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Bush slaps down top general after he calls for troops to be pulled out of Iraq

By Philip Sherwell in Washington, Telegraph News
(Filed: 14/08/2005)

The top American commander in Iraq has been privately rebuked by the Bush administration for openly discussing plans to reduce troop levels there next year, The Sunday Telegraph has learned.

President George W Bush personally intervened last week to play down as "speculation" all talk of troop pull-outs because he fears that even discussing options for an "exit strategy" implies weakening resolve.

General George Casey

Gen George Casey, the US ground commander in Iraq, was given his dressing-down after he briefed that troop levels - now 138,000 - could be reduced by 30,000 in the early months of next year as Iraqi security forces take on a greater role.

The unusual sign of US discord came as Iraqi politicians and clerics drafting a new constitution continued their own wrangling over autonomy demands by various factions.

Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi president and a Kurd, predicted that a draft of the new constitution should be ready today, 24 hours ahead of Monday's deadline, but other delegates were less optimistic.

"If God is willing, tomorrow it will be ready," Mr Talabani told a news conference in Baghdad yesterday, but admitted that two significant issues remained unresolved: the question of federalism in the south, and the relation between religion and state.

Shia Muslims, who lead Iraq's interim coalition government, are pushing for a clause saying that all laws passed by parliament must be compatible with Islam - a proposal most other participants oppose.

Meanwhile, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq, threatened to kill any imam who backs the constitution, according to a statement posted on the internet yesterday but whose origin could not be independently verified.

Cindy Sheehan protesting outside Mr Bush's ranch
Mr Bush is expected to place phone calls to some of the senior Iraqi negotiators in Baghdad if the deadlock remains. Last week as he came under renewed pressure from anti-war protesters to pull out, he dismissed any prospect of an immediate troop withdrawal. Mr Bush was responding to calls by Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq who has set up a protest camp outside his ranch in Crawford, Texas, where Mr Bush is on holiday.

Politically, the administration will be under pressure to signal a significant cut in the US presence by autumn next year to help Republicans fighting mid-term elections in November 2006. Military commanders, however, also need to wind down numbers, the imperative that prompted Gen Casey's comments, according to Dan Goure, a Pentagon adviser and vice-president of the Lexington Institute defence think-tank.

"It's number-driven," Mr Goure said. "The military can only maintain these levels in Iraq if it has absolutely no choice. Otherwise, the current pattern of rotations and other commitments mean that they will have to lower numbers."

There will, in any case, be a short-term increase in US troop levels to cover the Iraq elections scheduled for December. After that, said Mr Goure, the military has drawn up three broad strategies for cutting troops.

Their "best scenario" target is to reduce numbers to 60,000-70,000 by next autumn if Iraqi forces start to make progress against the insurgents. The fall-back option would be Gen Casey's minimum 30,000 reduction by the summer.

There is also a rarely-mentioned "Plan C" - complete withdrawal if all-out civil war erupts between the Shias and Sunnis, both of whom are engaged in a last-ditch battle for political territory in the current negotiations.

The Kurds and Shia Arabs want strong regional governments to be created in their northern and southern strongholds. But the minority Sunni Arabs, who dominated the country under Saddam Hussein, fear that they will be left with the central dust-bowl.

Sunni religious leaders, who led the boycott of January's elections, are now calling for their followers to register to vote in case they decide to oppose the constitution's federalism clauses in October's referendum.

The constitution will be considered void if it is rejected by two-thirds of voters in three provinces. Sunnis form a majority in four provinces.

A chemicals production plant thought to have been built by insurgents was found by US forces last week in a raid near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
7 August 2005: Iraqi rebels use bombs smuggled in from Iran



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Psychology and Sociology
On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society by Dave Grossman
An Intimate History of Killing by Joanna Bourke
The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong, by Dr. Laurence Peters and Raymond Hull
On the Psychology of Military Incompetence, by Norman F. Dixon
Crisis in Command: Mismanagement in the... , by Richard Gabriel and Paul Savage
Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character, by Jonathan Shay, M.D., Ph.D.
The Anatomy of Courage, by Lord Moran
Training Soldiers for War, Captain J.F.C. Fuller (1914)

"Here on the ground, our job is not done," Col. James Brown, commander of the 56th Brigade Combat Team, told reporters at the Pentagon, a day after Rep. John Murtha (news, bio, voting record) urged the pullout.
Calling Mr. BROWN
How near are you to retiring OUT of the MILITARY with a PENSION, Mr. Brown?


Military incompetence refers to failures of members of the military.

Often, some of the following factors can contribute to these failures:

A conservative and traditional attitude, often marked by the misuse or rejection of newer technology and the inability to learn from experience.
Rejection of information which challenges preconceptions.
Overestimating the abilities of one's own side and underestimating those of the enemy.
Indecisiveness and the inability to consider swift action, marked by a failure to exploit battlefield gains.
Frontal assaults and brute force over surprise, deception and/or tactical skill.
In defeat, the search for scapegoats and the suppression of information.
A belief in fate or luck rather than a rational assessment.

