McCaffrey’s Three Year Plan for Iraq

Retired General Barry McCaffrey, Adjunct Professor of International Affairs at the United States Military Academy, and who has toured Iraq several times since the overthrow of Saddam Husein, doesn’t think any plan centered on reducing U.S Forces in Iraq to a small number of advisors as quickly as 2008, as suggested by the Iraq Study Group, will serve American or Iraqi interests. Here’s what General McCaffrey wrote in Wednesday’s Washington Post on what he believes that America’s last shot in Iraq should consist of…

Our objective should be a large-scale U.S. military withdrawal within the next 36 months, leaving in place an Iraqi government in a stable and mostly peaceful country that does not threaten its six neighboring states and does not intend to possess weapons of mass destruction….
First, we must commit publicly to provide $10 billion a year in economic support to the Iraqis over the next five years. In the military arena, it would be feasible to equip and increase the Iraqi armed forces on a crash basis over the next 24 months (but not the police or the Facilities Protection Service). The goal would be 250,000 troops, provided with the material and training necessary to maintain internal order.
I think the suggestion here is that a national Iraqi army, with a true Iraqi national identity, needs to be the strongest armed group in the country, if anything else is going to succeed. General McCaffrey continues…
Within the first 12 months we should draw down the U.S. military presence from 15 Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs), of 5,000 troops each, to 10. Within the next 12 months, Centcom forces should further draw down to seven BCTs and withdraw from urban areas to isolated U.S. operating bases — where we could continue to provide oversight and intervention when required to rescue our embedded U.S. training teams, protect the population from violence or save the legal government.
Finally, we have to design and empower a regional diplomatic peace dialogue in which the Iraqis can take the lead, engaging their regional neighbors as well as their own alienated and fractured internal population….
Let me add a note of caution regarding a deceptive and unwise option that springs from the work of the Iraq Study Group. We must not entertain the shallow, partisan notion of rapidly withdrawing most organized Marine and Army fighting units by early 2008 and substituting for them a much larger number of U.S. advisers — a 400 percent increase — as a way to avoid a difficult debate for both parties in the New Hampshire primaries….
We need fewer advisers, not more — selected from elite, active military units and with at least 90 days of immersion training in Arabic.
Note that this statement places the well-respected General McCaffrey at odds with the also well-respected Eliot Cohen, who believes that increasing the number of advisors in Iraq is a critical element of success. The General provides a hint as to why he thinks that increasing the number of advisors will not be effective…
Iraqi troops will not fight because of iron discipline enforced by U.S. sergeants and officers. That is a self-serving domestic political concept that would put us at risk of a national military humiliation.
Read the whole thing, for the rest of General McCaffrey’s thoughts on why he thinks this plan is America’s best way forward.

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17 years ago

Iraq is being disrupted by a tiny but vicious percentage of its population. I’m going to lean towards military solutions as opposed to sending in “advisors”.

17 years ago

… though advisors are certainly needed.
Actually, it’s not an either/or solution; we need to do both. Increase the advisors to accelerate the training of Iraqi’s and implement McCaffrey’s suggestion.
He is right on target, by the way, when he talks about our elected officials making decisions for Iraq that play well in New Hampshire. It seems absurd to even say but this cannot be the basis for formulating the strategy for a situation where the stakes are so high.

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