Friday, July 06, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- July 6th edition

July 6, 2005: A soldier from Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment, provides outside security while his platoon undertakes a house search in Al-Radwnea.

July 6, 2002:

US plan for Iraq said to include attack on 3 sides

A US military planning document calls for air, land and sea-based forces to attack Iraq from three directions -- the north, south and west -- in a campaign to topple President Saddam Hussein, said a person familiar with the document.

The document envisions tens of thousands of marines and soldiers probably invading from Kuwait. Hundreds of warplanes based in as many as eight countries, possibly including Turkey and Qatar, would unleash a huge air assault against thousands of targets, including airfields, roadways and fiber-optics communications sites.

Special operations forces or covert CIA operatives would strike at depots or laboratories storing or manufacturing Iraq's suspected weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to launch them.

None of the countries identified in the document as possible staging areas have been formally consulted about playing such a role, officials said, underscoring the preliminary nature of the planning. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visited US bases in Kuwait and Qatar and the Fifth Fleet in Bahrain on his most recent trip to the Persian Gulf region in June.

The existence of the document that outlined significant aspects of a "concept" for a war against Iraq as it stood about two months ago indicates an advanced state of planning in the military even though President George W. Bush continues to state in public and to his allies that he has no fine-grain war plan on his desk for an invasion of Iraq.

Yet the concept for such a plan is now highly evolved and is apparently working its way through military channels. Once a consensus is reached on the concept, steps toward assembling a final war plan and the element of timing for ground deployments and commencement of an air war, represent the final sequencing that Bush will have to decide.

Bush has received at least two briefings from General Tommy Franks, the head of the Central Command, on the broad outlines, or "concept of operations," for a possible attack against Iraq. The most recent briefing was on June 19, according to the White House.

"Right now, we're at the stage of conceptual thinking and brainstorming," a senior defense official said. "We're pretty far along."

The highly-classified document, entitled "CentCom Courses of Action," was prepared by planners at the Central Command in Tampa, Florida, according to the person familiar with the document.

Officials say it has already undergone revisions, but is a snapshot of an important, but preliminary stage, in a comprehensive process that translates broad ideas into the detailed, step-by-step blueprint for combat operations that the Pentagon defines as a "war plan."

Read the rest at the Taipei Times

July 6, 2003:

Appoint the Best to Iraq, Not the Best-Connected

In March, as war against Iraq loomed, Frederick "Skip" M. Burkle Jr., a senior official at the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID), traveled to Kuwait with a disaster relief team to prepare for the aftereffects of the fighting. It was a natural assignment for Burkle. A physician with a master's degree in public health, he ran a trauma center near the Kuwaiti border during the first Gulf War and then went to northern Iraq to help with the Kurdish crisis. He traveled to Somalia and Kosovo to deal with the humanitarian emergencies there. A Naval reserve officer who earned several combat medals in Vietnam, Burkle set up a center at the University of Hawaii in the mid-1990s to promote cooperation between the military and relief organizations. In 2002, he joined AID as deputy assistant administrator for global health.

On April 10, as fighting continued in Baghdad, the 63-year-old Burkle arrived in the city to visit local hospitals and assess their needs. His convoy came under fire, however, and he was forced to leave. Two weeks later, he returned at the request of retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, then head of the U.S. Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance. The two men visited Yarmouk Hospital, where they heard pleas for security, electricity, supplies. Told that he was to serve as the senior U.S. adviser to the Iraqi ministry of health, Burkle returned to Kuwait to collect his belongings.

There, however, he was abruptly informed that he had been relieved of his duties and replaced by James K. Haveman Jr. Unlike Burkle, Haveman, 60, was largely unknown among international public health professionals. A social worker by training, he has no medical degree or any formal instruction in public health, and he hasn't been in the military. From 1991 to 2002, he served in the cabinet of John Engler, the Republican governor of Michigan, directing state health programs. Most of Haveman's recent overseas experience had come through International Aid, a Christian relief organization that provides health care and spreads the Gospel in the Third World.

