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Author Topic: The Thin Green Line
Joe Schmoe
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quote:

Andrew Krepinevich, a retired Army officer who wrote the report under a Pentagon contract, concluded that the Army cannot sustain the pace of troop deployments to Iraq long enough to break the back of the insurgency. He also suggested that the Pentagon's decision, announced in December, to begin reducing the force in Iraq this year was driven in part by a realization that the Army was overextended.

The Thin Green Line

On the surface this sounds like more propaganda from our unbiased AP press. [Roll Eyes] But they are using a pentagon report for their source. Anyone have anything to add to this?

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Digger
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We'll have to define the phrase, "break the back of the insurgency" before we could have a productive discussion. What's your opinion of the meaning of that little term?
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The Drake
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Well, the report seems to focus on the inability to maintain force levels in the current recruiting structure during an extended war. Isn't this intuitively obvious? What's new here? I never felt that the pure application of US troops would quell the insurgency. That's why the focus has been on training up Iraqi forces, which is painfully slow, but hopefully because they are doing it right.
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Pelegius
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As an historian, I am certain that no force can "break the back" of the insurgency. The Provisional IRA's back has not been broken, nor that of the Mafia. The Red Brigades may have had their backs broken, depending upon how you define that phrase. However, such forces can be rendered impotent.
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WarrsawPact
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Then again, our mission is not to break the back of the insurgency. That's Iraq's job, once we've given their government enough time and space to build the institutions that will finish the job.
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Pelegius
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They cannot do it either. If the U.K. and Ireland together can't, how can Iraq?
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FIJC
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quote:
"Then again, our mission is not to break the back of the insurgency. That's Iraq's job, once we've given their government enough time and space to build the institutions that will finish the job."
Are you sure about that?
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Daruma28
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Longtime Army Veteran and QandO Blogger McQ analyzes the credibility/accuracy of this report:

The Army Isn't Broken

quote:
There seems to be a concerted effort among some to make this conventional wisdom:

"Stretched by frequent troop rotations to Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has become a "thin green line" that could snap unless relief comes soon, according to a study for the Pentagon."

I'm not ready to buy into this yet. That's primarily because many of the indicators I'd suspect would be apparent in an army about to snap just don't seem to be there. Probably the most apparent of those indicators is re-enlistment. Re-enlistment exceeded the 2005 goal and is projected to exceed the 2006 goal. For those of us who served during the Vietnam era, that doesn't indicate an Army in trouble or ready to snap ... not yet. Unhappy soldiers in an army in trouble or about to snap or break just don't stick around. And they damn sure don't re-enlist in record numbers. The re-enlistment numbers speak to another important indicator. Morale. Dispiritied soldiers don't re-enlist. Soldiers with high morale do.

There's another point I'd like to address as well. It has to do with a premise of the report which concluded the army is stretched too thin and is about to break:

"Andrew Krepinevich, a retired Army officer who wrote the report under a Pentagon contract, concluded that the Army cannot sustain the pace of troop deployments to Iraq long enough to break the back of the insurgency. He also suggested that the Pentagon's decision, announced in December, to begin reducing the force in Iraq this year was driven in part by a realization that the Army was overextended."

If you recall, Krepinevich is the one who published a controversial article in Foreign Affairs entitle "How to Win in Iraq". It centered on his "oil spot" strategy in which he likens the war on the insurgency to the spread of an oil spot. We put our troops in an area, we clear it and we hold it, moving out from the center where we began and continuing to clear and hold more and more territory (and presumably bringing in Iraqi troops as well). We do that from any number of locations and continue the operations until the oil spots overlap and interlock.

It would take a lot more troops and a heck of a lot more time.

It sounds like a wonderful way to defeat the insurgency if you assume your mission is to indeed fight and defeat the insurgency.

But it's not. Regardless of the fact that Krepinevich claims that to be the mission every chance he gets (such as the article cited and now this study) it is not our stated mission.

Our stated mission is to buy enough time for the Iraqi military and government to be in the shape necessary so they can eventually "break the back of the insurgency." That is a much shorter term and less troop intensive mission than actually defeating the insurgency.

If our mission was to indeed break the back of the insurgency, I'd agree with Krepinevich's conclusion (since it would take more troops and more time, both of which might indeed overburden the Army). Since that isn't our mission, his conclusion, while logical, is based on a false premise.

Does the Army have problems? Name an army engaged in a war in two different countries half way around the world that wouldn't. But as long as the soldiers and NCOs are staying and reelisting in excess of the needs of the Army, I can't bring myself to buy into this negative bit of spin that the Army is about to break.


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