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Pentagon ignored danger of roadside bombs, report finds

 
 
Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 09:59 am
Pentagon ignored danger of roadside bombs, report finds
By David Goldstein | McClatchy Newspapers
12/10/08

WASHINGTON " The military ignored steps before the invasion of Iraq that could have prevented the staggering number of casualties from roadside bombs, the Pentagon's acting inspector general charged Tuesday.

The IG's report says that the military knew years before the war that mines and homemade bombs, which the military calls "improvised explosive devices," would be a "threat . . . in low-intensity conflicts" and that "mine-resistant vehicles" were available.

"Yet the military did not develop requirements for, fund or acquire" safer vehicles, the report says. The military invaded Iraq in 2003 "without having taken available steps to acquire technology to mitigate the known mine and IED risk to soldiers and Marines."

Even after the war was under way, as the devices began taking a deadly toll and field commanders pressed for vehicles that were better protected from roadside bombs, the Pentagon was slow to act, the report says.

The IG's office is headed by Acting Inspector General Gordon Heddell.

Explosive devices, including roadside bombs and mines, have caused nearly 25,000 deaths and injuries, according to the Pentagon, the top cause of death for U.S. service members in Iraq.

"It appears that some bureaucrats at the Pentagon have much to explain to the families of American troops who were killed or maimed when a lifesaving solution was within reach," said Sen. Kit Bond, a Missouri Republican.

Bond and Democratic Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware " the vice president-elect " have been critical of the Pentagon over the vehicles, known as MRAPS. Pronounced em-wraps, it stands for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected.

For two years the senators have pushed to uncover why efforts to obtain safer vehicles and other protective equipment for combat troops have been ignored or delayed. USA Today first reported about the problems getting MRAPS into combat last year.

The acting inspector general's study dealt specifically with the Marines' use of MRAPS. The report says that the inspector general also will look into how other military branches " presumably the Army " countered the threat of IEDS.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Tuesday that "great quantities" of MRAPs weren't available at the early stages of the war.

"As the threat has evolved, so have our force-protection measures," he said. "Have we done so with the rapidity and the efficiency that we would have liked at all times? No, we haven't. But to suggest that there was any sort of neglect, or people were sitting on their hands ignoring the urgent request of commanders in the field, is just not accurate."

MRAPS are bigger and heavier than the Humvees that troops have used for patrols in Iraq. They're higher off the ground and designed to deflect an explosion.

The IG report says that the military "stopped processing" a 2005 request for 1,169 MRAPS from commanders in the field. Another request came a year later, according to a letter from Bond and Biden to Gen. James Conway, the Marine commandant.

Marine officials thought then that adding armor to Humvees was the "best available, most survivable" option, according to the IG report.

MRAPS also didn't fit in with the Marines' push to become a leaner, quick-reaction force, according to a study last January by Franz Gayl, a civilian Marine science adviser and whistleblower championed by Bond and Biden.

His study showed how efforts to outfit Marines in Iraq with the safer vehicles went awry.

Gayl, a former Marine, said that "gross mismanagement" delayed the use of MRAPS in combat. Otherwise, he concluded, "hundreds of deaths and injuries could have been prevented."

In a 2007 memo from Conway to Gen. Peter Pace, who was then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation's top Marine said that MRAPS could cut IED casualties by 80 percent, according to Gayl.

New to the job in 2007, Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered more MRAPS. Morrell said that nearly 12,000 were now employed in Iraq and Afghanistan, with several thousand more on the way. The cost is $22 billion.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 375 • Replies: 10
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 11:04 am
@BumbleBeeBoogie,
We are now aware of how the generals have failed the troops on the ground by not providing proper training and equipment, because they were afraid of their own shadow under Rummy-Bush, and what happened to General Shinseki for speaking the truth about necessary troop levels after the invasion.

They cared more for their own careers than the lives of the men and women who served under them. They are all a sorry bunch of humans.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 02:07 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Quote:
They cared more for their own careers than the lives of the men and women who served under them.


I think this is a common interpretation but it doesn't make it any less shallow. Think about it -- if all the Generals who were disgusted by some of the decisions/events/whatever that have happened over the last few years had retired who would have been left in charge? Would their leaving have best served the soldiers they command?