To manage postwar Iraq, the Bush administration has assigned senior advisers to the major Iraqi ministries. These choices have received little scrutiny. In some cases, political connections seem to have played as large a part as professional credentials in determining who has been chosen...

Burkle was asked to serve as Haveman's deputy, but he declined. He worked in Iraq with the disaster-relief team until the end of May, then returned to academia. He was reluctant to speak about his recall, but he said he had been assured that his performance was not the issue. He acknowledged that he was told he had been replaced because the White House wanted all senior positions in Iraq to be filled with loyal Republicans who could be trusted to carry out administration policy. Burkle, though a political appointee when he was at AID, has no formal ties to the Republican Party.

Haveman does. A native of Grand Rapids, Mich. -- a stronghold of conservative Republicanism -- he served on Gov. Jeb Bush's transition team in Florida in 2002...

Until recently, Haveman served on the board of International Aid and, in that capacity, traveled frequently to the developing world. He visited Kenya and South Africa to distribute AIDS testing kits, and Honduras to assist victims of Hurricane Mitch. International Aid's strategy is to work through local churches. Evangelical in orientation, the group has close ties to the Christian Reformed Church, a Calvinist denomination with a strong fundamentalist flavor; Haveman is a longtime member. According to its Web site, the Grand Rapids-based church regards Scripture as the "infallible Word of God" and opposes abortion, homosexuality, divorce and birth control.

In our conversation, Haveman said his religious beliefs were irrelevant to his current job. "My staff is made up of Muslims, non-Christians and a variety of people from different faiths," he said, adding that in Michigan he had frequently worked with the Arab communities in Dearborn and Detroit. He also noted that he had visited 26 countries and felt very comfortable working in battered lands.

William Winkenwerder, the assistant secretary of defense for health, said that when it became apparent that the job in Iraq involved "building a new health care system" rather than providing humanitarian relief, the Pentagon chose Haveman because of his background in managing a large organization responsible for providing health care to a large number of people. "I can assure you that political considerations played no role whatsoever," Winkenwerder said.

However capable an administrator, Haveman has modest experience in the Arab world and limited knowledge of Islamic customs. This is a deficit he shares with many U.S. officials now running Iraq. In contrast to Afghanistan, where reconstruction has been carried out under the aegis of the United Nations, in Iraq it has been led almost exclusively by Americans -- and not Americans like Skip Burkle, with long records of working with the international community in alien environments.

Thus, to reconstruct Iraqi agriculture, the Bush administration has named Dan Amstutz, a one-time executive at Cargill, the grain giant. To manage Iraq's media, it chose Robert Reilly, who served for less than a year as director of the Voice of America, leaving in August 2002. And to train the Iraqi police, it has named Bernard Kerik, a former New York City police commissioner.

Like Haveman, these men have a knack for getting things done. But their lack of exposure to the Middle East is already causing the United States problems in Iraq -- in its intrusive searches of Iraqi houses, its awkward encounters with Iraqi women, its uneasy relations with Shiite clerics. These officials reflect the Bush administration's determination to remake Iraq in America's image. And this is intensifying the resentment and frustration many Iraqis seem to feel toward the U.S. occupation.

Read the rest at the Washington Post

July 6, 2004:

Look for higher gas prices before long

Oil prices jumped to a one-month high Tuesday, a development that likely spells the end of the decline in prices at the gasoline pump.

Spooked by events in Iraq, Nigeria and Russia, traders in New York bid oil up to $39.65 a barrel, a 3.3% gain from the prior trading day on Friday and the highest price since June 2.

It was the third time in the past four trading days that oil had risen more than $1 a barrel and put the price close to the psychologically important $40 mark.

Continued oil price gains will likely lead to higher gasoline prices, says Bill O'Grady, director of futures research at A.G. Edwards in St. Louis. "They're going to start popping back up," he says.

Oil accounts for nearly half of the cost of gasoline.

Retail gasoline prices have eased since hitting record highs, not adjusted for inflation, of more than $2 a gallon for regular in late May. The nationwide average price at the pump for regular fell for the sixth straight week this week to $1.895 a gallon, the Energy Department said Tuesday. That was the lowest price in two months.

