Daily Revolt

December 19, 2007

USA Today: Cheney, Rumsfeld Strategy Prevented Saving Lives of Troops Years Earlier

The evidence is overwhelming that this White House, which likes to portray themselves as concerned about the troops, neglected our soldiers out of ignorance, indifference, and/or incompetence:
Efforts to stop IEDs by targeting the insurgent networks that finance, build and plant the bombs showed results only after the Bush administration adopted a broader counterinsurgency strategy this year — and sent 30,000 more troops to Iraq to support it.

But a USA TODAY investigation shows that the strategy now used to defeat the bombmaking networks and stabilize Iraq was ignored or rejected for years by key decision-makers. As early as 2004, when roadside bombs already were killing scores of troops, a top military consultant invited to address two dozen generals offered a "strategic alternative" for beating the insurgency and IEDs.

That plan and others mirroring the counterinsurgency blueprint that the Pentagon now hails as a success were pitched repeatedly in memos and presentations during the following two years, at meetings that included then-Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

The core of the strategy: Clear insurgents from key areas and provide security to win over Iraqis, who would respond by helping U.S. forces break IED networks and defeat the insurgency.

Bush administration officials, however, remained wedded to the idea that training the Iraqi army and leaving the country would suffice. Officials, including Cheney, insisted the insurgency was dying. Those pronouncements delayed the Pentagon from embracing new plans to stop IEDs and investing in better armored vehicles that allow troops to patrol more freely, documents and interviews show.

[...]By the time the Pentagon moved to a counterinsurgency strategy at the end of last year, the bombs had been the top killer of U.S. troops for three years, claiming more than 1,160 lives. To date, they are responsible for more than 60% of combat deaths.

"What's astounding is how long we spent not applying traditional counterinsurgency principles to fighting what obviously was an insurgency," says Fred Kagan, a military analyst at the American Enterprise Institute and former West Point instructor. "It's not that we've solved the IED problem, per se. It's that we've begun to have success in defeating the insurgents."

Andrew Krepinevich, the consultant who addressed the generals in 2004 and met with Libby in 2005, says the price of that failure was profound.

"One is the human cost, both in terms of the suffering of Iraqis and the Americans killed and wounded," he says. "Second is the material cost. And third is the failure to accomplish the mission."

Krepinevich, who has advised several secretaries of Defense and the former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, says "the American military is on the clock in this war, and the American people, in a sense, gave the administration several years to make progress. Those years, to a significant extent, were wasted."

Read the entire USA Today article...

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