I think there has been a lot of method to the madness of who retired and who spoke out publically.
DrewDad
 
  2  
Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 02:19 pm
Complaints about the military's ability to be flexible are as old as armies.

If they'd spent all the money on up-armored vehicles, and the threat turned out to be negligible, everyone would be carping about the expense.

It's too easy to be an arm-chair General.
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 03:46 pm
@boomerang,
boomerang, Maybe you don't remember, but when the war progressed, Bush kept telling the American Public that he would provide more troops if the "generals asked for them." If you understand the math and the number of troops that "were" available, asking would not have made any difference, because there were none. Our military was already stretched beyond our ability to fight two wars at the same time. FYI, read the following article about how the generals have failed.

Quote:
Failures of Generalship in Iraq

America’s generals have repeated the mistakes of Vietnam in Iraq. First, throughout the 1990s our generals failed to envision the conditions of future combat and prepare their forces accordingly. Second, America’s generals failed to estimate correctly both the means and the ways necessary to achieve the aims of policy prior to beginning the war in Iraq. Finally, America’s generals did not provide Congress and the public with an accurate assessment of the conflict in Iraq.

Despite paying lip service to “transformation” throughout the 1990s, America’s armed forces failed to change in significant ways after the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. In “The Sling and the Stone,” T.X. Hammes argues that the Defense Department’s transformation strategy focuses almost exclusively on high-technology conventional wars. The doctrine, organizations, equipment and training of the U.S. military confirm this observation. The armed forces fought the global war on terrorism for the first five years with a counterinsurgency doctrine last revised in the Reagan administration. Despite engaging in numerous stability operations throughout the 1990s, the armed forces did little to bolster their capabilities for civic reconstruction and security force development. Procurement priorities during the 1990s followed the Cold War model, with significant funding devoted to new fighter aircraft and artillery systems. The most commonly used tactical scenarios in both schools and training centers replicated high-intensity interstate conflict. At the dawn of the 21st century, the U.S. is fighting brutal, adaptive insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq, while our armed forces have spent the preceding decade having done little to prepare for such conflicts.

Having spent a decade preparing to fight the wrong war, America’s generals then miscalculated both the means and ways necessary to succeed in Iraq. The most fundamental military miscalculation in Iraq has been the failure to commit sufficient forces to provide security to Iraq’s population. U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) estimated in its 1998 war plan that 380,000 troops would be necessary for an invasion of Iraq. Using operations in Bosnia and Kosovo as a model for predicting troop requirements, one Army study estimated a need for 470,000 troops. Alone among America’s generals, Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki publicly stated that “several hundred thousand soldiers” would be necessary to stabilize post-Saddam Iraq. Prior to the war, President Bush promised to give field commanders everything necessary for victory. Privately, many senior general officers both active and retired expressed serious misgivings about the insufficiency of forces for Iraq. These leaders would later express their concerns in tell-all books such as “Fiasco” and “Cobra II.” However, when the U.S. went to war in Iraq with less than half the strength required to win, these leaders did not make their objections public.

Given the lack of troop strength, not even the most brilliant general could have devised the ways necessary to stabilize post-Saddam Iraq. However, inept planning for postwar Iraq took the crisis caused by a lack of troops and quickly transformed it into a debacle. In 1997, the U.S. Central Command exercise “Desert Crossing” demonstrated that many postwar stabilization tasks would fall to the military. The other branches of the U.S. government lacked sufficient capability to do such work on the scale required in Iraq. Despite these results, CENTCOM accepted the assumption that the State Department would administer postwar Iraq. The military never explained to the president the magnitude of the challenges inherent in stabilizing postwar Iraq.

After failing to visualize the conditions of combat in Iraq, America’s generals failed to adapt to the demands of counterinsurgency. Counterinsurgency theory prescribes providing continuous security to the population. However, for most of the war American forces in Iraq have been concentrated on large forward-operating bases, isolated from the Iraqi people and focused on capturing or killing insurgents. Counterinsurgency theory requires strengthening the capability of host-nation institutions to provide security and other essential services to the population. America’s generals treated efforts to create transition teams to develop local security forces and provincial reconstruction teams to improve essential services as afterthoughts, never providing the quantity or quality of personnel necessary for success.