Prices are still higher than a year ago. In some cities, including Boston, Los Angeles, Miami and New York, gas prices were still above $2 a gallon for regular this week. Jason Schenker, an economist at Wachovia in Charlotte, warns relief is unlikely to come anytime soon.

"We're going to see high prices all the way through Labor Day," he says...

Sabotage of an oil pipeline this past weekend in Iraq continued to crimp exports. Although Iraq has the world's second-largest proven oil reserves after Saudi Arabia, it has struggled to match its prewar production level. Its goal is to hit its prewar capacity of 3 million barrels per day by year's end.

Read the rest at USA Today

July 6, 2005:

Iraq insurgency forces Pentagon rethink on ability to fight two wars at once

The Iraq counter-insurgency is forcing the Pentagon to question its military doctrine that requires forces to be able to fight two major wars at the same time, it was claimed yesterday.
A four-yearly review of US military power is not due until early next year, but it is already clear that the strategy is under great strain from the Iraq war.

The length and ferocity of the insurgency has surprised the Pentagon. Two years after "major combat operations" were declared over by George Bush, there are still 138,000 US troops in Iraq, costing $5bn (£2.8bn) a month. Yet under US military doctrine it is not even defined as a war.

In theory, US forces should be able to fight two major wars and contain the insurgents, but the credibility of that claim is being stretched thin.

"What it reflects is how unprepared the US military was for a protracted insurgency in Iraq," said Loren Thompson, a strategic analyst at the Lexington Institute, a Washington thinktank.

"A relatively small group of poorly equipped guerrillas is getting the United States to rethink its military posture ... This type of conflict wasn't supposed to happen with this duration and this intensity."

Since the cold war, and the emergence of the US as the sole superpower, Washington has set a benchmark for its armed forces, requiring them to be strong enough to fight two major wars simultaneously. Funding and troop levels have been set accordingly.

The September 11 attacks showed the US was facing an entirely new foe, so the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, adapted the goals. From then on, the military would have to defend the homeland from terrorism, keep a presence capable of deterring conflict in four critical regions, fight and quickly win two major wars and win so decisively in one of them as to remove the enemy regime. The formula was called 1-4-2-1.

But with so many troops pinned down in Iraq, the conflict is draining US forces of the capacity to fight elsewhere.

"We have 1-4-2-1 now, and we are going to look at that," Ryan Henry, Mr Rumsfeld's senior policy aide at the Pentagon, told the New York Times. He said if the review did produce a new strategy it might be "something that doesn't have any numbers at all".

Read the rest at the Guardian

July 6, 2006:

Is the Iraqi Government Ready to Arm the Enemy?

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson"...

JULIE BANDERAS, GUEST HOST: See if this next story makes sense to you. Rebels in Iraq, who are responsible for countless terror attacks like the one we just saw right there, are now asking the government for some help. They're asking the government for weapons so that they can now use them against foreign fighters. Now the Iraqi government, believe it or not, is actually considering this request.

Let's ask Dan Senor about it. He's the former Coalition Provisional Authority spokesperson and a FOX News Channel contributor.

All right, so talk about fueling the fire. I mean, arming these terrorists with more weapons? I understand the foreign fighters are some of the most dangerous over there, but is this the solution to counteract them?

DAN SENOR, FMR. CPA SPOKESMAN: No, this isn't the solution. If there are people who have ties to the insurgency that want to help us secure Iraq, then they should give us intelligence. Any kind of intel tips they want to give us would be helpful.

And if they want to help secure the country, they should try to apply for a job with the Iraqi security forces, which means getting through the vetting process, which means no senior-level ties to Saddam's regime, which means no ties to the insurgency.

But the notion that we're going to arm these people and hope that they can fill the security vacuum is going to give the American forces in Iraq the same problems we had with all these sectarian militias. We allowed them to grow and blossom and strengthen in order to fill a security vacuum in some parts of the country, and now they're part of our biggest problem in Iraq today.

Read the rest at Fox News