Thursday, November 17, 2005

Why Iraqi Self-Defense May Fail

Yesterday's overwelming Senate vote, by a 79-19 vote is meant to put pressure on the government and people of Iraq to prepare for their own self-defense in 2006. But for a variety of reasons this could very well fail. Iraq's intentions for self-defense are America's ticket out of Iraq, yet for reasons not entirely the fault of Iraq, Iraqi self-defense plans could fail far worse than the failed "Vietnamization " of the Vietnam War.

The Vietnam War's "Vietnamization" of the war had an important factor going for it. That was some level of trust in the South Vietnamese intentions to defend themselves. And America trusted South Vietnamese troops with tanks and other heavy equipment. But the situation in Iraq is far different, as so far not one single piece of heavy equipment has been forthcoming for Iraqi self-defense efforts, only uniforms, helmuts, boots, and small arms such as pistols or rifles. It is nearly as demeaning for Iraqi soldiers as some of the all Black WWII army units who had only broom handles to practice with in all segregated all Black bootcamps. Prior to the 2003 war in Iraq, Saddam's Republican Guard had an estimated 2,200 Soviet tanks. Today only 10 old Soviet T55 tanks remain for the current Iraqi self-defense forces. All the other tanks were destroyed in the "shock and awe " campaign that completely destroyed the military infrastructure of Iraq's Saddam-era Republican Guard. In addition, more than 2,500 artillery pieces were destroyed as well. The current Iraqi military has only 4 old armored personnel carriers left as well and lack decent transportation to potential engagement areas with insurgent forces. With virtually no tanks or artillery pieces, Iraqi soldiers are forced into high mortality combat situations with insurgents, while American soldiers can often fight from a safe distance with long range weapons like aircraft, or high power artillery or tank shells.

According to a reputable military evaluation source,, the Iraqi self-defense forces would need at least 1,250 tanks and 2,500 armored personnel carriers, as well several thousand towed and other artillery pieces, to successfully defend their own county. Yet not a single one of these heavy equipment pieces has yet been provided by the U.S. to the Iraqi military. Only the United Arab Emirates has promised to ship 134 old 1960's vintage Vietnam-era M113 GAVIN armored personnel carriers to Iraqi homeland security forces. But these are very old, have extreme wear, and are no longer of any good use to the UAE now that far newer U.S. supplied vehicles have been shipped to most MidEastern ally states.

There are several important facts to note. The "fathers" of the Iraq War were mainly all either former CEOs, major stockholders or paid consultants to military contractors such as Halliburton's Dick Cheney(Cheney's wife, also held a substantial amount of public stock in Lockheed Martin and stood to profit from increased military spending from a new war) , Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz , John Bolton and others. This new Irag war was wanted by defense contractors partly to profit from the increased military spending that would come their way, and the 2003 war was deliberately "overplanned" to use far more firepower than needed solely to burn up billions in arms and to create billions in new military contractor arms replacement demand production and new contracts. Because of this, way more of the Iraqi Republican Guard was destroyed than was necessary. This meant than all but 10 of the estimated 2,200 Iraqi battle tanks were destroyed and most likely all of the estimated 2,050 artillery pieces. The American cost to replace 1,200 tanks estimated to be required for the Iraqi homeland defense forces would be at least $4.5 million each. And with $1 million dollar American cruise missiles destroyed way more Iraqi tanks and military infrastructure than needed during the 2003 war, the entire Iraqi Republican Guard Army of an estimated 245,000 soldiers including their commanders was heavily decimated as well. There was more destruction than needed of the Iraqi military solely to overthrow Saddam Hussein and his sons from power, because this war was planned by persons way too closely aligned with American military contractor interests with huge military profits a main component of the war planning. Instead this war, if actually necessary should have been independently planned by military experts. But in fact, the Bush Administration has replaced all the Secretaries of Army, Navy and Air Force agencies with former executives or others associated with military contractors for the very first time in American history. In fact 33 former defense contractor associates have been appointed by Bush to foreign or military policy positions. Even former Republican President, and General, Dwight Eisenhower warned of the power of the "military-industrial complex" to create serious problems for the United States. By contrast the military and foreign policy of this administration is controlled by this "military industrial" complex.

Without any high level Iraqi military commanders or major arms left, it is very difficult to build a new Iraqi military from the ground up. And because of fear that families or others may be endangered, many Iraqi soldiers or police serve with a mask on to hide their identity. The new Iraq has tremendous ethnic hatred, and many Shiite police or military volunteers hide their faces for personal and family safety reasons from the Sunni elements they police. American forces are actually fearful to supply heavy weapons to Iraqi soldiers for fear that they may be misused in ethnic warfare, abuse of civilians, or even in civil war. On one hand, for American political consumption, stock footage of Iraqi soldiers in combat are used to inspire U.S. public confidence that the Iraqi military is coming together. But the reality is that few highly trained Iraqi soldiers actually exist. In fact only one Iraqi combat battalion of 750 soldiers is considered to be "combat ready" to fight on their own without American military backup. During the summer, two more underequipped Iraqi battalion units were knocked down from "combat ready" status, to "not combat ready" status due to engagements with insurgents costing enough of their troops and supplies to lower their fighting ability status.

It is estimated that in engagements with guerilla elements that at least a 10 to 1 advantage must be had by government forces combatting insurgents. But with undertrained and underequipped Iraqi troops, the death toll is far higher than American troops with the advantages of air cover and other high tech weapons that the Iraqi soldiers lack. Because of this, during the summer there were three Iraqi combat battalions comprising more than 2,000 soldiers that were "combat ready". Now just one Iraqi battalion of 750 troops remains "combat ready" without American military support.

It is also known that the U.S. still has numerous troops stationed in both Germany and Japan, long after the end of the 1945 war. It is also known that the U.S. still has a large number of troops in Korea, after the start of that 1950 war. Congress also recently added $500 million for permanent American military base construction to an Iraq War funding bill. Whether the U.S. seriously wants to build an Iraqi self-defense force, trusts the mainly Shiite military volunteers not to misuse the arms for ethnic or civil warfare, or even genocide against Sunni citizens is a very good question.

Hopefully the vote in the Senate will push both the Iraqi and American governments to answer the important question in 2006 whether a real Iraqi self-defense force is really intended in Iraq, or is simply just another White House "smoke and mirrors" for what will continue for years as a virtually solo American effort in Iraq.


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