After going into Iraq with too few troops and no coherent plan for postwar stabilization, America’s general officer corps did not accurately portray the intensity of the insurgency to the American public. The Iraq Study Group concluded that “there is significant underreporting of the violence in Iraq.” The ISG noted that “on one day in July 2006 there were 93 attacks or significant acts of violence reported. Yet a careful review of the reports for that single day brought to light 1,100 acts of violence. Good policy is difficult to make when information is systematically collected in a way that minimizes its discrepancy with policy goals.” Population security is the most important measure of effectiveness in counterinsurgency. For more than three years, America’s generals continued to insist that the U.S. was making progress in Iraq. However, for Iraqi civilians, each year from 2003 onward was more deadly than the one preceding it. For reasons that are not yet clear, America’s general officer corps underestimated the strength of the enemy, overestimated the capabilities of Iraq’s government and security forces and failed to provide Congress with an accurate assessment of security conditions in Iraq. Moreover, America’s generals have not explained clearly the larger strategic risks of committing so large a portion of the nation’s deployable land power to a single theater of operations.

The intellectual and moral failures common to America’s general officer corps in Vietnam and Iraq constitute a crisis in American generalship. Any explanation that fixes culpability on individuals is insufficient. No one leader, civilian or military, caused failure in Vietnam or Iraq. Different military and civilian leaders in the two conflicts produced similar results. In both conflicts, the general officer corps designed to advise policymakers, prepare forces and conduct operations failed to perform its intended functions. To understand how the U.S. could face defeat at the hands of a weaker insurgent enemy for the second time in a generation, we must look at the structural influences that produce our general officer corps.


They should have all accepted shame and resigned. That would have brought home our troops much sooner with less casualties in our military and in Iraq's civil population (and Vietnam).
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 07:05 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Quote:
boomerang, Maybe you don't remember, but when the war progressed, Bush kept telling the American Public that he would provide more troops if the "generals asked for them." If you understand the math and the number of troops that "were" available, asking would not have made any difference, because there were none. Our military was already stretched beyond our ability to fight two wars at the same time. FYI, read the following article about how the generals have failed.


I don't really get how you blame the "Generals" for this.

I am going to read the article you posted. I just got home and have to cook dinner and I'm leaving town in the morning so it may take a bit.....
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 07:24 pm
@cicerone imposter,
I was able to give it a quick read, I still want to read it more carefully but let me ask you this:

Do you believe that "the generals" could have stopped this war?

If so, how?
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 07:35 pm
@boomerang,
Yes. All they had to do was show to the American People why this war was wrong from the onset. However, military personnel do not engage themselves in politics. Many generals agreed with General Shinseki about the troop levels after the invasion, but none spoke up for fear for their own careers. However, the larger problem is that the military must follow the orders of the CIC even when the president is wrong. There is a thing called "ethics" that is missing from the military mind. That's the reason why the military follows orders even when it is ethically wrong to do something; they are not allowed to question the order of the CIC or the commander in charge.

It's easier said than done, but we have seen what has happened when something does go wrong with an order. They usually blame it on an underling rather than taking the blame themselves. History is replete with this kind of transfer of blame - and that's not only the US.

boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 07:40 pm
@cicerone imposter,
And if they'd told the American people, that would have stopped the war?
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 07:47 pm
@boomerang,
No; that would have stopped the support for the war. Without the support of the American People for any war, the president losses credibility in everything else he/she does. As we have seen, even after five years in Iraq, and the loss of support of the American People, our government continues to fund the war against the people's wishes. That's one of the reasons why the congress' performance rating is lower than Bush's. That's after the democrats promised to end the war if they won a majority in congress during 2006. They failed.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 07:55 pm
@cicerone imposter,
I don't think the American people supported the Iraq war in the first place.

We were lied into this war. Do you blame all 300 General officers?

Powell was right when he cited the "Pottery Barn rule" (and yes, I do believe he said it). We broke it, we are buying it.
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