Saturday, December 25, 2004

E Ticket Ride in Fantasyland

If you're going to go for a ride in fantasyland, you might as well go big.

Tom Ricks has a piece in the Washington Post today which I sort of like to think of as a Very Special Christmas Edition of "What Were You Morons Thinking?" In truth, there's not much new here. It's just another voice telling us what we've heard before:

"There was no Phase IV plan" for occupying Iraq after the combat phase, writes Maj. Isaiah Wilson III, who served as an official historian of the campaign and later as a war planner in Iraq. While a variety of government offices had considered the possible situations that would follow a U.S. victory, Wilson writes, no one produced an actual document laying out a strategy to consolidate the victory after major combat operations ended.
The difference, as Ricks notes is:

Similar criticisms have been made before, but until now they have not been stated so authoritatively and publicly by a military insider positioned to be familiar with top-secret planning. During the period in question, from April to June 2003, Wilson was a researcher for the Army's Operation Iraqi Freedom Study Group. Then, from July 2003 to March 2004, he was the chief war planner for the 101st Airborne Division, which was stationed in northern Iraq.
It is only a matter of time before some General makes a comment to the effect of, "Well, Major Wilson's paper is interesting, and it's a good effort by one of our brightest junior officers, but it reflects his youth and inexperience." What is interesting here is that Williams was the Chief Planner for the 101st. Presumably he knows what came in his plans shop from higher. When we start seeing rebuttals, it would do well to keep in mind that at least one other division had a similar experience:

3ID (M) transitioned into Phase IV SASO with no plan from higher headquarters. There was no guidance for restoring order in Baghdad, creating an interim government, hiring government and essential services employees, and ensuring the judicial system was operational. In retrospect, perhaps division planners should have been instructed to identify and address these issues earlier, given the likelihood that higher would not provide such information.

General: Pentagon Fretted About Postwar Planning
USA Today, November 6, 2003, Pg. 12

The Bush administration put off much of the planning for the aftermath of a war in Iraq out of concern that such planning could precipitate war, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Congress.

"We did not want to have planning for the postwar make the war inevitable," Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace told the House of Representatives' Armed Services Committee.


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