Invading Iraq has cost America over 200 dead with over 1000 seriously wounded. It has cost over $100 billion thus far, and will continue to cost $4 billion a month. Moreover, the justifications for invading Iraq have proven to be lies and Iraq is in worse shape today than when the Baathist ruled. Americans troops have not returned home after removing Saddam, but remain as conquerors. More chaos will come when the US tries to disarm the Kurds and informs the majority Shiite population that they can't form an Islamic state. Overall, invading Iraq may become the worst American foreign policy disaster since the Vietnam war.
Neo-cons have sent forth their spinmasters, like Newt Gingrich, to argue the USA is not stuck in a Vietnam-like quagmire. It is true there is no massive anti-American support from a major world power, but there is certainly support from violent elements in Iran, Syria, Lebanon and even Saudi Arabia. After large numbers of American troops arrived in Vietnam in 1965, Time magazine ran this article which proclaimed General William Westmoreland as "Man of the Year". It has some interesting segments about the first big year of that disastrous adventure:
Recently, Peking has made it a point to proclaim its delight at the prospect of the U.S.'s depleting its resources on a major land war in Asia.
From a force of fewer than 20,000 at the end of 1961, the Viet Cong had grown to a lethally effective terrorist army of 165,000.
Westmoreland belongs to the age of technology--a product not only of combat but also of sophisticated command and management colleges from Fort Leavenworth to Harvard Business School.
Under a more formal program, more than 1,000 experts with the U.S. Operations Mission are distributing more than $500 million a year in economic assistance, training civil servants in a dozen Saigon ministries and advising local officials.
Some critics have faulted the U.S. for naively seeking to impose U.S.-style democracy on South Viet Nam.
In 1965 the U.S. suffered 1,241 killed in action and 5,687 wounded.
Johnson has yet to address himself in particular to the great majority of Americans who generally support his Viet Nam policy, though not in many cases without a certain apprehension.
In a war in which the kindly-looking peasant often turns out to be a gun-toting guerrilla, that can be a tall order. Snapped a marine private: "We try to help those goddamn people and you know what they do? They send in their kids to steal our grenades and ammunition and use them to kill us. The hell with them!"
The biggest difference between Vietnam and Iraq was the presence of a large South Vietnamese army. After the recent invasion of Iraq, many assumed the US Army would accept surrender of entire Iraq units, then continue to feed and pay them so they could maintain civil order. After a couple weeks of reeducation and replacement of a few officers, the Iraqi Army could retake control under close US supervision as most US troops go home. However, after victory was declared on May 1st, nothing was done. After some criticism, on June 23 the US ruler in Iraq announced plans for a new Iraqi army: "an initial division of 12,000 men will be ready within a year and will grow to 40,000 within three years." This is just a fraction of the Saddam's military force of 400,000. The US viceroy also announced that up to 250,000 ex-soldiers will be eligible for support payments of $50 to $150 per month from the US administration, which are good wages in Iraq.
This is absurd. These jobless Iraqis are former soldiers, they have uniforms and plenty of Iraqi military equipment is laying around, so re-form several divisions within 30 days. Since they plan to pay 250,000 ex-Iraqi soldiers anyway, why not make them show up for work, even just picking up trash or patrolling the streets unarmed? A few months ago, Iraqi soldiers were called a serious threat to regional security, now they are considered too inept to guard a hospital, like the one where three American soldiers were killed last week.
Rather than instantly re-forming Iraqi units, the US Army announced that it will pay the Vinnell Corporation, an insider group which employs retired Army Generals, $48 million to "train" 12,000 Iraqi soldiers. They claim this will take a year, and Vinnell hopes to make "training the Iraqi Army" a permanent gravy train like they have in Saudi Arabia, and had in Vietnam. Meanwhile, US Army Generals hold their soldiers as pawns for their goal of a larger active duty US Army. The longer US troops remain in Iraq, the better chance they have at getting approval more active duty divisions, and the more "combat command time" and medals senior officers accumulate. Yes, many US Generals are that devious, which is how they became Generals.
As US Army units are finally withdrawn from Germany, ten active duty divisions is more than the USA truly needs, especially with the equivalent of 14 divisions in the Army National Guard. However, Army Generals have refused to re-form any Iraqi Army units, and refuse to request the deployment of any National Guard divisions; although many smaller elements have been sent to Iraq. Army Generals, through their contractor financed political front (the Association of the US Army) have been politicking for an increase in the active duty Army to 12 divisions for the past decade. As he left office last June, General Shinseki stated that 12 divisions were needed.
In short, American GIs will be held hostage in Iraq until Army Generals get their 12 active duty divisions. This is nothing new. When George Bush ran for President in 2000, he stated that European troops should replace American troops in the Balkans. After the election, he was quickly overruled. This high-level misplaced loyalty exists in all the US military since only officers who demonstrate total loyalty to their service advance to the flag officer ranks. Another example exists in the US Navy, which was detailed in a G2mil editorial a year ago: "The Submarine Mafia".
Civilian leaders may suspect this game is in play, but feel uncomfortable overruling the Generals in charge. However, it should be obvious the US Army wants to keep several divisions in Iraq for years and has lined up Congressional support for a larger active duty army. Civilian leaders must end this game and firmly state that America has ample National Guard forces to rotate overseas, so there will be no increase in active duty forces. Second, they must demand that several Iraqi divisions be re-formed by regular US Army forces within 30 days using captured Iraq equipment. Just re-form the same Iraqi divisions where they were based, except the eight Republican Guard divisions whose soldiers are free to join the regular Army. These Iraqi soldiers understand the people, the problems, and have great experience with small arms and civil control. Otherwise, they have no jobs and have nothing better to do than rob, loot, and ambush Americans. The only challenge is selecting a new cast of Generals.
Civilian leaders must also demand that US troop levels in Iraq be reduced immediately. American combat units are only needed to hunt for Saddam Hussein and to keep an eye on the new Iraqi Army. Removing the "imperial troops" from the streets will defuse the growing resistance movement in Iraq. Kicking down doors and throwing Iraqis into prison camps guarded by American "liberators" will not tame Iraq. Moreover, the USA claimed it was invading Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein from power and eliminate Weapons of Mass Destruction. Those missions have been accomplished, so bring the GIs home now before today's General Westmorelands succeed in prolonging and expanding this conflict.
Carlton Meyer editorG2mil@Gmail.com
G2mil editorials may be freely distributed without permission
August 2003 Articles
have been returned to the Members Library
Letters - comments from G2mil readers
The Ultimate APC - build it for grunts
Joint Universal Spotters - a critical need
Dispersing MCAS Miramar - thinking ahead
Sky Ramp Technology - updated and expanded
Military Reflections - Fred Reed's insight
American Body Count - GIs keep dying in Iraq
Army Considers Privatizing Its Depots, Ammo Facilities - for the third time
Issues Hamper Air Support of Ground Forces (pdf) - May 2003 GAO report
Successful ESTOL landings with the X-31A - probably better than VTOL
Lockheed Adds Director Fresh From the Pentagon - Pete Aldridge cashes in
Turning Tables - diary entries from a US Army soldier now in Iraq
Sending Soldiers to Butler School - a key priority
What's Happened to America - few care
Previous G2mil - July 2003 issue
Past Editorials - by Carlton Meyer
Library Tour - visit G2mil's library
Library Entrance - members only
All material in G2mil Copyright 2003 G2mil, patents pending on some items. Links to www.G2mil.com are encouraged.