Photo: Dereliction of Duty II
The other day we wrote about Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Davis’ blistering report on the deteriorating mission in Afghanistan and the lies told to the American public by some of its highest military officials.The 84-page report is full of cogent arguments and vivid anecdotes that describe “the truth in regards to the genuine conditions on the ground in Afghanistan.”
One section is dedicated to explaining how sending 30,000 surge troops to Afghanistan in early 2010 until late 2011 “was flawed before one boot hit Afghan dirt” due to the fact that the 2007 Iraq surge only succeeded because the brutality of the al-Queda in Iraq (AQI) caused its allies to turn on them and not because of the “grossly inaccurate” claims propagated by celebrated U.S. military leaders.
In early 2009 General David Petraeus (then-commander of CENTCOM), new ISAF commander General Stanley McChrystal and his principle deputy General David Rodriguez were expected to duplicate their success as primary architects of the Iraq surge in Afghanistan.
Lt. Col. Davis — who completed four combat deployments (Desert Storm, Afghanistan in 2005-06, Iraq in 2008-09, and Afghanistan again in 2010-11) — posits that the Afghan mission has been a immense failure because those leaders “fundamentally failed to account for the main causal factor in explaining the success of the Iraq surge.“
The official story is that in 2006 — amid a fledgling war effort in which the Iraqis didn’t trust U.S. soldiers, a civil war that we didn’t know how to stop, and a strategy to turn over control of the country to the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) as quickly as possible — Gen. Petraeus decided to implement a “protect the population” policy in which U.S. soldiers moved into Iraqi neighborhoods “24/7,” earned their trust, and convinced various Sunni insurgent groups to reconcile (from a position of weakness) and “awaken” to join the cause of defeating al-Queda in Iraq (AQI) that subsequently led to a significant drop in violence over the next two years.
However, Davis cites “information that only a handful of English-speaking people have” (including the views of Iraqi Arabs who fought the U.S. with the insurgency or AQI and later became part of the Awakening programs) that provides considerable evidence that General Petraeus’ 2007 strategy in Iraq played no more than a supporting role.
From the report:
The version of events that depicted the lion’s share of the causality going to superior US generalship and the adoption of the “protect the population” strategy was created and sustained by a number of key senior US generals. When the full facts are examined, however, it becomes very clear that the surge of troops in 2007 was instrumental at best and according to one senior ground commander who led much of our fight in the Anbar province, “75% to 80% of the credit” for the surge’s success lies elsewhere.
What really happened is that the “guerrilla war for liberation from the occupying Americans” was put on hold after the Second Battle of Fallujah (November 7 – December 23, 2004) when AQI raised the level of brutality against everyone (i.e. Sunnis, Shiites and Americans) to an unimaginable level.
By mid-2006 the AQI had alienated the locals so much that, despite their hatred for “the invading Americans,” the Sunni population “would have worked with the devil to get rid of [AQI],” according to Former Iraqi General Najim al-Jibouri.
From the report:
The Bottom Iraqi Line: … it was only the nearly two years of overt brutality and mindless slaughter inflicted on the Sunni community by its ostensible Sunni ally AQI that the Iraqi Sunnis were willing to revolt and instead partner with the US.
Two U.S. officers who fought during the surge told Davis that had the unnatural sectarian split not happened, there would have been no Anbar Awakening and “we would still be fighting in Iraq today.”
In fact, the two U.S. commanders who were most instrumental in establishing the Sunni transition — Col. Sean MacFarland (who led of the Anbar Awakening) and Lt. Col. Dale Kuel with the Baghdad-centric Sons of Iraq program — confirmed to Davis that the changed tactics employed by the U.S. played only a supporting role in the ultimately successful outcome.
Nevertheless, some of the most influential U.S. combat commanders who led the surge efforts — including Gen. Raymond T. Odiern, Gen. Petraeus and Gen. McChrystal — championed the idea that superior American strategy led to the Anbar Awakening.
This high-profile failure to acknowledge the main cause of the Iraq surge’s success is what led to a surge strategy in Afghanistan that “never had a chance to succeed” but was applied because the plan was “so powerfully advocated by the military heavyweights any President would have been hard pressed to oppose” (despite the fact that it was to be implemented in “a dramatically different environment and culture and against a very different enemy.”)
It turned out that despite the fact we had 94,000 to 100,000 American military personnel on the ground in Afghanistan from May 2010 through December 2011, the violence continued to rise at almost the same rate it had risen since 2005 all the way through the summer of 2011.
From the report:
[As] a result, our country has squandered almost a full decade in which it might have made noteworthy advancements in its force structure, has continued pursuing a military strategy that has proven to be an abysmal failure during a time when effective outcomes might have been found, and worst of all, has cost the lives and limbs of tens of thousands of American Service Members – and reportedly deprived hundreds of thousands more of their psychological and emotional well-being.
Davis asserts that the U.S. military leaders advocated a flawed strategy In Afghanistan that should have been identified as inappropriate because the pertinent knowledge was known beforehand.
From the report:
The inaccurate assigning of the reason for the 2007 Iraq surge’s success has profound implications for our current war in Afghanistan and doubly so for the surge forces ordered by the President … Had the President known the truth of what really happened in 2007 Iraq it is a virtual certainty he would not have made the decision he did in November/December 2009.
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