» reply

Oh WHY? Cause they are sitting SAFELY outside of IRAQ or in the SAFE GREEN ZONES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The following extract is from a book by Norman Dixon entiled "On the
Psychology of Military Incompentence". Apparently it is a standard military
reading material for officer training.

I thought it might be of interest to pkt, particularly as it relates to how
we treat unexpected facts.

"Acquiring knowledge involves the reduction of ignorance through the
acquisition of facts, but ignorance is rarely absolute and its reduction
rarely total. Hence reducing ignorance can be regarded as reducing
uncertainty about a given state of affairs. It follows that an unlikely or
unexpected fact contains more information (i.e., reduces more uncertainty)
than one which is already expected. But an unexpected fact is less readily
absorbed than one which was expected. If this is less than crystal clear,
consider the following example, cast in a suitably military context. The
message in this case consists of an intelligence report which states: 'Enemy
preparing for counter-attack'. It goes on to detail strength, disposition,
date and likely sectors for attack.

Now this message, factually so simple, contains amounts of information which
differ greatly from commander to commander. To General A, who anticipated
such a counter attack, it conveys very little, it merely confirms a
hypothesis which he already held. In fact, since he had already made
extensive preparation for such a counter-attack, the intelligence report
when it came was largely redundant. In the case of General B, however, the
same message was quite unexpected. So little had he anticipated an enemy
counter-attack that the news was charged with information. It reduced a
great deal of ignorance and uncertainty. It gave him plenty to occupy his
mind and much to do.

Finally we have General C, for whom the message was so totally unexpected
that he chose to ignore it, with disastrous results. It conflicted with his
preconceptions. It clashed with his wishes. It emanated, so he thought,
from an unreliable source. Since his mind closed to its reception, he found
plenty of reason for refusing to believe it. Like the British generals
after the battle of Cambrai, or American generals before the German
counter-offensive in the Ardennes in 1944, he ignored it at his cost. Its
information content was just too high for his channel of limited capacity.

One particularly hazardous aspect of the relationship between information
and the decision process concerns the revising of decisions. It seems that
having gradually (and perhaps painfully) accumulated information in support
of a decision people become progressively more loath to accept contrary
evidence. As Edwards and his colleagues have shown, the greater the impact
of the new information the more strenuously will it be resisted. There are
several reasons for this dangerous conservatism. 'New' information has, by
definition, high informational content, and therefore firstly it will
require greater processing capacity, secondly it threatens a return to an
earlier state of gnawing uncertainty, and thirdly it confronts the
decision-maker with the nasty thought that he may have been wrong. No
wonder he tends to turn a blind eye!"

Military incompentence usually has a limited effect. Incompetence in
economics can have widespread effects. For example it can cause millions of
people to be unemployed. It can destroy hundreds of thousands of
businesses. It can destroy empires. Look at the former USSR. It was
destroyed, not by a military battle but by economic incompetence, and it is
still continuing. As I mentioned last week, the British empire appears to
have been destroyed by the economic incompetence of Churchill.

We could do with a book on the pshychology of economic incompetence. I
am sure that there would be plenty of material to draw upon. There may be
one written already. Does anyone know of one?


» reply

Calling MR William Webster, a BUSH Puppet come here
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 2005-11-18 12:31.
BAGHDAD (AFP) - Setting a fixed date for withdrawing US forces from Iraq would be "a recipe for disaster," said US Brigadier-General William Webster, the commander of coalition forces in Baghdad.

"Setting any sort of date on the calendar is a recipe for disaster," he told reporters.

"Yes, we ought to have an exit strategy, but setting a date without conditions being met is a loser," he said, referring to the need to build up Iraqi forces to take over from US-led forces.

If the United States were to set a specified date for withdrawing troops, insurgents could just wait until they left before renewing their war against Iraqi authorities, he said.

At which stage "the lives of (US) soldiers killed would have been in vain," he added.

More than 2,070 US military personnel have died in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion, according to an AFP tally based on the independent Iraq Coalition Casualty Count.

His comments followed those by US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld who warned Tuesday against a precipitous withdrawal of US forces from Iraq, which currently number around 160,000.

The United States wants to hand over responsibility to Iraqis as soon as possible and leave, Rumsfeld said.

"But not in a manner that is precipitous, not in a manner that would inject instability into the situation, and not in a manner that would suggest to a terrorist that all he has to do is wait us out," he added.

"Because if they have their way to impose their medieval vision on that country in that part of the world there would be an enormous price to pay," he added.

US President George Bush has said US forces will draw down as Iraqi security forces build up.

Need a retirement package soon...........?? Or do you need another star?

» reply

I think if I were George W Bush at this particular "career moment", I'd be thinking twice about slapping down anyone upon whom a sucessful (more or less) conclusion of my "spendid little war" might depend.

I have a strong suspicion that there are more than just a few soldiers who'd be quite happy to invite Wee Georgie outside for a repeat "man-to-man" performance, without the badges of office and rank. If that photo is any indicator of Casey's current mood, he might not even wait for the invitation to be accepted.

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