Guest Op-Ed by David Wagner:
“It seems to me that political polarization in Congress prevents action on common sense measures that are needed, regardless of how fast this war winds down. The consensus for getting back to 130K troops, even by next summer is a significant load on our existing withdrawal capacity. Nothing in this world runs at 100%.
The strategy I would explore is for the Senate to mandate (and the House to fund) full demobilization planning. Prepare the southern roads and port facilities for large scale withdrawal, and future oil development. We need the development and enhancement of infrastructure, including contingency planning for partial use of alternate routes, say through Kurdistan/Turkey or Jordan. We can’t use what we aint got, and we don’t want to leave war-fighting gear behind.
While we have troops in Iraq, we should be paying Iraqis for the detection and demolition of remaining explosives, and demining operations from the Iran and Kuwait wars. This should be a priority, since our participation can slow the xfer of explosives to militias.
We need to leave the Iraqis with the best demining and UXB capability, as rapidly as they can absorb it. Likewise, the massive deficit in Iraqi medicine and education needs to be addressed, as a legacy our role in three decades of Mesopotamian war. Building medical rehab and education infrastructure would be the best way to employ primary laborers and jump-start their economy, while colleges are repopulated.
US Democratic leadership needs to building consensus for meeting our very real responsibilities in Iraq, even as we debate how to stop combat ops in the midst of a civil war, with both sides pursuing a murderous sectarian cleansing strategy. We need to force this admin to fund those humanitarian measures that we can all agree on.
I grant you that these proposals are hugely optimistic, but talking about them emphasizes to all parties that we need to spend big money on solutions, not in growing the war to the next level. By keeping the full cost of the war in center focus, including our own growing TBI cohort, we stand witness to the need to begin shrinking this madness now. . .
The end-state in Iraq is unknowable, an exercise in futurism and theory. The important thing is to get started, achieve some accommodation here in Congress, uncover the bottlenecks and jobs in Iraq that need to be shared and handed off.
There is no reason why the Iraqi’s shouldn’t get a dredged waterway, port upgrade and payroll out of our withdrawal, as opposed to the Kuwaiti consortia pocketing all the marbles. If I remember the way in, it went past Um Qasr (?), which is probably a secure coalition/MNFI operation now, more securable than sprawling Basra.
If we do draw down from today’s 170K to 130K in the next 10 months, that will be 4K/mo, with a big balloon at the back end. I think Cordesman, Korb etc. are calling our current capacity for careful withdrawal at 5K/mo, given a shooting war. A lot depends on the gear load-out, as opposed to the last four years of 10K/mo rotations using in-country vehicles and heavy weapons.
There are also some 50,000 blackwater type gunmen, and another 150K unarmed KBR types that will need a ride out, once Big Army security starts to fold in toward the large airbases.
I hate to sound like such a war weenie, but in the best scenario it’ll be a huge, complicated, multi-player game of SIM City.
David Wagner “