiring. In every sensing session and interaction - I probed for weakness and found courage, belief in the mission, enormous confidence in their sergeants and company grade officers, an understanding of the larger mission, a commitment to creating an effective Iraqi Army and Police, unabashed patriotism, and a sense of humor. All of these soldiers, NCOs and young officers were volunteers for combat. Many were on their second combat tour - several were on the third or fourth combat tour. Many had re-enlisted to stay with their unit on its return to a second Iraq deployment. Many planned to re-enlist regardless of how long the war went on.

McCaffrey’s report lauds the Iraqi Army just as effusively:

The Iraqi Army is real, growing, and willing to fight. They now have lead action of a huge and rapidly expanding area and population. The battalion level formations are in many cases excellent - most are adequate. ... The recruiting now has gotten significant participation by all sectarian groups to include the Sunni. The Partnership Program with U.S. units will be the key to success with the Embedded Training Teams augmented and nurtured by a U.S. Maneuver Commander. This is simply a brilliant success story.

McCaffrey views the Iraqi Police with some skepticism, and identifies areas for improvement in what is inevitably a Police “culture of inaction, passivity, human rights abuses, and deep corruption.” McCaffrey considers improving the effectiveness of the Police as crucial to democracy building, but considers the job doable:

This is a very, very tough challenge which is a prerequisite to the Iraqis winning the counter-insurgency struggle they will face in the coming decade. We absolutely can do this. But this police program is now inadequately resourced.

His strongest criticism? Department of Defense planning? A bellicose and unyielding Secretary of Defense? A Pollyanny Bush Administration? Guess again. McCaffrey finds greatest shortcomings with the US Department of State:

The U.S. Inter-Agency Support for our strategy in Iraq is grossly inadequate. A handful of brilliant, courageous, and dedicated Foreign Service Officers have held together a large, constantly changing, marginally qualified, inadequately experienced U.S. mission. ... U.S. consultants of the IRMO do not live and work with their Iraqi counterparts, are frequently absent on leave or home consultations, are often in-country for short tours of 90 days to six months, and are frequently gapped with no transfer of institutional knowledge. ...

The State Department actually cannot direct assignment of their officers to serve in Iraq. State frequently cannot staff essential assignments such as the new PRTs which have the potential to produce such huge impact in Iraq. The bottom line is that only the CIA and the U.S. Armed Forces are at war. This situation cries out for remedy.

Where are the hyperventilating media, with their reports of what this retired General has to say? Could it be he wasn’t critical of the current Administration and its war planners, and therefore, not newsworthy? By now, wouldn’t it be really newsworthy if the press could find someone with an upbeat assessment of the war in Iraq?

Read the whole thing.

(Via Instapundit
Links: Mudville Gazette

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